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August 17, 2011

Turtle Lake Camping Adventure

My college friends often go on a camping trip every year. They have always invited me and I've gone once before - and it rained the entire time and our brand new tent leaked the entire time. I didn't make the trip last year because I was so put off about the rain and the thought of tent camping and packing up all of that stuff. But this year my husband and I are SUPER busy, so I decided when I got the invite in the spring, I was going no matter what! So last Friday, Rachel and I took off for Northern Michigan with our tent and truck packed for our first solo camping adventure.

The weather was perfect! Hot and muggy during the day and nice and cool at night. Perfect weather to sleep in a tent! When I arrived, I was 9 out of 10 families. The group was all together spread across a large area, and it was nice to see people I haven't seen in a while and to meet new people. 

I was surprised at all of the kid things at this group event. And thankful Craig and Laura brought so many fabulous kid toys.

There was a bounce house..

And a doll house...

And a jeep...

And play-doh...

And a caged area...


with kids inside...

...trying to chew their way out!

And there was a blow up pool, push and ride buggy, play tent....and I'm sure I've already forgotten something!  

Rachel loved the water, ever more than she has ever loved it before. Not sure if it was because there was no one at the beach, or if the water was nice and warm, or if she is just older and smarter! She ran into the water, and out, splashed, stomped in water puddles and even put he face in the water trying to drink it!


And she was trying to take a nap!

We met some new faces.

This one's happy.

And now he's sad! And SOOO CUTE!

This one didn't want me to take his photo, but I sneaked this one in. 


This guy Rachel LOVED, and I began to start calling him her Manny (Male Nanny).

And we saw some old friends, too.

And at one point the kids all got C R A Z Y in front of the camera. I swear they were about to attack me!


I was nervous about going with Rachel alone and asked my friend, Mowen to help me out - I didn't want to assume people would help me because I was a single parent this weekend. I was somewhat freaking out when I arrived and Mowen wasn't there, but my friend, Sarah, helped me set up my tent and get things in order which was a huge relief. Rachel always does very well, she never wanders off or goes very far on her own, and this time was no different. She actually sat in the Jeep while I set up camp with the help of Sarah. 

We had a great time and hope to tag along again next year. And I'm sure if my husband comes, he'll try to bring the rock star motorhome for a much more comfortable camping experience. 

August 14, 2011

Wonder Woman

A few weekends ago, I was super productive. My husband was out of town and I was non-stop busy. I was so proud of my self and came to realize something after this weekend passed.

I cleaned my garage, primed my bathroom, washed my car, vacuumed the inside of the car, made banana bread, made bean dip, cleaned out my husband's files (he had tax returns from 2001), did laundry, cleaned the house, filed paperwork and I chlorinated (bleached) my well and flushed it after a water test determined there was bacteria.

The last item was a big accomplishment. I not only had to get the wall cover off, but I had to bypass my water softener and let the bleach soak for a few hours and then flush the bleach out of the well. All while remembering not to drink the tap water or give it to the dog until the chlorine smell was gone. I will admit I enjoyed taking a shower after my super productive days because it smelled like a hot tub. 

Sunday night after all of this happened, I was washing a load of rags and the washer was not filling up very fast. Cold water was trickling in while hot water would pour in like Niagara Falls. I googled the situation and feeling ever-so-confident and productive, I decided I could tackle the fix: cleaning the filter on the hose. I turned off my water supply to my washer and stopped myself. I was confident I could fix the issue, but I figured my husband would be home the next day and it was his turn to tackle this project. (It was almost 10:30 pm at this point!) This was one of the reasons I got married, so I didn't have to tackle everything on my own! Monday night the two of us quickly fixed the problem and it's almost like I have a new washer!

August 13, 2011

Bulk Foods & Great Finds

I'm not one to purchase certain things because of the brand name. Sure, I LOVE a box of Cheez-Its, but I have no problem buying the less expensive Cheese-Nips. I often stick to JIF peanut butter, but for the most part I'm willing to purchase generic or store brand foods. This is often the case when it comes to toilet paper, tissues, laundry detergent and soap.

I also think many of the 'name brand' kitchen appliances and gadgets are a waste of money and a cheaper, less popular brand can be just as effective if not better. Kitchen Aid is one example - lots of appliances, lots of gadgets for a high price. Calphalon is another name that comes to mind. $300-600 for cookware seems ridiculous to me. I love my Revere pots an pans and wouldn't trade them for anything. When I go thrift shopping or garage sales, I'm always looking for Revere pots and pans. 

This brings me to my most recent trip to GFS - Gordon Food Service. I rarely visit this bulk food store and every time I do, I'm always surprised at the things I bring home! I believe this store has some of the best and most affordable kitchen gadgets you can find. I am most recently in love with my Rubbermaid baking spatula/scraper and my plastic scoops - I have a small one to scoop out of my ice maker and a large one to scoop dog food into my dog's bowl. I've purchase inexpensive metal tongs for appetizers and veggie trays. I have basic serving spoons and can't imagine life without them. I believe these items are similar to commercial items and therefore much more basic and durable. They don't come in fancy colors to match your kitchen decor, and your selection is limited, but the basics are all you need.

The next time you shop, and see something that says "Kitchen Aid" don't assume it's the best. I wouldn't trade my $10 four piece toaster for a $40 Kitchen Aid one, nor an $80 Calphalon one unless you paid me!

August 11, 2011

Family Reunion #2 2011

My niece stayed in Michigan for almost three weeks and the last week my sister and her husband came to visit. We were able to make the trip to the Thumb and spend a little time with them. We all had lunch together on Sunday and my grandmas came to join us as well as my aunt and another aunt from Oklahoma! My daughter and I experienced our first Moose Lodge visit and that's about all we have to say about that!

The kids played in my water tub again and Grandma bought a blow up pool that they enjoyed splashing in. 

On Monday we were able to hang out at Miss Anita's pool with some other cousins, G & B. It was a lot of fun. 

And Rachel considered taking a nap on the pool deck. 




August 09, 2011

Blueberries 2011

I try to remember to pick blueberries every year, but often the seasons slips by me too quickly. I know it's basically the same time every year, but the lack of advertising (post cards in my mailbox, TV commercials) makes me forget about it every year. This year I made it to the patch again and took Rachel and her dad with me.

We left early in the morning to avoid the super hot weather and were at the patch picking for about an hour. Rachel picked a few, and usually ate them. If I picked any berries and put them into her cup, she ate them or she dumped them into my bucket. In the end we went home with just over five pounds and Rachel had a full belly! 

Here is Rachel and her dad ready to pick blueberries - can you sense the enthusiasm in both of them?

And if you need a close of up the girl who won't crack a smile...



August 03, 2011

Family Reunion 2011

I've only met my husband's Aunt Lee once - and that was at her sister's (my mother-in-law's) funeral. So when the opportunity came up to go to Minneapolis for her retirement party, my husband and I actually considered going for a long weekend to visit. We decided not to go because Dan was so busy with work, the event was on a Friday and I had plans to go to the UP that weekend to hang out with a friend.

Lee and I swapped a few emails. I told her we wouldn't be attending but thanked her for including us in the event. I did make a pretty sweet paper doll for her and sent it along with a donation to her (former) place of employment. I struggled with the paper doll because, well, my paper doll decorating skills were very rusty and I was unsure how do decorate an aunt I met only once! Anyhow Lee gave me dates she was coming to Michigan for a visit, so I kept in touch with her (a.k.a. harassed her) to find out when the heck she would be in Coldwater so I could come visit. If she travels across five states to get here, I can drive 2 hours to visit with her! We swapped a few emails and voice messages and phone calls and on Sunday Rachel and I went to visit some distant and relatives I met for the first time. (My husband didn't make the trip, he was on his way home from a beer drinking, gun shooting guys weekend in the UP). 

I have to admit, talking to Lee on the phone and hanging out with her in person brought some tears of my mother-in-law, her sister, Libby. They sound so much alike on the phone and their mannerisms are very much alike, not to mention they look ALOT alike! 

And thanks so much to Terry and Pete for opening up their home for all of us, making pizza and being fun, genuine, people! I hope we can all keep in touch! 


(Great) Aunt Lee & Rachel meet for the second time! 


Uncle Nick and his wife Leanne and their daughter Joslynn were able to come for a visit, too! 


My niece, and Rachel's cousin, Joslynn. 


Grandpa Dave came, too!

Cousins play peek-a-boo with the camera girl!


We met a new friend and cousin - Madelyn!


I encourage you to find a small place in your pocket book to help donate to Lee's former place of employment - Clare Housing. She continues to pour her heart and soul into this cause. You can visit their website here. Your donation is most likely tax deductible.

Here is the ever-so-neat invitation to Lee's retirement party and the paper doll I decorated!



August 01, 2011

Rockwell & Rachel

Rachel and our dog, Rockwell get along very well. We work hard on teaching her to respect the dog and treat him with the same kindness she treats her friends at school. We don't allow her to hit him or run her toys into him or get mad at him when he is on the floor and she needs to walk by. We make her go around his space and get to where she needs to go. Recently she has began to say "excuse me" when she walks by him.

The other night I looked and there she was, attempting to get a dog ride. I somewhat freaked, because if Rockwell would have stood up, Rachel would have been dropped to the ground. I made him stay and grabbed the camera for a few shots before I made Rachel get off of the dog. He didn't seem to mind at all, which was nice. 


On a side note, a few days after this photo was taken, I decided to google the "pepper" that kept falling out of Rockwell's skin. I blamed it on my husband taking him to the race shop and letting him lay in "something" and get all dirty. Rockwell was itching a lot, but i figured it was his allergies - so we upped his allergy medication and when the pepper never stopped falling out of his skin, a google search determined it's FLEA FECES! I was mortified and thought about waking up Rachel at 11pm to rush to the store to get some sort of flea killer for our dog and house. I refrained from waking her up and we were at the store by 8:15am the next morning. I have yet to see a flea, and I know if I do, I'll freak out!