Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

May your 2017 be wonderful; full of happiness and love.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Mackinac! 

My son drew that picture of me on the card he gave me for Christmas. It puts a smile on my face every time I look at it. I hope something is making you smile today, too. Another thing making me smile lately - the Huron decked out in her holiday finest.

Wishing you and yours a day that is merry, bright and full of smiles.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ho Ho Ho!

Did you know that when Santa visits Mackinac Island (other than on Christmas Eve) he travels by fire truck? You see, Mackinac Island is the perfect place for those hard-working reindeer to take a little break. They hang out and get pampered at the barn for a while while Santa visits with the Island kids.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Stocking Up

Most people who live on Mackinac try to stock up, at least a little bit, for winter. The ferry company doesn't charge for freight such as boxes and tubs, but the plane charges $2.50 per tub.

So this time of year you'll often see luggage carts on the dock that look like this; filled to the brim with all kinds of necessities to get through the winter.

In case you're curious, lots of us use those Rubbermaid tubs for hauling groceries. They nest for taking the empty ones off the island, then stack easily in the car, and are a good size for the dray drivers to load and unload...

Friday, December 16, 2016


Every afternoon, as the kids and I walk home from school we pass by this lovely little statue of Mary. One day, back when the kids were much younger, one of them asked, "Who is that lady?" 

"It's Mary," I answered, intending to explain why Mary was important enough to merit a statue of her in one's yard, but before I could, the kids started serenading her with "Mary had a little lamb."

I still smile every time I walk by that house. Needless to say, since then, that misconception has been cleared up.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

One Guess

I'll give you one guess about what the weather on
Mackinac Island was like today...


Monday, December 5, 2016

Proud Mackinac Moment

On Saturday seven of Mackinac's finest, also known as the Lake-n-ators, participated in the UP's only First Lego League Qualifying Tournament. This year's theme was Animal Allies.

Everything the kids did revolved round interactions between human and animals.

Mrs.B, the kid's coach (and also our high school math teacher,) has been coaching the island's 5th & 6th grade team for many years now. She's amazing by the way!

The group's first task was to work together as a team to build something to improve an interaction between humans and animals. They had a total of four minutes to organize, plan and build. It was really challenging.

Task two was to put on a skit for the judges. But not just any skit- it had to relate the groups research. Oh yes, did I mention that each team had to choose a problem that is occurring because of a human - animal interaction? Teams also had to come up with a solution to that problem and convey all their information in a five minute play; a play they wrote

(The Lake-n-ators choose to research Michigan's little brown bat. Thousands of them use to flit around Mackinac at night devouring virtually all of our mosquitoes, but due to white nose syndrome the bat population on the Island has plummeted.)

After the kids finished preforming, each team member had to answer questions about the team's research. The island kids really shined here; they knew more about Michigan's little brown bat than most adults - including how to pronounce pseudogymnoascus destructans, the scientific name for white nose syndrome

After their presentation, the Lake-n-ators had three practice runs with their Lego robot before the competition missions began. 

They had a great time - especially beating the college team from Lake State, who did manage to bring their score up from negative infinity to negative Pi. The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and  Electronics Engineers) team got together the night before to work on their missions and skit to provide a little "friendly competition." The kids really got a hoot about watching the score keepers get creative with the IEEE's scores. In addition to the IEEE team, the island kids competed against teams from Petoskey, Charlevoix, Sault Ste. Marie, Cedarville, Menominee, and West Branch, Michigan. (Petoskey and Charlevoix each brought two teams.)

While their mission scores weren't high enough to go on to the next level of competition, the team did win a trophy because they did such an outstanding job on their presentation. All those practices and hours of research paid off! 

As the mom of two team members and the teacher of the entire team, I can't put into words just how incredibly proud I am of all of them. The seven of them came together as a team, put in long hours after school, and worked tirelessly on their missions and research. I hope that every time each one of them walks by the the trophy case at school, he or she stands up a little straighter and feels a sense of pride seeing that Lego trophy sitting on the shelf. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Five Pounds of Sour Cream?

Every fall, when the Island's hotels close, many donate leftover food to the school. Our cook is very good at menu planning with the random food items that appear, but sometimes she gets things she just can't use. Often it's the it items that have already been opened, or that will expire before she can get to them; those things she passes on to the staff and parents. 

This fall she got tons of sour cream - in five pound tubs. One of which, came home with me. Luckily, I knew about this little gem of a recipe: Edna Mae's Sour Cream Pancakes - from the Pioneer Woman. 

The recipe seems off, but trust it - the measurements work. The pancakes are light and fluffy, and they're delicious. According to my daughter, they're the best pancakes in the whole world. If you make them for more than two people, you'll want to double the recipe. A double batch made the perfect amount for my family of four.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Field Trip!

Teaching at the Mackinac Island Public School is pretty amazing. Not only because it's Mackinac Island and our kids are fantastic, but because we have so many groups supporting our school...

Last week my co-teacher and I (with the  help of some super parents) took our 21 fourth, fifth and sixth graders to Lansing - Michigan's Capital city. Most of our trip was generously funded by the Mackinac Island Community Foundation. You may remember this trip they funded for us a couple of years ago.

Our first stop was dinner at Shaw Hall - a residence hall at Michigan State University. For many of the kids it was their first visit to a college campus. I went to MSU and regularly ate lunch at Shaw, so it was fun for me to see just how far dorm food had come.

Then, thanks to the Mackinac Arts Council, we walked over to the Wharton Center to see Wicked

(Photo: The Wharton Center)
A few of the kids had seen it before, but for most of us, it was our first time and we were not disappointed. It was AMAZING! If you live in Michigan and you can get to Lansing in the next week or so - go! I know the play was spell-binding because several fourth grade boys insisted it was the best part of the whole trip!

After a good night's sleep we were off to Impression 5 Science Center for a morning of exploration.

There were so many interesting things to play with, the kids were in constant motion -

until it was time to come together to build electric circuits. 

Next, we had a private tour of the Capitol Building.

Did you know one of the floors in the Capitol is made of glass? The kids were surprised to learn it was only about an inch thick.

They laid on that floor and marveled at the dome 160 feet above them. 

One of my fourth grade girls loved the incredible light fixtures in the Capitol. "Look Mrs. B, even the lights match Michigan's flag." I love it when kids notice things like that.

And, as if that wasn't enough to cram into the trip, when we left the Capitol we drove over to Potter Park Zoo for their overnight program. Yep, we got to spend the night at the zoo!

After touring the zoo, the kids got up close and personal with reptiles, a Eurasian Eagle owl, a tenrec and the most adorable three-banded armadillo you've ever seen. 

We had time for a campfire complete with s'mores before it was time to settle down for an animal movie (Andre - a true story about a family that rehabilitates an injured seal.) Finally, it was time for bed. Which was a good thing because we were all ready for a little rest.

We had intended to visit Abrams Planetarium in the morning before we headed for home, but Mother Nature had other plans for us. The National Weather Service issued a gale warning for the Straits area (50 mph winds) for Friday afternoon through Saturday, so we decided to leave Lansing early. Hopefully we would miss the worst of the storm and get back to the Island before they possibly closed the Mackinac Bridge or shut down the ferry. 

We arrived in Mackinaw City to find the bridge open, the ferries running, and happy parents eager to hear all about our adventure...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

And So it Begins

The kids' snow gear is unpacked and the sleds are on the porch because  winter is coming to Mackinac. Finally...

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mackinac Must Haves: Organization

When you live on Mackinac Island you've got to be organized. For instance, a few Fridays ago I left the island after work to spend the weekend with some friends. I wanted to leave on a 3:00 boat, so going back "up the hill*" to get my stuff wasn't an option. I needed to be packed and ready to go before I left the house for work at 6:00 am Friday morning, so Thursday night was all about getting ready.

I packed up four bags of returnable soda cans ($31.10 for the vacation fund,) two big duffels of donations for Goodwill and my bag of clothes for the weekend. I also got out the tubs we use for bringing groceries home.

Friday morning I set everything out in the front yard. That way the dray could pick it up while I was at school and deliver it to the dock. When I got off the ferry Friday afternoon, everything was safe and sound, waiting for me. You might notice the bags are labeled "Star Mac City" - to make sure they got onto the right cart after they were dropped off at the dock

* I live "up the hill" which means to get to my house from town it's a pretty significant up hill bike ride or walk. I'm not sure what the incline is on the hill, but it's fairly steep. The hill definitely makes you think about organizing your day so your day so you don't have to go up more than necessary.

Friday, November 11, 2016


Change often comes hard to those of us who live on Mackinac. There is a certain predictability to our lives, and many of us like it that way. Not all mind you, there are those who thrive on drama, but I'm not one of them. 

There is something comforting about routine - I like it. This week a 138 year Mackinac Island routine came to an end when the Arnold Transit Company closed its doors. 

Star Line bought Arnold - they bought the boats, the docks, everything but the freight end of the business. Sure I know the boats will keep running, but lots of things are up in the air. I can't even imagine how the Arnold employees are feeling right now. My rational brain realizes these things happen every day, but my heart feels just a little bit sad at the thought of such a long-running business closing its doors.  

I know I often griped about the slow boat, but you always got me home safely. Thank you, Arnold Line, for 32 years of safe travels. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


I was Mackinac Island's sixth voter this morning and I can't tell you how thankful I am that this election season is coming to an end. I normally have strong feelings about which candidate I prefer, but I've never been as anxious over an election as I have been about this one.

Whoever wins tonight, I am hopeful the losing side will graciously acquiesce so we can all move forward.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

Happy Halloween! Halloween silliness is in full swing around here today. Everyone's costumes are done and we're ready to head out tonight. The kids are looking forward to topping last Halloween's ginormous candy haul.

This year Miss K wanted to be a ghost. At first she wanted to be Slimer from Ghostbusters, but she quickly decided he wasn't cute enough. I suggested a Pac-Man Ghost, and she was sold.

The concept of the tulle over a clear umbrella was pretty simple, but sewing with multiple layers of tulle was a giant pain in the rear. (I decided to make the ghost translucent so she would be able to see while she was out trick-or-treating. You can't see it in the photo, but there's also a slit so she can reach out and get candy.) She liked it despite being called a jellyfish several times while we were trick-or-treating through town. Everyone over about 40 though, knew exactly what she was!

S is 12 now and decided he wanted to do his own costume this year. *Sigh.* Hard words for a mom to hear, but he and his dad worked together to solder his LED eyes. They just look white in the photo, but they are actually little lights. He's petty psyched about wearing them out when it's dark.

The silver lining about not making my son's costume was that for the first time in quite a few years, I had time to make a costume for myself. 


While I many not have loved this summer's Ghostbusters movie, I did enjoy it enough to be inspired to build my own, sadly non-functional, proton pack. It isn't screen accurate, but it's prefect for Halloween and I had a great time channeling my inner Holtzman while building it.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Brownie Box: A London Must Do

Not far from the apartment my mom rented in London, she and the kids discovered The Brownie Box - a lovely little "cake boutique."

Grandma took the kids there every day for cake; one piece of red velvet cake to share between the two of them. And if you were to stop my kids and ask them what their favorite part of the London trip happened to be...

It wasn't seeing Wicked or Big Ben, it wasn't the British Museum or Madam Tussauds or the London Eye, it wasn't even the tour of the film studio where they filmed their beloved Harry Potter, nope - not even close.

Both S and K agree, hands down, their absolute favorite thing about London was The Brownie Box. And it wasn't just that the cake was a-ma-zing. They really liked getting to know the sisters who owned the place; S and K loved learning that the owners moved to London from South Africa and that their parents had owned a bakery there, too. 

Plus, the people who worked there were so darn nice to them. Every day, either after lunch or after dinner, when S & K walked through the door, they were greeted by name and given the royal treatment. (Including the occasional special treat.) When they were recounting their trip to me, the kids literally couldn't stop talking about just how incredible the Brownie Box was.

So, if you happen to find yourself in the Earl's Court area of London and are feeling a bit peckish, pop into the Brownie Box for some red velvet cake. Be sure to tell them that those kids from Mackinac Island, Michigan, sent you.

Friday, October 28, 2016


In September, my kids got the gift of a lifetime from their Grandma. (I giggle every thing I look at that picture of my daughter. It is exactly the kind of photo you would expect her 12 year-old brother to take!) 

Those lucky-ducks spent ten days searching for
The Doctor,

and making a new friends.
All while mom had to go to school...

Of course, there were educational stops along the way, 

but mostly, they just had fun with their Grandma.