Literature

Snowmobiling Lessons

By Kandace Chapple, GTWoman Editor

WE GREW UP

On snowmobiles. Weekends and evenings were spent outside sliding off the back of the slick seat of a 1981 Ski-Doo, trying to hang on to one another, riding double.

Of course, the point was to dump the other one off, pretend we didn’t notice and leave a sister in the field, enjoying a solo ride for a few glorious moments.

Alas.

The older we got, the more trouble we could come up with. We spent weekends snowmobiling out to sledding hills with a pull-behind trailer on skis stocked with firewood, hotdogs and Pepsi. Our mom did all the work then, and little did we know how much work that must have been. We were focused solely on building jumps big enough to break a leg.

Finally, we set out on day trips, where we didn’t fall asleep riding between our mother’s legs, our helmet hitting the handlebars. Then we became drivers… although we still had to share a sled.

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Between the Canyon: Our Bucket List Trip to the Colorado River

By Kelley Bowker

We have been making travel “bucket lists” for years. One of the biggest trips on my husband Mike’s list? White water rafting through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. I looove adventure, so I was all in.

I decided to plan the trip for Mike’s 50th birthday, June 2016. Our Arizona adventure turned out to be one we will never forget, exciting in more ways than we could have ever imagined.

Five-day escapade

After looking at and researching many outfitters and all the options that were available, Mike and I decided the five-day paddling trip would be the best for us (other options included motorized trips, those where the guide paddled, or even an identical trip, just six days longer).

Each day, we hiked the Grand Canyon and paddled our way through very specific named areas and mile markers of the Colorado River. At night we slept wherever our lead guide found a suitable piece of earth for a group our size (13 paddlers, 5 guides).

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Blending the Holidays: How To Embrace the Season as a Blended Family

By Alison Neihardt

The holidays are upon us. There are parties to plan, school activities to participate in and gifts to purchase. Oh, the fun! For blended families though, finding cheer at this time of year often requires both careful planning and flexibility.

Woes all around

For many blended families, holiday activities can be stressful for both adults and kids. Kids worry about going back and forth, whom they’ll spend Thanksgiving with, or who will come to their school parties. Adults fear the possible drama that holiday expectation and tradition can stir.

In the best-case scenario, both parents spend the holiday together or split the time, or both parents come to the school holiday function. If they are pleasant with each other, even from across the room, this is what kids hope for. This is what adults hope for. This does not always happen though. Here are some tips to consider:

Communicate kindly

Try your best to be kind in the heat of the moment and not say or do something you might regret. But avoid being a doormat—setting boundaries is important, too. There are ways to stand your ground without being rude or nasty.

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The View from a Blended Family

By Stefanie Tschirhart-Baldwin

Eleven years ago, at age 29, I was newly widowed with a young daughter. I’d always valued our nuclear family, and, as I grieved the loss of my husband, part of me knew I would remarry someday.

And I did, to a man who also had daughter. There were some valleys along the way as we established our unit, but we always trudged on toward a summit far from nuclear. But in the end, that never mattered one bit–not with a spectacular view like this.

Getting established

When my now-husband first reached out to me, I blew him off. I knew he also had a 2-year-old daughter, the same age as my own, but I didn’t want to date a man with kids. Fortunately for us, though, he was persistent, and I eventually agreed to a playdate with our girls. We hit it off, and our quad grew closer and closer that first summer.

My husband and his daughter spent most of his parenting time at the house that I shared with my parents; it was easier for childcare when he was working. When his daughter’s mom questioned where their daughter was living, we decided to make it official.

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32 cousins & a Thanksgiving for the Books

By Wendy Sobeck

I come from a very large Polish-American family. My maternal grandparents, Sylvester and Lucille, had 16 children, and my mom, Diane, was the fourth eldest. There are 32 of us cousins to date.

Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays—and pretty much any given Sunday—were never hum-drum little gatherings. They were usually epic family “dramadies,” special occasions I’m certain not even Hollywood could dream up! But, to us, the madness of our humongous family was just normal.

Many family holidays throughout my life have been unforgettable, but Thanksgiving 2001 was especially memorable and bittersweet.

Grandma Lucy

We had lost my Grandma Lucy suddenly to liver cancer in June of that year, and our enormous clan was devasted. As our family matriarch, she was the central force that kept the chaos of our beautifully crazy tribe together.

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Grandpa’s Car – a look into a Thanksgiving past … when we were total idiots

By Kandace Chapple & Kerry Winkler

Have we ever told you the story about the night we borrowed our Grandpa’s car? Yes, borrowed. We had permission to drive it. But we did not necessarily have permission to drive it where we did.

Let’s set the scene. We were in the U.P., age 16, in a house filled with relatives watching TV, and bored out of our minds on a post-Thanksgiving weekend, admiring our new driver’s license… with a Friday night burning outside.

Our cousin, 15, floated the idea. “Let’s borrow your dad’s car.”

“Absolutely not!” blew in from the next room.

But Grandpa Maddox, over our mothers’ protests, said this: “What’s gonna happen? Take my car, Twin. (To be safe, Grandpa called us both Twin.) Just don’t scratch it.”

We rushed outside before anyone could stop us, but once there, joy eluded us. We were going to have to cruise in a car we secretly called, “The Turd.” We decided we had no choice. There must be someone who would look past this shade of brown and zero in on the three beauties cruising the gut.

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