Browsing Tag:


    Our Fourth of July

    We attended the 32nd Annual Fourth of July at Charlton Park this year with David’s family. Charlton Park is in Hastings, Michigan and has the cutest little village museum.  Historic buildings were moved onto the park property including a blacksmith shop, school house, town hall, barber shop, hardware store, and several others.


    Historic Charlton Park


    Carpenter shop at Charlton Park


    I was excited to see the print shop museum! {PS. The awesome shirt is from!}


    At the print shop in Charlton Park


    Be still my heart:


    Typeset drawer


    We arrived in time for the old-timey contests. There were 3 age divisions for most of the games. Ben, Sam, and David all participated in the watermelon eating contest – no hands allowed!


    Ben at the watermelon eating contest


    Watermelon eating


    David water melon eating contest


    David, Ben, and Mom entered the freckle contest. The Benedicts have a long history of winning the freckle contest. Lorraine took first place the past several years.


    Freckle contest


    There was hay bale throwing:


    Hay bale throwing


    And pie eating:


    Ben pie eating contest


    Ben was super proud of his two second place ribbons – for the freckle contest and pie eating:


    Second place Ben


    Sam placed in the watermelon eating contest and hay bale throwing contest:


    Sam with ribbons


    There was lots to do and see and eat! It was super family friendly and everything was free.


    Uncle Sam texting


    Later that evening we drove to Battle Creek to watch fireworks. Since Mom works at the base, we had great seats for the show.


    Colonel mom


    We watched with Mom, Mary, and her fiancé Patrick:


    Waiting for fireworks


    Waiting for fireworks


    The fireworks were from the Battle Creek Balloon Festival:


    Battle Creek fireworks



    A Morning in Grand Rapids, Michigan

    My mom had a meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan and invited David and me to come along. Grand Rapids is less than an hour and a half from where we live. While she was in her meeting, we killed some time around the downtown area. We had breakfast at Bagel Beanery, which had delicious bagels, cream cheese, and coffee.

    After figuring out how to get to it, we stopped at La Grande Vitesse. It’s a beautiful steel sculpture by American artist Alexander Calder located in front of Grand Rapids City Hall.


    Grand Rapids, Michigan City Hall


    La Grande Vitesse


    La Grande Vitesse


    La Grande Vitesse


    La Grande Vitesse


    La Grande Vitesse


    After that, we walked through the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Ford was from Grand Rapids and was the 38th president of the United States. He was appointed after Nixon resigned. I learned a lot about the Watergate scandal from walking through the museum.


    Gerald Ford Museum


    They had fun memorabilia from the 1970’s.  Pet rock, anyone?


    Pet Rock in Gerald Ford Museum


    I thought these invitations were funny. They were for Gerald Ford’s wedding brunch. The options for “unable to come” are:

      • My wife is pregnant
      • I am in jail
      • I am a Democrat
      • The bank foreclosed
      • I am going hunting
      • Never could stand Ford
      • I am reading the Kinsey Report


    Gerald Ford Brunch Invitation


    It’s kind of fun being a tourist in your home state!


    Presidential Seal - Gerald Ford Museum



    Farm Kitty

    David’s family has one cat. He’s had a couple of different names, but the one that stuck was “King Kitty.” He truly rules the roost. He’s a funny farm cat.


    John Deere Kitty


    King Kitty has one of the most relaxed personalities of any cat I’ve met. Ever since he was a kitten, he’d let you pick him up, hold him, or move him anywhere. One time, one of David’s brothers set him in the middle of a blanket, grabbed all of the edges, and threw it over his shoulder like a bag. King Kitty didn’t mind. Once he set the blanket back down and unfolded the edges, the cat just stretched out like nothing had happened.


    We found him snoozing on one of the tractors the other day. He was curious when I came over to take a photo and walked down the tire to say hello:


    Farm Cat


    Farm Cat


    Farm Cat


    Cleaning Maple Lines and Buckets

    We helped out with some of the maple farm work this week. Over the past couple of years, David’s family has been converting their different woods to a tubing system.

    First, we went out to one of the woods to clean the sap lines. After we turned on the vacuum pump, we followed the tubes. Sam had a sprayer tank filled with warm water to squirt through the lines.


    Maple line cleaner


    David pulled spiles and I followed behind and dipped the lines into a bucket of warm water.


    Cleaning maple lines


    We did our best to avoid the poison ivy and oak. David’s brother Ben gave me polkadot rain boots one Christmas. They’re my walking in the woods footwear.


    Maple Bucket and boots


    I often borrow a pair of my mother-in-law’s overalls. Farmer David and Leah reporting for duty!


    In the maple woods


    David peeked into a rundown building on the property and found an arch for an old evaporator:


    Abandoned evaporator


    Once we finished in the woods, we came back to the house to clean buckets and lids. Even though the tubing system increases production, they will always tap some trees the traditional way with buckets. This is the machine they use to clean the buckets. It’s connected to a pulley that rotates the brushes:


    Bucket cleaner machine


    We washed about 1,000 buckets and lids. Water splashed everywhere! One person used the machine to clean the inside and bottom of the buckets. Next, they passed the bucket to another person to rinse the outside and inside.


    Washing maple buckets


    Then a runner stacked the buckets and lids so they could dry. We created a bucket barricade:


    Drying maple buckets


    So, so many buckets!


    Maple Buckets


    It was a long afternoon of hard work, but it felt good to be back on the farm.


    Sunset on the farm



    First Few Days of Summer

    The last couple weeks of the school year were a whirlwind! We said goodbye to our students, packed up our classrooms, packed our bags for home, and moved everything else into our new apartment. Our travel back to the States went smoothly and we only had a slight delay on our connection to Detroit. We landed in Michigan on Thursday, hit the ground running, and have been on the go ever since!

    Here’s a look at our first few days of summer…


    Sam up to bat at a baseball tournament


    Grilling pork steaks


    At a Lansing Lugnuts baseball game


    Tractors on the Benedict farm


    Meeting our nephew


    Meeting Jonah


    Family day at the guard base


    My colonel mom at her desk


    My kitty Blue


    How Mom decorated our bed at her house


    Father's Day





    Christmas in Michigan

    One of our sponsors blessed us with a trip home to Michigan for Christmas!

    Despite a few travel delays, we made it home safely and had a fantastic 12 days with family and friends!

    David’s family and my mom live a 45 minute drive apart. We feel very fortunate to be able to spend time with both families during breaks and holidays. My dad moved to Georgia a few years ago, but still visits Michigan every Christmas, and it was good to see him as well.

    Christmas for us is getting to see David’s brothers’ recitals, concerts, and games:


    Sam playing basketball


    Hanging out with my mom, sister, and brothers, and having our usual Military Monday lunch at Applebees. We got to watch Skyfall with Mom and Matt. I was tickled to hear that people at Mom’s work said she reminded them of M. She does have an air of mystery and power about her, especially in uniform!


    My sister Mary


    My Mom


    Seeing all of David’s mom’s side of the family at Wilcox Christmas. (Although, we missed David’s brother Joe and his wife Brittany! They are 8 months pregnant and couldn’t travel.):


    Grandpa and Grandma Wilcox


    Wilcox grandkids and great-grandkids


    Caroling Christmas Eve and the fondue after party. This year was the 29th annual!:


    Christmas Eve Fondue Table


    Fondue Meats


    Christmas with the Fausts. (My Aunt Lois and cousin Vanessa joined us this year!):


    Faust Christmas 2012


    Christmas at the Benedicts:


    Benedict Christmas


    Mom and Dad B


    And connecting with sweet friends and family:


    Christmas with Dad F


    Hanging with the Harris fam


    Other highlights included enjoying a few snow falls, eating American food, seeing church family, shopping at Meijer, and getting a new camera.