Thursday, September 22, 2011

And it rained. And it poured. And we camped.

I never posted about our summer camping trip this year.  Usually, we head north with Mr. CrazyLife's parents to the far western end of the U.P. where his mom grew up and camp there for a couple weeks.  All her family comes and we have lots of cousins to play with and lots of family fun.  This year, with Nana not doing so well, we decided to stick a little closer to home....just in case.  But we still got lots of fun family time in.

We decided to take a trip to the Straits of Mackinaw and visit Mackinaw Island and Fort Michilimacknac.  Lots of fun and lots of learning on this trip.  Thing #1 begins her study of Michigan history this year, so we thought it would be a good jumping off point for her.  And Mackinaw Island is a great place to visit anyhow.  We planned to bike around the island before visiting the historical parts.

So we packed up and headed north.  Only to be hit with a maelstrom of craziness along the way.  I stepped on a nail.  The camper blew a tire.  Thing #1 and #2 complained of upset tummies.  Mr. CrazyLife couldn't find the tent.  Etc. Etc. Etc.  We finally got all things settled and got to the campground, just in time to set up the tent in the dark and park the trailer in a spot that was smaller than your average trailer spot.

Then we went for a walk by the lake....sunset was happening and it was almost dark.  And this is what we saw:

Well. okay, we might have seen that....if it hadn't been so dark.  This is actually what we saw the next morning as we prepared to head out to the fort.  However it rained.  And poured.  And rained.  And poured.  And thundered.  

All.  Night.  Long.

It was a good thing we found the top part of the tent.  Also, on the first night Thing #1 woke up and said her tummy hurt.  She barely made it out of the tent before you know what happened.  Ugh.  Sick kids in a tent on a rainy night.  Now that's fun.

By morning, Thing #1 felt okay.  The sun was shining.  With a few clouds in sight.  You can see them above.  It was pretty spectacular.

We decided to try the fort.  

Walking in we saw this....if nothing else, it made for a great picture.

The Mighty Mackinaw Bridge surrounded by dark, thunderous clouds.

We held our breath and tempted fate.  We stopped to watch them light the cannon....and pretend to shoot at a ship coming under the bridge.  I love re-enactors, they have the best senses of humor.

(notice Thing #4 is proudly showing off the site map)

They actually managed to light and fire the the pouring rain....and HAIL!  
Yes, hail.  We ran for cover under the blockhouse....which, being made of wooden poles really wasn't much of a cover.  Mr. CrazyLife covered him, myself and Thing #4 with his coat.  They were dry.  I was wet down my entire backside.  The other things were with Grandma and Grandpa and stayed relatively dry under the umbrellas.

After the initial rain and hail, the day dried out and we enjoyed visiting the fort.  

We headed back to the campground early.  The next day was Mackinaw Island. However, I have no pictures from there as I left my camera in the car at the ferry dock.  Ugh.

After the island, we had one more camping night.  Campfire and s'mores it was.

And for some reason, Thing #4 who loves to take and be in pictures never seems to have a face in them other than this:

Before heading home the next morning, we stopped at the Straits Lighthouse for a quick tour and climb of the tower.

When it rains, it pours as the saying goes.  We had plenty of rain.....but it also poured lots of fun!

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Just Dance

We are a family of least us girls are.  Poor Mr. CrazyLife and the boys are often left behind while we go off chasing our dancing dreams.  I guess they are used to it by now.  Mr. CrazyLife knew what he was getting into when he married me and encouraged me to get my dance teacher certificate.  I just wish we could find something for those boys . . . I guess they're having enough fun playing in the dirt and trees with Daddy, though.

Thing #1 has been taking dance lessons since she was three . . . we're going on year 6 now of ballet, tap and jazz lessons.  She also takes German, Hawaiian, and Scottish.  And this summer she got to learn some Polish dance as well.  Call her well-rounded.

Thing #4 just started dance lessons this summer.  She was so excited to go to her first class with "Miss Wimba (Miss Linda)"  She did acro this summer as well as creative movement and is enrolled in a creative movement/tap class this fall.  

And of course for me there is a full schedule as well.  I get to play dance mom two nights a week, dance student one night and dance teacher on Saturday mornings.  I'm taking another Zumba dance class this year - lovin' it!  Saturday mornings I'm teaching Scottish/Celtic dance lessons again and loving every moment!

Thing #1 on the 4th of July, dancing at the Volkslauffe Races.

Thing #4's first dance show - doing acro at the Country Fair Days....isn't she just the cutest, tiniest little thing?

Thing #1 showing off her awesome cartwheel.

A little bit of Polish Dance.

Some Hawaiian Dance.....

And a bit of German (here at the Bavarian Festival) to round us out.

Here I am with my wee little Scottish Dancers at the Midland Highland Festival.  It was their first dance-out and they did super!  (Thing #1 is hidden behind me - don't I look like a giant compared to the babes?)

With dance recitals and shows, I think we had over 12 dance-outs this summer.  
Crazy.  Busy.  Fun.

We're hoping to go on the studio trip next summer....Thing #1 has been moved up into the pre-teen class and even though she's the smallest and youngest, she can certainly hold her own.  And being part of the dance company means more dance shows and more dance-y fun for the whole family!

(Poor Mr. CrazyLife......he's destined to be a dance dad instead of a sports dad!)

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goodies From the Garden

I've been a neglectful blogger this summer.  I don't think I checked in on my own blog more than once or twice all summer.  And I know I didn't blog hop the way I do during the fall, winter and spring months.  I miss seeing all the great ideas out there in the blogosphere and I miss sharing all the fun things we do at home.  I guess you could say I've been busy living life for real instead of living through words.  =)

One thing I've always been proud to blog about is our garden.  Mr. CrazyLife and I are avid gardeners and every year we plant a huge victory garden.  And each year it grows bigger and bigger.  We're kind of grow as grow can kind of gardeners.....plant a seed (or a plant), water it a wee bit, weed it for half the summer then go on vacation and leave it to grow as it will, then harvest the bounty and enjoy.  Sometimes our garden looks a bit more like a jungle than a nice, neat tidy growing space.  But it provides for us and we are blessed and thankful.

This year we tried a few new things.  We added raspberry bushes to our fruit patch.  We planted potatoes.  We did a multi-plant of corn....planting new seeds every two weeks for about six weeks.  We planted swan gourds. And we planted muskmelons.  All new things for us.

And our garden grew.

And grew.

And grew.

And was bountiful.  Isn't God great?  A little seed turns into a beautiful green plant.  And in turn it bears fruit that will nourish our bodies.  And it grows it own seed to continue for the next year.  What an awesome thing!  I'm amazed every year at how perfect and wonderful nature is.

Our garden went in late this year.  And it was so nice that everything that usually comes into season right as school starts was a bit later this year.  No picking and canning tomatoes the first night of the school year!  In fact, we're just now starting on the tomatoes.

This year, we decided to get the children in on the food preserving process.  And boy, did they ever get into it - all over their arms, bodies, heads, and even in the creases between their toes!  =)  Apparently, mashing tomatoes and apples is great fun.

I think it is important to teach the children this.  It gives them a sense of accomplishment and they are more apt to try a food if they helped "make" it.  And it teaches them to be prepared.  To  take what God gives and use it wisely.  To not be wasteful.  And to take care of themselves.

I'll have to come back and edit this post with some pictures (apparently, my school computer doesn't have an SD card slot!  LOL)  I've got some great ones of Thing #4 helping make sauerkrat and Things 3 and 4 helping to mash tomatoes.

Love those kids!

Love that garden!

Love the harvest and full jars of yummy food in my pantry.

An accounting: (so far - as of 9-20-11)
18 jars of strawberry vanilla jelly
16 jars of peach jelly
14 jars of bumbleberry jelly (raspberry, strawberry, blueberry combo)
15 jars of BBQ sauce
58 quarts of applesauce
24 pints of sweet pickles
24 pints of dill pickles
a 10-gallon crock of sauerkrat, fermenting as we speak - 4 weeks to go
9 jars of Oktoberfest mustard
20 pints of peaches
10 1/2 pints of spirited peaches
12 quarts of tomato sauce
36 lbs of blueberries, frozen
26 cups of broccoli, frozen
apples, strawberries, basil, blueberries, onion and gr.pepper dried

Still to come:
More tomatoes - four 5 gallon pails and one 10 gallon pail full + some still in the garden
green beans to be frozen - probably about 12 cups worth
corn to be frozen - only about 15 ears to blanch and cut off the cob
and who knows what else I'll find to do????

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Meal Plan Monday - on Tuesday!

A little late to the game this week!  School has been in full swing for two weeks and life is getting crazy hectic again.  But I love it!

     School lunches
     Sauerkrat and Sausage w/bread and butter and green beans

     School lunches/brown bag lunches
     Mini slider burgers with bacon, baked onion potatoes, green beans

     School lunches/brown bag lunches
     Pancakes w/bacon and sausages

     School lunches/brown bag lunches
     Speghetti Pie

     School lunches/brown bag lunches
     Homemade pizza w/breadsticks and salad

     Lunchmeat sandwiches w/potato chips and cut veggies
     Birthday Dinner for Mr. CrazyLife at Grandma's house

     Lunch on the Run (either packed picnic or drive-thru)
     Meat Loaf w/mashed potatoes and corn and fresh bread
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Not a Morning Person . . . at all!

I don't know about anyone else, but I am not a morning person.  I've never been a morning person.  I love my pillow and I love my blankets and I love snuggling into them and hitting the snooze button many, many once or twice in the morning.

Now, don't get me wrong.  Once I'm up - I'm up and moving.  No dwaddling along then.  Up, showered, dressed, and moving along with my day.  I'm not the type who sits around drinking coffee and watching the morning talk shows.

However, lately I've been inspired to get up earlier.  Since school started, I'm the only one up in the mornings and it is so nice.  Quiet.  Peaceful.  Calm.  And with four small children in the house, that doesn't happen very often!  Since Mr. CrazyLife was laid off at the end of the last school year, he gets up with the kids and takes them to school.  I get up about an hour and a half earlier and prepare everyone's "stuff" for the day and get myself organized and out the door to work.

But I still hit the snooze button many, many at least once each morning.  I probably could get up almost an hour earlier if I didn't do that.  Imagine what I could get done!

I've been contemplating this the past couple of weeks.  And then today while doing some blog hopping, I ran across this challenge quite a bit: Maximize Your Mornings Challenge.  What a great idea!  And what inspiration!

I missed the sign-up deadline.  But perhaps I'll start doing it on my own. And I did see that they might start an overflow group sometime soon...I'll be watching for that.  But until then, I'm going to set my alarm a bit earlier for tomorrow morning and maybe I won't hit the snooze button at all more than one time, anyway!

Anyone else interested?
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