Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday: Cheap Thrills

We lazed around this morning, not getting out of the cabin before 9. Mr. GT was chomping at his bit. Well, we were busy having a big fancy breakfast of eggs, bacon, fried potatoes and toast, the latter made especially for you by Sunshine. He was so cute on a little stool, dutifully putting new toast in and delivering the finished toast to a plate! The toaster is just the appliance for him!

After breakfast (“This is GOOD, Mom! You should make this more often!” shrieked Banana Boy), we had to work on the 500-piece puzzle begun last night. And get dressed. And brush teeth. And put on sunscreen. And put away laundry.

So it was 9 before we left. We headed west for Manistique and its surrounding attractions.

First up was Big Springs, or Kitch-iti-kipi. Ok. Wow. We were going to see a big spring. Cost: (keep track here!) $8 for daily state park admission.
Ooh.  Ahh.  Big deal.
We hiked out to the spring, which is 300 ft. long by 175 ft. wide by 45 ft. deep. Big. The first thing we noticed was that it was incredibly clear. Along the edge you could see the fallen tree logs through the water which was a beautiful teal color. Cool.

Out we went onto the covered dock, perched out over the spring. Under the roof was an open area through which you could look down into the spring. Cool.

Two older couples joined us on the dock, just as we wondered about the big wheel and the locked gates and the giant lever. And the steel cable across the spring. Wha???

Then we figured it out! This was not a dock! It was a RAFT, locked to the dock. The big wheel moved the raft out across the spring via the steel cable. Oh. WOW. Way cool!

So we followed the directions to unhitch our raft from the dock and propel ourselves out across the spring. The kids fought for who would power us with the big wheel, while the adults oohed and ahhed over the magnificent spring beneath us. You could see the waters bubbling through the sand 45 feet below through the crystal clear water. It was the neatest thing ever!
OOH!!!  AHHH!  This is very cool!
Fortunately, our traveling companions were good sports and didn’t mind a very slow ride and very enthusiastic fellow passengers. They’d been here before and weren’t quite as impressed as we were.

We bought some maple syrup for $10 at the gift shop, to use for tomorrow’s French toast.

Next we doubled back and hit the fish hatchery on the way back to Manistique. The kids hated the fishy smell of the fish pellets they feed the fry, but they loved the computer simulation where you raise one of 4 kinds of fish from egg to release in the wild. They also were thrilled by the raceways of fingerlings swarming over each other trying to stay in the shadowiest place. They had fun finding the full-grown fish in the finishing pond and exploring the nearby stream and marsh. Cost: Free.

Now they were hungry, so we headed back to Manistique for lunch. Everyone agreed we were hungry for pizza, so Pizza Hut, it was. Their special today was any size pizza, any number of toppings, $10. What? Seriously? Yep. Any pizza, any number of toppings. Our cheapest lunch yet: A chicken taco pizza and pepperoni with green and black olives and onions. Oh, and free wi-fi. Can you say paradise? I got the blog all uploaded with tons of pictures from yesterday and even read the local news from home.

Oh, and next door was a winery. I told Mr. GT we ought to get some blueberry wine and he said no one made blueberry wine. Ok. Whatever. He said we’d stop on the way home (ie: back to the cabin) for wine tasting. Fun! Fun!

After lunch we headed west once more to Fayette State Park and their historic townsite. The town of Fayette was a company town of the Jackson Iron Company, which smelted iron ore for 24 years during the 1800s. We learned about smelting, charcoal kilns, life in a company town, life of immigrants in the late 1800s and archeology. Cost: Free if you count the $8 state park fee toward the big spring we’d already been to.
Trying to pick up pig iron

T-levers on the pig iron
We spent about 4 hours here, the kids running to and fro among the buildings. They put on a play in the town music hall, dressed up in period clothes, went to the town school, cooked a meal and did dishes in a laborer’s cabin. Rose Bud challenged Mr. GT to a long game of checkers, something she’d never played before (yes, we are bad parents). They also wailed about not being able to keep a piece of the slag rock covering the beach. Poor Pepper and Daisy!
Presenting the Daisy-Pepper-Banana Boy-Sunshine Show!

Checker Challenge

In the laborers' cabin

They don't look all THAT sad that they can't bring this piece of slag home...

At the gift shop, I bought a children’s historical fiction novel about two boys who live in Fayette during the time the town was alive. Daisy is devouring it on the way home.

We didn’t finish the townsite until almost 5pm! On the way back through Manistique, we stopped at the winery, left the kids in the car like dogs with the windows cracked and had ourselves a wine-tasting! Mmmm! Blueberry wine! I told you so! We also got cranberry, North Shore White and a Big Red.

For supper, spaghetti was on the menu with hamburgers for tomorrow, but after much discussion and a vote, we decided to put the hamburger in the spaghetti and eat leftovers tomorrow before we leave, then hamburgers at home.

Mr. GT and Sunshine went off to town in search of ice cream (and had their own adventure). At the first shop, there was only vanilla, so they went to the next grocery store but they couldn’t get in because the owners were moving a cooler out the front door, so they couldn’t go inside. Then they tried the gas station, but they only had ice cream bars, so back to the first grocery store for the vanilla. Then back to the gas station for candy bars to go with it.

Meanwhile, I got the whole supper made—hamburger fried, noodles boiled, beans snapped and cooked and zucchini fried. Wondered by the zucchini where the boys had gotten to!

So after supper (which we ate at 8:00!) we had ice cream. The girls had begun a new 1000 piece puzzle on the floor in the sunroom and after supper, we put the boys and the little girls right to bed but Rose Bud and Mr. GT and I stayed up to work on it awhile. Rose Bud faded at 9:30, but we stayed at it until the mosquitoes were dive-bombing us at 11 (not sure why all of a sudden the place filled with moskies at 11pm…..)

We were so busy with our puzzle, we never got to drink our wine!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wednesday: Extreme Adventure Sports

Today’s blog post will be brought to you by the little Green Thumbs.

Sunshine: “We go to lake and see sand. Come back home make supper.”

Banana Boy: Yesterday we went to the sea which is called – what is it called? Which is called Lake Superior. We went there and wanted to swim so we waded in the water to see how it felt and then we went to get our swimsuits and we swam in the water and the girls found cool rocks. Then I was lying on the rocks because it was nice and warm then Pepper and Sunshine and Mom buried me in the rocks. Later they buried me in the sand. Then they took a picture of me then Dad took a picture when I came out of the sand and rocks.
Lake Superior is very cold and I didn’t want to take a bath in there cuz mom had to wash out the sand from me, so I had to go in the cold water and I was crying all that time and it was fun. (note: yes, he DID say “fun” here. It makes no sense to me either). Then we went home at the cottage and ate supper and then we played charade (note: just one charade, apparently) and I tried to make Dad play badminton. The End.

Daisy: We climbed up and down the sand dunes.

Sunshine and I are partners and he always wanted to go on the sand dunes with me. It was fun climbing up the sand dunes. Sunshine and I would slide down the sand dunes. It was cool to look at the water when you were up on top of the sand dunes because you could see really far. Then we went to ---where’d we go next? Then we went to the log slide where you could run down a long sand dune and it took an hour to climb back up. We didn’t do it.

(Mr. GT: It took me only 40 minutes to do and I was EXHAUSTED!) (note: he did NOT either do it! He just likes to interject comments)

Still Daisy: Then we went to 12 mile beach and I found a bunch of cool rocks but we couldn’t take them home because (DANGER! DANGER! chants Sunshine, interrupting) it was a National Lakeshore and if you took the rocks, then they wouldn’t have any rocks.

Then we put our swimsuits on and we swam. The water was really cold. After I got out I laid on the rocks because the rocks were hot (“I now have burns in the shape of the rocks,” interrupts Mr. GT). Then we went to Pictured Rock and looked at ….. the rocks. (They had pictures on them :Mr. GT) Then we had ice cream and went back to the cabin. (Mr. GT: That about sums it up!)

And now Rose Bud will tell about yesterday:

(“Je’tem beaucoo,” interjects Mr. GT)

Primero vamos a el agua que està cayendo.

Caminamos al lago y corrimos arriba del un montòn muy grande de (sand).

Yo corro abajo de el montòn y cuando estoy en el final, cayo en los rocs. Los rocs me duelen mi pierna.

Vamos a un montòn mas grande que el uno que subimos.

Para ir arriba de este montòn, necessitas mas o menos un hora. Papà dice que no tenemos tiempo para ir arriba de este montòn.

Pepper quiere a ir abajo y entonces arriba. Ella està muy triste.

Despues de esto, vamos a la playa de doce milas. En este playa, no podemos traer los rocs atras del coche. El parque dice asì.

Nadamos en el lago acà. El lago es muy frio. Yo no nado para mucho tiempo.

Yo duermo en los rocs a causa de estos son muy calientes.

Cubrimos Banana Boy con los rocs.

Conducimos en el coche a los rocs grande y pinta.

Vemos el roc de castle y el agua bonita. Conducimos atras de la casa, pero despues de llegamos acà, impedimos para helado. Entonces vamos a la casa. Al Fin.

There is a translation, but Rose Bud will not let me share it here.

And now, Pepper, in brief: “We hiked and swam and drove and climbed.”

And now, excerpts from Pepper, collected by me throughout the day:

“We need to wash our hands and brush off our hands. We don’t want to eat the dead people in Lake Superior, now do we? Oh, no!” (“dead people” being all the sailors lost in the shipwrecks we heard about several days ago)

Adventure Pepper: “There’s the trail! You used to be able to walk there, right next to the falls! Look at that trail. Now you have to walk on this wooden trail with big railings. I see the old trail! There it is! It goes under the wooden trail. Now where did it go? Here it is! It comes out here! WHY can’t you walk there any more?”

Adventure Pepper: “We can go down the log slide! It won’t take us long to come back up. Look how pretty the water is! See, it just goes right down and then we’ll climb back up. It was easy on the other sand dune. WHY can’t we climb down? It looks easy! How far is it? How far? I WISH we could go down there. Sigh.”

Adventure Pepper: “This is fun! Look at the big wave! Here comes a really big wave! Aww, why aren’t there any more big waves? Hey? Why did everybody get out? It’s not cold! I’m not cold. This is so fun! Jump in the waves with me, Mom!”

Adventure’s in Breaking the Law Pepper: “WHY WHY WHY can’t we take the rocks home? They’re SO pretty!!!!!!! It’s not fair that we can’t take the rocks! But WHY won’t they let anyone take the rocks? WHO says that we can’t take the rocks? I don’t understand WHY we CAN’T take the rocks! What HAPPENS if you take the pretty rocks? When can we go to a place where we can keep the rocks? What if they aren’t pretty there?”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday: A Vacation Day

When asked for this blog post what day it was, Mr. GT shrugged and said, “A vacation day.”

When I went shopping the other day for the few groceries we needed, two boxes of cereal were going to cost over $9 (and would have lasted us for two breakfasts) Really, the prices up here haven’t been as ridiculous as I had expected, but this was ridiculous! So instead, I opted for the $5.68 container of Quaker quick oatmeal. (at home we eat from a 50 lb bag of thick-cut, steel-cut organic oats, but, hey, we’re on vacation!

Anyway, the oatmeal has proved to be wildly popular. Rose Bud has been eating oatmeal for snack and for breakfast and they all couldn’t get enough oatmeal this morning. Mr. GT ate his homemade chocolate chip pancakes alone.

We reached Tahquamenon Falls about 9 and there were only 4 or 5 other families there. I had joked that the place would be choked with tourists. Mr. GT commandeered the camera to take 3 million nature photos today.

We hiked down the paved trail and down the 96 metal steps. At our first view of the falls, we overheard a man talking about walking behind the falls. I asked him if this was the falls that you could walk behind as I had gone behind a waterfall in Upper Michigan with my parents when I was Daisy’s age. It was such a cool experience walking along the ledge behind the power of the enormous falls.

The man explained that this DID used to be the falls you could walk behind, but that the ledge behind the falls had since eroded and you no longer could go behind. (not only could you not go behind, but you also could not get near the edge, nor walk down the wooden steps, nor walk along the river at its edge. Guard rails lined the entire length of the hike and new, metal steps were built over the old wooden stairs (as Pepper noticed).

We explored the trails of the falls for over an hour with Sunshine in the lead. At the end we took the nature trail to the parking lot.
 Mattel CEO??

In the park was a brew pub and restaurant so we ate lunch there. I had a small raspberry ale. Mmm.

After lunch we hit the gift shop for postcards (watch your mailboxes in about 2 weeks!) and a tiny rubber pasty for our vacation Christmas ornament (we buy something for our tree every time we go on vacation).

We headed next to the Lower Falls, which are more boring and farther away. I captured the camera back from Mr. GT. The kids were tired of falls and anxious to hit the shipwreck museum, so we only had a quick look at the lower falls.
Quick!  The Lower Falls!

Next up, a 22 mile drive to Whitefish Point where we thoroughly enjoyed the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. It was pricey, for what there was and I have some suggestions to make it better, but the displays they had were nicely done.

We watched a 14-minute film on the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the raising of its bell 20 years later. The bell is housed here as a memorial to the 29 sailors who died in that tragedy. A fact I didn’t know was that the EF was the last of the Great Lakes freighters to go down in the Great Lakes. That was in 1975.

The museum’s focus was on sinkings around Whitefish Point, which was a most dangerous area because of the narrowing of the lake along with the amount of freighter traffic and the unpredictable and dangerous storms and fog. I was reading the display aloud and explaining this to the girls, who were more interested in this topic than anything I’ve ever seen (!!), and the docent was listening in to our discussion from her desk.

When I finished, she said she had never heard any parent or teacher explain it better and she liked how I checked in with the girls to see if they understood the vocabulary. Truly, it was no different than any discussion we have on any school topic (or really any topic we discuss). To me, this is the fun part of learning and homeschooling and I love best when they ARE so interested in a topic. Even Rose Bud, who remains a homeschooler at heart, was in on the discussion—I’m so glad she hasn’t lost her curiosity and love for learning by switching over to public school.

The museum had several components: the museum with shipwreck displays, the film about the EF, a search and rescue museum and the lighthouse museum. The lighthouse here is the oldest working lighthouse in the United States. They had restored the lightkeepers’ homes to show how they and their families lived and what their work entailed.

Of course, we also had to walk down to the beach, where the kids went nuts finding lake-polished rocks and driftwood. Giant white thunderheads had blown in directly over us (but not to either side, just over us) and it was very lightly misting. Sunshine waded in the icy Lake Superior water while the rest of the kids collected.

When it began to sprinkle, we headed back to the car, with a short detour to the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory for Daisy. On the way back to Paradise (no, really! Paradise! It’s the only town up on Whitefish Point!) it POURED. POURED! But only over the road, not on either side. Much.

It stopped just before Paradise and the sun came out overhead, until we found the ice cream shop and parked. Then it poured again. So we waited in the van until it abated a bit. The second we had dashed into the tiny ice cream shop, it stopped and the sun came out.

We didn’t buy fudge today, but we did eat Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream.

Some words:

Sunshine: “When is Nonny coming? I just LOOOOOOOVE Nonny!”

Pepper: “I DON’T love the mosquitoes, but they love ME!” (it’s true, she’s on Benadryl at night and Zyrtec in the morning)

Daisy: “Daaaad!”

Banana Boy: “Today are we going to Upper Michigan?”

Rose Bud: “I’m hungry!”

Sunshine: “We almost THERE???”

Pepper: “Feel this ear. Now feel this ear. This one has only a little crack, but the other one I can put my whole finger under almost. It’s so fat! I HATE MOSQUITOES!!!!!”

Pepper: “Get that mosquito! DAD! GET IT!”


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Monday: Michigan Places That are Hard to Pronounce

We intended to be out the door at 7 this morning, but no one woke up before 6:30.

Originally, the plan was to go to Tahquamenon Falls, Whitefish Point and Sault Ste. Marie today. We thought we’d go to the Soo Locks first until it warmed up some and then head for the beach area, but after finishing the locks at 11:00, we decided to do Mackinac area instead and then spend a whole day later in the week at Whitefish Point et. al.

We arrived in Sault Ste. Marie at 9:15 thanks to our able navigator, Pepper, who has commandeered the map and will not relinquish it. We get all sorts of helpful driving tips like, “The next road is a thick one with a shield on it!” and “Only 15 more miles to SALT STEE Marie.”

Viewing the locks is free, but subject to government search. Fortunately, we didn’t bring in with us any packages, bags, packs or firearms, so we didn’t require frisking. We checked in at the desk and found out the next big ship scheduled to traverse the locks was in half an hour, so we went up to the lookout platform and looked out at the locks. Then down the steps to kill 30 minutes. We looked at the fountain, the models of the locks, climbed on the big anchors, ran around the trees and generally frolicked. When we next climbed the platform, the ship was already entering the locks, but not in the nearest one. Bummer. It was an 850+ ft. cargo freighter downbound (headed from Lake Superior DOWN to Lake Huron). While we watched it creep at a snail’s pace into the lock, a snappy little tour boat zipped into the lock nearest us and in the time it took to get the big ship into the lock and drop it to the appropriate level, we also got to see the tour boat enter, rise and leave. Double the fun!
Watching the slow ship

Before the ship had completed it’s slow exit, we had had enough, so we crossed the street to buy fudge. We decided that since we’re in Da U.P. and since everyone in every town here feels entitled to cash in on the Mackinac Fudge bonanza, we might as well eat fudge every day. And twice on Mondays. We’re not going to Mackinac Island anyway (and who REALLY has the most authentic fudge?) so we’re not going to sweat the real stuff. We are not fudge snobs.

So we began in Sault Ste. Marie with Double Chocolate.

Having decided to now blow the rest of the day on ordinary tourist attractions, we headed south for St. Ignace. On the way, we held a contest to guess the length of the Mackinac Bridge. Pepper, with some help from Daisy, did not blindly guess, but used the scale on her map to research and come up with the correct suggestion of 5 miles. She won the extra piece of fudge (forgone by Rose Bud who said Double Chocolate was too boring to eat—correction from Rose Bud: “What I said, was, ‘Double Chocolate reminds me of chocolate cheese, which is disgusting!’”), which she thoughtfully shared with Daisy.

In St. Ignace, we promptly found a pasty place and ordered up 5 chicken pasties and one beef, which we took “to go.” We drove a few blocks to the Father Marquette Memorial and picnicked on the curb in the parking lot with a few hundred seagulls. There was actually only one until Rose Bud threw it one of her rutabagas. Within seconds every gull on the Great Lakes was circling over our heads. Who knew rutabaga was so popular amongst seagulls? The kids made sure to save plenty of scraps for when they were finished eating (because I declared a moratorium on ANY more feeding of the gulls until we were done. Who wants seagull poop on their picnic????) I seem to distinctly recall, from the 2006 East Coast trip that seagulls also like lunchmeat….
Pepper looks up with horror and Rose Bud protects herself with a styrofoam box from the thousands of seagulls descending on her rutabaga

The Pere Marquette Memorial was fairly boring, but we had studied him in depth in our American history studies, so why not visit one more place he stepped foot in?

Next we crossed the Mackinac Bridge, 5 miles long. The kids couldn’t understand why crossing the bridge in itself was a tourist attraction until they were on the bridge. It’s pretty cool with its suspension cables and cool breezes. Crossing it will set you back $3.50 each way.

Just off the bridge, on the Lower Michigan side, is Colonial Michilimackinac. Say that 10 times fast! We bought the family pass for $65 --about $15 more than the individual admission, but it gets us into 2 other sister-sites and is good until October. In case, you know, we come back. Actually, we DID go to the historic lighthouse next door (would have been an extra $25 or so) and if I can convince Mr. GT, we may go back another day to the Historic Mill site. Might as well get our money’s worth.

So Colonial Michilimackinac is cool! It’s on the site of the old French fort which then became the old British fort during the French and Indian War. They’ve been restoring the fort since 1959 and are still doing archeological digs there. We watched the digging for a while and asked lots of questions of one of the archeologists. Rose Bud remembered when we gridded out our sandbox back in 1st grade and she dug stuff up.

The kids LOVE this history restoration stuff and they explored every building (Daisy even likes to read the exhibits with me). We watched the musket firing demonstration, they got to participate in the reenactment of the landing of the voyageurs, wash laundry on a washboard, see how all the artifacts were discovered, eat cornbread and sourdough bread cooked on site and watch the cannon firing. Oh and dress up. There was lots of dressing up.
Acting in the voyageur reenactment (Pepper in blue hat, Daisy, Sunshine & BB carrying the 90 lb bale)
Soldiers of the Crown
It was very hands-on and very worth the price. We were here with Rose Bud when she was two and I think they’ve improved it quite a bit since then.

After CM, we went to the lighthouse next door, where Sunshine was too short to climb to the top. He and I waded in the Straits of Mackinac in the shadow of the Mackinac Bridge.
Tiny Me and Tiny Sunshine wading in the Straits of Mackinac

After the lighthouse tour, we went in search of more fudge. MACKINAC fudge. Fortunately, we didn’t have to search far as there were two fudge places directly across the street from Colonial Michilimackinac. I stayed in the car and tried to connect to somebody’s free wi-fi while Mr. GT took the kids in to buy fudge. Couldn’t connect.

Finally, on the way out of town, Mr. GT made a wrong turn to the interstate (remember? The thick road with the shield?) and had to turn around in a parking lot. With wi-fi. So I made him stop while I quickly uploaded to the blog and downloaded my email.

BB and Sunshine slept all the way back (a little over an hour). When we got back, I warmed up the chicken tacos and Spanish rice I’d made last night and at 7 pm, we ate. (If you know us, you know that we are an eat-at -5 kind of family!)

And that was our day!

Sunset Bay, outside our cabin

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday: A Family Circus Vacation

Rose Bud, and to a smaller extent the girls, LOVES The Family Circus. We own about 2/3 of the books about a large family of young children and their daily, just-the-way-it-really-is moments in life. A recurring theme in Bil Keane’s chronicles is the family vacation. Each year the family loaded their station wagon to the gills, piled the kids in the back and headed off with great excitement to the beach or some famous destination. And every time the children end up wistfully pressed up against the hotel window watching the rain pour down while the harried parents contemplate 3 wet days trapped in a hotel room with four young children.

It could have been like that, but we actually had a very pleasant day in the cabin while the rain poured down in a steady, gentle shower.

Sunshine slept until 6:30, which felt wonderful because the clock said it was so (even though in his internal system it was really 5:30, just as if he was still at home). We leisurely got ready and were at the community building in town at 8:34, ready for our Lion’s brunch.

Oh. My. Goodness. YUM.

Mr. GT handed over $20 and we were handed heavy china plates while we stood in line. Behind the counter in the kitchen the Lions and Lionesses bustled frying sausages, pancakes, eggs and potato slices. They had electric griddles right there on the counter with the pancakes and eggs. In the back, someone was breaking two eggs at a time into Corelle coffee cups and the egg lady would pour each cup of eggs onto her griddle. The sausages and potatoes were in Nescos.

The meal was all-you-can-eat, but everyone was satisfied with just one huge helping. The coffee was weak, but there was also orange juice and make-your-own toast.

We had planned to attend the Baptist church in town at 11 am, but The Lutheran Hour happened to come on the radio on our way to breakfast, and they listed the sponsoring churches, which included a Lutheran church in Newbery, 15 miles away.

Off we headed on a roundabout tour on a gravel road through the North Woods. Eventually, we ended up on a paved highway and in Newbery. The Lutheran church was an old, white, wooden-steepled affair, filled with old, white-haired ladies. But the organist was VERY enthusiastic and took on some wonderful, beautiful traditional organ music. The pastor, who told us later she was from Wisconsin, gave an inspiring message on Mary and Martha and everyone was very friendly. They sang lovely, traditional hymns and it was a wonderful time of worship.

On the way back to the cabin, we stopped outside the Newbery Chamber of Commerce to use their free wi-fi (wicked fast – happy day!)

While I posted the first blog post, it began to rain and it continued on all day.

For the rest of the day, we hung out in the cabin and just relaxed. Sunshine took a nap, the kids made more bracelets, Mr. GT watched a movie and I finally began to real Eat, Pray, Love which people have been telling me for two years I need to read.
I do like it. I love her imagery! It’s a very soothing book to read that makes you feel beautiful as you glide through her words, with a chuckle refreshingly located every 3 pages or so. Her writing style reminds me of my friend (who doesn’t know she’s my friend) Rae, who blogs at Journey Mom. Rae will have a book coming out next year and I’m excited to read it. I’m hopeful it will be reflective of the writing style on her blog.

Other rainy-day activities in the cabin included a pom-pon animal craft kit from Nonny (HUGE, HUGE hit! Thank you, Nonny!), Chinese Checkers, puzzles & reading. The girls went crazy with the pom-pon animals and made a veritable zoo. Pepper has a particular talent for creative pom-pon animal ideas (her menagerie included a goose and 3 goslings, a monkey with a ruffled neck, a cat with whiskers and a buffalo. Rose Bud made a cute penguin, which she deposited on a model sailing ship on a high shelf in the sunroom. Daisy placed her lion in a lighthouse on the TV. The cabin owners will be a little surprised at all the pom-pon discoveries they’ll make next time they are here.

Late in the afternoon I put the chicken in the oven (with a half a bottle of Mike’s Hard Limeade overtop—I put the other half of the bottle out of its misery. No sense wasting it) and made garlic mashed potatoes with the new red potatoes we brought from home. We also had broccoli and cucumbers from our garden (still to appear on the table this week are green beans and peas).

The sun finally came out about 6 pm and the kids went out to play croquet and badminton (BB has the hang of serving now!) until the mosquitoes drove them in for summer.

The shower was interesting, to say the least. It has only two settings—scalding or ice. Mr. GT had to help the boys, but the girls were soon adept at flipping the dial back and forth to avoid being burned or frozen. In any case, it makes for a quick shower.

Rose Bud and I did a couple of Logic puzzles together before she went to bed, then Mr. GT and I read for an hour before we turned in.

No one was disappointed by the gloomy weather and everyone enjoyed spending a whole afternoon with no responsibilities. Everyone got along and played nicely together. I’m so proud of these kids. I love that they have such simple needs, that they are friends with their siblings and that they find joy in very basic adventures. It’s a pleasure to spend a week in a tiny cabin with them!