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Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Working It
We're making progress, and yes, bribery works.

Sera did great with potty training over the weekend. I know it seems like we've been working on it forever. We have.

I started potty training in June when we were home. Sera was doing great, but then we left town for a month and potties weren't always very accessible.

The two weeks in between coming home and starting pre-school, I didn't focus on it too much. The potty was there. Sometimes she went, sometimes she didn't. I honestly thought that pre-school would kick it in for her when she saw the other kids going on the big girl potty.

It didn't.

She went potty once at pre-school, and refused every time afterwards.

Last weekend, we went pull-ups free except for sleeping. All panties, all the time, and Sera did great. We had a few accidents on Saturday, but none on Sunday.

I have a playset of small plastic figurines that we received for Sera before she came home. It has Snow White, Prince Charming, and all seven dwarves. She was too young for it, so I'd put it up in her closet and forgot about it.

Just like her mommy, she loves Snow White. Probably because of her mommy, actually. I have a lot of Snow White stuff.

I pulled it out on Monday morning and showed it to her. I told her that if she went potty at school, she could have any one of the toys she wanted in the box. She pointed to Dopey. She LOVES Dopey.

We headed off to pre-school where we let her teacher know that if Sera went potty, she could have Dopey when we went home.

I stopped at the desk to pay while Jim headed down to her room. When I got there, her teacher told me that she had just gone potty. Jim had taken her when he got there because she had refused again all day. Since they change her every single time, she's been going through 4-5 pull-ups a day at pre-school. I really want her potty-trained!

She and Jim came out of the bathroom, and we all cheered and high-fived. She was so proud. Mrs. Naomi let her pick a sticker, and when we got home, she got Dopey. She was very excited.

Tuesday morning, she chose Bashful.

When I picked her up in the afternoon, she'd gone on the potty four times and tried two more times. Yay!!!!

Today, she chose Happy.

Now, I have two questions.

When should I switch her to panties for school? I guess I'll ask them because they'll be the ones dealing with accidents.

And...will I still be rewarding her for going potty when she goes to college?


Sunday, August 24, 2008
I Love Milestones
We had our first accident free day today. Yes ma'am, Sera wore one pair of panties all day long, with a pull-up break for nap time.

I know we're not done as she does not like the toilet at daycare. She's been refusing to go there, so that's something we're working on. But still, I'm so proud of her for going the whole day without an accident.

So proud, in fact, that if I had a spare $50,000 or so I might spring for one of these,

NOT! Could you imagine? I'd rather put that money towards a college fund or something. I guess I'm just no fun.


Friday, August 22, 2008
Favorite Ingredients Friday!
It's back. I'm back. We're all back. I was shocked when I went through my archives and realized I hadn't posted a recipe since June 27th! Between all our summer excitement and an early back to school, I've been off my game.

It may be the middle of summer to some, but once we're back in school, I start to think about fall. And fall makes me think about pumpkin. Yum!

Another goodie from Paula Deen.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

To make the filling:
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Variations: For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

Be sure to visit the Favorite Ingredients Friday home to find more great recipes!

Past FIF recipes:
Chocolate Pudding Fudge Cake
Pasta, Pesto, and Peas
Basic Beef Starter, Plus
Pineapple Upside Down Biscuits
Tomato Chicken
Greatest Hits: Enchiladas de Pollo and Old-fashioned Peanut Butter Fudge
Almost Cabbage Rolls
German Chocolate Pie
Carne Asada & Sour Cream Tortilla Casserole
Dorito Salad
Shrimp Stuffed Potatoes
Apple Cake
Vegetable Beef Soup
Stuffed Cabbage Soup
Raspberry Pie & White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Pie
Breakfast Granola
Shrimp Creole
Lazy Man's Lasagna & Apple Cake
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Jim's Favorite Jelly Cookie
Eye of Round Roast
Mozzarella & Tomato Sandwich
Marcia's Taco Soup
Chicken Parmesan Casserole
Cajun Baked Catfish
Jim's Snickers Pancake
Crawfish Monica
Grilled Meats and Vegetables over Saffron Orzo
Crockpot Red Beans
Better Than Almost Anything Cake
Fruity Sangria
Outrageous Brownies
Enchiladas de Pollo
Catalina Chicken
Croissant French Toast
Corned Beef
Sloppy Joe, Mac 'n Cheese Casserole
Shredded Chicken
Baked Bean & Burger Casserole
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
Crab Rangoon
Sausage con Queso and Ro-tel Cheese Dip
Blueberry Multigrain Coffeecake
Banana Bread
Bananas Foster
Old-Time Beef Stew
White Chocolate Snack Mix
Gorilla Bread
Ginger Shrimp
Roast Chicken
Tex-Mex Chicken Taco Soup
Shrimp Mold
Pasta Puttanesca
Pork Milanese
Pumpkin Dip
Oven-fried Chicken
Best Bundt Cake Ever
Hot Dog Casserole
Chicken & Rice
Peanut Butter Fudge
Omelets in a Bag
Shrimp Boil
Apple Cheese
Pulled Pork BBQ

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Egg Sammich
Sera and I already have our morning routines down pat again.

I go to her room at 5:50 AM. I turn on her light and get her clothes out. This is the early-warning system that lets her know it's time to get up. I then go to her crib and sing our good morning song while I rub her back. She'll pretend like she's still sleeping. I call her Stinkerbelle (Jim came up with that nickname, and she loves it!) and tell her that I can see her. Her giggles give her away.

I pick her up and carry her to the changing table aka the dresser. She sits on the edge, puts her head on my chest, and we cuddle for a few minutes. Most days I just dress her. Some days I let her choose between two outfits.

Once I start dressing her, she always says "eat?" She usually asks for cheerios. This morning she asked for an egg sammich.

A few weeks ago, I fixed Sera's bowl of cheerios and made myself an egg sandwich. I hadn't had one in ages. You know the kind: two slices of bread, mayo, and one fried egg. I like to break the yolk when I put in the pan, but I don't scramble it. I let it cook and then flip it to cook the top. I end up with a thin layer of yolk in between two thin layers of egg white. I sat down next to Sera while she was eating her cereal with my sandwich. She took one look, made an ooooh sound, and stole the second half. This is one of the few things she now asks for by name. She loves them.

Then it's off the potty where she sits for 10 seconds or until she goes, whichever comes first. She's not real happy about this addition to her agenda, but she's actually started going the last few days. A quick brush of her teeth, and we head downstairs.

While she works her way down the last 3 or 4 steps, I let the dog out and turn on the TV for "music, mommy!"

I get her breakfast, make and pack my lunch, and let the dog back in.

I usually bring Sera her breakfast before I make my lunch, but today I had to cook it and let it cool.

While she eats, I brush her hair and put on her shoes. Today, when I walked in the living room. She was sitting on the couch waiting for her sammich. She had gotten her shoes from her basket and put them on herself.

Daddy joins us downstairs and we head out by 6:30 AM.

We were alternating each day on who would walk Sera to her class. It was harder on her when we both walked her because she wanted to stay with us. The last three times though, she has told me to wait in the car. Daddy take in.

Her teacher told Jim that as soon as we leave, she always goes to the teacher and shows off her outfit for the day.

My little girl is growing up.


Friday, August 15, 2008
Talk to Yourself Much?
This week started out with a very unusual email. I received an email through my Facebook account from myself.

My full name is very unusual. I've never had to worry about being in a class or office with anyone who had the same name. I was the only one.

This email was the same first name and my maiden name. She lives in Mexico, and her family is from Hungary.

I was born in Mexico, and my father is from Hungary.

I emailed her back and added her as a friend. We've exchanged emails every day this week and have learned that we are connected. We had to be with that name and background!

My father was adopted by his stepfather. His stepfather had two older sons. There was such a large age gap that he never developed a atrong relationship with his stepbrothers, and they lost touch after his stepfather and mother passed away during his teen years. Margarita was born the November before me to one of my father's step-brothers. It's taken all this time for us to learn of the other.

I've really enjoyed our exchanges. We would have never found each other if not for the Internet and Facebook.



Monday, August 11, 2008
Back to Work
Teachers reported back to work today in my area. It was a good day. It's always fun to hear how everyone's summer went. Who travelled? Who got married? Pregnant? Divorced? And the best part is being able to go out to lunch. Woo hoo!

In the it had to happen some day category, Jim asked Sera if she was going to put her shoes on or what. She responded with what. I responded with gales of laughter.

Since I didn't watch the entire opening ceremony, and apparently missed some pretty awesome stuff, I was very happy to see that I can get my very own copy. And you can, too!


Saturday, August 09, 2008

I will confess that I didn't watch the whole thing, but I did watch the beginning. It was spectacular. I was especially impressed by the drumming performance. Okay, I was impressed by all of it. I wish Sera had been old enough to appreciate it. She was sound asleep long before it started.

My third sister has finally been sucked in to the vortex known as blog world. Welcome, Kati!

Jim is in Detroit watching the Tigers with a few of his friends. He and two other teachers at his school make an annual trip to a baseball and a football game. It's something he looks forward to doing. This meant girl's day for Sera and me. We headed to my salon this morning to get her haircut. She's grown up so much. She sat there and turned as directed. She even tucked her chin when the back was getting cut. We then headed to the store for a few things. I had told her our plans ahead of time. When we left the store to go home, she started singing the "we did it" song from Dora. I laughed when I realized she was seeing the day as one of Dora's adventures. All together now, salon, store, home. We did it!


Friday, August 08, 2008
For Die-Hard Foodies
I mentioned the amazing meals to be at the Grand Hotel. They have three menus that they rotate. We were there two nights. We had menu two and three.

Menu 2


Sparkling Michigan Apple Juice

House Cured Salmon and Buckwheat Crepes
Vodka Creme Fraiche

Watermelon, Papaya, and Green Tea Parfait

Prosciutto and Vidalia Onion Tart

Sweet Pepper Succotash


Golden Beet and Squash Soup
Chorizo Sausage, Rye Croutons

Beef Broth with Summer Vegetables*
Truffle Quenelles

Artichoke, Fennel, and Lobster Gazpacho
Caviar Creme Fraiche


Chopped Vegetable Salad with Beans and Mozzarella
Roasted Shallot-Garlic Vinaigrette


Baked Filet of Michigan Whitefish
with Crabmeat and Shrimp Ragout
Lemongrass Cream

Beef Medallion and Braised Beef Short Ribs
Velvet Chile-Madeira Sauce

Mango-Chipotle Barbecued Pork Tenderloin
and Sweet Potato Mash
Lemon Aioli

Hazelnut Crusted Chicken Breast with Wild Mushrooms
White Port Jus

Grilled Asparagus and Parmesan Polenta
Tomato-Onion Jam

Menu 3


Sparkling Michigan White Grape Juice

Jumbo Shrimp and Diver Scallops
Wasabi Remoulade

Pineapple Martini
Tequila Sabayon

Braised Pork and Vegetable Spring Roll


Creamy Smoked Chicken Soup*
Gruyere Spatzle

Michigan Whitefish Bisque
Vanilla Oil

Molokai Sweet Potato and Yogurt Soup
Crispy Pancetta


Spinach, Strawberries, Sweet Pecans, and Boursin Cheese
Thyme-Honey Dressing


Almond-Macadamia Crusted Trout
Champagne Choucroute

Lamb Chops with White Bean Cassoulet
Pomeganate Molasses

Pepper-Coffee Rubbed Black Angus Prime Rib
with Chanterelle Stew
Jack Daniels Jus

Herb Crusted Organic Breast of Chicken and Spicy Shrimp
Cilantro-Black Bean Sauce

Wild Mushroom Ravioli and Tomato Tartin
Curried Chickpeas

Dessert Menu

Grand Pecan Ball
Fudge Sauce

Strawberry Chocolate Martini

Cheesecake Trio
Kumquat and Blood Orange Coulis

Raspberry Panna Cotta with Filo Crisp
Pink Champagne Sauce

Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee
Vanilla Bean Madeleine

Warm Banana and Pecan Bread Pudding
Bourbon Creme Anglaise

Ice Cream

Cappuccino, Double Dutch Chocolate, Lemon Buttermilk,

Tart Cherry, Vanilla Honey


Green Apple, Tequila Lime Cilantro

Jim's Choices
Magi's Choices
*Sera loves soup, so I chose the ones I thought she'd like best

Our meals were great. They didn't quite reach the heights of my memories from our honeymoon, but that was probably my fault. I'd taken those memories to a height that couldn't be met. My pork was amazing. The chicken was just okay. I never order chicken, so I don't know what came over me. It was between that and the lamb chops. I should have gone with the lamb chops.

Jim had the creme brulee for dessert our first night. It was so good, we both had it the second night. Sera was sitting on my lap when our dessert came, and I gave her a bite. Her eyes literally rolled, she tucked her head into my neck, and looked back at me with an expression I've never seen on her face before. "Mommy, that's nummy." And then we devoured every last bite.

If you're still reading this, here's the one we didn't get.

Menu 1


Sparkling Michigan Raspberry Juice

Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail
Lime Cocktail Sauce, Horseradish Foam

Minted Melon Balls
Coconut Ricotta

Escargot Parmgiano
Tuscan Bean Puree


Wild Mushroom Bisque
Tarragon Cream

Spanish Onion Soup
Jerez Sherry

Green Apple and Asian Pear Soup
Candied Walnuts


Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cucumbers, and Pear Tomatoes
Sweet Mustard and Peppercorn Dressing


Miso Glaced Filet of Salmon
Hoisin Sauce, Thai Julienne Salad

Cornish Game Hen with Crabmeat and Truffles
Bourbon Cream

Roasted Prime Rib of Beef
Garlic Jus, Crispy Tobacco Onions

Grilled Veal Scallopini and Sweetbreads
Shiitake-Chianti Sauce

Roasted Root Vegetables and Plantain Patties
Cucumber Raita, Kafir Dressing

Thursday, August 07, 2008
Catching Up
Okay, I've posted a lot of pictures lately, so you'll have to forgive the lack of one now. This will be a hodgepodge of things I've been meaning to post.

I forgot to pass on a couple of things from our vacations.

When we drove to Vegas, we took the wrong exit and ended up in the wrong part of town. We passed the jail, all the bail bonds places, the justice center, etc... In a bizarre moment of irony, Who Are You? was playing on the radio.

This happened one other time on our trip, and I can't remember it at all.

Sera did an amazing job with all the driving. She watched Finding Nemo and Happy Feet aka Nemo and Penguin 999 times. We also enjoyed mooing every time we saw cows, and we saw a lot of cows, and yelling horsie everytime we saw...well, you get it. We even got to baaa a few times.

Stopping and letting her run around was a big key to our success.

She was not as fond of the drive to Michigan the following week, but slept most of the time, both coming and going.

She's a huge fan of listening to baseball on the radio. She would complain on the few station identification breaks XM radio took. This helped a lot because Jim listened to many Tiger games while we drove.

She also developed empathy. During the camping trip, she started asking Jim and me if we were okay with this very concerned voice and expression. She was especially concerned when Jim had to haul me out of the raft. Can't say that I blame her.

Croc flip-flops may not be the best camping shoes. I actually bought shoes at Cabela's, but didn't wear them because they're cute and I didn't want them getting dirty. My Crocs wash easier. Jim thinks this is crazy illogical. It makes perfect sense to me.

When you shower at a campsite, you keep your shoes on. Another reason why the Crocs were good. Unfortunately, you walk out and step into dirt with damp shoes and feet. So much for clean feet.

When we first got to our room at the Grand Hotel, I plopped in the chair, took off my shoes and commented that I wasn't sure how much was dirt and how much was tan line on my feet. Sera took one look at my feet and rushed daddy to the bathroom. She asked him for a washcloth and told him to put water on it. She then came out and rubbed the top of my feet. "Mommy, you okay?" I assured her several times that I was fine. I think she thought the dirt was hurting me.

She loses all empathy if she's the one who has inflicted pain. Then it's funny.

All our travelling caused a little backsliding in the potty training area. She will poop on the potty, but we're not making it everytime she has to pee. Unless she wants an M&M. Then she miraculously has to go.

Will I still have to give her M&M's for going potty when she's in high school?

On Tuesday, she and I had a dentist appointment. I went first, so she could watch. It was her first time. She and daddy got to sit and observe. When the hygienist was polishing my teeth, Sera came over and held my hand while asking if I was okay. She's too cute!

When it was her turn, she jumped right into that chair and said, "Aaahhh!" I had been warned that on the first visit they rarely got to do more then count the teeth. She let them count, polish, floss, and apply the flouride treatment. She was so cooperative.

We'd been reading a book about going to the dentist. I think it helped.

The next day a commercial came on for a local dentist. Sera pointed and said, "Look mommy, open aaahh."

On Wednesday, Sera started her new daycare.

We were torn between two daycares. We chose the one we did because they offer night time service until 11:30 pm. This means we could actually go on a date or something. They only charge $5.00 an hour for this. Can you believe it?

She's officially in young pre-school now. She'll be classified as pre-school once she's potty-trained. She had a lot of fun and asked to go to bed 30 minutes before her bed time.

Her bed time has now moved up an hour. On Thursday, she asked to go night-night at 5:45 pm. Her bed time last school year was in her room by 6 pm for reading and some play. Over the summer, it became 7:30-8ish. We're looking at 6:30 now, but it may move back to 6 by next week when we start getting her up at 6 am instead of 7 am.

On her own, she'll sleep 12 hours and still nap for 2-3 hours.

It's nice having some time in the evening to get stuff done, but we're lucky to get 2-3 hours with her before she's asleep. I'd love to keep her up later, but that's not fair or healthy for her.

I already miss spending all day with her.

So does Jim.

This is when we remind ourselves how lucky we were to be able to do that this summer.

My niece just had a birthday. I talked to one of my sisters the other day about her birthday. Not her mother. Did I remember to call? Did I get her gift to her on time? Is one on the way?

The answers are two nos and a yes. Can you guess where they belong?

Another niece had a birthday last month. I'm batting 1000 here.

I'm obviously shooting for Aunt of the Year title. Ha!

Jim and I spent all day today in our respective classrooms getting ready.

We spent yesterday buying supplies for school. We're not done.

Back to work on Monday with students on Wednesday.

Summer vacation is over.

It was good. Very, very good.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008
A First
Last night at 10:45 pm, I did something I had never done before. I got a sleeping Sera from her crib and went to the basement. Jim and Shadow tagged along, too. We weren't worried about a tornado, but the weather forecaster showed a very dangerous and scary storm heading directly for us. The wind gusts were up to 100 mph, and they were warning that this was enough to topple trees and blow out windows. They mentioned our little town by name. To understand why this is significant, you should know that we're so small that we don't have a mayor, our own police, or anything. The population is 1,859, and our size is 1.37 sq miles. It's a pretty tiny community. We're right in between two larger towns and most people use those as a reference. When the weather guy says our name and to get to the basement, we got.

Luckily, the severe northern edge of this system fell apart as it hit our area. This storm was bad. It even hit the national wires with its impact on Chicago and Michigan City. We were very, very lucky.

Note: The picture has nothing to do with the post. It's another one from our camping trip. It's just there 'cause she's so darn cute!


Sunday, August 03, 2008
It Was Grand!
In an opposite of extremes, we ended our camping trip by heading to Mackinac Island and the Grand Hotel. The Grand Hotel was where they filmed Somewhere in Time. Most of you probably haven't even heard of it, but it's one of my favorite movies. My sisters and I all loved it from the first time we saw it. Jim, being from Michigan, was familiar with Mackinac Island and had been there as a teenager. When we married, we wanted to go to the island for our honeymoon. My dad and step-mother, Nora, surprised us with two nights at the Grand Hotel as a wedding present. We must have done some heavy duty raving. Okay, I know we did because for Christmas 2006, they gave us another two nights. They thought it would make a nice family vacation for us our first summer home with Sera. Unfortunately, Jim only had 12 days off last summer, and the hotel did not have two consecutive nights available during those 12 days. Luckily, we were able to book them for this summer instead.

Here's one of the official photos of the Grand Hotel from their website. Jim took a lot of pictures during our vacation as well. Be sure to visit his site to see more photos.

The hotel has a dress code after 6 pm. It officially states that men should be in coat and tie and ladies in their finest. Some of the signs list pants as unacceptable for women, but we noticed that they were allowing dressy pant suits for women now.

Here is Sera in some of her finest. It wasn't looking so hot at the end of the night when she dropped her chocolate milk in her lap. The napkin took most of the damage, and the rest did come out when I laundered it. Phew! I'm so glad I packed that stain stick!

Jim all suited up. He's not a jacket and tie kind of guy, so this is a rare shot. Notice his new haircut? He buzzed it all off this summer.
I was surprised to like it.
The dining room rotates three amazing menus. They also put out a children's buffet each evening. Sera had the choice of ordering her own meal, eating on the buffet, or sharing with us. She ended up eating from the buffet and from our plates, as usual. That child is developing quite the palate.
The dessert table on the children's buffet
The next morning at breakfast. You guys eat that normal stuff.
I'll stick to butter.
The view from the window

We walked into town to check out the shops. Sera got this really cool book. You can't see it, but on the right side it shows the animal. It appears to be moving when you move the page.
Here she's proudly showing off her monkey shirt.
She asked me to take its picture.
We stopped in this little alcove for a rest before tackling the big hill in front of the hotel. Sera was thrilled to get out of the stroller. She entertained all the passersby with her jumping and dancing.

Part of the tradition of the hotel is to go on the front porch and sit in the white rockers. It's a hardship following tradition.

She spotted an airplane in this shot. It was very exciting!

This one isn't centered well, and I cut off her right hand. Catching a running and jumping child can be quite the challenge.
She kept spotting all sorts of fun things to see.

I know it's out of focus, but I still love the expression on her face and her hair flying back.
A quiet moment with daddy
It's too bad she didn't have any fun on this trip.


More Summer Fun
I've already posted two pictures of Sera playing with this beach ball, but I love them all, so here are some more. She was having so much fun. It kept bouncing into the firepit, that's why her face and shirt are so dirty. I didn't have the heart to stop her once I noticed. The damage was already done.

She also got a kick out of collecting baby pine cones.
Sera loves baths, but hates showers. I was surprised when she went willingly with me to take a shower. Once we made it to the bathroom, I picked her up to see the mirror. I wish I had my camera then. The look on her face when she saw how dirty she was was just priceless. "Mama, Sera's face ucky. Mama, shower!" She jumped into that water to get her face cleaned. It was hysterical.


Saturday, August 02, 2008
I Have Photographic Proof
"What big adventure," you ask? On Tuesday, when we went to Traverse City we stopped by Wilderness Canoe Trips to get some information. Jim and our friend, Eric, had rented a canoe when they camped in Mesick a few years ago. They also rent tubes, rafts, and kayaks. We picked up a brochure and asked a few questions. Jim wanted to get this information so we could be prepared to do something next year.

On Wednesday, as we sat around the campfire with Eric next year became tomorrow. I was concerned about Sera handling the ride, and I was concerned about getting myself in and out of whatever we were doing. We decided to go with the raft, and we decided to go on the shortest route, the two hour trip.

Here's the Manistee River as we started out. I really was surprised that we just got in the raft and headed off on our own. We were going downstream though. All we had to do was let the current take us.

Jim in his element. He's loving this.
Sera is a bit more cautious. She did end up enjoying the trip. It took us about 2 1/2 hours. She would have been happier if it had ended about 45 minutes earlier. She also hated her life vest, especially during the end when she wanted to rest her head on my shoulder. The vest wouldn't let her get that close.
The guys got a real work out when we ended up on the wrong side of this fallen tree. They had to do some heavy duty paddling to get us out.
This rafting thing is even better when daddy packs string cheese, grapes, and apple juice.
And the final proof that I was there, too. Yes, I went rafting down a river, minus the white water.


Rainy Day
Our first morning at the campsite was just beautiful. The sky was blue, and the sun was bright. We hung around the campsite for the morning before heading out to run an errand. Jim needed to take care of some business regarding his grandma's headstone. We had a choice between heading to Cadillac, about 15 minutes away, or Traverse City, about 30 minutes away. We decided to head to Traverse City because we'd come in through Cadillac the day before. We'd only be on the road about 10 minutes when it started to rain...and rain...and rain.

Sera fell asleep on the way there, so we started driving around. We headed to the downtown area. If you've never been to Traverse City, MI, I recommend it. It's a great little town. It's very tourist oriented, but in a good way. There are lots of great shops and restaurants, particularly in the downtown area. We parked near one of Jim's favorite stops, Horizon Bookstore, and waited for her to wake up. Well, I waited and dozed while Jim ran through the rain to the store. On his way there he passed a restaurant that smelled great. He asked the store clerk who helped him about the place, and she strongly recommended it. As soon as Sera woke up, we headed over there for lunch and then to the bookstore. The restaurant is called Amical.

Isn't it cute?

Jim had bought some magazines for us to look at while Sera slept. One of them recommended the Baked Tomato Soup en Croute.

All I can say is that it may be worth a four hour drive just to have this again.

Pan-sauteed Tilapia over spinach and portobello mushrooms with a white wine, garlic, and butter sauce

And Jim's lunch, Chicken Potpie

The food was amazing. All three of us loved every bite. In fact, it was so good that we went back there for dinner on our last night of camping.

After lunch, we killed time driving around and stopping a few stores. I bought some clothes for the new school year, and Jim checked out kayaks at a sporting goods store. We were basically waiting for the rain to stop. We headed back through Interlochen just because we'd never gone that way, and the rain finally stopped on the way back. By the time we reached our campsite, the sun was back out and it was a fantastic night. Jim grilled burgers, and we had another nice night by the campfire before heading to sleep.

Our original plans had called for us to leave the next morning for the Upper Peninsula. Our friend, Eric, was going to join us. He ended up delayed a day, and we decided that tearing down the campsite and driving for hours wasn't very appealing. We ended up staying in Mesick. We did have to move our campsite, but it was still easier than having to completely repack.

On Wednesday, we pretty much hung out at the campsite. The only time we left was a quick trip that Sera and I took to the store to buy a broom and an ice cream run after naptime.

Our big adventure happened on Thursday, but you'll have to wait to hear that story.


Friday, August 01, 2008
Another Photo Contest
5 Minutes for Mom is hosting another photo contest. It seems like everytime they do, I happen to have something that fits the theme perfectly. This time was especially hard because I have about six pictures of Sera from our vacation that were perfect. I chose this one because it shows our tent, fire pit, and chair. There's no doubt we were camping. But mainly I chose it because of the joy on Sera's face. She was having so much fun playing with this beach ball. You've already seen the picture I took a few minutes later.


How To Take A Princess Camping
As I've mentioned before, I'm not an experienced camper. In fact, prior to our Utah experience I'd camped out exactly once. By camping, I mean tent. I went to 4-H camp, but we had cabins. I even spent a night or two in an RV. Even totaled up though, I still hadn't spent too many nights in the great outdoors. My dad likes to make an old joke, but it's true for my family. Camping, to us, is a night at a Da*y's Inn. It sounds somewhat elitist to make that joke, but please consider that my father is a hotelier. We literally grew up in hotels.

To say I've been leary about the whole camping things is to put it mildly. Jim, on the other hand, loves camping and has tons of experience. Sera loves being outside and the idea of sleeping outside just sent her over the moon. I was obviously outnumbered. I must admit, Jim worked hard to win me over.

A nice view doesn't hurt

Add a loving husband

An adorable child

Daddy and daughter moments that just bring a tear to your eyes
A strong tent ready to withstand any storms
A warm bonfire
And the real winner...elevated queen-sized beds
One beautiful napping child

An after nap stop for ice cream
"I help daddy"
Good friends
Hot dogs roasted on an open fire
And another great view


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