Thursday, July 28, 2011

just some pics of where we've been

Last Thursday morning we left with our youth group and my brother Trent and his wife Lydia (he's the youth pastor) on a long trek to Pennsylvania for a Teen Leadership Conference. 

Here are our two fearless leaders, sitting in McDonald's, checking out the construction on the iPhone and planning the best route around it.  Luckily they did, because they saved us several hours of sitting still in bumper to bumper traffic.

 While they were doing that, Lydia and I were also doing really important things.  Like taking pictures of ourselves.

Thursday was a long day of traveling, but we finally ended up at our destination around 10:30 that night.

The next day (my BIRTHDAY!), we drove about an hour to Cedar Point (a super popular amusement park known by all northeasterners... although I had never heard of it until I moved to Michigan.  But it does have several rides that the kids loved).

Not all of us love the big scary rides.  Here's the group I hung out with most of the day.  We named ourselves "The Rejects"... although we know that we're really extremely cool.  We even got one of those "old-timey" pictures taken together, which I'll have to post on here as soon as I get a chance.

I just wanted to prove that I was having fun too.

We all met at Chick-fil-A for a yummy lunch.

 Soon after lunch, it downpoured.  Like a whole lotta rain.  So we ran into the nearest shop where we all crowded together for about a half hour waiting for it to finally stop.  The kids got a little restless and started getting out of control.  Good thing the gun wasn't loaded.

 Due to the rain, most of the rides were shut down for quite a while.  But once they started back up, this group was ready to ride the Top Thrill Dragster. 

Well, most of them were ready.  These two were a little nervous.
Unfortunately, only 2 in our group got to ride it before it started raining again.  But a few of our kids were so dedicated that they waited another hour and a half to get their ride.

 Did you know that wearing red flip-flops in the rain will turn your feet red?

 That night, we went out for pizza where our group surprised me with a cake for my birthday.
As you can see, I was genuinely surprised.  Or not.  Let's just say being "stealth" isn't Lydia's forté.  ;)

 Joslin challenged me to a "eat your cake without hands" duel.

 So of course I couldn't turn that down.  
'Cause you know I love having frosting all over my face.

 The next day, Saturday, we went to the mall and then to a Cleveland Indians game that night.  Lydia and I decided suddenly to become diehard Indians fans, so we got matching shirts and were all pumped to cheer them on.

Everyone was excited for the big game to start.

Then it began to rain.

Fortunately we were seated waaaay up high in the cheap seats, so we had a roof over our heads and stayed nice and dry.  We were certain that the game would start soon.

But the rain kept coming.

 And the night got later.

And the chances of the weather clearing up were looking awfully grim.

Daniel somehow managed to keep it all together.
After two hours of hanging out in the stadium, the game was finally called off.  We were pretty bummed, but the kids handled it extremely well.  Us youth leaders were probably the most disappointed just feeling bad that the kids didn't get to see a professional baseball game.  But they still enjoyed just getting to hang out in such a cool stadium for two hours.

 On the way back to the church from the game, we decided to run into Walmart and get some ice cream for the kids to end the night on a happy note and to pick up some stuff for breakfast.  However, the experience was not so great.  Let's just say there was no fresh fruit, no cream cheese, no normal bagels and the entire time, Lydia and I just felt plain creepy in there.  Maybe you can see it on Lydia's face:
And to make it even worse, we left the ice cream in the bag in the stupid turnstyle thingy and didn't realize it until we got back to the church (about 30 minutes away).  Arg.  I hate those stupid bag-turny things.  Which is why I love Target.

 Sunday morning after visiting the youth group of the church we were staying in, we headed off to another church in Pennsylvania to stay for the night. That afternoon, we needed to get some necessities, so some of the girls came with Lydia and I to Kmart.  

Every time we saw children, Lydia and I got really homesick for ours.  :(

Back at the church, Lydia got her groove on.  She's so cool like that.

This is how Lydia and I slept in the churches.  Perfectly still on our shared air mattress.

So, that was the first part of our trip.  Now we're at TLC in Pennsylvania, staying at Baptist Bible College, having a great time, learning a ton and looking forward to seeing our kids again soon!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We're back... for a few days...

Hope you're geared up for pictures, 'cuz I've got lots of 'em.  We just got back from Michigan this weekend and are leaving again next Thursday for Pennsylvania with our youth group.  So, I thought I'd better squeeze in some pics of our Michigan trip before we take off on our next adventure!

Did you know it takes nearly 10 hours to get to northern Michigan from Iowa?  Well, it does.  Luckily, the girls are all-stars at entertaining themselves in the car with books and coloring, but Tate is still at an age where sitting for hours upon hours strapped tightly in a car seat isn't very ideal.  So, we packed a picnic lunch and stopped at a rest area with a park so the kids could release their built up energy.  Even though it was in the mid-90's.  Mommy and Daddy couldn't wait to get back in the air-conditioned car.

We decided to make the trip up a few hours shorter by stopping most of the way up on Thursday night and traveling to Caledonia on Friday to spend the day with some of our good friends from Grand Rapids.  Our friend's parents have a house on a lake, so we had a great place to hang out and play in the water.

The kids thought this tree house and bridge was super cool.
Millie was so brave!

Tate and Will are only 4 months apart, so they make great buds!

 The kids all love Ana too.  She is so sweet and adorable!

Addie had fun swimming in the lake with Carson.

It rained off and on during the day, but we didn't let it slow us down!  The kids had a blast jumping in the downpour on the trampoline.  Well, at least Carson and Addie did.  If you look closely, you'll see that Millie and Ana aren't so thrilled.  Don't worry... we quickly snatched them off and brought them inside!

 Once the rain stopped, all the kids got a chance to go tubing behind the speed boat!  Here's Carson and Addie.  She loved it!!

Next, it was Millie's turn.  She loved it too, which really surprised me since she's not a fan of getting water in her face.

And yes, even little Tate went on the tube.  Here he is with Cooper, another fun friend!

We couldn't convince Dawn to let Sam ride on the tube... but I guess he is only 1 month old.  Isn't he adorable?  Just pure cuteness.  Nearly made me want a fourth.  But that is for sure not happening!  ;)  So I settled for just holding this little bundle for awhile instead.

After all the excitement of the day, Tate just couldn't keep his little eyes open during our yummy steak dinner.

Friday night, we headed up to Cadillac where we spent the rest of our trip with Chad's parents.  We arrived to late to do anything else Friday night, but the kids were anxious the next morning to drive these cars around the yard!

After a few test drives, we packed a picnic lunch and spent the rest of the day in Manistee, where Chad lived from age 2 through the 4th grade.  They have a beautiful beach along Lake Michigan where we spent most of the day.

Addie was ready to jump right in and start swimming.  This girl is just like a little fish in the water!

But Millie wasn't quite sure it was warm enough...

I agreed with Millie, so I decided to soak in the warm sun instead.  But cold, wet Tate surprised me mid-layout by tackling me and getting me all wet!

Good thing for him, he's so stinkin' cute, so I quickly forgave him.

Sunday afternoon, Chad's parents hosted a Porter Picnic for the 4th of July (although it was the 3rd!).  Water balloon volleyball was a hit on this hot day.  Although Millie got hurt when we got a little aggressive and gave the balloons a really good toss, throwing Millie up in the air with the sheet.  No worries though... she was fine after a good long cuddle.  :)

We enjoyed catching up with everyone while eating good food off the grill!

The girls enjoyed a game of Bocce ball with Aunt Mary.

 Later that evening, Tate got to go out on his Uncle Scott's boat.  He enjoyed the role of co-captain.

On Monday morning (the 4th), Chad went out with Scott and his dad to do some fishing.

They caught two salmon and a trout.  I think.  I don't know my fish and Chad isn't here, so we'll just go with that.  All I know is that I get to have a salmon dinner soon!

 While the guys were gone, we spent some time with the neighbors, who we became fast friends with!

Later that day, Great Grandpa and Grandma B. came over.
 The girls enjoyed reading with Great Grandma.

 This next picture is entirely disgusting, but I had to include it.  Sorry.  You don't have to look.  When we were eating dinner Monday evening, Tate said to me, "Poopy, Mommy."  So I replied, "Yes, Tate, I'll change your diaper in a minute."  But he kept insisting, so I took him in to change his diaper.  When I opened it and saw it was clean, I quickly put him on the potty where he did his business for the first time!  We were so excited that we had to get a picture!  I thought it was a one-time deal, but he has done it a few more times since!

 That night we went to Lake City to see the fireworks over Lake Mitchell.  The kids enjoyed doing sparklers while waiting for it to get dark.  Which, by the way, it doesn't get dark enough for fireworks there until 10:30!  Nearly an hour later than in Iowa!

We all enjoyed oohing and aahing over the display.  Millie's favorite were the "fairy dust ones," which she excitedly exclaimed every time.  "Oh, look at all the fairy dust!"

 Even mommy and daddy were impressed.
If you ask Tate what his favorite part of vacation was, he'll say, "Fireworks!  Boom, boom!"  And he punches the air when he says the "boom boom" part.  So cute.

On Tuesday we went tubing down the Platte River.  We didn't bring the camera along to capture the moment, but the kids really enjoyed it.  Especially Addie who spent almost the entire trip out of her tube,  just floating along in her life jacket.  Here's a picture I got from  

I highly recommend doing this if you're ever in Northern Michigan.  Chad and I have done it several times and love it.  The river ends in Lake Michigan, so you can hang out and play on the beach when you're done tubing.

Wednesday we traveled up to Traverse City (Chad's home town from 4th - 12th grades) and took in the Cherry Festival (where Chad and I first started dating!).

The girls went with daddy on their first ever big ferris wheel!

 "Look, Mom!  No hands!"  Addie was a little hesitant to hold her arms straight up (just like mommy).  But Millie threw 'em right up there!

Tate enjoyed the view from Papa's shoulders.

We went to Kids Town at a park where most things were free.  The girls got their picture taken with the National Cherry Queen.  A very big deal!  :)

 They took in a free juggling show, puppet show, and this very fun concert below where they danced and danced!

They also had free craft tables set up.  They chose to make visors.  Good choice on this sunny day.

And we even got a free ride around Traverse City on this old school firetruck. 

On Thursday, Papa B's side of the family came over.  The kids had a blast with Elsie and Decklin.  Here, they're jumping on the neighbor's trampoline.

They loved riding in Nana's "tractor"!

The girls put on several dance shows and concerts for us.

While the boys played the sandbox.

Another yummy grilled meal!

And a nice picture with Great grandma and Great grandpa!

 Friday, Chad and I took a "date day" back up to T.C. by ourselves.  We lunched at Mancino's - one of the places I miss the most in Michigan!  Love, love, LOVE their grinders!

We had fun walking around the city and doing some shopping.  Oh, and I got some AWESOME deals at the Gymboree there!  Like $2 - $5 bargains on dresses, jeans, sweaters, etc.  I was pretty pumped about that, in case you couldn't tell.  But my favorite part of the day was the hour and a half Chad and I spent sitting on a bench in the shade downtown, just watching the people go by.  It made us feel about 50 years old, but it was so fun and relaxing.  

That evening we celebrated our 11th anniversary at Minerva's.  Our anniversary isn't until the 29th, but since we'll be with a bunch of high schoolers in Pennsylvania, we thought we'd better celebrate early.


 Chad's fancy jambalaya.

While we were gone, Nana and Papa took the kids back on the river for some more tubing.  They enjoyed yummy homemade popsicles when they got back!

So, there you have it.  Our 10 days in Michigan.  My next post will probably be in August, when we return from our next trip.  Hope you're all having a great summer!