Great Lakes Adventure part 1: Lake Michigan

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

Wow, that was an amazing trip. We hit all 5 Great Lakes in 10 days, swimming in every one of them. I took probably a thousand pictures, but I’m going to break my blog posts up into 5 posts: one for each lake.

Today, let’s talk about our time at our first stop: Lake Michigan! We also visited Mackinac Island during our stay at Lake Michigan. (Yes, I am aware that it’s actually in Lake Huron. But we saw it while we were at Michigan, so I’m lumping it in now. Lake Huron is later!)

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

We stayed at Wilderness State Park, an amazing campground RIGHT on the beach!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

View of the campsites from the beach — just steps away!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

The kids ran off and played in the woods!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

I loved that I could let them run free, exploring and just being kids!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

Lake Michigan!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

Playing in the water!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

The beaches were soft and beautiful

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

The water was SO clear!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

SO excited for our first beach day!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

Cooking our dinner over the fire!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

Our first of many campfire dinners around the picnic table!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

Gorgeous sunset over the lake!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

And sunrise was just as breathtaking!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

Day 2 we went to Mackinac Island, a quaint little island with no cars. People travel around on foot, by bicycle, or horse & buggy.

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

While on Mackinac Island, we visited the Butterfly House, an awesome little place with thousands of butterflies frolicking around. It was like being in a cloud of them!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

The butterflies were everywhere!

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

We climbed about a million stairs to the top of Arch Rock…

Our Cozy Den's Great Lakes Adventure! ~ All 5 Great Lakes in 10 Days!!

And took a super fun bike ride around the island!

Lots of swimming & hiking at this lake! I think Lake Michigan wins the award for SOFTEST SAND!

Stay tuned for more about the rest of our Great Lakes Adventure!

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s magnificent Fallingwater

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

I’ve been dreaming of seeing Fallingwater since I was a little girl. I was probably 6 or 7 when I started showing my dad pictures, and begging him to take me. I’ve always had a love of architecture. Some of my favorite features of architecture are balconies, natural light, and the use of stone. I’ve also always loved forests and water. When I was a kid, there was this place I would always go to be alone, that was a huge rock in the middle of a creek in the middle of a forest. I would sit out there and read. Sometimes my brother would try to come bug me, but for a long time he couldn’t get on MY rock, because his legs weren’t long enough to jump to it like I could. Anyways, Fallingwater always seemed to be the culmination of all my favorite things: forest, water, rock, light…

My sweet husband always knew that seeing it was a dream of mine. So when we celebrated our 10th anniversary earlier this year, he surprised me with a trip — saying that he had arranged a babysitter, and we were going to get away for a weekend to go see Fallingwater. Of course, I was elated! We splurged a bit and sprung for the in-depth tour, which is 2 hours instead of 45 minutes. Also, you can’t take pictures on the regular tour, and I knew I wanted to do that!

Here are photos from our visit!

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

Steps from the living room lead right down into the water.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

The house has been designed to bend WITH nature, not force nature to bend around it.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

View from the kitchen onto the balconies and waterfall.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

The driveway separating the main house and the guest house. The roof above it is a hallway connecting the two.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

The living room: breathtaking stone floors, low seating all around, and windows on 3 sides. This room sits directly above the waterfall.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

The stone at the base of the fireplace is the original bedrock on the site. Wright used it as part of the flooring, instead of having it hammered away.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

In the living room — where the stairs lead to the water. This is what it looks like closed.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

And when it’s open — the sounds of rushing water drift up, along with cool breezes.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

Possibly the best desk ever — I WANT ONE for homeschooling!

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

One of the many balconies. Every bedroom has its own balcony sanctuary.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

Looking from one balcony to another.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

A curved walkway leading up to the guest house, which sits up the hill a bit, at the highest point of the house.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

The guest house also contains the pool, which has no chemicals. Instead, it is fed by a natural spring, which pours in at the corner, and pours out over the far edge.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

A funny cartoon, hanging in the office of one of the caretakers.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

View of the house from across the river.

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

The most famous viewpoint to see the house — aptly called on all the signs “View”. You can see the living room, several balconies, and the grand fireplace (which has hearths in at least 3 rooms, maybe 4, I can’t remember for sure).

Frank Lloyd Wright's magnificent Fallingwater ~ Our Cozy Den

A little girl’s dream came true!

Fallingwater is located in Pennsylvania, about an hour south of Pittsburgh. See the official Fallingwater site for tickets and tour information.

Mansfield, Ohio

Ohio Day Trips: Mansfield ~ Our Cozy Den

We love doing Field Trip Fridays in our homeschool! I’m going to share with you about one of our recent trips – to Mansfield, Ohio!

First stop:

The Mansfield Fire Museum

There were a lot of things I loved about this place. First of all, it was FREE. They even gave my kids some free fire hats as souvenirs! There were a lot of things to do and see: real fire trucks, equipment, photos, costumes, and more. There were a lot of don’t-touch displays, but some hands-on stuff for the kids as well. Click here for their website with address, hours, etc.

We loved all of the fire trucks from different eras.

We loved all of the fire trucks from different eras.

Finn, of course, was going berserk over them!

Finn, of course, was going berserk over them!

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We studied the history of fire fighting, and looked at the equipment used over the years.

We studied the history of fire fighting, and looked at the equipment used over the years.

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The kids got to play dress-up in firefighter uniforms.

The kids got to play dress-up in firefighter uniforms.

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There was a fun little model house inside the museum, where you could practice fire safety and escape procedures.

There was a fun little model house inside the museum, where you could practice fire safety and escape procedures.

There was also a miniature town from the old days, with a firehouse from back when they used horses instead of trucks!

There was also a miniature town from the old days, with a firehouse from back when they used horses instead of trucks!

Sophie said "I'm going to marry him!" *shaking my head*

Sophie said “I’m going to marry him!” *shaking my head*

 

The cute little "old town".

The cute little “old town”.

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Stop 2:

Richland Carrousel Park

This carousel was awesome! It’s indoors, so you could visit rain or shine. The cost was reasonable — 6 tickets for $5. (See their website for full pricing info and hours.) The kids had a blast jumping on and choosing their rides. I liked that they had several seating options: many different kinds of animals, some that go up and down and some that don’t, and sleigh bench seats.

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Connor was SO excited to see a hippocampus! He just finished reading the Percy Jackson series, so this made his day.

Connor was SO excited to see a hippocampus! He just finished reading the Percy Jackson series, so this made his day.

And finally:

Downtown Mansfield

You could technically include the carousel in this, because it is smack in the middle of downtown. But these are the other things we saw & did downtown.

The streets were very clean and well-maintained, even the back alleys!

The streets were very clean and well-maintained, even the back alleys!

We stopped in a cute little book store with a great selection of local books and old maps.

We stopped in a cute little book store with a great selection of local books and old maps. (Book store link)

This made us all laugh: "Remove hand before closing." Duh.

This made us all laugh: “Remove hand before closing.” Duh.

We had a great day on our field trip!

Ohio Day Trips: Mansfield ~ Our Cozy Den

SunWatch Indian Village

 

We’ve been studying Native Americans in History class lately. I know that this area is just brimming with Native American history, so I took advantage of the opportunity to go see a real Native American village to help our studies sink in. We headed out to SunWatch Indian Village in Dayton, about 2 hours south of where we live. And Byron’s cousin lives in that area too, so she was able to join us with her twin boys. IMG_2463 IMG_2464 IMG_2466 IMG_2467 IMG_2470 IMG_2471 IMG_2473 IMG_2474 IMG_2475 IMG_2477 IMG_2481 IMG_2484 IMG_2489 IMG_2490 IMG_2491 IMG_2494 IMG_2503I loved that the place was so hands-on, with huts and artifacts that the kids could touch and explore. I do wish there was more to see, as the place was pretty sparse. What you see in the picture above (3 huts) was about it, plus the museum and gift shop inside.

Overall, it was a fun day for all the kids!

 

Niagara Falls Mission Trip – part 2: Hope Club

Here we have the real reason we went to Niagara Falls – Hope Club. This amazing family, the Thumans, reaches out to kids in their community every week, helping these kids to know about Jesus, have fun in a safe environment, and even providing them with basic needs that they might not otherwise get. Once a year, they also do a week-long day camp, which includes several different classes that kids can take. This year, they offered singing, martial arts, how to be a clown, sports & games, Bible, crafts, and treasure hunting. It was a blast for all the kids.

Connor and Lia helped with all of the setup and tear-down. Then during the session they attended classes with all of the other kids. It was so heartwarming to see them serving and learning.

Here are some photos of our week with the kids of Hope Club:

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It was an awesome time, and those kids were just incredible! They were so fun, full of life, and happy. I’m so glad I got to know them!

Niagara Falls Mission Trip – part 1: Niagara

In July, Connor, Lia, and I went on a mission trip to Niagara Falls, NY. I’ve always wanted to go on a mission trip, and we had an amazing time! We traveled with Faith and Travis, a couple from our church. They are one of the kindest, most wonderful couples I’ve ever met, and I’m so blessed to have gotten to know them better!

Heading out on our 6 hour drive!
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First stop in town – the falls, of course! The rapids leading to the falls were crazy scary! IMG_1142

Connor and Travis accidentally dressed the same 🙂 IMG_1145

The gorgeous Niagara Falls at sunset. IMG_1147

Playing shadow puppets after dark! IMG_1161

A really cool (and angry) building in Niagara Falls. IMG_1213

The Rainbow Bridge, leading to Canada. IMG_1214

Maid of the Mist! I was having flashbacks to Jim & Pam’s wedding the whole time ❤ IMG_1215

Getting ready to board the boat. IMG_1216

Even Doc McStuffins got a poncho. IMG_1218

It sure was misty! IMG_1223

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Sometimes the water was so thick I had to close my eyes. It was like getting water poured on my face.IMG_1229

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Stay tuned for more from the rest of our trip!

National Museum of the Great Lakes

We went with my dad to Toledo to visit the National Museum of the Great Lakes. They were also having a boat show on site, so it was packed full of cool stuff. Here are some photos from the day:

The pretty boats in the harbor, with the bridge behind

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The little 1-person boats.
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Finn, checking things out.

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Interactive map of the Great Lakes.
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They thought the “water” floor was SO cool. IMG_1873

All those ropes are astounding. How do the sailors know which is which?!?IMG_1868

On board the “pirate ship”.IMG_1867

Bell, labeled 1799. Awesome.IMG_1865

We JUST learned about canons the other day, so this was perfect. IMG_1861

The pirate ship. IMG_1860

Finn loved seeing all the boats! IMG_1877

Steering the ship. He likes to be in control! IMG_1889

I loved all the old captains’ logs. IMG_1897

Lia found a treasure chest! IMG_1900

Playing with the interactive exhibits. IMG_1907

The train, dropping off cargo. IMG_1908

Taking the cargo up the chute. IMG_1914

Stoking the boiler! IMG_1915

Hauling cargo now.IMG_1917

Going on board the big cargo freighter.
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Finn wasn’t sure about the fake owl. IMG_1922

Seeing where the sailors lived. IMG_1924

After the museum, Mexican lunch on the river. IMG_1929

My dad and Melanie, who treated us to such a wonderful day! IMG_1935