Wordless Wednesday: End of Summer Blues

This summer has gone by so fast and was so full I want need kindly request a do-over. Or at least one month extension of summer weather and activities with no football season to occupy all my husband’s time.

And no, it’s not a Fantasy Football thing. It’s a liquor store near a college campus thing. No way around it. College kids + football = party. Which is good business for us đŸ˜‰

I know all this and yet I still find myself wishing we had done a few more things this summer. Gone to the Splash Pad a couple more times. Taken a family camping trip. Actually gone to Sesame Place like we wanted to in May.

But when I just uploaded all the pictures off my camera from this summer…I realized we had done quite a bit.

Let’s recap, shall we?

First off we headed out to Cape Cod to visit with our awesome friends and got to dip our toes in the ocean and eat fresh seafood and send lots of quality time catching up with dear friends.

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We had a Memorial Day BBQ that was freezing and rainy. So it turned into a dress-up party.

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We went to the zoo. Again, freezing and rainy. But we took a picture at our favorite spot outside the polar bears again.

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The girls hung out at the Splash Pad with their besties. I could die from this cuteness.

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Then we took an all-family weekend up to the cottage. And loved every second. And yes, Isora’s not in the picture. She’s so advanced she took this shot ::wink wink::

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Then we stayed at the cottage for an all Sims girls week. And got to do a small hike amongst other less strenuous activities. I mean, something had to balance out all that thrifting/antiquing/shopping/eating.

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And we played on the beach as much as possible. Which was a lot.

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And we found out that not everyone in our family enjoys a warm gooey hot-off-the-fire marshmallow treat. For shame.

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We also played widely inappropriate card games and drank whiskey until the wee hours. And laughed till we cried.

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We watched baseball and fireworks on the 4th with our favorite friends.

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Isora taught herself to climb up to the highest slides with ease.

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We had after-dinner dance parties. And Cedella taught her Daddy to dance like a princess.

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We made crafts at Grandma’s library every week and even made it into the local newspaper.

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Cedella fell in love with an adorable therapy dog named Blue at the Reading with Rover program at the library. But those legs. Stop growing little girl. Just. Stop.

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We finally confirmed that the Johnson family resemblance is a strong one when my Mom reunited with her cousin she hadn’t seen in 30ish years. Mom, Kit and Abbe and my Grandma Rose.

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Then they danced their little booties off at the Deirmimas annual reunion.

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Cedella found her inner Bob the Builder at the Chicago Children’s Museum. The look of concentration on her face is just priceless.

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And Isora found absolute zen in the form of every swing she’s ever touched.

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And I found my joy at a little place called H&M.

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We ate cake. With our hands. A lot.

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And we swam. In the fancy toddler pool at the country club. At swim class. In the pool at our Aunt Sabah’s house.

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And in the tiny pool on our deck. Almost every day.

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And we made Za’taar in our pajamas.

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We had one of the most memorable and fun and exhausting and gorgeous summers ever. And I’m incredibly sad to see it go.

But now it’s time for preschool and sweaters and scarves and football and chili on Sundays and all those birthdays coming up.

Can’t wait to share the latest with you…I officially have a preschooler.

 

The Cottage is the Thing Pt. 1

Summer for Michiganders consists of many small grievances. Mosquitoes, construction zones, humidity and firework season. But for all those hot weather annoyances there is one sweet bit of relief we can all share.  The Cottage.

Being the Great Lakes State is pretty awesome when you think about it. We’re surrounded by 3 incredible bodies of water in our country. And all along the banks of those lakes are beaches. And just beyond the sand there are cottages. Where there is beach and lake front in Michigan a cottage is not far away.

Everyone has their own little piece of ‘Up North’ (what Michiganders call anything 40 minutes north of where they live). Be it a campground they spent their childhood summers at. Or the cabin their great-grandpa built by hand. Some prefer the Michigan side, others head for the big inland lakes like Houghton and Torch. And a few brave and intrepid souls wander all the way up to Superior every summer.

Our family? We go to Huron every summer. We’re a Huron kind of family. Our beach is the pristine and uncrowded stretch in Oscoda. Our beach is the one that the entire country sees in our famous ‘Pure Michigan’ tourism commercials. It’s lovely.

I can’t even remember how many years now we’ve been coming except that my dad never came so it has to be within the past 10 years. And I never remember being there without Michael, so that narrows it further to 8. That’s a lot of memories. And so many more to come.

And it’s only gotten better and more important now that I have kids. To give them this time, in nature, out of the city, with their extended family. It’s such an important tradition to me.

This year we added to the tradition by inviting my inlaws, Jiddo John and Teta Hilda and bro-in-law AndrĂ© to share the Father’s Day weekend with us. And I’m so glad we did. It’s the first time both sides of our family have spent this much time together since our wedding. How lucky are we that they get along and enjoy each other’s company? Everyone had a great time.

Our lovely stretch of Pure Michigan. Isn’t it stunning?

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It was cold. Even cold for Up North. But Cedella could not stay away from the lake.

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Miss Isora discovered a natural affinity for digging. She did so for hours.

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Hours of digging made Biz hungry and exhausted. Breastfeeding on the beach? Win. Win. So glad I have these beautiful photos to remember our breastfeeding relationship.

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And…passed out. The beach is the perfect spot for a nap. Don’t mind AndrĂ©, he’s a beach-posing pro.

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Fun times around the fire circle. My Mom lives for a good camp fire. S’mores and beers and whiskey and wine and laughs and oh yea…fire. What’s not to love? I think my FIL and MIL loved the fire as much as we did. We had some really good laughs and told lots of stories. If it hadn’t have been so damn cold we could have stayed out there all night.

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So when it got too cold outside we packed it in and poured some drinks and started out playing a game called Apples to Apples. Which was all very fine and funny and PG-13. Clearly we needed to step it up and take it to an NC-17. Enter Cards Against Humanity. Officially it’s a game in which a question is asked (black card) and the person with the best answer wins (white cards). It’s totally arbitrary based on the person reading the black cards taste and sense of humor. Though it had the potential to totally offend the old folks they had a blast. In fact my FIL John won the first game and my MIL Hilda won another game!! We laughed so hard we cried. And we got my Mom to say “Motherfucking Sorcerer” (Thank you Kylara for masterminding that one). If you are looking for a good time and every one is over 16, get Cards Against Humanity. You won’t regret it.

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Cold and rainy days require lots of good things to read. And lots of folks to read them to you. Uncle André put in some time reading fairy books with Cedella.

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While Isora did a little light reading catching up on the goings-on in Westeros.

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Beers and walks on the beach. Works for us đŸ˜‰

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The Grandmas and their wiggling silly Granddaughters.

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Bedtime with Jiddo.

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Thankfully by Sunday it was quite a bit warmer so the beach was the thing. Besides, this kid couldn’t be deterred from the water. See LOVES the lake.

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Jiddo John and Uncle André had a blast flying kites with the girls.

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Shells and tadpoles and a million little creatures captured Dad and Ella’s imaginations.

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Braving the icy cold waters of Lake Huron.

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My sisters chillin’ on the beach.

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The Mansour guys and the Mansour little ladies. A handsome bunch, no?

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Father’s Day lunch was delicious. We made beef and pork kabobs, salad, asparagus and of course lots of delicious watermelon.

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We managed to find a Father’s Day version of the best. Card. Ever. It’s a Hamburger that sings a really obnoxious song. And it makes all of us laugh ever time we play the song. Ella found it at Target. She was so pleased with herself to give it to her Dad.

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The whole gang (minus a sleeping Izzie). All these people I love, that love each other, that love my babies. God, I just really love this picture.

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Have you taken a trip with both sides of your married family? What are your family summer vacation traditions? Are you a Michigander? Which Lake is yours?

Well that was quite a photo bomb…but guess what? There’s a LOT more. Coming up is Part II…our day trips to Dinosaur Gardens & Ocqueoc Falls and other spots in the great Up North.

 

 

 

 

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Splashin’ Around

While summer quickly dissipates before our eyes we are trying to squeeze every last fun little drop out of it. And since it’s been so ever lovin’ hot that means as much lake/pool/sprinkler time as humanly possible.

We are so lucky to have so many outdoor options in Lansing. Another reason this town is really growing on me :)

One of the best parks in town is Hawk Island. There are literally hundreds of things to do at this park. There’s a walking trail that’s mostly wooded and shady. A super cool castle playground for the bigger kids to run around on. Several pavilions for parties and family reunions (our Lebanese family has a party there every summer). There’s a little lake with a sandy beach and lifeguards that’s clean and warm. And the best attraction for summertime? The Splash Pad.

If you haven’t seen one of these things it’s brilliant. It’s like running through a sprinkler in your backyard times 2,000. There’s fountains and water guns and buckets of water that fill up and rain down. Water tunnels and squirting snakes. And every drop of deliciously chlorinated water is icy cold. Perfect for all those 90+ days we’ve been having.

And the kids? Well they obviously love it. Who am I kidding? I love it too.

We’ve already been a few times this summer and will try to go back a few more times, but a couple weeks ago, well, that was special.

You see that was the day the BFF’s were reunited. It was priceless.

Anna and Ella had been separated for nearly a month because we were on vacation and then they were on vacation. Cedella and I really missed Anna & Leslie!

I’ve never seen children interact like they do at such a young age. They truly love each other and are so sweet.

Giggling like school girls.

Lounging like teenagers at a sleepover. *And yes, that’s a braid in her hair. How cute is that? This is why I may never cut her hair.

They were even sweet enough to befriend the cute little boy that sat next to us.

Little Romeo told his mom before we left that Cedella couldn’t leave because “I love her”. Michael about died when I told him and wanted to know who this boy was. I had to remind him that he was only a two year old.

I really wished I had pictures of them devouring the snacks we brought. They killed a whole bag of pretzels. One day they WILL eat us out of house and home.

Even baby Izzie got in on the love and fun. Though she slept for most of it…

It was a lovely day. Glad to have Leslie and Anna back in town.

How are you keeping cool on these hot summer days? Where’s your favorite place to chill?

Happy WW!!!