“Cousins are different beautiful flowers in the same garden.”

We’ve had such a fun, cousin-filled summer overflowing with quintessential childhood memory snapshots. It’s so nice now that Wren’s a bit older and she can really play with all her cousins on both sides of the family and develop relationships and boss people around and share bad habits. I don’t really know my own cousins very well, but I can’t imagine my girls growing up and not knowing their cousins. I know we just get busier and busier and schedules fill up and soon enough too much time goes by and you don’t see each other… until there’s a wedding or a funeral. Boo. I hope we always make an effort to get these wonderful little ones together so they can have lifelong cousin friends.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget Wren and Griffin on the Hydroslide. I was back on the dock and I could hear Wren yelling, “go faster, Grandpa!!!” One of those “where did my baby go?” moments.

And when did sharing become fun? I’m so glad these kiddos are (mostly) over the everythingismine stage. For now!

The days are getting a bit shorter and as the sun sets on most of our cousin-filled fun, we are feeling extra grateful for our families. It takes a lot of effort to travel and take time away from work and normal life activities, but it’s worth it. Thank you!

in a trance

Behold some beauty, lovelies. My Mom (thanks, Mutti!) sent my brother and I each a package of trance lanterns and we chose to explore this whole fire-with-young-kids thing together. It was so fun and incredibly beautiful. Have you seen these yet? I haven’t seen them sold locally yet, but you can get them here on Amazon. As Wren likes to say, “and they don’t make any noise!” She does NOT like the noise of fireworks. These would be great for any celebration out in a meadow or near the water where you could gaze up at a lot of them at once. En masse, lovelies, en masse. We’re going to set off a few more tonight with the other cousins. More fire-with-young-kids fun!



Escape from Cherry Fest

We’re in the midst of the National Cherry Festival here in Traverse City and while I love my annual corn dog (check!) and ferris wheel ride (and elephant ear, ahem) just like the next fair-goer, the traffic and craze and dust and heat and cheese factor of it all gets to me after a few days. The girls and I were in need of a quick escape from it and I remembered there were some hosta gardens about twenty minutes away I’d heard about. People have been telling me about them for several years now, but I hadn’t made it a priority to go see them. And although it wasn’t on my summer list, it’s one of the best times I’ve had this summer.

Cedar Hedge Gardens (no hosta in the name at all!) is really a private home with four acres of Japanese-style gardens for wandering, chimes for listening, gongs for banging and ponds for gazing. It was just what we needed: calm, serene, beautiful. I wanted to take a really long, cool nap under the big trees with the elephantine hosta leaves to shade me. Aaaah.

Grandpa Jon’s raspberries

Last week we spent a steamy mid-afternoon picking more than our share of Grandpa Jon’s raspberries. Strawberries are usually my favorite fresh summer fruit, but put a quart of hot-off-the-bush raspberries in front of me? Watch out. Amazing.

Wren is a funny little birdie, but you probably already knew that. She’s really into being nude these days and all she needed was to see Grandpa picking without his shirt to join in on the fun. Soon enough, however, even a pair of shorts proved to be too much constriction. Because really, who doesn’t want to pick raspberries in the nude? Oh my.

Phoebe is into a different sort of fun these days. While she too enjoys nudity, she also loves a good round of peekaboo. Or maybe she’s wondering where all the raspberries went? Guilty.

Once we got home, all four of us dove (almost) head first into the raspberries. Phoebe thought it was pretty incredible too.

I’m not really sure how babies do it exactly, but they make such a ridiculous mess from such a small amount of anything. Phoebs, raspberries on your cankles, really? Bathtime was a juicy one.

spontaneity on Sleeping Bear Bay

I’m not really much of a planner and yet I’m not always up for a last minute, spontaneous evening outing with the birdies either. But Chris came home early Friday night and suggested we grab some hot dogs, s’mores fixings, gin & tonics (you know, the basics…) and swim suits and drive out to Good Harbor Bay for the evening. Alright, let’s do it! So we rushed around to pack up beach, dinner, and bedtime stuff, which easily turns into a car full of about half the house. So. We eventually got out to Good Harbor and were immediately attacked by biting flies. Arrghh. On to spontaneous plan two.

At this point Wren is very hungry and annoyed that she has to get back in the car so I throw her an open package of graham crackers and we’re on our way. We head south down M-22 and I remember that there’s a great beach on Sleeping Bear Bay that I know as Thoreson Beach, although I really have no idea if it even has a name. So we got to “Thoreson Beach” and were greeted with wind, dark clouds and a looming storm in the distance, but no biting flies. After some discussion about how much time we had before the storm hit, we hauled the stuff down to the beach. As we were setting up, the storm clouds began to dissipate. And a magical evening was had.

Say yes to last minute ideas, lovelies. But don’t let your cell phone spontaneously swim. That, I learned, is really not a great idea.

Happy Summer!

Happy (official) summer, lovelies! Although the needle has hovered around summery temps off and on since March (!) this year, the summer solstice is upon us. Truth be told, summer is not my favorite season because I don’t fair very well in the heat, but I am planning on embracing it this year. Yes indeed. I have already run more miles in 90 degrees than I ever have so I feel like I’m ready for the heat. I still haven’t exactly figured out how to beach it with a toddler and sand-eating babe in tow, but I’m getting my head and heart wrapped around it. Our nest is in the market for a beach tent/canopy thingy right now. Taking recommendations! And ideas on how to make it work…

It was fun to revisit last year’s Summer List and think about where we were then and the season of life we’re in now. I had a growing baby bump and was still trying to wean Wren from her bedtime nursing. Wren was just two and so much has happened since then. For one, we’ve got this beautiful almost 8 month old with us now who loves to share her sister’s popsicles. And Wren’s bedtime nursing? She just gradually stopped on her own, maybe 4-5 months ago? Or maybe more. My sleep-deprived Mama brain can’t remember! Anyway, I’m glad there was no trauma involved and she weaned on her own. Phew. Now she’s a “big girl” of three with an insatiable appetite for watermelon.

So this year’s summer-with-two-birdies list? Here goes. Many are repeats because they’re just essential.

  • enjoy my annual corn dog at the Cherry Festival
  • can and/or pickle something from our garden
  • pick strawberries (DONE!) and blueberries to put up (freeze, jam, bake?)
  • eat a fresh sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty in Leland
  • take the girls to the Northwest Michigan Fair. “Goin’ to the fair, goin’ to the fair, goin’ to the Northwest Michigan Fair!”
  • stay up late to be awed by the Perseid meteor showers in August
  • dance with the little birdies at the Cedar Polka Fest.
  • take in a film at the Traverse City Film Festival
  • finish painting the house
  • update the kitchen and move the oven up before the littlest birdie is on the move
  • speaking of moving birdies… enjoy watching the littlest birdie begin to move
  • enjoy lots of park picnics
  • visit all the playgrounds in the area
  • swim with Melissa
  • train hard for the Sleeping Bear 1/2 Marathon in October
  • continue losing weight and getting fitter (did I tell you I’ve been doing an early morning boot camp? oof)
  • help Wren develop her swimming skills
  • have a date night with Chris at Siren Hall with evening sunshine, gin and tonics and shrimp
  • take our first family camping trip (also taking tips and recommendations, but not your horror stories, please and thank you!)

How about you, lovelies? What’s on your must-do summer list? Here’s to a wonderful summer filled with sprinklers, bubbles and sandy toes.

37 weeks and still at the beach

It’s been unseasonably warm and sunny here for the past week (!) in northern Michigan. We are trying to soak up as much bare toe time as we can before late fall kicks in and we pull out our scarves again. We spent Saturday evening on the shores of Lake Michigan in Empire. While the air was warm, the water reminded us that it was October after all. Brrrrr. Chris bravely jumped in, but the little birdie and I decided to just play near the water’s edge and cool off our toes. We ended the evening with a sunset, pizza picnic, bonfire and clear glimpses of the Big Dipper and Casseopeia‘s showy “W” for Wren. All that and a reasonable bedtime for all. That’s what you get when the sun sets by 7:30 on the western shores of a timezone… thank you, summer in October.

How was your weekend, lovelies? Did you get all sweaty and hot at the pumpkin patch?