Monday, March 31, 2014

Our Weekend: March 28-30, 2014

          This weekend our family had such a good time. The sun was out, the temperatures were in the 30's to 40's, and we were outside for most of it. Friday night we all watched the movie "Matilda," to celebrate Alaina's completion of her first big chapter book read mostly by herself..."Matilda" by Roald Dahl. It was soooo funny, and the first movie we have all seen in a long time that made us genuinely laugh out loud.

          On Saturday we had waffles for breakfast and then drove over to Hiawatha Ski Trails (successfully this time....Steve asked if I could drive), and we skied A LOT! It was great, except for the fact that on the downhills the sunny areas were "sticky." That meant we would get going really fast where it was shady, and then hit a sunny patch and it would grab our skies and cause crashes. I caught a few on was a great learning experience about how to handle those conditions. Autumn decided to crouch down low, Alaina and I decided to snow plow, and Steve decided that next time we should all skate ski :)

          After skiing we attended the girl's Jackrabbit banquet. It was really fancy. The meal was served in three courses. The first was bread, salad, spaghetti and meatballs. The second was chicken, potatoes, and roasted vegetables. The final course was a crepe filled with ice cream, coffee, and tea. It was all delicious, but way too much! The entire time there were speakers and awards and door prize drawings and pictures and videos on display, Steve won a skiing water bottle pack, Autumn won a pair  of boot cleats, and I won some grip wax. The girls also received their medals and ribbons and certificates and did some craft projects. It was really enjoyable.

        On Sunday we went to church and had lunch at coffee hour afterwards. It was Spring Break this week for the public schools, so there weren't as many church members in attendance. That meant lots of super yummy food to sample. When we got home Alaina and I relaxed on the porch for a half an hour with Willow. We sunned ourselves and took a mini cat nap. Then, we all put on our lightened snow gear and went to the sledding hill. We made snowmen and rolled giant snowballs off the "cliffs." Steve went for a bike ride down the main road on his mountain bike. When we finally came back inside there was reading, and eating and relaxing.

       What  a wonderful weekend, and we all are getting the sense that Spring is on its way for sure, so we are inspired to keep our focus this coming week on enjoying the snow before it all melts .

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Sun Comes Out On Sunday, March 23, 2014

          This morning we slept in, and when we awoke we were glad to see a beautiful sunny sky. We attended church, and when we got home Steve decided that he would attempt to go for a really slow run. So we decided to accompany him around the blocks. The girls brought their kick-sled along and took turns pushing it. Steve said his chest still really hurt, but that his knee was o.k.
          When we got home our neighbor Brenda brought over the most amazing homemade bread and jelly. Everyone immediately dove right in because it was still warm, and there is nothing better than bread fresh from the oven.Isn't it beautiful....
            We spent the rest of the day catching up on housework, playing our guitars, reading, playing on the internet, and just relaxing. Normally we would have been out skiing on such a sunny day, but since our skis are still in Canada it forced us to do something different and take it easy. And, maybe that is exactly what we all needed anyways.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Steve's Car Accident

         Most of us are familiar with the saying "when it rains it pours." However, for Northern Michigan purposes I would like to describe my feelings about today this way: "When it blows."

        In other words, it seems as though we are having a month of bad luck, because today Steve got into a really bad car accident. Last night he announced a surprise that we would be going into Canada to do an all day ski at Hiawatha Trail System. However, this morning when we woke up we saw that it looked cold and dreary and windy. But, when Steve got home from his morning run he was still optimistic about us all going. "It won't be that bad in the woods...come on guys, in a few weeks we won't be able to ski anymore!"

     Even though we knew he had been planning on spending the whole day skiing with us and we were excited about skiing, for some reason the girls and I didn't want to go. We weren't buying that the weather would improve. Since we are able to view the weather conditions at our house almost every day and tend to notice patterns, we felt confident in our decision to stay home, believing that the wind would only increase as the day went on.

     So, Steve packed up his ski gear, and asked one more time if we were sure, (making us feel really guilty), and then headed out the door.

    First, he stopped at Soo Fireplace, because he needed to pick-up our repaired glass fireplace door. The week before we left for Florida we were re-stocking the fire when a funny shaped log turned as I placed it into the firebox,  and it somehow managed to crack the glass. It was a bit of a fiasco because we had to get the fire put out and toss burning logs into the snow. But, we ordered a new piece of glass and it had finally come in and was ready for us to install so we could stop freezing around here! Steve and I were REALLY excited to get it!

     Then, Steve crossed the border into Canada and began the quick drive to the ski trails. About 5 minutes before he got there, at a big intersection, as he was going through a green light, he was struck by a Ford Escape on his right front end. The Ford had blown right through a red light. Steve thinks he was traveling about 30mph and that the other car was probably going 50mph. The impact spun him around and totaled the car. It tore our ski box and roof racks off the top of the car. And, our new fireplace door that he had just picked up was smashed :(

     Steve didn't take a ride in the ambulance because he didn't know if our insurance would cover it, but the driver of the other car was taken away on a stretcher. Of course, Steve immediately called me and asked to come pick him up. The girls and I rushed around grabbing bridge toll, birth certificates, blankets etc. and then started the drive in. By this time the wind had really picked up, but I didn't know the roads would be as treacherous as we found them to be. Had I known, I would have left the girls with a neighbor. There were sections of 6 Mile rd. where I couldn't see for 20 seconds at a time, and we were terrified that WE would get into an accident on our way to pick up Steve. (Later on we found out that there were lots of accidents today and many roads were closed for periods of time because of the white-outs and drifting snow).

      When we arrived on the corner where the accident occurred we found Steve waiting with a police officer. He was still shaking; partially from adrenaline and partially from being cold. Our ski box was tossed up into the snow bank, and Steve had removed the girls car seats and any other necessities from the car. The car had already been towed away, and the tow truck company would have to come back and pick up our ski box and roof racks. Steve and I thanked the police officer and then drove down to the tow truck company and took a quick gander at our newly deceased car. Then we drove to the States, and Steve went to the E.R., because by this time he was complaining that his chest was really hurting him.

     It turns out he is pretty lucky, because chest x-rays show only deep bruising and no broken ribs. He also really bruised his knee when it jammed into the dashboard. I am sure he will wake up even more sore tomorrow, but we are all thankful that he probably won't suffer any long lasting effects from the accident. Let's hope the other driver has a similar outcome. 

     The car Steve was driving didn't have full insurance coverage on it, but the police officer reassured him that most likely the other driver's insurance will cover the car, and possibly even the belongings that were in it.

     So, I don't know if it was our intuition about the weather that saved the girls and I from also experiencing this accident, but we are thankful that we weren't in the car as well. We are also just feeling really sorry for "Daddy." Not only did he not get to ski, but he lost a lot more. He lost his work commuter car, his new fireplace door, and a way to transport our skis :(

     Let's hope these "bad winds" we seem to be experiencing this month shift soon and start blowing some better luck our way! Maybe our family is just in need of some good lessons on perspective, patience and thankfulness?

     With spring coming up Steve and I were talking about things we are looking forward to doing on the lake... like sailing. So, this week I think I will meditate a bit on these quotes to help us weather these storms of life:

"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship." - Louisa May Alcott

"We cannot control the wind, but we can direct the sail."

"A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor."

(Autumn took this little snippet of video on our treacherous drive back home)...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spring Has Sprung....A Leak!

     My calendar cheerfully announces that tomorrow is the first day of spring! My calendar is hopelessly optimistic. The bright cheery flowers blooming on it's glossy March page seem to mock me. I am starting to resent my calendar. It's always telling me what to know "spring forward," "fall backwards," "go to the dentist". In fact, I think it's kind of bossy if you ask me.Where was this calendar of mine printed anyways?....Hawaii???!!!
      If my calendar could take into account weather conditions (like the fact that heavy, wet snow was falling all day today, and we still have snow banks as high as our mailbox) then the "First Day of Spring" might not officially show up on it's pages until May. And, out of sympathy, it's bright flower picture would be replaced by something less insensitive, like comics,... for to survive these final days of our northern Michigan winter it is necessary to have a VERY good sense of humor:


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pressure Tank Breaks But Leads To Thanks, March 15-16th 2014

               Saturday morning was the girls last Jackrabbit session for the winter. It was Family Fun Day. We skied the Pinder, Sugar Bush, Mockingbird, and White Pine extensions at Hiawatha. The club had a bonfire going on the trail system as well as hotdogs and cookies and hot cocoa. It was really cold and a bit windy, but the sun was brilliant and made up for it.
               After skiing we headed to the Norris Center locker room so we could all quickly take showers, because we still had no running water. Then, it was off to the Family Fun Fair put on by CEF at Sault Middle School. We were amazed at how fun this was! They had a clown tying balloons, face painting, popcorn, crafts, and all sorts of carnival games and prizes. The girls were glad they went.
               We didn't go to church on Sunday because Steve desperately wanted Uncle Ben to help him under the house, and Ben was planning on leaving in the afternoon. When he came over they pulled out the pressure tank and the pipes and pressure switch that were connected to it. But, while they were wrenching on them trying to remove a pipe they wound up breaking the pressure tank. Fortunately, Aunt Amanda was up visiting and happened to be in town. So, Steve called the hardware store and ordered a new tank and Aunt Amanda delivered it. Uncle Ben stayed a bit longer, but then he had to head home, and the system was still not put back together. Plus, the main line still needed to be thawed using an ingenious idea we copied from YouTube (I will share the video at the end).
                Uncle Ben left his coveralls for us, and Steve asked if I could venture under the house with him and help. I really didn't want to, but I donned the Dickies and grabbed a headlamp and headed for the crawlspace unwillingly. My reasons for not being excited : First, it was really cold out. Second, I had never been under the house and was scared of it because there is literally only about a foot of head space (which means you have to army crawl in nasty powdery sand under cobwebby pipes all the way to the other side of the house). Third, I didn't think I would be much help. But, I mustered up my courage and crawled under there because I knew Steve had been suffering under there trying to figure out our problem all week.
                It was worse than I could have imagined. Immediately I wanted a breathing mask because the sandy dust was horrible, and I quickly understood why Steve had kept saying he didn't think he could fix the problem....there was no room to move. I wasn't much help, so I immediately climbed back out and went walking down our road in search of a neighbor who might know something about fitting pipes back together when you can't get any leverage.
             I happened to run into our neighbors John and Chris, who informed me that they had just had a pipe freeze under their house that morning, and that they could always help if we needed it. At that same moment, another neighbor named Steve, was out walking his dog and stopped by our house to welcome us back from our trip. The girls told him that Mom and Dad were under the house. About 15 minutes after I crawled back under the house to keep Steve company  I was pleasantly surprised to see John crawl up to us, and then a few minutes after that Steve crawling in with bright lights.
               To make a long story short, we wound up with one more neighbor under our house, named Dave. Steve said that they all had to push and pull on the pipe to get it fitted on to the other one, and that he couldn't have done it without their help. After, some issues getting the water running at proper flow, and then finally figuring out that the Culligan filter was completely clogged, we happily left the water running in our house all night. We all were never so happy to have good neighbors.....and water.
                Now flushing our toilets seems like a luxury, and don't get me started on showers! Laundry took me an entire day of work to catch back up on and the house is slowly working its way back to its former cleaner self. No more dishes stacking up. The whole week we had been filling up plastic jugs at our neighbor Roger's house and hauling them back over to our house. We just couldn't believe the amount of water we were using to perform the necessary tasks of keeping our toilets flushed etc. Next time we have a water outage we are going to use a bucket for bathroom needs! Also, we are going to swallow our pride and ask for help much sooner!
                It was going to cost $500 to have a plumber come out and do the job we needed, and even though we didn't save as much money as we had hoped, because we had to buy a new pressure tank, (and even though it was a huge hassle), we all learned a lot and feel closer to our neighbors and Uncle Ben because of it. So, in the end we have decided that it is better to get messy and tackle issues on our own than to get ripped off.

               So, in closing,  here is the YouTube video we watched in order to learn a method to thaw our main water line. I think Steve said he thawed 25 feet, and it took him at least a few hours. So, it works, and it is definitely the way we would do it if this ever happens again (which I hope it never does).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Singing The Vacation Blues

          It has been two days since our family arrived home from a long vacation in Florida, and I feel as though we are all experiencing a bit of "vacation blues." It is really hard to jump back into the old routine... After vacation everything seems to be a bit less appealing. 

          I guess it doesn't help that upon our arrival home we discovered that our water wasn't running in the house. After some investigation under the house and an expensive visit from the "well pump man," we have discovered that the pipe between our well and our water tank has frozen. Yes, the pipe that is buried deep under the ground in the perma-frost. It was hard enough returning to ice, cold, and plenty of snow after days of sun and swimming, but this makes it even harder. Laundry is piling up, washing dishes and flushing toilets is a chore, and the thought of paying a plumber to unfreeze pipes is more frightening than the cost of Disney tickets!

          My Dad came along on our vacation and I am sure he is also suffering a similar depression from the new snow they just received downstate. 

          Each time we go to Florida we begin to appreciate the benefits of living in a warmer climate year round...the roads are smooth, the cars stay clean, and the people can exercise and keep their bodies lean. There is nothing to shovel, and little to rake, and no one goes to the tanning parlor to fake and bake. Sure there are more people and gators and sharks, and it's probably not safe to go walking in parks when it's dark....but someday I just might get sick of this cold, and grow some wings and let them unfold, I'll migrate to the south with the rest of that old flock, I'll become a snowbird...wouldn't that be a shock!

         Well, it would be a shock, because as unhappy as we are right now, in a few weeks spring will hopefully arrive, and we will quickly forget this painful winter, and be happy again to live in such a beautiful and amazing area. I love the weather in Florida, but I am not sure I could give up Michigan for it.

         In the meantime I will just watch our vacation video a little every day and reminisce until these vacation blues go away: