Monday, June 29, 2009

Feline Photo Shoots

Inspired by the feline blogs that frequent The Zoo Crew I decided to do my own photo shoot with our two resident fuzzies. We have one indoor resident, and we have one outdoor resident. Let me introduce them to you:

This is Boots. He lives on the second floor of our home and rarely ventures downstairs.

This is his "Don't I look thinner from this angle?" pose.

What a guy he is!

"Yeah, Garfield is my hero! So, what of it?"

Midnight basking in the sun on the new porch. She's our resident outdoor feline.

"Don't I look good on my new furniture?"

"I just know a bird will land here soon!"

"I knew they loved me! A new porch and new furniture just for me!"

I have to hand it to the kitty cat bloggers. Feline photo shoots are challenging. A little history on our kitties. Boots was inherited from our daughter, and we have no idea how old he is. Ever since we got him he has stayed upstairs only venturing to the first floor if he knows the dogs are outside or in our bedroom for the night. Which doesn't make a lot of sense to me as he will lay on our bed with the dog at night. Go figure! He's VERY lovable and affectionate and eats like a horse, and he weighs more than our Tibetan Spaniel, Lucky.

Midnight is our outdoor kitty. She used to live indoors, but she developed some bad habits that gave us no choice but to relocate her to the yard. Don't feel bad for her. She has it made! We acquired a cat house through Freecycle for her before winter, and she honestly thinks that we built the new front porch just for her! She won't even move on the couch when you try to sit down. I think that picture of her smiling says it all! Another interesting tidbit is that she has six toes on all four of her feet. It looks like she has thumbs. She's about five years old judging by the age of my son when he rescued her as a stray.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Stealing Meme

Today I ripped this meme off Stay at Home Mom who ripped it off of Becky from Musings from the Sofa. She credits two bloggers for her theft, the Queen, and also Zoesmom. But, it was probably stolen there as well. So, of course, that will be as far as I go. Tracing back our theft's thieves might take some time. Link back to us at Sunday Stealing!

A – An advantage you have – Very Organized

B – Blue or brown eyes – Hazel

C – Chore you hate – Putting Away Laundry

D – Dad’s name – Robert

E – Essential start of your day – Bible Study

F – Favorite color – blue

G – Greatest thing you’ve ever done that made you feel really good – Got Baptized

H – Habit you have – Counting Things

I – Issue you hate that the world tries to make you pursue – Perfect Body

J – Job title – Domestic Engineer

K – Kohls or Target – Kohl's

L – Living arrangements – Single Family Home

M – Music you like – Celtic Folk

N - Nicknames – Angel, Teena Weena

O – Overnight hospital stay – Tonsils, Child Birth

P – Pet Peeve – When People Don't Replace the Toilet Paper!

Q – Quote that you like most – "When you give you defy the fear of not having enough."

R – Right or left handed – Right

S – Siblings – 1 half-brother

T – Time you wake up – 7AM

U – Underwear – Of Course

V – Vegetable you dislike – Lima Beans

W – What makes you run late – Stuck on the Phone

X – X-rays you’ve had – Wrist, Tonsils, Chiropractic, MRI, Mammograms, Ultrasounds

Y – Yummy food you make – Mango Cream Pie

Z – Zoo animal – The Snow Monkeys, awww!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Moment for Dads

Father's Day can be such a beautiful time with dad. We've had fun with them over the years. It seems much of my blog is about transitions. Isn't that what we spend most of our life doing? How many times did our mother's say when we're growing up, "It's just a phase!"? We are in a constant state of transition from the moment of creation.

Our current transition is life without our fathers. That is one thing Pat and I now have in common. I lost my father on April 1st in 2005. That was a big year for us. It signified the end of life for my father, the beginning of life for our first grandbaby, and the formal commitment between the two of us in marriage. This all happened within a five month period. Pat's father just passed away on November 1st of 2008. Life is still learning to continue without his presence.

When Father's Day comes I still find myself with the instinct to look for a card for my dad, and now my father-in-law. It's amazing how much time can pass, and we are still looking to do what we'd known for our entire life. It doesn't fall to the side so easily. I still find myself thinking dad would like that or I should tell dad about this, and he's been gone for over four years. Now, my father-in-law is added to that equation.

It really is true that a loved one never dies completely. They really do always live on in our hearts. This Father's Day was a little tough being the first one without my father-in-law. I know everyone dealt with it a little different. We spent most of our time on the road taking Andrew to Central Michigan University for MAA (Master at Arms) training for Sea Cadets. This afforded my husband a lot of time for quiet contemplation, and I think he needed it.

Knowing Father's Day was going to be so busy we celebrated Father's Day by surprising my husband after work on Friday. We ate his favorite German Chocolate Cake with ice cream after we had a BBQ. We didn't get a special gift, just a card. It was more about the time spent together sharing a good meal and just hanging out. All in all it was a good time. Hope everyone else out there enjoyed their Father's Day as well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adult Children

As a parent we raise our children with dreams of our own. Dreams of success, intelligence, and independence. At least that's what I dreamt for them, and for myself. It seems I have failed majorly in this department.

I have managed to raise five girls that are anything but successful, intelligent, or independent. It is beyond frustrating. The decisions that they have made and continue to make just perpetuate their less than favorable situations. It is beyond ridiculous.

Don't get me wrong. They have certain levels of success, at least some of them. Intelligence is relevant. They are academically smart for the most part. It is life skills that they are sorely lacking. And, when it comes to independence, well they are very sorely lacking.

I have been forced to rethink my position as a parent. I no longer offer advice as it falls on deaf ears anyway. They have ignored my advice much to their detriment, and I am so tired of being effected by their bad decisions. If you ignored my advice and created a problem, then that's your problem, right? Not according to my children! This is feeding my belief that parents should live out of comfortable reach from their adult children. What is an adult anyway? It certainly isn't an age. I can tell you that!

Well, I stand corrected. One definition of adult is one who is legally of age. I guess being an adult only has to do with age and nothing else. One can be an adult and still be reliant on their parents. One can be an adult and still make toxic choices as a general rule without the benefit of learning from ones mistakes and making better choices from that point. One may continue to age all the while thinking that the world owes them something.

I know my posts about adult children have been very negative lately. We are just struggling so desperately to cut the apron strings. Enough is enough. It seems the harder we try to get in a position to not be effected by their bad decisions the further we get sucked in. It's like trying to escape from quick sand. Kicking and screaming puts your life in further danger. Yet, if you do nothing you remain stuck. Apparently this is going to require some creative maneuvering on our part. We just cannot seem to figure out the moves.

The hardest part about the whole thing is the way we are treated. There is little to no appreciation for the wonderful feats we are able to pull off. We are a pretty amazing team when it comes to a crisis. We can make things happen, and it's just taken for granted. Sometimes we are even treated rudely, and it is just so hard to stomach. It doesn't help that we are not on the same page when it comes to limits. I would never give as much as my other half, and every time I think he gets it here we are giving again!

I know I am a good parent, and I know I gave it my all. I also know that parents are not always their child's greatest influence, and it can be an uphill battle. I have discovered that I am VERY tired, and I am more than ready to transition to something new. I seriously do not know how much more I can stomach. I went from feeling great to fighting depression. It isn't fun, and I'm ready for a change. Period.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Road Trip Photo Journal

We're back from our road trip, and did we ever have a wonderful time! Here is a small taste of what we did and where we went:

This is just one of the outdoor displays at Bronner's in Frankenmuth. Bronner's is a wonderful place that houses more Christmas decorations that one could ever imagine under one roof. It was founded in 1945 by Wally Bronner. Above you see the Bronner's motto.

Bronner's is a year round attraction with many special events scheduled throughout the year. The Oberndorf/Salzburg, Austria, Silent Night Memorial Chapel was built in 1992 as a tribute to God and the world's favorite Christmas hymn. This truly is a magical place.

We traveled through the historic covered bridge to access parking for the little village of shops they have there. One of our favorites is the popcorn store. This time we tried blueberry, banana split, sour cream and cheddar and garlic parmesan. YUM!

This is just a lovely shot of rural Michigan. Such a place is my idea of heaven on earth. I am a city girl with a heart that lives in the country.

Our next stop was Bay City.

If I could choose the type of abandoned buildings that I saw on my travels, this would be it. You may not know the reason behind leaving dilapidated buildings like this. There is a zoning law that you only have a certain amount of time to erect another structure on the property after tearing down a structure, or you lose your right to build. Silly, isn't it?

Downtown Bay City is a lot of fun! There is a lot to do there, especially if you like antiquing. You would not believe the size of the antique stores here. Not to mention the food. There is an amazing restaurant, Morning at Maggies Omelette, on Saginaw Street. I do not even like eggs, and I absolutely loved this restaurant. If you're even in town, you have to check it out!

You don't see these signs in the city!

This is my idea of traffic problems!

This park is a nice place to stop. There is a picnic area and a playground which comes in handy if you are traveling with children. Waterfowl is abundant, and the scenery is beautiful.

This little duck was one of many that were just hanging out on the water's edge. She's getting ready to shake a leg! It was pure pleasure watching them all hang out together.

How often do you see something like this? For me, it was a first. There were two complete families of geese traveling together in Lake Huron off the coast at the park. What a sight!

Anyone up for a sail?

This pretty little flower grew all along the water's edge. It also came in white. I am not sure what they are, but they remind me of buttercups.

This flower was also growing there. Isn't it gorgeous? I really think this is a beautiful flower. Once again, I have no idea what it is. It's not something I've seen before.

This is the main intersection in Tawas. There is a nice row of little stores and restaurants to stop in. We had breakfast in town the next morning on our way out.

Another totally cool naure moment. When I shot this picture I didn't even notice the little chicks following their momma. I had to pull back and look after my husband said something. This is a mother turkey and her babes. Awww...

This is the codo we rented on Lake Huron at Mai Tiki Resort in Oscoda, just north of Tawas. It had two bedrooms, so we invited a couple up that we are friends with. It was a great day and evening. Too bad check out time is 10AM!

These are the cute little cabins that caught our attention from the road. The cool thing about this setup is that they all face Lake Huron. Most cabins that you rent on the lake face eachother with the lake at the end. No matter where you stay at Mai Tiki Resort you have a lake view all for the same price as a night in a hotel. What would you prefer?

This is the beach at Mai Tiki Resort, another nice amenity. If you go further south down Lake Huron the beaches tend to be real rocky. Not here, and the water wasn't even that cold!

Some people find seagulls annoying, but I just love them. I think they are a beautiful bird. I still remember my little buddy in Maine. He sure liked his oysters!

The surf hitting the turf!

Just one of the totem poles at Mai Tiki Resort.

My pyromaniac husband starting the fire. It was a little cool, but we really enjoyed hanging out there and chatting with the other people that were staying by for the night.

This is another way you know you are further north in Michigan. You do not see The Jerky Outlet stores anywhere in the city. Period. You see them everywhere when you head north.

Look at this barn. It's so happy to be in the country that it is smiling. I would be too!

We stopped at a lovely boat launch area in Port Austin, and this family of swans was out for a swim. Can you just believe all the little waterfowl families that we saw? Aren't they precious?

The view from the inlet at Port Austin.

Kayaks on the beach in Port Austin. We've never actually gone out before, but we did get to give it a try once at a demonstration in a state park we stayed at once.

Look at this clear Michigan water! Isn't it beautiful? This is why it is so much fun to swim in Michigan. It is just gorgeous!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Quality Time

Well, hubby and I are going to hit the road for an extended weekend away in a couple days. We've not decided if we'll leave Thursday evening or Friday morning, but either way we are off on our own for three days. We've been doing this every-so-often over the past 12+ years, and I highly recommend it. It's like a booster shot for your marriage!

"What is it that you do?", you ask. We pack our bags, put some cash in our pocket, and head out with no destination in mind. Honestly, those getaways are the best memories I have of our time together.

We have had adventure, like the time we traveled the entire west coast of Michigan. That was our first road trip together as a couple. It was a blast! Going off the road backward down a hill at warp speed on the highway in Petoskey was the part that really classified it as an adventure. We've told the story a hundred times, and we still laugh. God really had his hand on our shoulder that day. We couldn't find an open tire shop, so we drove all the way back home with hay-like matter poking out between the rubber of the tires and the rims. What an experience!

Then there was the more recent time that we traveled the back roads of northern Ohio. It wasn't the most scenic, but we found a lot of cool antique shops to visit and ended up in the city of Marion where we met some nice people and visited the Popcorn Museum and saw the birth place of Warren Harding, our twenty-ninth president.

"Do you know what direction you're headed this time?", you wonder. Well, I cannot really say. We've talked about going back up to the cabins we stayed at for our anniversary last September because it's such a great bang for your buck, but we've been there, done that, right? Then there was the awesome time we spent in Marshall. We did so much there. We visited the SDA Historic Village in Battle Creek, had a five star meal at Schuler's, and attended the Renaissance Festival.

What needs to be determined is whether or not we want to stomp on familiar ground or seek out the unfamiliar. It's the unfamiliar we're interested in, I may encourage hubby to head toward Pennsylvania. I wanted to take our family vacation there this year, but with the new business on the horizon time is of the essence. It just won't fit in. We're finding it challenging enough to make our trip to Big Rapids to visit a friend's farm happen. I cannot seem to secure a campsite.

Anyway, I'll report back next week on our adventures. The important part is that we spend time together just being together no matter the location. Who knows, we may stay close to home. We've done that before, too. You'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Lessons in Life

Well, I've grown to learn that the only bad mistake is one that I didn't learn from, and I've been doing a lot of learning lately. Most of it centers around my children and the silver spoon they think is in their mouth. I couldn't be more fed up with the middle class snobs I seem to have raised. How does that happen, anyway?

I grew up poor. No question about it. I've got plenty of vivid memories to remind me. There was a clothes dryer and refrigerator in my bedroom because our house was so small. We got everything we needed for the year at Christmas from my mom saving her change all year. I started working at 11 doing babysitting jobs and held a job with a check ever since I was 14 years old. I was a teen mom that had my own apartment in high school and graduated with my class. I was editor-in-chief of the yearbook, student of the month, and held down a job while raising my baby and attending high school. I went to college and business school. I was a single mom for years. I worked my way up in life. Sometimes it seems all for not.

How is it that two working class citizens with strong work ethics and a descent set of morals can raise such ignorant, ungrateful, self-centered, clueless children? It is a question that won't soon be answered for me, I am sure. I've got four girls out of the house and on their own all taking the hard way, in no uncertain terms.

All of our children were offered the same opportunity. Stay at home, work and go to school, save your money, buy a car, and step out on the right foot with a bankroll and a solid investment portfolio to hold you up. I was so proud to have the means to offer this to SEVEN children when it couldn't even be considered for me as a child. Do you know that not a one of those four girls took us up on it? Not a one! They all have children and are single moms. None of them have graduated college, save one that went to business school. They are all making terrible decisions that go against anything we have ever advised, taught, or modeled. Guess who they want to clean up the mess and pick up the pieces when it all blows up in their faces? What no guesses? Oh, I'm sure you'll get it on the first try. It couldn't be more obvious.

Why is it that these children, young adults now, think they are owed so much and do not have a clue about working hard and respecting the fact that their parents are out there working hard. They have to support one child, except the one that just had twins, and we support seven children and six grandchildren. Granted the burden has lightened with less mouths to feed on a daily basis, but I'd rather be feeding them than dealing with all the bologna they've been slicing. The way I see it the middle class lifestyle spoiled them. They'd have been better off to have been brought up with nothing. It's not like just one of them doesn't get it. All of our girls have their heads somewhere that does not provide enough oxygen for clear thinking.

I have to say that I am not a fan of parenting adult children. The good thing is that hubby and I are learning that we don't really care to do anything much other than nod and smile at this point. After this last deal is done no one better come a calling, because the shop is closed. Quite literally. They have taken advantage of us so much that we don't even want to help with the smallest of things. I'm so disgusted with them all that I can scarcely look at them. It's all I can muster to carry on a conversation. I'll spare you all the gory details, but I am not out of line here. Rest assured. When it gets to the point that good gestures and helping hands are taken for granted then it's time for those hands to let go.

Just to add insult to injury the youngest girl, 19 years old, that is at home, working, going to college, and failing all her classes. Talk about a frustrating year. She graded herself right out of any hopes of financial aide or mom and dad footing the bill any longer. This isn't from lack of ability by any stretch. It's from lack of effort, and that is just disheartening. Now, she needs to determine just what it is that she plans to do. This may no longer be her residence by the end of the summer. It wouldn't surprise me in the least, and so be it. I'm not losing any sleep over it anymore. We have handed her the world on a silver platter, and she spit on it as far as I'm concerned. It's frustrating, but it seems she may need to take a course at the school of hard knocks, and I've learned enough to be okay with that.

The boys are okay so far. I still have to kick them in the butt to get their school work done, but they watch their sisters and just don't get it at all. Hopefully, their ambitions stay ambitious, and their drive stays in gear. Otherwise, we'll have some more casualties at the Smith household, and I don't know how much more I can take. I've reached a state of numb. There's nothing like kids to make you feel like a failure even though you know you gave it your all and provided them with a golden opportunity.

The toughest lesson to learn is that you are not responsible for the decisions your children make. It's the whole, "You can lead a horse to water..." thing in full swing. I led them. I flashed neon signs. I sent up smoke signals. I chartered aerial banners. I purchased billboards. I led the fight, but they didn't follow. No matter how much I tried, I couldn't make them drink.

Friday, June 05, 2009

200th Post!

Back in June of 2006 I started this blog as a personal outlet without the intention of never making it public or having any real vision for the future. I have to say that it has been an amazing journey that has broadened my view of the world in a way I could have never imagined. Blogging has enriched my life. I have "met" new people, shared new experiences, traveled the globe, and become a part of a community that I didn't even know existed three years ago.

This journey has seen me through many changes in my life. I've gone from a house full of children to less than half of them at home. Where I was once a mere mother, I am now a Nana. Our family size has almost doubled thanks to the births of our six grandchildren in the past three years. We've ended a business, lost both of our fathers, seen our way through illnesses, fought our way through joblessness, and headed back into business. My life is always a whirlwind, and it is a pleasure to share our experiences here.

It is always amazing to see how God works in our lives. What started out as a selfish, personal journey has become a trip shared with the world. I can think of no better way to share and learn about what is most important in life than through this wonderful medium.

Thank you to those of you that frequent here. I look forward to a lasting relationship in this wonderful and growing community. May we continue to laugh, cry, learn, and grow together. Blessings to all.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The New Porch

Just to give you a little perspective, hubby and I have been in this house together for over 12 years. Hubby lived here with his five children for about four years prior. When we got together the house was only one level with two bedrooms. We're talking nine people in about 800 square feet! No, there is not a basement.

The dormer was started, but it took another couple years to finish. So, it's been about 10 years since stage one was complete. Then, we remodeled the main floor. What a project that was. We doubled the size of our kitchen and our bathroom and created a wonderful master bedroom. There are quite literally only two walls in our home that have not been touched outside of fresh paint. We're talking A LOT of work here people!

The outside of the home is the "final" stage. As if anything is ever totally complete when it comes to your home! I have been waiting FOUR years for the front porch to go up. I couldn't be more happy. Hubby and his buddy completed it in a weekend; over 30 hours of labor!

The remaining project for this summer is to add shutters to the windows and put a BIG star in that void to the right of the upstairs window. Talk about a face lift. Adrian's guitar instructor didn't even recognize the house when he came to give him his lesson after it was first finished. The complements abound, and we are ever pleased with the results.

What may seem obvious is that we have accepted the fact that there is no way we can move in this economy. We've gone from owing less on our house than what it's worth to owing so much more than what it's worth that we cannot even refinance. What a joke! So, our dreams of country life are on hold. Therefor, we decided to create an oasis with country charm right here in the city. Next summer will see the same thing done to our back deck. There is still gardening left to do for the summer that will hopefully produce enough food to put up and share with the local food bank. We'll see how it all pans out.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Photo Journal

Quite a lot has happened over the past several months, and I've been a few places. So, I thought it would be fun to share a post of pictures. I hope you enjoy them!

Harmony and Pat flying the dragon kite.

Woodpecker on the feeder at Camp Au Sable's Nature Center.

Bird eating seed at Camp Au Sable's Nature Center.

A moon shot from my backyard.

Papa and Kiley having fun!

A serene place to relax at Camp Au Sable.

The three mile boardwalk at Camp Au Sable.

A goose caught feeding through the frame of a downed tree.

Red Squirrels love Camp Au Sable!

Hubby and his buddy building my new porch.

I love my new porch! I'll have to share a picture of it all dressed up.

Harmony watching Dustin open his birthday present.

Dustin blowing bubbles.

My beautiful niece, Jordan, with my cousin,
Sebastian, in the background.

My grandma and grandpa celebrate 60 years!


My mom with Sebastian (nephew), Jordan (grandchild),
and Harmony (great grandchild)

Five generations!

Adrian playing guitar in the amphitheater with his dad.


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