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Wii U hooks up to the TV

The kids and I home due to weather related school closings. I know that on days like this that I have to watch them like a hawk. If boredom sets in we could end up with a completely trashed house. It was this situation that led me to investigate a suddenly quiet living room. Instead of problems I found my kids were crowded around the gamepad watching something via Netflix. It looked ridiculously uncomfortable so I suggested they just turn on the TV so they can both watch easier. Now, they had been playing with just the gamepad a lot lately. I operated under the assumption that my kids were trying to be polite or save electricity. It seems they thought the Wii U was the worlds largest Gameboy. My son actually said he forgot that the Wii U works on the TV.

Breyers and Edys no longer make ice cream

Breyers and Edys no longer make ice cream. It is now a "frozen dairy desert". What does this mean for you? It means it no longer tastes like ice cream nor has any sort of ice cream mouth feel. We had some at my daughter's birthday party recently. It was so bad that over half the ice cream was thrown away. (Remember when ice cream came in half gallons?) This is apparently enough of a thing that Breyers had to put something on their about page. I hope someone figures out that this kind of thing is really bad for business over the long term.

If you going to buy ice cream, please do us all a favor and look for the words ice cream. I am willing to bet your local grocery store has some in the store brand line even. Frozen Dairy desert is just a bunch of cheap sugar and a number of things that I had to look up.

At least they'll have a story to tell

There is really no way to say it. We're the worst parents ever. We have officially crossed the line from ordinary failure to the truly terrible. What is it that we could do that was so horrid? We opened Christmas presents in the evening.... of Christmas Day. I weep just thinking about it. How could we reach such a low point?

Well, my wife had to work. I'd like to say there was something more to it but that is really it. She had to work and no one in this family outside of myself was willing to get up at 6am to open presents. I suppose we could have opened them without her but I am not sure we despise mommy enough for that.

My poor daughter suffered most of all. If you hear her tell it the progress of time that day slowed to a crawl that would impress even the torpid of Sloths. (Yes, I managed to work torpid into a sentence. I am going to consider that a victory of some sort or another. ) If she didn't ask every half hour for the entire day than I would be surprised.

My son was a bit more tolerant. I suspect he asked when mommy was going to be home no more than a dozen times or so. A relative trifle compared to the despondent form that was my daughter.

In the end everyone enjoyed opening presents and the related a great deal. Hopefully, that enjoyment will be enough to keep child services at bay.

Vacation in Petoskey

We stopped at Bob Evans for breakfast. I have to admit that it is one of my favorite places to eat. I normally prefer to avoid any sort of chain restaurant as a matter of course. However, Bob Evans is an exception. Their breakfast is great of course and that is what most people think of about the place. However, their other food is just as good. Melissa regularly gets the Wildfire Chicken Salad. I got the pot roast sandwich.

Paris, Michigan has a stone indian and small Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, it was on the grounds of an old fish hatchery that had been converted to a campground. This meant it was closed for the season. We drove through Kalkaska and saw the trout memorial and drove past the shoe tree. The trout memorial was kind of cool. The shoe tree was a tree with shoes in it, so not worth a side trip by itself. One place worth the side trip was the concrete statuary place. It included a mix of standard statuary and much larger life size objects, most of which were painted.

The Marian Center in Joy Valley was cool. We also stopped at the Cross in the Woods in Indian River. Either place is worth the stop but since they are close together you might as well do both.

The hotel was pretty basic. However, it had the standards, Wifi, breakfast, surge strip on bed stand. I was entertained by the fancy "clean remote". Breakfast was Jimmy Deans breakfast sandwiches. I am not sure if that is better or worse than the standard cereal and waffle bar. The downside was the Pool and hot tub. They desperately needed to be cleaned. Vacuum the sand off the bottom at least, but the chlorine was burning my eyes. It should not take that much chlorine.

We had dinner at the Grand Traverse Pie Company. Melissa had the chicken salad and and I had the french dip. Ironically, we did not have pie. The portions were large enough that we just did not have room. I understand that people often solve this by taking food home. However, we were on vacation and that was not really an option. I am sure large portions make it easier to raise prices but you lose out on selling me desert. Hopefully, we will get another chance so we can mark it off the list of places to try. The food was good though.

The next day was hitting a bunch of shops. First, was Charlevoix and the Apple Festival. They had a large number of artists between the regular shops and the Apple Festival booths. I do not like most of the art these places offer but I do enjoy looking. I did find one shop that had stuff I really liked. Unfortunately it was well out of my price range. The common price range was $1,000 to $3,000. One item though was $14,000.

One thing we got was free light bulbs. The local power company was giving them away. I almost felt bad that they wouldn't benefit at all. However, they didn't care so why should I?

We drove to Petoskey next. They had some art studios but it was much more,clothing and home decor. It also felt like there were three or four book stores which I thought was cool. We had lunch at a place called Papa Leo's. They had great stuffed mushrooms and their meatball grinder was great. One thing more restaurants need to do was slice he meatballs. Papa Leo's did it and it made the grinder much easier to eat and far less messy. Another thing about restaurants, why do so many people sit and eat in silence? Thirdly aimed at breweries. Sell food and put the menu on your web site. It makes justifying a trip easier for people like us. Have a cider or some other non beer on your menu. It makes it far easier to justify a trip when you are with people who won't or can't drink beer. Cider is gluten free and people who don't drink beer get something to try. I'd also suggest a perry. It would give you something even more unique to have on your menu. Beards Brewery had none of these things listed on their website or on the door menu outside so we didn't go there.

Harbor Springs was third. It was mix of art, small shops and businesses for locals. The highlight for me was the presence of an IGA, although we did not go into it, and a full service gas station. There was no sign the gas was just twelve cents gallon more than in Petoskey. I had initially chalked it up to being the only gas station for twenty miles. There was a sign warning you but it was not until a guy came out looking at me like I was an idiot did I realize.

Later, we watched the sunset over the bay and walked along the shore. It is not something we normally do but it was a lot of fun. We finished the evening with dinner at Petoskey Brewing. The fact that they had a menu was good since their website implied little food. They need to fix their website. However, the building itself was pretty cool. They had built it into an old brick brewery.

Day three was the Tunnel of Trees. It was a nice drive with a places to stop along the way. However, things got a little more interesting when we realized Mackinaw City wasn't very far away. We took the back way and stopped at a small farm market and enjoyed more scenery. The highlight was in a little town called Bliss. This place appeared to consist of a small fire department building, an old school house converted to community space and an old general store. This general store was great. They had a single gas pump out front with a big Vernors sign hanging from the building. Did I mention he place was tiny? It looked like someone converted their house's first floor front to a store. It didn't matter though, they had a variety of convenience store, hardware store and other items with groceries behind the counter on shelves.

Mackinaw City, however, was not nearly so exciting. We skipped the fort and toured the lighthouse. We enjoyed the lighthouse and the park portion of the city was nice. However, the downtown area was a bit of a disappointment. I haven't seen this many t-shirt places in one spot since we went to the Smoky Mountains. The tourist trap ran thick and we would have been far better off if we had checked out what the fort had to offer. The highlight was a place called Enchanted Knights. However, that is not exactly the reason we went north. Another disappointment was the pastie place we found, Mackinaw Bakery & Tea Company. They offered them both hot and frozen. However, that wasn't much of a distinction since it turned out their hot pasties were frozen ones that were than microwaved while we waited. The flavor was disappointing as well. I haven't had a huge number of pasties but this place wasn't as good as the others I have had.


We made an impromptu run to Frankenmuth for cranberry relish. Well, maybe there was other stuff... Once I got the relish I tuned everything else out.

South Haven

We spent the day in South Haven for Father's day. We used to go a lot more when we lived closer. I cannot say we do anything exciting most of the time. However, we do get a chance to eat at Clementines. The fried mushrooms are good enough that sometimes they are worth the trip by themselves. The shops can be pretty fun as well. Especially the unique places like The Blueberry Store. We then then just walked walked the boardwalk. However, this time was a bit a different. The Harbor Fest was on and we had a chance to watch the dragon boat races.

It wouldn't be fun...

If someone doesn't end up in the Emergency Room or Jail than it just was not a good time. In this case, it was Samantha in the Emergency Room. It was not too serious but she had a cut under her eye that required some attending too. No stitches just Steri-Strips to hold the skin together so it heals decent. We'll need to take good care of it to avoid a scar but she'll be fine in the end. Now hopefully she'll be more careful than horsing around with her friends. :-)

The Saturn as arrived

I'm now back to driving a discontinued Make of car. It almost feels a bit more comfortable after driving the Oldsmobile Intrigue for so many years. The pickup was uneventful and full of paperwork. I mention that because the kids really were great and able to handle themselves essentially unsupervised while we went through the paperwork. It seems like a decent enough car although the controls are a bit whacked out. I can only assume that someone was doing some experimenting. It works though, the one downside I've found is that it appears there is no place to plug an iPod. It isn't something I have had so it is no big deal just a bit odd.

Yet another new car

After a weekend of discussion we've got a replacement car for me. It is essentially a compromise. Melissa and a few other people wanted us to get a new car. Unfortunately, it just seemed to me to be a poor use of money given the difference in cost been a used and a new is still noticeable. The lousy economy and the cash for clunkers program has really jerked the used car market around so it isn't as much as it used to be.

However, even the 2008 models can be found with decent price/mileage. In our case we ended up with a Saturn Astra hatchback from the LMCU Auto Center. The car itself is pretty basic, black outside and in with no special features. 35,000 miles and basically nothing listed in the car fax report. The car is smaller than the stuff I have been driving but as long as Melissa keeps a larger car then we can just make mine a commuter thing. The only disappointing thing is that the car itself is still only gets average mileage, 24 city and 30 highway. I take that back. The color is all wrong. The last two cars I have driven were dark green. GM doesn't even offer green as a color anymore. That is the truly tragic part. :-(

A lousy week

We went from a dead lawn mower to a car with a $3,000 repair bill. Given the fact that the car is a 2002 model, it did not seem worth fixing so it is time to buy a new car. Again. Joy.

On the plus side my wife indulged me and bought the bulk size can of Chef Boyardee ravioli and tater tots. We split the joy across multiple meals and I still have left overs for tomorrow. All in all not the worst week after all. :-)

Sammy's Birthday

We had family out for Samantha's birthday. It was pretty basic with us, both sets of grandparents out and my brother Doug. It started out with ice cream etc over at Melissa's parents. We were then supposed to go bowling. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. We did not call ahead and both places we tried were booked. I cannot say that was a shining moment. Lesson learned, call ahead and reserve a spot no matter what.

Family Dance

Wyoming Public Schools had a family dance that we went to and I have to say that it was very entertaining. The kids are young enough that they are not so worried about what people thing. Samantha took to it immediately and was dancing up a storm. Henry was a little more hesitant but once he settled down he was his usual self. Unfortunately, the adults are a little more boring. Melissa was one of the few adults out there but she had a blast.

Tigers game

We went to see the Tiger's play yesterday. We ended up borrowing a van so that all six of us could go in one vehicle. The game itself was a rout which puts a damper on things no matter what side that you are on. Plus, it rained a lot which brought things down further. However, they were able to get the game in and Brandon Inge had a good game so that was something. Plus, it was fun to go to a game as a group instead of just a couple of us.

Computer Club alumni dinner

The Computer Club of Western Michigan University held an alumni dinner. Matt and I drove down together and got a chance to see some old friends from college. It had been a while since I had been able to do anything like this so it was fun to get out.

Henry rode a two wheeler

Henry finally road a two-wheeler unassisted. The funny part is that Melissa and I could find no way to motivate him. He would try a few times and than declare he couldn't do it. I have never understood why he gives up so easily on things. What did it take to motivate him? The blonde girl next door. :-) It seems when she got it in her head to teach him to ride a two-wheeler he was all kinds of motivated. He's got plenty of practicing to do but it looks like family bike rides are finally on the horizon. I note this so that in five or ten years I can tease him about it mercilessly. :-)