Michigan Trip

by Kayte

Wow August is almost halfway over and I’m just now getting around to my first post of the month. We took a trip to Michigan for a week so I’ve been backlogged under travel recovery, 1,000+ photos and back-to-school prep. But now finally photos are edited, posts are written, and here is our vacation:

I spent a lot of time this trip comparing it to our first visit to Michigan. Overall it was a lot easier traveling with 4-year-olds than two infants. The first time around we had bottles, cribs, high chairs, special pureed food, naps to work around, etc. This time it was pretty much like having two little people in tow who could eat whatever, sleep wherever, and do everything we did. Plus it was a lot more fun! Max & Lola were so excited about the trip and had such a great time with all the people and activities. They really have an optimistic, open attitude about new experiences which makes it so fun. This was a very positive litmus test for future travel and more adventures.


MI Day 8 – DTW > BUR

by Kayte

We opted for an early flight back to California so I could get the kids in bed at a decent hour and start the vacation-recovery process in anticipation of school starting next week. We may have been up at 5:30am (2:30am PST!) but we were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise across the mist-covered fields. It was a peaceful beginning to another relatively easy flight home.

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We had an absolutely wonderful vacation but we were all very happy to see Daddy again at the airport. Home again home again jiggety jig.


MI Day 7 – Fish, Swim, Tube

by Kayte

We couldn’t get enough of the fresh water while we were in Michigan so we spent our last day here playing at the lake. Fresh water is such a scarcity in California these days that it’s mind-boggling to encounter a seemingly endless supply for fun and play. Max & Lola both did some more fishing off the dock. They both cast their bait and hooked their own fish. Max proudly reeled in his bluegill, but Lola hooked a big bass that nearly pulled the rod from her hands so we helped her get it to shore.

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Probably one of Max & Lola’s biggest new experiences this trip was tubing behind the boat! We went very slowly around the lake but it was enough excitement for them. And hopefully they’re old enough where they’ll remember all the fun they had this trip! And if not, we have lots of pictures.

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MI Day 6 – Walk & Ride

by Kayte

My parents live on 10 acres of land and I spent countless hours playing outside while growing up. Today the kids got a taste of my childhood as we meandered along the nature paths through the property. Max was amazed by all the sticks; when we walk around our neighborhood in LA he’s so excited to find one little twig and often plays with it for a week until it breaks. In Michigan he encountered more branches than he could shake a stick at! I think Lola prefers smooth sidewalks to bumpy trails, but I was realized that she was getting a great PT workout: navigating uneven surfaces, climbing over fallen trees, walking up/down hills, etc.

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After our nature walk Max & Lola each got a turn riding on Grandpa’s tractor(s). Fun like this would cost you about $5/ticket in LA! I think Max may have been born to be a farmer. He had so much fun helping out around the property; watering plants, raking grass, clearing brush, walking the trash 1/4 mile to the end of the driveway.

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Photo by Lola

After a fun day at home we met up with some old family friends for dinner at the lake park and celebrated their two (older) kids’ birthdays. It was a cozy end to another beautiful day.

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MI Day 5 – Family Day

by Kayte

Sunday we got together for lunch with our extended Michigan family. Parents, grandparents, kids, grandkids, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. There were 6 kids, 3 dogs (including a puppy) and lots of noisy fun. Max & Lola keep asking me if everyone’s backyard “is a park” – they’re not used to so much green grass and open space.

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Lola was an absolute riot. After a very brief feeling-things-out period, she burst into rare form and took command of the room. She led people around, gave orders, sang, orchestrated doctor play and just generally made herself the center of attention. My parents asked me if she’s usually so outgoing in large groups of [relative] strangers, and I couldn’t really think of a comparable situation, but she was pretty consistent the entire week with groups of friends and family so I guess so! She must be the lone extrovert/class-clown of the family.


MI Day 4 – Friends Day

by Kayte

On Saturday we met up with two of my best friends from childhood, Michelle and Jeremy, and their respective spouses, Alex and Stefani. We went out for lunch, played at the park, and had a great time just hanging out. Michelle/Alex and Jeremy/Stefani had of course met the kids before, but this was the first time Max & Lola were old enough to meet (and hopefully remember) them in turn.

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MI Day 3 – Fireworks

by Kayte

We had plans to visit the county fair today but I figured that we get enough noise/crowds at home and decided to revel in the calm, quiet of my childhood home. We spent the morning outside at my parents’ house and the afternoon back at the lake for more swimming. In the evening we went to an outdoor concert at a park that had a bounce house/slide, playground and big wheel track for the kids. My aunt and uncle met us at the concert, then brought fireworks back to the house for the kids. This 4th of July I realized that NO fireworks are legal in California when I couldn’t even find sparklers, so I asked my family to save some for us in Michigan. Max & Lola like the sparklers (under very close supervision) but thought even the little fountains were a bit too loud.

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MI Day 2 – Scenic Lake

by Kayte

Our first day in Michigan started and ended on the lake: boating, swimming, splashing, fishing. The kids both caught (or at least reeled) their first fish from the lake and Lola had no problem grabbing hold of hers. They marveled at playing in a lake where they could wade into the water on a sandy bottom without fear of huge waves. I marveled at how far away from me the kids could run around without worrying about traffic or crowds. We were so grateful that my brother was able to come up from Nashville for the week to spend time with us. Such a beautiful, peaceful day.

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MI Day 1 – FNT > DTW

by Kayte

The kids and I are off to Michigan for a week! Yes, I, as in solo parenting; as in 2-kids-1-mom-outnumbered-on-a-plane! Originally we had planned this trip around the kids’ summer school schedule and unfortunately Brody had to stay behind to work but we bravely forged ahead. Admittedly I was a bit nervous leading up to the trip, but I figured the worst that could happen is that we were all utterly miserable for 4-odd hours until we landed in Michigan and then my parents could take over. Turns out it was much better than that and, dare I say…easy? Granted there was a lot of baggage to haul, a decent amount of whining and someone (not me) threw up on the plane before we even left the ground (somehow, magically, all caught in a bag); but once we were on the actual plane I handed each kid an iPad loaded with shows and enjoyed near-silence for the next 4 hours. I didn’t even bring anything for myself to do (thinking I wouldn’t have time to read) so was actually bored for awhile. Not a feeling I experience much these days. Overall the plane ride was a great success and it’s good to know the kids can travel so well. Viva la vacation!

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Upper Oso

by Kayte

We packed our minivan to the gills and drove out into the wilderness for the kids’ second camping adventure. The packing and set up was a lot easier this year, as the kids were able to wander around and [mostly] keep themselves occupied while we got things in order. Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse, which in SoCal terms means 90-degree heat. It was a hot, hot day to be outside with no A/C, but we made the best of it with lots of shade and cold drinks. Luckily the campsite was in the bottom of a valley so the sun disappeared behind the mountains fairly early in the evening, leaving us with lots of ambient light and bearable temps.

The kids loved our camping adventure and the whole family is already looking forward to our next trip!

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Legoland

by Kayte

Max and Lola played hooky from school to go on an epic adventure: Legoland! They’d never been to an amusement park before and this was the perfect first trip. Legoland is geared toward younger kids so Max & Lola were just the right height/age to go on about 75% of the rides. We were also lucky to be able to go mid-week while school was still in session; there was hardly anyone else at the park and NO lines. The longest we had to wait was 15-20 minutes for one ride, but most rides the kids could just run up to the front of the queue 2-3 times in a row.

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One of the first rides we took the kids on was a rollercoaster. I wasn’t sure what they would think of it since they’d never experienced anything like it before. I hoped we weren’t about to derail the entire tripe. But as soon as we came down the first big drop and around the curve all I could hear was laughing, laughing, laughing. It was amazing.

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One of their favorite activities was the various driving rides. One, the Safari Trek, was a controlled ride along a rail but they LOVED “driving” with mom and dad. The second, Jr. Driving School, was a free-form track complete with working steering wheel and gas pedal. I’m not sure if Lola even made it around the track once, but she laughed hysterically every time she rammed into the curb. Max did a pretty good job navigating around the track, except when he tried to park his car and crashed into a garage door. Hopefully this isn’t an indicator of driving skill at sixteen.

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Another favorite ride was the Beetle Bounce. It was a ride that took them straight up and then brought them back down in a series of stomach-dropping jumps. It didn’t seem exciting to us (the parents) but the kids thought it was great. It was also one where they were big enough to ride by themselves (the parents weren’t even allowed) so they liked the feeling of independence.

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Legoland also has its own small aquarium so we took an underwater stroll. The kids were pretty wiped at this point so we went through quickly, but they were able to pet some sea stars at the tide pools and watch some big fish swimming around.

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There were all sorts of other cool rides like boats and helicopters and airplanes and horses. The main thing was we all had so much FUN. It feels like these past few years we have been limited because of either their age and/or some of their developmental delays, but this trip was one of the first time I felt like they could just DO everything and anything they wanted. It all just felt so normal. Pure joy.


Arrowhead

by Kayte

Friday night we put the kids to bed in the car and hit the road for a weekend getaway in Arrowhead at Gamma & Papa’s cabin. It’s the perfect destination: a relatively short drive, but remote enough to get away from it all. The babies loved the fresh air (minus the allergies) and new sights. Brody and I were forced to relax, which is rare these days. It was a great trip, but with these twins I need some time to recover before our next vacation!


Vacation

by Kayte

I haven’t posted very much this past week because we’ve been away on vacation! But don’t worry – I took lots of pictures and documented everything while we were gone. We had a great time away, but we’re glad to be back home.

Hope you enjoy the memories as much as we did making them.


Day 9: Planes, Trains & Automobiles

by Kayte

Getting back home was a looooong, tiring endeavor. We got up at 7am ET and said our goodbyes to Grandma & Grandpa.

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We piled the babies and luggage into the car and headed to Ann Arbor to meet up with my bestie Michelle for brunch at Zingerman’s. She had ironically been out of town (boo!) the same week we were in Michigan, so this was our only chance to see her.

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Ann Arbor to the Detroit airport was a quick, easy drive. Our plane didn’t leave until 3pm ET and we got there way early. We had plenty of time to check our bags, get through security, find our gate and take care of some diaper changes.

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20130619-224218.jpgWe had a layover in Houston on the way back home which was a big-time drag. A four-hour direct flight turned into (2) three-hour flights with a one-hour layover in between (and a 30-minute delay). We had to dismantle and reassemble the caravan of baby equipment twice. And at this point the babies were OVER IT. The parents were too, for that matter. Max & Lola were both fussy, Max wouldn’t sleep and Lola threw up on our descent into LAX. It could have been a lot worse, but it sure wasn’t much fun for anyone.

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Max finally fell asleep - Lola was ready to party!

We finally got home around 9pm PT, which means we’d been awake and in transit for nearly 17 hours. The babies passed out as soon as we got home, and I’m staying up way too late getting the last of these blog posts written! We had an amazing time touring the midwest and visiting with friends and family, but like they say, there’s no place like home!

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Day 8: Countryside

by Kayte

We spent our last full day in Michigan enjoying the beautiful outdoors. First, we visited Autumn & Lisa at their Little-Red-Schoolhouse-Turned-Crafty-Home — a unique little house set on 9.5 acres of land. We walked around the property and got a grand tour of the place inside and out.

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After lunch we headed to the lake for a make-up swim to “wash away” yesterday’s bad lake experience. Although the weather had cooled down significantly, the sun was still warm and the babies weren’t phased. Apparently nothing can get in the way of Max & Lola’s splash time.

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Later that evening we went down to the barn to visit my parents’ horse Rusty. Max met him earlier in the week but was pretty scared and started crying. In true form, brave little Lola thought a 1,000 pound animal was great fun. Max was still a little cautious, but no tears this time (and close-up too!).

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Day 7: Lake Michigan

by Kayte

Today was supposed to be a fun beach excursion, but it turned out to be kind of a bust. We drove 2+ hours to Lake Michigan, and although the weather cooperated, the babies did not! I thought Max & Lola would be ready to have some fun after a long car nap, but they were cranky almost from the minute we got there. They cried in the stroller on the walk down the pier, wanted nothing to do with lunch, then continued to cry in the cabana. The only fun Max & Lola had was jumping in the waves, but the water was really gross from some recent flooding so we didn’t stay in very long (and bathed as soon as we got home!). C’est la vie – better luck next time.

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Everybody’s mood improved once we got back to my parents’ house. Clean diapers, clean babies, clean clothes. Big bottles and dinner out on the deck (until the mosquitoes chased us inside). I wonder if Max & Lola’s vacation tolerance is wearing thin. They’ve been SO well behaved up until today. Maybe they’re just over it. I also wonder if Max is teething in earnest. He’s been extra fussy and I think I just might see the tiniest white mark on his lower gum. Maybe. Just in time for our flight home – oh boy!

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Day 6: Father’s Day

by Kayte

We’re so lucky to spend Father’s Day with two amazing dads. Love you both!

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Day 5: Picnic

by Kayte

On Saturday we threw a meet-the-babies open house for everyone who hadn’t met Max & Lola yet. The weather was overcast and a little drizzly, but not enough to chase us away. We had a great group of people; family, friends, co-workers, kids. We grilled hot dogs, played horseshoes, fished, swam, kayaked and caught up with people we hadn’t seen in far too long.

Max & Lola were, once again, amazing. From the second we arrived at the park they were passed from stranger to stranger for hours. They took it all in stride. I wasn’t sure what they would think of the cool lake water but, as you can see from the pictures, they loved it. My little tadpoles.


Day 4: The Burg

by Kayte

We weren’t sure how we’d all be feeling after two big days of traveling, so we didn’t make any plans for our first day in Michigan. We all slept like rocks in the fresh country air and woke up to a beautiful green oasis.

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After sleeping in, we went into town for coffee. Living in a small town you run into a lot of people you know, so the babies got to meet even more new people.

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My BFF Jeremy and his GF Stefani came over for a visit. Neither of them had met the babies yet, but they were both naturals. I put them to work almost immediately. We took the babies for a walk around the lake and ran into more old friends. The rest of the day we just relaxed and played with the babies.

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The time change is throwing me off. I’m doing okay keeping the babies on California time, but I’m not quite sure when I’m supposed to eat and sleep. I think I might still be in Chicago 🙂 It’s been pretty confusing.

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Since the security incident first night, Max & Lola have been going to sleep very quickly. It seems all the activity is really wearing them out.


Day 3: Road Trip

by Kayte

Today we said our goodbyes in Chicago and hit the road for Michigan. Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go!

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Four Generations

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Once again, the babies were very well-behaved in transit. Chicago to my parents’ house is about a four hour drive. We left around nap time so Max & Lola slept for the first two hours. We stopped for a lunch break and to stretch our legs, and finished the rest of the trip without incident.

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Max made pretty good time!