Windy Sunsets

Ok. I finally finished going through pictures from our trip, but some of the best ones turned out terrible because I was using Dan’s phone. I’m including them anyway because the memories behind them are just too good to leave out.

Where to begin? The views, the views. I wouldn’t normally use the word “delicious” to describe a sight, but that’s what kept coming to my mind as we drove along the peninsula, stood outside our room to watch the whitecaps, or played on a playground overlooking the beach. The wind was cold, but we just soaked up the Northern Michigan beauty.

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On our first day up North someone mentioned something about apple cider and it became a quest throughout our week to buy some. Sadly, we were just a bit early for apple season and we couldn’t find the cider anywhere. Not a day went by when someone didn’t mention hot apple cider. And each day we failed to find any.

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I took Dan along one of my favorite trails in all of Northern Michigan, close to the house where I grew up. The girls were baffled as to why we wouldn’t let them in the freezing water, but we sat on a bench and enjoyed the view for a while despite their protests.

We didn’t actually get to Northport until Tuesday, although we enjoyed some visits on our way out for the first part of the week. Once we made it to our vacation-home, the fun really began.

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We packed most of our food for the trip, special meals we don’t get to eat very often. Then we splurged with little treats here and there.

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Wednesday morning we treated the girls to a normally against-the-rules sort of treat: doughnuts from the famous local bakery. If you ever make it up to Northport and you want a sugary treat, you must try a baked cinnamon twist from Barb’s. Take Abby’s word for it.

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A quick outing in the morning, and then we make our way back to home-base for lunch and naps. Yes, naps. Every day. It was one of my stipulations for making it a successful vacation. I insisted on naps; Dan insisted on treats, and the whole gang was happier than ever.

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In the afternoon we took it easy and played with bubbles. As simple as it may sound, bubbles really made the day with our munchkins.

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Then bath time, and another special treat: baseball in bed. After the kiddos were in their pajamas we snuggled together for a couple of innings on Lydia’s giant bed.

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Then it was early to bed for another early day. Dan tried sneaking Lydia off for a Daddy-Daughter doughnut date, but Abby woke up and Lydia invited the rest of us to come along too. Despite the very cold wind, we stuck to our plan to visit the marina. It was one of the things we just had to do so I could get a picture to go along with the one of us walking the marina on our honeymoon. 🙂 We walked the whole marina, although it wasn’t actually fun because it was so cold. We stubbornly enjoyed it anyway before rushing back to shore and letting the girls play on the playground for a while.

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We enjoyed another day of bubbles, yummy meals, traveling around Northport, enjoying the views, and naps. Yes, I loved nap time. Afterward I stayed in the warm room while the girls played outside with Dan.

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Our last night in Northport we came up with a Grand Finale activity. We ate an early dinner than bundled everyone up in their pajamas and drove to an overlook to watch the sunset. This turned out to be pretty hilarious. Everyone was freezing and it felt like the sun took forever to set. When it finally did there wasn’t much to it. No pretty colors, just a big, blinding ball of fire sinking below the horizon. But it made a great memory that we can already laugh about.

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Friday was the day we had to leave Northport, which was sad for everyone. But, not to rush things. We wanted to enjoy every moment of our trip so we planned a grand outing for Friday as well. We hung out in our old stomping grounds, letting the girls run around on the train playground at F and M park. Then we walked the downtown stretch, stopping to sample goodies at Cherry Republic (where we also received free apples in honor of “Apple Days” weekend, but alas, no cider), and stopping again to eat at the supposed best pizza place in town.

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As you can see, this was a special treat. Lydia was practically in awe of her own personal pizza which was twice as big as her stomach and much bigger than her face. Before the night was up we made one last grocery store stop to find…

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Apple Cider! And at that moment the trip officially became a success.

We had a wonderful week. Every memory is pleasant. We have never seen the girls, especially Abby, so happy ALL the time. Paul was as cooperative as ever. And Dan and I got to revisit our honeymoon location. As we were about to leave I was feeling a little sentimental as I looked out over the bay and thought about how crazy it is that we hadn’t been there in so long. Five years and three Munchkins later…Dan came up behind me and just started praying, thanking God for the past years and committing the next ones to Him again. Maybe that, and not the cider, was my favorite moment of the trip. 🙂

Back to Northport

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“Hey Paul,” Lydia said as she lay on the floor looking at her baby brother, “we’re going up North next week. We’re going to see Grandma and Grandpa and go to Nana and Papa’s, and Daddy’s not going to work for a whole week but Ford is still going to pay him!”

That’s Lydia’s explanation of why I won’t be posting next week. We’re busy down here getting ready for our first family vacation on our own. We’ve gone “up North” many times to visit family but this year we’re taking a few days to revisit our honeymoon town, this time with the Munchkins. We’re planning some fun times relaxing, visiting the beach, and maybe watching a sunset or two. I’m excited to go back up where we had our honeymoon and, like Lydia, spend a whole week with Dan.

See you when we get back!

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Family Visits and Flower Petals

This is part two of our latest trip to TC. The first part of our trip involved a swallowed nail and a long day in the ER.

Tuesday morning we got up early and began our trek in to see my sister Christina, with her boys: Colten, Coby, and Evert. We got to see their (sort of) new home, which we hadn’t seen yet, and the girls had a blast playing with their cousins.

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Paul and Evert got to meet for the first time, and we got a picture of the cousins on the couch (a family tradition). Next trip up we need a couch picture with Benjamin too!

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Next stop was my other sister, Steph’s new house. We had a nice visit with Steph and her husband, in-laws, and new baby Benjamin.

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We continued our journey in and stopped for another nice visit with my Grandma Carlson. She got to meet and hold Paul for his nap, and the girls ran around turning everything possible into toys. 🙂

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It was getting late, but not too late for a family dinner at Bob Evans with Christina and her boys, my parents, and my brother, Tim. From their we went to my parents house where we stayed up far too late chatting and finally went to bed exhausted.

Wednesday we got up as early as we could and made a visit to my other Grandparent’s house. Grandma and Grandpa Matson got to meet Paul and play with the girls. When Lydia walked into my Grandma’s dining room, nicely decorated for the fourth of July, she exclaimed, “It’s beautiful in here!”.

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I’m getting tired just remembering this trip, but I’ll try to finish strong!

From my grandparents we went back to my parents house for a few hours so my mom could have some quality playtime with the girls. They had a tea party, played with Play Doh, and ate a quick lunch before we packed up for the ride home.

We made a pit stop at Dan’s Gramma’s house, but I was so worn out, I didn’t even take any pictures! Oh well. We had a nice visit with Gramma. Just before we left, Gramma helped Lydia pick some flowers to take home.

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Gramma, just so you know, Lydia held those flowers as long as we would let her. After we stopped for dinner, I put them with me in the front so Lydia could fall asleep, but as soon as we were home she wanted them back. We put them in a vase which Lydia carried with her from room to room until every single petal had failed off the flowers. I threw away the bare stem at night while Lydia was sleeping because I knew it would be traumatic if she saw me do it!

There Was a Small Girl Who Swallowed A Nail

Last week Dan’s factory was closed for “shut down” so we took a whirlwind of a trip up North to visit some of our family. We headed up late Sunday night and spent Monday with Dan’s parents. Well, that was the plan anyway. The girls enjoyed their morning with Grandma, playing, eating, and enjoying this great big chair I used to spend a lot of time in as a college student.

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After Grandma left for work, we had a lull in our day before Grandpa would get home from work. I decided to take advantage of the quiet house by having everyone take naps. Lydia asked me to lie down with her for a while but when I did she was climbing all over me instead of going to sleep.

Now, when we spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa Taylor’s, we all stay in Dan’s old bedroom. On one wall are several framed pictures and awards hanging up above what is now Lydia’s little bed. We were afraid one of these pictures might fall on Lydia during her nap time so we made sure to take the frame off of the wall before naps.

So, as I grew weary of Lydia’s nap time shenanigans, I told her I was going to go over to my bed (only about four feet away from her). As I looked up, I saw Lydia playing with the nail in the wall that the picture had been hanging on. I gave her a look that said, “Stop that!” and she did, but not before the nail fell off the wall onto the floor behind her bed (so I thought).

I moved to my bed just as Dan came into the room. We were chatting about something when Lydia made a strange gulping noise and looked up at me with a funny expression. Instantly I had a suspicion which Lydia soon confirmed: she had swallowed the nail. Dan called the pediatrician while I talked to Lydia some more, making sure she really swallowed the nail and telling her what was going to happen now.

Lydia loves Curious George, so I reminded her of the story where George swallows a puzzle piece and has to go to the hospital to get an x-ray. Smart Girl reminded me with fear in her voice that at the end of the book George has to get a shot. 🙂

I assured Lydia she wouldn’t need any shots and Dan rushed her to the ER while I stayed behind to feed Paul and wait for Abby to finish her nap.

The ER visit took up the rest of the afternoon. Lydia did a pretty good job (Dan tells me) although she was pretty scared. We used the opportunity to teach her the lesson that you shouldn’t ever put small objects in your mouth!

By dinnertime Lydia was sent home with instructions to get another xray in 5-7 days to make sure the nail passed without any problems.

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We wrapped up our crazy day with a stop at Bob Evans for dinner before heading back to Dan’s parents’ house for the night.

Tuesday began the whirlwind part of our trip where we visited family like crazy, but I’ll save that for another post.

Oh, and for the record, Lydia had her second x-ray on Monday and it was all clear. The nail didn’t cause any problems and is gone for good. Thanks to everyone who was praying and asking about her. She is doing just fine.

Trains and Dinosaurs

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It’s been a couple of weeks now, but I promised I’d share a report from our staycation, so here I go.

After our visit to Plymouth, we gathered up our munchkins and headed out for a day on a farm, including a used homeschool book sale. Our favorite part was getting to see the animals. Lydia loved petting the bunny and watching the ducklings. We like to call them Ducklets. Lately I’ve been thinking about the way baby ducks follow their Mommy around in a little train. I’ve been wishing it was that easy going places with little people. Ours tend to scatter in all different directions rather than follow their parents in a little row.

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The next and biggest event of our staycation was a trip to Greenfield Village. It was Abby’s first time and Paul’s too, and for the rest of us it was only our second visit. I wanted to watch the glass blowing, Dan wanted to see Edison’s buildings, Lydia wanted to watch the train, and Abby wanted to eat some sweet potato tots. Paul just wanted to be carried around all day.

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In the end, Dan got to see his buildings, Paul got to be carried, and I got to see my glass blowing. The girls loved the playground. Abby never got her tot, and Lydia’s first glimpse of the train made her cry (too loud). But in time, we figured out how to enjoy the train. We even stayed late to watch it go by one last time.

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The last successful voyage was over to Ann Arbor to look at the dinosaurs and animals in the Natural History Museum. As always, the dinosaurs were a big hit. We splurged and ate out at a restaurant, only to learn that it’s not worth it to buy the girls a $9 plate of food to share. Abby will definitely throw it on the floor. Lydia will complain that it doesn’t taste good, and in the end they will enjoy the $2 fruit cups from Seven Eleven much more than the $9 plate of restaurant food. Lesson learned. After our lunch and museum visit we trekked over to the Ann Arbor Arboretum for a little walk in some nature. We found a bench in the shade and sat to rest for a long while. I think that time resting on the bench might have been my favorite part of the whole week!

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The last outing for our week was to the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. It was an epic fail. Dan and I don’t really enjoy art that much, but when you throw in a needy baby, a very loud toddler, and a high energy preschooler, we really don’t enjoy art. So, another lesson learned: dinosaurs – yes, paintings – no.

In all I’d say the staycation was a success. We learned a little, had some fun, and ran around enough that we were ready for a normal Monday once Dan started his job. Getting regular meals, naps, and playtime does our family good.

Fur Rondy Highlights

Fur Rondezvous is our church’s annual talent show, named after the Fur Rondezvous festival that takes place in Alaska every year. It’s one of the most anticipated nights of the whole year and our family was especially excited to attend this year because we didn’t know if Baby would make it (in Mommy’s belly) that long.

There were so many fun and beautiful acts this year, but I wanted to share just a few with those of you who weren’t able to join us.

So we begin…

Lydia wanted me to share her two favorite acts.

The Good Samaritan:

And “the Ballerinas”:

This sweet song was a favorite of mine:

Oh, there were just so many good ones!

This group of boys did a superb job at boiling down a long, long Bible story into a very concise skit:

Now that you’ve seen the fun we enjoyed, maybe you’ll consider joining us the third Friday of next February for the 2016 Fur Rondy performance! While nothing is certain, it seems likely that Baby #3 may be making an appearance…

Birthday Shoes and Pizza

When Dan and I first started getting to know each other, we sent emails about once a week while I was away at college. Once I came home for the summer, he kept wanting to get together but nothing just spontaneously worked out, so finally he had to call my house and ask me.

At the time of the phone call I was just about to eat some lunch, a bowl of leftover spaghetti. I answered the phone and was just lifting the first forkful to my mouth when Dan asked, “Have you eaten any lunch yet?” and I (after putting the fork down) honestly answered, “No”.

An hour later we were chatting over sandwiches at Quiznos, finally getting a chance to just sit and talk for the first time only a day before Dan would leave on a ten-day mission trip to Guyana. It wasn’t officially a date. We didn’t start dating for another year and a half. But it was the first date none-the-less. Now I have the joy of eating with Dan every single night, and seeing him every single morning and evening, and I love it.

I share this story because, 1) It’s a good story, and 2) Tuesday was Dan’s birthday, the day we celebrate all things Dan. We love him.

There may have been pizza involved.

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I may have tried to take a picture with just salad on the plate to keep the pizza a little family secret. The secret is out. There was pizza. Lydia went bazurk and Dan didn’t feel all that well afterward. Lesson learned.

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I guarded the cards and gifts zealously for days leading up to this celebration, but finally the time came when Abby…er…Dan got to open presents.

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But, slow down. Cards first. Always.

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Then presents.

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Dan got some much-needed new shoes (barefoot shoes, see how they bend?), weightlifting shoes, and his old jump rope. The girls loved the jump rope but were unimpressed with the shoes. Dan loved the shoes but took the jump rope from the girls because it was getting a little dangerous.

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Dan thanks everyone for their kind birthday thoughts, words, and prayers. Apart from the post-pizza-unwellness, I think he had a nice day. We certainly enjoyed it as we enjoy him every day. And, we were all happy that Baby did not join us for the celebration.

Anniversary Fun

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Last Thursday, Dan and I celebrated our fourth anniversary by going to a Tiger game. We unintentionally bought tickets for the game that happened to be Derek Jeter’s last game in Detroit, which made everything even cooler. The view was great (I thought, Dan would have liked to sit closer), and we had a really good time. It was an exciting game too, tied in the bottom of the ninth. The Tigers won, which made a perfect ending to the afternoon.

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This was our view:
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Some important moments in the game:

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Here’s the win!

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Afterward, Dan treated us all to dinner at a local Ann Arbor restaurant.

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The next day we packed up and headed down to Ohio to visit some good friends, Rob and Crystal and their two-year-old, Joy.

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We had so much fun hanging out in their house, going for walks, and visiting nearby parks with the girls.

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On Friday night we stayed up a little late, sitting on the porch and catching up while we munched on Rob’s homemade bread. Lydia shared a bed with me, and it turned out she is quite the bed-hog!

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Saturday morning we all got up early to go running with the local running club. Well, we all ran and met up at the end. Some of those runners ran 18 miles that morning! So we just took it easy and went off on our own. Dan and I enjoyed touring the beautiful downtown area and jogging near the river. Afterward we browsed the local farmer’s market before heading back to the house.

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We had so much fun and all too soon it was time to say goodbye. We made our way back home by Saturday night, but Sunday I came down with some sort of bug that left me helpless in bed for the whole next week. This week things are finally starting to get back to normal, just in time for Dan to begin teaching a college class for the semester and start a new job! Yes we tend to clump our major life changes all together at once!

Sunflowers and Music Notes

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This weekend our family had the privilege of attending the wedding of Peter and Rachel, a young couple from our church. Everyone, even Lydia, has been looking forward to this wedding for months (just days for Lydia, actually) and we weren’t disappointed.

Peter and Rachel is that they both grew up going to the same church. They knew each other for years, but only as friends. Independently they sought God about marriage and both became certain they were to marry each other without ever talking to anyone else about it. When Rachel was deciding what to do after high school, Peter decided it was his time to step in and start a relationship. Both families were in favor so Peter asked Rachel to begin a courtship. They continued to read the Bible, pray together, and seek the Lord’s leading and their parents’ guidance all the way up to engagement and their wedding day. And the Lord blessed their faithfulness with a happy courtship and relatively smooth wedding planning. They are a great couple with a great story. (Peter and Rachel, we just love you guys!)

So anyway, the wedding. There was a lovely ceremony followed by an equally lovely, strolling reception. We talked with old friends, made new friends, and everyone had a happy time. So, without further adieu…

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Dan tells me people don’t really watch the bride walk down the aisle. They glance at the bride and than watch the groom for his reaction.

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The maid of honor was Rachel’s sister, and our Pastor happens to be the groom’s dad.

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Congratulations Peter and Rachel! It was such a joy to share in your wedding day and to watch your love story unfold. God bless you both and your new marriage!

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