Sunday, October 31, 2010

Family Fun Night

Every year the town of Herbster, Wisconsin puts on a family fun night.  When I was a kid,  Halloween meant you ran around the neighborhood collecting candy.  And every year the weather was so bad you never got to show off your costumes.  Mom made sure to bundle you up and as a result, G.I. Joe, Batman, and Wonder Woman were covered by long coats and scarves, or 50 gallon garbage bags when it was raining.

The emergence of family fun nights not only makes the event safer, i.e. no cars, no razors in the candy, but it gives a chance for the kids and adults to show off their costumes.  At the Herbster event, there are games and a haunted house, a cake walk, pictures and an age graded contest for the best costumes.  This year Angie and I won best adult costume, Finn took third place in his age group and Charlotte won overall scariest costume.  We won a cake and the kids came home with a bag full of prizes.  Thank you goes to the Herbster community for putting on another great event.  It is definitely one of the ones we look forward to each year.  And now the participants:

Service Learning and Gale Force Winds

Last week while I lay in bed with the flu, Mother Nature decide to drop the big one on the South Shore of Lake Superior. The barometer dropped so low that if the storm would have been over the ocean it would have been classified a hurricane. Six huge Aspens on our property snapped like twigs and lay like pick up sticks. Fortunately two years ago I cleared the forty year old trees away from our house and garage, so none landed on our buildings.

Once the power was restored and the town cleared the roads of dead trees, we went to town to pick up the mail. Along the way we drove by our 80 year old neighbors and saw an awesome sight.

When is the right time to teach service learning to your kids Piper, 3; Finn, 6; Charlotte, 8; decided that it was a great time to help out our neighbors. The blow down was so large that they would be unable to get their car out of the garage. Thanks to a husqvarna and an awesome family we got that bad boy cut up and cleared in two hours.

While I used the saw, the kids and Angie dragged away the slash and rolled the chunks into a pile. Work completed we headed home to prepare for family fun night at Herbster.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Full Moon Over Siskiwit

After a long day of trying to get over illness, the Moon treated us to a spectacular display. Finn and I could not pass up some photos.

Strider took a dip.

My boy and the moon.

The view from our back door.

Good Night Moon!!!

When Sick, Play Card Games and Bake Pumpkins

I feel like all we have been doing this week is sit, or lay around. But, what else can we do when we have fevers and are clutching our ice cream-bucket close at hand for, well, you know. So far, Charlotte is the last one standing. We are hunkered down, keeping a cozy fire going and eating a lot of chicken soup. Oh, did I mention that we are watching a lot of movies? Thank goodness we recently received some new games in the mail that have been a lot of fun, and educational too. "Sleeping Queens" and "Frog Juice" are our newest card games and have been a big hit.

What else do we when trapped inside? Harvest and bake pumpkins from the garden. It helps to keep the house warm and smells really good too.

So, I'm trying to look at this differently. We are not being lazy. We are resting and nurturing our bodies. Cuddling, for sometimes hours, is necessary and forces me as mom to slow down. And it's OK. Because this too shall pass. Right? Hope everyone else is surviving this nasty flu bug.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Omakayas: A Strong Role Model for an Eight Year Old Girl

For the past two weeks, I have been reading aloud The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich to the kids. This has been so enjoyable for many reasons. First, I love a book that keeps me (an adult reader) totally entertained. This was the kind of book I did not want to put down. I wanted to keep going, even after the kids were in bed. But, I stopped myself. I can't read a chapter without them. I also love books that touch me so deeply that I cry while reading to them. Sometimes, I just can't help myself. Louise is a brilliant writer. She packs in so much emotion and description in this book, keeping both the adult and the children satisfied. The second reason I loved this book so much was because of it's location. This story takes place on The Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. Today, it's name is Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands of Wisconsin. It is the Island we see every Wednesday on the way to story hour. Although it is fictional history, it was well researched and it is AUTHENTIC. Written by a woman who is of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwa, she researched and gathered information and interviewed people to write about the life of an Ojibwa family living on the Island in the 1800's. Last but not least, the main character, Omakayas, is a strong role model for an eight year old girl. She is physically and spiritually strong. She is a survivor and a healer.

This is what Charlotte had to say about the character, Omakayas:
"She was very physical. She was strong, axed her own wood, kind of like me. She talked to bears, she was very nice. I liked the story because it was a lot like me. One day I played that I was Omakayas when she grew up. I pretended that I was married. I called the dad Deyde and everything. I set up fur trading. It's like you bring something and trade for another thing like buying. I made my camp and set up what they would have done. It was a happy camp and I liked it alot because it's what I like to do in the woods."

This is what Charlotte had to say about some of the seasons in the book:
"In the spring they set up a birchbark house and lived in it because it was hot in the summers. In the winters they lived in a log cabin. They sat around fires, sewing telling stories. They almost starved, there was no game, they all got the smallpox, but Omakayas didn't because she got it when she was a baby. She took care of everybody. That's when her brother passed and everyone got sick but her and Old Tallow. It was really sad. It made my mom cry like eight times. We liked it and we are reading the next book."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

All In A Day's Work

This past Sunday, (which was glorious by the way) we spent eight hours splitting, hauling and stacking wood. Many would cringe at the thought, but we seriously had a good time. Mom and Dad and I agreed that there is something so satisfying about seeing all those chunks of wood turn into chopped pieces, all put neatly away. You see one pile go down, while the other goes up.

Dad and I operated the wood splitter. Charlotte was our loader and hauler. Just look at those muscles!!! She was totally AWESOME!!! She never complained once. Maybe Gramma's offer of $2.00 an hour was a good incentive. She earned it for sure!

Or, perhaps she is growing up and knows how important her help is to the family. We just finished reading "The Birchbark House" and Charlotte was amazed at what Omakayas, an eight year old Ojibway girl had to do to contribute to the survival of her family. She was chopping the wood. Hmmm. I think she is taking her part to heart.

Mom was the stacker of wood. She filled our entire wood shed with all the chopped wood.

Once the shed was finished, mom and Charlotte came up to the road and stacked more wood! We now have more than we need. Mission accomplished.

Piper is clearly tired. And hungry. She wants Finn to come back from a birthday party so we can go to Hugo's for Pizza.

All in a day's work.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Trees Are Glowing

What a perfect weekend it has turned out to be. My mom and dad are visiting us while Jamie is on a trip with students in the Boundary Waters with his school. I love having visitors when he is gone. It makes the days go by a little faster.

It's the perfect time to come up to Northern Wisconsin. The leaves are at their peak this weekend. My mom and I were talking about their drive up Friday night. She said just as they were making their way down highway 13 along Lake Superior, the sun began to set, and the trees began to "glow." It's true. We have a beautiful view of this each night as dusk falls. The trees begin to glow.

Today, the kids, Strider and I took gramma and grampa on a nice hike to a beautiful waterfall called Lost Creek Falls.

We found out about the falls from some neighbors a couple of years ago. It's tricky to find. You need good directions to the trailhead, and you need to know where to turn off of the main trail to get down to the falls. When the ground is covered with leaves, it's a hard little trail to find. But once you get there... Oohhh la la....

We were there for only a few minutes when a couple with two dogs and a camera arrived. Minutes later, three more people with a camera and tripod also showed up. It was a popular photography site today. So, while the professionals clicked away, the kids played on the rocks and logs below the falls. They were really patient.

OK. Enough is enough now. We need a waterfall picture.

And a boy and his dog.

And just a beautiful boy.

Oh, and the mushroom he found in a hollow stump. He took this photo...

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