Thursday, July 28, 2011

Swimming Lessons

Both girls started their first swimming lessons this summer...

I was worried about Paige because the class I put her in was for kids who already had some lessons, but she was too old for any lower level classes. She caught on right away and did great!

Awesome front glide!

Front crawl.

She had a little trouble with the back crawl, but you can see that she concentrated hard on doing it right.

Kallie started in the Tadpole class with Savannah (thanks Lolo for the pics!).

She was really good about doing what the teacher wanted her to do, but she was careful to keep her head above water.

They were getting all advanced by the last day - out in the middle of the big pool and all.

Even though she wasn't recommended for the next level when she finished the class, I think she deserves an A+ for having fun.

First day of school pics are next.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sun Drenched Summer

See, summer break was super short. The kids are already in school, and I'm not caught up enough on my blog to put the first day pics up. I better get crackin!

Natalie and I were the first ones to ride the tube, and our driver was crazy! I got some major thigh slaps because my lower body slid off the side of the tube when we simultaneously flew across the wake to the right and went over some other boat's big wakes. I fell off (or let go) twice, but Natalie conquered! The rest of the kids were a little freaked out after that, and Paige would only go on the tube if we went slow - really slow. I think Russ almost fell asleep.

(To be fair, this pic was taken before we started going.)

The cap'n and his wife.

We finally got Kassidy out there on the slow kiddie ride. The girls kept giving us these weird hand signals, like putting the thumb and forefinger together and then opening them, or thumbs up, down, up, down. What? Well, we stopped to find out, and as the tube came to a stop, they all three slid off the front into the water. Hilarious! Kallie said excitedly, "Mom, I went underwater! And I had my eyes open! And my mouth!" Yummy. See, I've been urging her to go underwater at her swim classes, so she was mighty proud of herself... even though it was involuntary. We found out that the hand signals meant they wanted us to turn... gee, I wonder why we didn't get that!

After that one, though, Kass and Lucy were ready for a faster ride... not so much Kallie, so Nats hopped on.

Total cuteness with pink galore!

Russ got some pretty choppy water on his first round (I know you're thinking, "Hey, it doesn't look choppy, you wimp," but I'm serious, it was). At least his driver was super awesome! Oh yeah, and his photographer. The other pics were blurry because of the motion of the boat, but that's okay because somehow I like this one, even cut off.

Jill says Lucy means light.

Chad got up after... how many tries again? I lost count. Go Chad!

Thanks, Jill, for bringing the suckers... no really, thanks a lot. Somehow, one ended up in the dryer. Non-sweet! Or maybe sticky sweet.

What in the world is happening in this picture? Me thinks aliens might be abducting her with a giant vacuum hose.

Kallie means beauty.

Sweet! I didn't see any of his jumps because I'm too nervous about driving to look back very often, but I could sometimes feel the tugging on the boat.

This could be a Clinique photo... or a Justin Bieber poster?

(See Jill's July 9 post if you want to get the joke.)

Photographer's self portrait... lovely.

There was a little light left after Russ' last wakeboarding run, so Nats and I hopped back on for a super ride (I was sore for two days). Nats is such a fun-loving thrill seeker!

Thanks, Isons, for a fun time!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fun in Michigan... the Long Final Chapter

The morning we were going to Mackinac Island was a little gray and drizzly, but we hoped for the best and headed to the ferry. Russ braved the cold air to photograph the Mackinac Bridge from below.

Paige made up a joke while we were there, by the way... why couldn't the boat fly? Because it was not a ferry!

Our arrival on Mackinac Island was everything we thought it would be. Quaint streets lined with fudge shops, horse-drawn carriages, and lovely Victorian architecture accented with copious, fragrant blooms.

We headed straight for Fort Mackinac, situated atop the hill near downtown, and started our tour off with a steep hike up to the entrance, followed by the hourly firing of the cannon. Then it was off to visit the historic buildings they have there at the fort. In the kids' area, the girls got to dress in period uniforms.

Along the fort walls, there were several openings where we could view the harbor and the downtown area. It reminded me of many puzzles I've done, although this picture doesn't do it justice.

After a couple of hours, Russ told me he didn't want to read another museum plaque for the whole rest of our trip. Okay. After lunch, we rented a horse and buggy... now that was just funny.

Russ is not a horse person, for one thing, and I made him be the driver the whole way. When Brandon dropped the map, I asked Russ to stop, and the best he could do was go in reverse and then forward again. That was fun jumping off and back on while the buggy was in motion!

That horse really wanted to tailgate the buggy in front of us, which is part of the reason we had such a hard time getting it to stop. After we stopped for a break, the other horse was gone, and our horse really didn't want to go up the hill. It kept stopping, turning, and whinnying. Russ was threatening that horse with the whip, but luckily it listened before he had to follow through. That was fun times! Happily, we did manage to get a bit of sun, and it didn't even rain much the whole day.

At the end of the day, we had to buy some treats, of course - including a pound of various flavors of fudge. YUM!

Before we left town the next day, we decided to pick up a pasty (rhymes with nasty, but it's not), one of the traditional foods of the upper peninsula. It's basically a pastry puff filled with chicken or beef and potatoes - kind of like a hand-held pot pie - which men used to eat for lunch when working the mines. We stopped at a scenic park on the way to Charlevoix to share it.

During this part of our journey, I was on the hunt for a petoskey stone, which is Michigan's state rock. It's actually petrified coral from prehistoric lakes (or oceans?). So, we stopped at a lot of beaches in this area, which is known for its plentiful petoskey stones. Unfortunately, I didn't really know exactly what one would look like, so the hunt was long, but luckily the girls enjoyed the beaches while I searched.

Making our way through the "cherry capital of the world," we found this farm stand along the road with the cutest little playground and a maze. See the trees in the background all lined up in a row? I was such a sucker for this place!

We bought some feed for the chickens, but it started raining, and they headed for the coop... and we headed for the car.

Next we drove up the Old Mission peninsula to see the lighthouse and continue the hunt for a petoskey stone. The drive was just gorgeous, with rolling hills covered in tailored orchards and dotted with old red barns. Power lines, not cool.

It was definitely chilly when we arrived at the lighthouse, which is why it was so ironic that people were serving ice cream and a group was performing music to celebrate summer! We skipped a tour of the lighthouse and the summer celebration so that we could hit the beach.

That night, we stayed in Traverse City. Being in the cherry capital, we ate cherry chicken pizza for dinner, of course. Seriously good.

This blog is getting long, no? Sorry. Two more days. You don't even know how many pictures I am skipping!

The next day, we headed toward the Leelanau peninsula. When we got to the state park at the tip, we discovered that Michigan wanted eight more dollars to see the lighthouse there. Okay, we had already seen a few lighthouses, so we decided against it. On the way south again, I read in my book that Peterson Park was a great place to search for petoskey stones, so we made a stop. It was a grassy park with a playground, but there was also a stairway down to the rocky beach.

Petoskey stones are easier to recognize when they're wet, so I went down by the water line and pushed a few stones away from the top layer. I figured maybe people had already scavenged all the ones on top. After a few minutes, I found one! Eventually, I found three - happy day - but I didn't want to be a hog, so I put my least favorite one back so that someone else could find it.

Continuing on, we stopped to see the old fishing shanties in Leland that have now become tourist shops... mostly.

Then we hit Cherry Republic, where we ate cherry hotdogs, cherry hamburgers, and a grilled cheese sandwich on cherry bread.

We also ordered the monster sundae, made with four of their 13 varieties of cherry ice cream and two "boom chunka" cookies. By eating it all, we got our picture on the wall. Fun.

Next we went to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Did you know there are sand dunes all along the western edge of Michigan? Me neither! They had lots of vegetation, unlike the dunes in Yuma. There is one area called the dune climb where you are free to run up and down a big dune. The sun came out full force just for us, and the kids really had fun.

Then we took the scenic drive. Kallie and I braved the threat of rain to take a short walk along a little trail. Some of you may not know that I like to take close up photographs of flowers... I really love how this one turned out.

This is the Lake Michigan Overlook. Some crazy people jump down the side of the dune here all the way to the lake shore, which may be fun on the way down, but apparently it's a strenuous 90 minute crawl back up. No thanks.

After leaving the national lake shore, and having just found out that the restaurant with the most famously good cherry pies was going to close before we could get there, we made a final stop at the Point Betsy lighthouse before heading to Big Rapids. The wind was picking up, gray clouds were rolling in, and the waves were becoming fierce, which just made the whole scene all the more beautiful against the backdrop of the setting sun.

On our last day in Michigan, after visiting some missionary sites in Big Rapids, we visited the city of Holland. It was almost a ghost town, given the gray weather, but that was fine with us.

The kids loved the wooden shoe shop.

In the middle of Windmill Park, they have the last authentic windmill to ever leave Holland. They still use it to grind flour, which is sold in the gift shop.

After that, we headed back to Grand Rapids to get a few more mission pictures, and then to catch our flight home. What an awesome time we had in Michigan. Who knew it could be so cool?