Thursday, August 18, 2016

Camping Trip 2016

We are fresh off of tent camping for the past 4 days.  Fresh might not be the greatest word choice.  Everything, including myself, has a scent concocted of bug spray, sunscreen, dirt, mildew, and campfire smoke.  

This was our only summer vacation trip. Due to spending a lot of our time travelling back and forth between Grand Rapids and Mishawaka, we just didn’t really have much time to squeeze much else in.  And we didn’t leave ourselves much time, school starts for us next week!

We loaded up the van and trailer on Sunday afternoon and headed to Pokagon State Park. (Adam has the boys somewhat convinced that it is pronounced Poh-Kee-Gon – thus sounding a bit like Pokemon….and yes, they managed to play PokemonGo multiple times).

We were rather surprised to find the campground area extremely empty. I mean, we knew we were going mid-week and towards the end of the summer, but it was  s-p-a-r-s-e. Apparently, we are still living in the Michigan culture mindset and consider August a month of summer still….and apparently, people around here don’t think like that. It was almost spooky empty. There was only 1 other site in view of ours that was occupied during our stay.  After going to take a shower late the first night and momentarily thinking that the camp axe murderer had barricaded me into the shower building (only for me to realize I was pushing on the wrong side of the door)(What?! Am I the only one that makes up axe murderer scenarios in my head?!)….I decided that I would only visit the restroom when it was still light. With the campground being so empty and there not being hardly any lights anywhere… was just a bit too creepy dark for me. After walking around some of the other campground loops during the day, we found one that was a little more occupied (plus, had a WAY nicer bathhouse than ours) (Note to self if we go to Pokagon again: Loops 3 and 5 have way better bathrooms).

Everything was going fine into our stay until early Monday afternoon when we started getting poured on while out enjoying the bike trail. We knew more rain was in the forecast thanks to our fancy phones. We hunkered down in our tent, played a few card games, and I even had a slow cooker meal going for dinner. After dinner, we decided we were getting stir crazy. I dropped Adam and the boys off at the Inn that is a part of the park. We knew there were several lobbies and lounges that they could hang out in and watch TV (and they mostly wanted to catch Pokemon). And I hit up the outlet mall that was just a couple of miles away. Every campground should have an outlet mall close by. It was small, but easily entertained me for a bit. By the time I made it back to the guys, it had been raining harder. The TVs were interrupting Olympics broadcasting with weather reports and tornado warnings a couple of hours south of us with the storms heading in our direction. We figured we should at least inquire if there were any rooms at the inn for us to potentially stay in.  There was and we both easily agreed to go ahead and stay the night at the inn. (This is not typical behavior for us. Adam doesn’t give up on things easily. And I don’t like to spend money. One night at the inn was still costing a little more than what we were paying for all 3 nights of camping. We were doubling what we were spending for lodging). By the time we headed back to our site, splashed around in some large puddles and heavy rain to gather overnight items and try to stack and protect things in the tent in the event of flooding, we were finally nestled into our room at around 9:30pm.  We could hardly hear the rain falling outside. Easily the best night of sleep during our trip (apparently, I don’t make up axe murderer scenarios in my head while staying indoors) (And no, I do not watch scary axe murderer movies….this is just how my mind operates). The Inn lost power at some point in the middle of the night for a couple of hours. And something went awry with the park’s water pressure-something-or-other during the storm, which made all water at the park unsafe for drinking and cooking unless boiled. But we enjoyed the pool and hot tub in the morning and by the time we left the inn, the rain had stopped. We felt good about our decision to stay in the inn. I’m not really sure how anyone can deny that a spacious hotel room with a TV, small table, bathroom, coffeemaker and an additional vanity sink is way better to stay in than a tent. Especially during storms.  Pretty thankful that we picked a park that ended up having an "indoor" option. 

I must say that doing life (and in this event, tent camping) with Adam is pretty awesome. He typically handles stress extremely well. He’s a get-it-done, hardworking sort of guy. He rarely ever complains or worries. He does anything that is asked of him. He is knowledgeable and capable of doing so many things. He is selfless and rock steady. Even after we returned home on Wednesday afternoon and unloaded our van and trailer trying to beat a heavy rain that was on our heels, he then left to go help a family that had experienced very significant flooding in their home. This guy. Wow. I hope our little boys are paying attention. 
Photo credit to Landon.
This is me enjoying a peaceful campfire while Adam took all 3 boys for showers.
Having all boys certainly has its perks at times.
I mentioned that the water at the park was affected. They barricaded all drinking fountains and spigots throughout the park. There were signs on every building and bathroom warning of it. They were providing bottled water at the inn, but nothing at the campground that we ever saw. This lasted from Monday morning thru when we left on Wednesday afternoon.  BUT, our campsite happened to be positioned quite close to a trail that led to the Spring Shelter. We had discovered the day before that it was called the Spring Shelter because there was a natural artesian spring at it. So, we had easy access to safe, clean, natural drinking water even though the park was having issues with their water safety! 

We had perfect weather the rest of our time camping. We enjoyed bike riding, hiking, swimming at the lake, visiting the nature center, and in general, doing camping sort of stuff.  Overall, a great trip and the boys are already asking when we are going to go camping again.

Here's a few more pics to satisfy your desire of pictures:
A really cool tree we found while hiking.
I made some pretty good camping food. Here we are enjoying breakfast burritos.
3 year olds are so cute.

Heath and I 'nuggling (snuggling).
Frogs like to take showers also.

The Inn had a gameroom.
Bird watching at the Nature Center.

So….do I LOVE camping?  Love is much, much too strong of language to describe my feelings towards it. 

BUT I do love to watch my boys enjoy the outdoors. I like hiking and biking. I like campfires. I definitely like s’mores (especially when you add some peanut butter). I love taking in God’s creation.  I like vacations that cost less. I love family time.  

I’m sure we will go camping again. In fact, I hope so. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Officially and finally

A bit overdue. But hey, what's new?

We finally signed to close everything on our GR house at the end of July.
We decided to spend the night and enjoy our home there one last time. 
This is officially and finally the last posting about leaving GR. 
I promise.

Had one last pool party with friends!

Took a beautiful evening stroll one last time through downtown GR.
(And yes, these boys were hunting for Pokemon)

Certainly a bit sad about the finality of no longer having a place to lay our heads in GR. 
That house was such a blessing to us. (And of course, we miss our friends and family there)
But we only have good wishes for the new homeowners.
They got immediate possession at signing. We even left a message in the driveway for them.
They've already told us they are loving the house, enjoying the pool, and that they've lost track of how many kids have been over. 

I am missing the scenery of taking quiet walks on the Blandford Nature Trails that were so close to us. I took a few photos of my last walk.

I've been taking quite a few walks in our new area. But there's nothing like this within walking distance from our house. I'm dealing with a lot more pavement and traffic. Not nearly as serene. 
But we do enjoy the location of the house we are staying in.
A quick walk to church. We'll likely walk to school most of the time.
The library is close. Several parks are within easy driving distance.
We have a good backyard and can easily have groups over.

My mom came last weekend and helped me have a garage sale.
I had a garage sale back in May. But we didn't get rid of nearly enough before moving. 
We were stowing 7 extra lamps in our living room. :) They've all been sold now.

We are really enjoying connecting with people and making new friends. We are people that like to connect and be connected. Seems to be quite a few others here that feel this way too.
We are starting to get things lined up and the school year schedule is winding up to begin.

Unfortunately, I just haven't taken too many pictures of our activities here yet. 

But just wait....we are squeezing in a quick camping trip before school starts.
Anticipate the adventures. :)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Tate turned 7!

Our Tate turned 7! 

We threw him an early birthday party back in June so that he could celebrate with his kindergarten friends. So fun! Dinosaur themed. A backyard of kids playing. My favorite part was when they sang "Happy Birthday" to him. I had them sing it my favorite loud and as off-key as possible. I thought a few of them were going to bust a vein in their heads. It was loud. And hilarious.

My handsome game leader.
Dino Bones, Cavemen, Dino Eggs, Dino Claws, Fossil Cookies, and Jurassic Juice. Oh, and cupcakes. 
They were making dinosaur faces/noises here.
And then on his actual birthday, we had fun opening gifts and cards from family.
And we went out as a family to Buffalo Wild Wings, his choice. He LOVES eating, they have tablets there that we let the kids play on.
All the way from Colorado!

Tate still loves chickens. Gma Vig crocheted this little guy for him.

Landon bought a digital camera at a garage sale awhile back.
Thanks to his Lego-loving Aunt and Uncle!
And Tate's one long lingering birthday request has been to go fishing. So, while we were in GR this past weekend doing a final cleaning of our house there, Adam arranged for him and Tate to go out on the boat with the semi-famous Stormin' Norman, fisherman extraordinaire. (Ok, he's not really semi-famous....but he's a fun guy we know).  They were picked up at 7 a.m and didn't return until 1 p.m.

Tate said it was the best day ever. 

At 7 this is what our Tate is like:
- He has a strong affinity for dinosaurs, sharks, sea creatures, Star Wars, Legos, and chickens. 
- He is doing great with reading and I think he's very ready for 1st grade. Because we had him do a Young 5's program, he feels like this preschool era of his life has lingered just a bit too long and he's really ready to go onto bigger things!
- He is showing to a be a bit sensitive at times.....focuses on hardships, a little bit of anxiety, life not being fair, and gets his feelings hurts. I pray a lot about knowing how to nurture him, make him feel safe, help him be tough, and for him to know his worth and how much he is loved. 
- He is such a hard worker! Especially when he is working with dad. But also does really well independently at times (mostly depends on the job and how motivated he is). He will pick up sticks and haul logs all day long. 
- Loves being outdoors and looking for frogs, turtles, lightning bugs, etc. 
- Still showing tendencies of being an introvert. He likes other kids and likes being in social settings, but a lot of times he will retreat and its clear he needs some time alone after busy days. 
- He is still the same heighth as his older brother, although his limbs are longer and I think he will end up being taller. He still needs to grow into his body and gain control over it. 
- He is adorably sweet, thoughtful......and a bit crazy. And we love him so very, very much and are grateful he's been given to us! 

Friday, July 08, 2016

We made the move!

I believe we are almost officially Hoosiers. 

Even though I grew up in Indiana, I'm still not completely sure what a Hoosier is and why people from Indiana are called Hoosiers. The Indiana Historical Bureau did not clear it up for me much either.  But anyhow, we have moved nearly all of our belongings to our new place and just have a few things to tie up in Michigan (Michigander is kinda of a weird term also....but at least it ties into the name of the state better and is more easily explained). The cats, lawnmower, and our cleaning supplies are all waiting to be relocated down here with us. We are still waiting to close on our MI house, but things are still progressing and we are praying that all goes through without any hitches. 

Moving Day was was really smooth and great. Mostly because even though it was a holiday weekend, we felt immensely blessed to have such great helping crews in both towns. We are leaving some really great people in Michigan. But, its becoming clear to us that we are being received by some really great people in Indiana. 

Likely the last family pic in front of our GR house.
And it actually was super helpful that Adam's mom came and stayed at our house the week leading up to the move. The day of her arrival, I was admittedly a bit nervous (and possibly had a few moments of being overwhelmed) as she was also bringing 3 children with her (I won't get into the details of "why" as my blog post will already have too words for some of my family members). But it ended up being a huge help. Our boys were entertained and happy. Grandma took them on outings and put them to bed. She did the cooking. The other 3 kids were very well-behaved and polite. I had more time to pack and focus on those details. She was such a great blessing to have around! 

On the day of the move, our rental truck started getting loaded in Michigan at 9 am. By 11, the truck was strategically jam-packed full and the crew had gone. We arrived in Indiana at 3....and those that showed up at 4 had nothing left to do! 

We have worked on getting settled. There are still boxes EVERYWHERE! I thought I had purged a lot of our "stuff." But its clear that I did not purge enough. Nothing makes you feel hideously materialistic until its time to move. Its a little tricky as well when we were moving from a 3800 sq. ft. home with ample storage space to a 1500 sq. ft. home with significantly less storage options. I am currently avoiding our bedroom, except for the need to sleep, because I simply do not know how to make it work. I am fully aware I have too many clothes, too many shoes, too much jewelry, too much, too much, too much. (In my defense, they are mostly thrift store, clearance racks, gifts, and garage sale items!). We are just used to being immensely blessed/spoiled by our previous house and the space and amenities it had to offer. 

I am trying not to be stressed about any of it. Contentment and gratefulness is my aim. Some moments I feel like I am hitting the bullseye. And some moments I am missing the target altogether. I'm trying though. I know my aim needs to be on Jesus and all of our blessings.....which we have a lot of. 

Plus, in light of all that is going on in the world around us, it seems awfully silly to let an issue of "space" bother or consume me. I mean, seriously. Shootings. Bombings. Innocent lives being taken. And I have friends who are dealing with actual difficult things in their lives. Health issues. Marital struggles. Loss of loved ones. 

Anyways. We have tried to jump into life here and fully embrace what we have going on. 

We have some little projects going on at the house. I had already done some patching and painting in a few rooms. And I've already had a few projects for Adam. Plus, Adam tilled up some space for me and I got a garden planted. 
Me: "Adam, I would like some bracketed shelves on this wall."
I have bracketed shelves on the wall.

I signed up the 2 older boys for swim lessons. 

We've explored our new city a little bit.  We've found time to check out the library, a splash pad, and have a few gatherings with new friends. And I even threw a ball at a broken branch that was lodged in a tree for 40 minutes trying to get it down. Once you start something like that, you CANNOT give up. The boys were impressed with my aim and fortitude to keep trying (it was really lodged up there). And it may have even entertained our new neighbors?
Walking the Mishawaka Riverwalk area.

Exploring a new playground.
Adam assured me this equipment was safe.
Surely, it was strategically engineered that if a kid fell from the highest point, the ropes would slow down his fall as he plummeted to the somewhat padded ground.
The broken branch that we victoriously got out of the tree (finally!).
Its a slower pace of life for now with a lot less commitments and connections. But that's OK. I love summertime with our boys. We never managed to put together a summer bucket list like we have shared the past few years. But there's some things we've talked about wanting to, tie-dying shirts, going to a movie theater, a 10-mile bike ride....most of our list involves having a good transition, enjoying life, and making new friends. So, that's what we're gonna do!