Michigan State University Vet-A-Visit

On Saturday, April 14, 2012, I took my 3 oldest (age 12, 9, and 7), and the baby, to Michigan State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine Open House called Vet-A-Visit. They had several demonstrations and activities for the kids to participate in. They even had two auditoriums where there were lectures, videos, faculty and student panels.

First we saw the Equine Treadmill Demonstration. The instructor spoke about why they use the treadmill. They use it mainly to check for airway problems on racehorses. Some of their problems can’t be detected until they are running. She showed the scope they use that has a sophisticated camera on the end of it. Then they brought out their horse “Reebok.” He loved being on the treadmill. They said he often paws at it to try to get it going. He went from a slow walk to a full blown run. The kids (and parents) thought that was really neat.

Next, we went 45 minutes early and waited for the Dressage Performance in their high-tech Equine Arena. We heard it would fill up fast, and it did. They had to turn people away 10 minutes before the show time. We learned that “Dressage”(pronounced like a French word…because it is the French word for ‘training’) doesn’t mean “dressing up your horse” but rather an Olympic sport that is almost like “dancing with your horse.” It is teaching your horse to follow subtle cues that you give them such as pressure from your feet on one side or the other or both. The horse that came out gave examples of different trots and even did a choreographed dance to music. I thought that was really cool. When they were done, the horse gave a bow, the rider dismounted and began walking away leading the horse. She walked with high-knees, then high straight-legs and the horse copied her. That got everybody laughing and wishing to see more.

While we were in the arena I did see 2 other “big” families attending, one with 9 kids, and one with 7. Although the seating was limited at all the demonstrations this was definitely a “big family” friendly event overall.

We ventured into another building and found mock surgeries where the kids could remove a tumor (an easter egg). The students who did this were very informative. They took their time with each kid to explain the surgery process. The kids got to cut open the site, reach in to find the tumor among water balloons and spaghetti noodles, then open the tumor to find if it was cancerous or not. Inside the “tumor” was a stretchy bracelet and a piece of candy. Then they sewed their patient back up and sent the tumor to pathology. There was another surgery room where they had dogs that the kids could pet and listen to their heartbeat with a stethoscope. There were microscopes they could look in that had a flea, ear mites, heartworm, and other “bad guys.”

Then we took a break for lunch in their cafeteria. I thought their prices were a bit high, but I could have brought our own lunch(…note to self for next year). Luckily, I saved money on drinks. Since I brought the stroller, I just filled the bottom with water bottles and I brought Crystalight Lemonade singles for the kids.

After lunch, we got in line to milk the cow. It was a really long wait for such a short experience. But the kids can at least say they have milked a cow. Then we went to the “petting zoo” where they got to see many different farm animals, stick their hand in a “live” cows stomach, and check the heartbeat of a llama.

Finally, we saw Zeke the Wonder Dog at the soccer field. He and his two buddies were very talented at Frisbee. I was a little disappointed though because they had a complete obstacle course set up and they didn’t use it as part of their demonstration. On our way out, we stopped at the reptile and wild animal exhibit where the boys wanted to stay to play with the snakes and lizards.

It was a great experience for all of us. There was a lot of walking, but I would definitely go back again next year. There were only a few activities that charged a fee $2 to $5 (i.e. the surgery), but most of the activities were free. Parking was also free and very close. There were actually too many displays and activities to see in one day. Yet, I think that was a good thing because it kept the crowds spread out. The kids were not bored and they all want to go to MSU now. Good job Spartan Vets!

New Van

We finally had to move up to a 12 passenger van. I love the extra room the kids have, but I’m most excited about the hitch it has! Now we can load up the bike rack and go for a day trip a little farther from home. I want to find some good paved areas for biking here in Michigan. Two places I plan on going to are 1) Celery Flats in Kalamazoo, and 2) Kensington Park in Brighton. If you know any good places to bike as a family in Michigan or even another state I’d love to hear about them.

Skiing in Gaylord

Today it was in the upper 70′s and people in town are wearing shorts, biking, running, and walking. The local ice cream parlor even opened up a month early. Yet, only last Saturday it was in the mid twenties and we were skiing in Gaylord, Michigan.

We arrived last Thursday night. We planned to explore the area on Friday and ski on Saturday. Friday morning we woke to blizzard-like conditions that lasted until the early afternoon. So glad we did our driving the night before! The kids were happy for the bad weather since that meant they got to go swimming. When the blowing snow stopped we bundled everyone up to go visit the elk. Gaylord maintains an elk herd on 100+ acres right in town. The kids loved it, and the elk loved the carrots we brought.Elk at Gaylord Elk Park

On Saturday we skiied at Treetops Resort. I took my three oldest skiing while the three little ones stayed in the hotel with Grandpa. The morning was spent on the bunny hill. Mimi (Grandma) helped with my oldest daughter (who decided skiing wasn’t much fun) while helped the boys.

It was such a great day for skiing. It was actually the last day of their season. It brought back a lot of memories from my days on the high school ski team. I remembered I had actually won a medal at Treetops. They have great hills. My boys loved the “Money Pit” trail. It took my breath away the first time I followed them down it. I thought for sure I was going to wipe out, but I didn’t. There was a good jump I found and went over a a few times. In the afternoon, it warmed up enough to even take our coats off for a while. (For anyone planning to visit Treetops, I highly recommend arriving in the daytime since the roads around it are very curvy and steep.)

On Sunday, we packed up and headed home. We stopped at the Otsego Lake State Park to see if it looked like a good place to go camping… it did, very spacious, big lake. Then, we stopped in Sterling, Michigan to look at some spots to go tubing or kayaking in the summer.

How do you do…

People ask me all the time…”How do you do it?” Meaning how do I take care of all the needs of 6 kids, a husband,  3 dogs, cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc.  My answer used to be “I don’t know” but I got to thinking  that it wasn’t a very intelligent answer.  I don’t really have a good abbreviated answer for that question.  So, this blog is my attempt to answer that question in full for those who are curious as to how to manage a large family. My short answer to the question is simply “I don’t.” It is the quickest, most truthful way to answer because I cannot do everything by myself.

Having a large family requires a lot of cooperation, organization,  and help. I would love to be perfectly organized like “Kate” and “Mrs. Duggar” appear to be, but I’m not. I answer “I don’t” because  I feel like everyday there is something on my list of things to do that doesn’t get done. I’ve given myself permission to not be perfect. I strive for it throughout my day but I know it is not going to be attained when I have housework, laundry, 1 child to homeschool (2 go to public school),  2 toddlers and an infant to care for. So, there are many days that I go to bed with a counter full of dishes to wash, coats and shoes scattered at the doorway, toys left here and there, and of course laundry to be done.