The Most Beautiful Place In America!!

Well, it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted here, and I apologize for that. However, I have some exciting news to share that got me typing even though I’m supposed to be packing. Where am I going? We are getting ready for our last family camping trip of the summer. And I just found out that we are lucky enough to be headed to the most beautiful place in America – Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore!

“Good Morning America” recently did a poll to find the most beautiful place in America, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore won! They received a lot of pictures and nominations, narrowing it down to just 10 locations. People could then go online and vote for their favorite. I was one of those who voted for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, located in the northwestern corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula.  This has been a favorite place of mine since going on a field trip there during my senior year of high school. My husband and I have been going ever since. We love it!

I can’t wait to share all of the greatness of this area with my children! I’d better get back to packing. And when I return, I will be sure to post pictures of this amazing treasure the GREAT state of Michigan holds!

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Good-bye Winter, Hello Spring!

We have had some crazy weather lately! It’s gets warm and then cold, and then warm, and then cold. It’s spring now, but you sure wouldn’t know it by going outside. Today was wet and cold and full of freezing rain, or sleet, or something like that. I’m not a meteorologist, so I don’t know the correct term for the frozen slushiness that was falling from the sky today. All I know is that I’m ready for the spring weather to get here and stay until summer. I love winter, but I’ve had enough for now.

I’ve been meaning to write a send-off to winter post for quite awhile, but I’ve been so busy that it didn’t get done. And I thought it was kind of silly considering it’s been spring for a couple of weeks now. But it looks and feels like winter, so I’ve decided to do it. Here is my send-off to winter! Hopefully it gets the message and takes a hike until next winter!

I did enjoy winter. It is beautiful and cozy and full of fun things to do. It’s one of the great things about living in Michigan. I love how the trees look after a big snowfall, or after an ice storm. I love watching my kids play out in the snow all bundled up. And I love taking them sledding.

Every year my husbands family has a sledding day. My husband’s parents, his brother and sisters, and their spouses and children are all there. My father-in-law cooks hot dogs and makes hot cocoa and we have a big, outdoor winter picnic. It’s a blast. The kids have so much fun. They get to go sledding for hours with their cousins (There are 15 grandchildren total, so there are a lot of kids) and they even get my husband and I to go down the hill a few times. This is something that I have to admit to being a bit nervous about. I don’t like being out of control, and when sledding, you pretty much are. But I also don’t want to miss out on these things with my kids, so down the hill I go.

This year it started snowing pretty good while we were there. This made it even more fun in my opinion. The only downfall was that I had to put my camera away because it was getting too wet. I did get one of my favorite pictures of the year though. It’s my husband and my youngest child walking up the hill to go sledding down together. I just love it.

So, good-bye winter. We had a great time. And when the first flakes fall next season we will be excited and ready. The sledding hill will be calling our name. But for now, hello spring!

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Up North In Winter

It’s wintertime here in Michigan, a time when we start to hear a lot of complaints about the cold weather and the snow.  From me you will hear the opposite.  I love snow.  The more the better.  I don’t even mind driving in it.  In fact, winter is one of my favorite times to go up north because there’s usually even more snow up there.

I love visiting Traverse city and the surrounding areas in winter.  There’s nothing like a snowy trip out to Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, nothing like standing on a snow covered beach watching the waves roll in.  And then there’s skiing.  I haven’t been skiing very many times, but I have been to The Homestead, which is in that area, and it was amazing.  We stayed right on Lake Michigan, so besides skiing we could go for a walks on the beach.  Very nice.

I love lighthouses.  I love taking pictures of lighthouses.  I love visiting lighthouses.  I love climbing to the top of lighthouses.  You get the idea.  It’s great in the summer, but it’s an entirely different experience in the winter.  Standing on that snow covered beach, with snow and wind blowing, you can really get an idea what life was like for the people who kept the lighthouses long ago.  Before all of the luxuries we have now, like electricity.  It’s fun to imagine the adventurous lives those lighthouse keepers must have had (especially fun because we then get to climb back into our warm vehicles and drive away).

Old Mission Point Lighthouse

I love it.  I haven’t been up there in quite some time, and when the snow starts to fall, I really miss it.  I get the urge to just pack the family up in the van and drive.  We’ll have to get around to that sometime soon.  I did manage to find this picture though.  It’s of the Old Mission Point Lighthouse, which is at the tip of Old Mission Peninsula, near Traverse City. I had to scan it into my computer because I took it a long time ago, with film.  Remember film?  Back before the digital age was in full swing, or at least before I had jumped in.

I can’t wait to go on another snowy, winter trip.

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A Snowy Morning At Barnes And Noble

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!  We certainly did.  The kids got some pretty amazing gifts this year.  My son for example got a huge, red dinosaur named Spike.  He has wanted this dinosaur since last Christmas, and Santa finally made his dream come true.  It’s a good thing too.  One present left to go and my son says, “I hope it’s Spike.”  He would have been crushed if Santa hadn’t pulled through.  And I have to say that Spike is absolutely amazing!  Any of you who have this toy know this to be true, I’m sure.  It’s a remote control dinosaur and it walks, roars, goes up on it’s hind legs, holds and releases items in it’s mouth, sniffs, laughs, burps, yawns, blinks, etc…. And the movements are so fluid that it looks real!  I think my three year old daughter thinks it’s actually alive.  She walks up to it with one of the fake boulders it holds in it’s mouth and she says, “Open.”

So, after all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas we spent a couple of days at home just enjoying the new toys and relaxing.  Today, however, I decided that we needed to get out of the house.  But what do you do in Michigan on a cold, snowy December morning?  There are plenty of things actually, but today I decided we’d go to Storytime at the bookstore.

“Our bookstore,” as my children call it, is Barnes and Noble.  I love to read.  And Barnes and Noble is one of my favorite places in the world.  It’s my happy place.  I love to go there and get a cafe mocha from the Starbucks (one of my other favorite places) Cafe they have and wander around looking at all of the books.  On Tuesday and Saturday mornings at 11:00 (at our Barnes and Noble- check your local store for days and times) they have Storytime.  The kids all gather around to listen to two stories, and then they get to go make a craft.  Sometimes it’s just a coloring page and sometimes it’s more complex. My kids love it no matter what it is.  They finish their craft and then they’re off to play with the Thomas train track that is set up for the kid’s enjoyment, or to look at books.

All in all it was a great morning.  The staff is friendly and actually takes the time to get know us.  The people who regularly run Storytime even remember my kid’s names.  It’s nice to have that small town feel even when you’re in a big store in a city that’s a far cry from a small town.

And I love when my kids ask to go to the bookstore.  It’s one of their favorite places too.

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Kid Rock’s Born Free Music Video

I haven’t had much time for posting lately,  all of my writing energy being consumed by NaNoWriMo.  For those of you who don’t know, this stands for National Novel Writing Month.  You write a novel in a month.  50,000 words in 30 days.  I’m way behind, but I’ve got 6,585 words so far, which is 6,585 more than I had last month!  If you’re interested in following my progress with this, you can click on the NaNoWriMo Participant badge on the right of the screen.

However, I came across Kid Rock’s new music video for the song Born Free on You Tube.  Filmed in Michigan, the scenery is beautiful.  There are amazing shots from the Upper Peninsula as well as parts done in lower Michigan, specifically in the Clarkston and Ortonville areas.  Part of it was filmed at Cook’s Dairy Farm in Ortonville.  Has anyone been there?  On a school field trip maybe?  I know my son went there last year, and I expect my other son to go this year.  I haven’t been there myself, but I hear they have great ice cream!

I love to see stuff like this, showing the beauty of Michigan.  It gives me chills and makes me so proud to call this amazing state home.  And I thought it very appropriate to share today, on Veteran’s Day.  Without our amazing veterans, our heroes, none of us would be able to say that we were born free.  Happy Veteran’s Day everyone and thank you to every man, woman, and child who has sacrificed so that we could all be BORN FREE!!

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Michigan Fall Colors

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The Glory of the Seasons

One of the things I love the most about Michigan is that we get to really experience all four seasons.  I love summer.  I think it’s probably my favorite season.  I am a beach lover, and we get plenty of beach weather in the summer.   I like being able to go outside without having to stop and put jackets, etc. on all four children.  We go to the park A LOT.  (Ever have your kids say “The park again!  We always go to the park!”)  The list goes on and on.  I love summer.

But I also love autumn.  There is nothing like the crisp feeling of fall air.  Trips to the cider mill and walking through the fallen leaves are a couple of my favorite autumn activities.  And the colors- the colors of the changing leaves on the trees are beautiful! Oh, and the apples!  Apples are good (my daughter gets very upset when we don’t have apples in the house.  Plus, there’s the whole “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” thing), but fresh Michigan apples are amazing!  Have you tried going to the orchard and picking your own apples?  You can’t get any fresher than that!

That brings us to winter.  I hear so many people complain about snow, but I am not one of them.  If I lived someplace where it was warm all year long, I would really miss the snow.  Especially around Christmas.  It’s so pretty!  And if you get out and have some fun, the snow can be very enjoyable.  You don’t have to be a kid to have a good time building a snowman.  Or how about sledding?  There’s so much you can do when the weather turns cold.  And then you can go inside for some hot cocoa, or to sit by the fireplace.  Talk about cozy!  Here’s a fantastic family day idea- play outside in the snow together all day, and then come in to enjoy a movie together with cocoa and popcorn.  Perfect!

Which leaves us with spring.  The weather starts to warm up, the flowers grow, the leaves appear on the trees again.  We start making our trips to the park.  We get excited to go out without a jacket for the first time in months. And when that first really warm day comes and we can break out the shorts… hooray!  BBQ grills are uncovered, and backyard gatherings commence once again.

And then comes summer again, and it goes around and around.  I love all of the seasons.  I wouldn’t want to give up a single one.  And the best part is, by the time one season is coming to an end I am excited for the next one.  It’s never boring, because it’s always changing!

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Photos I’ve taken at Wolcott Mill Metropark Farm Center

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Fall Fun at the Farm!

During the summer there are so many things to do, places to go, people to see.  We love going to the beach, the park, the zoo, etc.  But when fall arrives, and the beaches close, sometimes we forget that there are still a lot of fun places to go.

The first fun place that comes to my mind when fall arrives is the cider mill.  I love the cider mill!  The only problem is that’s where everyone else likes to go in the fall too, and they can get very busy!  So when the weather was absolutely beautiful last weekend, my husband and I decided to take our children to the farm instead.

The farm we like to visit is the Wolcott Mill Metropark Farm Center in Ray, Michigan.  I really enjoy taking the kids to this 250-acre working farm.  They love seeing the animals  and I love being out in the country.  It’s nice to get away from all of the traffic and stores and just relax.  We’ve even brought a picnic lunch with us (there are plenty of picnic tables).  I have four children, and there is something each of them loves at the farm.

My oldest son loves the corn maze. And I love the corn maze too, because it’s not so big that I have to worry about them really getting lost in it.  They are always close enough that we can hear each other if they are having a hard time finding their way back to the entrance/exit.  But it’s big enough for them to have a great time in!

And then there’s my youngest daughter, who is almost three and just loves the animals.  Her favorite animal varies with each visit, although she does love to see the cows a lot.  My other daughter, our third born has found a small chicken, which she deems to be a baby, that has become her favorite.  I think she would sit by the chicken coop all day and stare at “her baby” if I let her.

And then there is my other son, our second born, whose favorite animal at the farm is a giant turkey.  We can’t go to the farm without seeing his turkey friend.  One fun thing about the turkey is that if you stop by the fence to look at it, it will walk right over to see you.  And if you begin walking along the fence, it will follow.  If you stop, it will stop.  And this is what makes my son love the turkey so much.  He feels as though it loves us, and just wants to be near us.  But the best part about the turkey is when it “gobbles”.  This funny sound always comes from the turkey unexpectedly, and makes the kids jump back and laugh every time.

We visited the farm throughout the spring and summer and it was great.  Fall at the farm has it’s own appeal though.  The colors of the leaves changing was beautiful, and even though I had meant to leave my camera at home, I found I couldn’t put it down.

There are also a number of fun activities to participate in that only happen in the fall.  In fact, there are different special events that take place throughout the entire year.

For example, we had cider and donuts, and then a tractor pulled wagon ride out to a pumpkin patch.  The pumpkins were available for purchase. And even though we weren’t in the market for a pumpkin that day, the kids had a blast just running around the field looking at them.  Then we got back on the wagon for our return ride, during which the kids, suddenly very talkative, entertained our friendly guide.

So, the next time your sitting around the house on a beautiful fall day (or any time of the year), maybe a trip to the farm is just what you need.  It’s peaceful, relaxing, inexpensive, and fun for the whole family!  Wolcott Mill is our family’s favorite, but if you don’t live nearby, check around your area.  There are farms all over Michigan, and maybe your family’s favorite is just sitting there, waiting to be found by you!

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To Write Love On Her Arms

(This post is a bit off topic, but there are a lot of people everywhere, including Michigan, who need help, love, and support.)

Hello! I hope everyone is having a wonderful day!

Unfortunately, there are many people in the world who feel as though they will never have a wonderful day again.  Everyday there are people fighting depression, addiction, etc., the worst of it being thoughts of suicide.

Personally knowing several people who have had to deal with, or are currently dealing with these issues, I feel that To Write Love On Her Arms is a great cause to support.  This non-profit movement assists people in finding hope and help who are struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.

You can help provide for this cause FOR FREE by doing simple online activities from the comfort of your own home.  All you have to do is click on the badge on the right side of your screen that says “Help me support To Write Love On Her Arms” and follow the directions.

Together we can help give hope to people who deserve to have lives filled with wonderful days!

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