Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall cleanup and football

Beautiful Fall Day

By this time last year, we had left Michigan for the warmer weather in the southwest . . . but this year, we’ll be around a little bit longer.  Nicolas has a few more weeks until he “ships out”, so we’ll stick around until he’s gone.  Then we’ll make a beeline for Florida!

We had frost a few mornings this past week, but for the most part, the weather hasn’t been too bad.  The guys have been keeping busy with fall cleanup in the campground, and thankfully this week we had a few dry days and they were able to make a pretty good dent in the leaves.

Working Hard

It's been a long day


They’ve worked enough hours to pay for our site for October and November, and electric for September, October and November . . . now they’re working toward next year (or a refund of September’s site rent, if I get my way).


There are still some trees with leaves on them, and some of the areas they clear end up covered again a day later . . . including our site!  For the most part, though, it’s looking pretty good around here!


Beautiful Fall Day

Bryce has quickly mastered the art of driving a stick shift, as he loads up the Ranger with leaves and drives to to the back of the campground to dump them.

Picking up the leaves

When I got home from work on Thursday, they had been hard at work since noon . . . and they kept at it until almost 7pm!  Bryce was feeling pretty tired . . .

Bryce is tired

and Friday they were back at it again, although I made them stop at 5:00, so we could have dinner at a more reasonable hour.

The boys did find time this week to carve their pumpkins . . .

Scary Pumpkins

(Can you guess which one is Bryce’s?) . . . and last night we picked up lights to go in them.


Bryce wants to wrap his light in green tissue paper so his pumpkin glows green!     Casey looks like Rudolph!


Casey got a new light for her collar, too, and when I took her picture, it was at the perfect angle to make her look like Rudolph!








As a Millenicom customer for the last two years, we were shocked like everybody else to abruptly receive an email stating that our account has been acquired by Verizon, and we’re still waiting to see what that means for us.  We have our phones on Straight Talk (2 using Verizon and 1 using AT&T), and we aren’t really anxious to jump back onto the Verizon bandwagon for internet.

We’ve got very good wifi at this campground (better than we were getting with Millenicom), and the RV Park we’re going to be at in Florida for the winter provides hard-wired internet to the site, so I think we’re just going to let our internet service lapse until Spring.  Then we can assess what’s available and decide which way to go.

Last night I finished scanning my albums of Nick & Bryce’s baby pictures.  It was a pretty simple process with my new Brother DS-620 portable scanner.  It works really well with pictures . . . I just group photos by month, and continuously feed them into the scanner.  The program automatically saves each one to the designated folder with the file name I select, with a three-digit number added to the end of the filename (image 001, image002 . . . ).  It takes about 8 seconds per photo.

This was my Throwback Thursday photo this week . . . it seemed appropriate with today’s football game!


Bryce didn’t look too happy with that T-shirt we had on him!

Today is the big rivalry game between Michigan State and the University of Michigan.

Watching the Big Game

We made Spartan jello to taunt the U of M fans in the family!

Spartan Jello

The game is almost over, and MSU has a huge lead, so I guess Bryce is going to be the happy one in the family!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Visiting the Pumpkin Patch

Gust Farms -- Pumpkin Patch

Last year, Nicolas was upset that he never got a pumpkin for Halloween, so he was determined to get one this year.  Sunday was a nice day, so after picking up Grandma to go out to my sister’s house, we stopped on the way at a local Pumpkin Patch.



There were lots of wagons full of pumpkins to choose from, but the boys wanted to pick their own, so we headed out into the pumpkin patch.

Still a lot to choose from!

The Donut Barn . . . we'll be back here!

We left Grandma in the donut barn to wait for us while the guys searched for the perfect pumpkins.

Looking for a good jack-o-lantern

Bryce has a design in his head already, so he carefully studied each pumpkin to see if it would fit.

Hmm . . . what can I carve on here?

While they searched, I took some nice fall pictures.



Soon they had looked at enough, and settled on their perfect pumpkins.

Looking for the perfect pumpkin



Tom even found one for us to carve!


We probably should have brought a wagon into the patch!  Oh well, the boys are strong, and they carried all three pumpkins back to the donut barn where Grandma was waiting with donuts and cider.

We found three good ones!

From the pumpkin patch, we continued to my sister’s house where we met up with another sister & brother-in-law, and my brother to go to their church’s Fall Festival.  We had a delicious turkey and roast beef dinner, bought some chances on gift baskets, and played a few games of bingo . . . Nicolas won $2, and Danny won $1.50 . . . OK, not real big prizes!

On the way out, we stopped for a photo-op with Pope Francis.

pope francis

Back at Tina’s house, the boys got to play cards for awhile, and we all enjoyed the apple pie that Donnie made . . . although we barely had room for it after that dinner!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fall Colors

Fall colors arriving

It seemed like the trees around here were never going to change color, but then we got a few warmer days . . . and overnight everything changed!


Tom and the boys have been working in the campground to pay our site rental and electric, but mostly just to keep themselves busy during the day. 


They started out raking leaves, then switched to clearing a trail last week, but after all the rain we got this week, there’s a ton of new leaves on the ground!


Burning Bushes


We’ve also been taking care of all of our annual checkups, and Nicolas has gotten a few little issues fixed on his car.

Fall Colors

We had a birthday celebration for the 3 cousins with fall birthdays,

Birthday Dinner

and took advantage of a nice day to go to our favorite orchard to pick apples!     erwin orchard










It was a beautiful day, and the apples were plentiful!

picking apples

We picked our standard bushel . . . gala and golden delicious for eating, and northern spy for making pies!


We also bought some of our favorite treats – cider and donuts, and caramel apples for the boys!  YUM!

Last weekend it was time to make our first pie!

nicolas pie

We had just gotten our pie put together, and while the oven was pre-heating, it suddenly shut down.  The display went completely blank and we couldn’t do anything to get it to power back up!

We put the pie in the fridge, and took it to my mom’s house the next day to bake it . . . it still turned out really good!

apple pie

So, Tom had a new project for this week . . . fixing my convection oven!  We had a similar problem with this oven when it was new, and a GE Appliance Tech in Colorado made several service calls to get it fixed.  He was pretty helpful, so Tom gave him a call on Monday morning, and he recommended some things to check.  With his help, Tom had the problem to (hopefully) a few small components. 



His next call was to GE, who agreed to overnight the parts to us at no charge, even though we were out of our 1-year warranty.  If that didn’t work, they would get us a brand new oven for $220 --  delivered and installed . . . not a bad deal! 

I was kindof hoping that the parts wouldn’t fix the problem!

Winking smile





As promised, the parts arrived on Tuesday, and after dinner Tom and Nicolas got the oven put back together.



It worked!!  Sad smile

OK, I’m glad I don’t have to be without an oven for a week or longer . . . but a new, clean oven would have been kindof nice . . .


One thing we did replace is our scanner.  We had a color printer/copier/scanner, but several months ago it stopped printing.  I tried replacing the ink, but I still couldn’t get it to print.  The scanner still worked, but it was kindof big to keep around just for scanning, so we bought one of the little portable scanners that just plugs into a USB port.

It’s handy and works pretty well.  My first task is scanning all the photos in albums that I didn’t get to before we went on the road.  With this new little scanner, the process goes really fast!

Although, starting with Nicolas’ baby pictures probably wasn’t the best idea . . . with just over a month until he leaves for boot camp!


We’ve got a little over a month left to stay in Michigan, but most of our fellow-RVers are making their way south by now.  Just a few days ago, we said good-bye to Roger and Joyce . . . and the kids . . .




as they make their way toward Texas for the winter.





We’re hoping that the weather holds out until we can leave for Florida . . .  we’ve had some cool nights, but nothing too bad so far, and not even an overnight freeze yet, either.

He thinks he's a Harlem Globetrotter!

We’re pushing our luck by staying into November . . . but we’re pretty tough . . . we’ll handle any weather that comes our way!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Another solo driver in the house!

By my rough calculations, I figured Bryce drove about 9000 miles as we travelled the country this past year . . . and he did a really good job!  With his 16th birthday approaching, it was time for his driving skills test, and Bryce decided that he had better brush up on his parking skills first.

Parking practice

We don’t have any cones, but chairs made a good substitute . . . so did Nicolas!

Nicolas is a human cone!

He practiced backing into a parking spot, and parallel parking.

Checking Bryce's parking position

Dad and Nick offered advice and tips from their own experience.


After a few days of practice, he decided he was ready for the test.  I called and was able to schedule it on his actual birthday.  When we arrived for the test, the instructor wasn’t so sure it was a good idea . . . he said, “I don’t think I’ve ever failed anybody on their birthday . . . “

Bryce waited to start the test, and I was confident that he would do fine!

Waiting to start his test

I rode along in the back seat while he went through the test (keeping silent!), and he did really well!

Yea!  He passed!

He passed his driving test!

From there, we went straight to the Secretary of State and applied for his license . . . success!  Now he can drive by himself (before 10pm, and with only one passenger under 18) . . . not that he has many places to go by himself!