Monday, August 18, 2014

Michigan again, and again

It's the time of the year where we pack ourselves into the car like a bunch of traveling sardines and use an entire day of our short lives hurtling across the turnpikes and interstates. When we stop the car after 12 long hours of flat nothing we hop out and see this.

Ah, yes... Lake Michigan! This is where is all began, where I learned to sail many moons ago. My parents have had this cabin here on the lake since I was 8 years old. That's a mighty long time. So long that bringing my kids here is tarting to get a bit trippy.

They're sleeping on the beds I slept in. They're playing with the same old toys and family odds and ends I used to play with. And they're loving that beach  right out the front door and down the thousand million stairs to the bluff as much as I've always loved it.

Some things have changed here. The most notable is me. Of course I am a middle aged mom and no longer a care free kid or freedom seeking teen. Some well worn paths are overgrown now. A new set of stairs replaces the old. The old camp is gone and a fancy house in its place. Some old faces are missing. And my old sailboat decided to wander off too.

But the thing that really struck me was how much of this place is the same. The same old cabin of course, maybe a fresh coat of paint and some new pillows, but so much is the same. The same old National Geographic magazines that I used to spend hours pouring over on the shelves. The same beach kitsch decor. The same funky smelling blankets. The same wobbly table where I played cards with my grandma. The same retro chairs where my sandy bottom sat and ate lunch now my kids' sandy bottoms sit at meal time. The same original beadboard ceilings on the sleeping porch. The same bowls and vases filled with beach treasures.

It's weird, and it makes you feel small, but also full of wonder all at once. The waves march on against the sandy shores. The sun will set again and again, showing off a new pallet of colors each time. The spiders will keep lurking in the dusty corners. And a new generation forms memories here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Big Meadows

While in Shenandoah last month we stayed in Big Meadows lodge. We got the funkiest little suite in the place, a corner room with 2 bedrooms connected by bathrooms with a little secret door. And then another tiny secret door leading to a back porch and stairway. The kids spent all kinds of time going in and out and in and out...

(fireplace detail)

We are all big fans of National Parks and the park lodges, so much history and nature and goodness rolled into one spot. Board games and rocking chairs and views and unplugged together time. It's all so good.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

adios slow summer, hello Grandma!

Our lazy days came to a happy halt when Grandma flew in from Hawaii (via Chicago) to spend a week with us. Last year when she visited we all went to Chincoteague Island to hang with the wild ponies. This year we pointed west and went to the mountains to spend a couple of days in Shenandoah National Park.

We did a little hiking around, Naia took great pride in climbing and walking "all by my big girl self!" She was constantly looking back, asking me, "Am I a real hiker now mama? Am I climbing the mountain?"

She followed Zach like a mountain goat in training, scrambling every rock.

We've been here so many times, but we never tire of it. We always see lots of deer, lizards, and grandma and Zach saw a mama and baby bear together. We all had a very cool close encounter with a baby black bear. We were driving Skyline Drive and there it was, just beside our car on the side of the road munching away. Of course I was buckled in the back on the wrong side of the car and in a ridiculous and desperate attempt to be wildlife photographer extraordinaire, I lunged myself across Zach who was in the middle, and across Naia who was buckled into her car seat to try to snap a photo. The kids were trying to get their own glimpse of the bear and wondering why mom was sprawled over them hollering for daddy  (who was driving) to back up just a little, just a little please! I was being a doofus. So I only got a few blurry shots of the bear's back end. Such is life. I should have just let it be and enjoyed the moment.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

slow summer : giant bubbles

There's nothing like a lazy morning making enormous bubbles with friends. We looked up the many recipes and tutorials out there for making the bubble wands and the extra super strong bubble mix. This is the one we found the easiest to follow. We didn't even bother putting eyelet screws in the dowels, we just tied the strings to the end, added the washers, guessed at string length, and went on our bubble quest.

It's took a little practice to get the big ones formed and released just right, but the kids soon got the hang of it.

What was crazy was watching them pop. They seemed to burst and the splatter of bubble would hang motionless for a moment, like a cartoon version of a popped bubble. And when the kids popped them, they would get totally slimed with bubble juice.

Naia got some help from the big kids, but she lacked the height and the coordination needed to really make a giant bubble.

She didn't mind though, she was more than happy with her job as official bubble chaser and popper.

The only piece of advice that wasn't obvious and we learned the hard way was that the strings on the bubble wands tangle easily once they are wet and soapy. If they get tangled it helps to lay them in the sun to dry for a bit and then untangle them. Luckily we made several wands, so if one went out of commission, we just grabbed the other ones and shared. We will definitely be more careful next time to avoid tangles.
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