Monthly Archives: September 2014


The forecast for today was overcast and a balmy 75 degrees. What better way to spend a day like that than at the park. We headed toward Oshkosh to revisit the park on Lake Winnebago with the large castle like play structures. Driving through Oshkosh we kept having to take detours because of a large street fair. After two we decided we were being presented with an opportunity here that we might as well take advantage of. Chad parked the car and we got out. It turned out to be a large Saturday market. There were such beautiful selections of all kids of produce mixed maybe half and half with tables of baked goods and crafts.


We stopped at one booth that was handing our free balloons and they asked if we were from Oshkosh. We answered no, we are from Salem Oregon. They asked how long we were going to be in the area, we said until Thanksgiving. They said, “oh, you must homeschool, we homeschool. What curriculum do you use?” We said that we had been in a Classical Conversations homeschool group for the last five years so we were continuing to use the same curriculum as we traveled. She said, “Oh we did CC last year and when we traveled we searched and found another CC group in the area and they let us join in their group for the month we were gone.” We were surprised by that. That idea had crossed our mind but we hadn’t really pursued it this first year. It was nice to know that someone else had done it so it can be done. She also told us that there was a rather large CC community in this area. Another good thing to know. The noon whistle rang and the shops started packing up. We stopped at a booth that was selling Gluten Free sweet potato, purple potato, and spinach noodles. They were trying to give free samples to everyone so they wouldn’t have to pack them back up so each of us had one. They were soo good. They gave a second one to Eve and she devoured them. It was $6.00 for a whole styrofoam to-go box full of the yummy noodles and they put in five forks so we could share.

IMG_1290.JPG we were walking a little slower and Chad had disappeared into the crowd but soon he reappeared carrying another food box. It turns out that after twelve you can get quite the deal on egg rolls and crab ragoons. I had to snap a picture of Eve with her ballon before we headed out to the park to enjoy our Saturday market finds.

At the park it was trying to rain, but for the first several hours it was only a few rain drops here and then a few rain drops there. The kids played for a while at the actual playground, but before too long we found ourselves instead playing on the shores of Lake Winnebago. It was a lot less green (the water) than on our last visit and actually looked inviting.


The kids found all kinds of shells and fish bones as well as rocks, and a plastic spoon and fork that worked perfectly for digging in the sand.









Eve got soaking wet of course, it’s just how she rolls. No worries though as soon as we were getting cold and ready to go it started full on raining so we headed back to our apartment. The kids played a bit more outside then we settled in and watched “Planes” together as a family since Chad got it free from redbox. It was really cute. When it was done we headed to McDonald’s not for food really but for internet. A few dollar cones and the play structure for the kids made it a win-win situation.

IMG_1321.JPG adjusting to this no internet at home thing is very different after having it for so long. We don’t want to hotspot with our phones as we are already having trouble with using too much data, so why not make a family date out of it.

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Contract for Cell Phone Usage

Ok, my family would probably say I am addicted to my phone so in an effort to curb my usage and be a better example to those little ones watching me I have written up a cell phone usage contract. You all can help me be accountable.


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9/19/14 Such a Pleasant Day

7:30 felt like sleeping in after the previous three days of 4:15am wake up calls. Eve came and crawled in bed with us and in her normal way was not still. Soon we were both wide awake with no hope of a little more shut eye. We all got dressed and ready for the day and had our breakfast. On Myra’s walk this morning we ran into an older couple with a miniature husky malamute who asked if the Portland on my shirt was for Portland Maine or Portland Oregon. I answered, it was for Portland Oregon and that we were from Salem. That prompted them to tell me that they go to Bend every winter kind of snow birding. They enjoyed the 40-50 degree winter weather in Bend while their family here sends hate emails complaining about the -30 degree weather in Wisconsin. They enjoy the “warm” weather and still are able to ski with Bachelor so close. It really is the best of both worlds. Do you hear that Oregonians…we snow bird to Arizona or Southern California and Wisconsinites feel like it is snow birding when they come and spend the winter in Bend. They were a very nice couple and I enjoyed our it’s-a-small-world connection.

Having only one car has only felt inconvenient on occasion, but it does mean that sometimes we have to strategically plan our week so that errands, especially those with deadlines, get run on days when the car is available. Today we had quite a list of errands mixed with a few fun things that we needed to be out of the house for. We started at the outdoor store to get some pepper spray for running (Myra can only go so far with me). We found it at an outdoor/active wear/sports store at the mall. Then we decided to take a slow stroll around the mall. It is fun to people watch and we did have a few clothing items on the need-soon list. We were super happy to find a very clearance swimming suit for Hannah for $3.50 at Crazy8 her old one was so stretched out that it no longer covered her properly. We found a few items on the clearance rack at Sears that were on our list. Two shirts for Chad $5 each and one for me at the same price. Two of the major things on our list we didn’t really find, well we did find shirts for Eve to replace her amazingly stained set at home but I don’t really feel like $8 is a true clearance price so we passed on the ones we found and as for jeans for Caleb even slim jeans are so big around his legs that only skinnies will do. At a very hard to find size of boys 14s we have come up empty handed every time. Children’s stores stop at size 12 and we have been unable to find skinny jeans in his size at department stores. We are not desperate yet he does well with what he has but it is crazy how difficult it is to find nice clothes in this middle size(between child and teen) for boys.

We had a late lunch but it was worth the wait. Chad has been craving Chinese food in all shapes and sizes this last six months so I had asked some of my patients what their favorite Chinese restaurants in the area were and now we get a chance to try them out. The food was quite good.

After lunch we headed to Starbucks parking lot. We went in and bought a lemonade ice tea to share then sat in our car watching a Les Stroud video of building a home in the Canadian wilderness that is completely off the grid. It was over an hour long but for the most part all five of us were completely transfixed with brain wheels turning as the whole family kids included worked on this project together.

After our “drive in movie” (hey we were in the car). We headed grocery shopping. The kids did well and it was actually fairly relaxing. Hannah manned the cart and as she was putting the groceries on the conveyer belt at the cash register (the other two were helping as well) she announced in a nonchalant manner that she felt like a grown up. Sometimes I look at the kids seeing how much of little rag-a-muffins they can be and get all worried about them not looking put together or at least well cared for and not homeless. The truth is they pick out their own clothes and comb and do their own hair most of the time. It looks like an amateur messy job to most but, hey, they are learning and feeling confident and independent, they are taking the initiative and striving to grow in their new life skills. By lovingly guiding, helping when they ask instead of taking over and doing it for them we are allowing them to mature and be responsible it doesn’t matter if other people think they are little ragamuffins.

We all made it home in one piece. Hannah tried on her new swim suit for us. She is so pleased with it. Then the kids ran out and played with the neighbor kids until dinner. Chad made some of the most beautiful margarita pizza ever and believe me it tastes better than it looks.

It definitely hit the spot. We are truly blessed.

On a more somber note (being away from home we were totally oblivious the the extent the disease had progressed) one of the beautiful young couples in our home church with two of the most gentlemanly boys both in early elementary school have been on the prayer list for years for a brain tumor that the wife has suffered with. She was in my BSF group although we have never been close I taught her boys in Sunday school. The progression has seemed slow and surgeries and treatment seemed effective, I hadn’t really heard much about it until today when her prayer page on Facebook had an update stating that she had been moved to hospice and they are preparing for her time on this side of heaven to be over soon. Please be with me in prayer for her, her sweet family especially those young big hearted boys, and for peace for all involved.

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2nd time for the win…

For the second morning in a row I got the “you’re needed at AMC” call, this time with no anxiety attached, only excitement. I’m so glad to live in the day and age of GPSs because I have a lot less worries about how to get to new hospitals. My seemingly normal assignment quickly turned to crazy assignment. Needless to say I was so thankful for how helpful all my fellow nurses were. Team work is one thing that makes nursing the very best profession ever. By 3:45pm (the shift ends at 6:00pm) I was able to grab a few bites of lunch, catch up on charting and be mostly ready for the oncoming shift.
The kids were all waiting for me in the backyard playing with the neighbor kids and came running when I pulled in. They filled me in on the events of the day. Hannah has decided that the star wars theme song will be her wedding march, Caleb has been working hard to save up money for a tablet, and Eve has been pointing out every Capitol E and V that she can find. Dinner was good. We took advantage of the short time between dinner and bed to make some phone calls and catch up with family.

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Appleton Medical Center

I knew when I took this job that they were wanting me to cover staffing holes in two different labor and delivery units, but since I was only scheduled at one facility and had not yet even been asked to go to the other it was the farthest thing from my mind this morning when I got the call that I was to report to AMC for my scheduled shift today. I headed out a lot earlier because I had not yet even been in the hospital or on the unit, and I had no idea where I was going except that I was to be on the 4th floor. I found the employee parking lot and followed all the other scrub-wearing people into the hospital and to the elevator. They lead my right to it with out even having to ask. One of the other people in the elevator got off at the same floor and I could follow her into the unit. She got me set up with the codes to the doors and the location of the break room. I checked out a phone and keys and got to work. What a fabulous unit they have over there, and fabulous people. It might be the most perfect set up I’ve ever seen if they had two identical ends and were LDRP. I loved the double beds, the kitchenette complete with little table and chairs in each room as well as the sink perfect for baby baths and the pullout stock closet access able from each room. They must have been forewarned that I had not been on the unit before and gave me the easiest assignment (seriously I might get spoiled here) I loved my mommies and the opportunity to give solid breastfeeding help and be able to stay in the room for the entire feeds.
By the time I am done with this traveling thing I will have the perfect setup for a LDRP unit in my head. I got loooooots of ideas today. At 1:00pm I was notified that I was needed back at Theda Clark at 1:30pm so I reported off and headed back to home base to take a super nice labor patient. Some day I will tell her story changing all the names and identifying details but obviously I can’t now. Thank you Jesus for a beautiful day, the opportunity learn new things, and a great first experience at AMC.
The bad news…my beloved stethoscope that I have had since 2002 got a crack in the rubber tubing today. Chad replaced the diaphragm after it visited Honduras and the humidity and it’s 12 years of use had ruined the seals. I was sad to think it was now done for, but you can actually just buy replacement rubber tubing so I will get to keep my nursing school stethoscope going strong although it will not be boasting too many original parts.



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Rest that’s what’s on the agenda for today…

Sleeping in felt great as we have been up pretty early and out pretty late for the last several days. 8:30 rolled around and we all started crawling out of bed, unashamedly I was the last one. My stomach was on the fritz as it usually gets after several days in a row of traveling, so opting to stay very close to the bathroom and in comfy clothes I passed up an opportunity to visit the library and instead stayed home and sorted our ever mounting paper and book piles trying to find the carpet in our room. Finishing up that project just in time to here my brood coming in the back door. Eve and I did some school as the big kids worked on their math and Chad worked on lunch. Eve is getting a hang of this whole E and V writing thing and the value of letters, writing, and words. She wrote her name for the first time today and in typical Eve fashion it had to be rainbow.



We read about the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party. Then the kids wrote short summaries of the events in the book. Caleb walked Myra. She got a little extra excited from running and pulled as she accelerated out of his hands then she took full advantage of her freedom. She has a lot of good qualities with only two faults that I can think of. Her taste for a nice poopy diaper is one that has gotten a lot better in the last six months and the fact that when she is given even a sliver of an opportunity for freedom she takes it and runs like the wind. You would think that she doesn’t like being with us but I know that is not true and I’m not at all sure how to curb this bad habit. Luckily it has happened only three times so far here in Wisconsin the other two times I had just got home from work and she ran right to me or right to another dog where I could quickly grab her collar. This time she made it to the last house before the main road where some college age boys grabbed her for us. We thanked them and walked back to the apartment. We try not to chase her but people often panic when they see such a big dog running toward them so we can’t do what we could in Salem and just wait for her to come back.
We enjoyed the butternut squash and green beans fresh from Michael and Kristen’s garden for dinner and then the kids headed out to play. Caleb eventually joined the girls but not wanting to get too muddy he opted to be the water supplier.











Needless to say all three kids have bought themselves a bedtime bath/shower.

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A Fun Family Day

As family spreads out so far these days, I have a first cousin who lives in Indiana whom I haven’t seen for 25 years. A little nervous but mostly excited we headed to Knightstown Indiana to attend his church this morning, he’s a pastor, and to have lunch with his family after service. I appreciated the message straight out of the gospel of Luke also I enjoyed watching Michael in his element. The congregation was very welcoming, Michael must have warned them that we were coming because they were all on their best behavior ;0).


Lunch was a delicious homey meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole with zucchini chocolate cake and or strawberry rhubarb pie. We were in heaven. We have quite a handful of kids between the two families, and I think we have all the names straight. The kids were all the right ages with Caleb getting along well with Cora and Olivia. Hannah and Naomi were like twins, Josiah and Eve ran around enjoying the toys and the excitement going on around them. We adults talked about all kinds of things catching up on the last 25 years. As we talked we eventually made our way to the garden. It turns out that Michael has quite the green thumb but it must be a whole family project as they grow so much of the vegetables that they eat. We did a few taste tests, I can’t resist fresh produce, it turns out that Serrano peppers are not nearly as hot as Tabasco peppers. Michael’s wife Kristen is in the medical field as well and is a certified lactation consultant so we had a lot in common as well. Catherine (Michael’s mom) came over too. She was friendly and we really enjoyed our conversation with her as well.
We were reluctant to leave but it was getting late and we had a long drive ahead of us to get back to our apartment in Neenah so we said our goodbyes.



IMG_1236.JPG With a bag of produce from the garden in one hand. And the kids in the other we packed everyone back in the car and headed out. With Indiana in the middle of the country we don’t plan on letting another 25 years slip past with out getting together again.
Goodbye Knightstown.



Thank you Michael, Kristen, Catherine, Cora, Olivia, Naomi, and Josiah for the very fun day!

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Star-Spangled Banner Event

After spending the night on the outskirts of Toledo Ohio last night we decided to ditch our previous plans of visiting the Indiana Capitol building as there is likely to be another opportunity to do that. Instead we headed back to the River Raisin Battlefield for the Star-Spangled Banner event. We had a lot of fun and learned so much by talking to the representatives dressed in uniform representing each of the wars from the French and Indian war until the current conflict in Iraq.



IMG_1172.JPG The gentleman in the red and blue coat is from the French and Indian war the other two are from the Revolutionary war.
These next gentlemen were from the Civil War.

There was Calvary men and a private from the Spanish American War that we did not get individual pictures of.
Next we talked to a gentleman who served in Iraq at the end of a long military career. Another soldier was there from Desert Storm and the Vietnam war. Then there was a soldier representing WWI and a marine from WWII.


IMG_1180.JPG there were several jeeps there from Vietnam Era to WWII








IMG_1192.JPG we loved learning how equipment, weapons and rations had changed over the last several hundred years.



They all lined up for a group shot from the oldest war to the most recent.
French and Indian to Iraq.

The French and Indian representative was in the movie “Last of the Mohicans” and definitely gets the best dressed vote.


After enjoying all the booths at the event we tried a second time to find a park on the banks of Lake Erie. We did find three all of which were fee parks $7-$9 so we drove into one anyway and took a few quick pictures and left with out parking. We were kind of bummed at it’s Inaccessibility.


Michigan and Ohio were very pretty.



But, so is Indiana.


Good night from Indiana

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Michigan Capitol Building and River Raisin National Battlefield Park

Driving from the tip of the mitten to the cuff Lansing is smack dab in the middle.


IMG_1089.JPG We saw some fall colors here and there not as much as I had hoped and we passed it all while we were on the freeway and I was never quite fast enough with the camera, still, the foliage was beautiful. The Capitol was very accessible and parking was easy to find.




We got to there about a quarter after the hour and thought we had to wait until on the hour to take the tour, but come to find out unlike the other capitols we have been to they have books that are a self guided tour and then you return to the tour counter and they answer any questions that you have that the self guided tour book did not answer. Chad made a good tour guide and It was really nice to be able to see the Capitol at or own pace.



IMG_1100.JPG Michigan is the Dave Ramsey Capitol. They did levy a tax to pay for the building but they were very conservative with their funds. The marble in the building is actually cast iron and plaster painted to look like marble, the dark walnut is pine that is stained really dark, the walls are hand painted and textured stucco the gold
Is mostly just paint all though the stars in the top of the dome are gold leaf and platinum.



IMG_1108.JPG there was fossils all over in the limestone flooring.






For the tour we were encouraged to lay down on the glass floor and look up at the starry night dome.



IMG_1112.JPG I loved the flags that completely surround the first level of the rotunda.




The building, house and senate were all quite beautiful and to think that it was built for 1.4 million 1/3 the cost of the other Capitol buildings of it’s era. The other two Capitols built by the same architect are Texas and Colorado. I found this quite interesting because the Colorado Capitol is so awesome because it is all made from Colorado materials and Michigan is awesome because of it’s theme of making a classy beautiful building on a conservative budget.



The etched glass was awesome, there was a pane for each state.


All of the door knobs have the state seal on them.


The Supreme Court was pretty awesome too. I loved the carpet.





IMG_1138.JPG</a The youngest governor in American history was the first governor of Michigan at the young age of 24. 24!!!! That sounds crazy until you find out that he was the territorial governor before that at the ripe old age of 19.

IMG_1140.JPG He died at the ripe old age of 31.
Being so close we wanted to see Lake Erie and maybe stay in Detroit so we headed East. Then we decided although we were only maybe 30 min. Out of Detroit it was Friday rush hour And those big cities are never as fun as you think they will be. So Around Monroe Chad, keeping his eye out for a park to eat dinner at, spied a sign for a national battlefield. It wasn’t far so we decided to check it out. It was a National Park. Our first since Chimney Rock near the New Mexico Colorado boarder. We stamped our past port book and then looked around as we waited for the fiber optic light up map presentation on the war of 1812 and more specifically the battle of river raisin. I don’t think I realized before this trip that the war of 1812 was the British taking a second attempt in taking back this country back. After the revolutionary war they never truly left they just went farther north and kept their strongholds in the Great Lakes. After the light/map demonstration the ranger encouraged us to try on the dress up clothes as part of our learning experience and then he took a few pictures for us. Even though at that point it was after 5pm and he needed to close.






IMG_1150.JPG The park outside had a lot of signs that told details about the war.











So I guess it’s Toledo for the night…

We did see Lake Erie but no public parks to get out and enjoy it. I didn’t take pictures of the blue between the houses. It looks pretty much the same as Michigan and what we saw of Huron.

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Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is located in the Michigan straits (the water ways that connect Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron. It technically is in Lake Huron albeit the very tip. It was our first view of this lake. We came across the Mackinaw bridge that connects the UP to Mackinaw City on the mainland.




Mackinaw City is home to Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park and Colonial Michilackinac (set up like an old fort and who identifies it’s self with the motto “My, how times haven’t changed.” As well as a number of unique attractive lighthouses. We don’t exactly have the time or money to stop at all the historically significant locations and seeing all of these sights it makes me want to find a UP or Northern Michigan assignment sometime. We only could pick one for the day so we chose Mackinac Island. It was afternoon when we got to Mackinaw City leaving us less time on the island than we had planned. We purchased the ferry tickets not remembering we had moved into another time zone and we had even less time than we had thought, but honestly us Oregonians were freezing the weather had all the suddenly dropped from the seventies to the forties over night. The day time temperature was hovering at 48 degrees with a breeze that felt like it was coming strait off of a glacier so we weren’t dressed to walk around in it too long anyway.









Mackinac Island is approximately 3.8 square miles and has an eight mile perimeter and what makes it a top choice of places to visit in Michigan is it’s historical significance and is such a novelty because…”it had banned motorized vehicles (besides boats) for more than a century and remains a living Victorian community.” Visiting an island stuck in the Victorian era seemed like and educational opportunity we couldn’t just pass up. Wikipedia has this to say about Mackinac Island: “In the late 19th century, Mackinac Island became a popular tourist attraction and summer colony. Much of the island has undergone extensive historical preservation and restoration; as a result, the entire island is listed as a National Historic Landmark. It is well known for its numerous cultural events; its wide variety of architectural styles, including the famous Victorian Grand Hotel; its fudge; and its ban on almost all motor vehicles. More than 80 percent of the island is preserved as Mackinac Island State Park.” It was a main center of fur trade during the early years in American history, is home to a large British fort used in the war of 1812, it didn’t end up being a big player in the revolutionary war even though it was being explored by Europeans namely French before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Massachusetts, but to be honest our main attraction to the island was the ban on automobiles. For the kids the ferry ride was the very best part and two their credit it was pretty awesome.









At 8 miles around we could easily walk the whole way if it had been warmer I would have been sad that we didn’t have enough time to do it. We didn’t really have time to see the fort either but we did enjoy the horses, carriages, and the thousands of bicycles. The street next to the harbor was lined with cute shops mostly selling their famous fudge. We picked a slice to share for later and continued our window shopping. We found a butterfly shop that was linked (not physically to the Butterfly House on the island, a butterfly sanctuary with all kids of exotic butterflies and moths. They had beautiful artwork, watches, necklaces, and bracelets as well and displayed and other novelty items made with the beautiful wings of these butterflies. We talked to the cashier for quite a while as she told us about the butterfly house. I was captivated by the mental picture that was created by the description of a large display window where you can look in and watch the butterflies wriggle free from the hundreds of cocoons that had been so gently pinned to the wall.









At the end of the row of shops was a beautiful park and the walkway leading up to the British fort.


Being a little nervous about the time (as always) we headed back a little but earlier than we necessarily needed to. But it’s all good, the shops were closing down for the evening and the thing that was begging us to visit the most was the fort and that needed several hours.






Eve was trying to sneak the fudge out of daddies pocket.



Eve was too busy looking around to see the pole straight in front of her.

Sweet knot right in the mitre of her forehead.



IMG_1078.JPG the sun setting through the Mackinaw bridge.

We enjoyed our fudge and drove around the tip of the peninsula to see the Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse that we had seen from the bridge heading south.



It was built in1889 and is called, ” Castle of the Straits.” Less than a mile from this quaint light house we stumbled upon a nice little hotel with reasonable rates that allowed pets but if you ask us the best part of the whole deal we will tell you the HOT TUB!!!! After enjoying the scenery in the elements it was such a luxurious treat to sink into the extra hot hot tub.
Good night from the mitten.


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