Sunday, July 25, 2010

Good Times had by all on a family vacation!

We got a room with a view! Not too shabby for FREE!
Yes, I let my baby eat french fries, even if they are covered in sand!

Look! Sophie is walking on the sand!

Pretty great beach in Traverse City! I bet the have even nicer ones that aren't attatched to Holiday Inn's! We did get to watch a sail boat race! Such a nice night!

We buried Taylor in the sand.

And, of course, we buried Katie!

Taylor on the path to Sleeping Bear Dunes (Empire, MI).

Craig and Sophie on the lookout at Sleeping Bear Dunes. Check out the water! So pretty!
The fam on the #10 lookout at Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Wow! What an amazing place!!! The water and the sand just go on forever!

The Maritime Coast Guard Museum at Glen Haven.

The "Mighty Mac" from the Ferry on our way to Mackinac Island.

Arch Rock on Mackinac Island

The lookout by Arch Rock.

The view from the Fort.

Katie and I are glad we have a washing machine to do our clothes!

Taylor loves dressing up! This is in the "Kids Quarters" at the fort.

Sophie could not be corraled for this photo op!

It was fun watching them fire off the cannon. It was louder down below than when we were up on the hill.

The Grand Hotel. They filmed "Somewhere in Time" with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour here and also an Esther Williams movie. (Thanks to Tasha I have actually even seen "Somewhere in Time"). They painted the ceiling blue so the birds will confuse it with sky and not nest under the porch. It's World's largest summer hotel and also has the longest covered porch in the US. You have to pay to go inside so we didn't this time. Maybe when Craig and I go back someday without the kiddos. There is a dress code after 6pm. Men must where suit jackets and women aren't allowed to wear "slacks" (I'm guessing that means we'd have to wear dresses???).

The light house on Round Island (from the ferry).

The view of the "Mighty Mac" on the ferry on the way back to Mackinaw City.
Ice cream with real Mackinac Island fudge. Neither Craig nor I love fudge so we did this instead. Especially at $8 a piece for the fudge. The whole fam had ice cream for $5!

The kids loved staying in the hotel and watching cartoons (they had an "Anne of Green Gables" cartoon on the public channel on Saturday. I guess that's what you get being that close to Canada). Katie kept asking us to "pause" it when she had to get dressed or brush her teeth. Silly kid! Guess she doesn't ever really watch TV besides movies at our house!

The lighthouse and bridge at Mackinaw City. Craig was a sucker and got the kids those silly huge round suckers at the visitors center at Fort Michilimackinac and the kids got all sticky and didn't finish them because they were too big and loved it all! He's such a fun Dad! (I'd have said no!).

We had such a great family vacation last week exploring Michigan! We left on Wednesday after Craig got done with work (mid day since he'd been out of town that week)and drove up to Traverse City (home of the Cherry Festival) and checked in to our free hotel room (courtesy of all of Craig's traveling for work). It was nice that the Holiday Inn (yeah we're high rollers) was right on the beach, but too bad that we had such rowdy drunks for neighbors that night. Luckily the kids slept through it and Craig and I did mostly also, until they set off the fire alarm, but we didn't have to evacuate and after 1pm all they mellowed out.
Anyhow we played on the beach that evening and Craig even got the kids McDonalds for dinner!!! The next day we set out to explore Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was such an amazing view! I could have stayed and played at the dune pretty much all day! The dropoff is so extreme and the sand is so amazing and the view is so spectacular! Taylor and I were ready to take the plunge and run all the way down to the lake but Craig was the voice of reason. I still plan to do that, but not with Sophie in tow. It's a near vertical climb on the way back up!
After checking out the dune for a bit we drove up to Glen Haven and looked at the Maritime museum which talked about ships and shipwrecks and the Coast Guard on the Great Lakes. It was fun and FREE! Another thing we got free was most of the kids meals thanks to the library reading program!!!
After the museum we headed off to Mackinaw City (by way of free lunch at Qdoba). It was a short 2 hr drive. After arriving we checked out our hotel and the beach and went swimming in the pool. We got a pizza at a local place that night and went to bed.
Friday morning we caught the 10:30 am "Mighty Mac" Ferry boat to Mackinac Island. It took off from Mackinaw City, went under the "Might Mac" suspension bridge and then over to Mackinac Island. Once on the island we caught a carriage ride around the island. We saw the Grand Hotel and all the ancient (200 yr old) lilac bushes). Bicycles and horses are the only transportation allowed on the island from April until October when the snow sets in they are allowed to use snowmobiles (and there are a few special people on the island allowed to have trucks).
We stopped at the Arch Rock and enjoyed the view there and learned about the wildlife and winters on the island and then got off the carriage at Fort Mackinac. Originally the Ojibwa Indians named the island "Michilimackinac" (which is REALLY fun to say)meaning "the island that looks like the back of a turtle" or something like that. The French and British fought over the fur trade and eventually the Brits moved the center of the fur trade over to the island to have it better protected. Of course, after the revolutionary war, we took it over. The Fort was really interesting and the view was awesome. We watched some reenactments of courtmarshals and firing of guns and canons and played in an interactive exhibit. After we had worn out the kids, we caught the next carriage back down to downtown and got some lunch and tried out some fudge (in the form of ice cream). Fudge was INVENTED on the island!
We walked around and looked at the pretty houses and hotels and did some people watching and played at a playground and then caught the 6:30pm ferry back to Mackinaw City and our hotel.
Sophie was really wiped out and fell asleep the moment we put her in the car so I put her to bed when we got back to the hotel and the kids went swimming again with Craig. I was amazed and relieved that she wasn't woken up when they got back from swimming. Sharing one hotel room for 5 people wasn't my favorite thing to do, but it went pretty well.
Saturday morning we went to the light house in Mackinaw City and threw some rocks in Lake Huron. Then we drove over the "Mighty Mac" (started construction in 1954 and finished in 1957, one of the World's longest suspension bridges at the time) so we could say we had visited the "U.P." or "upper pennisula". We grabbed some lunch in St. Ignace and then we high tailed it home. It was about 4 hrs home. Not too bad.
It was nice to get home on a Saturday (at 5pm) and have time to mow the lawn and do the laundry and even visit the swimming pool before Sunday rolled around.
It was such a great family vacation! We really enjoyed learning new things and visiting new places. I'm so excited for the "kid" phase of being a family. It's great to leave the baby stage and be able to enjoy doing things together!

Monday, July 19, 2010


As you can see we have been busy having fun! July 8-11th we went out to Chicago to help Hailey and Steve move into their new place in Naperville. We are so excited that they are there. It's only 3 and a half hours from us in Grand Rapids! It's been a long 9 years since we lived close enough to anybody in my immediate family to visit without flying. We were able to stay with Laura and Robert while we watched Jack and Griff and ran errands and did anything and everything we could think of to help Hailey and Steve get settled. I hope we really were a help!
On Saturday we went into downtown Chicago and visited Navy Pier. Steve, James (Steve's brother), Craig, Katie, Taylor and Jack went on the Ferris wheel. Mom, Hailey, Griff, Sophie and I thought it was nice to watch from the shade below (it was 98 degrees at 10am that day at Navy Pier).
After the Ferris wheel we had an exciting lunch at McDonalds. Then we took a really fun boat tour. It was wonderful to be out on the water and feel the cool breeze. It made me so excited for this Fall when Derek and Rachael, and my Mom and Dad come out too. There is so much to see and do in Chicago. We are so excited to have so many reasons to go to Chicago (tons of Craig's Aunts and Uncles, his Grandma Arends and his cousins live in Chicago also, in addition to my cousin Robert and his wife Laura).
We were able to sneak in a visit to Craig's Grandma Arends and Aunt Midge on Sunday too. It was so fun to check out the new cover they put on the deck and hear all about the wedding details (for Amy and Eric's wedding in Oct).
Since Steve had some research that took him back to Utah the day we left for home, we talked Hailey into coming to stay with us for a bit last Wednesday. It was so fabulous to have her here! I'm so in love with the idea of having her close for the next 2 years! She stayed until today around noon. The kids played together wonderfully and it was the closest thing to cloning myself that I have been able to work out. We went to the gym together and the pool and even fit in a trip to the beach on Saturday! It was sad to see her leave today, but I know she is anxious to get settled in to their new place. I'm hoping to put together a camping trip with them not long after Steve gets back from Utah!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Fourth

Betcha' can't guess who's who!
Fireworks and M&M's go hand in hand!

Katie wanted to jump on her bike and join the parade. We actually made them wait.

Baby pilates (our neighbors went down to Greenville, SC to visit family and let us use their pool. What a great set up).

Kickin' back!

I'm pretty much in love with the 4th of July here in Michigan! We had the most beautiful day (actually all of these things happened on the 3rd since the 4th was Sunday). We rode our bikes from our house to the village of Ada (1 1/2 miles) and watched the parade. It was cute and fun and not too long. They threw out lots of little candies too.

After the parade we went home and had lunch then we headed over to the village green and they had a little craft show and blow ups for the kids to play on. It was all free! Craig got a characature done of the kids. So funny, whenever we see those he wants to get them done! The kids also got to play on one of those things where they wear a harness and jump on a trampline. Taylor was hilarious to watch! He went SOOOO high! After the carnival and sharing some ice cream cones we came home and took a nap.
Around 9pm, we jumped on our bikes again and went to watch the fireworks in the village. It was wonderful to not worry about traffic at all (we were stuck in traffic last year at Thanksgiving point for 2 hrs after the fireworks!!). We lit sparklers and talked to a bunch of our neighbors that were there and ate M&M's. Then we rode our bikes home and went to bed! The fireworks didn't even start until almost 10:30pm so it was late when we got home, but it was really fun! Next year I'm bringing head lamps for us to wear on the bike ride home. It was REALLY dark! It made it kind of exciting though!