Thursday, December 30, 2010

More winter fun before the snow melts!


A frozen fountain in Boyne City

When we arrived at Boyne Mountain Resort last Sunday, the temperatures were seasonably cold and the snow was plentiful, but warmer temperatures were predicted for later in the week.  We were determined to get in as much cold-weather recreation as we could before we lost all the snow!

Bryce decided to try out snowboarding with his friend, Rob, so we rented him some equipment and set him loose on the “Magic Carpet”.

magic carpet

Magic Carpet – tricky to get used to, but WAY better than the old tow rope!

Bryce’s first time on a “real” snowboard included a few falls, but it didn’t take long for him to get the hang of it!


He’s still smiling!

The boys spent some more time on the bunny hill, working on their technique,

Bryce_snowboarding (2)

Bryce is getting the hang of it!


Robbie already looks like a PRO!

and then decided they were ready to move up to the next hill – which involved a chairlift!  This is the only chairlift on the property that does not require a lift ticket, so the line was l – o – n – g!

Bryce_and _Rob

Moving on to the Boyneland slope.

I personally hate chairlifts, and was incredibly nervous about the boys getting on one by themselves, but they were eager to go!


They made it – no need to worry, Mom!

The trip down the slope was uneventful, as well, and we were comfortable with leaving them on their own for awhile while Tom & I & Nick went inside to warm up and get a snack.


Nick wasn’t interested in trying snowboarding – he’d rather have a motor!

Snowboarding was fun, but we also had to try out “Avalanche Preserve” in Boyne City for some old-fashioned fun.  The Avalanche used to be a ski resort (decades ago), but now it’s owned by the city and has been converted to an awesome sledding hill.  In addition to sledding, they also have hiking trails, cross-country ski trails, and a skating rink.  In the warming hut,


they loan (yes, LOAN, for free!) skates and sleds for kids and adults.  The kids headed straight for the sledding hill,


You can’t tell from here, but it’s quite a hike to the top of the hill.

and Tom decided he was going to try out the skating rink.


Careful man – we don’t need any broken legs!

The kids only went about halfway up the hill, but they still picked up quite a bit of speed on the way down!


Having a blast on the way down!


Once they were tired of climbing the hill, they decided to try skating, too.  Nick and Bryce weren’t going to at first, but peer pressure finally got to them!


Can you tell which kids aren’t used to skates?


It was already warming up – Nick didn’t even need his coat!

It started raining last night, and by the time we checked out this morning most of the snow was gone, so it was a good thing we enjoyed the winter weather earlier in the week!

I’d rather go south in the winter, and as soon as the house sells we’ll spend our winters in warmer climates, but as long as we’re still here in the north, I’m glad we were able to spend this Christmas vacation enjoying all that Michigan has to offer!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Making the most of the winter weather


Years ago (B.K. (before kids)), Tom and I had snowmobiles and we would take 5 or 6 trips “up north” every winter to go snowmobiling.  It was a lot of fun and we have great memories of blasting down snow-covered trails all over Michigan and Canada. 


Starting a family took the place of our snowmobiling hobby, so we sold our sleds, thinking we’d just buy different ones someday if we got back into it.  We never did, though, and the boys have been wanting to try it out for awhile now.  We decided to make the most of our (hopefully) last winter here in Michigan, so as part of our Christmas vacation we made a reservation to rent snowmobiles for an afternoon.


Mountainside Mark hooked us up with some sleds, and loaded them up and took them to the trail, just a few miles from the Boyne Mountain Resort.  With paperwork complete, we were ready to head out!


Some friends from home were in the area, too, so we met up with them and spent the afternoon riding through the scenic Jordan River Valley.



We hadn’t gotten much new snow this week, but surprisingly the trails were in pretty good shape.  Michigan requires a trail permit on all snowmobiles, with the funds going to help with the upkeep of the trail system – it seems to be working, and we had a great day of riding!

Keith was our “guide” and took us on an adventure through twisting trails,


open fields,


and to the top of “Deadman’s Hill”.



It was a perfect day for riding, and we all had a blast – I had forgotten how much fun snowmobiling is!  We were really glad to have our friends along with us,


because riding is always more fun in a group, and they took us on an adventure that was much better than the standard trail ride that the rental place recommended.



A great way to spend a winter day in northern Michigan!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Celebrations

Our season of Christmas celebrations started with the annual gathering of my college girlfriends last weekend.  Bridget and Marty were our host and hostess this year, and they treated us to a lovely dinner and lively conversation.


The kids (ages 9 through 16) all had a good time as well – playing cards, ping-pong, and basketball to keep themselves busy.


Earlier this week, Tom and I had a surprise for the boys.  We drove across town to do a little shopping and,


after dinner at the Toby Keith Bar & Grill,


we went to the Carrie Underwood concert at the Palace.  They had no idea that we had gotten tickets, and were shocked when we drove into the Palace.  It was a great show, and despite the seats being pretty far up, we all enjoyed it.

We spent Christmas Eve with my family at my Mom & Dad’s house.  They had a full house with all of my sisters, my brother, nieces and nephews!  Mom and Dad were glad to be surrounded by all of the family, though!




Back at home on Christmas Day, we were up early to see what Santa brought for us!


No matter how old they are, they still get excited on Christmas morning (OK – Nicolas doesn’t look too excited – but he was tired!)  Tom’s family joined us around noon, and we had a light lunch before digging into all those presents!



Once all the presents were opened, we settled in for an afternoon movie while the turkey roasted in the oven.  Dinner was delicious (if I do say so myself!), and afterwards we worked off the meal with some Kinect games. 


The boys got the X Box 360 with Kinect for Christmas, and we’re finding out that it’s very entertaining both for the people playing


and for the people watching!


It’s a lot of fun, but we’re all suffering from sore muscles now!!

All of our Christmas celebrations are over now, and we’ve got another week off from work and school to relax . . . wonderful!

Merry Christmas to all of our RVing friends in blogland – we hope your Christmas celebrations have been happy, and that you have a safe and healthy 2011!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter Wonderland!

We woke up Sunday morning to quite the sight out our windows!



There was already a good layer on the ground, and the snow kept falling all day!  Nicolas and Bryce quickly got dressed and headed out to play.


The plan was to build snowmen, but soon changed to opposing forts so they could have a snowball fight.  They’ve been waiting for a snowfall like this for weeks!


Earlier this fall (when we thought our house had sold) we listed our big tractor on craigslist, and it quickly sold, along with all of the implements.  So, unlike previous years, when Tom could tackle the driveway with the big machine,


now they have to take on the chore with smaller equipment.


It took awhile, and they struggled with the blizzard-force winds,


but eventually they cleared the entire 250 feet of driveway! 


Of course, a few hours later it was drifted over again, and they were back out there today doing it all over again!

Around 2:00 in the afternoon, we lost power and weren’t sure when we were going to get it back.  Every call to the electric company resulted in the same “no status available” message – not comforting!  We could have left and gone to Tom’s parents’ house, but we weren’t sure we could get down the road, so we settled in to brave the cold!  Actually, down in our lower level, it wasn’t too cold, and we lit the fireplace for added warmth.  We spent the evening reading and playing cards by candlelight, and then watched a DVD on my laptop – it was a cozy way to spend the evening!

We finally got an estimate that our power should be on between 6:30 – 8:30 in the morning, so we went to bed with extra blankets.  Shortly after 12:30 though, the power came back on, so we had heat again!

Today all the schools were closed, but not for these boys . . . no need for snowdays when you do school at home!  The snow has stopped for now, and the roads are somewhat clear, so all that’s left are the brutally cold temperatures . . . hopefully our power will stay on, and we’ll stay warm!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy St. Nicholas Day!


When I was little, my Mom always celebrated St. Nicholas Day by having us leave a shoe out by the fireplace at night before we went to bed.  It’s a tradition I’ve continued with Nicolas and Bryce.  St. Nick would leave them a book and a chocolate Santa, and usually a reminder to be good!

They received holy cards and chocolate as we left mass yesterday, in celebration of St. Nicholas Day (although Nick didn’t take one – he’s “too old”!), and it reminded him that his feast day was today.  When we got home, he asked, “Mom, did YOU remember that St. Nicholas Day is tomorrow?”  I did, of course, but he was doubtful . . . but he put a shoe by the fireplace, just to test me!

That got us thinking about the year when St. Nicholas brought them sticks!  Nicolas wasn’t in school yet, I don’t think, so they must have been 2 and 4.  For whatever reason, it was a particularly challenging year (they were driving Mom crazy!), and St. Nick filled their stockings with sticks, and left them a note that said for each day that they were good they could remove a stick.  If their stocking were empty by Christmas Eve, Santa would be able to visit them and bring them presents.

Nicolas and I got a good chuckle remembering that year . . . they were successful, of course, and we all had a happy Christmas!  It’s hard to believe these guys were “challenging”, but they had LOTS of energy . . . they still do!


We finished up our Christmas decorating this week . . . Nicolas had the tree all done by Tuesday night, and we put out all of our other decorations, too.  This Santa has always been one of my favorites.  My sister, Diane, made him for me in 1973 . . . I remember the day she gave him to me . . . some unhappy memory of a trip to the dentist!


Here’s our tree in all its splendor!


Every night when we come up from watching TV in the basement, we find Casey laying in front  of the tree – I think she likes it, too!  It’s a very “Norman Rockwell” scene, but I have yet to get a picture . . . she usually gets up before I can get to my camera!

Happy St. Nicholas Day to everyone, and I hope you are enjoying your Christmas preparations, too!