Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer in Michigan

My friend Carrie met us at an anchorage with these beautiful flowers first thing the next morning that we arrived in port.  My sister still had the kids so we had a great chance to catch up, get some sun and enjoy the day. We rafted off to John and Carrie, Bernie and Mike for the day. 
My brother-in-law Rob (Michelle's husbands) parents' Mike and Carolyne came for a visit at the Spears house and we celebrated "Grams" birthday with a huge plate of brownies.  Michelle made a great dinner too and it was so nice to see them again.  On our boat trip we went to their home in the Bradenton area of Florida's west coast during the Christmas holiday.
The girls made up three dances full of cartwheels and acrobats and did a great job!
The boys danced to two songs as we sat on their comfy couch (oops my toes made it into the photo). It was fun to hang out in her big beautiful home again.  She took the kids to see a few movies in the theatre, out for pizza and ice cream, over to the country club for swimming in the pool and so much more.  They have a great big tree house out back that the kids loved playing in and time flew by fast!   
Sweet little Bella, the Spears family dog, styling her new winter jacket.  
I ended up spending 8 hours on the road to get to my sisters.  My parents planted a car in Grand Haven so we could get Craig's truck in Boyne City. Then all the way down past Ann Arbor to my sisters to get the kids and back across the state to Grand Haven to the boat was another 3 hours.  It's good to be home!

Lot's of cousin time!
Nothing like a July summer in Michigan!  Family joined us in Smith's Bayou in Spring Lake (inside the port of Grand Haven) for a day of swimming and anchoring out with friends.  We rafted up next to John and Carrie, Steve and Sharon, Wayne and Shari and Tab and Renee's boat.  It was hot and fun!
Our friend, Tab, really pulled Carrie around on this raft with his teeth!  Ha, it was so funny!
Craig diving off the aft deck of our boat.  I think jumping the 17 feet is scarey enough...but he needs to do it head first and take it to a whole new level.
Jaxon has never been the first one into the lake, but it was hot enough to get him in and he had a riot!
Craig, Tab and John (Carrie's husband), jumping off the aft deck.  They did a half dozen times and made a huge splash!
A view from the water! I love my digital underwater camera!

The kids couldn't run up there fast enough to keep jumping!
Ryann's shelf needed to be cleaned, so she took the opportunity to play!
The kids were so proud of Craig getting a job that we threw a celebration!  Any reason to make cake.
Craig's first day at work was a sweltering hot one.  He's owned those 'lucky boots' for 15 years and now has to duck tape them together.  He worked on Spring Lake doing some dock construction for a friend.  He's now working in the Grand Rapids area putting a trim crew together and tackling a 4,500 SF home for a high end reputable builder in town.  Reality is setting in and he's gone from 6:00 am till 6:00 pm most days. 
The "Red Bull" girls were passing out free drinks at the park!
My sister Michelle and Derek came for a visit and we enjoyed their company very much.
Derek and Jaxon are still inseparable. 
Hot roddin at the skate park!
We missed Elizabeth, my niece, as she was at camp all week.  It was rather hard to get a photo of all the kids at one time.
It was so hot during the day, that we opted to do the beach in the evening. 25 knot winds made for fun waves to play in. 
Best buds!
North Shore beach has a park, pavillion and path down to the beach! Run Jaxon run - there's no other way for him to go!
My dad took me out car shopping (photo to come), and my mom took the kids (with Alexander and Emily) to our Maxine's house to go swimming.  She is going to be 95 in September and is an unbelievable woman.  She was swimming with the kids and full of great conversation and energy.  She worked at McDonalds until she was 90!  Just amazing and inspiring!
She has the best pool and the kids played the whole day!  My mom barely left the pool all day.
Grand Haven is a great place to pick your own blueberries.
 Jaxon was on a mission to fill his belly and bucket.

Next posting will be the reality of life as we see it now to include our new cars and home....the next adventure!  Off to packing now!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Going home to Grand Haven, Michigan

On our boating journey we pretty much cruised at 8-9 mph on water. Now near our hometown with support from our family and accessible cars, we find ourselves traveling 60-70 mph on land.  From Boyne City we took my parents car back to Grand Rapids for a visit.
 It's good to be with our family and friends again.  Gathering for great conversation, meals and hugs, you can always feel the love when you're close to them. 
 The cousins were so happy to be together again and it was a constant celebration!  On left is my nephew Alexander who is almost 12 and my niece Emily who is 9.  
 While we were away there was a new addition to the family, GIZMO!!  He's a playful puppy and the kids had a riot chasing him around. 
 This is Craig's big sister, Dee Dee and one of my very closest friends. We've missed her so much as we weren't able to connect during our entire boat trip.
 It didn't take long for the cousins to get back into the swing of things together and on land.  Alexander is riding my old bike when I was his age.  Notice the long banana seat...haha, it was my favorite bike!
 We had another addition to the family, my niece Annabelle was born!!  She's absolutely adorable and I could barely put her down.  On left is my other niece Dalilah who has changed so much as well.  Their parents are Stephanie (Craig's step sister) and Kurt (oops no photo).
 Grandpa Rich and Annabelle as we ate brunch in their lovely home (that Craig built)! 
 Grandma Debbie made a delicious meal and we were all so happy to be together again. 
 Grandma Yvonne played with the kids nonstop and I liked this action shot of the ball in mid air.  You can see my Dad is a big license plate collector and in his shop they cover all four walls and then some!
 My parents took the girls to see Shrek the Musical, a play in downtown Grand Rapids at the auditorium.  We heard later it was a fabulous time!
 Sleepover for everyone when we are living 4 hours away from the family!  My parents, Craig's parents and Dee's family all live within a three mile distance. 
 My goddaughter, Lily, and her new little baby kittens at my cousin Kelli's home.  I have a good excuse now why we can't take any home because of living on the boat - haha!
My sister Michelle could tell that I needed some time to regroup and insisted on taking the kids for FOUR days.  We hadn't had a babysitter since my family came around the New Year holiday.  She lives in 5,000 square foot beautiful home and the kids were so excited to get spoiled by her!  My niece, Elizabeth, is 11 and now stands 5'2" and wears a size 9 shoe.  She's growing up so very quickly. 
 My nephew, Derek, is 7 and is Jaxon's best friend.  Once they're together you can't separate them at all! 
Our last 175 mile stretch of the Great Loop journey got us officially to cross our wake in Grand Haven, Michigan.  Craig and I enjoyed this time of reflecting about our lives and path ahead.  With calm seas it made for a great time to play Scrabble too.   
 Nothing like the great depths of the great lakes. You can see here we are in 588 feet!  On the course of our trip, depth seemed to play a factor in many areas.....the great lakes not being one of them. 
 Our first night anchorage was at the South Manitou Island.  It was a calm beautiful night.
 We traveled all day long the following day and ended up watching the sunset and pulling into the port of Grand Haven at 12:00 midnight exactly!  We are very happy with our decision to come home as we once contemplated moving to the northern Michigan region at one time.  Once we made our decision to head south we were two hours underway and Craig received a call for an awesome job opportunity.  In the end, we will enjoy being close to our family and friends and it'll be nice to settle down in what has always felt like home in Grand Haven! 
Next post coming soon!  More fun times in Grand Haven and re-entry into the real world on land!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Boyne City, Michigan

One Water Street Marina in Boyne City was a great stop. The new marina is in Lake Charlevoix and the heart of the city.
 A short walk away was a fantastic park that we went to daily for some good exercise and meeting other kids.
Car, job and house hunting has been top on our list now that we've entered into Michigan again.  Jaxon wasn't as excited about all of this fun stuff to do!
 My parents, Art and Yvonne, came for a visit over the holiday weekend and we enjoyed being together.  It was an active weekend of going to the beach, kayaking, bike riding and Fourth of July festivities.
Craig's sister, Dee, came up from Grand Rapids with my niece Emily 9 and nephew Alexander 11. The kids were so excited to be with their cousins again.
 The kids went from one thing to another and it was nonstop fun all weekend long. 
 We went to a great anchorage and played all day long in the sun. 
 The kids loved having a sleepover in the aft deck. It was a nice night and they giggled until after 11:00.
 My dad, Art, tucked the kids into bed with his 'light-up' glasses.  The kids laughed like crazy.  
 The Fourth of July parade was great with a ton of floats, marching band and thousands of people watching.
 It was a sweltering hot morning as the kids sat on the concrete. Jaxon dropped the toy in his hand down the drain moments after the picture was taken.....I should have seen it coming.
 After the parade was a pie eating contest and our kids were the first ones in line.
 Jaxon doesn't even really like pie, but he was a trooper and came seconds away from winning. Not bad even with his gag reflex going off a few times. Big sister Ryann stood right at his back patting him with encouraging words.
 Ryann took the whole experience pretty seriously and did a great job!
 The three oldest children competed against eachother and although we had no official winners in the family that day, they all did their best.
 Lot's of fun prizes all around and excitement to be had!
 After the contest the games began. Ryann and Emily were on a relay team with their friend whom they met at the park last week.  They put life jackets on and ran around cones.
 Jaxon looked so cute in his bean bag hopping so fast he took first place in his age group!
 Our new friend and slip mate, Bruce, is also the owner of Alpine Chocolate Haus in downtown Boyne City. He has a 35 Chris Craft Catalina and was a joy to talk to.
 One day he came over with the most delicious carmel apples. One had cinnamon on it and tasted like a pie, another was dipped in chocolate, carmel and pecans....yummmm.
 Morgan, Ryann, Alexander and Emily worked together to build their own sailboat.  The mast was completed once their cousins left.
 They set sail and watched the wind blow her around the docks.
 Grandma Yvonne and Grandpa Art treated us to delicious ice cream from the Alpine Chocolate Haus.
 The night wasn't complete without Ryann and her conch shell.
Life is very busy these days as we try and figure out re-entering into this new way of life.  There's a lot to figure out and decisions to be made.  Were working through it slowly, but know that the kids would like to settle into a home and go back into a traditional classroom setting in less than two months.  Time is already flying by so fast.