Monday, July 11, 2011

Michigan's Great Adventures

Annalyse and I just returned from a wonderful, but very fast, trip to Michigan to visit extended family. Oh my. There was drama. There were emergencies. There were tears. There was humor. And there was, for sure, memory making.

But before all the details of our trip, I'm just wondering why it is such a production for me to get away for a few days? Grady heads out of town on business frequently and it involves nothing more than tossing a few clothes in his suitcase the morning he leaves and he's out the door after a quick kiss good bye. 

Not so simple when I leave for a few days.

There are babysitters to line up, instructions to type, a fridge and cupboards to stock, underwear drawers that need to be full, dinners that need to be made ahead of time, clothes arranged and organized (because I fear what my boys may have looked like otherwise)... not to mention actually packing and preparing for me and my baby girl to travel.

Annaylse flew like a champ and made lots of friends on the plane. At one point I almost lost track of her because the flight attendant wanted to bring her to the front of the plane to introduce to another flight attendant. "She's just so cute I need to go show her off!" Um, okay... I think.
We had an hour delay in Cleveland and after several laps around the terminal, she fell asleep. Good thing since it was hours past her bedtime and I wanted to grab dinner.

On the final flight to Michigan, Annalyse and I sat next to a down-to-earth and wonderfully sweet man who was a very proud and very happy dairy farmer. If you've ever flown with a child in your lap, you understand that your ability to completely control flailing arms and kicking legs isn't entirely possible. Mr. Farmer was very gracious and offered kind smiles when he was bumped or had a toy dropped on him.
I remember bending down to get something out of the backpack, a total of about 13 seconds, and when I popped my head back up Annalyse had her hands locked on tight to Mr. Farmer's arm. And his very dark arm hair. And the Cheerio that was pasted in a mass of that dark arm hair.

You are laughing right now, but I wasn't laughing then. What to do, what to do?! Unclenching a hand that was determined to fish out the lost Cheerio was impossible unless Mr. Farmer was willing to part with several of those dark arm hairs.

But, alas, Annalyse and I arrived in good ole Michigan and my parents were waiting for us at baggage claim. Actually, if I'm being honest, they were waiting as close to the "Do Not Pass" security gate as they could possibly get. My Mom taped our grand arrival, which was only magnified since we were escorted through the secret elevator and hallway via the very friendly and loud pilot, copilot, and flight attendant down to baggage claim.

First stop Thursday morning was to visit my Mom's parents, Annalyse's great grandparents. My Granny cried and wouldn't put Annalyse down. She was thrilled to hold and kiss and love her great granddaughter.
My Poppy is aging quickly and probably wasn't entirely sure who I was or who Annalyse was, but he sure did offer a nice lap for Annalyse to lounge in and eat her Cheerios.
Annalyse also met Molly, a large, loud, and loves-to-lick black Lab. Annalyse was not keen on Molly at first, but quickly warmed up to her and even smiled when she received several wet licks.
Although Michigan is gray and cold and rainy/snowy more than it is sunny or warm, the weather during our time there this past week was beautiful. My mom commented, more than once, about how hot it was... all the while I was thinking how cool and comfortable and wonderful it was. The low 80's was a welcome break from the typical upper 90's North Carolina has during the summer months.
It's always hard to return to my roots. My time there is so short and my loyalties are spending time with family, but there are several high school friends that I would love to catch up with. However, when I only have several days out of a year to enjoy my parents and family, it's hard to make time to visit with others. I don't like that. I feel guilty about that. And I don't know what to do about that. (If you're one of those friends and are reading this, pretty please don't de-friend me on Face Book, kay?)
Thursday evening my mom and I spent a couple of hours shopping. On our way home, traffic on the highway came to a dead stop and we saw dozens of police cars, news vans, and helicopters. Earlier that day we'd heard reports of a shooting spree happening on the north east side of the city and seeing all this commotion we knew instantly something big was happening in relation to that.

My mom turned the radio on and we quickly learned that the man responsible for seven murders that day had led police on a chase down the very highway we were on. He then drove off an embankment, fled on foot, and kicked in a door at a nearby home and was holding its residents hostage. We sat on the highway for 45 minutes listening to the play-by-play before we were able to finally exit. 

If you watch the following clip, it gets exciting around the 4:50 mark. My mom and I were literally minutes behind all of this craziness. We just missed the highway chase and crash. Once police had the killer cornered, they allowed our section of cars off the highway so they could have the entire perimeter locked down and cleared. Talk about God's perfect timing! 

But, that aside, this past week was a true vacation. I slept in until 8:30 each morning. I drank my coffee while it was still hot. I took a shower without interruption. I read when I wanted. I sat outside and lounged. I didn't make meals. I didn't bathe or change Annalyse. I was basically a lazy, lazy girl for several days and rather enjoyed it!
Friday my mom and I raced to a couple of garage sales together. Growing up we would search the classifieds each Thursday evening and make a game plan for Friday. We didn't have a lot of time during my visit, but it was fun to find a few bargains together. Someday Annalyse will learn and appreciate the many, many, many bargains her Grandma finds via garage sales. Ooooh! And that Grandma throws a mean barter, too.
Granny and Poppy came over for one last visit on Friday and Annalyse crawled right to them, eager to say hello. I think I saw more tears from Granny - she was so in love with my baby girl and it was wonderfully precious to see.
Friday afternoon, my other grandparents came for a visit. These grandparents are the very proud great grandparents to 13 great grandchildren. These are the same "young" grandparents who still drive cross-country to go camping and sightseeing, still enjoy walks in the woods, still go hunting and still can vegetables. You're lucky if you can walk on pace and keep up with my Papa.
However, no sooner did they arrive, we hugged and began to catch up, when my mom got a phone call with horrible news: my brother, Jeremiah, was seriously injured in a work-related accident and was going into surgery.

My dad raced home from work and we all got in the car for a 40 minute drive to the hospital where Jeremiah was. One of his coworkers met us in the waiting room and explained that Jeremiah had been cutting some material with an exacto-knife and it slipped and sliced his wrist. He said there was a lot of blood and the cut was large and the doctor said the internal damage was enough to warrant surgery.
Truth be told, it was much more than just a cut and much more than just a lot of blood. Jeremiah buried the knife blade in his arm and severed six tendons and two veins, just missing an artery and major nerve.
He's got a long road of recovery and rehab ahead of him. Best case scenario has his hand moving and functioning well in six months, though he's been told it may take up to a year before he has "normal" mobility of all his fingers and his wrist.
Although spending six hours in the ER was not number one on my list of fun things I wanted to do while home, I was happy that I was able to be there instead of hearing about it after the fact while my mom would most likely cry into the phone and tell me about it. Too many times I feel like I'm not able to be there when trouble hits, and for once, I was actually there.

And besides, Annalyse got plenty of love and attention from doting nurses, a smitten grandpa, and an uncle that thinks she's the sweetest thing ever.
Saturday was another beautiful day so after easing into the morning, my parents suggested driving to Lake Michigan and walking the pier.
If you've never seen or touched the Great Lakes in Michigan, you have no idea what you're missing. No idea at all. When I say lake, you likely think of images reflecting see-the-other-side-big-ponds-with-muddy-water, sit-on-the-dock-and-catch-fish, and row-a-canoe-and-relax, kind of lake. Let me be clear: this is not what Lake Michigan is all about. Not even close.
Lake Michigan may as well be a fresh water ocean. Can't see the other side. Big waves. Major boats hauling freight and cargo. Coast Guard stations all around. Beaches that rival the best coastlines.

Growing up less than an hour from the lake, I spent a lot of time here. Then, when Grady and I lived in Chicago we enjoyed the lake from the other side for the six years we were there. Now, as much as we love North Carolina, nothing can replace the fondness and beauty of Lake Michigan.
With so much to see, Annalyse was more than content to sit and watch and enjoy the breeze in her peach fuzz hair. I think she'll be a beach girl, too, someday.
Gah! I'm getting homesick just looking at these pictures again and writing about them. I promise, one visit to Lake Michigan and you'll be a fanatic too.
We spent a while at the end of the pier watching boats and fishermen, and just enjoying the sun and waves and sounds and smells. Honestly, the weather could not have been better. The only thing missing was the other half of my family - and I know my boys would have been all about the water!
Okay, okay... I'm done with the Lake Michigan pictures. It's just hard to stop at only one or two! Get ready cause next summer there will be hundreds of pictures with my family donning swim suits as we pier jump and swim and spend oodles of time at the lake!
It was special to go to church with my parents on Sunday. Normally when our family visits we leave to head home on Sunday and we end up missing the chance to worship with my parents and their church family.
My dad is one of the best Bible teachers you'll hear. People can't get enough of his insight and wisdom. My mom is one of the most gracious and approachable people you'll meet. Kids flock to her and people call on her when they need a willing servant.
The flight on Sunday went well and there were, thankfully, no delays this time. On one of my flights, Annalyse and I were seated in the midst of about 25 Asian folks who were enthralled with the enormous pink bow on Annalyse's head and the fact that she wouldn't stop waving hello to them and trying to share her Cheerios. She may be famous in Asia now, since there were several Nikon's that popped up randomly and flashed pictures of my girl. Yikes.

I arrived home to this darling "Welcome Home" sign, complete with a family picture. Precious.
On the other side of the kitchen was this colorful poster and these pretty flowers. Beautiful. I love the three boys in my life!
And my husband, bless his heart, knows me all too well. The kitchen was spotless. The laundry room was organized and ready to go. The fridge and fruit basket had been restocked. The main floor had been vacuumed. The toy room was picked up. And, most importantly, my boys were fed, dressed, and happy as can be.

So, I wonder when my next vacation will be?


  1. Wow, I'm SO glad that you got to get away up to MI just for a little girls trip, how FUN!! And good for you!
    Whew, does sound like there was some drama, but I'm so glad you were able to be there for your brother, praise God.
    Love the pics of Lake Michigan...while we enjoy the "see-the-other-side" variety quite a bit, you are right...there is really nothing like a Great Lake!!
    Oh, and TOO cute about Annalyse being a star in Asia, I would not doubt it for a minute...she's such a doll & quite a charmer, I know you had so much fun traveling together!

  2. Wow!!! Sarah...can't you just go on vaca without drama? follows you! :-) Just kidding! So so so super glad that you were able to just relax! Wish it had been longer for you! Although I must say...I ran into some Peeler boys on Sunday and they were ready for you to come home!
    What a sweet time with your family!!! I took a trip to Cali once with just Amy and had a very similar time. It was so nice just to hang out with family and have that individual time with her.
    Glad your brother is okay...I can relate to that too! And being on the other end of a tearful phone call!!!
    Love that precious!!!

  3. Love lake Michigan - so glad you had a great time with family : )

  4. The pictures of Lake Michigan are beautiful. I'm so glad that you had a 'memorable' trip with just Annalyse! I remember flying with Garrett (while pregnant with Olivia). I got a lot of help and had a nice man sitting next to me - who picked up several things for us as well :).

  5. I'm so glad you got to get away for a little trip--just you and your sweet girl! It sounds like she stole the show EVERYWHERE you went, which is no surprise at all! She is absolutely PRECIOUS!!

    I hope your brother is okay! What a terrible thing to happen, but what a blessing that you were there!

  6. I am so sorry for all the drama on your trip! But all-in-all, it sounds like it was a nice, relaxing getaway for you and your baby girl. I pray your brother's recovery goes well. That was scary!

    Yes... getting to go away is quite the production. Moms are the glue that holds the family together. You have to make sure the infrastructure won't collaspe when you leave!!! I love coming home to a clean house, too. Blessings!

  7. Wow! What a trip. How precious that your grandparents got to spend some sweet time with Annalyse.

    I am so sorry to hear about your brother's accident, but so thankful for God's grace that you were there and that it sounds like he'll be able to have a full (albeit slow) recovery.