Posts in September 2013

Oh, hai, Fall.

Today was an all-around great fall-ish day. The weather was perfect. And it was a rare day off in the middle of Walk to End Alzheimer’s season to boot. I will now wow you with a collection of photos and cute happenings from little people.

If you’re looking for a killer deal, head to a small, local pumpkin patch on the inaugural morning of their annual month-long fall festival. They opened at 9 a.m., and we arrived at 9:30, only to be greeted by a bunch of apologetic employees saying most things were still being set up (apparently there’s a super awesome pumpkin-eating dinosaur). In return, we received half off our admission AND a season pass to come back later. You know what’s the best? A two-year-old doesn’t know any different, so it was a fun morning with the promise of another fun morning(s).

There were tractors (RACK [pause] TOR!) and pumpkins (PUN-kin) and miniature horses (neighs) and baby goats (baaa) to pet. We walked through a corn maze and discovered a tractor which was brilliantly turned into a slide. Wes kicked and screamed mightily when we had to go. We were covered in mud, and it was great. Even stopped for pumpkin spiced lattes on the way home.

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Once home, we found a praying mantis on our front porch. Also found were grasshoppers and crickets resting in our new mums. How cool. Probably any other day I would have missed these little pieces of intrigue hanging out under our noses. Having a little boy is so fun – he totally loves dirt and bugs and things with engines and horns.

558327_10101452254347648_135982669_nLater on, I met my mom, sister, niece and baby nephew at a tea room. Earlier this year, my mom had promised Elli, 5, a proper tea party with the girls. And proper it was! We dressed up and wore my late great aunt’s gloves (she had an enormous collection) for the 3-course tea party, complete with sandwiches, scones and desserts. Elli felt so special this afternoon, and her joy was contagious. I just love her. She makes me laugh deep down in the gut, and she makes me proud to the point of tears. There’s definitely something to be said about love for a child (outside of your own)- especially your sister’s first-born. I love all my nieces and nephews tremendously; Elli just has a little different kind of love from me. It’s hard to explain any more than that.

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I came home to my two boys, who did not care that they missed out on such a fun, girly experience, and enjoyed the great outdoors a little more. One of my favorite activities of the past few months is “family yard work.” I’m not very handy in this area, but I do enjoy pulling weeds and dead-heading flowers while Steven mows the lawn and Wesley wanders around with his bubble mower. It’s really the best. I will be sad to say goodbye to these days once the weather turns in.

Dinner is more fun than ever before, now that Wes is actually saying literal words. He’s always been chatty at meal times, but now we understand most of what he’s saying. The evening ended with a rousing version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and other songs. This basically means that Wes watches my mouth intently while I sing most of the words, and chimes in triumphantly with the last word of every line.

Twinkle, twinkle little STAR!!
How I wonder what you ARE!!
UP-PA UP-PA WORLD so HIGH
Like a DA-MON in the SKY
Twinkle, twinkle little STAR!!
How I wonder what you ARE!!

We sang all the way to the bedroom, said our prayers, and I closed his bedroom door with a smile on my face. It was a great fall-ish day.

Posted: September 28th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Lake Michigan Vacation

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South Haven, MI

Last year we took our first family vacation just after Labor Day to Hilton Head. It was the perfect time to go because everyone else was in school. We vacationed among snowbirds and locals and retirees. Hardly any busy families in sight. Our place was steps from the beach and swimming pool, so we had options for Wes, the little guy. It was even better because all the rates went down after Labor Day. We had thought about taking a “real” summer vacation this year, but because of our job changes, it made most sense to wait until September again.

Our first idea was to drive up to Toronto for a week. This idea still intrigues us, and we may decide to go next year or sometime in the near future, but we quickly realized it might be a little too much for a two-year-old. We needed somewhere relatively close by. Preferably a beach of sorts, because it just makes it an easy vacation for everyone. Plenty of sand entertainment for the kid, plenty of sun and reasons to be lazy for the parents. And we needed to find a place to stay close to the beach for naps and short duration beach visits.

Hilton Head was great for us last year, but we knew the drive would be too much for Wes now. Lake Michigan came to mind, and we had lots of suggestions from friends that frequent the area. Neither Steven or I had ever stayed near Lake Michigan for any length of time. We settled on South Haven, Michigan, because of the layout of the town and easy access to the beach. Our apartment rental was located within a late 1800’s Victorian home just 3 blocks from the water. The neighborhood was picturesque and reminded me of Irvington in some ways. Beautiful old homes with tiny yards and manicured lawns. People sitting on porches. Quaint and inviting.

The beach is separated by two piers, each with its own lighthouse. Our house was near South Beach, which had its own playground within the sand. As soon as Wes saw the his-size swings, he was in heaven. We spent the afternoons introducing Wes to beach bum life – although he pretty much failed at this. He was always moving.

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I don’t know why I thought I would be able to read on the beach like all my previous summer vacations. I reduced my take-along book count significantly this year (only one, with the Kindle as a back up), and I am just halfway through it. Hahaha, I have so much to learn about family vacations. The only time I had to read was nap time. However, I was so tired from poor night sleeping and wake ups with Wes that I usually took my own nap during those times.

But, we had great fun over the course of 4 days. Because the mornings were too chilly and windy for the beach, we visited an orchard and petting zoo,

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climbed sand dunes at a nearby state park (i.e. nearly passed out from cardiac arrest) and visited a neighboring beach town for a carousel ride and children’s museum.

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Our trip was short, but it was just about the right amount of time away. The drive wasn’t bad at all – just about four hours. We opted to go up along 65 in order to pass through the windmill farm, which is always an out-of-body experience for Wesley. “WHOA! STARS! STARS, MAMA!” For twenty minutes straight. And! To divide up the trip a little on the way home today, we stopped at Fair Oaks Farms for a totally fun dairy adventure and some fresh milk. Highly recommend.

If we decide to go back (which is highly possible), I’d want to go during peak summer season. Yes, it was nice that there were no lines or crowds anywhere we went, but most places were closed for the season by the time we arrived. The morning and evenings were pleasant, but too cold for swimsuits or boat rides. Apples were just beginning to be ready for picking, but we were a few weeks late for the famous Michigan blueberries.

I’d love to venture a little further north to check out some other Michigan beach towns. I enjoyed day trips to Mackinac Island and Holland as a kid, and I think Wes would, too.

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(The above photo is my attempt of self-timer family photography. It still makes me laugh.)

The best part about our vacation week? It didn’t matter where we were; Wes was busy talking, learning new words and discovering his world. Though he has been to lakes and beaches before, everything seemed new to him, and it was thrilling to watch. He sensed that we were on a special trip away from home, and he loved that we were paying so much attention to him. Staying up a little later than normal, eating not-so-healthy and exploring new places – it was all adventurous, and his excitement was contagious.

I don’t mind that my book is half-read because I got some great photos of some great memories. You can see them here.

Posted: September 6th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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