Saturday, July 30, 2011

Up North

Oh vacation.  It ended today....we rolled back into Grand Rapids around one in the was a refreshing 90 degrees, the lawn looked like no one lived in the house (or like some of the other delinquents that live in our neighborhood), we had a car full of haphazardly placed beach toys, suit cases, left over food, and Georgia equipment.  Chris opened the back door of the Envoy; a bag of food fell out all over the garage including a random bottle of beer that broke open, spilling onto some pouches of Capri Sun and Georgia started crying because Daddy's special juice got all over her special juice.'s good to be home. 

It really is nice to be home.  It's always like that, right?  As amazing and relaxing as vacation is, it's always good to come back to home base where you can lay on the carpet without thinking about what else is laying on the carpet, where you can take a really hot shower, where you can STOP eating everything you see every 5 minutes and not feel like the Goodyear blimp, where you can check out your tan lines, and pore over the pictures from an amazing week playing in the water, feeding ducks, petting frogs, eating peaches, getting ice-cream, going fishing, shopping, and laughing. 

We went up to Lake Ann, Michigan for the fourth year in a row....Georgia's parents rent a cottage there for all of us each year and I think it's safe to say it's officially a tradition.  There are so many things I could tell you about our week up north and so many pictures {of Georgia} I could show you but I think what I'll do instead for right now is give you my top fifteen highlights of the week as caught on my goes....

First.....a full week with Chris and Georgia. No work, no meetings, no evening appointments, no schedule, no where we have to be, no stupid little fights about tone of voice (wait....what...we don't have those)......just a glorious week spent together in the sunshine and water. 

Second....early morning boat rides and fishing trips into little bays littered around Lake Ann.  We'd throw on some jeans and sweatshirts or just stay in our pajamas and motor around the lake with Georgia (who we'd bribe into taking her medicine with the promise of a boat ride--oh yeah...she came down with a wicked bladder infection two days before we left).

Third....Georgia loving her daddy.  I think it is crucial for Georgia to be able to spend a full, uninterrupted week with Chris where she can see him all day long, swim with him, eat lunch with him, have him get her up from her naps, and fall in love with him more than she already is. 

Fourth.....high expectations.  My dad and I love puzzles.  I promised him I'd bring one that we could work on throughout the week.  I purchased the world's most ridiculous puzzle that I think only Rainman would be able to complete.  A bazillion piece puzzle of cupcakes....every other one with the same sprinkles as the one to the right of it, all with the same colored frosting, and just plain insane.  This is the puzzle on Friday afternoon before we  Yep....high expectations are great......delusion is not.  Thankfully, the high expectations for the week as a whole were spot on--the puzzle...not so much. 

Fifth.....discovery.  Georgia was so excited every time she found one of these little shells.  We spent a lot of time combing the shore for these little guys and had a pretty good collection at the end of the week.  And every time she found one it was the first time all over again.  I wish I could bottle up that two year old excitement and wonder and take a big swig of it when I'm living in my cynical, cranky, adult world. 

Sixth.....swimmers itch.  Hmmmmmm....makes a good story right.  Apparently, when freshwater lakes, a really hot summer, and a lot of ducks meet, their love child is swimmers itch.  Chris got a pretty good case on his legs....I'll spare you the picture and we got a good laugh out of it.  Word to the wise....if you know this is a possibility in the water you're swimming in.....shower right after you get out. 

Seventh.....curly suckers.  Oh....what a mess this was.  But, Georgia loved it and of course Gaga was just eating up every moment of her having this....all over her face, her sweater, in her hair, on my was really was; it's what vacations are for.

Eighth....catching her first fish with daddy.  I'm sending this picture to Field and avid fisherman husband holding his Cinderella fishing pole.  There has to be a spot on the pages of their magazine for something as cute as this. 

Ninth....Leland.  This is a must-see on your tour of great towns in up north Michigan.  This old fishing village is home to tempting little shops, delicious smoked salmon, good people watching, and a great cloudy day activity.

Tenth....being a tomboy.  What I love about Georgia is that she loves putting on make-up with me in the morning while I'm getting ready and then she loves catching ants while we take a walk.  I'm going to work my darndest to help her keep loving bugs and frogs and dirt......just as long as she shares that love with a mascara wand too.

Eleventh....perfect picnics of smoked salmon, french bread, sharp cheese, tomatoes, and grapes.

Twelfth.....brandy peach pie.  It's really like putting a piece of heaven in your mouth.  In fact, I'm pretty sure we'll eat this in heaven.  I'll post this recipe on Mom Colored Glasses in about a week....stay tuned.

Thirteenth....serenity.  I'm not a nature girl....I'm really not. But, when I'm here it's hard not to appreciate the calm, the quiet, the peace, the nature....oh, those Pure Michigan ads...they're getting to me. 

Fourteenth.....beach projects.  My mom.....who can think of a craft for every occasion, season, purpose, outfit, and party has made sand-casts a tradition on every vacation we go on where sand is involved.  We commemorate something great about that vacation in these plaster casts and have them forever.  Again....I'll post a tutorial on Mom Colored Glasses next week.

Finally....satisfaction. Satisfaction that we've lived life for a week that is full of memories and laughing and learning and getting better at new things (and old things).......that we've appreciated each other more, that we've practiced being calm and still in a world that is crazy and hectic (one that we'll return to shortly) and that we've woven one more very strong thread into the fabric that makes up who we are.  

See you next summer Lake Ann. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

What I Learned at Michigan Adventure Amusement Park

Sunday--It was in the mid-nineties.  My friend Rachel and I must be fortune tellers.  We put Sunday, July 17th on the calendar two months ago as the day that we were going to go to Michigan Adventure Water Park.  We hoped for good weather.  Who would have known we'd get the best weather ever to play in the water all day?  It was perfect.  I don't think I saw one tooth chatter all day.  No one wanted to get out of the water. 

While there I learned to be very thankful for eight things I don't frequently think about (well...except for the last one--you'll see).  But baby--I'm super thankful for these things!

Here we go.  I'm thankful........

1.  I do not sport a tattoo on any of the following locations; my neck, down the entire length of my leg, coming out of the top of my bikini bottom (really ladies, really?), across my stomach, around my belly button, a trail of thorny roses that starts on my chest and wraps around my waist/down my thigh and ends on my feet,down the entire back of my leg, or anywhere that's been stretched out by a baby. 

2.  For swim diapers.  I mean sure....they're great....I've always acknowledged that....but..........Georgia went through three of them in about one hour (know what I mean?). 

3.  For chlorine (see #2)....and loads of it.  I asked Chris what percentage of the water flowing through that water park (and there are thousands of gallons of water) was urine--his guess was the high twenties.  Ah....the eternal optimist--it's why I love him. 

4.  I'm not these ladies.  Yikes. Way too hot, way too much water, and way too many clothes.

5.  For my Vera Bradley duffel bag.  I have never been a huge Vera fan--my sister however, bleeds the stuff.  But they came out with a new pattern this spring that I liked and my mom bought me a duffel bag.  This thing holds so much stuff and is so light to carry.  I shoved a change of clothes for all of us in there, three beach towels, water bottles, sun screen, my camera, snacks, diapers, wipes, shoes, and hats.  I could have fit all of that in there again.  If you're looking for a bag that you can put insane amounts of stuff in and still carry without wheezing--invest in one of these.

6.  For parking lot picnics.  Sure....Chris and I like paying $8.99 for a small fry but sometimes it's nice to be allowed re-entry into the park so you can leave for a bit and go eat a picnic in the parking lot for dinner. 

7.  For kiddie rides.  I LOVE amusement parks and all of the huge roller coasters.  I love that feeling of my stomach dropping and waiting in line for two hours for a two minute ride that you can scream your lungs out on.  I love it.  I love waiting in line with friends and making fun of all of the teenage couples who can't keep their hands off of each other even though it's 100 degrees out.  I'm like, "Please.....get your hands off of me--it's hot, I'm sticky, and I feel like a big sweaty mess." But............yesterday I gained a new appreciation for the kiddie rides.  That tucked away little corner of the amusement park that's probably a punishment if you're a ride operator--but it's great.  Georgia was in her glory.  We were a little worried she'd be her typical wary self and not want to try anything but we were dead wrong.  She wanted to ride everything over and over.  We even took her on the log run (it's a pretty good hill) and even though she said it "scared me a little bit" she cried when we told her it was the last ride and we had to go home.   It made me so happy to watch her little beaming face as she rode the whales, the cars, the boats, and the carousels.  Even happier than when I roar down the hill of the Raging Bull at Six Flags. 

8.  For good friends and great kids.  Another hard thing about infertility (for me) besides the obvious was that I felt like we were constantly getting left behind.  All of our friends had kids.  With kids comes kid activities like parades, and playgrounds, and soccer games, and amusement park days like we had yesterday.  People with kids always assume that if there is a couple that doesn't have kids they won't want to come to that kind of  "stuff" so they don't ask them along.  It's not ill-intentioned, and now that I have a kid of my own who whines and cries sometimes and interrupts conversations and doesn't want to walk fast I get why you might think, "who wants to be around this all day if they don't have to?" 

But, it's hard.  I wanted that relationship with another family.  I wanted a level of comfort with their kids that they'd stay with me and do what they were supposed to do while their mom took care of something else.  I wanted them to ask me to help them tie their shoe and not only think their mom could help them.  I wanted them to want to ride a ride with me.  And I wanted my child to feel the same way about someone else. I wanted my child to run around and chase other kids, tackle each other, want to be near other kids because she felt so comfortable with them.  I wanted my child to ask if so and so's mom and dad were going to be there because she liked them. 

At the end of the night last night our friends little girl Madi gave me a hug, totally unprompted, while we were waiting for the tiny girls to get off of a ride.  She said she was tired and thanked me for letting her sit in our log on the log ride.  It meant the world to me. I'm so thankful for these friends of ours, the Hammonds, and that there is this level of comfort where our kids can hang out and play and almost annoy each other sometimes but love each other all at the same time and I'm thankful for their parents who are so fun to be with, so easy to be with, and so valuable to be with--they are great friends.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Enna {My brave sister}

Are you someone that defines your moments or lets the moments define you? 
My sister--she defines moments. 
She moved to Pittsburgh today.
She was offered an incredible job.
But it was incredibly hard to take it because it meant doing a very brave thing.
Starting over.
Moving to a brand new city.
Where she doesn't know anyone.
And my sister usually knows everyone.
It meant re-adjusting her ideas of what life would look like.
It meant moving away from family and friends.
It meant creating a new reality.

It MEANS opportunity.  It means she is one of the strongest, bravest, smartest, wisest, deserving people I know.  It means.....that I believe there are great things in store for my little sister in Pittsburgh.  It means that like always...I'm proud to call Enna (that's what Georgia calls her), Whimsical (that's what I called her growing up), and Ellen my little sister. 

It means I love her like crazy. 
Pittsburgh will never be the same.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Biters, Hitters, Breakers, & Mom Guilt

See this kid?

The cute one kissing a flamingo light.....or a "mingo" as she calls them.

And this one?

Checking out books at the library like the little smartie that she is.

Or how about her?
Working intently on a project at the children's museum--or is she trying to cut her hand?  I don't know.  Either way--love that profile and I am tempted to eat those cheeks most of the time I look at them. 

And then there's this kid.

Throwing a temper tantrum at the children's museum because I wouldn't let her walk down the stairs all by herself--even though she's big.  Aghhhhh--if I have to hear about her being big another time...................(I actually love it and wouldn't wish it away for anything on the face of this planet).'s her dirty little secret.  She's a hitter.  Yep--I said it out loud. 

I escaped my kid being a biter ( one likes the kid that bites right?).  And I have never moved one knick knack, vase of flowers, picture frame, or had to install even the hint of any child-proofing device anywhere in my house because she never tried to break anything, touch anything, or get into anything she wasn't supposed to.  She says please and thank-you.  She tells me that she loves me 'ever' (forever).  She squeezes my cheeks in her intense little way and tells me, "You a beautiful girl mommy."

But she's a hitter.

She hits mommy when she's frustrated--because she can't figure something out, I'm trying to comb her hair, her face is getting wiped and she has other plans, she's being spoken to sternly, or I'm trying to un-buckle her from her car seat when she's cranky.  Not in the face.....on the arm, on the hands, on my leg, or the top of a table.....she's a hitter.  Don't worry--if you have a play date with us she won't hit your kid.  I'm the lucky recipient of this frustration. 

And here's the thing....I've tried everything--time-outs, taking things away, not doing our planned events, squeezing her hand, a slap on the leg, and on and on and on.  And here's the other thing......I was a teacher for ten years and I ran an unbelievably well managed is this two year old changing my game?

Through her cunning two year old ways, that's how.

I know.  This too shall pass right?  It's all a phase.  She's two.  It's not that uncommon (or is it? Don't tell me if it's not--just nod and agree.) But it's so frustrating.  This little girl who I'm working every day on turning into a responsible adult who understands life lessons and consequences and receives consistent everything hits me! And then....when it's happened more than once in a short time span I freak out and speak too sternly to her (in my opinion) and squeeze her little hand and say no and she starts to cry those huge big tears and looks at me and says, "Mommy not do that."  My husband says that's how I know I'm getting through--my crazy mom brain kicks in the mom guilt at that moment. 

I start working through all the scenarios that my actions will result in.  She'll stop trusting me.  She'll go to therapy.  She'll.....................It's truly ridiculous right? I want to go scoop her out of her crib and say I'm sorry and tell her not to worry about it and let's just forget it.  I just feel so guilty.

But that's not right either.  My mom guilt is a lie.  I have to keep telling myself that (at least about this situation) so I don't give into it.  But wow!  Do I hate the mom guilt.  I think I could make a list of 1,000 things that I feel mom guilt about and they'd all be ridiculous because they'd all be things that were normal and that were going to contribute to the well-being of my girl.

Agh.  That's it.  That's what's on my mind tonight.

Can I get an amen for hating mom-guilt?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Thank-you for turning on the fireworks.

That's what Georgia yelled as the first firework lit up the sky on Sunday night.  We really thought we'd be picking her up and carrying her out through a crowd of thousands of people because she was so terrified.  But as usual--she proved us wrong and was her happy, in awe of everything self.  She let everyone know what color each fire-work was. "Oh, that's a blue one." "That's a beautiful green one." "I like these." "I'm sitting by myself--I'm big." 

Oh yeah.  She's big. She's told everyone since that she sat all by herself while watching the fireworks.  She mustered up all of her bravery and sat on the blanket next to me all on her own.  She didn't have to crawl into my lap, in fact, she didn't want to.....and she's just growing up so fast. 

The weekend was fabulous!  Chris and I got drenched at a Tiger's game on Saturday night....and by drenched I mean I didn't have any remnants of mascara and eyeliner on my face when we got back to our car because it had all washed off.  I mean that Chris drove home in his underwear and said he never imagined he'd get to walk into his in-laws house on a Saturday night wearing his rooster boxers only.  I mean, I sat on a floor mat the whole way home because I was afraid of ruining the seat.  I was a monsoon. 

We played on the deck, in the kiddie pool, watched the closing arguments in the Casey Anthony trial (I was as obsessed with this trial as my mom had been with OJ), and on Sunday night we packed up Beverly Hillbillies style and had a picnic and fireworks viewing party with good friends and family. 

We went to Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan....a historic village that's opened year round and definitely worth a visit if you've never been.  The Detroit Symphony Orchestra plays live music both before and during the fire-works, thousands of people picnic on the lawns, and it's such an amazing, nostalgic, Americana moment.  I was thrilled to be able to finally go again, as it'd been a few years, and this time with Georgia.

I'm a sucker for traditions and believe it's very important for kids.  Traditions make kids value family, keep them grounded, lend themselves to a feeling of stability, keep them coming back for more.  We had a fourth of July tradition all while we grew up--we'd trek down to the Grandville High School lawn in Grand Rapids and watch the show, and when it was over my parents would push me back to my grand-parents house in a wheelbarrow where I'd for sure fall asleep.  It was great.  I'll never forget those hot summer nights, the sparklers, rice krispie treats, and how tired and sun-burned we were from swimming all day in my grand-parents pool.  It was what being an American kid should be all about. 

I don't know if this will be our forever 4th of July tradition with our kids.....but it's a strong contender!
Cute, tan, little 4th of July feet. 
I thought the sky was going to open up at any minute....and look at all these people...I was envisioning a riot.  Instead, it was just fabulously over-cast, not hot, and so incredibly pleasant.
Bubble guns with Owen....who doesn't love an over-priced holiday souvenir? Thanks Pop Pop. I've enjoyed filling this up about 40 times since we've been home, for one day, and putting an end to every melt down every time "we" think there are no more bubbles in the gun and it's broken.  It's a super good time. 
Owen gives Georgia a 4th of July present.  Oh....these two.....
Look at that white outfit right?  How crazy am I dressing a two year old in a solid white (save the blue rick rack) outfit for a picnic, on the ground?  I figured.....just go for it.  It screams 4th of July, when else will she wear it, and I got it on sale anyway at the end of the summer last year for about $12 total.  It's white, unless she's wearing it in a bubble, it will get dirty.  And guess what?  It came home almost the same way that it went to the picnic......a little oxi clean on the butt before I washed it and it's perfect.  I'm truly stunned. The 4th of July gods must have really wanted her to wear it and they deemed it good.   
Can we get any more Norman Rockwell than this?
And we start the eating.  I lost track of what Georgia consumed after two of these cookies, two cupcakes, two more cookies, sugar dots, chips, kettle corn, and random candy from everyone we were with.  I really just gave up.  We were going to be up until midnight anyway--who couldn't use a sugar rush?
Carol & my mom.....Georgia loved Carol.  Loved her!
Pop Pop making up another funny game.  He's got a knack for that.
Owen & Jill.  Our camping friends....and wish we lived closer to each other friends.
And again....these two little cuties.  They went on their first date last September while camping.  We let Owen drive her in his car.  He comes from good people so we trust him...........
A little Fedora love. 
And the money shot......
Happy 4th of July! 

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