Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sarah sings at Carnegie Hall

Sarah has taken voice lessons for a few years and this year her voice teacher recommended her as an applicant for the National High School Honors Choir. The application process is rigorous and involves submitting several voice recordings and a detailed application. If you are selected to be part of the choir then you get to sing with the choir in Carnegie Hall. CARNEGIE HALL!!! How amazing is that!? In New York!? 

So Sarah decided to submit her audition and she was thrilled when she found out that she was accepted into the National High School Honors Choir! Over 10,000 students across the nation apply so it was an honor for her make it.  
The hard work came after her acceptance because being part of the choir means that you have to pay for your trip to New York. To the tune of nearly $2,000. Yikes! That's a lot of money for a high school student (and for parents).  In the end, we decided that this was a good opportunity for Sarah to learn to pay her own way.  Sarah rose to the challenge and for three months she worked to earn and save money.  She created a Go Fund Me page, babysat, and held a benefit concert.  We are so grateful for the outpouring of support for Sarah.  She met her fundraising goal and I think earning her own way made the experience all the sweeter for her.

So Sarah flew to New York a few days ahead of us so she could practice with the choir and learn from Eph Ehly( a renowned choir director), and other clinicians.  She had an incredible experience.

We decided to take Martha and Emma on our trip to New York to see Sarah sing.  It was a whirlwind trip (less than 36 hours) and so worth the long drive.
Martha was thrilled beyond words to be in New York! We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel right near Broadway. 
The city is huge, beautiful, noisy, busy, and so full of life.
As soon as we arrived we got a map and started walking. We walked to Times Square and were awed by the shopping, the crowds, the bustle.
It was cold and snowy, but it didn't slow us down a bit.  David stood in line to get tickets for Phantom of the Opera while the girls and I explored the shops!
We went to the National Library! Amazing architecture!
We saw Phantom of the Opera! Incredible vocalists and sets!
Martha loved Phantom, loved Broadway, loved New York!

We walked to the Manhattan temple for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
We walked through Central Park and the beauty of new snow.

We ate a yummy breakfast at the famed SaraBeths.

We found LOVE!
And then we walked to Carngie Hall where Sarah was getting ready to perform.
The hall was incredible, historic, and the concert was phenomenal!

Best of all we got to hear our sweet Sarah sing her heart out! It was a trip we won't ever forget.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Toys for Tots

Every year our 4-H club has a Toys for Tots drive in November. We bring our horses, ride them through a neighborhood, and collect toys to donate to needy children.  As we ride the horses, a few drivers follow in cars and carry all of the toys.  It is a great way to help in our local community. But it is usually cold so we bundle up!
The cold discouraged a lot of club members from coming this year. We brought our three horses and another brave club member brought her horse too. So the four horses and four girls rode along for a few hours collecting toys.  The rest of us walked or drove in cars. I was happy to walk and feel the crisp air on my cheeks.
Thankfully, a neighborhood man was super kind and provided lunch and his warm garage half-way through. We were all glad for the warmth!
The horses were well-behaved and the girls felt good about their efforts to help disadvantaged families.  We will wrap the gifts at our annual 4-H Christmas party.
I'm glad my girls are learning to do things for other people even if you have to sacrifice some creature comforts (like being warm!) I can't help but think of the saying....."Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, as long as you ever can."

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Garey Lake and Pontiac Recreation Area

Horse camping is seriously the best thing ever.  I absolutely love it. We explored two new campgrounds and enjoyed both of them.  

The first one was Garey Lake Campground, part of the Michigan Shore to Shore trail. We were the only ones there for two nights.  Yay for solitude!  
 From the campground there are two trails for horse riding.  The first day we rode nine miles through beautiful wooded trails,

 alongside the roads, through the small town of Empire,
 to finally arrive at the lakeshore.  The horse were unsure about the water at first but

 in the end they loved it!

The second day we rode 18 miles from the Garey Lake Campground to the next campground, Mud Lake. The ride wasn't very scenic and Mud Lake didn't have any water for the horses because the lake was aptly named. It was mostly mud. :(
Despite the negatives, I enjoyed riding the miles with two of my favorite girls.
 The horses were happy to stop and graze after the long ride.

 When the tack comes off it is time to roll, roll, roll!

In the fall, we had an open weekend and we went to Pontiac Recreation area in Southern Michigan.  It was beautiful and once again we were the only ones in camp.
 We love that our horses are gentle and easy going as we go different places.
 Along the side of the trail we found a fairy ring and that was magical for us!

 And of course snuggling in the tent is the best on chilly fall nights.
 Finding Wooly Bear caterpillars made this little boy happy!

 Riding the trails made this girl happy! Thankfully the trails were well marked and had beautiful scenic vistas!
Did I already say that horse camping is the best thing ever?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hannah's Horse

I was talking to a friend the other day and mentioned that someday we'd like to get a smaller horse for Hannah and Adam to ride so they can join us on trail rides. I wasn't thinking that it would be anytime soon that we'd add another horse to our growing herd but my friend called me shortly thereafter and raved about a horse that she said would be perfect for our family. 
My horse loving heart couldn't resist the opportunity to just look. I told myself we were only going to look.  Just looking isn't a good strategy. As you can see from the photos below my resolve to just look didn't last very long. BUT before you judge me for my lack of self control, let me tell you about this little horse that Hannah now owns....
 Her name is Rose and she is a registered foundation quarter horse that is small, sweet, and in excellent health for her 19 years.  Her previous owners had shown her, done speed events with her, and trail riding. When they told us that they would give her to Hannah I was definitely interested.  Free horses aren't always a good idea but Rose has been terrific so far.
 She's blended in with our other horses, is very gentle with Hannah and loves attention.
 Rose has adapted to our goat and other farm animals. We've taken Rose on trails and she is super fun to ride. She has amazing energy for her age and easily keeps up with our gaited horses.
 Hannah loves riding her and can almost tack her up independently. Hannah is eager to care for her every day and we actually had Hannah pay some money for her so that Rose can be Hannah's very own horse.  Hannah loves her!
 They make a good team and I'm hoping that she will be a great friend for Hannah as she goes through her teen years.
At the end of the day, I'm glad that this opportunity came our way.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sweet Summer Memories

Summer flew by in a blur and there are so many things that I didn't capture on camera but that I will always treasure in my heart.  Here are some of the memories I was able to capture.

Raking hay and seeing the beautiful windrows neat and tidy.
Transporting round bales on our baby tractor.
Loving these two farm boys bringing in the hay.
We had umpteen baby kittens this summer and it was so wonderful to see them grow, play all over the barn, and then finally go to new homes.

Emma's dear friend Siska, came to stay with us all the way from Sweden! We really enjoyed having her visit and she loved the animals!

We took Siska to see Mackinaw Island and we had a great time riding bikes, sitting on the beach, and of course, eating fudge!
We savored time with our Sarah because before long she will be heading off to college.

Adam helped me care for the chickens and his turkey, Sven.
He climbed trees and 
was our resident superhero.

And no summer would be complete without bonfires!
Some cranes decided to make their home in our hay field and it was amazing to see them so close.
The girls all raised pigs for the fair and were so happy with the prices they got at the fair.  Who can complain about more college money in the bank?? Certainly not us!
Hannah showed her rabbit, Twix.
And Martha spent hours cleaning Nick so he would shiny clean for showmanship.

Adam had more superhero moments!
And cowboy moments too...
Hannah found a giant hot dog in Northern Michigan.
We celebrated another summer birthday with our sweet Martha.
And we went horse camping and rode our horses into the Great Lakes.  
Summer has been blissful for us!