Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Saturday, June 29, 2013


I saw this funny video on YouTube showing various dogs fighting with a citrus fruit and so I thought I'd see how my dog Gypsy, the one that EATS EVERYTHING, would react to a lemon.

YouTube Video "Dog vs. Citrus"

My Dog Gypsy

Gypsy didn't eat the lemon (even if she wanted to eat it I wouldn't let her - I'm sure it isn't good for dogs), she took one lick and what you see in the video was her reaction to it.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Starting with a random post about everything.

Well, in the last couple years I've been a complete failure when it comes to this blog.  I delete, undelete, delete, undelete, promise to post more regularly and then don't, promise again and fail once more. So...

Here I go again.

I've held back on making a lot of posts just because there has already been something similar on another blog or website somewhere but I'm no longer going to let that hold me back.  I was talking to someone recently about handmade laundry soap and she asked if I ever blogged about it and I said no because there are numerous blog posts about it already, lots of links to great laundry soap recipes on Pinterest also.  This individual tells me that she never goes on Pinterest and doesn't have time to follow a bunch of blogs but if I wrote something about it she'd check it out.  Hmmmm... I thought.  So maybe it doesn't hurt too much to blog about something that's already out in cyberspace??? With that in mind, I guess I'll just blog about whatever the heck I want and if no one reads it, oh well, someone may find it useful.

So... as for random whatever's that someone else has probably already blogged about here goes nothing:

Midwest Shepherd's Harvest Festival 2013


Sheep Shearing

 Yana Pretending to Spin

Spinning Demo

Maya & Yana petting the angora rabbits

Lots of raw fiber

Creative Activities

I purchased a bunch of stuff too but I'll share that in a later post :D

I have to toot my own horn here.  I knitted a washcloth! Yes, yes, you can stop the applause.  The washcloth was easy but since I'm a wee bit "special" (ahem... perfectionist) it only took me a month to make just one O_O

Making candles! Lots and lots of candles!  I'm up to 20 so far.

New Addition to the Family

Last but should have been first, our beautiful little dog.  She came to live with us this winter and my husband is so in love with her.  She's not your typical American looking chihuahua, my husband says she's a Mexican version :-) I think she looks like a baby seal.  Here's Gypsy:

My next post will be a bit more coherent. 

Friday, December 21, 2012


Happy Winter Solstice Everyone!

The Solstice marks the Mayan rebirth and according to American Indian prophesy we are in the time of the 7th Fire.  

We humans are at a crossroads.  We can choose to continue down the path humanity has been traveling for decades or find a new direction, one where our thoughts and feelings are no longer controlled by the media and/or politicians but instead guided by our inner wisdom that tells us the difference between right and wrong.  It is time to treat all sentient beings as equals, recognize their value in this world and fight for their protection.  

The choice is ours... we can walk into the new world the same people we were yesterday or we can be better.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012


I recently took my 16 year old to get her nose pierced.  The response to having actually allowed my teenage daughter to pierce any part of her face other than her ears is quite interesting.  I'm the cool mother to  my daughters friends and those working at the piercing shop but among other mothers whose teen daughters now want their noses pierced after seeing my daughter, I'm not so awesome.

I remember my own mother had rules about such things.  I wasn't allowed to pierce or tattoo anything, I wasn't even allowed to wax my eyebrows or dye my hair, but that's a whole other topic.  I got my first tattoo when I was 18 and managed to hide it from mom until I was 21.  I got my nose pierced when I was 26 and displayed it proudly (it took me that long to stop fearing the wrath of my mother).  I decided when my children came along that I'd be a little bit more open minded.  I would never sign for a tattoo but I think nose piercings are really cute (and luckily not permanent).

I also like ear piercings.  In my husbands culture babies get their ears pierced within 3 days of birth.  Since  midwives and OB/Gyn's aren't really accustomed to that practice I had my oldest child's ears pierced down in Mexico by a family friend when she was 6 weeks old.  Our second child had her ears pierced at 8 weeks old by our pediatrician.  When our last child came along I had decided I'd let her decide if and when she wanted her ears pierced.  Well, shortly after turning five she said she wanted earrings like her big sisters.  I made her wait until she received her vaccines and told her if she could take the pain of the vaccine then I'd let her get her ears pierced.  So, she took the three shots like a trooper and we got her ears pierced.  She did NOT take the ear pain experience like a trooper but she loves her earrings and made me promise she'd never have to take them out :)

As for my 16 year old...

Yesterday she says "if I'd known this piercing was so high maintenance I wouldn't have done it" (referring to the number of times she has to clean it every day).  I guess we'll see how long it lasts :D

Thursday, April 19, 2012


It is hard to believe that today is the fifth anniversary of my mothers death. I remember when my mom would count the years after her own parents passed and now here I am doing the same. After losing my sister, watching my mother die was the second hardest thing I have ever experienced in my life and can only hope nothing equally as painful ever comes my way again.

The death of a loved one is life altering in so many ways. I remember after my mothers third heart attack and struggle with breast cancer I'd try to imagine what life would be like without her. It was a defense mechanism in a way. If I prepared for the loss then maybe, just maybe, it wouldn't be quite so painful. Of course I was wrong. No one is ready to lose someone they are so attached to.

One of the biggest internal struggles I had after my mom died was trying to decide how to honor her life and mourn the loss. We have somewhat of an eccentric family (you may have noticed that already by some of my posts :). My mother was raised 7th Day Adventist but ran screaming from the church when she was 18 (not literally, just figuratively). By my own choice I've had lots of experience with Lutheranism, Catholicism, Judaism and Buddhism. Before my mother died she shared with me what she had settled on as her spiritual beliefs and they didn't involve religion. She wanted to be cremated and didn't want anyone coming to mourn her that wasn't a presence in her life when she died.

While sitting with a Hospice Chaplain it came to me. My mother believed in God but she didn't care for religion. She loved nature in all its forms (she could identify every tree, plant and wild berry by name), she raised her children to value all living things and she cherished all the childhood memories she had of her families experience with the Native Americans.

I decided I wanted someone from the Native American community to help me say goodbye to my mother, someone who understood how our family felt not only about my mother but about the earth, its inhabitants and the feeling of loss; but I had feared finding such a person wouldn't be easy. Of course, in traditional Michelle fashion, I marched over to Franklin Ave. in Minneapolis and started looking for "the" person. It should be of no surprise that I was met with a lot of skepticism. It isn't easy going into the Native American community asking someone to conduct a service for your dead mother and it certainly wasn't easy for the Native people to grasp such an idea. As usual though, everything worked itself out. I was very fortunate to find the person I was looking for in the form of Clyde Bellecourt.

Clyde is one of the original founders of AIM (American Indian Movement), a civil rights organizer and a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe here in Minnesota. It is ironic really that he turned out to be what I call my "savior" in the midst of everything I was going through at that time because I had read about Clyde and AIM many times over the years. Clyde, we had discovered, was a friend of my daughters God father. He graciously offered to do a "Wiping of Tears Ceremony" for our family and moms closest friends, all that he required in return was a can of tobacoo (a specific type) used to carry prayers and wishes of our family to the Creator and to cleanse us of any spiritual negativity. Clyde, his niece and great nephew performed the ceremony together.

Again, another odd coicidence, I chose the Minnesota River Valley as the location for the ceremony and it turned out that the Native Americans lived along the river valley prior to Euro-American settlers arriving. We love that particular area because my mother would take our children there for long walks and to teach them how to identify medicinal plants and wild berries. Did she know it's history? Probably.

During the ceremony it was the first time I really felt at peace with all that had occurred. Clydes niece had prepared a bag full of juniper for me to burn in the days after the ceremony to clear my heart and my home of any sadness. We concluded the ceremony with every individual present releasing a single monarch butterfly into the sky. It was a good ending to what had been my mothers life. When I was little my mother told my sister and I the story of how a Native American woman saved my great grandfathers eye sight when he was just a boy and then there we were with Clyde and his family, them helping us heal and move foreward.

I am eternally grateful for what Clyde and his family did for me and my family five years go. There isn't a day that goes by when I think of my mother that I don't think of Clyde, his niece and nephew too. It is the kindness of others that have helped me live with my mothers death to this day.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I spent my entire life dreaming about a life in the country. We finally found the ideal location for us in the north woods of Minnesota. Bears, wolves, moose, small town, friendly people, beautiful scenery. We couldn't ask for a better spot, or so it seemed.

Turns out all that driving north to house hunt and countless hours on the internet sifting through properties was in vain. Ya see, Ely has a little secret. Well, Minnesota has a secret. Home & land owners own their "surface" property but not the minerals underneath, which is all fine and dandy if you live in the twin cities like we do. There isn't a real chance in hell that miners will come through here looking for iron or taconite but drive a few hours north and you have a real problem. Why? Because Ely and the surrounding areas like Grand Marais, Isabella, etc... are prime spots for mining. Northern MN is known for its mining. In fact, Minnesota has a long mining history dating back to the 1800's and since nickel, copper and platinum have become hot commodities the mining companies want to move back in. Problem is, Ely is no longer a mining town. Ely is a tourist town. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, known for its pristine forests and abundant wildlife draw in countless tourists every year and Ely sits right at the edge of the BWCA.

So... back to the mining issue. Although the state of Minnesota owns the right to the minerals much of the land with valuable minerals beneath is privately owned and most of those land owners had no clue that the minerals didn't belong to them. This would be a non-issue if it weren't for miners sniffing in the area.

The DNR, mining supporters (whoever those crazy people are) and state law claim mineral exploration leases are going to create a boom in our slagging economy. (I'll skip the part where I'm tired of our government (local and beyond) claiming that all these political decisions like removing protections of our water, air and land are necessary to create jobs).

The law in Minnesota states: Companies that explore for minerals on private property are required to negotiate with the landowner, and put the property back to its original condition. But if they cannot agree on access, the company can legally condemn the land.

According to Rebecca Otto, our state auditor, none of the residents should worry. There is a very SLIM chance that valuable minerals would be found on their property.

Well, as far as my husband and I are concerned, and it seems the many residents up north feel the same, a slim chance is just one chance too many. Our governor has delayed the mining leases for six months to give the property owners time to appeal to our state legislature which the odds are not stacked in favor of the owners. So for now, we are holding off until something equally as awesome presents itself. *sigh.


UPDATE: I checked my deed and I own the mineral rights on my current property. People who live in the twin cities and the communities surrounding the twin cities either own their mineral rights or partially own. Seems this is solely a Northern Minnesota issue afterall. Is it time to country home hunt in Central or Southern MN?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


On July 10 my family and I took a trip to the Boundary Waters in Ely, MN. This was our 2nd time visiting the area. The first time was in February this year for a dog sledding trip and this time around it was for some canoeing. I've always wanted to (#1) canoe in the Boundary Waters and (#2) swim in one of the beautiful BWCA lakes but neither my husband or I could read a topography map very well, much less use a compass so... we got lucky. In February we learned that our guide Jason at Wintergreen Dogsledding just happened to own a guide and outfitting service by the name of ELY OUTFITTING COMPANY (You can read more about the company HERE and HERE). We really like Jason so we decided to give his company a try and we are really happy that we did.

Although Jason wasn't our guide for our time in the Boundary Waters, we did have someone who was equally as amazing, her name is Ellen Root. She was an awesome (Ely Outfitting Company) guide, lots of fun to be around, and was fantastic with our kids. Unfortunately our oldest daughter was away at camp but we had our 11 year old and 4 year old canoeing with us. Kate, the manager at Ely Outfitting Company, packed up everything we needed for our 4 days and 3 nights in the BWCA, which included all the food and equipment we would need. She dropped us off on July 12 and we canoed our way into the wild. The weather was fabulous, the scenery was magnificient, and the overall experience was pure bliss. Ellen cooked up 3 yummy meals for us each day, took us swimming and hiking, and taught us about the various local wildflowers and wildlife. The trip was definitely worth our while and we will certainly be back again. Thank you Jason, Kate & Ellen for making our time in the BWCA a very enjoyable experience!!

Here is a little photo "log" of our time in the BWCA:

Monday, February 28, 2011


When you make travel a family event you need to find the perfect place. One that not only provides entertainment but SAFETY. I've always been amused by dogsledding, just didn't have the nerve to try it. All I could think about is how cold those mushers must be. I like winter, but not to the point that I want to sacrifice warmth for entertainment. Plus, my only reference for dogsledding are the movies I've seen and actors are ALWAYS racing their dogs and usually getting hurt. So, in my mind, sled dogs ran really really fast and the mushers were freezing their butts off. Well, Wintergreen taught us differently.

I chose Wintergreen for several reasons:

1. They allowed our 3 year old (now 4) to participate (rare in the world of extreme sports)

2. The owner was experienced, therefore, I felt we were all safe (he's Paul Schurke from that world famous trip to the North Pole)

3. They promised me we'd stay warm (our guide made sure of this upon arrival by checking all of our clothing and making adjustments where necessary)

Of course, Wintergreen offers much much more, like amazing lodges to stay in, gourmet food from a fantastic chef and top notch dogsledding guides...

To start off, the trip goes pretty much according to the itinerary posted on the Wintergreen website so I won't go into too much detail about that here but I do want to share a bit about the dogs and our guide.

Paul Schurke owns Canadian Inuit Eskimo dogs. Although I read a little about them online, seeing them in person is quite the experience. They are very vocal, very affectionate, and very strong. I'm use to my 3 chihuahuas. You couldn't pay them a heap of dog bisquits to go outside or to get off the couch. The Eskimo dogs live for the cold and live for the run. The part that surprised me the most is how loving they are. Not one sign of aggression towards people at any moment, not while eating or sleeping did they ever seem bothered by us hanging around them. I was also impressed at how well kept their kennel is. Paul takes immaculate care of his dogs. There is a lot of love between him and them. It was entertaining when Paul would pop into the kennel because the excitement from his dogs is indescribable.

Our guide Jason was fantastic! I have to commend him on his stamina. He guided us on cross country ski's across lakes and through the woods for several hours each day, covering a total of 20 miles. He cooked us breakfast every morning, educated us on the local environment, and made us look forward to each and every day. We couldn't have asked for a better guide.

Now, for a few pictures. If you are at all interested in Dogsledding, I highly recommend Wintergreen. When National Geographic said "you are mushing with the best at Wintergreen"... they meant it!

The Home of Wintergreen Doggers:

Jason, our guide, getting Aiyana set up in the sled (see her big smile... she was so excited):

Maya getting to know the team:

BTW/Maya and Middy managed to memorize the names of each and every dog in the kennel. I can barely remember my kids names much less a few dozen dogs so I'll just call most of them "dogs" for this post :)

Of course, who doesn't love doggies wet kisses:

Dad found his twin (they are sharing the same expression):

Stopped for a moment as we were crossing the lake:

Our team (whose names I actually remember) Clara is in the back on the left, to her right is bullet. In the front on right is Snarf and on the left is Patches:

Wolf Poop Discovery (our guide Jason explained how to identify wolf poop. This one contains hair and bone):

Having lunch outside by a camp fire. We settled in the center of the woods off the trail. Our guide Jason set this up for us. The kids had pizza and lots of other goodies. It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine.

Dogs running on trail:

Middy removing the dogs harness. Middy is making the "awwwww" face because her dog is lifting it's paw to help her remove the harness.

The end of the evening, after the dogs were snug in their kennel and well fed, we headed back to the lodge:

Our goodbye photo. While we were at Wintergreen we watched a documentary of Paul Schurke and Wil Steger's trip to the North Pole. Although I told Middy that Paul had made the trek north the video turned him into a superstar :) Middy was itching to have her picture taken with him so she could take it to school and tell everyone about Paul and his dogs.

Left to right: Aiyana, Jason (our Guide), Maya, Paul (Wintergreen Owner) and Middy.

and... to close. No, the dogs weren't running at top speed trying to flip me off at every turn, instead they maintained a good medium pace and we loved every minute of it. No, we weren't cold. The only part of my body that felt a little chilly was my nose and that was only when we crossed the lake which had no tree protection. That chill was temporary thanks to my face mask :) No, my kids weren't in any danger. The dogs respond to command very well and the sled has a breaking system that always works. No bumps, no bruises, no OMG moments. It was just perfect!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Some of the flowers I planted. This is butterfly weed. I thought it was so pretty growing around the lake, I decided to plant some in the yard.

Another pretty flower but I have no idea what it is. I'm too lazy to look at the hang tag out in the garden. It is a perennial and it spreads, that is all I know right now LOL! (Just learned that this is a: obedience plant, Physostegia virginiana. Thank you Cindy Naas Stapleton for recognizing the flower and giving it a name.)

Our broccoli is coming along nicely. Not sure what ate the leaves and maybe a more experienced gardner can enlighten me as to whether whatever ate the leaves are a good or bad thing??? (just learned that this is a cabbage loper (white butterfly that lays larva that eat the leaves) thank you Priscilla Powers Bue for the education! I now need to get out there and look for larva before they do anymore damage)

Ok, the only problem I have so far with gardening is not knowing when to harvest things. Is this lettuce ready to be harvested?

My lemon balm is growing great. Just need to have that tree removed that is sticking out behind it so I can make room for more.

I'm VERRRRRY happy with my rasberry bush. Next year I will plant several more since this year was such a success.

Here is a little bit of our fourth celebration.


Yana terrified on the baby slide.

Maya and Yana on the merry-go-round.

Middy's beautiful face.

Last but never the least, me and my fran in the garden.