Saturday, August 25, 2012

It's Time To Go To The Fair!

Yesterday, Saturday, Aug 25th, was the beginning of the Chippewa County Fair, which will be going all the way until Monday, Sept. 3rd in Kinross, MI. Our family has always enjoyed walking through all of the barns and petting the animals, learning more about farm life, and partaking in some cotton candy or elephant ears. So, we are definitely going to be heading to the fair sometime this week. But, to make things seem a bit more special this year I checked out "Charlotte's Web," by E.B. White from the library. It has been our bedtime read aloud this whole week, and it is the PERFECT book to read before venturing off to the fair. The girls had already read this story before, but it is such a wonderful read that they are fully engrossed in it again. This week when the girls and I arrive at the pig stalls I know we are going to be imagining they are Wilbur and Uncle, and I am sure we will be glancing up into the corners for any webs and down into the straw for rats.We will be seeing the fair through the eyes of Fern, Wilbur and Charlotte and it will make it that much more meaningful for us this year. In fact, we have enjoyed it so much that we will probably make reading it before fair time a new family tradition.

If you are taking your kids to the fair this week, we recommend reading "Charlotte's Web!"

See you at the fair!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

LSSU Cross Country Camp, Wolverine Michigan, 2012

Steve offered us the opportunity to attend cross country camp with him and his LSSU team. The girls and I had a wonderful week and feel so blessed and lucky to have the chance to experience going to camp and all of the fun times that come with it. I am very thankful to all of the college athletes who welcomed us into their fold, and suffered through Autumn's and Alaina's constant shenanigans and endless energy. We sure enjoyed all of the athletes!

This is a picture of the girls on the Ferry Boat heading over to Mackinac Island on the first day of camp.

While the athletes ran around the perimeter of the Island and then hit the trails in the interior, we went for a very long walk, and then took a rest in the grass field below Fort Mackinac.

This is Autumn in costume for the "Talent Show" night, which she and Alaina advertised for by putting signs all over camp. I don't think the athletes were as excited about the Show as the girls were, but they still played along. :)

Alaina dances a duet with Rob during the Talent Show.

Wolverine Camps used to be a fish hatchery. There is a big, cold pond right outside the kitchen, and the girls were really excited to find these two resident ducks. The ducks were happy too, because the girls were constatnly throwing them duck feed!

Autumn and I both got to challenge ourselves on the high ropes course.

Climb On!

ZIp Line!

Alaina found a new friend in freshman, Ben, who she quickly figured out was great at shoulder back rides and flips.
 Poor Ben :)

Our group safely back on the ground. The last time I was on a high ropes course I cried....I didn't cry this time, but I still hugged a few trees :)

Dion and Autumn working in the kitchen.

Is that sanitary???

Autumn doing the "Trust Fall"

Steve being caught by his team.

The weather was beautiful and we ate a lot of our meals outside.

"Flip me like Ben."

Alaina and Rob on the low ropes course.

The trails at Wolverine were awesome. This is a "Rails to Trails" that I rode my dirt bike on while pulling Alaina. It runs along the sturgeon river and there is lots of wildlife. We saw deer, rabbits, woodpeckers, bald eagles, and lots of birds.


On their way home the team stopped to run at Wilderness State Park. The girls liked this pond, where they found a three legged frog!

Camp was great! The girls and I got to know a lot of the athletes, mountain bike on hilly dirt roads, swim in Silver Lake, eat healthy food, and have all sorts of new experiences. For example, I was stung by my very first yellowjacket, which I was actually really excited about because it didn't hurt as bad as I had imagined, and now I know I am not allergic to stings.

Camp also symbolizes the end of summer for our family. College classes start on Monday, Steve gets into his schedule of coaching in the mornings, working in the afternoons, and teaching in the evenings, and we hunker down and start studying here at home. It is our families final hurrah together and also a chance for Autumn, Alaina and I to become excited about being a small part of these young college kids lives. Getting to know the athletes makes it easier to accept Steve spending so much of his time with them. Even though we don't get the chance to see the athletes on a daily basis or even go to all of their meets, over the course of their four years at LSSU many of these kids begin to feel like family, the girls absolutely adore and look up to many of them, and we enjoy watching them change and grow, and cheering them on through that process.


Good-bye Summer,

Hello, Fall!

Steve's 1/2 Ironman Triathlon Turned Family Vacation

Steve competed at a Rev 3 Half Ironman in Wisconsin Dells last weekend, and our whole family was able to enjoy attending the race because of the location. Steve had an awesome race, and afterwards the girls were really excited to ride rollercoasters and go carts for the first time ever. It was a fantastic trip. Here are two videos to give you a taste of our trip. The first is snippets from Steve's race and the second is of us riding a few rides at the parks.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy Music

For Autumn's last poem recitation she chose "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes. This was a long poem, and so we got on YouTube to see if there were any good videos that would make the job a bit easier. We discovered an artist named Loreena McKennitt. She sang this poem beautifully and we used this to aid in our memorization. Here is her version:

I enjoyed discovering her music so much, that I started searching for other artists that turn famous poems into song, and I was blessed with the rediscovery of the artist Natalie Merchant, who is the lead singer from 10,000 Maniacs. I used to listen to a lot of her music when I was in college, but I never owned any of her albums, so I had kind of just forgotten about her. There were two songs back then that were definitely on my list of "happy music." They were the type of songs that could lift up my spirit no matter how many times I listened to them. Everybody has there own taste in "happy songs," but to make it onto my list a song has to make me want to dance or at least tap out a beat. I thought that maybe these songs wouldn't affect me in the same way now that I am older, but I have found that they still make the top of my "happy" list. Maybe they will make yours as well, here they are:

# 1. These Are The Days

# 2. Thank You

I discovered that Natalie Merchant put out an album in 2010 called "Leave Your Sleep" that contains songs using the words of other poets as the lyrics. I was able to listen to most of the songs on this album on YouTube and enjoyed the following two the best because they have such moving instrumentals. I think these two song- poems are going to be added to our family list of future poems to memorize. I hope you will enjoy listening to them as they are:

# 1. Spring and Fall: To a Young Child

# 2. Crying My Little One

Sometime soon I will have to start working on compiling a complete list of my "happy songs" so I don't 'loose' any, it would be a great playlist to take to the gym or on a hike in Mother Nature.  You could help me out by sharing a few of your favorite "happy" songs with me. What songs always lift you up? What music do you imagine playing behind you as your soundtrack on a good day? I would love to hear your picks!


Poetry With Autumn: "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes

This poem is really long, so it took a while for Autumn to memorize. This take of her reciting it had a few mistakes and I had to toss her a word, but since it is over five minutes long to recite she decided it was good enough. I have to agree! We are really enjoying video taping these recitations because it motivates us to work hard, but sometimes we wish we had a video editor...and my arm wishes we had a tripod :)

Do any of you use video editing software? What would you recommend? We would need something user friendly because we wouldn't want to waste a lot of time on it, but we think it would
 be fun to use for school projects to splice together some movies or music videos or add background music or titles etc.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Funny Fox

This morning I woke up a bit earlier than usual, and I was awarded with the entertainment of three fox kits playing in our yard for a whole hour. They were tossing acorns with their mouths, pouncing onto each other for a bit of play fighting and wrestling, and stopping to roll in the grass and take quick naps. It was certainly an enjoyable and peaceful way to spend the first hour of my morning. I videotaped them for a bit, and then woke the girls up so they could share the experience with me. I often comment on the fact that we see less wildlife up here in Northern Michigan than I did when I was a kid growing up downstate...but, I guess the trade off is that when we finally do see some wildlife it is extra special and truly appreciated. Especially when it is in our own backyard!

Here is a video I took so you can enjoy them as well!

More Poems With Autumn and Alaina

Autumn recites "Little by little, Inch by inch," and Alaina recites "Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit."