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Monday, July 30, 2012

Camping

When you read this, we will be heading back from a full seven days of camping.

You know what that means.

I have lots of posts coming up for you.

The boys like to pack on their own now.

It always is enlightening.

Take S4, for example.

The backpack is all his clothes, his soap, toothbrush, towel, beach towel and toys.

The suitcase?


It is FILLED with stuffed animals.

Seriously.

July is our month to camp.

And even though it is the END of July now - how did THAT happen - we all relate to this comic strip I copied from Cohagen Chronicles.  That's us.





"It's July?  It's our camping trip? How can this be?  How can summer be almost over?  WE MUST LIVE UP THIS CAMPING TRIP!!!!"

I am sure we will.

I am sure we are in for lots of adventures and funny stories - let's hope that embarrassing one does not occur this year - and funny moments.

Like when S4 wears his water goggles and grins like this.


Stay tuned.

Give me a bit of time to unpack.

And get over the shock of how much laundry I have to do.

And then let the stories roll. 



Friday, July 27, 2012

It's Too Hot To Blog

And that's the truth of it all.

It is 100 or near 100 every day.

Our crops are looking to be done for.

Thankfully, we don't depend fully on a good crop to make our income.  Friends of ours do and our hearts break for them.


While my Mac is the computer I love dearly, it also has a tendency to get HOT when in use so it just hasn't been in use...

Not even for Pandora.

Much less blogging.  How I miss writing!

Instead I spend my days doing this.....
Watering and watering and watering and watering.

Which brings me to this little song my youngest keeps singing.

Cracks. Me. Up.

Sometimes S4 follows me while I am watering my flowers.  He knows it is about an hour of my undivided attention.  And that boy can TALK.

Today he informed me it is a good thing that God does miracles because he tried to make a man out of birdseed like God made a man out of dirt but all he did was make a big mess.

Yup.

Glad God took care of that one for us.

You just never know what deep conversations we have while watering.

Lately I have been sitting on my porch in the hottest part of the afternoon reading.  What a great luxury that has been!

But I miss you all.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nephew Day

Wednesday is Nephew Day around here.

On Wednesday's, three year old Levi (known in previous blogs as Jr) and one year old Hunter join the fun over here.

Please note that Hunter had much fun drinking the water out of the bottle that got him this wet.

Levi arrives saying, "Hi, Guys! Hi, Aunt Niese! Hi! Hi, Guys!"

Hunter can't handle the chaos of all the boys screaming hellos and "how are you, buddy?".s and "Let's go play!"  But after a bit of time he adjusts and does just well.



I may spoil him with kisses.

Hunter gives the BEST facial expressions and even when he is fussy because it is hot he will laugh for you.  He is the happiest, easiest going baby ever.

I loved catching this...


All the boys reading.

S1 sort of watches over the group, keeping the peace.  S2 runs between wanting to take full care of Hunter, wanting to get Levi to play with him alone so his little brothers get mad and tattle and then deciding he is just going to play with S1...who does grown up things.  Like work in his shop.

Levi loves it here.


I mean, seriously, where else can you walk around with a dead snake?

AND get your picture taken with it?

I usually fall in bed exhausted on Wednesday nights, but Wednesday's sure are fun around here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Encouragement

The other day it was slightly coolish.

Like, not 100.

So, the boys loaded up their bikes in the suburban while I watered my flowers and then we headed to the school track.

When the boys were all in school, I would drop them off and then drive down to the track.

I play the God Journey on my phone, listening to them as I walk.


I have never looked this good while walking.

But it's been a good six weeks since I walked like this on the track.

And I thought depressingly of how I had been walking four miles in an hour and now I was doing one mile in twenty minutes.

I was pretty down and out as I kept shuffling along, pausing every now and then to answer one of the boys questions.

At the far end of the track is our community garden.





The boys, S2 especially, have taken great pride in being a part of this project.

An older man was busy working in the garden and we gave him lots of space as I walked the track and the boys ran their bikes all over the track and dried out football practice field.

The man stopped me after I had been walking awhile.  "You must be in better shape than most of us," he smiled kindly at me, "How many times around is that for you?  Most walkers only go around once or twice."

He
Made
My
Day

Encouragement

You never know who needs to hear those positive words.

That man literally made my day.

So much so that days later I am blogging about it.



Monday, July 23, 2012

We Send our Guests Home With Guests

Over the weekend, our "adopted" son stayed over.  He fits right in with the boys and he has a personality that he can play with S1, who he is the same age/class with, he can play with S2 as they work on whatever or he can play with S3 and S4 in the sandbox.  My husband says it best, having Gabe here is like not having a kid here.  He just melds into our family.

He loaded up his things for the weekend in the back of the suburban.  And the item he placed gingerly into the back of the suburban was an aquarium.  With a salamander.

The boys were thrilled.

Over the weekend they had all kinds of adventures.  They had bike races and revamped the sand box.  They were thrilled when they caught ON VIDEO a snake eating a frog.  I just haven't been able to bring myself to watch that one yet.

When Monday arrived and it was time for him to return home, I noticed a bucket in the back of the suburban.  "What's this?" I asked.

"Gabe's pet," they shrugged, like it was no big deal.

His new pet.  A shrew.

On our way to dropping him off, we passed a painter turtle.  We quickly turned around, snatched it out of the road and handed it to Gabe who was thrilled with TWO new pets.

His mom is threatening retaliation when my boys go to visit her.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

Peninsula Grill

My husband and I did not find the greatest of hotel's for our stay in Traverse City.  We had a great time, we used our time there to have loads of fun (kayaking, watching fireworks, etc etc etc)...but we probably will never ever go there again.

As we were driving around we spotted the most wonderful inn EVER.  Being very unlike myself, I did not take a photo of it.  The place has been in business for  - brace yourself - 143 years.

That is not a typo.

Literally, 143 years.  And they are only the fourth owners of the Old Mission Inn.

It oozes history and charm.  Babe Ruth and Joe Louis stayed there, they have actual proof.

I just fell in love with the porch.

And the view.

I had found them when looking up places to stay but my husband wasn't keen on staying at a bed and breakfast.  But then he saw this place and said, "Hey, why didn't we stay there?"

I beat him with an empty water bottle.

Anyhow, check the place out because I feel it is a worthy place for you to leave my blog and look at. We stopped in and visited with the owners for a bit.  AND, it is NOT a bed and breakfast.  But I hear rumor that the two hours they make breakfast are two hours you don't want to miss.

We are so going there.

Hopefully sooner than later.

http://oldmissioninn.com/

Which leads me to the next place you need to visit....


We stopped at the gas station it shares a parking lot with because, frankly, we had to pee.

And the restaurant looked pretty cute, so we gave it a try.

When we walked in, a pleasant sweet woman greeted us and told us, "Emily, the greatest hostess in the world" would seat us.

Well, this place sounded promising already.

I eyed the special board and was THRILLED to read "peanut butter cheesecake".

I was so getting dessert.

We had deep fried portabella fries that had some kind of dipping sauce that literally makes my mouth water as I type this.  It was unusual and amazing to eat.

There weren't a lot of choices on the menu.

Jake ordered fish.


He swears to me that it was very nearly the very best ever fish he has ever eaten.

Antlers in Sault Saint Marie is his favorite place for fish.  But this is the FIRST fish that he has ever said compared to that.

People, that is HUGE.

I ordered a chicken sandwich.

After a bite I knew I needed a photo.


Best.

Sandwich.

Ever.

It had some sort of sauce you spread over this amazing bread.  Jake gave me all the fancy lettuce that was on his fish and I added it to my sandwich but it didn't need it.  I was stuffed, and very sad, when that sandwich was finished.

The cook/chef/makerofthebestlunchever walked out to ask us if our food was good.  We gushed. He glowed.

As I ate I did get caught up in the decorations.

We loved the wood floor and want to figure out what sort of finish it has on it because this is the sort of floor we want in our living room.


I loved the colors of the place.

Notice hubby's glow in the dark Midwest Shirt.  That was not one of the colors I gushed over.

Brownish black, blue, red and brown.  White.

These are the colors I would like my entire house in.



Especially the kitchen.

Here I am, snapping photos with my iphone and the waitress is just as sweet as can be about it.

I wish I had a picture of our waitress and the worlds greatest hostess.

And I wish I had taken a photo of the banquet room, which was breathtaking in a rustic, glamours way.

I was deeply saddened when the cheesecake was erased from the specials board.  I had been looking for cheesecake this entire weekend away and this was peanut butter to boot.  Our waitress assured me she had just erased it because they had just received new markers and they were excited to use them.

As if I hadn't loved this place enough already.

I was stuffed from dinner so we said our goodbye and headed out, cheesecakeless.

I didn't even get back into the car before I looked at my husband and pleaded, "Please, could I go back and get a piece of cheesecake to eat later?"

He rolled his eyes but grinned and off I went in search of divine dessert.

My waitress was as sweet as could be as she hurried off to the kitchen to grab it for me.  And then, when I went to pay, she GAVE it to me.  "No, no, you just take it," she assured me.


I have eaten this piece of cheesecake one small bite at a time.  I may actually cry when I am finished with it, it is that good.  But I can't help but think the reason it is that good is because it is a gift from a sweet woman at a special place.

I know my readers are literally all around the world and spread across this great USA, but a lot of you are here in the mitten with me.  And if you ever get a chance to head up to Mission Peninsula, you must promise you me you will eat here.

You certainly would never regret it.

If, by chance, you go up to the other peninsula (North Point/ North Port), check out Barb's Bakery.  I don't know what she was selling but the line to her store was so long I think her donuts must be laced with sugar crack or something.  We've never seen anything like the lines of people to get into that bakery in such a small little town.  But we weren't hungry so we didn't stop.  It is a great regret of the trip.

We did, however, stop at a quaint little coffee shop called Brew North.  It was, hands down, the BEST Milky Way coffee I have ever had the privilege of drinking.  Ah-mazing.  My husband was bleary eyed and droopy, his coffee perked him back up to the husband I know and love.  The coffee was THAT good.  I cannot find a single link for it.  It had a lovely flower lined walk in the back of a large building that also housed a work out place.  I didn't get the name of that place, I was too engrossed in the coffee.  But the place is on a corner, if that helps in your travels.


Read about our entire trip HERE...15th Anniversary



Happy Anniversary to My Handsome Hubby

Today
We celebrate our 15th Anniversary

I love this picture he snuck on me on our anniversary trip.

It feels like we JUST got married and it feels like it's been foooooorever.  

Over our trip this past weekend, we had long moments where we didn't talk at all.  We had times we couldn't get words out fast enough.

The moments I loved the most were all of them.

Seriously.

I don't think there was a time when we weren't holding hands, when his arms weren't wrapped around me, when I did not feel like the most special and most loved girl in the world.

Everywhere we went he would say, "It's our anniversary.  15 years this year."  I would have not said a word and he boasted it to the world.

They say you fall more and more in love with someone.  That's not true.  You work hard to keep your relationship strong.  It can be ugly.  It can be painful.  And the end result is a love so deep you cannot in any way put it into words.

And we are still figuring all this out.

15 years.

Jake and I sat on a dock this weekend, watching fireworks, wondering what our life would look like in 15 more years.  All we know for sure is that it will be here faster than we think it will get here.

And there is no one I would rather celebrate all the mundane, all the little, all the big, all the momentous moments in my life than with him.

I have posted this song before, but, gosh I like it and it ALWAYS makes me think of him.



I never imagined that on the day I said "I do" our life would take the turns it has, the journey it has, the memories we have.  I wouldn't have ever pictured our family being these four boys.



And I couldn't imagine being happier.

I love you, Jake.  I can't wait to see what 15 more years has in store for us.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

15th Anniversary

This week marks my handsome hubby Jake and my 15th wedding anniversary.

I have no idea how we ever got this old.

To mark our momentous occasion we did something we have not done since our first anniversary.

We went away.

My husband - who has this amazing full time job now at Midwest Industrial Lumber - took a vacation day (that he has never had before, vacation!) and used that first vacation day ever to drive us up to Traverse City.

I himmed and hawed about what to share with you so if you don't mind, I am just going to toss out some of our most favorite moments and share a bit about them.  We had WAY too much fun not to share with you....but knowing how much to share is tricky.  You could get bored.  I hope you don't.

And so I give you...our 15th wedding anniversary trip.

It began with me "helping" him deliver a load for work.  I think I was just there to look pretty in his truck though.  And to bring high heels to his semi.  

He did not seem to mind having me along for the ride.

When work was done, we picked up our rental car.
We have never rented a rental car before.  Jake opted for most economical.  We got this Hyundai Accent.  We bough 14 or so gallons of gas all weekend and put on over 700 miles.  The car was 118 dollars to rent.  My husband was giddy over the money saved.  But he never ever dreamed he would have ever drove a Hyundai.  We had so much fun with a rental we plan to rent a vehicle when we go somewhere again...but perhaps a Dodge Charger that time, and something with cruise control.


We stopped at Red Robin for lunch.  Jake has never been there before, I have been once with Sue.  He seemed pretty thrilled with his appetizer. 

And then we went to Starbucks.  Believe it or not (it's hard to comprehend), Jake has NEVER been to Starbucks before.  We both tried the new drinks they had (I thought the lime was icky but the berry was good).  Being a big Biggby fan, he walked in and said "I get Carmel Marvel at Biggy and it's my favorite drink.  What do you have comparable to that?"  He got a Caramel Macchito.  He wasn't as impressed.  And he thought the barista bore a striking resemblance to our rooster at home.

We drove on, fully caffeinated.

And stopped to get our picture taken as an asparagus spear.
Crack. Me. Up.

As we drove, I kept saying, "That's a big hill."
I gave up finally and just went, "Weeeeeeee!" when we headed down hill.


We arrived at our motel, the Sands Motel

Finding a place had been harder than tricky.  We were unaware that it was Cherry Festival that weekend, the BUSIEST weekend in TC.  I am standing at the door in the room taking this photo.  The room is called the Love Shack.  Seriously.

But, they were right on the beach.

And I am all about a beach day with my hubby so we went swimming and we spent every morning and evening at that beach, even borrowing the motel's kayak's one day which was a ton of fun!

We went sight seeing.

This is THE road for us and it was fun to see where it ended.  We keep joking now, "Do you know where M37 ends?"

This is the Mission Point Lighthouse.  It was closed so we just headed to the beach.

You can see where the water DID start but now it's a weird sort of rocky beach.

Smile!

Me being silly on a big rock.

The sweetest husband ever.

awwwwww!

I think this is one of my favorite pictures because you can just see us having fun in it.

Another shot of the lighthouse.

My new screen saver.  Amazing sunset on the lake.

And that was Day One.

Day Two had us out on the road before 8:30.  My husband was amazed at my timing in getting ready. i was ready to GO!  But we had to stop for some AMAZING coffee before my husband could share any of my enthusiasm for the day.  Usually he is all super happy morning person and I am the slant eyed give me coffee morning person.

We stopped for cherries.

On our first anniversary, we bought cherries and spit them out the window and that was my most favorite memory of our first anniversary.  I wanted to relive it.

It is very difficult to spit a cherry pit out the window.
When we returned the rental, there was cherry juice all down my side of the car.  Jake just shook his head as he cleaned it up.  We ate two quarts of cherries and spit the pits out the window this weekend. FUN!

We arrived at Jake's most favorite lighthouse.

I think he likes the Grand Traverse Lighthouse so much because a family lived here and those who lived here cared about it because it was home.



The rock work itself is worth seeing, but we paid the eight dollars to tour the inside of the lighthouse.


It's a dark photo but this is a touring library that went from lighthouse to lighthouse.  They would drop off a new box of books and pick these books up.  This, i'm sure you can all understand, I found fascinating.  Jake took the photo for me and said, "Everyone will know that was your idea to take a picture of."  He loves me.


The view from the light deck.


The stairs going down.

I really wish I had taken a photo of Jake cramming himself down this little hole.


In the gift shop they have this lego light house someone donated. 


On our way back, we passed this beautiful farm, Black Star Farm.


It is even more beautiful in person.  We stopped in...it has a cafe, winery, cheese tasting.  BEAUTIFUL.  Our "guide" there was a hoot and we appreciated him greatly.  I wish I had caught his name to share with you all. 

After traveling, we went to the beach again and then cleaned up and headed to Stella's for dinner.



The restaurant is located in the old Traverse City State Hospital.
AKA, insane asylum.

How could you NOT go there??

Stella's was dark, scrumptiously yummy and very expensive.


We wandered the shops (that were closed) and there was some sort of something going on in the hallways (open house maybe?) so we headed outside.

The architecture of these buildings is amazing.

They are eerily beautiful.


The landscaping, you can tell, was once amazing.  So we posed for a picture or ten.


It's hard to see, but this had a huge porch on it once.  



I peeked in as many windows and doors as I could.  If I could have gotten in, I so would have.  I would have been scared to death of what I would find, if I would be trapped in there and if I would be arrested for trespassing but inside some of these windows was more beautiful architecture.  And some were just hallways and stairs...like this door I looked in.  They are redoing the entire grounds.  It's very beautiful here.  And I want to read more on this place.

That night we sat on the dock and watched the fireworks from the Cherry Festival.

Day three was our last day, and we were a little sad about that all day.

But we started the day with coffee and a cinnamon roll.  So it started sweet.


I could not get over the rolling beauty of these peninsula's.


In our part of the state, crops are lost and all is dead.  Here it is green and rolling.  Where we normally see corn and soybeans, here you see vineyards.



Beautiful.

For lunch we stopped at a great restaurant I will highlight later.


Jake was very impressed with his lunch.

It was so beautiful.  Every where you looked, it was just beautiful.



This was my lat view of the water as we turned toward the south and headed home.


But for our anniversary?


It was grander than any other.

And a time we will not ever forget.

Thanks for an amazing celebration on our 15th anniversary, my husband.


How I love you so!