Our Summer Family Staycation – Part 2

(You can read about the first half of our staycation here.)

Wednesday morning we got up early, loaded everyone into the van, and started driving straight West, to South Haven. I’d never been to South Haven before, and had heard good things about it. When our vacation budget started shrinking this winter (due to unexpected home repairs) we decided to stay home for vacation, but then I had the idea that we could spend one night somewhere on a beach and give the kids a couple of beach days on Lake Michigan. So, Dan booked a local hotel about as close to the beach as we could get and we planned a two day outing in South Haven.

When we got to town, we grabbed some lunch and headed straight for the beach. It was, after all, the whole reason we had come. Abby wasn’t too sure about the water, but Lydia loved it. Paul played in the sand, and eventually figured out that he could sit in the wet sand just close enough to the water to feel the waves hitting his legs. So that became his little home on the beach.

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Although we had mentally planned on spending the whole day at the beach, it turns out a whole day is too long for our family to do any one thing. Paul and Mommy, in particular were worn out and ready for a nap after about an hour in the sun. So we made the half mile trek to our hotel and checked in. The hotel was fantastic, and I was so glad I let Dan talk me into staying in one of the local ones closer to the beach. As it was, we spent a LOT of time walking, but it was nice to just park the car and leave it in the parking lot for our whole stay.

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After a little rest in our hotel we explored downtown and grabbed some dinner. Then we headed back to the beach in time to watch the sun set. The kids loved playing in the sand, while Dad and Mom just relaxed on a bench and watched the sun go down over the water.

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As soon as the sun set, everyone cleared off the beach and our family called it a night. The next morning we got up early to get in a little beach time before naps and heading home. It wasn’t that early, but we still got the whole beach to ourselves. It was just us and the sea gulls.

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On our way out of town, we stopped to go blueberry picking. We had high hopes of picking three buckets. Soon, however, we realized the girls would not be able to fill their own bucket. So, we set our hopes on picking two full buckets. Then we realized how long it takes to pick blueberries and how impatient our children were becoming. We set Abby and Lydia to work picking blueberries to feed to Paul while Dan and I picked as fast as we could and left exhausted with just under one bucket of blueberries.

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Not to worry, though. One bucket of blueberries is enough to eat several hand-fulls, to make two blueberry desserts and blueberry waffles, and to freeze some for snacking later. (Our family loves to eat frozen blueberries for a treat).

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Friday was a day of rest. Apart from making waffles and taking afternoon naps, we didn’t really do anything but stay home. Saturday was going to be our grand-finale: a day at the splash pad. When the time came, we got into the car just in time to hear thunder and feel the first rain drops of a storm. We went to the splash pad anyway, hoping the storm would pass quickly. Then we sat in the parking lot listening to the thunder, watching the lightening, and discussing how irresponsible it would be to let our kids play on the splash pad with lightening in sight. We finally decided to drive to Plymouth and walk around instead, once the storm lightened up. It didn’t seem like a day for the splash pad, after all.

The rain was pretty much done by the time we got to Plymouth, and, as it turned out, there was a free event going on where the kid could do activities and pick out prizes. So, the kids got their prizes and we had a special dinner out followed up by dessert with Grandpa.

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We made it home late and fell into bed, exhausted, but pleased that our staycation was a success.

Our Summer Family Staycation – Part 1

Last month Dan took a week off work and we enjoyed an action-packed staycation (with an overnight trip in the middle). We started off with a day-trip to our church camping trip, which affirmed our earlier decision NOT to take our children camping overnight. Camping is fun when you’re a kid. Maybe it’s fun when you’re an adult. But when you’re chasing around three little Munchkins (and pregnant) it’s a LOT of work. We enjoyed our day of fun and I decided to let Lydia sleep in the tent with me for one night, in our back yard. Even that was a big much for me this time, with a baby in my belly, a bathroom trip in the middle of the night, and a leaky air mattress, but we survived. And, Lydia thought it was a lot of fun.

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Next up we packed everyone into the van and headed down for a day at the Toledo Zoo. I may have mentioned before that we bought a family membership this year, and this was our second trip out. Since we are able to go periodically now, we don’t burn ourselves out trying to see every single exhibit. Instead, everyone picks one thing they want to see and we call it a day.

My choice came first: the Arctic animals. They are my favorite. We made it just in time to watch the trainers feeding the seals.

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Then we went inside and watched their Mommy and Baby polar bears swimming together. So sweet.

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As always with our kids at the zoo, the statues were almost as much fun as the real animals.

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Lydia chose to see the giraffes next.

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Then we took a break to let the kids play on the splash pad. It was short break, though, because the splash pad turned out to be extremely slippery. After a few wipe-outs we decided to move on.

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Abby chose to see the monkeys, and by now most of the visitors were clearing out. We got this little guy all to ourselves.

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Dan chose the aquarium, which is always his favorite. When you first walk in there’s this big wall of bubbles that amazes the kids, again, almost as much as the animals.

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Once we made it past that bubble wall, I loved watching the kids expressions as they got close-up looks at some of the animals.

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Then we called it a day. The next day we stayed a little closer to home and had more of a low-key trip: Ann Arbor. It’s a family favorite. First we visited the Natural History Museum, where we mostly enjoyed looking at the dinosaur bones. Afterward we piled everyone onto a Blue Bus and took a trip around North Campus. Sadly, the bus trip proved to be a little too long for our kids and the novelty wore off after the first few minutes. Lesson learned.

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We had to change our plan at this point, because we had planned a beach day for Thursday, but it was supposed to thunderstorm. So, we bumped up that part of the trip, but that’ll be continued in Part 2…

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.