Tuesday, May 23, 2017

It's Not Everyday a Wizard Turns Eleven

Since my daughter was turning eleven we just had to celebrate Harry Potter style. After we turned the dining room into the Great Hall with spell books, owls, and snakes,

my husband made the cake, The Monster Book of Monsters, out of homemade modeling chocolate. (Yeah, he's that awesome!)

The best thing about this party was I was able to borrow or inexpensively make almost everything. (Kind of handy that we had March is Harry Potter Month at school a couple of years ago. Oh yeah, and that I'm a hoarder.)

My favorite part, was the "bewitched" candles (translate that to: suspended from clear Command adhesive hooks with fishing line.) I made them out of toilet paper tubes, hot glue, white spray paint and cheap battery powered tea lights. They looked really cool.

It still hasn't hit me that she's eleven. When did that happen???

Friday, May 19, 2017


The art of being happy lies in the
power of extracting happiness from
common things.
Henry Ward Beecher

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Sometimes when I'm frustrated, angry, disappointed  or have just had a long day, the simple act of pausing in the garden helps me let go and find peace. I'm not sure how I got lucky enough to have these beautiful wild flowers pop up in my garden, but I am very thankful for these beautiful trillium.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Things are changing in our neighborhood. Mackinac is experiencing a  housing crisis, so the Island school is building a duplex to house teachers. 

I may be a wee bit biased, but I'm excited at the prospect of new neighbors!

Sunday, May 7, 2017


This morning I dusted off my grandmother's crepe pans, and with help of this recipe made a darn good breakfast. Every time I make them I remember why it was such a special treat when Grandma Mary made them for us...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Dying Eggs with Ties


We decided to try something new for Easter this year - dying our eggs with silk ties. I picked up the ties at the thrift shop for around $2.00 each, and the kids had a hoot. They chose their ties and wrapped the eggs, but the best part was unwrapping the them after they had cooked.

It was hard to know what they were going to look like while they were boiling, but in the end they turned out nicely. Though we discovered our pink and yellow ties didn't work very well - nor did that beautiful turquoise. However, the reds, blues and the greens all worked just fine. We might just have to try this again next year. 

(We followed this tutorial.)

Monday, April 10, 2017

New Toy

My wonderful parents got me a cover stitch machine for Christmas. It's finally here and I can't wait to open the box and get sewing. Best. Present. Ever!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Wax Museum

The Wax Museum was another fun activity the kids got to do for March is Reading Month. Back at the end of February each of them choose a "Space Case" (a.k.a. an important person relating to space science) to research and then become for the Wax Museum.

My son wanted to learn more about Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. (In 1963 - the Soviet Union did it a full 20 years before the US sent Sally Ride up on the space shuttle Challenger.) He and I worked for over a week making his paper mache helmet, while grandma only took an afternoon to cut down a size 2X Tyvek suit so it would fit him. He loved learning that the Russian space agency sent her into space for three days without a toothbrush.

When it was time to choose, my daughter instantly knew she wanted to be Neil DeGrasse Tyson. She has liked him ever since we watched Cosmos, which she loved. I must admit I loved the quote she chose to represent him, "The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it." I think Mr. Tyson would approve; perhaps we should send him a picture...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dress Like an Alien Day

For March is Reading Month this year, our theme at school was Space Exploration. The vast majority of the activities for the month were science based, but one week we decided to have  little bit of fun with Dress Like an Alien Day. S and K were thrilled and quickly put in their requests. K knew immediately she wanted to be Oh from the movie Home.

Her Boov vest is an adapted version of this pattern and I was thrilled to get help making her nostricles (the antenna-like things on her head)  from a nice woman I discovered on Instagram. She was kind enough to share all the nostricle-making knowledge she learned from making her own Boove costume. Mine certainly need weren't perfect, but K was thrilled with her hat - though she was quite disappointed that we didn't have any lavender face paint.

Much to my dismay, my son wanted a brain slug from Futurama. (Not my favorite show to be sure, but that's a post for another day.) He knows Futurama is not a show I particularly like, so he found the pattern and emailed it to me. Well, how could I say no to that? I know, I couldn't, so he got his brain slug - which ended up being pretty darn cute.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Old Meets New

A few weekends ago I drafted patterns and sewed the bumpers for the school's FRC robot. It makes me smile to think that parts of this modern robot were made on a 1953 sewing machine.

Photo courtesy of Gregg Neville

Sunday, March 5, 2017


Despite the occasional grouchy sounding, "You sank my battleship," the happy sounds of siblings getting along is all I'm hearing right now. So often they're annoyed and frustrated with one another, without the tiniest bit of patience or empathy for what may be going on with the other one. But not right now; right now they are best friends. I just hope that this post doesn't completely jinx things...

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Snack Time

The other day my daughter noticed the chickadees going crazy at the bird feeder.  Her father insisted, if she held some bird seed in her hand and held very still, she just might get one to land on her hand. It took a good 15 minutes but, he was right!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

2017 Valentines

As always, my kiddos wanted personalized Valentine cards to pass out to their friends at school. This year Miss K wanted cards with this Sans character on them. (Apparently Sans is a little skeleton guy in a game called Undertale - which, of course, I've never heard of. Nor has she ever played.) We packaged him with SweeTart skulls and bones. Most of her friends didn't get the tibia joke, but that's OK.

S has been addicted to Swedish Fish lately and wanted something with a fishy theme. Nothing too fancy, but they sure looked cute in bags with the red fishies. I hadn't had Swedish fish in years - I'd forgotten just how good they were...

Feel free to download these and use them. The high resolution versions are below; just right click and save to your computer. Only part  the image shows, but it will all be there when you save it.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


My students think I just assign homework; little do they know that I often have to do homework as well. Though, I am most definitely not complaining about having papers to grade; I adore my job. The drudgery of inputting grades is just one small part of the wonderful whole that is teaching. Getting to spend my days with great kids is worth the time I spend at the keyboard.

In case you're wondering about the small sheet of paper that reads "Get Comfy" in the photo, it's a prize the kids can earn. A Get Comfy Pass entitles to bearer to get comfy all day - he or she may sit in the soft arm chair, wear their PJs and have a stuffed animal friend at their seat. It's my daughter's all time favorite prize. She chooses the Get Comfy Pass over the Homework Pass every time.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Just Ask

Recently, I got a message with some questions about snowmobiles and it got me thinking - my guess is that lots of folks are curious about them. So I thought I'd take a moment to answer a few questions.

Fist of all, snowmobiles are a little like motorcycles. However, they have a lower center of gravity and the driver doesn't need to shift gears. They're so easy to drive that at 12, kids in Michigan can get a license to drive one after taking a driving course. (Which my son just finished and is now a licensed driver.)

1. Do snowmobiles have very big gas tanks?

I'm not quite sure how to answer that. The gas tank on a snowmobile is smaller than the tank on a car, but snowmobiles are much smaller than a car. Both of our snowmobiles have eight gallon gas tanks. Our older machines get just over eight miles to a gallon of gas. That translates to around 60 miles on a tank of gas. Given that I drive one mile to school each morning and then one mile home, I don't fill up all that often.

2. Where on the island do you get gas for them?

We buy gas at the hardware store. (It's on the Coal Dock, which is sometimes called UTP or Union Terminal Pier.) It's small, but can usually get anything we need. Gas there costs more than it does on the mainland, so when we can cross the ice, we usually fill up in St. Ignace.

3. When you drive across the ice bridge and reach St. Ignace, are there trails open for snowmobiles to get around town?

We can drive across the ice and then across the street to the gas station to fill up, and using some back roads access the snowmobile trails. You can't really drive around town on your snowmobile - we just hop into the car if we need to do that.

4. What's a groomer an how do you groom snowmobile trails?

A grooming machine smooths and levels out a trail. They are generally pulled behind a tractor or something similar. None of the snowmobile trails on the island are groomed. However, the cross country skiing trails are groomed using a small groomer that's pulled behind a snowmobile.

5. An article I read talked about snowmobiles going 55-70 mph. Do they really go that fast? Do you go that fast on the island?

Yes, many easily go that fast, some go even faster, but we don't ride that fast on the island. The speed limit on much of the island is 20 mph, not to mention that you don't want to drive on narrow twisty trails going much faster than that. That said, there is no speed limit out on the ice. Out there, there's plenty of space and on a clear day, great visibility. Once, on a very smooth ice bridge Allen and I crossed doing about 80 mph. (Without kids, of course.)

If anyone happens to have any more questions, leave a comment or email me, and I'll do my best to answer. And if the formatting of this post seems a bit off, my apologies. I am done fighting with Blogger about it!

Friday, February 3, 2017


Mackinac Island's annual Winter Festival starts tomorrow! My daughter's cardboard sled is all ready and both of my children are all looking forward to making s'mores. I hope they decide to play a round of snow golf.  

If not, they might join in a game of broom hockey,

or bowl a few frozen chickens.

I don't think there will be a "Glow Ride" this year, but back in 2015, both of my children loved it.

If you're in the neighborhood, stop by Great Turtle Park tomorrow and join in the fun!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Back in the Day

Back in the day my Grandpa was a police officer. Once, I accidentally referred to him as a "cop," and I was immediately and severely reprimanded. 

"A cop is a constable on patrol; They can be found in England. I am a police officer," he explained. He was always very proud of the years he worked as a police officer in Detroit. 

A friend of my father's came across this photograph while perusing an article on the history of the Detroit Police Department. My dad's friend noticed the caption: "Detroit Police Officer Reyniear Staats addresses students in the Chalk Talk school programs at Nichols School in Detroit in 1940." All the images in the article are interesting, but this one caught his attention because he recognized my grandfather's unusual name. So, just for fun, I searched for my grandpa's name on Facebook and the same photo came up. Down the rabbit hole I went. After a bit of Googling, I found this photo from March of 1968:

Apparently, after Grandpa retired, he got involved with AAA (The American Automobile Association.) In this photo he's posing with an Albion Police Officer who attended a bicycle safety seminar put on by AAA. 

I tip my hat to the lovely people who wrote on the back of those old pictures. Otherwise I would have never gotten to see them...

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Pea Soup

For the past week and a half Mackinac Island has been shrouded with fog; odd weather for January in northern Michigan. Thankfully the boats are still running - though not on Sundays. Lots of folks ended up having to spend the night in St. Ignace this past Sunday since the planes just couldn't fly safely through fog like this. The fog and the warm days are making these last weeks in January feel more like early April.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Highly Recommended

Ten years have passed since the last book in A Series Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snicket (also known as Daniel Handler) was published. The tale contained within the 13 volume series is, at times, so heart wrenching, one must take a break from reading, lest he or she fall in to a pit of despair - the word "despair," as you well know, means a complete absence of hope.

If you have yet to read these books, plan a quick junket - which here means "a pleasurable excursion"  - to your local library and check out all of them. Yes, all 13 books; if the librarian will allow it. (There are actually 14 books if you include the Unauthorized Biography of Lemony Snicket which was published between The Hostile Hospital and The Carnivorous Carnival.

These books chronicle the woeful tale of the three Baudelaire Orphans (Violet, Klaus and Sunny) as the abominable, (which in this context means "completely awful,") Count Olaf attempts to steal their inheritance and dispatch, or kill, them. And while the books are extremely unpleasant and may bring a reader to tears, I highly recommend them all, the whole kit and caboodle.

Avoid the film at all costs. While Jim Carrey does a top-notch job of bringing the treacherous Count Olaf to life on screen, the screen writer encapsulated, or mashed together with complete disregard of chronological order, the events of the first three books.  (For shame Robert Gordonfor shame.)

However, Netflix has recently added The Series of Unfortunate Events to their library.  The show is  the complete antitheses of the film. The use of the word "antitheses" here indicates the Netflix show is as incredibly good as the 2004 film is awful.  In other words, the series is very, very well done.

If you haven't watched it yet, take a moment to view the trailer:

But, don't say I didn't warn you. The life of the Baudelaire orphans is, quite literally, a series of unfortunate events. But on the bright side you will learn the meanings of numerous interesting words including ersatz, penultimate, austere and feign. Which may be of some assistance if you happen to be a member of a secret organization.

Oh yes, and after you do read the books, go back and rewatch the series to see just how many Easter Eggs you can find.

I hope you are a very fine detective...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Unfortunately, My Kids Hate Me Tonight

Fortunately, the Mackinac Island Medical Center has always provided flu vaccines to island residents - shots for adults and nasal mist for the kiddos.

Unfortunately, this year, they weren't able to get any of the nasal mist.

Fortunately, they had plenty of doses to vaccinate us when we arrived this afternoon.

Unfortunately, my children were not mentally prepared to get shots today.

Fortunately, the nurses did a great job putting the kids at ease about having to get a flu shot.

Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to Mama, each of the kids were due for additional shots. (Two additional for S and one additional for K - ugh.) 

Fortunately, it was over quickly, despite the pain.

Unfortunately, I am most definitely not my childrens' favorite parent tonight.

Fortunately, I can live with that. And, they'll live with out getting the flu, tetanus or HPV, which fortunately, is a very good thing.

Inspired by one of our favorite books.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

New Tricks

I love learning new things. Sure I've been teaching a long time, but things do change. That's  part of the reason I am really enjoying the professional development I've been working on lately. I get frustrated when I have to miss school for just so-so PD, but this class is totally worth missing one day each month. The Next Generation Science Standards are taking science instruction to great places, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Furry Fun

While we were in the Salvation Army Thrift Store over Christmas break, my son spotted a Furby. What was left of the shredded box was held together by tape, but the little guy inside looked brand new. The price tag said it was $10.00, but all toys that day were half price. "Can I get it?" he asked. My husband quickly agreed, knowing full well that Furbies are hackable.

The kids have been having a lot of fun playing with it, though my daughter is not keen on sleeping in the same room with it. (She felt better knowing the army guys would keep her safe.)

After paying five bucks for the thing, I was shocked to see this at Target a a couple days later:

Sure it's been fun, but not that much fun...