Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island (MAK-in-aw) sits in Lake Huron, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. Most of the island is covered with trails, woods, and in them, you will find the limestone Arch Rock formation. Fort Mackinac was built in 1780 on a bluff overlooking the lake and was the site of 2 major battles in the war of 1812. In the 1950’s tourism took over but much of the island has undergone historical preservation including the village and Grand Hotel. The 8.3-mile island is accessible only by plane or boat and bans almost all vehicles with the exception of ambulance and fire. Transportation on the island is primarily by horse and carriage or bicycle.

In August we set off on a little family vacation with the first destination being Mackinac Island. We spent the night by the lake and took a ferry over in the morning. Our ferry crossed under the Mackinac Bridge on the 20-minute ride to the island. We were on the top deck of the ferry and of course that was much loved by Dakota.

The island is beautiful and well worth your time to visit! We all loved our day spent there and would have gladly gone back for the 2nd day of exploring.
There was something intriguing about all the shops, bikes, horses, and carriages in the little village.

If you didn’t want to walk, you could rent a carriage or a bike to get around.

The fort overlooking the village.
All the houses are quaint and beautifully cared for. Most of the houses in the village were for tourist lodging and the locals live up on top of the island.

The Grand Hotel.
We took a ride on one of these to get to the top of the island to do some exploring.

Our trusty guide always knew where to go and what to do next.

Probably the most beautiful spot on the island was all the way through the woods at the Arch Rock. The rock was so unique but the view over the water was amazing.

We spent some time at the fort and learned a lot of new things, most of which I have already forgotten, unlike my husband and children.

From the fort looking down over the village.

We had a small cooler along with snacks and water bottles so we took a little siesta on the lawn. Of course, the 2 that had previously been tired of walking were suddenly filled with energy and wanted to go for a walk around the lawn. I could have sat for a long time and just watched everything happening.

One of our drivers said there are 17 fudge shops on the island. There is only one doctor and he specializes in fudge overdoses. The driver also said if you would rather not buy the overpriced fudge, just stop at each one and have a sample.

We rented bikes to ride around the island. Due to all the horses, there were always road apples and piddles to dodge. We were warned not to step in any “water” because it had not rained for a while and therefore it was a piddle, not a puddle.

It was a beautiful 8.3-mile ride around the island and took us approximately 1.5 hours, probably because I made them stop all the time for another picture. Eventually, I got the hang of using my camera while biking, but I was better off not being close to anyone when I tried that.

The lake was clear and warm. The kids wanted to swim so very badly.

Everywhere you looked, every time you turned around, there was something beautiful.

Hours later we were happy and tired but not quite ready to leave.
Pack up your family and go for a visit to the island sometime.
You will love it.

Quote of the day: “We didn’t really waste (spend) much money today. We just rode the ferry, the carriages, the bikes and walked around.”

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And A Little of June

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June, in all its glory, is a blissful month for many reasons. Warmth, sunshine, greenery, no school, water time, family time, birthdays, longest days of the year, no snow, fresh veggies, strawberries, raspberries, ball games, and a million blades of grass to mow. I won’t list all mine, make your own list of loveliness.

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Amazingly, they have become friends. He is more gentle with her than any of us. Not amazing at all is the fact that my relationship with him is still a little rocky. Days when he plays with the kids and they love it, I’m all cool with having him outside my door. Other days when I find half of the front porch chewed up in the driveway, I am not cool at all.

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As far as weddings go, this one was fun. I’ll now suggest a fun golf course with carts to any bride, so long as the men leave the clubs at home.

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We have formed our own little biker gang and we all ride together. Grandma’s lawn usually receives top-notch care until we get started, after that it just kind of looks like a race track. There are a few rules to the riding and so far everyone has stayed safe. The biggest casualty is running out of gas and having to walk back to the house.

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This is the spot where memories are made. There were sleepovers, fires, marshmallows, hotdogs, bike rides, stories, more stories, and lots of laughter and fun. Years from now I hope this little gang will look back and say, “Remember one time at the cabin when…”
My siblings and I grew up with a cabin and pond farther back in the field and we have lots of good memories playing there.  Although Tristan never lived to see this cabin, he is very much a part of us when we are there. Invariably when the kids all pile in for a sleepover and I am trying to get them to settle down, one will say, “Tell us stories, stories about Tris.” and so I do. We take walks down memory’s lane and recall all the things we did when I was a kid. My memories come alive for them and he lives on in them through me. Tell your children your stories, keep the memories alive.

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I do believe she wouldn’t mind having more than one birthday a year so she could dream up and create another cake. She spent the entire day doing what she loves, stirring around in the kitchen.

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Only go camping on the hottest weekend of the year if you have a huge fan!

There are times in a person’s life when events unfold that directly affect them, yet it is not their story to tell. Such is the case in my life right now. I have not told you, simply because it was not my story to tell.

Since Tristan’s death, you have followed along with my life and the journey of grief I have been on. What you are not partial to is the rest of my family and their journey, their story is not my story to share.

In 2015 our family lost a member, this year we gained a new one. It was a bittersweet day in June when Lisa married Laverne. The mixture of emotions is something that you cannot explain. There were tears for the past and what all we have been through, yet there were also smiles and joy for the present and the future. We are happy for them and we welcome Laverne into our family.

Our grieving is not over just because of these changes. Grieving changes along with you and hangs around for the rest of your life. In some ways the weekend was hard, we missed Tris so very much, yet we can also say the weekend was good.

Through all this, all my mind continually went back to a song I heard about God writing my story. “Is there room in my heart for God to write His story?” Am I willing to allow Him to orchestrate my life in a way so my story will bring Him glory?

Life may not turn out exactly as I had planned, but if I allow God to be the author of my story, life will turn out exactly as He has planned.

These are the Days

And then there was this one May we barely kept our heads above water but in the end, we did. Or I think we managed since we still have one more day to go.

I am always so ready for May. I imagine school functions, school ending, relaxed schedules, and warmth, but the craziness is almost more than can be handled at some points.

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These are the days when:

  • There are appointments for this, that, the next and everything.
  • School consumes your every waking moment and then thankfully it is over.
  • You celebrate Mother’s day in a whirl and then again the next Sunday.
  • You sleep in every morning all summer. ha. Only in your dreams! 
  • You settle more fights then you eat bites of food in a day.
  • Your child smashes his big toe and you earn a medical degree caring for him.

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  • Your family comes and you have fun together for three days.
  • You unintentionally recreate a Norman Rockwell painting at the supper table.
  • Everyone needs something. all the time.
  • Food, food, food is what’s on everyone’s mind. all the time.
  • You remember your serious diet while shoving a bite of cake into your mouth. too bad.

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  • You send a child to the basement for french fries and she comes back with no fries but looking like a 99-year-old Grandma! (permission was not granted to share this photo)
  • You make a batch of protein balls and in a few hours, they have almost all disappeared.
  • You drill certain small persons on the etiquette of burping or farting and then laughing about it.
  • You write “Call the dentist” on the weekly to-do list for an endless amount of weeks.
  • You take a pair of boots away from Rocky the dog 98 times a day only to find out they were gifted to him that morning by a worker over at the shop! !!

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  • You spend quality time involving food with your friends and youth group.
  • You go to the library and in so doing create quiet time and work for yourself. They will all sit and read for hours, but when you want them to get up and work….
  • You come home from town and write something on your grocery list for next week.
  • You set the grocery bags on the floor and they eat the food right out of them.
  • The strawberries you dreamed of all winter are ripe!

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  • You stand beside Lake Erie and watch the sunset and wonder what it looks like from heaven’s side.
  • You look through pictures on Memorial day and remember.
  • You celebrate your husband’s birthday and are glad he was born.
  • You sit around a fire with family.

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  • You mention something coffee to your daughter and it appears.
  • You stay up late even when you are dreadfully tired, just because the house is quiet.
  • The next day you consider going to bed early that night. but you don’t.
  • After approximately 325 days with paint-samples splashed about on the bedroom walls and no plans of picking up the brush, you finally paint it.

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  • And then there was the weekend when you walked into your husband’s family reunion and 3 people said… Noooo, not “Hi, Shannon, how are you?” Nor did they say, “Hey Shannon, good to see you again!” Neither was it, “Shannon! So glad you’re here!” But rather their welcome greeting was, “Hey, how is Rocky?”
    After a momentary mental freeze at that question, the reply was, “The dog in question is lucky to be alive and doing well considering the fact that the kids left the front door open for 2.5 seconds and he ripped in, grabbed a pillow off the couch and went hauling out and around the house before he was caught!”
  • That is how Rocky the dog is.

These are the days!
They tell me I’ll wish for these days someday.

Rambings and A Question

“The nicest thing about the rain is that it always stops. Eventually.” -Eyeore

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The same could be said of winter. Eventually.

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I know we all want to react and shake our fists at this never-ending winter, but really, it is God who we are complaining about. And remember, He has promised that the seasons will continue to change, so I keep looking forward to it.

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Imagine how much we’ll have to smile about this summer.

Be optimistic, like the child living here who is wearing her swimsuit and sandals this morning.

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In the meantime, we are just over here pretending it’s the 106th day of January while we bake and sing.  {maybe}
I’m not doing the baking, I’m eating, and I’m not really singing about it either, just trying to calmly endure to the end.


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Yesterday we celebrated Madison’s public declaration of faith with her baptism. It was a joyful occasion and truly a pleasure to see her growing in her walk with Jesus.

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Grandma and Grandpa came for the weekend.
Grandma is playing Old Maid with these two, but she hasn’t yet realized she is playing with a cheater who keeps looking in the window to see her cards when she holds them out for him to draw. Guess who won!


Now, my question for you.

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Recently, a vote was taken by the people of this household and the mother was overruled by the majority. Okay, so maybe the entire lot of them voted against me, but anyway, soon thereafter they became the owners of a new dog. After days of discussion, I told the man of the house I sure am glad we didn’t have this many opinions when it came to naming children. It was hard enough with only two.

So back to my question, what would you name this big black Lab?

The suggestions here have been numerous, yet no one can agree. Dakota suggested naming him after the guy we bought him from. For some reason that guy wasn’t thrilled about that for fear I would take his name in vain.

And the first person to tell me that every boy needs a dog does not win first prize!

Of Christmas and Random Musings

  • Every year around the first of November I will start feeling the urge to listen to a Christmas carol or two. I generally resist because it is too early and will wait until close to Thanksgiving. After the first song, it is full steam ahead with Christmas music.
    And then, around the week leading up to Christmas, I have had enough. My Christmas music cup doeth overflow and I am done. That very week, of all weeks, I should be listening to it and I just can’t, not one more carol. I really need to change this pattern. Next season I resolve to hold off until 2 or 3 weeks before the 25th and then merrily carol my way all the way through.

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  • Call me the Grinch, but is Christmas decorating worth it? 1 month or less, and we’re packing everything away that we just hauled out. Along with that thought, I want to pitch almost all of my ancient Christmas decor. (but I can’t let my kids see me do it)

 

  • The best honey mustard dipping sauce: equal parts of mustard, honey, and mayonnaise.
  • My gang thinks the best addition to a soft pretzel is a block of cream cheese to swipe it through.
  • One of their favorite snacks is a chopped apple and a sliced banana mixed with granola and drizzled with honey.

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My Mom made a comforter for all the grandkids for Christmas. That was the extent of Christmas gifts this year with our family. It was quite stress-free. You wouldn’t believe how much fun they had and how long they played with them. Then on the plus side, they took them home and can use them every night. Wonder how many years we could do this until the kids or Grandma refuse. 🙂

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Tyson made Dad a tractor for Christmas.

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From scratch, by hand, welding pieces of metal together until a tractor appeared.

  • Do you all have a 2nd story in your house? If you do, tell me about the stairs. How do you keep them cleaned off? Three of our kids sleep upstairs and I am telling you, half of their belongings are forever hanging out on the steps. Well, maybe not quite half, but at least 1/3. Books, socks, a sweater, a pair of sandals, and the list could go on and on. They race right past it every time they go up. How do I get them to carry at least one item up each time and therefore we would no longer have the issue?
  • I am a list maker. I love a good list of things to do, even if some of it’s irrelevant. Sometimes I will write stuff down that I’ve already completed just so I can cross it off. That makes me feel like I got a lot done. My girls would insert an eye roll here.

 

  • Too many days at home without productive anything at all to do makes Jack a very bored boy. (and the rest of us about to pull hair) What are things for boys to do in the winter? He does go outside some but there is a limit to that. There is basketball in the garage at other times and then he roams around teasing girls.

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  • How would you build/arrange/create space with wooden lockers in a mud-room? I am scoring Pinterest for ideas but thought maybe one of you would have a tip that must be used.

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  • I introduced my crew to omelets a little while ago. In my mind they were always a mess to make, so many ingredients and all that. I have figured out that if I get everything else ready ahead of time, it’s really not that much work. I fry the sausage, bacon, chop the ham and veggies, and anything else before. If they are for breakfast I’ll do it the day before. If we have them in the evening, I’ll do the prep in the afternoon. Then it’s easy-peasy and once the egg is done, just load it up.
    My crew will then ruin it by putting ketchup all over it before consuming. I add a bit of salsa to mine for an added flavor, much better than ketchup in my mind.

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  • I’m thankful for the wind in the windchimes a few times lately. Ours don’t chime often so when they do, even just a little, I stop and take notice. They always remind me of Tristan. We all got windchimes from different people after he died so now when I hear the chimes, I think of him.  It is amazing how often they will chime just a little at a significant time. It feels like God acknowledging what we’re feeling.

How Was Your Thanksgiving?

And were you thankful?
Of course, you were! We are all thankful the month of November and for sure on Thanksgiving day. What about now? Holiday stress, so much to do, what to buy for gifts, and on and on. How quickly do I lose the thankful spirit?

I lost it as soon as we arrive home and I cleaned out a dishwasher with dishes that did not get a proper cleaning. I was quite irate and ready to throw the whole machine out the back door. At 9pm we tore it apart and gave the innards of it a good cleaning. It is now in working order and just that quick, my thankful spirit was back. Why can I not remember, “In everything give thanks” even when the dishwasher fails?  Why do I forget so quickly?


We had a good Thanksgiving weekend. It was busy. Every day was packed with lots of people, good times and good eating.

The Hostetlers are fairly religious about their family get-together at Thanksgiving. You are allowed to skip occasionally, but they’ll want to know where you were and why you were missing. We shall refer to it as ‘loved and missed’ versus nosiness. We are spread far and wide across the states but when Thanksgiving weekend rolls around, most of them gravitate toward the gathering.

There is always, always good food with the Hostetlers. After the good food is consumed they will bring out the snacks. Usually there is an entire table full of snack and the kids think it’s a full feed weekend of junk food. No wonder they don’t want turkey and potatoes.

 I wanted to take a picture of the two girls in the middle because they are twins. The other two thought they needed to be in the photo also …
“because our birthdays are really close.”


We were also with my family and some extended family over the weekend.

Tys arrived on Saturday loaded to ride with one for every size.

When an entire family makes the effort to come and spend a few days with you remembering Tristan, you know they care and you feel loved. This is what my Uncle Dave’s family did for us. We loved every minute of it and are so thankful for them.

If ice cream is your happy place and there is a machine in the garage, you are all smiles.

We made a lot of good memories again. Back in the day when we were all kids, Dave’s would come out to visit and we would have a grand time riding the trails on 3-wheelers and driving jeeps to the cabin. After a while, the boys would give the motors a rest and play football on the front lawn until the grass had given up the ghost. When the game was finished, they piled into the house for more food and good laughs.

Not much has changed. This time they merely upgraded to bigger and better things for the trails and roared through the fields on bikes. Football was given over to the younger generation and a plate of ice cream and cake with coffee sounded like a good idea to add the conversation.

Not too many foods in life are better than this combo.

Grandma had a little tea party with these two little girls.

This Grandma is a special one. She caters to all the grandkids and they know it. She’ll buy their favorite foods, candy or little toys. She stocks up on junk food just for them. If one of them needs something, she is the first one to jump up to help them. She pays attention to each one in special little ways. All the grandkids (and the big kids for that matter) like to go to Grandma’s house because they know she’ll have something for them. We all love Grandma and are happy to be celebrating her birthday next week.


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Back to the issue of ingraining thankfulness into a daily part of our lives.
How do you instill that into your children?
How do you incorporate it into your life?
Talk to me.

 

Of Much To-do About Cleaning

And lo, there came a day in the year of here and now that the mother of the mother of the tribe of Eric, son of Dan sent a message unto this household saying,
“Prepare, for we are about to begin on a journey to see thee and thy kinfolk and our children’s children. Do not kill the fatted calf or dust the webs and sweep dungeons for though the voyage be long, our stay will be but for a short while. Our caravan of camels, servants, and kinsmen will be arriving on this given day and will rest and enjoy a short stay within your house.”

But when the message was delivered, the mother of the children of the tribe of Eric, son of Dan heeded only to the first sentence of the missive, the part about the coming of the tribe of Owen, son of Enos where upon she commenced into a frenzied state of affair.

With much weeping and wailing, she did cry unto herself and her children,
“Why ever was I so slothful in the affairs of cleaning corners? Make haste at once children and bring me the brooms and rags of all shapes and sizes, and many of them, for we will need them all. Run son, with all thy might, to the barns and sweep the floors, daughters, scurry and grab the mop and attack the corners at once!” And so it was that the war on dirt and dust bunnies did commence with furry and vengeance because the kinsmen were coming.

Small eight-legged creatures building webs trembled in terror and the dust bunnies did make much ado and billow about. Her children while working, did moan and wailed and cried, “Mother, please do not torture us so with all this cleaning and bustling about. Do you not suppose our relatives have dirt and webs of their own and are accustomed to such things?” But the Mother harkened not unto their cries and relentlessly tore into her household with haste, for her kinsmen were coming.

And so it was from dawn until dusk they did labor, busily scurrying about, preparing for the guests to arrive. Much to the joy of the mother of the tribe, her daughters were home for an extra day from their place of learning, and so the much more did she torture them with work to do.

And picking up her cellar device she did place a call unto her husband and said unto him, “My kinsmen are coming, buy and kill the fatted calf with which we might feed them well for they are special and worthy of honor.

So he harkened unto her voice at once and bought and prepared the meat with spices and seasonings of his kind. And while it was yet dark, before the dawn broke the sky, he arose and did place the meat upon the grill in preparation for the feast.

When finally the day arrived for which they had all been preparing, the mother of the tribe scurried about with more preparations. But the son and daughters of the tribe of Eric, son of Dan, happily escaped hither to their place of learning with much joy and happiness at the thought of escaping their frenzied mother.

Hours past with much haste and when all was prepared and the time of their arrival was at hand, the mother did flop her body onto a chair and sigh, imagining that all had been accomplished and all was well. But as she surveyed her work, she saw that much to-do had been in vain, for it seemed as soon as one room had been mopped and fluffed, the eight-legged creatures and bunnies of dust did promptly make their way in and set up residence, happy to reside in a room that smelled fresh and new, just for them.

And upon seeing the weary faces of her children and examining and finding grouchiness in herself, she purposed in her heart that the next time kinfolk were coming, they would surely do just fine in a house where dust bunnies and eight-legged creatures do reside. After all, it seemed the bustling about with much to-do had accomplished next to nothing because the creatures had not moved out at all, but were merely rearranged.

And so it was with much joy and rejoicing they welcome the caravan of family upon their late arrival and a wonderful weekend was had by all, bunnies, webs and all.

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