Sunday, June 1, 2014

Spring Break: Grand Rapids, MI

Yeah, yeah, yeah - I'm still posting about our spring break travels. And yeah, yeah, yeah - I know we're on summer break so that should be my focus. I'll make this the last post about spring break. Promise.
The kids and I spent a week in Grand Rapids with my family, while Grady stayed in Chicago for the week for business. I admit: I was a tad nervous loading up all four kids and driving out of Chicago toward Michigan. It had been seven years since navigating Chicago traffic, and never with the distraction of kids and the awkwardness of a minivan in the center of the Loop during the morning rush hour. But, I'm happy to say that dodging pedestrians, remembering one-way streets, and avoiding bus stops came back in the blink of an eye and we had an uneventful three-hour drive from Chicago to Michigan.
After a very full week of travel and sightseeing it was wonderful to get settled at my parents and relax for a week. I will say, though, that Grady and I have perfected the science of loading/unloading the van and rooftop carrier, and checking in and settling into adjoining hotel rooms. 
My kids were thrilled to see Grandpa and Grandma, but were slightly disappointed there was no snow. I reminded them we were on spring break and that snow would not be a welcome sight. Thankfully, we actually enjoyed springlike weather while we were there and were fortunate to avoid rainy days. 
My boys are always excited to see their cousin, Landon, and because he has an easygoing mom who agreed on letting him skip a day of school they enjoyed a lot of time playing together. Annalyse was simply happy to have one-on-one time with Grandpa and Grandma - reading books, playing games, baking bread, and anything else she could smile her way into. My little man, Jax, had no idea where we were or what was going on , but he stayed flexible and went with the flow as he was passed from one set of arms to the next as excited family members held him.
It's special to see my grandparents and it's extra special to see them with my kids. I hope that in years to come, they can look back on these visits and remember their great grandparents. Mostly, though, I hope they one day realize what a beautiful blessing it is to have a family who loves God and who takes his truth seriously.
At the end of the week, Grady took the train from Chicago to Grand Rapids and was able to enjoy the weekend with my family. The highlight, of the whole week actually, was a day we spent at some property just north of Grand Rapids that my family owns and uses for hunting. Growing up it was referred to as "The Property." And then my grandpa, dad, and uncles built "The Cabin," which was really nothing more than a rustic hunting lodge. And then the menfolk built an outhouse, which was really, well, just that. After being married 13 years and never taking time to introduce Grady to this vital piece of my family's recreational heritage, we decided a day visiting The Cabin at The Property was necessary!
It was a fun day of walking in the woods, inspecting deer blinds, shooting guns, building forts, and roasting hot dogs on the fire. It was such a fun day, in fact, that there's now talk of making this an overnight adventure the next time we're in town. Being cozy by the wood stove playing cards sounds nice and all, but remember the outhouse? That could be a game changer.
After being away from home for almost two weeks, I was ready to return to my surroundings. Sort of. I was ready for my routine and my space and my belongings, but I wasn't ready to say goodbye to my parents and extended family and the simple familiarity of where I grew up. How come seven days can speed by when you wish time would slow down and last a little longer?
After leaving Grand Rapids, we stopped in Columbus, OH to visit some college friends and stay the night with them. Because they're at a near halfway point in the journey between Charlotte and Grand Rapids, they graciously open their home to our family each year as we pass through. I always look forward to the chance to catch up with special friends, and my kids are always excited to see their four wonderful kids and spread out on their bedroom floors for sleepovers.


Twelve days away from home. Two thousand miles in the family minivan. Nine states in the good ole US of A. Three different hotels and two different homes. And an infinite number of memories from a great spring break trip!

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