Last Week of Summer Vacation

This last week of summer vacation had me scrambling to cross off all the things on my summer to-do list for the kids.

I spent every day letting a different kid invite a play date over.

Then we would plan something fun to do when they got here.

Like the Altitude Trampoline Park on a rainy Monday.DSC_0886 DSC_0898 DSC_0907 DSC_0922Or finding sea glass and playing at the beach on a beautiful Tuesday.IMG_1098 IMG_1110Wednesday we managed to stay away from electronics for a few hours with soccer at the park and a few rounds of hide and seek chase.IMG_1121Thursday we put our new biking skills to work by biking to Navy Pier with another friend. IMG_1146We were planning on Navy Pier activities, but there were too many Pokemon to catch.IMG_1153We still managed some treats, though. IMG_1163I’m really looking forward to getting back to ‘me time’ (AKA going to the store alone, jogging without paying a sitter, and not hearing my name called every 3 seconds) while the kids are in school next week, but I’ll miss my role as social director as well.

And I’ll miss my father! Without him here tending to the other kids, none of this would have been possible.

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Block Party 2019

Another year, another block party.DSC_0816As usual, Susie did a fantastic job of organizing!

There was a big change this year, though. I noticed that the kids did not participate as enthusiastically as before. It’s not that they didn’t enjoy it, it’s just that they are getting noticeably older.

The party started for us when we brought out our Giant Jenga and game of bags to share.DSC_0797While the party was setting up, we played with them a bit. We also enjoyed the street blockade, using the opportunity to bike in a car free environment. DSC_0795Not too old for cotton candy!DSC_0800 DSC_0818But old enough to enjoy the lobster tail and crab legs that Summer House was serving up.DSC_0798 IMG_1070 (1)Young enough so the cookies Summer House handed out were bigger than our heads.DSC_0845Some of the kids were not too old to enjoy the bouncy house. DSC_0823But they all skipped the magician, the face painting, and the crafts table this year.

My father was here this year helping out and he didn’t think he was too old to try hula hooping. DSC_0850

Actually, he might have been doing a Frankenstein impersonation?

Grandpa’s youthful spirit is one of the reasons all the kids loved spending time with him. DSC_0851But no matter what age the kids are, Grandpa meets them at their level. DSC_0831We all came together to enjoy the ice cream truck. Do you ever get to old for ice cream?DSC_0852 DSC_0855They were also old enough to stay up late and wait for the glow in the dark toys. DSC_0867And young enough to enjoy them.DSC_0873The block party also signifies the end of summer. Which, like the block party duality, filled me with both excitement and dread.

I’ll miss the warm weather and lack of schedule but I’m also looking forward to some time to myself during the day.

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Petal Heads

One of my summer goals was to teach my last three kids to ride a bike.

Actually, this was one of my summer goals last summer. After many agonizing days of running behind each kid, stooped over, while the other kids took breaks, I achieved nothing.

I tried again this year with the same results. My back was killing me and we were no closer to our goal.

Then, at a birthday party for one of the twin’s friends, a parent told me about Petal Heads.

It’s a week long, three hour-a-day class right with many locations across America and Canada.

I signed the twins up a week before we went on our big RV trip, hoping they would learn to ride in time to rent bikes at Mackinac Island. IMG_0768 IMG_0771Within a week, they were both riding without training wheels! And my back didn’t hurt at all!

Biking the Lakefront while Jack was is in Golf class.

Biking the Lakefront while Jack was is in Golf class.

Ben was in school while the twins were at bike camp, so unfortunately he didn’t learn in time to bike Mackinac Island.IMG_0897

Ben rode tandem in Mackinac Island.

Ben rode tandem in Mackinac Island.

But having the twins learn before him was extremely motivating for Ben. The week we returned from our trip, Ben was enrolled for a week of Petal Heads.

At the end of every week of camp they have a bike parade.

I missed the twins parade because I was on a girls weekend with Lara. But at Ben’s parade, I noticed only one kid was still in training wheels.

Ben at the bike parade.

Ben at the bike parade.

I can’t say enough about this camp! I love how quickly the kids learned and how good my back felt while someone else did the work!

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Adam’s 50th Vacation

Adam decided for his 50th birthday present he wanted to take the kids to Mackinac Island. Since we all know that Adam is larger than life, this quickly turned into a week long drive around Lake Michigan visiting everything along the way.

He started researching hotels. We are hotel point junkies. We have hotel credit cards, rack up points, and get free stays for vacations. Unfortunately most of the northern areas surrounding Lake Michigan don’t have chain hotels. Later, when we finally traveled through the Upper Peninsula, I realized why. It is so sparsely populated, the tourist attractions are so far apart, and the season is so short that most major hotel chains would probably not make enough money to build and maintain a property here.

That’s when we decided to rent an RV. Remember when I mentioned that Adam is larger than life? So you can guess the kind of RV he decided to rent, right?DSC_0666I took a picture of it next to other cars so you could see the boat we were driving. The advertisement online said it ‘sleeps 8 comfortably’.IMG_0865 DSC_0523The kids really enjoyed having a bit more space. There was definitely less fighting. And Sam, who gets carsick, seemed fine in the RV. I loved that we didn’t have to stop a million times to go to the bathroom.

Our first stay was in Door County at Peninsula State Park. There were all kinds of cool things to do in this park that we didn’t have time for, like outdoor plays, a nature center, golf and biking trails.

We did enjoy the morning on Nicolet Beach.DSC_0544

While all the other kids on this beach played exactly as you’d expect, our kids morphed every normal game into something else. DSC_0566

A normal game of catch became a game where you had to throw the ball through someone else’s legs and hit another kids butt.DSC_0576 DSC_0595A normal sand castle turned into a huge wet sand fight.

Adam usually starts the trip slowly untangling himself from work, which means the first few days he is still working.DSC_0539He didn’t get to enjoy the beach at all.

In the afternoon, we hiked Tramper’s Trail to the Lighthouse.DSC_0610 DSC_0612

Every night we roasted s’mores and played bags. Aaron learned how to build the campfire and became the official fire builder every night.

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The next morning we woke up and had breakfast at the famous Swedish restaurant in Sister Bay, Al Johnson’s.DSC_0619 DSC_0626Yes. Those are goats on their roof.

We all ordered the Swedish Pancakes! (I had to throw my vegan tendencies to the side to sample the Swedish Meatballs.)

Jack, would you like some pancake with your whipped cream?

Jack, would you like some pancake with your whipped cream?

After that, it was time to head to our next campground, but not before a stop by Hiawatha National Forest to see the Big Spring, AKA Kitchitikipi.DSC_0636They take you over the spring in a open bottom boat so you can view all the fish and bubbling springs.

Then, onto the next campsite, Tahquamenon Falls.

The first day Adam booked a kayak tour of Pictured Rocks. He booked with a company called Pictured Rocks Kayaking. It was the only tour that shuttles you by boat to all the good stuff so you don’t have to spend hours kayaking yourself there.DSC_0652

These two have become inseparable. I love watching their friendship grow.

These two have become inseparable. I love watching their friendship grow.

That said, it was still a 2 hour kayak tour. Our kids did an amazing job paddling, especially Jack who had to steer as well!DSC_0660We passed a lot of unusual sights like strange rock formations and rocks that look painted by dripping mineral deposits. We also visited caves and saw cliff divers. I was too scared I would lose my camera so I’ll leave this part of the trip to your imagination, or your google searches…

On the way back to the campsite, we did a quick stop at Grand Marais off of Lake Superior. We were hoping to see sand dunes, but instead we ended up collecting rocks. Adam let each kid pick three, and all the kids gave their picks to Aaron, who loves collecting these things much more than the rest of them.

Aaron decides on the best rocks to keep.

Aaron decides on the best rocks to keep.

The next day, we did a four mile hike from the Lower Tahquamenon Falls to the Upper Tahquamenon Falls.

Lower Falls

Lower Falls


At one point it got so buggy the kids put on the face nets we brought just for this occasion. DSC_0690When we got to the Upper Falls,  I looked over at Adam and realized we were wearing the same shirt. Wearing the same shirt coupled with all the kids we had made me feel like we were part of some Christian family reunion. The kids kept calling us tour guides.

Upper Falls. Tahquamenon Falls is the second largest waterfall in the United States.

Upper Falls. Tahquamenon Falls is the second largest waterfall in the United States.

It took 2 hours to complete and the kids were absolutely exhausted by it.DSC_0696But lunch at the Brewery and Pub at the Upper Falls helped rejuvenate them.DSC_0697We sampled the Upper Peninsula traditional fair, pasties. They are kind of like a calzone with meat, potatoes and vegetables baked inside, served with gravy. IMG_0883I threw my vegan tendencies out the window again, this time to sample the local Whitefish, along with the Peach Wheat Beer.IMG_0882Then Adam treated them to a trip to the Gift shop. For my treat from the gift shop, I bought Fairy Dust packages that you can throw on fire to make it turn different colors.DSC_0704We took Jordan’s Shuttle back to the Lower Falls. The kids were grateful not to walk another four hours with the bugs!DSC_0528 Again, there were s’more s’mores and rounds of bags.

After the kayaking and hiking, it was time to move to our next campsite at Burt Lake, Michigan.

Adam picked this because of it’s proximity to Mackinac Island, the catalyst for this entire trip.

We started the visit on the island at the Hotel Iroquois for a resort style lunch.IMG_0893

Aaron said it was the best frozen lemonade he ever had!

Aaron said it was the best frozen lemonade he ever had!

After a walk down Main Street, we rented bikes. The twins just completed a week at PetalHeads, where they learned to bike without training wheels. They biked for two hours and completed the loop around the entire island, an eight mile bike ride.IMG_0916

Pit stop looking for rocks.

Pit stop looking for rocks. The Mackinac Bridge in the background.

And of course no trip to Mackinac would be complete without fudge!DSC_0716Ferry back on Shepler’s Ferry Service.IMG_0944That night we enjoyed our last s’mores and game of bags.


Fairy Dust

Fairy Dust

The next day we returned the RV and stayed at a hotel.

DSC_0731DSC_0733The kids were so incredibly happy with the lack of bugs, lack of dirt, good wifi, soft beds and extra space that they didn’t leave the room once! (Adam too!)

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