Happiness Tuesdays #13

Happiness Counts!!!
I am beginning Happiness Tuesdays to tell you some things that make me happy and to share with you quotes, websites, and photos to make you happy!

Happiness Tuesdays #13

Here are three things that make me happy:

1) Sanders Bump Cake – I know it’s supposed to be Bumpy…but we’ve always called it our Bump Cake…used only for birthdays. DEE-licious!
2) Mexican food…let’s have a fiesta with burritos, fajitas, Torch Lake dip, and margaritas…hurray:)    Or OLE!!
3) People who can laugh at themselves – the whole Torch Lake Group (TLG) does it constantly!!

we giggle in the winter
we giggle in the summer
our kids giggle with, and at, us
we giggle at our Mash party
we giggle at ourselves with our ‘boxers’ themed spring vacation

Being able to love people enough to let them make fun of you is such a great gift…we have so much fun, never having to worry about hurting someone’s feelings! Feel free to make fun of us…but be ready for us to reciprocate :)

Teach your kids to lighten up and enjoy themselves…while having fun with you!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Camping with the Kids

F2 and I camped often, including some backpacking before we had the boys, and we camped a lot with our Torch Lake Group friends when they were ‘kidless’ also. So we weren’t new to the game when we started making the camping a family affair. That was definitely helpful.  Taking children camping means putting the focus on them, keeping them involved, and making sure they get enough sleep!!
Some helpful hints??  Make sure your kids can follow your directions without questioning…there are many possibly dangerous situations when you’re out in the woods…so little ones need to do what you say. And…you, as the adult, need to pay even more attention to them than you normally do, to keep them safe and happy.

Can you see them?? Standing with Yogi at Jellystone Park! This is a great kind of ‘starter’ park for camping with kids since it’s planned for families. Lots to do, kids’ movies at night…Chad and Scott loved it!

This is the tent we most often used when camping. Here, we are camping at a State Park somewhere (no clue where!). Can you see the orange color inside the tent?? That is a sleeping bag! You’ll see 2 of these in many of the photos…well-used, and we still have them 25 years later. The boys loved having their very own sleeping bags, but you shouldn’t spend more than you need to either. These came from KMart, and have paid for themselves over and over as they were used to make forts at home also!!

Kids gain skills by helping to put the campsite together..according to their ages! Our guys liked to hand us parts of the tent to put together and our cots, too. Loved those cots, but they tended to be exasperating to set up…arghhh! You need to find time for naps when the little ones are sleepy, so make sure you have a place where the temperature doesn’t get too warm. I made that mistake once and wound up with a sweaty little boy…scared myself, didn’t do it again!!

Is he cute, or what??  Anyway…be prepared for any kind of weather. Early or late summer can be shaky in many parts of the country…at night or early in the morning temps can be far lower than the rest of the day. Having cold, crabby children does not add to the camping experience!

Good Morning, Sweetie-Pies!!  We continued to camp as the guys got older…we could go farther and do more things…setting up and taking down the tent more often. Sometimes the boys didn’t use the cots, just slept on air mattresses on the floor of the tent…still lovin’ those sleeping bags though!

Taking hikes and exploring with families who camped with us was a way to keep the guys entertained. We could teach them some things about nature at the same time. Be prepared for DIRT!! If you’re a fussy person, camping may not be for you. All your equipment, clothing, car…everything winds up with a coating of sand, dirt, pine sap and needles. That’s if it doesn’t rain…yuck!! BUT, all of it was well worth it…all  members of the family loved it. Everything could be cleaned once we arrived back home…you gotta let loose now and then :)

Here we are camping with part of the TLG…bh and eh and their daddy in this photo. Think they enjoy the campfire??? Oh, yes, this is always one of their favorite parts of camping. Smells good, feels good, and you can make s’mores!! Hurray!

Camping in the ‘piney woods’ is such a great family adventure. You can start when the children are very young by taking one night trips and let your adventures grow as your kids do. If you can remember to take pictures along the way…you can take a memory walk through your albums just like I am.

Road trips that involve camping are a fantastic way to strengthen your family as a unit and to instill the character traits you’d like your kids to have in the future. Have fun whenever you can..they grow up soooo fast:)

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Road Trip, Fun Tourist Traps

a road trip to Hartwick Pines, Michigan

Last week I let you know how we traveled in the car as a family while the boys were young (Planning Family Vacations).  I mentioned giving the guys a chance to stop at some of those “amazing” stops along the roadway. If there are certain stops you know you just can’t handle, then be prepared to cover the eyes of the kids who can read the abundance of road signs that advertise them. Be ready to distract and then be firm about your “No.”  But remember that your trip is a family vacation so the kids need to have some input into what they get to see. When that happens they will be so excited to read every one of those obnoxious road signs (hurray for reading)!
Here are a few of the ones where we’ve stopped over the years!!

We had so much fun visiting different “stories”. Kids loved it!

We camped at Houghton Lake  and Higgins Lake in Michigan often. Zubler’s is an amazing touristy shop in Prudenville outside the camp area where kids can browse for hours and pick up such delightful things as tomahawks, slingshots, carved wooden anythings, moccasins, ….seriously, almost anything you can think of…so be prepared to limit spending and/or number of items allowed :)  More on allowances in the future!

The boys loved visiting the Deer Camp where they could see and feed the deer. Looks like Scott wasn’t sure about that deer licking his fingers!!

Do you have a Mystery Spot in your area? They really are fun…based on gravity and difference in perception. Chad was having fun being almost as tall as Dad!

This was a maze built in the forest…with paths formed by ropes! It was actually a little scarier than we thought it would be. Chad and Scott had to stay together and keep within our sight so that we wouldn’t freak out. Keep in mind that we were the overprotective types…and proud of it :)

While traveling in the West, we went to Four Corners…the spot where four states actually touch. The ‘spot’ is on Native American land, so you pay a fee to enter and then there are several little shops if you want to go to them also. We mostly liked the photo opportunity!

Here is Chad riding the ‘jackalope’ at Wall Drugs…you must have seen the signs for Wall Drugs if you travel anywhere in the western half of the country! It is easy to spend hours here if you do go, so plan on it. There are stores within stores, cafeterias, things for kids to sit on, lots of cool and silly things to purchase…so don’t plan on a quick visit, unless you’re ready for sad faces!

The guys of the family decided they would pan for gold! Is it a tourist trap…oh, yes! But did everyone have fun? Absolutely!

I hope this encourages you to at least think about stopping now and then just to have fun with your kids. Add a day of travel time if you need to, to make sure the stress of travel with your family can be relieved with silliness and giggles!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Happiness Tuesdays #10

Happiness Counts!!!
I am beginning Happiness Tuesdays to tell you some things that make me happy and to share with you quotes, websites, and photos to make you happy!

Happiness Tuesdays #10
Here are three things that make me happy:

1) Blue skies–I know I’ve said this before, but this is March in Michigan – it needs to be said again :)

Michigan blue sky
Florida blue sky

2) the smell of campfires…mmm

Chad and Scott with Torch Lake Kid, BC

3) beautiful quotations, such as:

“Joy is not in things; it is in us.”
Richard Wagner

see…the joy is in us :)


Find what makes you happy, and go for it!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Reviving Table Manners

How important are table manners?

messy at this age is cute, right?

Well, unless you want your 12-year old or 17-year old to look like this…I guess manners are pretty important!! Start early at the dinner table at home…teaching manners normally, encouraging what you want to see and discouraging what won’t be helpful in the future.

sometimes “extras” arrive at the table

Kids need to learn how to use utensils properly, even if it’s easier on you to let them do it their way. That interaction of passing food and using please and thank you all of the time is an important part of encouraging manners.

practicing out with others

Each time you go out to dinner with the kids, practice, practice, practice! Kids should stay at the table the entire time, and because I’m sure you haven’t chosen a fancy restaurant that will take longer than their little ‘patiences’ can handle, they can join the family in talking. Okay, you do have to make sure you bring your goodie bag, filled with age-appropriate distraction: Cheerios or Kix, raisins, coloring books, puzzles. I’m hoping beyond all hope, and probably not very realistically, that all electronics for both parents and kids are turned off and ignored during dinner. This should be a great family time, learning how to have fun and be polite in a restaurant.

indoors and outdoors

Eating with the Torch Lake kids has been a constant event for our boys. All the kids learned manners appropriate for the occasion, inside manners, outside picnic…older ones were always encouraged to be good role models for the younger ones. Did it always work that way?? Of course not, but that was what we were trying for!

There is always a time for fun :)
the group

Whether at a Christmas dinner or on a trail ride on vacation, we hoped the boys would remember their manners. Being polite to those who serve you is necessary. Can your kids order their meal themselves (after you have given them their choices)? If they learn to speak up and politely answer the server’s questions, they will be far ahead of the majority of young ones. Do they say, “Thank you” when their order is placed in front of them? Do you? Remember that you are always the role model, one way or the other.

in Gulf Shores with the group

Our Torch Lake Group has taken many vacations together which involves many meals eaten out. As the kids grew older they were able to be at their own kids’ table as long as they were careful with their manners. They loved that idea so much that they usually controlled themselves…notice the usually?? They were our kids, and we have been known to be less than proper at dinner from so much laughing, so we could never be too upset with them. They were definitely chips off the old blocks!! But we were not ever rude to other customers or the staff and neither were the kids. Goofy is good, mean is not!

Kids’ table this year

We continue to enjoy each other’s company every year. The kids are grown, but they still love having their kids’ table.


……and here’s to teaching and learning great manners!!

here’s to us :)

Manners inside the home translate to manners outside the home, and good manners leave wonderful impressions with those we know and those we don’t know. Encourage the best in your children!!

Happy Parenting!
D and C 








Respectful Behavior

Respect is the most important quality for people of all ages to have.

amazingly respectful to their mom :)

If you, as a mom or dad or teacher, ignore bad behavior then you are encouraging further bad behavior. Kids are always pushing boundaries – that’s their job!! Our job as adults is to make sure the boundaries that we want are solid. If you think that some minor misbehaving is normal, you’re right! That is true. However, the reason it is called misbehaving is because it isn’t behavior that you want to have continue. So it is necessary – every time – to correct and redirect…doesn’t matter what the age of the child is. Kids will learn one of two things: either misbehaving is tolerated or misbehaving is not tolerated. Which do you think will help your children in the future?

It becomes a matter of respect. Do your kids listen to you and follow your directions? They should!! When they choose to disobey you, they are being disrespectful. It is normal for them to test your limits, but it should also be normal for you to reinforce the behaviors you do want.
As a teacher, I have often made “Gold Coins of Respect” to explain and give to kids at school.

Gold Coin of Respect

On one side of the coin is the word ‘respect’ surrounded by three words, ‘people’, ‘property’, and ‘self’. If kids can learn what it means -specifically – to respect other people, property, and themselves, then the idea of respect as a whole can be reinforced. I believe self-esteem comes from a healthy respect for ‘self’, not from other people patting them on the back for everything they do.

back side

The back side of the coin has three words from The Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, happiness. I tell the kids about the guarantee of life and liberty, but not a guarantee of happiness. We are only guaranteed the right to pursue happiness.

The Gold Coin of Respect is just a symbol to remind kids of how to treat others, how to behave, and how to go after their own happiness.

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life…that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can you teach your children to respect themselves, to respect others, and to respect the boundaries you set for them?

Happy Parenting!
D and C

Photo Memories

So, I thought maybe I would ask you, “How important are photographs to you?”  I am a crazy, over-the-moon picture nut!! Yup, absolutely, that’s me! I love taking them, I love putting them in albums, and I love getting the albums out and looking at the photos taken over many years.
My parents took tons of photos also so I’ve been collecting some of the family gems and putting them in their own separate albums. Wow, what great “historical data” and very strange clothing and customs too. The photos I’ll show you today are intended to encourage you in your quest to take more pictures of your family, posed and not.
My dad died when I was eighteen so pictures of him and our family are very precious to me. F2 and I had always taken lots of pictures, and I know my boys appreciate all the memories they bring since he died when Chad and Scott were 18 and 15. I will continue to take pictures for future memories for them and for me. They don’t even flinch any more when a camera comes out…very used to it:)

My dad’s parents lived just a block away from us
My mom with her mom and my dad’s mom in 1968
and 4 generations in 1946…yikes!


Earlier we talked about winter fun and having fun with your family. Here are some old photos showing examples.

cute, huh?
love these pics of my mom, dad, brother, and me


Don’t forget to take pictures of extended family also!

a few years apart, but still together
maybe embarrassing, but necessary;)

And when the family changes, more photos!

looks do change, don’t they?


Obviously, I’m a photo-nut!! I have photos in the computer, but I need them out where I can see them whenever I want, take my time with them, and enjoy the memories. How about you? do you take enough photographs of your family?

Happy Parenting!
D and C