Thursday, August 30, 2007

Last Beach Days??

Realizing there are not too many more beach days left we have taken a few days to soak up the last bits of sun. I love this time of summer because the water is so warm, and this year it had been really clear too! It is great. With my dad being retired now, we called him up, he grabbed his kite and away we were!

As long as I can remember, my dad has loved kites. We loved it when he would get out his very fragile red Dragon kite, go down to Riverside Park and fly that kite. In fact, I remember many nights falling asleep to the thought my dad placed in my head. "Now imagine you are laying on a hill with a nice warm breeze and a kite flying high above your head..." It's fun to see my kids get into it with him now..

The funniest thing about this picture is that Jaleigh just kept watching grandpa and every move he made- she did the same. She was checking herself to make sure she was EXACTLY the same as Grandpa. :)

The waves have been really good lately. Nathan loves to take the kids far out in them. I get a little nervous about it at times, but he always keeps a good hold of them and they are never out for too long. Whew!

For some reason, Jaleigh loves to lay in the sand. She sort of just walks away from everyone and then lays down . It's kinda funny. This is a picture of her doing it near my dad, but most of the time it is just when she is off on her own.
Well, just after this picture was taken, Nathan saw her off on her own laying on her stomach in the sand. When he got to her he said, "Jaleigh what are you doing??" She turned over with a cigarette butt in the corner of her lips and with lips closed on one side said, "What's this?" UGG!!!! Why do people drop butts everywhere and why does Jaleigh find it interesting? Gross!

On a side note, I don't want to expose anyone (besides my family I guess...) but I just had to share a couple of adorable pictures I took for a recently engaged couple! :) They were so FUN!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's Jerry Time!!

I know this is a random entry but I have been putting off blogging again until I could completely "catch up". Decided that wasn't going to happen until we settle into a new school routine, so here goes randomness..

I was flipping through the channels tonight and I came across "Jerry Lewis's MDA Telethon". Oh yeah- it's Labor Day weekend. I can't remember when it started- maybe my parents would remember- but I fell in love with Jerry Lewis! I don't remember what movie I saw first, but he was so funny! No other movies made me laugh as hard. I remember being home sick and watching Jerry Lewis movies... over and over and over! My favorites were "Who's Minding the Store", "The Nutty Professor", "The Giesha Boy", "Rock-A-Bye Baby", and I I think I saw "Cinderfella" and "The Bellboy" but I don't remember those too much. I would LOVE to own a few of his movies (can you believe I have none!!) but they are so hard to find. I want to see "Who's Minding the Store" again- that was my favorite! I found a used VHS copy on e-bay for over $20.00 and the auction isn't up for 2 more days...I really wish I could just rent the movies and see if I like them now as much as I did back then. I also wonder if my kids would like them. Hey- if they'll watch all SIX episodes of Star Wars... PLEASE!! I think I had a secret crush on him too. He was so innocent and cute! Ok- I have to post a clip. This is terrible quality and has subtitles but it is hilarious. Note that every lady is wearing a dress and stiletto heels. Also check out the lady that dives over the table. Reminds me a bit of the day after Thanksgiving shopping(minus the dresses and stiletto's!)I love Jerry!!

Anyway- I loved Jerry Lewis soo much and I only saw him in his younger years, so when I found out he did a telethon- I watched non stop! I watched every year and I always called in a pledge to the MDA. Sort of ironic that later I would marry a guy who's family is so greatly affected by Muscular Dystrophy. It is interesting that Jerry Lewis has never said why he has been involved with fundraising for the MDA for more than 50 years. He says it is more important that he is involved than why he is involved. True. With all the diseases and afflictions that plague us today- it's nice to see this one is still supported in such a big way. His goal in the telethon is always to raise "one dollar more" than the previous year. Last year's total was over 61 million. (No I don't remember that- I looked it up!! :) I guess this is all just a way to say that even though he has gotten a little old and weird in a weird way- I still love ol' Jerry and don't forget to watch some of(AND DONATE TOO!!) Jerry's Telethon.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fall Preview

With the first hint of coolness in the air I am immediately energized and excited. I want to put on my sweatshirt, make beef stew, drink hot spiced apple cider, bake bread and I LONG to be outdoors. I want to hike, roller blade, canoe, bike, walk, run, and savor up every last drop of *perfect* weather. More than any other season, we try to really take advantage of each fall day we can.

We have had a fall preview the past few days with highs in the low to mid 60's. It was so exciting to wake up to a chill in the house. I couldn't resist decorating for fall and lighting my Applewood candle. Yummy. We have taken a few bike rides, made stew, and even enjoyed putting socks on! We went to the car races with some friends on Friday night and there was just something about the roar of the cars, the smell of... whatever that smell was, and the cool night air. It was so fun. I love having new experiences with the kids.

Another reason I like the fall especially where we live is during the summer the beaches that are close to our house are always very crowded. It's almost as if once school is back in session we get the beaches back to ourselves. The tourists have gone home, and there is a peacefulness about the beach. As much as I love the beach in the summer, there is something about bundling up and watching the sunset, or just walking along the beach. We moved here in the fall right before Ethan started Kindergarten. Saroya & I picked him up from school after one of his first days and he said, "I am hot. Can we go to the beach?" I thought about it and said, "Sure!" We grabbed a $5 pizza and within 15 minutes we were there. That was one of my first, "Wow" moments of living here and realizing how much I was going to love it.

I know it will warm up soon- forecasts say it will be in the 90's and humid by mid week. That's ok too. I know with fall comes back to school, tight schedules, homework, sports, scouts and not much free time. I long for the days when we could just go for a fall hike in the middle of the day anytime the weather was good, we could go to the apple orchard during the week when it wasn't busy, and we weren't trying to fit fun in. We just had it. I remember a funny last minute fall camping trip where we set up our tent in the dark and only brought marshmallows and every blanket in our house. I was so bummed because I really wanted a campfire and we didn't have wood. Nathan said, "I will be right back." A couple of minutes later I see him emerge from the bathroom with his arms FULL of toilet paper and TP streaming from behind him. He looked like a mummy. We laughed so hard we cried, but we had our fire.... for a few minutes. :)

In the words of the wonderful Chris Carrabba

We watch the season
Pull up it’s own stakes
And catch the last weekend
Of the last week
Before the gold and the glimmer have been replaced
Another sun soaked season fades away

So for the remaining two weeks we have before school starts, we will soak up every last drop of summer and tuck it away for a icy cold (but beautiful) winter day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

KEEN Shoes

It all started several years ago in a department store school shopping with the kids. I saw these clog type shoes that looked interesting. I had Ethan try on a pair. "Mom- I want these! They are sooo comfortable." I had Saroya try on a pair. Same response. I was stunned. Kids talking about comfort?? Perfect. They love the shoes, they are clogs so they can just slip em' on, and a good sale too! SOLD!

Then came the summer and you know we love to hike. They have great sandals that are totally waterproof, and they have a great "toe guard" so they go to the beach and on a hike (which usually happens during the same excursion). Anyway- needless to say, we have become a Keen family. Nathan has 1 pair, I have 3, Ethan is on his second pair, Saroya on her 3rd. All but Miss J. They didn't have her size last year and I have been hearing about it since then. "Where are my Keen shoes?" Every shoe store she asks, "Momma, does this have my Keen shoes?" Finally- I found a good sale after visiting my grandparents in GR and brought them home.

When I got home Nathan & the kids were out back having a bonfire. I yelled for Jaleigh to come see what I had. "Momma- No! We are having a bomb fire." I said, "I got you some Keen shoes." She turned around to Nathan and lowered her voice, "Oh my gosh! Momma got me Keen shoes!!" Then turned back toward me and ran across the yard saying, "Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh!" When she got to me with a look of disbelief she said, "Momma- you got me KEEN shoes??" When I got them out and as I put them on her she just kept giggling with her hand over her mouth. It was the funniest thing! I never imagined it would have affected her this much! How could I have waited SO long?? We needless to say, she feels a part of the family again, and I am the greatest person that is alive today in her eyes. Life is good!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ahhh... The Lake

Sooo... A little more laundry, a bit more grocery shopping, not much cleaning and a whole lot of packing and we were off to our next exciting adventure.

This time it was a camping/ boating trip with our friends Joe & Jackie. They got a new boat this year and another friend of ours owns a campground and has been inviting us to come and stay so we decided to make it a weekend. It couldn't have been a better combination.

The town we visited is a quaint little town on the west coast of Michigan called Pentwater. It is so great. I have found that the more north you go, the more coarse the sand is but the water is more clear. Right in the middle of Lake Michigan's west coast are the beaches of Oceana county. They have the best of both worlds. The sand is the finest I have ever felt and the water is the most beautiful clear aqua blue. You can see straight down to the sandy bottom of the lake. It is breathtaking. This picture doesn't do it any justice, you just have to see it yourself.

As soon as we set up camp (for them it meant parking the RV, for us it meant SETTING UP camp) we hit the lake. I didn't think we were going to be doing much but before long, they had the tube blown up and Nathan and the kids were in the water!

Even Jaleigh got in on the fun. She was so brave. All I could think about was all 30 lbs of her bouncing across the water. I felt better that Nathan was there and held on tight. She was not going to let her siblings get away doing something that she couldn't do.

Joe & I rode on the tube together until Nathan (who happened to be driving at the time) catapulted me across the lake. Everyone said that I had rolled skimming the lake several times before coming to a rest. Apparently he didn't realize you weren't supposed to speed up at every corner when your wife is always on the outside if the curve...Let's just say that he was very nice to me for the rest of the night.

The next morning after a fantastic breakfast (one of my favorite things about camping... Remember? Nathan loves to make a great breakfast...especially when we are camping.) the kids put their suits right on. It wasn't long before we were in the lake again.

We all tried the smaller tube this time and I remembered how fast your arms get tired in that position. We all came out of the lake with wobbly arms. I was really surprised when Saroya said she wanted to do it. We started really slow and she kept wanting to go faster and faster!

Of course Ethan didn't want his little sister to show him up so he did it too. Neither of them ever fell off. I was surprised.

But then Ethan had to kick it up a notch...

Nathan & Joe kept egging each other on. "How slow were you going?? I thought at least you would TRY to knock me off..." I didn't get a picture of it, but at one time it looked like Nathan was on a kite off the back of the boat. After he would wreck he would say, " How many times did I flip that time??" Joe constantly had the tube up on one end like it was a tire. I don't know HOW he stayed on. Jackie & I just laughed. They were so funny to watch. About 3pm we headed back for lunch.

Later in the day Jackie and I headed into town to do a little window shopping at the fun little stores they have there. I'm not going to tell you the real name of this cool store, we'll just call it the "Cool Kitchen" store. Don't ya just want to go??

Of course when we got back we weren't a bit surprised that the Joe, Nathan, the kids and the boat were gone. Nathan said they just anchored the boat and let the kids jump off the boat and swim around. They said it was so relaxing to just sit, feel the rocking of the boat, hear the kids giggling and feel the warm sun as it set. When they came back we ate dinner and called it a night.

It was nice to be camping. One of my favorite things to do. It was so relaxing and the kids were always discovering new pathways or different bugs. Ethan was always helping Joe wipe down the boat, hang the towels to dry or anything else that was needed.

On Saturday, we knew it was our last day so we got up early and hit the lake. It was more busy with weekend boaters so we went out to Lake Michigan (we had mostly been tubing on Pentwater Lake) and just took in the amazing beauty. As you got closer to Lake Michigan, the water just kept becoming more clear. Once we put the anchor down and took in the whole scene it was almost too much to take in. I just kept feeling like I really wanted to remember how beautiful it was and I knew my camera wouldn't do it justice. Here is a picture of Nathan and Jaleigh in Lake Michigan. You can see how deep the water is by where it comes up to Nathan and you can see his feet so clearly! It didn't matter how deep it was.

We played around a little in the water. Even Miss J decided to have a run on the laying down tube with Joe. She did so GOOD!!

While we were out there messing around a older lady with white hair came down the stairs from her house on Lake Michigan. She was joined by two young adults. I don't know why but I was immediately intrigued by her. She and the other two playfully ran straight into the water. They were eagerly talking to one another and before long all three were having hand standing competitions in the water. She was back and forth to the shore to float on a inner tube, or to take the kayak out. Once she took what looked like her husband out on the Sunfish sailboat, went back dropped him off, and went out again on her own. She just seemed a woman so full of life, out to have fun, and not letting age be an excuse. She had an enthusiasm most 30 year olds lack. It just made me want to be more like what I observed in her for that short time. To grasp life and live it to the fullest. To be the happiest I can be with whatever circumstance I am in. To not say, "the water is too cold" and hang out on the shore. It was just good to see a different option to growing older... and I liked it a lot.

We stayed the rest of the day in Pentwater shopping and eating until dusk when we sat with our legs over the breakwater and watched the fireworks. It was nice end to a really great weekend with our friends. When we got home, I was most thankful for flush toilets, anti itch cream, and aloe vera gel.... Ahhhhh!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The AMAZING Outdoors

Whew.... :) After my sisters left, we had one day of cleaning, laundry, mowing grass and getting groceries. Then Nathan's brother Jason, his wife Nikki & their 15 month twin boys Aidan & Ashton showed up for some more fun! They came all the way from southern Utah by way of Oklahoma. Man, were we impressed! Jason & Nikki are very much like we are. They love the outdoors and are very laid back. We couldn't wait to show them some of our favorite places and we knew they would love them. I was a little worried with them coming from the desert what they would think about the warm humid air of an early August in Michigan. I was really happy that just like us, they still preferred to be outside. And actually- the weather was pretty nice.

After a good nights sleep to start off with, we just decided to take it easy and went to a local park. It is always nice to hear that people like where you live, or that they find the same things amazing that you do but Jason and Nikki genuinely seemed thrilled with each stop. Even the local park! (Which by the way, I never tire of going to because I think it is so beautiful.) Of course we went to the beach and the boys loved the big waves of Lake Michigan crashing against them. Most kids are nervous about that! It was fun to see them experiencing that for the first time.

I absolutely loved the hike that we took to a breathtaking view. They brought a backpack and we borrowed one so the boys could enjoy the hike as much as we did. (Thanks Beth & Dan!! It was a lifesaver.) I think being in the woods is one of my favorite places to be. I feel relaxed, inspired and in constant awe. I loved hearing Jason say over and over, "This is just soo awesome!" I feel the same way. You can't see it in the picture, but beyond the trees is Lake Michigan. Every time we drove anywhere, Jason & Nathan rode together and Nikki & I rode together so there was always someone from Michigan in each of the cars. I liked that arrangement mostly because I adore Nikki. She is so great to talk to. We have had the most interesting conversations and I love that she is so open. I feel like she really wants to hear what I have to say, and I really want her opinion too. There is something so filling about deep heartfelt conversation, and I have that with her.

We went up to Silver Lake to show them the sand dunes and the fun little town that is there. It was nice to just sit, relax and watch all the dune vehicles do their thing. While we were watching them, Ashton decided to play in the sand. We were laughing at watching him climb down the dune on his hands and knees head first. Then we got a look at his face.....He was still as happy as a clam!

The sky was soo cool that day too. Like waves of water in the sky!
On our way down the dunes we stopped at a cool tree for a quick picture. First up, Saroya. It fit her like a glove!! Then we got all the kids. Aren't they so cute?? For their farewell, we drove up north with them, stopped in Mackinaw City and then went up to Tahquamenon Falls in the U.P. The best I can do from this part of the trip is just to post the pictures. If you live anywhere close to Michigan, make sure you visit there. A couple of suggestions too, stop at the roadside park just before you get to Paradise, MI. The view is amazing and it's cool to put your feet in Lake Superior. At the Lower Falls, pay $10.00 per family and row yourself across the lake. In my opinion, it's the ONLY way to experience the falls. When you go to the Upper Falls, go hungry. They have a great Brewery and Pub (which feels weird suggesting, but the food and atmosphere is great!) that you should eat at. Now even though they don't do it justice, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

Lower Falls

Gettin' there...

Gettin' Wet...

Upper Falls

A big forest fire in Newberry caused a delay in our plans, so we weren't able to go to Pictured Rock National Lakeshore this time. Another MUST SEE in the U.P. We were sad, but it worked out for the best. They got to continue their journey across the country and we headed for home to clean the house, mow the lawn, do the laundry and grocery shop for the next adventure that is just two days away....

P.S. This is officially on my Christmas list....

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Swimmin' & Blueberry pickin'

After a great weekend with extended family, it was nice to get Dad, Sunny, Nikki and all the cousins out to our home for some more family fun. Mom had to stay behind because now that Dad is retired, I guess someone has to make a little money. Nikki and the kids came over on Monday and the bigger cousins played together. Ethan got out his 4 wheeler and took turns giving rides and letting the older cousins take it for a ride.

It was really good to just relax, let the kids have fun and catch up all at the same time. It is funny how having seen all of them only a few weeks ago, how much there still is to talk about! I love that about my sister. In fact- Nikki and I are usually famous for staying up into the wee hours of the morning doing just about anything. For bed, the kids just curled up on couches, and laid on floors and slowly drifted off to sleep.

Nathan was soo wonderful in the morning because he would get up and make the most delicious breakfast for all of the kids. They ate so much! That definitely helps when you have late nights.

Later, Sunny & Dad came up and we all went to the beach. As much as we love to go to the beach, I love it even more when I am with those that are experiencing it for the first time, or the first time in a LONG time.

Mom came up and met us for a picnic dinner at the beach. We had planned that after dinner we would take some pictures with the grand kids and grandparents. Of course as things go with 6 adults and 8 kids, dinner was late and so was the picture taking. Both sisters and I took lots of pictures with hopes that at least one would make the cut. After swimming at the beach all day the kids weren't dressed up at all, and in fact Saroya still had her swimming suit on! No matter though- it was casual and everyone gave it their best shot! I think they turned out good.

We ended the night with a big bonfire and s'more's. I was excited because it was Hyrum's first bonfire. I'm not too sure what he thought of it, but Sunny put him in a pea costume to protect him from the cold and mosquito's. In a pea costume, in the middle of summer, looking at a huge flame that cousins are sticking things into and then eating. I kinda think this picture says it all.....

Early the next morning (after a FEW hours of sleep...) Nikki, Sunny & I set out to pick bluberries. It was our plan to go while the kids were still asleep, but Miss J decieded that she was not going to miss any girl time whatsoever, so she came along too. I admit it was a little rough at first, but as soon as we got to eating the berries and chatting away, an hour had passed and we had picked about 7 pounds.

After one more trip to the beach and a stop at the ice cream stand, the cousins and sisters were off. I am so greatful that I have such a close and loving family. That no distance is too great and that we want to be together. When we are together it seems as if no time has passed at all and we always leave eachother looking forward to the next time we will be together again. Until then, we have memories that will keep us close.