Hay Day

hay wagon, hay bales
Kimball and Sander resting up before the unloading begins!

We recently had our first hay day of the year.  It involves hitching up a trailer to the truck, going over to the next town and stacking the truck and trailer with hay.  Like, 130 bales or as much as we can fit.  It was almost like an emergency because we were down to 6 bales.  We were close to having the horses graze in our front yards.  Sander would have loved it, because he’s not fond of mowing.  Anyway, this was the first time we ever had use of 2 trucks and trailers.  It was awesome!  David, Sheldon, and I took one and Chris, Megan, and my Dad took the other.  David and Sheldon filled one truck and trailer up while I counted bales (well, I tried….I lost track a few times and had to start over).  Then the other truck came and we took off to unload into our barn.  Having two trucks and trailers meant we can make half the trips we normally do to get the 1,000 bales that we need.  We have a borrowed hay elevator we use to get the bales into the loft.  It was the perfect temperature, too.  Usually our timing is impeccable and it’s in the 80’s and muggy.

hay wagon
Megan stacked the trailer up to the rafters.
hay, stacked hay
Chris looks a long way down from Megan’s view at the top of the stacked trailer
Fynn running through a field of wheat
This is what Fynn does while the trailer is loaded.

We’ve learned a lot about stacking hay these past few years.  Like, what to wear and what not to wear.  Megan knows what to wear and I know what not to.  She always wears jeans and I usually wear yoga pants….no more, though.  Hay sticks to yoga pants like lint to a lint roller. Like flies to a flystrip.  Like white on rice….you get the picture.  I once went into a gas station to get a pop in between loads…..with so much hay stuck to my pants, I was embarrassed.  But my thirst won out over my pride.  As far as shirts go, that’s a tough one.  It’s such hot and sweaty work, it’s tempting to wear a tank.  But the hay is so scratchy, and it has uncanny ability to get into the craziest places.  As long as I live, I’ll never forget the discomfort of hay stuck in my bra.  It doesn’t matter what shirt you wear, hay will get underneath it.  Maybe a turtleneck would work if it wasn’t so hot!  Don’t even get me started on hay stuck in our boots….

unloading hay bales
Kimball and Sander unstacking for Grandpa to send it up the elevator
Milla and Papa enjoying a break at the end of Hay Day

Megan and I don’t mind hay days, probably because we didn’t grow up having to do it (like David did).  It’s a family affair….many hands make light (but scratchy!) work.  One year Megan made these amazing brownies, so now it’s a must..  On Pinterest, they’re called ‘Slutty’ brownies (gasp!), but we named them ‘What the Hay?’ brownies.  They’re super delicious but calorie-laden, but we figure, why not?  After all that work, we’ve earned them.  We’d be happy to share them with you if you help us on our next hay day.  We’ll probably have at least two more of them!

Milla and Fynn enjoying their What the Hay brownies


what the hay brownies

















So we will see you at the barn, right?



Cherries! Cherries! Cherries!

As you probably know, we had an amazing Independence Day.  The weather was beautiful, the company great, and the food, plentiful and delicious.  The fireworks display outdid all previous years, which was no easy feat.  The only snafu on that gorgeous day was Manon’s fall off the tube.  While boating, her sweet brother Sander flipped the tube and her leg got caught underneath her.  It was not serious, but she sprained her knee (or meniscus?), as we found out the next day.  On the 5th, Manon and Kimball were to go home with our Aunt Lynn and Uncle Tom.  They live in Brimley, in the Upper Peninsula.  For those of you not from Michigan, that’s the part above the mitten.  Thankfully, after a visit to the doctor and borrowing crutches, Manon and Kimball left on their six hour journey.

Our whole family goes up north after the 4th.  In Michigan, ‘up north’ is anywhere north of where you live, I think.  On Wednesday afternoon, Megan, her girls, and I left for our parents’ house at Crystal Mountain.  B-u-t, we took a three hour detour east to look at miniature horses in Millington.  As Megan told her girls as we pulled into the driveway of the farm, “just because we’re looking, doesn’t mean we’re going to get one.”  Famous last words.  Not only are we getting one, we’re getting two.  A mama and her baby.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…..that’s another blog post.

Crystal Mountain is a ski resort in Thompsonville, about 30 minutes from Traverse City.  In the winter, we go there every other weekend.  Only once or twice do we visit in the summer, so we wanted to pack in some northern Michigan fun.  One of our favorite places to eat is The Cherry Hut in Beulah.  It’s been in business for 95 years and is famous nationwide for, you guessed it, cherry pie.  We ate there twice, it was so good.  We went to a neat store called, “The Miser’s Hoard,” where Megan made a small purchase.  Then it was on to Glen Arbor, which is so beautiful and quaint.  We love the little stores there and always go to a restaurant called “The Cherry Republic.”  Needing a snack, we each got one of their amazing dark chocolate cherry boomchukka cookies.  Trust me, if you go there, you have to get one!  I bought their Confiscated Cherry mix to “share” but sadly, ate it in three sittings by myself.  Yes, it’s that good.

On Saturday, Megan and I met our Aunt Lynn and Uncle Tom in Traverse City to pick up Manon and Kimball.  They went to Sault Ste. Marie to see the Locks, made cookies and ice cream, went to the lighthouse, and played several rousing games of ‘back-up.’  I’ve never heard of ‘ back-up’ before, but the kids can’t wait to show us.  Yay…Megan and I love games – NOT.  It’s a well-known fact in our family that Kendal is the game-player and is always playing them with our kids.  We aren’t fun-haters, we just don’t like games, puzzles, bowling, and all kinds of things Kendal likes to do with them.  Ok, maybe we are fun-haters?  Anyway, Manon and Kimball were so excited and wound up on the way back to Crystal that we almost drove them back to Brimley.  Oh, and guess what else they did?  They went cherry picking before we picked them up!  And lucky for us, Uncle Tom and Aunt Lynn let us have their pickings!

We couldn’t wait to go to the Cherry Bowl Drive-in because we hadn’t been there in a few years.  It was voted #1 drive-in in Michigan.  We saw “Despicable Me 3” there on our last night.  The Cherry Bowl is like a time warp.  It reminds us of the show “Happy Days” if you’re 80’s chicks like Megan and I (ok, we’re 70’s chicks, but we remember the 80’s better than the 70’s).  It’s a nod to the Fabulous Fifties.  Our Dad says it’s just like he remembered the drive-in as a kid.  The last time Megan was there with her family, it stormed, she got hit in the head with a hockey stick, and their battery died.  It’s always a great time.  The girls were in Megan’s car and the boys sat outside in chairs.  We can’t ever get pictures of the boys anymore because they say, “Mom!  You can’t put this on Instagram!”  Megan insists it’s ok, none of their friends are following her on Instagram.  No matter.  Well, we had fun and the movie was great.  But Megan’s battery died again and an employee had to give us a jump.  Luckily he said it was a common occurrence, and it only took a second!


Needless to say, it was a fun week filled with lots of time on the road, exploring some of our favorite Michigan towns.  We made it back home Sunday, and now we are enjoying our own little slice of paradise on our parents’ beach.   Be on the lookout for the next post for a little more detail on some of our favorite northern Michigan destinations!



Wishing You a Fabulous Fourth!

source: Pinterest

Independence Day is almost upon us!  It’s one of our favorite holidays…..and we love holidays.  There are so many things that come to mind when I think of the Fourth, and they’re all f-words (now hold on a minute, it’s NOT what you’re thinking):  food, family, friends, fireworks, fellowship, founding fathers, and did I say food?  Since we were kids, our parents have hosted a huge Fourth of July party.  They live on Wolf Lake, so the party includes swimming, boating, eating, and fireworks….lots of fireworks.  Our Dad has been a pyromaniac since his youth, so he is in his element on the Fourth.

As for our food, the guys deep-fry shrimp, chicken, onion rings, and French fries.  That is where all the guys hang out, by the deep fryers so they can taste-test.  Guests bring a dish to pass, so we always have a wide array of delicious food.  I’m hungry just thinking about the different potato and pasta dishes and salads, baked beans, and a long table full of desserts (my favorite part).  After we eat, it’s time for games for the kids.  The annual sack race is hysterical.  The other games vary, like water balloons, ring toss, limbo, etc.  Later, everyone changes into warmer clothes and loads up on bug spray in preparation for the fireworks show.  It’s spectacular!  I can actually enjoy it now….once when I was a kid, I hid the fireworks because I was worried that our house would burn down.  Let’s just say that my Dad was not amused.  Ah, memories.

Other than sack races, and various relay races, there are lots of other fun games that take almost no prep.  This year we are going to add a three-legged race (hopefully the adults will get in on this one), and tug-of-war again.  We also might add a bottle-ring toss since my mom already has the bottles in the crate.  Super easy, but the kids just love it.  We always put out the corn-hole games, too, which kids of all ages enjoy.  And lastly, I am going to put some sidewalk chalk out for this fun idea:
















Source:  Heart of Deborah

I also love making food for the party and pour over recipes, trying to decide what to make.  Always it’s a dessert, but sometimes I make snacks too.  Last year I made Sweet & Salty Cashew Chex Mix.  I found the recipe on Pinterest from Julie’s Eats & Treats.   Oh, it’s so delicious and addicting!  Sander likes it too, so he’s been known to sneak the leftovers upstairs to his room.  For many years I made scotcheroos, which never last long.  Megan makes the absolute best salted double chocolate cookies.  One year she made the cutest cherry pies on a stick.  As you can see, we take our desserts seriously.

And it is so fun seeing family (especially the ones that don’t live next door…although we always love seeing each other, too), and friends, old and new.  We usually average over 100 people every year!  It’s just the best time ever, and we are so thankful that we get to be a part of it

Wherever you are, whatever you do, may you have a fabulous Fourth of July!  We truly are blessed to live in this great country.  Thankfully, we reap the rewards of all that have sacrificed and gone before us.  I just saw a phrase on an Independence Day T-shirt:  “Party Like it’s 1776!”  Yes, let’s do that, but use electricity, drive our cars, put on sunscreen, not wear corsets, use paper plates……


What are your favorite Fourth of July traditions?

Grateful at Graduation

Sunday, June 4th was a really big day for my family.  My oldest child graduated from high school and my Dad was the commencement speaker.  It was amazing!  My Dad was part of the first graduating class of Oakridge High School in 1967, 50 years ago.  I graduated from Oakridge in 1992, 25 years ago.  Then on June 4th, my daughter Marek graduated from Oakridge.  I was so proud to have my Dad speaking at my daughter’s graduation, my buttons were bursting.  It was a blessed day for sure.

My Dad’s speech was phenomenal of course, but not just because I’m his daughter and I’m partial.  In it, he told of his eventual career path.  He didn’t know what he wanted to do for a living until he was almost 30.  At 25, he quit a secure, relatively good paying job to find something more fulfilling.  Already married to my Mom and having a sweet, beautiful baby (me), he took quite a risk.  His friend from high school suggested he try the metal casting industry, which he fell in love with.  Together he and Wayne started a company called Eagle Alloy, and the rest is history.

The speech encouraged all students, not just those with stellar grades.  He knows from being an employer that good grades are not an automatic guarantee for success.  Hard work is the common denominator.  My favorite part of the speech is the closing.  Instead of paraphrasing, I’ll quote the last paragraph:

“But there will come a time- faster than you think- when you will begin to reflect on the many good things in your life, the gifts your creator gave you to better your life, and I hope that a growing sense of gratitude will lead you to begin to think about how you can give back to your community:  helping others in many ways, those who could never pay you back.  For no matter how well you do, the satisfaction of being a benefit to your community and to raise up others around you is an incomparable feeling.  That feeling is the true measure of success.”

Do you see what I mean?  It’s really great, isn’t it?  Not only are Megan and I blessed to have a hardworking, successful father, he is a humble, godly man who is generous beyond measure.  Megan and I are truly blessed in the family department, both in our own and our husbands’ families.  As a matter of fact, Megan is blessed with the best sister ever….

Anyway, Marek’s graduation was a day to cherish and remember.  As for having a daughter graduated, that’s a whole other blog post, er subject.


Happy Late Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was yesterday, so just please pretend that I posted this yesterday.  I had important things to do yesterday (like take a nap, etc…..).

All my life, I wanted to be a mother.  As a child, I loved to play with my dolls and pretend.  I was always a really good pretend mother, too, by the way.  I am blessed to have an amazing mother who always seemed to make the job look easy.  Well, there’s nothing easy about being a mother.  Oh, how I know that now!

I received the best gift ever from my daughter Manon  yesterday.  She gave me a decorated jar filled with 101 things that she loves about me.  I nearly cried!  How could she come up with so many things?  It took me a long time to read each folded strip of paper.  I’d love to list all the 101 reasons why Manon thinks I’m so wonderful, but that would be a bit much.  No one would ever want to read another post written by me again!  But please indulge me just a few, while I stroke my ego.

I loved that Manon appreciates things that I didn’t think she noticed:  “you take me places you don’t want to go,” “you made sure I’d have a nice smile (braces),” and “you calmed my fears when it stormed and I worried about a tornado.”  Apparently, she even finds my quirkiness endearing:  “you dance in the car,” “you listen to Christmas music in October,” and “you text with one finger.”  Yes, I’m guilty on all counts.  The best reason of all, though, was “you’re my best friend.”  Reading that strip of paper made my heart soar.  For a moment, I almost forgot the struggles, frustrations, and gray hairs that I color.

At the end of the day, nothing is more important than God and family.  All the daily distractions, the mountains of laundry (literally, for me), dishes, etc. are more than worth it.  We all have days when we think, “is this all there is?”. But we are serving God by serving our families.  God has entrusted our children to us for a short time.  Parenthood is an awesome responsibility, but it is also an enormous blessing.  Yes, I think that mothers should be celebrated all year long.  But I really enjoyed my moment in the sun. 


Happy Mother’s Day!

Me and Mom…now that is a face only a mother could love.


Today is the day we celebrate our mothers.  This has always been easy for me, since I have been so incredibly blessed in the mother department.  I have the best mom in the whole world.  She has shown me such selfless love through the years, and I couldn’t have had a better childhood.  When I think of my childhood, I remember so many great memories, and just about every single one included my mother or happened because of my mother.  I remember her giving me my very own Gerber baby doll the day she brought our new baby sister home from the hospital so that I would still feel special.  Oh how I loved that doll!  She always knew just what present we would love the most for birthdays and Christmas.   I remember her running around the yard with her hand on the back of my banana seat bicycle trying to help steady me as I learned how to ride a two-wheeler.  She would write special little notes on our napkins and stick them in our lunchboxes.  She would crank up her music and dance with us in the living room.  I loved it when she made Kool-Aid in the summertime, and put them in these little canteens she bought for Kendal and I so that we could have a drink while we played outside.  We thought those things were so cool!  When she made no-bake cookies, she would always let me scrape the pan with a spoon because she knew they were my favorite.

As I got older, she continued to show me her love in countless ways.  She picked us up from school and would ask about our day.  When we all had our own cars, she would even scrape the snow off and start the car so it would be warm when we left for school.  I won’t even tell you how old I was when she was still doing my hair for me…although that might have been more of a control issue now that I think about it?

Despite the hair-doing, and making me wear a dorky little tie around my neck in second grade, and forcing me to dust the baseboards once in awhile, and checking all my friends’ heads for lice when they came over, she was a pretty cool mom.  And I appreciate her all the more now that I am a mom myself.  Mardi and I both remember her warming up our cars and thinking how lucky we were to have a mom like that.  (We’ve also both said our kids will not be as lucky.)

Another trait I admire my mother for is her work ethic.  She is a tough mother, let me tell you.  She has never shied away from hard work and physical labor.  She used to pour metal at my dad’s foundry when it was just starting out.  Her house has always been spotless.  She works circles around all of us in her huge yard.  She mows, weeds, plants, waters, and sweeps all summer long.  Even when she was going through chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer thirteen years ago, she still worked hard, maintained her home and yard, and never complained.  I get tired just watching her sometimes, especially when it’s ten o’clock at night and I look down the hill and still see her outside working away.  The woman puts me to shame, let me tell ya.

There are lots of other great things about my mom, and I could definitely list many more.  But her selfless love and her tireless work ethic are probably what I admire the most about her.  I hope that my kids will have as many wonderful memories of their childhood as I do.  And maybe they will even admire me for something someday, too.  And if they ever say they learned how to love selflessly from me, I will tell them that I learned that from their grandma.

(Because I’ll just confess right now they won’t be remembering me sweeping the driveway in the dark.)

Happy Mother’s Day!  I love you, Mom!