Friday, July 1, 2016

love come true.

So like, uhhh...

[scrapes rust off keyboard]

Ahem. It's been almost three months since I posted. There's no real reason for my absence. No one died (in my family, that is), I'm not pregnant (though not for lack for trying), and I can't blame work (but, happily, a bunch of side jobs are blooming right now, which is fantastic). It just felt like a struggle to string words together all throughout spring, and then the beautiful weather finally settled in, and I couldn't be bothered to blog.

But today's a rainy morning and I have the house to myself (!!!), so here...I have beachy pictures from this week, our very first family vacation. Yes, our child is almost three. Yes, I know you went to Disney twice last year and then went skiing over Christmas. Yes, this trip was an amazing Father's Day surprise from my absolutely amazing mother-in-law. Yes, this is what life is like when the primary breadwinner quits her job when the baby is almost a year old and you didn't plan to survive on one income. And yes, the sacrifices are all totally worth it, but also yes, I'm so grateful we had this opportunity.

As for our destination? Well...okay. I freely admit that I complain about my home state of Michigan. A lot. I mean, from November through April, it's freezing, gray, slushy, barren, icy, and depressing - at least, for this sunshine-and-warmth-craving soul. But the upside? There are so many gorgeous travel destinations in Michigan, and you can get to most of them via a relatively short car trip, which is great when traveling with a toddler. So on my mother-in-law's recommendation, we trekked out to Saugatuck. It's a small town right on Lake Michigan (west side of the state, in case you're not familiar with the Great Lakes). It's beautiful, it's clean, it's family-friendly and LGBTQ-friendly and artist-friendly, and there's a plethora of ice cream and pizza options. Oh, and the beach?

Not too shabby. 

Rowan did pretty well on the car ride out there. In hindsight, we should've driven during nap time, but we were only staying a couple nights and wanted to maximize our daytime hours. So we left first thing in the morning. Rowan spent the first chunk of the trip finishing up some work emails and (as my sister said) setting up her out-of-office reply:

After a stop for breakfast and another stop for the bathroom, plus a re-route due to a truck fire on the highway, she was hitting her limit. The drive ended up taking almost four hours instead of two and a half, but considering she's fairly newly potty trained and was alone in the back seat (again...hindsight), things could have been much worse. (Picture: Me facing the grimy wall in a gas station bathroom somewhere in mid-Michigan, closing my eyes and covering my ears at the request of the tiny toddler sitting on her little green Ikea potty that we brought from home, feeling thankful that she was taking care of business on a potty instead of in her car seat).

And waiting for us when we finally got there was her favorite activity: swimming. We hit up the hotel pool first, since it was a chilly 62 degrees outside (coldest day in weeks and weeks, of course) and the skies looked ominous.

Jumping (falling) off Daddy's shoulders

But Rowan got tired of the pool pretty quickly and requested the beach, so we packed up the stroller and hiked the half mile to Oval Beach. It wasn't much warmer there, but the sun came out, which made everything better.

The waves were INSANE that day - as big as some that I've seen in Hawaii. Playing in huge waves is probably my number-one favorite thing to do in the world, so despite the fact that the water was 57 degrees and the riptide was strong, I dove in and had a blast. J.J. and Rowan hung out on the shore, building sandcastles and playing "boat" - a game they made up where J.J. drags her through the sand on a towel.

Seriously, Dad of the Year. He never got tired of playing with her on the beach. I...never got tired of watching them play on the beach. Ha :) He was rewarded for his efforts by his always-grateful daughter, who responded to his request for a piece of her blueberry muffin with: "No. It's not Father's Day anymore." Harsh.

Downtown Saugatuck was cute - touristy, but fun. We grabbed a couple breakfasts and dinners there (and our fair share of ice cream), and there was a great park that Rowan was a huge fan of.

We mostly drove into town (which took less than ten minutes), but there was a cute little chain ferry by our hotel that you could take across the Kalamazoo River. I didn't get a great shot of Rowan waiting for the ferry, which is too bad because she. was. PSYCHED. It ended up being a great bargaining chip for us throughout the day ("Let's take a nap so we can ride the ferry later!" "I know you're sad to leave the beach, but we get to go ride the ferry now!" etc.). Once we were finally on the ferry, it turned out to be Very Serious Business for Rowan.

This is her "I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so...so...scared" face.

The weather warmed up after that first day, but the lake was still freezing - we overheard another family say that it was way colder than it had been even a couple days before we got there, thanks to the random cold snap. Didn't matter to Rowan, though, who loved getting knocked down by waves, smashing Daddy's sandcastles, and finding rocks and seashells for Mama.

A+ trip, for sure. We'd go back in a heartbeat. And speaking of hearts, I happened to look at Rowan at one point and say, "You just melt my heart!" That, of course, sparked a five-minute explanation of what "melt my heart" means, which she concluded by declaring, "I melted your heart when I was growing in your belly." Yes. Indeed.

Now we're even more excited to visit the other side of Michigan - Oscoda, on Lake Huron - in a few weeks, thanks to a wonderfully thoughtful friend of ours. Notes to self for our next beach vacation: bring a better variety of car snacks; research methods of sand removal from toddler bathing suits; keep fingers continually crossed that we score the ever-elusive Car Nap on the rides there and back.

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