Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wild Animal Park - Week of July 22nd

There are some days when you feel like a kid again, especially when you experience something through a child's eyes.  And then, there are some truly unique days when you discover something you weren't even aware of and as an added bonus, share it with your child.

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park has been in existence for three years and is less than 20 minutes from our home.  The Park is situated on 80 acres of land and contains an exotic collection of animals and reptiles.

When Jane, Cam, Oma and Katherine went to visit Boulder Ridge, they weren't sure what to expect.

After walking through the gift shop area, they entered into a reptile house featuring iguanas, spiders, geckos and other creatures.  From there, you step into the outside area where at first glance, huge tortoises and gators appear to be sunbathing.
In addition to an aviary you can walk through, one of our favorite stops was the bunny pen.  With trained park attendants nearby, you're able to hold and snuggle the beautiful soft creatures.

The sanctuary outside contains a giraffe arena as well as a play area for kids in a giant sandbox.  One of the most creative attractions is a safari ride- a modified school bus painted with zebra stripes providing a fifteen minute ride around a natural habitat area including emu, ostriches, zebras and others.  We recommend paying a visit to Boulder Ridge (

In the meantime, it's always fun to take a ride on the wild side with the penny horse at Meijer!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Water Worlds - Week of July 15th

Even though every day should be a beach day in the summer, it isn't always possible to make that happen...
Thanks to our awesome friends, the Scannells, Cameron can now enjoy the water right on his back deck!

The kiddie pool has come a long way from the circular round option that used to be the only choice.
Cam's friend, Emma, was convinced that the pool itself was going to be shaped like a "kitty" but was alright with the product that was set up.  It's actually deep enough to go under the water so Emma played "fish" with Cam and kept grabbing his feet.

Chris and Jane also think this may double as a cheap hot tub option during the summer months!

Jane, Cam & Katie VB
Every July or August, the family travels to Stony Lake, just north of our cottage, to visit longtime friends considered family at their cottage on the beautiful warm lake waters of Stony.  It's always a memorable time and special visit when Jane sees the kids she used to nanny for in the past summers.  Now they're all grown up, and some have kids of their own.

The day was filled with swimming, boat rides and playing in the sand. Cam received some early birthday gifts which he was very excited about!

Anthony, Cam & Alyssa dining lakeside
One of the water toys at Stony worked out perfectly for Cam while Chris pretended to be an underwater attack fish that kept getting his feet.  Anthony enjoyed this game too and it kept the boys occupied for quite some time.

The boat ride around Stony Lake is a family favorite.  We dined on an assortment of toasted pb&j sandwiches and grilled chicken.  Fresh fruit seems to taste better on the open water.  We had fun watching some expert water skiers and even spied a beautiful family of swans.  Visits like these feel like 5 minutes instead of 5 hours, but it makes the time together even more precious.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Birthday Celebrations for Chris - Week of July 8th

LifeHacker Challenge: Honorable Mention Award!
It's so easy to celebrate a man who is an amazing Dad to Cam and the best husband to Jane!

Chris has never been one to brag about himself, so Cameron decided his blog was the best place to do it! 
Cam's Dad entered the "CamMobile" invention into a contest (unbeknownst to his son and wife) online to create something out of PVC.  Since he had already designed and built the famous mobile, it was easy to include it as an entry.
Although he didn't win, he did make the Honorable Mention category and it was fun to read the comments of others indicating he definitely should've won top honors!  Read the story here...

Playing "Pong"- check out that score!
Sometimes it's fun to find birthday presents everyone can use!  This year, Chris' special day turned into a celebration week... on his actual birthday, Cam assisted with opening the first present, a "Man Crate."  The Man Crate came wrapped in duct tape and then Chris and Cam used a crowbar to open it.  Inside was a Retro Gamer Kit- included was an old school Atari joystick pre-loaded with 10 games...Pong, Centipede, Missile Command...the list goes on.  Additionally, the crate was packed with lots of candy- cracker jack, oreos, rice krispie treat, nutter butter, etc.  Cam's Dad also received a World's Greatest Dad pillow (because he is!) that will nicely hold a pop can and remote while on the couch.

After a quick preview of Atari, the family headed over to see cousins Coco and Libby.  The girls cooked a most delicious birthday dinner for Chris serving up grilled steak, chicken and a fabulous pasta dish as well as salad.  Coco made a "Dutchman" (combo of German/Dutch Chocolate) cake with German chocolate cake mix and whipped chocolate frosting with melted peanut butter chips on top- yummy!  She even had Cam's favorite ice cream dessert- mini drumsticks!

Opa, Cam & Oma
On Saturday, Chris, Cam and Jane drove north to the cottage where Chris received a few more birthday surprises- a new swimsuit and life jacket from Oma and Opa and an inflatable kayak from Jane & Cam!
The kayak is perfect for Lake Michigan and super comfortable since it's inflated.
Cam's grandparents took a turn as well and with the calm water, albeit a bit chilly, it was the perfect chance to get out on the water and enjoy the ride.

The new water craft was in use the whole day, with Cameron taking many rides.  He helped Jane paddle quite a bit, and it was quite relaxing just to float along in the Lake Michigan water.
Family cottage is just to the left of the kayak front bow!
On weekends like these, it's tough to leave the big lake and return to the city, so we're thankful another weekend is around the corner.  A huge thanks to Oma for the delicious strawberry cheesecake, Coco and Libby, JJ & Jeffrey for their delicious dinners and Oma and Opa for meals and extra help.

A big Happy Birthday to one who does so much for us all- we love you Chris/Dad!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Special Visit, First Parade, Cousin Wedding - Week of July 1st

Ali, Leslie, Cam & Erin
“How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live 'em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give 'em.”
~Shel Silverstein

A dear friend of Jane's (from the 4th grade on!) drove to Michigan from North Carolina with her two lovely daughters to spend a few days at the Weatherford home. 
The girls had a great visit making a stop at the Farmer's Market, eating meals outside, and spending playtime with Cameron.   Cam showed off his bike-riding skills outside and took them to one of his favorite dining establishments for milkshakes, Culver's.

For the first year ever, Chris, Jane and Cameron were actually in Cascade for the 4th of July parade, which takes place within walking distance of their home.  The family is normally at the cottage, but with Cam's recovery in week two from the tonsil/adenoidectomy, the
option to stay put seemed best.

With a front row seat, the Independence Day parade was a bit louder than we anticipated, but after getting over the initial noise level, Cameron settled in.  He especially liked the marching band with the drumline.  After the parade, a free carnival was available to the kids.  The fire hose sprinkler and petting zoo were Cam's favorites.  He loved the soft sheep and the very pet-able bunnies.

Festivities continued through the weekend for the family with a wedding for cousin Annie.  Both Chris and Jane were in the wedding and Cameron did an awesome job staying completely quiet (in a very warm church) throughout the ceremony.
However, while both of Cam's parents were occupied with wedding duties, there was a failure to take pictures with everyone dressed up.  The reception took place at the corral by the cottage so the day after, we snapped a few photos.
Such a fun weekend and we wish cousin Annie and Clarence a very happy life together!