Friday, June 23, 2017


The "Teacherage," as my husband has taken to calling it, is coming along nicely...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Memorial Weekend

Over Memorial Weekend
we stayed in one of our favorite
little cabins. But we also:
watched Michigan's largest Memorial Day parade,

practiced the finer points of baggataway
at Fort Michilimackinac,

 and made mom happy by making sure the
weekend included just a little bit of learning.

Except for the mosquitoes,
 it was a great unofficial start to summer. 
(It has to be unofficial since our last day of school
isn't until Friday.)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Kid's Fishing Day

Yesterday I saw a sign for Kid's Fishing Day, and I realized, I'd never posted about the last time we went. It's only been three years, right?  Kind of the story of my life lately...

The kids thoroughly enjoyed Kid's Fishing Day over in St. Ignace. We often visit Castle Rock Ponds, but we'd never made it over for this event. Kid's Fishing Day is actually part of Free Fishing Weekend - put on by the State of Michigan. During those two weekends (one in June and one in February) adults can fish without a license (kids under 17 never need licenses in Michigan.)  

The kids loved the free hot dogs, the giant catch and release trout, and the unending prizes. Both kids were thrilled with what they won - S took home a new fishing pole and a tackle box and K won a sweatshirt. K won at the last possible prize - you could see the worry of not winning melt away as the announcer called her name. This year they both won gift certificates from businesses in St. Ignace.

Big thank yous to Gustafson's Smoked FishBC Pizza and Bentley's for supporting this event. S & K were thrilled with the prizes and gift certificates you donated!

S was much more interested in the other non-fish critters in the pond. Instead of showing you yet another photo of the frogs he's caught, I'll share this little guy:

S was so proud of that tiny little turtle! (It's shell was about the size of a silver dollar.) Of all the things S has caught over the years, this was the hardest one for him to let go...

Kid's Fishing Day, this year, is Saturday, June 10th.

Sunday, June 4, 2017


I can't remember when I first read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale,  but over the years I've read it four or five times. If you're not familiar with the story, it revolves around a woman living in a not too distant future. A future in which the US has been replaced by a Christian theocracy  which forces the few remaining fertile women  to bear children for the ruling class. It's challenging for the main character to embrace this new life because she remembers the life she use to have with her husband and daughter before the regime change. Plus, her new life kinds of sucks...

Thursday I stopped at the library so I could read it again  and I found the original checkout record in the front of the book. 

The Island's copy was first checked out in May of 1986 (the year the American edition was first published) and had only been checked out 18 times until I picked it up last week. The last time it was checked out was in May of 1995 - 22 years ago. I suppose I should be thankful the library decided to hold onto it.

I thought it was time to reread The Handmaid's Tale since we started watching the Hulu series based on the book:

I must admit, the series is good, and quite well done. Without giving anything away, I feel it stays true to the voice Margaret Atwood gave her main character (in the book, we never learn her real name.) And while Hulu did make changes, I think they work. If you have access to the show, I highly recommend it. Though, given the nature of the subject matter, you'll want to watch it after the kids have gone to bed...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Field Trip

On Friday the 4th, 5th and 6th graders got a chance to tour the Icebreaker Mackinaw. It was really interesting. It's one of those local attractions that most of the island kids (including mine) had never visited before. I think the ship looks pretty much like it did when the Coast Guard was using it; it almost looks like they just walked away and left everything behind. There were manuals on the shelves and equipment in the cupboards.

The kids got to tour the ship, a ham radio and navigation demonstration, as well as a question and answer session with a gentleman who served aboard the vessel in the 1970s. (He was the coolest part of the tour for me.) After we disembarked we headed over to our favorite lunch buffet: BC Pizza!
The kids stuffed themselves with pizza, bread sticks, and cinnamon sticks and then it was off to the Jack Pine Lumberjack Show.
The jokes are corny and I'm quite certain the guys decide who will win each event before the show begins, but they kids loved it. And the lumberjacks really climb the poles, chop logs, and carve with chain saws - which the kids thought was really cool. But I think the kids' favorite part was the autograph session after the show.  Each lumberjack had a big marker and was willing to sign big chunks of - scrap wood for the kids. 
Plus, we found out they're going to have log rolling classes for kids this simmer. My son is really interested, so I think you may just find us by that pond on Tuesday and Thursday mornings this summer. I'm hoping to stay dry...

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!