Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ups and Downs...Still a Wonderful Week!

Busy Busy Busy!  That is all you can say about the last week in Greenville at the Wilhelm's.  We had our ups and downs, especially after mom had a fall at the Danish Festival.  She was bruised up and felt better a little each day.  Sure wish I hadn't stopped to say hello to a friend, and walked along and saw the crack in the road that caught her shoe. Don't know why those things happen.  We are thankful that she didn't break anything! 

Last time I wrote was last Monday and we were off to a Whitecaps game.  It was a beautiful night, and mom felt good enough to come along. We won the game and had a really fun time together.  Matthew pitched some fast balls at the pitch tent, and his speed has improved!  He was happy with his 61 mph fast ball.

Tuesday we went to the Grand Rapids Museum in the late afternoon and evening.  Mom really enjoyed the displays and exhibits. It is amazing that every time I go, there is something I missed the time before and there are other parts I love to see again and again!  The new exhibit was about Michigan during the Civil War.  It was interesting and no extra cost. We had an added event at the museum's planetarium.  A laser light show with the music of Pink Floyd!  It was pretty awesome, everyone like the presentation. Had dinner late at TGiFridays.  We like their food and service.

Our Sunday School is beginning a new curriculum in a few weeks called BUZZ.  Group Publishing sent an ambassador to our church for a training session last Wednesday.  It was very good and should be a lot of fun for the teachers and students.  Learning Bible Stories through games and hands on activities.   I knew we had to change something when even the 4 year olds thought Sunday School was boring. Pandamania continued each day and has been a very fun and successful week.

Thursday was another trip to Grand Rapids for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2".  Matthew and Grandma had watched all of them leading up to the last movie the week before, so we were all caught up on the story.  Grandma read all the books too, so she was anxious to see the movie.  It was very good, and now Harry Potter is over.  What's next?  We ate dinner and then went shopping for shoes.  Matthew Jeff and I all got a new pair. Mary didn't find anything that suited her needs.

We finished out our week of VBS on Friday.  The whole week went smoothly and our attendace averaged over 50 every day!  We were hoping for 40 and God made our cup overflow!  Praise the Lord!  The whole family including Sarah went to the GHS first football game of the year!  The stadium was packed and had standing room only!  Greenville started out strong and was over 20 points ahead in the last quarter. However, we got sloppy and allowed the other team to catch up and tie us!  We did win in overtime. So exciting! We don't need that excitement though for the whole season. Had late night snack at Applebee's and enjoyed half off appetizers.

Saturday was a chill out day. Watched Secretariat with mom, baked some cookies, paid bills, did some shopping and I finally finished the laundry that I started earlier in the week. Jeff was at church most of the day with Back to School Supplies Distribution and preparing for today's service.

Today was VBS Sunday. We had hoped to have more VBS kids and their families there, but it was pretty much just our church families.  Guess the nice fliers I made weren't too effective. All you can do is try. The service was very good.  Sometimes the simple messages of VBS are eye opening.  Jeff did a good job of incorporating the VBS lessons into a Sunday service.  The set was up, art work up, and fun music played.  So far I haven't heard any complaints, but rarely do people complain to us, it is usually to someone else.  Enjoyed a dinner with Sarah at the Olive Garden and then home.  Mom's back pain has been acting up, and she needs all the rest she can get.  Missed church, as pews are not the most comfortable  place to sit with back pain. Please keep her in your prayers!

Hoping for a pain free tomorrow!  It's mom's last day in Michigan.  :(

Gracie


Monday, August 22, 2011

No Pandamonium at Pandamania!

VBS  started at our church today and I pretty much expected pandamonium.   However, Day 1, went very smoothly and the kids had lots of fun.  Now that everything is in place, each day should go well.  For me, my job isn't organizing, but troubleshooting problems and needs of my leaders.

Yesterday's planning and decorating was rigorous. Four hours later, we went home, ready for a week of VBS.  Matthew's set turned out really nice, even after he had to make some changes so we could watch the videos.  Great job Matt.  It was nice that my brother Dave and sister Leslie, made an overnight stay last night.  They were a big help to us and we had a fun evening together, including a trip to Dairy Queen!  I only wish they could have stayed a little longer.  They headed off to Chicago and will go to a Cubs game tonight!  Fun!

Tonight we may go see a Whitecaps game, see a movie or stay home and have game night.  All of those sound fun to me!

Follow up story to our vacation.  We believe we brought our snacking friend home with us from the plains.  Finding evidence of a little squeaky creature in our RAV4.  This little critter but run for the hills, because we are coming after him!

Enjoying our beautiful weather!

Gracie

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Danish Festival '11



Leading up to Danish Festival weekend, Mary and I picked Grandma up at the airport in the afternoon. All of us had dinner at Applebee's and came home and surprised Grandma with a belated Birthday party. Simple with a few friends and cake and ice cream. It was a nice time.

Thursday we took a trip to Holland and had lunch with Sarah. It was so nice to see her. She finally has a desk and her room has taken good shape. We hope to visit her once more or have her visit us! Thursday evening we attended the Flag Raising for the Danish Festival and listened to the Danish Band Concert in the Park.


Friday afternoon Matthew took Gma down to the Fairy Tale parade and I met up with them a little later. Eventually we attended the Big Band concert that was great! Nice evening weather to boot!

Today we started out early for the craft shows and saw lots of stuff and only bought a few things! The Grand Danske Parade started at 11 am and we had excellent attendance of friends on our lawn to watch the parade go by our house. God blessed us with dry weather until right after the parade was over. Then a severe thunderstorm went through with dark skies, thunder and lightning. By evening the sun was back out and we were able to attend part of one concert and then thoroughly enjoyed the Horns of Power Concert. Great music and some awesome singing, including Brandon singing "Come Fly With Me" with the band. He was great.

Now we are back at home, getting ready for church, played a game of scrabble and plan for another busy day. Dave and Leslie are coming tomorrow for an overnight, and we will be decorating for Pandamania, our church's VBS! It starts Monday. Yikes!

That's all for now...

Gracie

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Final Travel Log

Hope you enjoyed the videos of our vacation!  We sure had lots of fun and the Lord blessed us with great weather all the way to South Dakota and back. Sad to hear that a town we stayed in the Upper Peninsula was hit by a tornado, just a week later!  No injuries or deaths reported, thank goodness.

The last travel log left off in North Dakota. We drove another seven hours on Friday to nothern Minnesota.  It was so nice to see Mark and Pat. They have a beautiful new home on North Star Lake and we enjoyed a fun boat ride! Saw some Loons and Mark did his expert Loon call and "talked" with them.  Cookouts, stories from the past and present made for a great evening.  Pat made a delicious breakfast bake and time flew.  Didn't really want to leave, but the Porcupine Mountains were waiting.

We were able to see a lot in about four hours.  Beautiful Forests, Waterfalls and Lake Superior Shoreline. I kept an eye out for bears, and saw none.  Did see cute chipmunks and they are fun to watch scurry around the forest. There was lots of  hiking.  By now, I knew my limits and didn't always climb the whole way to see  the falls from another view point.  The weather was great and I do love the smell of the trees and nature of the forest, and hear the sound of rushing waters of the streams and waterfalls.  We stayed at a family run hotel with adequate accommodations and took a walk along the lake superior. The sunset was beautiful!  Dinner was late at a place called Roxy's.  The food and service was delicious. We were tired and we needed sleep.

Sunday we spent more time at Porcupine Mtns and saw Lake of the Clouds.  We also stopped at Bond Falls. They were spectacular.  Took lots of pictures and headed to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. They were awesome too. The hiking we did here was not as long and I even made it up a smaller Sand Dune.  But don't be deceived...there is a huge drop on the other side that would take hours to climb back up. Maybe days for me! LOL!  We did a lot of driving and had dinner at the Dogpatch. It was good too, but a little pricey.  Our waitress was very kind and after finding out we were an USAF family, she told us of her son who is in the AF and of all the places she had been visiting him.Saturday night we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. It was very nice and we finally had the chance to swim a little. I wish I had taken a few pictures of this lodge.

Monday we did a few scenic view stops and ended up in Mackinaw City for lunch.  Good pizza. Can't leave there without doing some shopping and we did find some good deals!  Got home around 8:30 pm and Sammy was very happy to see us!   We also discovered that somewhere along the line, we think the badlands, a little animal got into our snack basket and helped himself to the healthy seeds and nut snacks. The only place we brought the snacks in, was our cabin for breakfast. Went for a walk and the snack basket stayed in the RAV the rest of the way. Just glad they didn't get in the car and surprise us while we were driving.  Don't need to bring any rodents home.

That completes our trip. The excitement doesn't end though, Grandma came on Tuesday for two weeks, and we have plenty planned.  That will be blogged in the next entry.

Gracie

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Video Show!

Life is very busy right now.  We are home safe from vacation and mom is here in Michigan and loving it!  Nice weather so far, and doing some fun things each day.

I have uploaded all the pictures over 350 and am still labeling some.  Check the photo album, lots there already.  Tonight I have uploaded our videos on you tube, and have posted them here one after another, trying to put them in the order we saw them.  Enjoy!

Will try to finish the travel log and our daily activities here in Greenville before school starts!

That is all for now...

Gracie

Badlands 2

Badlands (4).AVI

Badlands 3

Badlands 5

Bison (2).AVI

Custer State Park~Bison

Loons.AVI

Michigan Waterfall~

Sand Dune at Pictured Rocks Park.

Upper Peninsula Panorama

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Travel Log Entry #2

We were back on the road again by 1000 and had another long day of driving.  There is very little to see and even less places to stop for food or restroom needs.  Finally stopped for a bite to eat around 3 pm at the Dakota Diner.  The food wasn't too bad.  Jeff was going to try a local favorite~meat patty deep fried inside of dough.  Unfortunately, when he cut into it lots of grease came running out.  He sent it back and got a bison burger instead.

We reached Bismarck right around 6 pm and checked into our Comfort Inn Hotel.  It is nice enough and we have a room that opens to the pool. We hope to rise early tomorrow and swim a little before our departure. Anyway, we met up with our friends the Thompson's who we first met in Georgia at Faith Lutheran Church. They used to babysit for our kids. Now they have six of their own! Matt T. went to seminary a year before we did, and we maintained our friendship there too.  Now 10 years later, we reestablished our connections through Facebook. It was so nice to see them and meet their children, including toddler twin girls. We had good conversation with lots of laughs! We had a delightful time together. Glad we are friends!

On the way home, we saw a Papa John's and stopped and ordered a pizza and breadsticks. It was fun to have a late night snack together. Now we are all tired and ready for sleep.  Tomorrow will come early for the swimmers and we want to get to Mark's in the afternoon.  Next entry probably won't be for a few more days.

Good Night!

Grace

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Travel Log Entry #1

Greenville~Omaha~Badlands~Mt Rushmore (8/8-8/10)

We left home by 0900 and were on our way for a long day's drive to Omaha.  With a stop for lunch, gas fill-ups, rest stops and a stop to check a unknown car sound, we arrived just before 7 pm at the home of Steve and Randi Horn, friends from our time at Yokota, Japan.  So nice to see them again. After introducing our kids to them, we were off for dinner. We enjoyed a delicious authentic mexican dinner. The chips and salsa were so good, as was all the food they served, and there was a lot of it!  No excuse for being hungry after that meal. Randi and Steve gave us a little tour nearby in Omaha where we walked around a nice park with sculptures.  Mary's piics turned out especially nice. We walked around a shopping/dining area later where we had some yummy homemade ice cream! Back at the Horn's, we had time to enjoy converstaion, and seeing their beautiful home. We were all tired, so it didn't talk long for us to fall asleep.

Tuesday morning Jeff and Steve duct taped our mud flap, which was the reason for the new car sound, and we packed up after breakfast and headed for the Badlands of  South Dakota.  It was a longer drive that I expected.  Once we got there, the Badlands were just amazing! Even with the many pictures we took there, there is a certain feeling you can't capture with a camera.  I found a some similarities with the Grand Canyon.  For a bunch of stone, rock and bad dirt, it sure was beautiful! Mary would make me nervous several times with some of her artistic photo poses.  I was also on the lookout for the rattlesnakes, and thank God that I didn't see one, at least not yet.  We were lucky enough to get lodging right in the Badlands Park another great experience! Having the Badlands scenerey right out your backyard of the cabin.  Watching the sun come up in the early morning hours was spectacular, sorry, I didn't take the time to get the camera.  I watched through the window, instead of going outside. (You can guess why). Mary did however get some nice sunset pictures the night before as we drove throught the badlands to Wall, SD for a BBQ dinner and sightseeing at the famous Wall Drug..it is much more than a drugstore.  Mary took some great pictures, which I hope to post on our family photo album later next week. Be sure to check back here often. My pictures will get posted as wifi is available during our trip.


Wednesday morning Jeff  went on a trail tour with a Ranger. He got some nice pictures and learned about the rock formations. Meanwhile, the rest of the group walked over to the information center, looked at the exhibits and of course visited the gift stores. Jeff met up with there and we watched the movie about the Badlands and its habitat.  That was next on our agenda.  We drove through the portion of the badlands where we saw cows, Prairie Dog Towns and Bison.  I like calling them buffalo.  The prairie dogs are so tiny and cute, and har d to see on our pictures.  The buffalo where awesome! So many, and to watch them drop down and roll in the dirt was pretty cool. As we kept driving out of the badlands toward Mt Rushmore, we saw a thunderstorm develop which was picture worthy. Remember we are a weatherman's family, so that stuff is cool! It did rain on the way, but nothing too spectacular.  I don't even remember hearing thunder. We drove through Custer State Park on the way to Mt R. and saw some more Buffalo.  These guys weren't shy. They walked and some ran across the street in front of the cars, including ours, and the motorcycles.  By the way, I failed to mention that we are vacationing the same time as thousands of bikers.  That in itself is interesting.  Lots of competition for parking!  Anyway, the buffalo were pretty cool, and we didn't get to see any bighorn sheep or goats, as there are only ~20 in the whole park! Upon exiting Custer Park, we drove on Iron Mountain Road to get to Mt R.  There were lots of hairpin turns, beautiful scenery, cool temps and narrow tunnels in the rock of the Black Hills.  When you pass through the first tunnel, you can see Mt R framed in the trees!  Awesome! Thirteen miles later of mountain driving we made it to our exciting destination~Mount Rushmore!



Mount Rushmore is simply wonderful.  It fulfilled all my expectations.  We had beautiful weather and although there were lots of people, we were able to do everything! First we had lunch, where Jeff had a Buffalo burger. He said it tasted better than the hamburger Mary. Mary said it was good too.  Jeff's was thinner, but probably had no filler.  Matt loved his cheeseburger and I had an all BEEF hot dog, even though they offered a buffalo dog.  After lunch we walked through the walk of the states with their flags flying to the observation area. Wow! The monument in all its splendor.  We took lots of pictures and hiked the presidential trail. It wasn't so bad going down the steps of the trail, but hiking back up was another story for me.  I finally made it, taking a few rest stops and just taking one step at a time.  Of course, we had to have some ice cream and do shopping.  Found some nice things too. Can't wait to give Sarah her things!  By now it was nearing six in the evening, and we wanted to stay for the lighting ceremony. So we took our goodies back to the car, got our jackets and headed back to the information center.  We saw a movie about the sculpting of the monument.  It still is mind boggling to think of how they used dynamite 98% of the time to sculpt each face into the stone.  My dad was just 7 when they began construction and was 21 when they finished it in 1941. The sculptor didn't live to see it completed, his son completed his vision and it is something to see and appreciate. The night ceremony began with some presidential trivia which was fun, but as the  ranger spoke, he lacked any inspiration, and seemed quite bitter with a chip on his shoulder.  He asked us to consider what our time line will look like when we die. Wasn't expecting that.  There was a film about the 4 presidents and finally the illumination of the faces in the rock.  Pretty nice. The ceremony concluded with the singing of the national anthem with all active duty military and veterans on stage.  Our day at Mount Rushmore was over, a dream of mine fulfilled.  We stayed at a Comfort Suites Hotel which was very nice and where I spent several hours downloading and organizing photos.  Take a look at our Family Photo album for many many pictures!

That is all.....Next stop...Bismarck, ND to see friends from the seminary, Marcell,MN to visit with the Welshingers at the new home, and then Michigan's Upper Peninsula for some more beautiful sightseeing.

Gracie. 

On Vacation...

Will blog ASAP. Downloading pictures tonight...Hope to have them up in the AM.

Having  a  GREAT time!

Gracie

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Accomplished

I felt pretty good about what I accomplished yesterday:
  • Banking..made a deposit, not a withdraw!
  • Purchased tickets to Horns of Power concert. Brandon will be singing at this concert, that will take place at the high school auditorium during Danish Festival.  Matthew will be working as part of the tech team.
  • Voted on a local millage for the community college. It did not pass (for the second time).
  • Grocery Shopping and Back to School shopping.  School supplies for my kids and for the school supplies drive at church.  Matthew and Mary also got some needed clothes. I got a new top too!
  • Mary reorganized our cupboards. They look great!
  • Attended the Senior Mystery Trip meeting held at our church.
  • Fought off a migraine headache and finished writing annoucements for this Sunday's bulletin.
Today I plan to work on laundry and quicken. More importantly, I will be meeting Sarah in Grand Rapids for lunch and then her appointment with the rheumatologist.

Sure hope I can get it all done, since I work Thu and Fri. That leaves just the weekend to get ready for vacation!

Grace

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Good Times Followed by Life's Challenges

Friday at work went well for less than normal sleep.  I do enjoy my job, but no matter how much sleep I get, by the end of the day, I am exhausted.  So, I took a little nap while Mary was still at work and then we decided to go into Grand Rapids for dinner at  TGiFRidays. We love the pot stickers for appetizers. Matthew and I got chicken tenders, Mary had a burger and Jeff a Chicken Sandwich.  I noticed a shrimp tail amongst my chicken and thought it was a little strange to get just a fried shrimp tail with no shrimp.  A few minutes later, I noticed another shrimp tail, this time it was attached to one of my chickens!  So I decided to tell the waitress and manager. My main concert was that had I not seen the shrimp tail, I could have bitten into it and choked on it.  They were all very nice about it and bent over backwards to make things right. The food and the service was good. We will certainly go back.The whole experience was a memorable one for the whole family.

Saturday was Mary's last official day on the Mc Doanld's.  She will continue to work on an call-in basis. This gives her flexibility with her hours this last month of summer. I spent some time working on vacation plans and also planning things to do when my mom comes.  Did some grocery shopping and then got to work on making bulkoogi for Sunday's dinner.  Mary and I work well in the kitchen and had it done and in the fridge pretty quick.

Sunday church was very good and I helped with blood pressures. Afterward, Mary grilled some chicken for wrap sandwiches for lunch. Our Korean meal was only 6 hours away, so Mary and I were back in the kitchen making Yakimondue in the early afternoon.  Mary kept working while Jeff and I went to the local Long Term Care homes for chapel.  By the time I got home,  It was time to start frying the yakimondue and start the rice.  Set the table, then cook the bulkoogi. Mmm. Brandon and his family came over and we all enjoyed the meal until we couldn't eat anymore. Jim brought an Asian Slaw that went really well with the menu. But that's not all, we had fortune cookies and brownies ala mode!  Played a game of Apples to Apples, with lots of laughs and fun before the evening came to an end.

Early Monday Morning we discovered that our A/C once again drained water inside instead of outside.  So instead of going to bed late, we were up sopping up water with towels, sucking water with the wet/dry vac and pulling up the carpet and using fans to help dry things out. I couldn't believe this was happening again. It isn't as bad as last year, but still a pain to deal with and there is some damage.  Then Matthew discovered another blow...let's just call him LeRoy enjoying our basement at night! He is now MIA and we haven't heard or seen him since. Keeping the doors closed is important now more than before.  Sleep came late, almost 3 am.

Today Matthew got called into work at the childcare center, changing his plans of going to Holland with Jeff to get the camry home after they pick up Sarah's Kia. Jeff went alone and I had a fun day with my little buddy. Even had a milestone this afternoon~standing alone! I did some laundry, computer work, baked cakes and frosted them as baseballs and made a huge pot of mac and cheese for the Softball Picnic~ Jeff spent the afternoon looking for a new A/C unit, but alas there none to be had and no one expects new shipments.  Looks like we will have to have a plan B.

Our End of Year Softball Picnic was a success. We had burgers and dogs on the grill, plus all the delicious food brought by everyone.  Some of us played yard games and all of us had great fellowship. We did spend a little time discussing any concerns or ideas for next season. We ended the evening with each person telling their favorite story or play of the year.  It was lots of fun. Sarah and her friend both drove from Holland, so Sarah could leave the camry for Matthew and then rode home with her buddy Bev. Everyone has their car back! 

We found out tonight that Brandon will be singing at a concert during  The Danish Festival.  So I will be buying some tickets tomorrow to make sure we don't miss out! You can see what is planned here~Danish Festival Schedule 2011.

It is late again..and all is quiet..The carpet is drying. Jeff moved the dehumidifier upstairs, which was a pretty smart idea!  No signs of LeRoy and tomorrow is another day.  I will be praying for a happy one!

Grace