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    Summer So Far

    We’ve been back in the States for about two and half weeks for our summer break. Here’s a peek at some of what we’ve been up to…

    Eating fresh berries from Sam’s patch:


    Summer strawberries




    David grilling


    Spending time with two of our favorite people:


    Grandma and Grandpa


    Meeting our niece Claire:


    Dad with Claire


    Hanging out with her brother Jonah and family:


    Jonah sliding into the pond


    We drove to Tennessee for my sister’s wedding (more photos from that soon):




    Seeing my mom’s new property in Arkansas and the progress on her house:


    Mom on her new property


    Enjoying the lake near my mom’s:


    David fishing


    Arkansas Lake Shore


    Meeting up with dear friends from college:


    Heber Springs with friends


    Enjoying a Michigan summer at its finest:


    Deer in a field


    Pond at sunset


    Seeing David’s brother play ball:


    Ben in the Gus Macker


    What are your summer plams?




    Our Christmas Break

    We had a wonderful Christmas break!

    We especially had a lot of fun playing with our nephew Ethan. He’s about 15 months old now, babbles away in his own language, and loves running and kicking a ball. He reaches for everything and likes to look through his board books. Such a cutie!


    David feeding Ethan a bagel


    Ethan reaching


    Leah Reading to Ethan


    Christmas Eve was the annual Benedict caroling and fondue party:


    Fondue meat




    Our families live less than a hour apart, and we were able to see them both on Christmas Day. (This was the last year for that, though! My mom is retiring and heading south as soon as she can!)


    Family Christmas photo


    We spent Near Years Eve with our dear friends and their sweet little one. (David was annoyed though – everyone fell asleep before midnight. He had to wake us up to watch the ball drop!)


    New Years Eve


    We also spend some quality time with Grandma and Grandpa. We love them so much!


    Family Christmas photo


    We even got in one of Sam’s basketball games:


    Sam basketball


    It was so great to catch up with family and friends. We were also glad to visit with our church family. And we attended the wedding of one of our friends!

    We made it out of Michigan just before the polar vortex. And even though our travels didn’t go completely as planned, we made it back safely and for the most part on time. There was a short week of school last week and we’re slowly getting back into sleep patterns and a routine. As much as we love our time at home in Michigan, it also feels good to be back home in Turkey!



    An Icy Winter Wonderland

    We had a white and icy Christmas in Michigan this year. I don’t think I’ve ever seen ice stay on the trees this long. The ice has weighted down the trees. Branches have taken down a lot of power lines in the area. There are some people who have been without power for almost a week. David’s family lost power for 3 days, but fortunately it was restored on Christmas Eve Day.

    The ice is beautiful and terrifying. Especially when the sun comes out, it’s as though the road is lined with crystal chandeliers. You can hear the ice and branches falling, especially out on the farm. It’s a chorus of shattering glass.


    Icy bush


    Icy bush


    Icy bush


    Many trees are so heavy, they’ve bowed over the road:


    Weighed over tree branch


    Iced over branches


    Tree with ice


    Icy branches


    Icy pine


    Icy branch


    This poor tree by one of the barns lost half of its branches. David said they will probably cut the rest down once it’s warmer. We’re fortunate that branches have not fallen on the house or our cars. We haven’t seen the damage inside of the maple woods yet, but we know it’s brought down some of the tap lines.


    Ice damage to a tree


    Icicles on the fence


    On our way to break, David’s aunt called us and told us to check out a bald eagle in someone’s yard. It was so cool to see it sitting on the icy branches:


    Icy tree and bald eagle


    David took the Gator out to the edge of the woods and ran into some deer. A couple of these were trophy bucks. He purchased his hunting license last night, so hopefully he’ll get some venison before the end of break.


    Deer in the snow


    Deer running in the snow



    Summer Bits & Pieces

    What a blessing this summer has been! Our time at home always flies by too fast.

    As we finish up the last 30 some hours of our break, here are a few bits and pieces and other favorites…


    Oh, deer…


    Oh deer.


    Sam shot this buck last year and got it shoulder mounted. This guy hung out in the living room for a while:


    Deer shoulder mounting


    We celebrated our second anniversary in June. It was my turn to schedule the surprise trip. (Last year David planned a surprise trip to Dollywood.) We stayed at Kara’s Kottages in Kalamazoo and had dinner at Food Dance. We loved it!


    Celebrating our anniversary


    Us with our nephew Jonah at Mooville:


    Us and Jonah


    King Kitty in all his glory:


    King Kitty stretching


    Double rainbow!


    Double rainbow


    Four generations! (David’s maternal grandparents, parents, brother Joe and his wife Brittany, and baby Jonah.)


    Four Generations of Wilcox/Benedict


    Honey bee and Mom’s cone flowers:


    Bee and cone flowers


    Mom made blackberry cobbler in her mom’s pie dish:


    Blackberry cobbler


    My grandma’s cross stitch work on a pillow in my mom’s bedroom:


    My grandma's cross stitch work


    David reading to our other nephew Ethan:


    David and Ethan


    John and Ethan:


    John and Ethan


    A beautiful, sunny day and reflections in the pond:


    Pond reflections


    Fried fish caught from the pond with homemade tarter sauce:


    Fried fish and tarter sauce


    My mom found another typeset drawer when she was cleaning out the basement. More for my collection!


    Typeset drawer


    This is us. Get it?


    Spicy Ginger, Spicy Asian

    Picking Michigan Blueberries

    While we were camping in South Haven, we stopped at DeGrandchamp Farms to pick blueberries! DeGrandchamp had a great you-pick area. They charged $1.75 a pound. After we got our buckets, we headed to the blueberry bushes. I think this was my first time picking blueberries – at least that I can remember!


    Degrandchamp blueberry you-pick


    Blueberry Farm


    Aren’t these berries just beautiful?


    Michigan blueberries


    Ben picking blueberries


    Fallen blueberries


    Blueberries on the bush


    Holding blueberries{shirt}


    Ripening blueberries


    Sam and David picking blueberries


    Our buckets of picked blueberries


    Bucket of blueberries


    DeGrandchamp also has a cute country store with lots of blueberry and cranberry products.

    We picked about 20 pounds of blueberries! We enjoyed snacking on them and made blueberry pancakes the next morning. Yum!



    South Haven, Michigan at Sunset

    We spent 5 days camping last week in Van Buren State Park in South Haven, Michigan with David’s family. South Haven is on the coast of Lake Michigan.


    Southwest Michigan map


    David’s family used their fifth wheel camper, but we had our own private camping suite. The Christmas after we got married, David’s parents gave us camping supplies including a huge 8-person Coleman tent. They also gave us a queen air mattress that takes up about half of the tent. It’s a great set up!

    The first day was really overcast. When we went to check out the water, it was hard to find the horizon! We had some rain the next two days, but it made for good sleeping weather in the morning.


    Foggy day at Lake Michigan


    We spent our days biking, looking at shops in the downtown area, and swimming at the beach. David’s dad had to work during the day, but joined us in the evenings. After we made campfire and RVQ dinners, we’d head into town for ice cream. We ate twice at Captain Nemo’s for their delicious Sherman’s Finest ice cream! (We weren’t as impressed with Kilwins… it was good, but really overpriced.)

    One evening we walked down the South Haven pier to catch the sunset.


    South Haven, Michigan


    South Haven, Michigan


    South Haven, Michigan lighthouse


    We are so spoiled by Michigan beaches! Unsalted and so beautiful!


    Lake Michigan with ducks


    Family on the pier


    We watched the sailboats come into the dock for the night:


    South Haven, Michigan sunset


    South Haven, Michigan Sailboat


    Pure Michigan:


    South Haven, Michigan Sunset



    Oh, haaaaay

    Oh, haaaaay. Well, not actually hay. In the past it was hay, but this year it was straw. (Hay is from alfalfa and straw is from wheat… the things I’ve learned since marrying David!)

    There’s a field on the farm the Benedicts bales every year. After a combine separated the grain, the stalks were left for baling. A tractor pulled the baler, which picked up the straw, compressed it, tied it, then spit it out the back onto the trailer for stacking. I think Grandpa said the baler was 50 years old.


    Baling Straw


    David loves working on the farm. I love seeing him in his element:


    Farmer Dave baling straw


    I was not a baler, but I hung around for moral support. I rode in the Gator with Grandpa to drop off some twine:


    Grandpa on the Gator


    It was dusty, dusty work!


    Baling straw


    Dad on the tractor


    Tractor baling straw


    All ready for auction:


    Straw bale stack