secret summer

Although the city took out the swimming area buoys and we saw the bottom of our sunscreen and popsicle box earlier this week, it’s the beginning of our secret summer in northern Michigan. Shhhh. September is one of my favorite times of year with its golden light, unexpected beach days, changing colors, hints of a colorful fall to come and bounty from the garden. But most of the tourists are gone!

Here’s to a beautiful September.

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…

fading

Summer’s fading, lovelies. I happily wore jeans today and although I know we’ll have more days full of sweating and swimming and cursing the humidity, the dog days are (probably) behind us. I thought before I got ahead of myself and started thinking about wearing socks again, I should check in with my summer list and see how we’ve been doing. So here goes.

  • enjoy my annual corn dog at the Cherry Festival  CHECK!
  • can and/or pickle something from our garden Not yet, because pesto doesn’t really count although I put it in a jar.
  • pick strawberries (DONE!) and blueberries to put up (freeze, jam, bake?)  CHECK!
  • eat a fresh sandwich from the Village Cheese Shanty in Leland  CHECK!
  • take the girls to the Northwest Michigan Fair. “Goin’ to the fair, goin’ to the fair, goin’ to the Northwest Michigan Fair!”  (Wren went with Grandpa and Grandma so this counts!) CHECK!
  • stay up late to be awed by the Perseid meteor showers in August (I tried looking several times this past weekend from our house and I think it was just too darn light in the bustling metropolis of Traverse City, boo.)
  • dance with the little birdies at the Cedar Polka Fest. CHECK!
  • take in a film at the Traverse City Film Festival. NOPE. Boo!
  • finish painting the house. CHECK! We hired Student Painters and it was finished in three days (more on that soon, yippppeeeee!)
  • update the kitchen and move the oven up before the littlest birdie is on the move  Not yet…
  • speaking of moving birdies… enjoy watching the littlest birdie begin to move  She mostly goes in circles still. But not for long!
  • enjoy lots of park picnics CHECK!
  • visit all the playgrounds in the area CHECK! Well, not all, but a lot so far.
  • swim with Melissa. Not yet!
  • train hard for the Sleeping Bear 1/2 Marathon in October. Training is just really getting going…
  • continue losing weight and getting fitter (did I tell you I’ve been doing an early morning boot camp? oof) Still boot camping!
  • help Wren develop her swimming skills. She has turned into a little fish this summer. So fun to see!
  • have a date night with Chris at Siren Hall with evening sunshine, gin and tonics and shrimp. CHECK! We’ve had TWO date nights, thank you very much.
  • take our first family camping trip (also taking tips and recommendations, but not your horror stories, please and thank you!) Not yet, but hopefully soon…

How ’bout you, lovelies? Are you savoring the remains of summer? I’m soaking it up while staring at a school supply list (markers!) for Wren for her primary program. Less than a month! Oh my.

 

Cousins

“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!

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.