A New Pet


A few months ago our beloved parakeet Weezy flew the coop, literally. You can read the sad saga here.

However, my daughter has recovered from her grief and saved up her chore money for a new bird. A few weeks ago we welcomed Boaz into our home.

Boaz is a yellow and green parakeet. He's a boy. He was chosen by my daughter because he was super active in the cage at the pet store. Since bringing him home, he is much more sedate and is very quiet. Our Weezy used to chirp almost constantly and would respond to us in a back-and-forth conversational style. Boaz is still adjusting to us, I think. Little by little, he is chirping more and getting accustomed to his cage and his space. 

Here's to a long and happy life for you, Boaz!

Family Photo Friday

 It's the end of September already! Time just keeps speeding by. Here are a few photos from the last few weeks. Since I've not posted pictures on Fridays for a while, I've got some catching up to do!

My son loves to swing. He asked me to get a picture of him going really high, which is really hard to do as an action shot. 

My hubby giving the kids a wheelbarrow ride. They never seem to tire of this. 

My chimpanzees playing on the neighbor's playset. 

My goofy boy after a bath, with his crazy spiked hair. 

My kids always enjoy using our couch cushions for horses. Are mine the only ones who do this? 

Kids + Toys = Cuteness 

My daughter when another tooth fell out. Her smile is a changing.
Happy Friday to you!

Look, No Training Wheels!


Today was a big day at our house! 

My 5-year-old son learned to ride a 2-wheeler with no training wheels!

This is another example of how kids will do what they can in their own time. We've been encouraging him for a year to ride without training wheels, but he's not wanted to do it. For whatever reason, today something clicked in him. He's riding and doesn't want to stop! 

He is proud of himself and more excited than I've ever seen him. "I can't believe I can go on bike rides now! I can do it by myself!" 

As a side note, he sticks his tongue out while he rides which is hilarious and adorable!  He says it helps him. Ok. 

We sure love you, Buddy! And we love to see you growing up and learning to do more things on your own!

Vacation Out-Takes and Take-Aways


It's hard to believe that it's been a month since we set out on our big vacation. My son continues to wear the wristband he received at one of the museums. It's looking mighty tattered now, but is a reminder of the fun we had. He says he'll keep it on until we go back to that museum (which will be years, if ever, so we'll just see how long it lasts). 

I wanted to share a few out-takes that just made me smile. We let my son have the phone/camera at one point in the trip.

Here were the pictures he took of daddy next to a big moose head.

My son also wanted to make sure we got one picture of the bath/shower house at the state park. All of the Michigan state parks that we visited had identical facilities.

Now that we have the perspective of time, I wanted to share a few things we learned from our vacation experience. This post is basically a "note to self" for me as we consider future vacations.  Here are a few take-aways.

1. Carefully consider the length of time to be gone.  We planned to be gone for 12 days, which turned out to be a bit too long. A shorter time away, followed by some recovery time at home (with a few fun things thrown in, to make it more like a staycation) would've been a better plan at this stage of our family's life.

2. Tent camping is a lot of work. Maybe this is obvious to others, but it wasn't so obvious to me until we were in the midst of packing up our campsite for the 6th time. With me being pregnant, my husband did 90% of the work of packing and unpacking our campsite and gear. My daughter was a huge help, in as much as she could do at age 10. She did learn quickly how to put up the kid tent on her own. That became her responsibility for the rest of the trip. 

3. Remember that kids enjoy simple things. When planning our vacation, I thought it'd be great to visit museums and sites, to get a flavor for new places and towns. While our family did enjoy much of that, what my kids most wanted to do was A) go to a beach to swim or B) play at a park/playground. So while there is a place for taking in new sites and making a trip somewhat educational, there is also a time for simple things like swimming at the beach or stopping for an hour at a park. 

4. Having a cell phone with us on vacation was a good idea. We purchased our first cell phone 1 week prior to leaving on vacation. The idea of being lost or stranded in the middle of nowhere in the Upper Peninsula compelled us to enter the 21st century and carry a cell phone. I'm glad we did. Even though we didn't encounter any emergencies where we needed the phone, it was reassuring to have. We did call our parents to check in a few times and could call our home phone to check messages. And the cell phone doubled as our camera and video camera, enabling us to not have to pack (and unpack, and remember to bring along) another camera.

5. Vacations are a special time and are worth doing now and then. This was our first ever family vacation (my kids are 10 and 5 years old). It may be another 5 years or so before we can take another trip like this, though I hope we can do it more often. There is something special about discovering new places together, about being there with our kids for some of their "firsts" (first time seeing another country, first time seeing Lake Huron, etc). We made lots of memories. We learned how to work together.

6. Younger kids (and pregnant mamas) do well with small bits of travel time every day rather than one huge amount of travel (like 10-12 hours per day). Our plan to travel just 2-3 hours per day was great. We could all handle the car time without it being too much. 

7. There's no place like home :-) 

Pregnancy Update - 29 Weeks


29 Weeks Along

A few weeks into my 3rd trimester now.

I feel Baby Flutter moving ALL DAY LONG, which is fine by me because it's reassurance that everything is a-ok. My husband and kids regularly feel and see the baby's movements now too - my heart delights to see them interacting with Flutter too.

I feel big. I know my uterus is stretched out due to my previous pregnancies and my son's enormous size (11 pounds 4 ounces at birth). My midwife prescribed a pregnancy belt to help support my belly and ease back pain. 

In the last week or so we've begun to get more things ready for baby. I've pulled out the boxes of baby clothes that have been in storage for 6 years and begun to wash, sort and organize them. I've begun to set aside items for the hospital bag and baby's diaper bag. 

My appointments with my midwife are now every 2 weeks. At each appointment, everything is looking good. Baby's heartbeat is strong. Baby and uterus are measuring normally. So we move forward with great hope that this baby will be born happy and healthy when the time comes. 

We love you, Baby Flutter!

On the Eleventh Day of Vacation, My True Love Said to Me...


On the eleventh day of vacation, my true love said to me... "Let's go home" and we did!

We had a rough night at our campsite. 
There was a large group of other campers who had reserved nearly every campsite around ours and they stayed up late and were LOUD! Quiet hours started at 10 pm. I called the camp hosts at 10:15 to request that they intervene with the noisy campers. It was 11pm before they came to deal with the noise. It was very late before we got to sleep that night and we were up with the sunrise the next morning. 

We had one more day of vacation planned, however, the thought of home overwhelmed us. Our own bed! A good night's sleep! Quick meals made in a kitchen with all the modern conveniences! We were all exhausted from our travels and were ready to be done.

It didn't take much convincing for our kids to be in agreement that home is where we should head.

The "Welcome to Indiana" sign was our welcome home.

I'm so glad that we cut the vacation short by that one day. The next day then allowed us one full day at home - to catch up on sleep, laundry, email, etc. My hubby was home for the day too, to help establish some sense of normalcy in our home with our kids before he then headed back to work the following day. So our 12 days of vacation turned out to be 11 days of vacation plus 1 day at home to recover!

I'll have one last post on our vacation, highlighting some of what we learned from the experience. 

On the Tenth Day of Vacation, My True Love Said to Me...


On the tenth day of vacation, my true love said to me... "Let's make our last day as good as it can be!"

We woke up at the Williamsons' home and packed everything up. We said good-bye to our friends and thanked them for their friendship and hospitality.

I don't think I'd mentioned it before but these friends have 2 dozen chickens roaming their backyard. Those chickens kept my kids entertained for hours, no kidding! They were fun to watch as they explored and pecked and were scared of little things. I'm sure that the chickens will be remembered by my kids as a highlight of this trip and the one thing they remember most about our time with the Williamsons! 

The Williamson kids and my kids got along well too and enjoyed playing together as much as possible. Fun times with pretend guns, sticks, etc.  

We headed south for a scenic drive. We stopped a few times to enjoy beautiful spots like this one.

So much pretty scenery in Michigan. 

We ended our day at our last campsite, at Interlochen State Park. This was not our favorite campsite. There was no grass at the campsites - they were just dirt. 


There was a nice beach where we spent an hour or so in the late afternoon.

 And this campground boasted a nice playground that the kids enjoyed. 

So ended our 10th day of vacation.

On the Ninth Day of Vacation, My True Love Said to Me...


On the ninth day of vacation, my true love said to me... "Let's go spot a mystery."

It rained during the night. 
Things were soggy. 
We didn't sleep well. 
Our 9th day didn't start out on a good foot.
It continued to rain throughout most of the day. 

We were thankful that we'd visited infamous Mackinac Island the day before when the weather was pleasant, because this would've been a terrible day for that visit. 

We stayed put most of the day, not going out until evening. 
This was a low point for me, personally, and I was ready to call the rest of our vacation off to just go home. 

Thankfully, our friends the Williamsons (whose land we were camping on) saw our plight and took pity on us. They invited us in for warm food and shelter from the rain. They offered me a bed so I could take a nice long nap. My hubby took our kids to a laundromat to dry out some of our soggy items. And by evening, the sun was shining and life looked more promising. 

So in the evening we went on three small adventures. First, we visited a local shop to try a "pasty" which we were told was a local favorite food. Second, we visited a local attraction that we'd been told was interesting in an odd sort of way. The Mystery Spot was indeed an odd place to visit. It felt like a tourist trap and wasn't worth the money, but was somewhat interesting to the kids. 

Our last adventure of the day was stopping by Lake Huron for the kids to at least dip their feet in. My daughter had been keeping track during the entire vacation of when she first had seen a new Great Lake or when she touched one of the lakes for the first time. This was the first touching of Lake Huron for all of us.

We returned to the Williamsons' where they had graciously found places for us to sleep INSIDE their in-process-of-remodeling house. We had a wonderful night of sleep after a rather long and somewhat gloomy day. 

So ended day nine!

On the Eighth Day of Vacation, My True Love Said to Me...


On the eighth day of vacation, my true love said to me... "Let's go to an island via ferry!" 

 We woke up after camping out in the yard of our friends, the Williamsons. The forecast was all sunshine and warmth, so we planned for an outside adventure to Mackinac Island.

There are numerous ferries that can get you to the island and back. On the way to the island, we were inside the boat enjoying a great breeze through the open windows. 

The kids wanted to enjoy the 15-minute ride from the outside upper deck on the return trip.

 When we arrived, we walked around the main (touristy) part of the island. Mackinac is known for its fudge and there are a dozen shops on the island which all give free samples of their fudge. So we indulged in the samples... and ate the carry-on lunch we brought. Yes, we're frugal even on vacation! 

My hubby and daughter took a tandem bike ride around the island. It's an 8-mile ride, which took them an hour or so. This was a highlight of the entire vacation for my daughter.

Here's some of the island's shoreline. 

While they were riding the bike, my son and I visited the island's public library. There we read dozens of books and enjoyed the air conditioning. It was a welcomed quiet hour for us.  

Honestly, Mackinac Island was a bit of a disappointment to us. Besides the bike ride options or carriage options (which was super expensive), there was not much family-friendly fun to be found. There is a fort you can pay to visit. There were no public playgrounds or parks that we saw. Nothing screamed "this would be fun for younger children to do" even though the island claims to be a family tourist destination. Maybe we missed something, which is possible. But overall, it was the ferry ride to/from the island that was more fun than the time on the island itself. 

So we returned to the Williamsons, made supper at our campsite and went to bed. It was nice to not have to set up / tear down camp on this particular day. A good break from that routine, which was getting old. 

So ended our 8th day.

Blog Break


We're having some connectivity problems with our home internet. Therefore, I'm being forced to take a blogging break for a few days until they are resolved. I hope to be back on Monday, September 16th to continue with my my Vacation Posts and some more recent pregnancy updates.

On the Seventh Day of Vacation, My True Love Said to Me...


On the seventh day of vacation, my true love said to me... "Let's visit Sault Saint Marie!" 

We packed up our campsite and drove an hour or so to Sault Saint Marie. While there, we caught up on some emailing (no wi-fi available in most of the UP). 

Then we headed to the Valley Camp Museum Ship to tour a real Great Lakes freighter. 

This is a self-guided tour of the entire freighter, which has been turned into a museum. 

Much of the working equipment and engines of the ship were visible - fascinating to my son. 

Much of it was inside, but we were allowed to walk around on the top deck, view the crew's quarters and captain's quarters.

So much to see.

The kids by the souvenir store.

From the ship tour, we headed across the street to the Tower of History where we could get an aerial view of the Soo Locks and much of the city. This is a 210-foot tower which houses a small museum at the base, focusing mostly on Native American history of the Michigan area. An elevator takes you up to the top, where there are inside and outside decks for viewing. 

We could easily see the Valley Camp ship that we had just toured.

Looking down on a church and tall steeple.

We left Sault Saint Marie to head to our destination for the night - the home of our friends, the Williamson family. We had to cross the beautiful Mackinac Bridge that connects the UP of Michigan to the mainland. We were a little nervous, but made it over the 5-mile bridge just fine. 

We made it to the Williamson's home in time for supper and set up our campsite in the backyard, where we planned to stay for 3 nights. 

So ended Day Seven.