Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day at Fernwood Botanical Gardens

I usually do some research at the beginning of summer to see what kind of FREE things we can do.  I have wanted to visit Fernwood Botanical Gardens in Niles, MI for quite some time now, but with all of our children, it really adds up to get tickets for everyone.  So, I happened to see that they are having one Free day a month during the summer.  We snatched up the chance to go and took my mom along.  On our way, we stopped at the Blueberry Ranch in Mishawaka, IN and picked some blueberries, then headed onward to the gardens.  What a lovely place!  Despite the super hot and muggy weather, we all survived and had a great time!

 First stop in the welcome center (well, after the bathrooms) was the inside train garden.

 Packed lunch and decided we better eat before we started walking.

 The girls stayed with Grandma Deborah for a few days and made these cupcakes.  Alegra did all the flowers with frosting on them.  So proud of her creativity!

After lunch we decided to start our tour of the gardens in the herb garden.

 Such fun structures and loved seeing and smelling all of the herbs.  It was right up my alley!

Then we headed for just some other trails.  There were lots of trails throughout the property but we only took the stroller accessible ones.....well, we did take one not so friendly to strollers.

 This pond provided us with the most laughs.  When Diella stood there and looked into the pond, frogs would jump right in front of her into the pond and scare her badly.  Finally, after being asked where they are coming from, she put her hand underneath the cement rock area that hangs over and just as she did that a frog jumped right out of that very spot.  She was startled and we all laughed so hard.  Good memories!

 Out of the woods and onto the nature center.  It was a small but very enjoyable one!  They had a really neat display of mammal's fur and body size differences.  Time to move along, so we headed for the butterfly and train gardens.  First stop, the train garden.
 This garden area reminded me of Mr. Rogers make believe land with the trolley.  It really was a neat little area!

 With water and bridges, trains on the ground going through tunnels and trains up above going over bridges, it made for a very unique area for the children to spend some time. 

 We visited the butterfly garden and didn't see too much there, then headed to the entrance back to the welcome center.  We stopped for a rest, drinks, and pictures at this amazing little structure.  Saphira was just the perfect addition to this area.

 Isn't it just a pretty little area?  And so filled with many wonders.  Oh the enjoyable chats with friends that could take place in a building like this.

And this is Josiah and Benaiah.  Josiah has on Alegra's glasses and is pretending that he is a masked robber (nobody can see his face due to the glasses covering him up).  These places just bring out the most imaginative play and child could ever have.  Such a great place!

And Alegra did have the camera for a bit and captured a pretty butterfly on this bush.  She just loves taking pictures of nature, especially butterflies.  I highly recommend this garden and would love to take Jonathon, so we could walk all of the trails.  Maybe on a day that isn't quite so hot.  Good things we packed lots of water!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Fourth- Family, Friends, Fishing, and Fireworks!

I've wanted to post this all week, but so much going on right now.  Speaking moment, my Black Raspberry Sauce is done hot water bathing.  Be right back!

Okay. we had a fantastic Fourth of July weekend!  So many get togethers and fun activities that we all enjoyed.  Lots of pictures, so I'll comment on the good ones as we go.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 4th-

We had a wonderful lunch back at Uncle Norman's and enjoyed some time on the lake.

From there,we headed to Grandma Linda's house to help them out with their flower beds.  We got our good friends to come over and help too. 

What a big job done for them!  And we all had fun working together!

Friday- Jonathon worked and my parent's were on their way back from a little get away in Michigan, when they called wondering if we wanted to go on the boat.  We enjoyed a delicious meal together, then headed out to Pretty Lake.  What a calm evening. 

I think she needs a few more lessons on how to hook a worm, but she watched pretty close on this first lesson.  : )
Everybody had some great catches and learned a little bit more about fishing.

And with this many children loose with their poles, it's a wonder we don't have bigger mishaps than this.  And if you're wondering whose pole that is, it's the little guy that's named after the captain of this boat.  Imagine that.  : )

Alegra learned how to take the fish off of her hook.
Good job, girlie!

Looks like a nice catch on that pole. 
It doesn't look as big from that angle, but it was a keeper.
I shouldn't have to comment, but I will.
Cute girlie!  : )

Everybody made some great catches before the sun went down.  Benaiah caught this one all by himself.
What a beautiful evening!

And they totally add to the beauty of it all.  : )

He enjoyed just casting out and reeling back in.  He's getting pretty good at it, when he isn't snagging a sister.  : )
The evening approached us,and we closed up the fishing shop, but stayed on the lake for a bit longer just watching the fireworks at different homes on the lake.  So pretty, relaxing, and enjoyable!

Saturday- Grandpa Dan and Grandma Deborah spent the night at our house since it was pretty late that we got back to the house.  The men cleaned fish after we got back, so we could eat the fish for breakfast.  So, for breakfast we had fish (Yum!), scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls that I made the day before, and fresh fruit salad with strawberries, blackberries, pineapple, peaches, and blueberries.  What a breakfast!  We had fellowship that day, so Dad and Mom headed home, and we headed to join in worship with our brothers and sisters.  We ended our evening there singing on the porch while Jonathon played guitar and some played volleyball.  What another peaceful evening!

Sunday-  Jonathon, Josiah, and Jonathon's sister, Miranda had tickets to a Tin Caps game in Ft. Wayne, so they went to that in the afternoon while the girls cleaned house and I pulled weeds.  We had plans to go out on the Big Turkey Lake to watch the fireworks show that they put on in Stroh.  So, Dad and Mom came, and we were ready to go when the baseball watchers got home.  So, back to the lake we headed.  There was a storm all around us, but not where we were.  We roasted hot gogs on a little grill and had chips and fresh cherry crisp.  Yummy food!  We found another hot fishing spot and everybody again was reeling them in. 

This was one of Josiah's bass that was just a shade too small for keeping.
And another one that Josiah caught....too small.

As evening approached we wrapped up the fishing activity, cleaned up our messes, tried to get things in order and then found a good spot to watch fireworks amongst the other boats.  None of us had ever been on the lake to watch fireworks, so it was a lot of fun to experience that.  And I must say the Stroh show was amazing!

Loved seeing the boats floating on the water while the lights were in the sky.  I wish my camera could have captured the moment better.

We lagged behind as the other boats headed back to their homes.  I think we were one of the very few that actually trailered to the lake.  So, then we had some waiting to do while all the boats came out of the bay and then to be able to get to the docking area as well.  All in all, it was a fantastic evening, worth the late night.  And shortly after we were all loaded up and heading home, the rains began to come. 

Speaking of rains, we sure have had a great summer for the garden with all the moisture.  Our corn took a good hit yesterday in the storms that we had around here, but I think Jonathon and the children went out and got it all straightened back up again.  Our beans are ready to be picked and zucchini.  I haven't walked out there for a few days to see what else is coming along.  We might have some cherry tomatoes soon too.  Our flower area is also growing nicely.  It's not blooming yet, but when it does, it should look really nice.

We would like to sell some produce at a stand here at our home this summer, so stay tuned for when that will be out by the road.  We'll have eggs, produce, jams, jellies (including my Grandma German's famous Corn Cob Jelly) sauces, and hopefully some natural remedy items.  You'll have to stop by and show some love to the children by purchasing something. : )

I think that wraps it up for now.  I hope you're all enjoying the plenty from the fruit trees and gardens, being thankful for the rain, and being thankful for those nice sunny days as well.  This has been a summer of working in the garden and getting more ideas for how to work it next year so it will be a better set up.  We're learning as we go and enjoying every minute of it!