Monday, July 30, 2012

It's OFF my List!!

We all have a "list", whether it be in our heads or written down. We all have certain things we want to do before we die.  I happen to have my list in my head (I should probably be writing it down so I don't miss anything!), and this past weekend, I got to cross something off!

For any of you that know me, I have been drawn to lighthouses for a LONG time!  Something about them just draws me in.  It has to do with the history, the water, the adventure of finding them, and just the plain old look of them.

This adventure begins about 10 1/2 years ago when Rich and I made a long weekend trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I had never seen the snow in the U.P. (snow, yes.....I grew up in NW Ohio, but not U.P. snow!), and we were also going to go lighthouse hunting.  That weekend, we had the time of our lives!  We were newly engaged, just enjoying being with each other.  We drove Rich's truck down some crazy snowmobile trails having a VERY bumpy ride!  We saw many lighthouses that weekend, and the one that sticks out to me is the Big Bay Lighthouse.  You could actually sleep in a lighthouse!  The idea was SO incredible to me!  Yes, this was going on my list!  I have to sleep in a lighthouse before I die!
Back of our dive boat in Rock Harbor

Rock Harbor, Isle Royale National Park

Fast forward to Friday....
Rich and I had just finished up a fantastic 5 day dive charter diving in Isle Royale National Park.  We dived 9 awe inspiring dives while living aboard the Lake Superior Diver.  What could make the week better?  Just wait.....

Our "camping" area on the boat.
Awesome for seeing the stars at night!
Rich taking a pic of me taking a pic of him!  Lol!

One of my favorites of Rich!  

This my favorite pic of the week!
We got off the boat, loaded our belongings into the Element, and headed on our way.  Our plan was to drive most of the way to Duluth, MN (about a 3 hour trip from where we picked up the boat), and make a few stops at places we had seen in Duluth on our way to the boat.  I promptly fell asleep while Rich drove.  I woke up just outside of Two Harbors, MN, and Rich had seen a campground and a motel.  He asked what I preferred, and after having been "camping" on the boat all week, I was ready for a bed and a hot shower that didn't include "friends" from the outdoors in the room.  I love camping and the outdoors, really, I do!  Rich suggested we drive a little further, and so we did.  We then saw the sign to the Two Harbors Lighthouse or Agate Bay Lighthouse.  We had been there the year before looking around the outside, and Rich remembered it was a Bed & Breakfast.  Bonus!

We pulled up, went to the door, and we had missed the check in time which was from 3p-5p (it was 5:40pm, crap!) and no one was on the premises.  Rich suggested we drive back down the hill, and call the number on the sign.  I did, and we lucked out that they had a cancellation!   Yippee!!  The gentleman was with the historical society and was currently at the train museum.  He met us back at the door to the light and signed us all in!  He also gave us a brief history of the lighthouse, told us our "duties", and explained that in order to keep their non profit status, they had to make each person's stay educational.  They use the money we paid to stay there to help in the upkeep of the property.  Cool idea!

We took tons of pictures as the general public isn't allowed inside the dwelling.  It was amazing!!  What a dream come true!  The best part.....NO wifi or TV!  We travel a LOT, but it is rarely just the 2 of us.  We always have kids or clients with us (which is also fun!), so it was nice to just be together talking about our trip from the past week.  Just enjoying each other.  It was perfect!  
View from one of the portholes near the top of the light.
Formal Dining Room

Sitting Room

Our room, the Forest Room

pretty sitting area on the grounds
The buffet in the back was donated by the wife of one of
the lighthouse keepers.  She is pictured sitting next to it
in the photo on the wall to the left of the buffet.

The next morning, we enjoyed the company of the 4 other guests during breakfast in the formal dining room.  What a beautiful plate of food!  I should have taken a picture, darn!  Rose, the wonderful lady who made our meal, was a welcome addition to the event.  She was so pleasant and had a lot of fun stories to tell about working there during the winter.  

After breakfast was complete, we finished up our "duties", took a few more pictures with the morning light, and headed on our way.  We stopped at the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, the S.S Meteor in Superior, and finally for dinner we stopped at Wild Rover in Marquette.  We then completed the 16 hour trek home!  (we had 8 1/2 more to go at that point)  

There is SO much to be said about being able to cross something off of your list, but it also helps to share the experience with someone you love!  Thanks, Rich, for sharing this monumental experience with me!  <3

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Grandma: Counting Money

I had intended on writing this blog last Sunday because I have another one about Grandma especially for Father's Day.   As usual, things happen, and life goes too fast!  It is actually quite interesting to me that I have these inclinations to post right after I mow the yard.  I used to mow my Grandma's yard when I was a teenager, and now that I am an adult, I find it the best time to think uninterrupted.  (Kind of difficult to listen to the girls with the mower running!  Lol!)

This week, I am going to write about learning the value of money.  (Literally!)  It starts like this....every time my sister and I spent the night at Grandma's we would get the lecture from Mom, "Don't fight!  You make your Grandmother nervous when you do!"  (What does that really even mean?  But who am I to question what my Mom says?  Lol!)  Anyhow, on one of the overnighters, we (Grandma, my sister, and I) had plans to drive to my Aunt Pat's house for a visit.  We were warned by Mom to be extra good since it would be a 30 minute drive to Pat's.  Grandma had this one covered!  She gave Jessica and I each a handful of coins, and each time we were bad, we would have to give one back.  Unfortunately, this was SO long ago that I don't remember giving any back, but I do remember comparing money with Jessica to make sure that she didn't have more money that I did.  It would have been such a travesty if she had MORE than ME!  ;o)  So, here we are counting out our coins in the back seat of the car, and comparing what we had.  I had more than you want to know why?  Mine were BIGGER than hers!  So they MUST be more, right?  To my dismay, Grandma overhead the conversation, and quickly figured out what was going on. She set us completely straight, and I didn't have more than Jessica!  :o(  She explained what each coin was worth, and helped us to sort them out.  Still to this day, I occasionally wonder why the dime is smaller than the nickel and's just not right!

In case you care, this is the answer I found when I Googled it:

Originally, a cent had 1 cent's worth of copper, a nickel 5 cents' worth of nickel, and a dime 10 cents' worth of silver. Because the same weight of each metal was worth a different amount, the coins' sizes had to be different in order to match weights and values. For example, silver was (and still is) worth a lot more per ounce than copper, so a dime could have a lot less metal in it but be worth far more than a copper cent. 

Even though the monetary value of coins no longer represents the value of their metal content, the traditional sizes are maintained.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


It has been quite a while since I have last posted.  Life got super busy and many things went by the wayside.  I have been meaning to write about my Grandma for quite sometime.  Rich, my husband, has told me many times when I tell him a story about her that I should be recording this somewhere for a time when I don't remember or am gone.  What better place than here?  Her memory will be preserved on the internet forever!  :o)

Not that I don't think of her often (every day it seems like), but I think of her more often during the spring and summer when my fondest memories of her take place.  She left us almost 3 yrs ago but not without leaving us her legacy.  I will try to write about her more often this month especially since it will be a tribute to her during the month of her death and the month of her birthday.

This story takes me back to the first anniversary of her death.  My Grandma was always outside working in her yard.  Growing things, sweeping up lawn clippings, and just tooling around.  She would always tell us that when we see a robin for the first time after winter, then it was officially spring.  So, a year after her death, I am in my front yard mowing the lawn, thinking about her, and am treated to the red-bellied bird for a half hour flitting about in the yard.  She would move a little with each pass, but always remained within 5 feet of me.  I knew that Grandma around in spirit!  This story fast forwards 2 more years to 10 days ago when I was again mowing the lawn.  I was in the back yard mowing along, and again I am visited by the lovely robin!  She stayed with me for an hour this time (it takes that long to mow the back)!  She flitted about staying out of reach, but never farther than 5 feet away.  It brought a warm feeling of knowing that Grandma was near.  Tonight, I was hurriedly mowing the lawn again (I seems like the mowing never ends!).  Natalie and Olivia were playing in the yard, and I was just in the zone walking back and forth trying to get the grass cut before the rain came down.  All of a sudden, I look down, and there are some sort of red balls in the grass.  I was puzzled as I had never seen anything in the grass like that before.  (I have a black thumb......)  So, I stopped the mower, stooped down, and to my surprise, they were strawberries!  (My Grandma ALWAYS had strawberries growing in her garden!  My sister and I would help her pick them all the time.)    I called the girls over to show them, and they said, "Mom, we KNOW!  We picked one and got the roots.  We planted it in this pot."  (duh!)  We looked at the berries for a few more minutes, and then I continued to mow.  With every row, there were MORE strawberries!  By the time I finished mowing..........we found that approximately 1/3 of our back yard is COVERED!  (I can't possibly mow now, right?  Lol!)  I am sure there is a logical reason for all of the above, but I like to think that Grandma wanted us to know she is thinking of us here.  It warmed my heart and wet my eyes, but now I have to find my thumb and "sharpie" it green!  I need to mark off at least some of the berries to form the garden we have been meaning to plant since April!

Thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoyed the first memory/story about my Grandma.  The rest will be purely memories.  I learned so much from her and miss her so much.  At least her memory will live on in me and the rest of my family.   Speaking of which......if any of my family has a memory of Grandma, please leave it in the comments.  I would love to read what meant so much to you about her!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow Day!!

I know I said I would finish up my Manatee story, but this was just too much fun to skip over!  Today, my friend, Nicole, and her son, Aiden, came over to work on some shower invitations.  No, Aiden wasn't helping!  lol!  He came to hang out with Natalie & Olivia.  Nicole has 2 sons, and our running joke is that we have betrothed her sons and my daughters!  Aiden, the younger of her 2 boys, is totally on board!  Noah on the other hand, is 6 yrs older than the girls, and he thinks it is weird!  Yes, it is weird, but we still have fun with it anyway!

While Nicole and I worked on her sister's baby shower invitations, Natalie, Olivia, and Aiden got all bundled up and headed out to play in our newly acquired snow.  They were out for about a half hour, and Olivia came in upset.  I asked her what was wrong, and she said, "We lost our shovel in Bob's yard (our neighbor)!"  So, I asked what happened.  She proceeded to tell me that they were feeding Wilson (the neighbor's dog) snow off of the shovel, and that he took it from them.  They couldn't get it and needed help.  The first thing that went through my head was "GREAT, they had a snow shovel hanging over the fence feeding the poor basset hound snow, and they probably smacked him in the head with in when they dropped the shovel over the 2 foot fence!"  So, I proceeded to give her a mini lecture about how we treat animals, and how we should and shouldn't use shovels.  I got my shoes and coat on, and went out to rescue the shovel.

When I went out the back door, I see Natalie with a HUGE stick poking at something through the fence!  I was really amped up now!  I yelled at her, then asked where the shovel was.  Olivia showed me the shovel on the other side of the fence.  I looked all around and didn't see it......then, she points to a TINY green plastic SAND shovel!  Now my job got harder (I couldn't just reach over the fence and grab the shovel!), and I felt a little silly that I had reamed them for messing with the dog when they obviously didn't hurt him.  He took the "shovel" out of their hands trying to play!

I am SURE I looked quite hilarious trying to navigate between 2 rose bushes and over a 2 foot fence to retrieve a plastic SAND shovel!  I got it!  Then I had to come back through........the things we do for our kids!  Lol!!  I should have let Wilson keep the treasure he earned!

All in all, it was a fantastic day!  We finished the invites and little popcorn boxes for appetizers at the shower!  The kids played GREAT for the 8 hours we all had together!  Aiden will be a great son-in-law someday!  Lol!!

Stay tuned for the rest of the Manatee Adventure!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


This blog is long overdue!  I have been crazy busy with school, work, crafting, making gifts, etc.!  It is now time to talk about MANATEES!  Rich, the girls, and I had a fantastic time with these giant creatures!
Family portrait by Rich Synowiec
We snorkeled 2 days with the manatees.  They were both quite an adventure!

Day 1:
We were all excited!  On our trip was the 4 of us, a Mom and Son, and a couple from Atlanta.  The 8 of us loaded the boat, rode out to Three Sisters Springs, and anchored among the plethora of boats already there.  Natalie was SO excited that she had to be the first one in the water.  She jumped in and immediately started screaming bloody murder!  My thought was "Great, here we go", but I pulled her in, calmed her down, and told her that I would get in and then carry her to the area near the spring.  So.......I geared up, jumped in, and sunk to the middle of my calf into nasty, smelly muck!  I had to control myself so I wasn't screaming bloody murder!  Lol!!  It was SO GROSS!  

We then moved the boat closer to the spring since many boats were clearing out.  Once we were all in the water, we made our way to the spring area.  All around the area were Manatee rescue boats.  There was a female manatee who they thought had a broken rib and needed to be rescued.  She had a baby who also had to be taken with her.  The issue was that they had to wait for another boat to make the 2 hour trip to the area.  While they waited, they had to keep watch of the 2 so they didn't lose them.  I made my way to the outer circle to watch while holding Natalie in my arms.  Here's where more drama ensues.....there were SO many manatees!  They were coming up along both sides of us, brushing up against us and demanding to be paid attention to.  Natalie, not having ever seen an animal quite so large so close before, FREAKED!  She was screaming and crying, and we were asked to leave the area so as not to upset the manatees in turn driving the mom and baby away.  
We then spent most of the morning in the boat......along with Olivia.
This is the area just outside Three Sister's Springs.
 One of the rescue boats is pictured.
Even though we were on the boat,
we still had a ton of fun watching the manatees!

More Manatees!!

There's One!!



We had a friend who volunteered to
 remove the grass from our anchor line!

Coming up for a quick breathe!

Map of the area where our hotel was (bottom right),
 and the route we took on the river to get to the spring.
 The island the the dock to the right of it
 (near #1) was always full of sea birds!
 Cormorants, Pelicans, Blue Herons, etc.
 They were fun to see, but quite smelly!

 After spending a few hours on the boat, Rich was able to talk the girls into getting back into the water.  They had a blast snorkeling back in the spring where the water was SO clear!  We saw some manatees back in the springs, and were able to pet a couple!  All in all, the day went as I had expected, but it was great fun!  Not many underwater pictures of manatees, but I got a ton of topside pictures.  I was able to take 2 under water shots......
Olivia and Me!

Natalie and Me!

Momma and Baby!  (not the ones being rescued)

Olivia being a goof!

Natalie and her new hat!

Olivia and her new hat!


My Captain, Rich (aka my hubby!)

Pelican on the dock near the island.


I will post about day 2 in the next couple of days.  It was MUCH more fun than day one if you can believe that!  I hope you enjoy the pictures and the story.  We certainly had fun making the memories!  Until next time.......

Friday, December 23, 2011

Manatees!!! Well.....almost.....

As we get ready for the Holidays, my family is also preparing for our upcoming Manatee Trip through Divers Incorporated.  This is an amazing trip!  The first time I snorkeled with the manatees was 6 1/2 years ago when I was pregnant with Natalie & Olivia!  I have been fortunate enough to make this trip several times after, and I had incredible interactions with the manatees each time!  They are SUPER friendly, and will come right up and investigate you!  Some will even roll over on their backs to get a belly scratch!

This will be Natalie and Olivia's first time snorkeling with the Manatees (outside the!)  They have practiced at White Star Quarry this summer to make sure they can snorkel.  They were fish (not that we expected much different!)!  They have taken swim lessons for years, and swim amazingly!  They just had to get the hang of breathing through a snorkel, using fins, and wearing a mask.  It took a bit, and thankfully Daddy is an instructor, and has the patience of a saint, but they eventually had the hang of it.

The picture above is of Natalie (left) and Olivia (right) trying on their gear to make sure they hadn't outgrown anything in the past couple of months!  In a few short days, we will begin our trek to Crystal River to enjoy interacting with these gentle giants!  We are driving from Michigan to Crystal River......fortunately, most of the trip will be during the night while the girls are sleeping! 

As our trip goes along, I will post updates and more pictures.  They girls are getting dSLRs for Christmas (we got 2 first generation Canon rebels at an AMAZING deal) so they will be able to record the trip from their point of view also!