a family ski

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We fell in love with winter all over again this weekend when we awoke to fresh snow and February’s promised blue skies. We all headed out for a long cross country ski together at our favorite local spot and were greeted with a glorious afternoon.

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Wren usually skis for as long as she wants to then jumps in the Chariot with Phoebe for snacks and a tour of the north woods. Each time we go, her own ski time seems to get more enjoyable. She falls a lot, but she laughs a lot and can usually get back up on her own. Last winter there was a very high level of frustration and not a lot of fun for Wren on skis, but it’s encouraging to see her enjoying it more. Often she’ll take off ahead of us and play around on the first little hill before we catch up to her. It’s important to keep it fun and well, there’s always a promise of good snacks. Because why ski if you can’t have good snacks, right?

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It started out cloudy and bitter cold. But by the time we were climbing the hill past the river crossing, the sun came out and everything sparkled. Grins all around. We were warmed up from the climbing and full of awe. One of those days when I felt so grateful for our health and opportunity to enjoy our lives together outside.

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After our cocoa and (peanut butter and Nutella) sandwich break (hey, I said good snacks, right?) about three miles in, we got the girls bundled back up and kept on skiing. Eventually they both fell asleep and took good naps.

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We made it back to the parking lot with the girls still asleep so Chris and I were able to sit together and enjoy each other’s company and more snacks without any whining or interrupting. A rare mini-date! The skies opened up with a fresh dusting of snow and we started to get cold again. Time to call it a day. A great day.

P.S. We all slept so soundly that night and we attribute it to that rare, bright spot in the sky. Thank you, sun!

 

welcome, winter!

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Real winter is finally here and not just according to the calendar. It’s alive and well in northern Michigan as our nest is tightly tucked underneath a fresh blanket of white. Finally! Let’s just hope it lasts beyond just a white Christmas. I’ve got skiing and sledding and snowman-making on my mind. You?

We started the shortest, darkest day of the year with a candlelit breakfast. Everything tastes better by candlelight, no? Although crepes always taste good to me, who am I kidding?

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To take advantage of the few hours of sunlight we have today, we promptly headed outside to our winter wonderland. Snow days are so fun!

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We came in to get warmed up and dried off.

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And to make some more cookies this afternoon because Christmas Is Coming! Thank you, solstice. Thank you, snow day. Thank you, family. Thank you, advent. Thank you, readers!

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stepping into winter

Snap! Just like that it feels like winter. The girls and I enjoyed our first sledding and cocoa sipping afternoon today and I’m looking forward to many more. It seems like it’s been several years since I enjoyed sledding. Either I was pregnant or with a newborn or there was a whining toddler who couldn’t pull her own sled up the hill. Something…

I was so proud of Wren today. She would fly off the sled and get a face full of snow and just laugh it off. She didn’t complain about walking up the hill or about being cold. Another sledder ran right into her while she was playing in the snow and I waited for the tears. Just laughter, yessss. Here’s to more of it! Please and thank you.

Welcome, early winter. I’m glad you’re here with us.

Turkey Trotting

Feeling grateful this Thanksgiving time for a healthy, active family. Wren ran about the first mile of the race with us then she jumped into the stroller with Phoebe for the rest of it. She wanted to jump out a few more times at some of her favorite spots around town and since I wasn’t running for any kind of PR and wanted to encourage her interest, we let her run some more. It’s such a thrill to see her run. It seems like Wren was just learning to walk and now she’s Turkey Trotting. Next year Phoebe will want to join her too. Time, it keeps speeding along.

impromptu

After a great night’s sleep, Wren woke up at 5:30 this morning. This is rare for our birdies so I almost didn’t know what to do with her so early. I pushed her in the Chariot for an early morning run and then she bopped around the house for a while after breakfast. She started whining about wanting to watch a movie, which I almost caved to, but then she started talking about wanting to go on an adventure to Sand Mountain. Again. At first I said “no, not today,” but then I thought “why not?” because we’ve got HOURS until she has to go to school. Let’s do it!

We brought some snacks and we kidnapped our good friend, Heidi, for part of the fun. It was a perfect morning. Warm sun, cool breezes, hardly a cloud in the sky. Thanks, Wren, for the great idea! And here’s to impromptu adventures, lovelies. I’m going to try and do more this fall. You?

 

first camping trip

We did it! We survived our first family camping trip. And there were moments we all actually thrived–not just survived–in the great outdoors. Phew. I knew we would have a great time when we were greeted by a walking stick as soon as we got to the DH Day campground. I hadn’t seen one in years – so cool!

I had forgotten how much I love camping and don’t really care about being a bit dirty. It sure helps to be so close to Lake Michigan for an easy dip to clean off the layer of marshmallow, sunscreen and grime. Who am I kidding? I usually live like I’m just a step away from camping so real camping is not really much of a stretch for me… No make-up, hair in a messy pony tail, coffee stains on my shorts and a smile on my face. The life!

I feel so unexpectedly refreshed after a few days of being completely unplugged and miles away from the chores of day-to-day life. I was a bit stressed getting ready for the trip and truth be told, I think we just about spent more time preparing and packing (and repacking after the birdies took everything out) and then unpacking when we got home… than actually camping, but sometimes that’s the case the first time. Next time it will be easier and faster, right? Ha.

What is it about a kid when they cross their legs? They look about five years older. Gulp.

We went with another family with two girls so there was a lot of girl power and girl drama, including tears over a prized Dora chair and princess cups, hair pulling and an all-out sandy brawl over a PILE OF SAND on Sand Mountain, but thankfully these moments were balanced out with lots of squeals of joy, giggle fits and squishy toddler hugs and super wet kisses. Girls, oh my!

Just a hop, skip and a jump down to Sleeping Bear Bay from the DH Day campground for a refreshing dip. Refreshing=chilly. What happened to our summer water? Regardless, we spent a lot of time in and around the water.

We got into hunting for “cool” rocks too. I’m hooked! I found a nice little Petoskey stone that will be my souvenir from our trip. Please don’t tell anyone from the NPS that I kept it, shhhhh.

When we were getting packed up to leave, there was a lot of screaming and crying about not wanting to leave. I didn’t want to leave either, but it’s best to leave before you’ve overdone it and eaten your weight in s’mores, right? Plus we’ve got a beautiful fall ahead of us and hopefully another camping trip before Old Man Winter comes…

Northport Knots

Sometimes when I have the camera around my neck I feel like I see things in a way my Dad might, or at least I am hopeful that I will. The lines at the Northport Boatyard caught me eye and I had to grab a few shots. I know almost nothing about boating, but there is beauty in the mundane, no? Enjoy.

I overheard a couple of the boaters talking as I was grabbing a couple shots. “What is she taking pictures of, the lines?” Funny looks were exchanged. A chuckle. I felt a bit smug that I was enjoying a tiny bit of the beauty that they walk by fifty times a day. Sometimes it takes an outsider’s eye to draw our attention to what’s right in front of us.

May your day bring you beauty in the mundane day-to-day routine. Enjoy!

Don’t forget the beauty in the messes…

business meets pleasure

I just love it when I get some new work that involves a bit of everything I enjoy: spending time with my family, exploring something new in northern Michigan, photography, writing and design. Bonus: riding bikes!

I was hired recently to create a brochure for the new Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail and I wanted to share some of our family’s first afternoon on the trail and at the Glen Haven beach. We spent some time in Glen Haven this past spring flying kites, but it’s also one of our favorite beaches. Far enough away (25+ miles) to feel like we’re on vacation for the day, but close enough to remind ourselves that this IS really home. And to be trite (because someone’s got to excel at it), there’s no place like it.

We spent most of the early afternoon at Glen Haven’s rocky beach, beating the heat in Sleeping Bear Bay and collecting rocks for Wren’s growing “cool rock” collection. When we thought we had enjoyed enough of the sun and collected enough sand in the little birdie’s swim diaper, we embarked on the second leg of our afternoon adventure. We (well, Chris) got the bikes and Chariot set up for our exploration of the new paved trail.

And off we rode! It was a beautiful late afternoon to explore the trail. First we headed north out of Glen Haven toward Glen Arbor. This section is mostly shady and forested and goes through the DH Day Campground, which we hope will be the spot for our first family camping trip later this month (eeeek!). Ahem.

It felt so great to be back on bikes. It was our first real family-of-four bike ride now that I think of it!

After we hit the northern end of the trail, we headed back south out of Glen Arbor. I enjoyed the southern piece of this leg even more. The trail meandered through forest, an open meadow-meets-dunes area and ended at the Dune Climb, aka Sand Mountain.Then we turned around and headed back to Glen Haven. The trail is about five miles, but with our traveling style it was more like a ten mile ride. Plus a bit more with me yelling, “stop there so I can get a shot,” or “turn around and come back toward me.”

My favorite part? Chris repeating, “I’m so inspired! This is so cool!” Indeed.

When completed, the trail will be 27 miles long and will go from south of Empire to the Port Oneida area of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Can’t wait? Me neither. Help support the expansion of the trail by contributing to the community-supported campaign here.

I know you think I might be cursing us by saying this, but I can’t wait to ski it this winter…

How ’bout you, northern Michigan lovelies? Have you explored the trail yet? What did you think?