Saturday, December 20, 2014


Snowmobile helmets are big. So big, that they won't fit in a standard school locker. Most of our high school kids keep them up on top of their lockers, but that's just too high for the elementary kids to reach.  So our custodian, with the help of a few zip ties, came up with this quick, brilliant and cost effective way store helmets at school.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Oh Christmas Cat

Our cat, Minnie, has decided the Christmas tree is a special climbing toy we put up just for her. Then again, she thinks just about everything in our house is a play thing just for her. She's so adorable yet so incredibly frustrating...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Mackinac Moment: Black Friday

Black Friday was rather quiet on Mackinac Island.

We saw a few people people out and about, but for the most part town was empty.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thankful for Insurance

Let me start by saying that my daughter is fine. She's fine today, but three weeks ago things weren't so great.

You see, on a Friday morning, just after breakfast, my daughter swallowed a quarter.  She didn't mean to swallow it; it was an accident. That quarter was then stuck in her esophagus and was not moving. After two sets of x-rays, a phone consultation with an ENT and a shot of glucagon (to get her smooth muscles moving,) we were on our way to DeVoss Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids. The Island Medical Center called the ferry so they held the last boat for us and after the 20 minute boat ride and four hour drive we arrived at the hospital. 

The folks at DeVoss were wonderful - absolutely wonderful. They got her right in because the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and nurses will still there. As luck would have it, they had been called in earlier to remove a penny from a two year-old. They put her under anesthesia and were able to go down her throat with a little camera and easily remove the quarter.  (A 2010 New York  quarter if you're wondering.)

They also removed K's loose tooth. Apparently, when people come out of anesthesia they can clench their teeth, so when they put a child with a loose tooth under, they pull the tooth. That way if the child clenches and the tooth comes out it doesn't get swallowed or worse - inhaled. When she woke up K found her tooth, four quarters and a note from the Tooth Fairy that said, "Don't swallow these." You gotta love an anesthesiologist with a sense of humor. 

We left the hospital around midnight and headed for home. Everything went along smoothly until we were about 15 miles from my mom's house in Petoskey. That's where we hit the deer. A poor little doe jumped out right in front of us. 

In the end it all in all it worked out all right. The car was still driveable and apart from being completely exhausted, we were just fine. Now the bills have started to roll in. As of today that dang quarter is worth about $9,000. $6,000 in hospital bills and $3,000 in car repairs.


This Thanksgiving I am incredibly thankful for insurance.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Tomorrow's the Day!

Did you know that for the last ten years a little spacecraft, named Rosetta, has been traveling to catch up with a comet? The name of the comet is quite a mouthful - P76/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, so let's just call it, "the 
comet," shall we?

The Rosetta orbiter has a small lander aboard named Philae. Tomorrow afternoon Philae will launch and land on the comet.

Land - on a comet! Pretty amazing if you ask me.

Check out this cute video put together by the European Space Agency about the mission. It's short and prefect for kids. OK, I loved it too, especially the part where Philae packs for his trip. My students really appreciated the "I love Earth" patch on his little bag.

As I watched that video (and this one) I found myself wondering about all the math involved in making this happen. (It kind of blows my mind.)

If I've peaked your curiosity, you can watch Philea's landing live here. Coverage starts at 2:00 PM EST.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I love Halloween. Love it. Especially helping the kids get the perfect costumes. 

For a number of years now our Tourism Bureau has organized a trick-or-treating through town for the last weekend that the stores are open. This year my son decided he wanted to be a bride: a beautiful bride wearing his great grandmother's mink stole. I was worried he'd take a lot of flack from the other kids (and adults) he knew in town given that a bride is not a typical costume for a ten year-old boy. Thank goodness I was wrong., he got lots of positive comments.

He knew back in August he wanted to be a bride, so we started looking. From the moment he saw it, he loved that dress! We found it at the thrift shop for $25.00. It was a vintage wedding dress with a beaded bodice and a long train, but it had to have been a size zero because it was tight when he wore it with his fleece underneath it. We found the veil at another shop for $5.00. Score! Once we got it all home all I had to do was take the dress in at the bust, add some tucks to shorten it and add a bustle to the back.

Sadly, the "marriage" didn't work out, and by Halloween night my beautiful bride had passed on, started to rot and returned to life as a zombie - who, for some reason, was still wearing the same dress. (Though this time over his coat because once we factored in the wind chill, it was 17 degrees here on Halloween night; about -8 C.) 

He loved being a zombie, but I must admit that I have a personal problem with zombies.  They give me nightmares. We were a little worried about the little ones at school, so the zombie bride only came out at night.

My daughter is now reading her fourth Harry Potter book, so it did not surprise me when she decided she wanted to be Hermione Granger for Halloween this year. I made her Hogwart's robes but I found the tie for $1.50 at yet another thrift shop.  Allen even made her a wand with a tip that could light up.

All afternoon as we trick-or-treated through town people kept saying, "Look, there's Harry Potter." So on Halloween night she changed her mind, had me add a scar to her forehead and decided to be Harry instead.  Her costume was perfect for a Northern Michigan Halloween. She was snug as could be wearing her coat under her robes. 

And just in case you're wondering, the kids trick-or-treated through around 1/2 of the village and each brought home about eight pounds (about 3.5 kg.) of candy. Yum!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ancient Egypt Birthday Treat

My son has always been enamored with ancient Egypt, so I shouldn't have been surprised when he asked for an ancient Egypt-themed birthday party. Oh yeah, and to be honest, I shoud add that he asked for this treat back in September! I'm a wee bit late on this one...

I always try to tie the treat I send into school with the theme of the party, but this year it was tough. There were tons of ideas out there (thank you Pinterest) but I didn't like anything because, a. I didn't want to spend a ton of money and, b. use mummies. 

So this is what I came up with: Pyramids in the desert.

I made cake pops, dipped them in chocolate but then put them in the cupcake liner rather than on a stick. Super easy! The "pyramid" is part of a Toblerone bar sprinkled with turbinado sugar sand. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Little Shopping

Two weeks ago I went shopping with a friend. Can you guess which cart is mine? Remember, I'm shopping to feed a family of four for about three weeks...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ancient Egypt Birthday

My little Pharaoh decided, back in September, that this year he wanted an ancient Egypt birthday party. Luckily we had access to lots of Egyptian goodies since my mom lived and taught in Egypt for two years, and shockingly, my son's pharaoh costume still fit.

We were able to borrow so much from grandma, that all I needed to buy was the gold overlay for the table cloth and the fake papyrus plants for the table.  

We covered the table with the Pharaoh's gold; gold candy that is.

I made the banner, the place cards and the napkins. (Notice how they are folded like pyramids? Clever, aren't I...) We also used the special occasion to get out my grandmother's Dirigold flatware. It's a bear to polish, but it was the prefect addition to our golden table. (No gold in Dirigold - in 1935 the company was forced to change its name to Dirilyte since the US government felt the name was misleading.)

As usual, my husband, Allen, made the cake. He used some little pyramids I brought back from my trip to Egypt as molds to make the pressed brown sugar pyramids he put on top of the cake.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mackinac Prank

I was in town the other morning and found this on main street. Someone was up early and had a little fun; luckily it looks like there was no harm done...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mackinac Moment

Finally a dry morning after eight straight days of rain. Though, with the look of that sky, I'm not holding my breath...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Neighborhood Friends

My daughter has been asking my husband for a while now if we can all sit out on the roof of our porch (through her bedroom window, of course,) so we can watch the stars. Last night was relatively warm, so we all climbed out her window, got comfy, and watched the sky. In addition to stars, satellites and shooting stars, we also heard some of our neighbors whooping it up on a Friday night.

First we heard the island coyote pack yipping and barking. It was most definitely a group of them, and they were really talkative about something. Coyotes have been on the island for quite a while now. Back in summer of 2006 a number of cats "went missing" from the village - most likely eaten by coyotes. I personally haven't seen one, but my husband has seen them, on several mornings, ramble through our backyard just as the sky was lightening. Luckily, it's always been a single animal. Our neighbor has also seen one walking on our street as she's been leaving for work early in the morning. Needless to say, these days, we have an indoor cat...

Last night we also heard several barred owls "hooting." Hoot really isn't the right way to describe the sound these owls make though. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes their call as "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?" It's really amazing to hear them calling back on forth to one another so close to the house. It's so nice just to sit out there and not have to listen to traffic.

Mackinac owl picture courtesy of Zach Coston, coyote courtesy of, 3rd Rock From the Son is owned by The Carsey-Warner Company.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Back Again...

When we're in the neighborhood, we just can't resist stopping at Kitch-iti-kipi, also known as The Big Spring. We don't usually stay for long, but it's so interesting we just have to stop.

The kids love "driving" the raft (A.K.A. turning the wheel to pull the raft across the spring,) and, of course,

watching the trout swim around beneath them. Something like 10,000 gallons of water feed into the spring each second, so watching the sand erupt like little volcanoes on the bottom of the spring is pretty cool, too. 

The hardest part for Allen and K was not being able run back to the car to get their fishing poles. So many trout, but no fishing is allowed in the spring. Sigh.

I'm going to look into taking my class there this fall for a field trip.  They have a naturalist  on staff who may be able to put a program together for us, and I'd be willing to bet that not many of my students have ever been there.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back in the Saddle

The kids and I have been back to school for two weeks now. As much as we love summer, we tend to be a routine oriented family, and being back into the routine of school feels good...

Sunday, September 7, 2014


When you live on Mackinac Island, going grocery shopping off the island can take all day, so sometimes it doesn't happen all that often. In addition to the cupboards being bare, this time of year we start stocking up on stuff we'll need over the winter. Today, those two things made for our most expensive shopping trip ever. Luckily, except for fresh fruits and veggies, I won't need to shop again for quite a while...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All I Can Say is, "Yum"

Allen took the kids and I on a wonderful camping trip recently in the Upper Peninsula, near Manistique. The campsite, the only one on the lake, was lovely and quiet, but, for me, the best part of the weekend was the wild blueberries growing near by.

With a bit of help I managed to bring home 12 lb 9 oz (just under 6 kg) of deliciously sweet berries.

I'd never made jam before (just apple butter,) but wild blueberry jam seemed like a good place to start. I used this recipe. There's a ton of information to sort through on the page, but as a beginner I really appreciated all of her experience.

I crushed, cooked, poured and processed three batches and ended up with 36 eight-ounce jars - just over two gallons of jam! (about 8.5 liters.) And I still have most of a gallon-size zip-lock bag of berries in the freezer.

It was yummy. So much so, that we are heading up to Paradise next week to see if we can pick more. Allen even surprised me with a blueberry rake. I think he's hoping that we'll stock the pantry with blueberry syrup and pie filling, and fill the freezer with berries to enjoy all winter. So, if you know of any good blueberry recipes, please send them my way!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Stopping Traffic

We were off the island exploring the other day and found this guy stopping traffic. Not sure if he was a young raven or a crow, but he limped as I encouraged him to move off to the side of the road. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

No Climbing?

As I was out for a walk the other night I stumbled on this. Too funny...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Into the Wilderness

We finally made it back to the Sturgeon Cabin
at Wilderness State Park.

WSP was wonderful, as always, 
though this year it was rather wet.

But the fish didn't seem to mind...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Independence Day

Instead of our usual Fourth of July spot down by the school, this year we went up to Fort Holmes - the highest point on the Island. We were not disappointed. We got to see our fireworks as well as Mackinaw City's, Cheboygan's and even some from the DeTour-Cedarville-Hessel area off in the distance. The best part was, after the fireworks were over, the walk home was downhill!

This picture is a composite of three separate bursts that I photoshopped together... 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mackinac Moment

We've been having some lovely evenings up here...