I'm so glad you could stop by. This is my personal blog of daily life and my journey through life. You will find a strong emphasis on family and friends as well as finding my ancestors through genealogy. Unlike my other blogs this blog is more of a catch-all so any topic is fair game.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

on the road

Historical Plaque
July 17, 2008

Recent Road Trip Continued:

If my husband hand his druthers, he would have made the long journey without stopping except for refueling. I'm quite content snapping a multitude of photos unless it is after dark where I will nod off a little sometimes. Our first stop after getting the tires on the car was the rest stop on I-94 at Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was such a hot and humid day that stopping was not refreshing but it was a must. Of course the camera was with me so I happily snapped a few more pictures while waiting for my husband. This sign is one of three identical signs erected in the Kalamzoo region giving a brief history of the area. I have to tell you the area is beautiful!

I take a lot of pictures of historical signs and markings. I always take pictures of and in museums unless forbidden. It just comes second nature with doing genealogy. My camera tends to be one of my most valuable assets on any given road trip not just for documenting history and genealogy but for capturing those special moments. I take pictures of everything including the food we eat as you can see on my cooking blog. Why? I do this for three reasons the first being I get pleasure of just simply being able to capture that special moment or scene. Second it is an ideal way to document any trip for scrapbooking later. Sometimes the mind fails so a quick photo reminder helps. The third reason is historical value. True it is difficult to see what we are doing today has a whole lot of historical value but in the terms of genealogy it does much the same that diaries and bibles now hold when we are doing genealogy research. At some point some of the sights will be no more. Today's photos will become a way for our grandchildren and their children to understand what our lifestyle was like, what it meant to live in the 21st century and what it meant to be us.

Garden Gnome

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The Proof
July 27, 2008

I promise I will get onto our trip but I just had to share this one with you. Kids, the human kind not the goat kind can be downright hilarious! Oldest grandbaby was in the washroom getting the hair do when mommy said don't do that followed by a louded no followed by a I told you not to do that followed by loud cry. Grandbaby emerged from the bathroom chomping on soap with quite a discusted look on her face partly from mommy having no sympathy and the taste while hoping grandma aka me was going to fix it. As you can see from the picture she got a good chomp on it. Towel in hand I wiped what I could from her mouth while seriously biting my tongue to stop the laughter. I have a wicked sense of humour and this was just so funny! So in defense of dear grandbaby, I'm going to tell a little story about her mommy when she was little.

Her mommy was just a little older than grandbaby but not by much, talking quite clearly in well formed sentences. I said it was time for bed and at that time our kids' bedtime was 7 pm. She looked at me quite innocently and said I can't go to bed. Of course I had to ask why. With a very angellic look on her face the response was there's buttons up my nose. Sure enough on each side there were buttons up her nose and I still don't know where she got them from. Now the problem was my husband was away, I had three kids under the age of four so I called my husband's dad aka grandpa to drive us to the hospital while grandma watched the other two. They confirmed there were buttons up her nose. They had to freeze her nose then pull them out. What a nightmare at the time and I felt horrible that it had even happened because I watched the kids like a hawk! A week later my friend's kid somehow got all the tires off a hotwheels car, stuck them up his nose and they had to drive him 40 minutes to the hospital to get them out.

The button incident has become a long standing family joke. As I watch our baby going into the next phase of parenting when kids learn that very all important and powerful word no and assert themselves with that hissy fit aka temper tantrum and I see the patience, mixed with biting the tongue to stop from laughing combined with the love and guidance, I seriously cannot help but be proud of the mother she has become. The little one is under good guidance, soap and all. Someday she will tell the story of how she bit the soap and ended up eating most of it!

Garden Gnome

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

simply complicated

Staying Connected
July 17, 2008

Jimmy Buffett has a wonderful song called Simply Complicated that explains how your life can follow this oxymoron. With the Wisconsin trip I realized exactly how simply complicated out lives have become thanks to technology. Road trips are not for the faint of heart anymore. It was a 6 day trip but we needed more than clothes! We needed my husband's laptop, our iPod Touch, the Sony Clié, two cell phones, the digital camera (Canon), the battery charger and all the wires and adapters plus a huge bag to carry them in! We can download, upload, blog, email, take pictures, chat and entertain ourselves all from the comforts of our vehicle, motel room or our kids home at the drop of a hat. We have our entire contact list, genealogy database and mapping system at our fingertips. Heck we don't even have to chat with them in person or face to face if we don't want too because we can simply use Yahoo chat or IM but more important we can chat with them while en route in real time. You just have to love wireless internet connections :) So our lives are simply complicated with all this technology but what it really allows us to do is stay in touch with those who mean the most to us.

When we are on the road things continue much the same as at home as far as technology goes, less for surfing and more for information seeking. We no longer have to scout out telephone booths or use those paper maps, even though we still use the maps on occasion. En route we can push a button to be sure we are on the correct course complete with detours. We can be a couple of hundred kilometers away from an attraction yet still get information to decide if we want to stop. We can book a motel room online while we are traveling so we know know there's a room waiting for us when we get there. We can check restaurant reviews before stopping. With a push of a button we can let our kids know we arrived safely at our destination. What's really neat is with a click of a button we can simply share. So yes our lives are simply complicated but in a good way for the most part :)


Garden Gnome
Garden Gnome

Monday, July 28, 2008

thoughts on blogging

Lake St. Clair
July 17, 2008

There really isn't much about boating that I don't like so of course I was quite pleased to get a boat ride in before leaving for Wisconsin. As we headed further into the lake away from the comforting sight of land, I couldn't help but ponder at what a perfect metaphor it presented in more ways than one. In the big picture it reinforces just how small and insignificant you are. On a smaller scale I'm going you use it as a metaphor for blogging. And you thought I was going to blog about the trip which I will as soon as I get these thoughts out.

In my travels through the blogosphere yesterday I came across a blog that showed a graph of the life cycle of a blog. According to the author most blogs last an average of 3 months before the author get tired or bored with blogging or the author gets frustrated because they aren't getting traffic. The thing about blogging is you really are in a huge sea with a lot of other bloggers. If you don't make yourself stand out you won't get traffic. Like many blogger I have used traffic generating websites with my favourite being BlogExplosion until I discovered Entrecard. Both get blog exposure using an earn credits that can be used for advertising your blog however, unlike BlogExplosion credits Entrecard credits have a monetary value. I really do think that Entrecard has been good for my blogs especially in terms of meeting other bloggers and generating traffic. Within a couple of days of joining my cooking blog made its way to the most popular page in the cooking and dining category of Entrecard and has remained there since. This morning I was in fourth position so that means I must be doing something right.

Recently Entrecard encouraged joining Digg to increase blog commenting which I did so now you see a Digg button on all of my posts. The premise is if another Digg member sees one of your posts they like they click the Digg button to register a vote. If you get enough votes your entry will make it to Digg's front page thus generating a lot of traffic to your blog. The newest thing Entrecard has done is to pair with SezWho, a comment rating site. Members can rate the quality of your comments and earn Entrecard credits for it. I'm not fond of rewarding people for commenting on my blogs as I would rather them simply comment if they feel like it. At any rate I added the code to all my blogs and of all times when we were in Wisconsin SezWho had a problem so many blogs including mine were not loading at all or crashing browsers. That's a bad thing for any blog so as damage control I took the SezWho code off my blogs for the time being. I want to be sure it is working properly before using it. But Entrecard as good as it is presents another problem.

You are allowed EC drops per blog per day or 600 drops per IP address daily if you have multiple blogs. So I aim for a split of 300, 150, 75 and 75 for my four blogs. Despite claims that you can drop 300 in 15 minutes there is no way unless you are using some type of script. So essentially you are working for your traffic each and every day. What some bloggers are doing is focusing on dropping aka generating traffic but forgetting that if you don't blog on a regular basis you will lose your readers. I've come across some very good blogs that unfortunately the author has not posted anything new in well over a couple of months. All of a sudden these authors will check their stats to find the only traffic they are getting is EC traffic that are staying on the blog for less than 30 seconds. That means no one is reading their blog. These blogs are destined for failure which is a shame. Others are taking a different approach by posting short almost nonsense entries that have nothing to do with their theme with the premise being that any entry is better than no entry.

Now if you put everything in perspective a blog needs good entries with some substance in order to survive. Sure you can get away with the occasional short post or participate in things like Wordless Wednesday or even the occasional cartoon as long as you are making quality entries on a regular basis. A good blog can even weather going close to a month without an entry but I don't recommend that especially now that entries can be scheduled ahead (Blogger). Generating traffic is secondary. So both BlogExplosion and Entrecard are very good traffic generating sites but the main focus of any blog should remain on making regular entries.

Garden Gnome

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

honey, I'm home :)

The Island
July 17, 2008

Last Thursday we planned on leaving for a very special road trip to Wisconsin for one of our kid's wedding. This has been a long and frustrating process filled with copious amounts of red tape so there was no way we were going to miss this monumentous event! We had planned on leaving in the early morning however my husband who had our boat out on the annual boat trip could not get the boat back to the marina where we have a slip because of the horrible thunderstorms the evening of their departure. He got the boat to a safe harbour and secured it for the night then came home with the other guys. The next morning we had to go and get the boat before leaving on our trip. Since we had to bring it across Lake St. Clair he needed another rider with him and asked if I wanted to go. Well, heck yes even though he had a back-up just in case. We drove to our marina to park the car where a friend met us to drive us to where the boat was. My husband was rather excited but did not hint at the surprise. We left that marina putzing rather slowly given we were supposed to be on the road to Wisconsin but the day was nice so I figured a leisurely boat ride would be a pleasant start to our road trip. He slowed the boat to a crawl and pointed - see that island? Then he calmly said you might want to take a few pictures. I asked him why. Well it turns out my 3rd great grandparents, the ones I have mentioned before farmed the property on shore but this island was owned by descendants and is still in the family now although there is no longer a cottage on it. The only way to reach the island is by boat. He found all this out through talking to a few of his friends! Here I thought he made no never mind to my genealogy. It turns out that through him I will be able to get a bit more on that line so it was a beautiful way to start the day.

I took a lot of pictures then we went up onto plane to reach cruising speed for over the lake. I didn't even mind that the lake was a bit rough. Finally we turned up the channel and headed towards the marina. Having to get the boat set us back almost 3 hours but it was worth it. We are going to take a trip to the island later this month for better pictures. I'm in seventh heaven!

Ok, so a little bit more on our road trip now the figures are coming in. The total round trip was 1170 miles with stopping 3 nights in Wisconsin and 2 nights in St. Ignace, Michigan. We ate one fast food meal (McDonald's) while waiting for the tires to be installed. Other than than we ate some very lovely meals of which you can follow on the next few entries on my cooking blog. We saw some amazing sights. Much of the roads travelled were total eye candy! Within the period of 6 days we took in Lakes St. Clair, Michigan, Huron and the Straits of Mackinac. We were very close to Lake Superior so the next trip we will see that as well. Total cost for gas was $210 at 23.25 miles per gallon. Total images downloaded today from 2 digital cards was 829. Six of those were short videos. We saved $50 on the room in St. Ignace so that cost a total of $168.30 but that came with a free roll of coins each for Kewadin (casino) where we cashed out at $49.35 to the good on the rolls and $300 up on blackjack so basically the room and meals in St. Ignace cost us nothing with a little extra left over. Total meals cost about $214 including tips. Total souvenirs cost $35. I brought home about $100 worth of cheese from Wisconsin and $50 worth of whitefish and perch from the Upper Peninsula. Total cost of the trip $427.95 less the winnings and including the fish and cheese. Total cost of seeing the smile from ear to ear on the kids face as they said their vows totally priceless!

We have beautiful new additions to our family (children and pets). It has been such a struggle that anyone without love and faith would have given up a long time ago. They didn't and now hopefully things will settle down to where the focus is not on all the rules and regulations but rather on the family and love where the focus should be. I have to brag just a little as they make a beautiful couple! And that is not just in looks but in temperments and attitude. There is just a melding where you can see the love in even the simplest things. We are truly blessed to have been able to share this very special time with the kids.

I'll be posting a series of entries on the entire trip starting tomorrow.

Garden Gnome

Sunday, July 20, 2008

blessings en route

This entry is just coming under the wire for Blog Your Blessings Sunday. As you know we are on a road trip. We left Wisconsin early this afternoon and have just settled at our next destination. I had to do a quick blog entry.

This was a very special trip as we made the long drive to Wisconsin to share the joy of welcoming in another member plus two to our family. The long awaited for and very frustrating process for the K1 Visa to enter to the US with the intent to marry is still quite vivid but Friday the kids were united in marriage! I will blog more on this when we are home side. We are so blessed to have been able to share this very special time with them :)

May everyone have a blessings filled week,

Garden Gnome

Saturday, July 19, 2008


When our kids were young and the weather was less than ideal, Saturday mornings meant cartoons. I often sat with them. One cartoon we really enjoyed was the Smurfs by the Belgian cartoonist Peyo. The video shows the theme song but there are several episodes available on YouTube. I don't know if you see a little theme with me having a troll doll as a child and loving gnomes now but there likely is. Little folk living in the forest and gardens just spike the imagination. These little blue beings were only three apples tall and at least 100 years old but were simply a delight. Originally they appeared in 1958 as a cartoon strip but our kids remember them for the animated cartoon series The Smurfs by HannaBarbera Productions (1981-1990 tv series). The smurfs lived in a village in the forest but humans couldn't find them. Papa Smurf wore a red cap and red pants while the rest wore a white cap with white pants except for Smurfette who wore a white hat, white dress and white high heeled shoes. Smurfette was originally created by evil magic by Gargamel but after discovering the deception Papa Smurf used good magic to change her into the Smurfette seen in the rest of the series. For the most part they taught fairly good values too although some have argued that the whole smurf way of life was based on Communism. We never analyzed their lifestyle in terms of politics. We simply enjoyed the shows as a family. Even now I still enjoy watching the Smurfs on YouTube as a nice diversion to the news before going to sleep. The kids gifted me with a 2 CD collection of season one for Mother's Day. These shows bring back good memories of little ones curled up on the couch enjoying family time on Saturday mornings :)

Garden Gnome

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Iowa Mother Ticketed for Spanking

An Iowa mother was cited with injury to a child after publicly spanking her toddler at a Fourth of July Parade. Several witness signed the police report. What I find interesting in this day and age with so many digital cameras and cell phones with cameras that no one to on the scene coverage. I'm sure someone does and will at some point come forward. There are a few issues raised by this story.

My comments are based on my belief that children should not be spanked. We raised a larger family so I certainly understand the difficulties that toddlers can present. Every mother can relate! Our oldest grandbaby is now 19 months old so I'm being reminded of those difficulties. Toddlers are asserting their independence while absorbing their surrounding like sponges but at the same time don't fully understand about danger so is it any wonder there are bound to be parental clashes with toddlers? Consistent constructive parenting and proper discipline that promote long term learning is what is needed. In my opinion, corporal punishment has only short term effects and sends a negative message to the child that violence (hitting) is acceptable. One reasoning for this is you should never hit a child when angry but the only time you would hit a child is when you are angry. Ok, I'll step off my soapbox now.

It is hard not to notice that she has three children under the age of four which likely means she is tired most of the time and a bit frustrated. She was apparently have troubles with all three at the parade. They were likely hot, tired and over stimulated by the sights and sounds. They might even have been a bit frightened. I can so relate to this however my solution would have been to simply leave the parade!

What I can't relate to is the aggressiveness she consistently displays towards her toddler. What scares me is she is this aggressive in front of the cameras so my first question is what is she like behind closed doors? Sadly lacking is effective parenting skills. This might have been a first time event but I highly doubt it. I think that this is a child at risk! It is only a matter of time before the child does something she shouldn't and the mother over reacts with full aggression towards the child. The citation as pointed out likely won't stand as there were no physical injuries but what about the next time? It would be a shame to have something tragic happen a few months from now when it could be prevented. This is a child at risk for abuse and a mother at risk for abusing. If anything the citation should serve as a wake-up call to the family that they need help. At the very least Child Protective Services should be involved to fully assess the potential risk and make recommendations to help this mother and child.

Garden Gnome

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

World's Oldest Blogger Dies

The world's oldest blogger passed away on July 12, 2008. Olive (Ollie) Rily of Australia and author of the blog The Life of Rily was 108. Eric Shackle, a long time friend, encouraged Ollie to start a blog after he discovered Maria Amelia aged 95 blogging in Spain. Ollie began blogging 15 months earlier and became an inspiration for elderly folks everywhere learning to use computers and the internet. The interesting thing is Ollie never actually worked the computer or posted a blog herself. Instead she retold stories of her life and Mike Rubbo did the actual computer work for her. Eric blogged for her shortly before her death on a temporary blog World's Oldest Blogger when the main blog could not be accessed. It is here where Ollie's last blog entry Settling In was posted on June 26, 2008. On July 10 Eric made an entry to say Olive was seriously ill followed by the final entry on July 12 to say she had passed away. Mike has posted a further entry on the main blog. No further entries will be made but comments will be approved and posted by Mike as soon as possible. If you get a chance do stop by and read this remarkable blog. Olive's main blog can be difficult to access because of the heavy demand right now so you may have to try a few times. What a wonderful legacy she has left for her children and grandchildren!

Garden Gnome

Monday, July 14, 2008

morning visitors

Mamma & Babies
July 14, 2008

One of the best parts of getting up early is catching those photo opportunities others miss by sleeping later. For some reason my body has been craving sleep so I have been sleeping a bit later than normal. This morning my husband was leaving early for a couple of days so I got up to see him off. The beauty of the morning was amazing! The camera was in full action and I got a lot of shots. Needless to say I'm going to be setting the alarm so I can get up early tomorrow morning. It's really on a matter of getting myself back into routine.

We have a fair amount of wildlife that visit and I do tend to get quite attached. A female Mallard duck along with her mate frequented our yard for a couple of weeks. It looked for awhile like she would be making a nest under our globe cedars but they must have moved on likely for easier access for the signets. This morning she was back with five of the cutest little babies you have ever seen! I quickly snapped a few pictures then realized the drake was nowhere to be seen. Ducks mate for life and are very faithful partners. A female Mallard and signets with no drake for protection is not a good thing. I hope this family survives. The female will remain faithful and not breed again so this will be the last of her babies. I understand the laws of nature but still couldn't help but be a saddened.

Garden Gnome

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

boaters help boaters

Decker's Landing
July 1, 2008

We are do a lot of boating but that isn't surprising considering we our property backs onto the water. Our main boating grounds are Lakes Huron, St. Clair and Erie along with their connecting waterways and waters emptying into those waterways. We know every good marina and restaurant to stop at in that area when docked. If you want to see pictures from Decker's please read my cooking blog. We're boaters so when I saw Decker's was hosting a special fund raiser, I just had to react:

Decker's is hosting a Margaritaville Weekend Memorial on July 18 and 19, 2008 in memory of Susan Bell, Joe Hamilton and Katy O'Neil who We went to Decker's last week. The one thing about boaters aside of being some of the friendliest folk you have ever met is they stick together and help each other. I saw where they are holding a Margaritaville to raise funds for the children of those who tragically lost their lives in a boating accident on Lake St. Clair on May 24, 2008. Brian Lepp and Robert Diegel were seriously wounded with severe facial injuries. Trust funds have been set up for Austin and Lucas Bell as well as Lydia Hamilton. If you would like more information on this event, would like to book a boat slip or donate to the cause please call Deckers at 1-810-794-0581. Please support this cause if you can.

Garden Gnome

Monday, July 07, 2008

a weekend of firsts

Grandbaby's First Tractor Ride
July 6, 2008

It was a weekend filled with friends, family and fun! We were supposed to go out to dinner with friends Friday night but cancelled because I was still groggy from a medical test that morning. The kids with oldest grandbaby arrived Friday in time for dinner. Little Miss Sunshine was so excited to see boats yelling out bo and pointing every time a boat went by. Birds are called chi chis because that is the name of her babysitter's bird. Planes are called apane. Well were were in stitches watching her excitement between the boats, birds and planes while we enjoyed a bit of nice weather on the dock. Two new phrases are dat my mommy and dat my daddy. A sing song hi and bye complete with waving followed by blowing a kiss brought a lot of smiles. One of the cutest jesters she makes is mimicking the raised arm and snapping fingers to get a child's attention when taking a picture. Every time she spots the camera she makes the jester then waits patiently for her photo shoot. Talk about adorable!

Saturday afternoon we went for a boat ride. Grandbaby was excited but that wasn't enough to prevent the sleepies :) We couldn't believe she slept through noise of our boat as well as the noise from other water traffic. The go fast boats make a horrendous amount of noise! We anchored at our favourite swimming spot. It has a lovely sandy beach that is perfect for wading to. Many fellow boaters bring picnics including small barbeques to enjoy on the shore. We enjoyed a few snacks in the boat watching as she tried to take in all the new sights. Saturday night we enjoyed a nice family outing at a relatives for a barbeque and fireworks. Their property is quite large with a hill some distance from the house overlooking a huge pond. They set the fireworks off from the hill so it was quite an impressive display!

We spent Sunday morning by the water being a bit lazy. After lunch the kids took grandbaby to another relative's farm for her very first tractor ride. She is way up in the tractor pictured above and gosh did she ever enjoy herself! The kids brought her back to stay with us for the evening while they went to a concert. Everything was going along nicely until about 8 o'clock when she picked up her little stuffed lion and blanket then went to the stairs. The poor little mite must have thought mommy and daddy were upstairs! She turned around said bye, waved then blew us a kiss and headed up the stairs. Grandpa picked her up but she wasn't having none of that! Grandma's idea of a calming bath was anything but! Changed into cute little pink pajamas, she snuggled up to Grandpa while he rocked her in the sunporch finally drifting off to sleep. Oh I should mention that she flatly refuses to sleep in any crib! She insists on sleeping on the floor which is fine at her house but if you've read this blog you will also have read about our friendly centipedes so Grandpa laid her on the love seat where she slept until mommy and daddy arrived. They loaded everything in thing in their new Honda Pilot to make the long journey home.

It was a weekend well spent :)

Garden Gnome

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Happy Canada Day

Garden Gnome