Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar Trip – Post 3

It’s been a long day friends – but it’s all been worth it cause I’m sitting at my laptop on Mackinac Island tonight!

I arrived at the Pellston Airport 15 minutes EARLY and was met by Jill, Sue and this fellow (one of the permanent displays at the airport).

I arrived at the Pellston Airport 15 minutes EARLY and was met by Jill, Sue and this fellow (one of the permanent displays at the airport).

We collected my luggage, jumped in Sue's car, and we were off. We made it to Mackinaw City, crossed the bridge and pulled up with minutes to spare at the Arnold Dock to board the mighty Huron.

We collected my luggage, jumped in Sue’s car, and we were off. We made it to Mackinaw City, crossed the bridge and pulled up with minutes to spare to board the mighty Huron.

Friend Joan Barch met our boat, and she snapped this pic of me when I first realized how COLD it was - full shudder mode!

Friend Joan Barch met our boat, and snapped this pic of me when I first realized how COLD it was – full shudder mode!  39 degrees with a nice wind blowing.  A big change from sunny Florida!

Our first stop was the Original Murdick's Fudge Shop where Murdick elves have been busy for days creating fudge and other yummy treats to send out across the nation. Jill took this photo of Leanne, Sue, me, Bobby Benser, whose family owns Original Murdick's Fudge, and Joan.

Our first stop was the Original Murdick’s Fudge Shop where Murdick elves have been busy for days creating fudge and other yummy treats to send out across the nation. Jill took this photo of Leanne, Sue, me, Bobby Benser, whose family owns Original Murdick’s Fudge, and Joan.

We got settled in and went to meet Sue’s son Patrick and Joan at The Village Inn for dinner.  There are only two restaurants open in the winter – The Village Inn and The Mustang.  Had a great meal and then headed back to the friend’s house where we are staying.

I love that even though the majority of the businesses are closed downtown, they've still decorated for the Christmas season - like Horn's Bar . . .

I love that even though the majority of the businesses are closed downtown, they’ve still decorated for the Christmas season – like Horn’s Bar . . .

. . . Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island. . .

. . . Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island. . .

. . . and the Chippewa Hotel.

. . . and the Chippewa Hotel (Photo by Jill).

I’m sure there are others, but we didn’t venture off Main Street tonight.

Tomorrow will be a full day, and I’ll continue to post little snippets from my iPhone.  I’ll be covering all the activity at Original Murdick’s Fudge and everything going on for the Christmas Bazaar.  Tomorrow night is the Christmas Tree lighting on Main Street.  If you go to the Horn’s Bar website and click on their webcam a little before 5:00 p.m., you should be able to watch the lighting from there.

It’s going to be a great weekend, and I’m so glad all of you are along for the ride!

Now this old girl is going to bed.  It’s been a long time since 4:00 this morning!

See you tomorrow!

Mackinac Week! 11/29/15

Oh. My. Goodness!  Did everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving week?!  We sure did!

Jason and his girlfriend Jennifer spent the whole week with us, which couldn't have made this mom more happy!

Jason and his girlfriend Jennifer spent the whole week with us, which couldn’t have made this mom more happy!  We laughed a lot, ate a lot, chatted a lot . . . and just in general had a great week together!

On Thanksgiving, we had 13 gathered around our table. Matt (our son-in-law), Matthew (grandson), Matt's parent Carolyn and Jack, and Matt's brother (John) and his family joined us for turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings!

On Thanksgiving we had 13 gathered around our table. Matt (our son-in-law), Matthew (grandson), Matt’s parents Carolyn and Jack, and Matt’s brother (John), his wife Debra, and their three daughters joined us for turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings!

Missing were Julie and Jordan, who flew out Thanksgiving morning for New York City to celebrate Jordan's 16th birthday in December. Their Thanksgiving dinner was something Turkish from a street vendor.

Missing were Julie and Jordan, who flew out Thanksgiving morning for New York City to celebrate Jordan’s 16th birthday coming up in December. Their Thanksgiving dinner was something Turkish from a street vendor.

Bright and early Friday morning Ted and I spotted both Julie and Jordan on the plaza at the Today Show, and Jordan had her photo made with Dylan Dreyer.

Bright and early Friday morning Ted and I spotted both Julie and Jordan on the plaza at the Today Show, and Jordan had her photo made with Today Show weather girl Dylan Dreyer.

Also missing was Blake, who spent Thanksgiving with friends in Ft. Collins. Blake is back there working as a recruiter with ELIC. He'll be home for Christmas!

Also missing was Blake (that’s him on the left in white shirt), who spent Thanksgiving with friends in Ft. Collins. Blake is back there working as a recruiter with ELIC. He’ll be home for Christmas!

All in all, just a wonderful day!  Of course, we all ate too much, but hey – it was Thanksgiving!

Jason and Jennifer flew home on Friday, and Ted and I have spent the rest of the weekend decorating for Christmas.

I've never had a staircase to "deck" before, and this year I was ready to give it a try. I used a pre-lit garland from Target and added my own accents from Michael's.

I’ve never had a staircase to “deck” before, and this year I was ready to give it a try. I used a pre-lit garland from Target and added my own accents from Michael’s (red birds, red pears, pinecones, etc.).

I added the same accents to our pre-lit wreath on the front door . . .

I added the same accents to our pre-lit wreath on the front door . . .

. . . and for the first time ever, we used net lights over the shrubbery and accented our magnolia tree with white lights.

. . . and for the first time ever, we used net lights over the shrubbery and accented our magnolia tree with white lights.

Another first! We rimmed the second floor deck with lights . . .

Another first! We rimmed the second floor deck with lights . . .

. . . and used icicle lights on the skywalk railings.

. . . and used icicle lights on the skywalk railings.

We thought it all turned out pretty good!

We thought it all turned out pretty good!

Tomorrow we’ll (hopefully) get our Christmas tree(s) up, and we’ll have the whole month of December to enjoy the fruits of our labor!

Now here it is Sunday evening, and my thoughts are turning toward Mackinac.

Even though Mackinac has received a few very brief snowfalls (this is the school yard in a photo by Reaiah Ervin), the long-range forecast is calling for nothing but moderate temps and clear skies. I guess my prayers for a snowy Christmas Bazaar will be answered with a "no" this time, but that's ok. Just getting to go to Mackinac during December is a blessing, and - snow or not - I'm going to have a great time meeting friends, doing some writing and photography for Original Murdick's Fudge, and sharing it all with each of you!

Even though Mackinac has received a few very brief snowfalls (this is the school yard in a photo by Reaiah Ervin), the long-range forecast is calling for nothing but moderate temps and clear skies. I guess my prayers for a snowy Christmas Bazaar will be answered with a “no” this time, but that’s ok. Just getting to go to Mackinac during December is a blessing, and – snow or not – I’m going to have a great time doing some writing and photography for Original Murdick’s Fudge, visiting with friends, and sharing it all with each of you!

My flight leaves Daytona Beach at 7:20 Thursday morning, and I’m due to arrive in Pellston, MI at 3:05 that afternoon.  The last ferry to the island leaves St. Ignace at 4:00 p.m.  If I make that ferry, it’s going to be a miracle.  No worries though.  I’ll either fly over or spend the night with Sue in Harbor Springs (thank you, Sue, for the invite)!

Here’s the plan.  I’ll be blogging from my iPhone for much of this trip, so I plan to be chatting with all of you 3-4 times a day.  I won’t be able to change the header photo from my phone, so please just go by your alerts that a new post is up – NOT by a new header photo!

I’m excited to try blogging in a different way for this trip, and I hope you’re all going to get a kick out of it also.  So . . . . meet me at the airport on Thursday morning at 7:20, and let’s all go to Mackinac!

God bless.

 

For Gracie

Very few of you who will read this know Gracie Irish, and I have to admit I don’t know her either – at least I’ve never met her face to face.  But, as a mother, I know Gracie as if she was my own child.

Shimmering on the surface of every parent’s heart is a fear so terrible we can scarcely speak of it.  It can come at us like some horrible monster at any moment of the day, but usually raises its ugly head as we prepare for sleep.  We close our eyes and think back over the wonderful day we’ve just spent with our family and then, unbidden, we think about the family next door, or across town, or on Facebook, who we’ve learned has a child diagnosed with that worst or the worst monsters – cancer.  And then we think . . .  what if it was my child?

Is there anything as a parent we can imagine worse than a monster that wants to take our child from us? Is there anything else that can strip us of all our insulation and take us down to raw emotion more than a monster that doesn’t take into account age, sex, race, income, or religious beliefs?  Cancer doesn’t care.  It’s an equal opportunity monster.  It. Just. Doesn’t. Care.

Ted and I have known the Benser family on Mackinac Island for years.  You’ve heard of them through this blog.  They own several businesses on Mackinac, including Original Murdick’s Fudge.  Mr. B (as we lovingly call him) is the family patriarch.  Bobby, Leslie, Heidi, and Amy are his children.  Gracie is Amy’s daughter.

Today Gracie is a beautiful, healthy and active 14-year-old.  She’s a Freshman in high school and plays on the Junior Varsity Golf Team at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester, MI.  She is taking classes in Theatre and loves to cook.  When she comes to Mackinac to visit family in the summer she rides horses (another love) and swims off the dock at the marina.  You would never know – looking at her now – that as a 4-year-old Gracie was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Gracie today.

Gracie today.

When Gracie’s parents got the devastating news they were urged to take her immediately to the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, and she was airlifted there later that same day.  One of Amy’s most vivid memories of that day is being told she couldn’t accompany her daughter on the helicopter.  She was crying and remembers one of the flight crew coming to sit beside her and saying, “You’re taking Gracie to a great place.  My son was treated at Mott’s, and today he’s a successful college student.”  That was the glimmer of hope Amy held on to through the months ahead.

Gracie’s leukemia was intensely treated for 2 1/2 years at C.S. Mott, and the summer of 2008 was a good one, including being back on Mackinac, having fun with her whole family.  Then, during that winter break, she began to complain of leg pain.  Her parents immediately returned her to C.S. Mott where tests revealed Gracie had a benign tumor that was a rare complication of her leukemia.  Several attempts were made to surgically remove the mass, but it always returned.

Dr. Valerie Castle, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at C.S. Mott, was determined to aggressively fight Gracie’s tumor.  Dr. Castle invited her colleagues to weigh in on a solution, and Gracie was given an experimental drug as part of a clinical trial.  C.S. Mott is one of only a few leading children’s hospitals to have access to clinical trials. At the very first follow-up after the drug was given, they learned the tumor was shrinking – and it did not come back.

The Benser family now has a passion to support further research into treatments for patients who relapse or experience complications from leukemia.  They established Gracie’s Fund for Pediatric Leukemia Research at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital several years ago.  Since then, they have hosted fund-raisers and donated proceeds of fudge sales at various times of the year.  The Mackinac Island community has supported their efforts from the very beginning.

There are remarkable treatment options available now for children who are diagnosed with leukemia, but for children who relapse or suffer complications – like Gracie – resources are very limited.  We need to help fund more research.

During the week of Sept. 21-27 Original Murdick’s Fudge will match dollar for dollar all donations to Gracie’s Fund.  You don’t have to know Gracie to give, and you don’t have to buy fudge – but Original Murdick’s Fudge does want you to join their team – Team Gracie!  You can click on the link below to give $1, $10, or whatever your heart whispers for you to do.  Every dollar will make a difference, and Original Murdick’s Fudge will match it.  No limits. To donate, click the link highlighted below and then click on the gray box entitled “Support Original Murdick’s Fudge – Team Gracie”:  http://umhealth.me/teamgracie-omf

Employees at Original Murdick's Fudge on Mackinac Island wear Block Out Cancer t-shirts.

Employees at Original Murdick’s Fudge on Mackinac Island wear Block Out Cancer t-shirts.

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If this blog has popped up on your Facebook newsfeed page, I’m asking you to share it, and ask your friends to share it also.  This is a fantastic way to do a good deed and help give scientists the funds they need for this research.  And yes, your donation is tax-deductible.

Gracie says, “Thank you!”

For more information on the “Block Out Cancer” campaign, click here:  http://www.originalmurdicksfudge.com/block-out-cancer-awareness