Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring is Here

Today was the day - the First Day of Boats 2011! That means it is officially spring on Mackinac Island. As usual for this time of the year, it was an icy trip across the Straits.

Lots of people went outside to watch the boat break through the thick ice in the St. Ignace harbor. Some of the ice was still more than a foot thick.

After seeing the boat out yesterday afternoon working on breaking a path through the ice, we had an inkling that they might start today.

It was a perfect day to come home from spring break: beautiful sunshine, calm waters and a running ferry. Not even the mile and a half walk home could dampen my spirits. The kids, use to riding snowmobiles all winter, have been balking at all the walking lately. Today all it took was a reminder that once the dray delivered our groceries to the house, the Doritos would be there and they could have a special snack. (I only buy Doritos about three times a year, so they are a really special snack in our house.) Surprisingly, there were no more complaints...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Yesterday was the rare kind of day that makes
Mackinac Island feel isolated.

No ice.
No boats.
No planes.

Just fog
and quiet.

The mainland might as well
be a million miles away...

Friday, March 18, 2011

I Wonder...

The other day while my daughter and I were walking to school, she suddenly stopped mid-sentence and asked, "I wonder what those pretend ducks are doing?"

"Pretend ducks?" was my reply because I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.

"Those pretend ducks, Mama. Up there." She pointed to the electric lines running above the road. "What are they doing up there?"

I just love how she asks questions about everything. It pains me when I hear parents say things like, "Stop asking so many questions," or answer, "It just IS," in response to, "Why?" (even when it is the fifth "why" in the last three minutes.) Good thinkers wonder about the world, and so often we - unintentionally in our busy adult lives - squash that sense of wonder in our little ones. I want to do everything I can to encourage that sense of wonder in my children. I won't always know the answer, but that's O.K.

My daughter now knows that those shapes are there to keep the wires from touching because that would be very dangerous, but she still calls them the pretend ducks. Who am I to argue - they really do have a very ducky shape. Of course, being the complete and total geek that I am, I had to know what they're really called. So I phoned a friend of ours who works for the island electric company. He tells me they're called "spacers," but somehow I like "pretend ducks" better...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Winter Festival

Somehow I missed posting about Mackinac Island's Winter Festival this year. So, while this is sadly a month late, here are some of the weekend's highlights. We spent our time:

bowling with frozen poultry,

getting our faces painted,

hunting for eggs,

voting for calendar photos,



fishing for prizes,



and brunching.

Such a fun weekend.
Thanks MIRD; you guys rock!

(MIRD stands for Mackinac Island Recreational Development.
They're the group that organizes the Winter Festival.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Mackinac Island remembered the life of Bobby Roach this past Saturday night. My husband and I didn't make it to the street hockey game or the memorial ride around the island, but we did manage to stop by the bonfire to pay our respects. I didn't know Bobby well, but after listening to numerous "Roach Stories" at the fire, it's clear that he will be sorely missed by those who did...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Homemade Fossils

Ready for some dinorific fun?

Let's make sure we have everything we need:

Books to read?


Sample fossils to explore?


A dinosaur snack?


Pages to color if there's extra time?


Rock dough?


Shells and model dinosaurs to use for impressions?


Who knew learning about fossils could be so much fun!

Fossil Dough Recipe

1 cup used coffee grounds (they don't have to be dry)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup cold coffee

Stir the together the coffee grounds, flour, and salt until they are well mixed. Then pour in the coffee a little at a time and mix until you have a soft dough. (You may not use all the coffee.) Work the dough on wax paper, freezer paper, etc. and then allow to dry for a day or two. We used sea shells, leaves, and model dinosaurs to create examples of impression fossils.

I actually made a double batch of the dough; one following the recipe above and a second batch where I used instant coffee instead of used coffee grounds. It yielded a much darker brown and smoother dough. When I kneaded the two together I got some very interesting patterns ; to me it looked more rock-like than just the plain dough. Not that the kids really cared, they just had a lot of fun playing around with science. I did too...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

More Costumes

I decided to dress as a Roman woman for dress-up day. Except for the blue ribbon, I had everything on hand. Luckily the pattern pieces (McCall's 2895) fit between the holes on the old sheet! (I knew it would come in handy.) I was also glad that I remembered I had leftovers from my daughter's 2009 Halloween costume that worked perfectly for the shoulder drape.

I can't wait to see what creative things my students come up with...

Background Roman ruins image can be found here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Future Pharaoh

Wednesday is Ancient Times Dress-up Day at school. Of course, given our family connection to Egypt, my son decided he wanted to dress as a pharaoh. (Sorry about the pixelated face, but I don't put the faces of my children on-line.) All I needed was a little help from mom (who purchased the supplies and shipped them to me), Simplicity pattern 2329, and about four hours of sewing time. Stitching the lining in the curved neck of the outfit was quite a challenge, but a good learning experience. I opted to leave off the cuffs and cape included in the pattern for a more masculine look. Men in ancient Egypt didn't usually wear shirts, but I couldn't see how I could send him to school that way - especially this time of year. I brought the headpiece home after my visit to the Pharaonic Village (in Cairo) back in 2009.

As you can see, my photo editing skills are getting better. I had a lot of fun editing myself out of that pyramid photo and then pasting my son in; so much better than my earlier attempts.

I just love dress-up days...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Captain Caveman

Is this a fabulous caveman costume or what! I have to tell you I was simply in awe of some of the super creative costumes I saw at school today. Every year as part of our March is Reading Month celebration at the Mackinac Island Public School we have dress-up days; today was Caveman Day. (Sexist, I know but little ones just wouldn't get "Homo Habilis Day.")

Our theme this year is Time Out for Reading, so all of our activities will revolve around reading and time: timed tasks, time periods, telling time, times tables, etc. The kids are all looking forward to our weekly Minute to Win it! games. I've never seen the show, but it sounds like a hoot.

My son's costume wasn't nearly as creative as the first one, but S loved wearing his "saber tooth tiger skin." He takes after his mother so being able to dress-up made him happy despite the fact that I wouldn't let him paint our baseball bat brown and bring it to school with him.

I was pretty proud of that little tunic. It may not have taken top honors for creativity, but I did whip it up without a pattern. I was inspired by the tiger strip material; when I saw it in Joann's, I knew it had to come home with me. They had a giraffe and zebra print too, but the tiger just spoke to me. In fact, I was humming The Flintstones theme song as I stood in line at the cutting counter.

I did have a pattern for my outfit (McCall's 2895.) It went together quickly, though I discovered that it runs a bit big. I had planned on wearing it over pants and a shirt, but even over clothing I had lots of room. I think I'm going to use the same pattern for next week's costume for Ancient Times Day, though I'll make it one size smaller. I've already dug out an old white sheet that will be prefect.

(Student photo above used with permission.)