Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Michigan Vacation (Part 2)

Oh vacation was glorious.  Those first few days were bliss.  I only checked my cell phone at the end of the day, and I didn't even charge it one night.  During regular life, I take my cell phone with me EVERYWHERE and it often runs out of charge before the end of the day.  We never watched tv, but Jared and I found a new series to watch together on Netflix at night after the kids were sleeping.  We never paid attention to time.  We stayed up late and slept in late.  We ate, well, all the time.  Also, this was our first vacation where no one needed an afternoon nap, so we were able to do fun stuff all day long.

My kids got to see what "Vacation Mom" looks like, and that's definitely different than Everyday Mom.  I was fun, easygoing, present, and much more permissive than my usual overbearing disciplinarian style.  We discovered that I am still capable of riding roller coasters, so we took advantage of that and worked our way up through the list of most thrilling rides at Michigan's Adventure.  Nolan and I are the only family members who rode every single ride at the park (excluding kiddie rides, of course, and one water ride that we just didn't want to do because of wet clothes).

The second half of the week was a little different for a few reasons.  First, some of reality outside of vacation made its way inside vacation.  There was a death in our extended family, and we needed to spend time making arrangements and having conversations about that.  That was unavoidable and obviously something we wanted to participate in so we could support our loved ones.  There were, however, other calls, texts, and emails that I found myself answering only to later wish I had let them go until later.

Second, the weather during the second half of the week was cold, foggy, and rainy.  We had planned a couple more days to just play in the lake and take the boats out, but we had to find other activities to do.  The kids (and sometimes Jared) still dipped in the water in the frigid weather for a few minutes just to say they did that day, but it was cold.

Overall, I am so pleased with this vacation.  We made the most of our time and really enjoyed time with each other.  This vacation was such a blessing to us and so very VERY needed.  It was just the right thing at just the right time.

Here are pictures of the rest of our Michigan vacation!

On Day 4 (Tuesday) of our vacation, we drove to a beach on Lake Michigan.  This was the first chilly day, and it was pretty cloudy as well.

That water was COLD!!!

Nora flying her kite on the beach

Nolan with his kite

Griffin with his kite

My Griffers

My little Curly Sue

Nora tried to feed a Dorito to a ladybug we spotted on my flip flop.

Jared and Nolan did a cold water challenge.  Then they promptly wrapped up in warm towels.

While we were busy playing, Nora ate nearly an entire bag of Doritos.

Getting buried in the sand


Nora wrote her name in the sand.  Those are her little feet.

Griffin did this all on his own.  I love that he wrote "Griffy."

My Love

Every now and then Jared grabs the camera and gathers evidence that I was on vacation too!

Since it was too frigid to stay in the water, we made the coolest sand castle city ever.
This is the beach we visited in the pictures above.
Just down the beach from us was a long pier leading out to a lighthouse.  We decided to walk out to it.
My kiddos walking the nearby pier so we could see a lighthouse

We walked the long pier to see this lighthouse.

Nora kept trying to do some sort of side kiss that I didn't understand, and it cracked me up.
Snuggling on the walk back from the lighthouse

We went back to our vacation house after Lake Michigan, and we took the boats and kayaks out on the lake.  We ended our evening with s'mores on the beach.

On Day 5 (Wednesday), we awoke to rain. I'm not gonna lie, I found the sound of the rain on the lake to be quite relaxing, even though it ruined our plans for the day.  Jared took the kids out to fish in the rain while I took pictures and got a few things ready for our day.

Jared caught the one and only fish the entire week!

Nolan holding the fish

Griffin took a (grossed out) turn
After lunch we went to a place called Craig's Cruisers.  It's a family entertainment center that has go karts, mini golf, and an arcade.  The rain let up for a bit, so we played mini golf first.

Griffin got a hole in one!

Jared beat me by ONE STROKE!  Also surprising:  the boys tied.

After mini golf we went inside to play arcade games.  I was too busy supervising kids and occasionally playing games myself to take many pictures.

Nolan and I teamed up on one game where we had to throw balls at clowns to knock them down.  Then Jared joined us, and the three of us were unstoppable!

We set a new high score!

We pooled all of our tickets together and then cashed them in, letting the kids split up the tickets and pick out their toys.  It's always interesting to see what they choose.

Before we left, we visited the batting cages and let the boys each have a turn.

We had a very special treat for dinner.  We found a Mancino's, which is a restaurant we haven't had since college.  There was a Mancino's near our college campus, and it was gooood.  My dad would always take us there on move-in day at the beginning of the year.  He offered to buy Mancino's for anyone who helped move my stuff in. :)

It was a happy reminder of my dad and a fun reminder of our dating days.  Oh, and it was super tasty!

Nolan took our picture

After we were back at the house and ready for bed, we played a couple rounds of family UNO.  We didn't make s'mores in our rain-drenched fire pit.

Day 6 (Thursday) was cold and foggy.  Jared and the kids tried fishing off the dock.  Again.

Good thing we brought jackets!

Rain and fog couldn't keep these kids out of the lake.

This was the coldest day, and Jared and Griffin decided to jump into the water together.

This day was a little hard to fill.  The previous day had already been somewhat dictated by the weather, and we used up our rainy day idea (Craig's Cruisers).  So I had to get a little creative.  I got online and found several options for us.

We decided to drive to the White River Light Station.  It was a functional lighthouse (with accompanying house) for years and is now a little museum.

We walked through the house, looked at all the pictures, read about the history of the lighthouse, and admired the old tools and boat parts.

Then we climbed up a spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse.

When we walked out of the lighthouse museum, we saw a little walkway next to it that ran along some sort of channel that led to Lake Michigan.  We decided to follow the walkway and walk out on the pier (Is pier the right word?  Let's just go with it.) to explore.

When we reached the end (and I felt like all of my children were going to fall off the edge into the raging waters), Jared thought it would be fun to sit on the edge.

 A wave came up at that exact moment and splashed his shoes and pants.

This was standing on our pier and looking across the channel to a similar pier.

I tried and tried to get a picture of the kids, and they just weren't cooperating.  They finally all looked at me and smiled at the same time, and look who photobombed.

On our walk back toward the lighthouse museum, we veered off onto the beach.

Nolan ran toward the sand dunes so he could explore.

Griffin and Nora just wanted to go "look" at the water.  Wanna guess if their clothes ended up getting wet?

Nolan found this hole in the sand, which he said had quicksand in the bottom.  He had many theories about the origin of the hole.
Walking back toward the museum

The lighthouse and museum

We went back to our lakehouse for some lake swimming and dinner.  Then we filled our evening with one of my other creative entertainment ideas.

I found a nearby community college that was showing a planetarium show that evening.  We got there just in time to grab the last seats!  The show was called "Two Small Pieces of Glass," and it told about the history and uses of the telescope.  Then the college's astronomy professor gave us a tour of the night sky on the planetarium ceiling.

When we came out of the planetarium, we discovered cases of interesting rocks and gems from the college's geology department.  Rocks are one of Nolan's current interests, and we had so much fun scouring all the cases of cool rocks.

We ended our day of out-of-the-box fun by getting ice cream from the local ice cream shop we had passed several times.  It was called Tasty Corner, but we started calling it Mediocre Corner and Overpriced Corner.  But really, even when ice cream is expensive and nothing special, it's still good!

Day 7 (Friday) was our last day of vacation.  We had really hoped to just swim in the lake, take the boats out, and enjoy time at our little vacation house.  Unfortunately, the weather was still chilly and cloudy.  So we decided to be the coolest parents ever and take the kids back to Michigan's Adventure!

The water park was closed due to the temperature, so we spent the day riding roller coasters.  This time we skipped the little carnival games and we also packed a lunch that we ate in our car (we got our hands stamped so we could go to the parking lot and then re-enter the park).

We rode all of the big roller coasters that we didn't get to on our first day there.  It was awesome!!

Even though we rode all the scary rides, we had to take a family ride on the carousel.

The kids were holding hands...

...so Nora asked the boys to swing her.

You can't really see them, but Jared and Nolan were riding this roller coaster (The Thunderhawk).

Nora drove me around the track again.
Griffin drove Jared.

Nolan cruised around by himself.

Nora rode lots of "kiddie" rides while the boys rode bigger roller coasters.

We found a stand of souvenir hats.

Nolan was the only kid really into driving the go karts.

Nora was super nervous and had trouble reaching the pedal.

That's our signature family scowl.

Griffin was pretty focused here.  He ended up having fun driving.
Griffin's souvenir:  a Michigan's Adventure sweatshirt

The kids each had $20 to spend on souvenirs.  It was fun to see what they chose.  Griffin immediately found a sweatshirt for $19.99. This was so Griffin for many reasons.  He spent as much of his money as possible (he went right to the boundary).  He found what he wanted right away and stuck with it.  Plus he absolutely loves hooded sweatshirts.  Nora chose toys that had nothing to do with Michigan's Adventure or our vacation at all.  She picked a My Little Pony and a pink light-up ball that looks like a bunny.  She eventually added a little plastic snow globe that said Michigan's Adventure just because she had enough money left and Nolan told her she should spend it all.  Nolan agonized over his decision.  He picked up 47 items and put each one back.  He finally chose a baseball that had the them park logo on it (he plays baseball right now and has a different commemorative baseball at home).  But then he wrestled with how to spend the rest of his allotted money.  After many discussions, he decided to get a nice water bottle that says Michigan's Adventure on the side.  He had at least three reasons why that was a good choice.  It was just so funny to see each child's personality so clearly reflected in their souvenir choices.

Nora fell asleep on the short drive back to the house.

Jared laid her on a bed, and she stayed deep asleep.  Griffin decided to snuggle her. :)

This truly was an amazing family vacation.  I would say it was our best one yet.  We are so very grateful that we were able to have this time together so we could release a little pressure from life and spend a lot more time enjoying our kids.  We made memories that we hope we will remember when the kids are grown.  Maybe the pictures will help jog our memories!