Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pure Michigan

Summer colds are supremely oxymoronic. I'm sitting here by the back door, listening to the locusts' song and watching the sunlight filter through the bright green leaves, thinking I should really encourage the kids to play in that big backyard of ours. But it's just so hard to complete a coherent thought when all the snot that's NOT running down my throat right now is backing up into my brain. My central processor looks a lot like the black and white static that used to invade the TV screen whenever the cable went out (in the 90s.)

Too graphic? Well then allow me to reflect upon happier times. But first, I need to go remind my girls to keep the hose in the pool for the, like, the tenth time these past 5 minutes. They're out on the deck, buck naked, hosing down everything but the kiddie pool. I tell myself I should put them in swimsuits. But my scratchy throat and achy head cause me to respond with "why?" Why do they need to wear a swimsuit on the back deck? Why do I need to create more work and laundry for myself? Why did I just laugh when my toddler accidentally turned the hose onto herself? I'm jumping the tracks again ...

Reflecting back to a time before I thought filling up the pool was a good idea, before I started pounding echinacea, Vitamin C, and garlic like they were some new diet, before the kids started running fevers at night and noses in the day. Oh, hold on. The ladies are now insisting they need swimsuits. They just don't understand my nude is the new black argument.

So yes, right after our beach vacation was our church's Summer Jam (a.k.a. extreme VBS.) It was in the evening and because I was a volunteer, Joci got to stay in the nursery AND my entire family was fed dinner each night. Not a bad deal, even if hanging out with 400 3-12 years olds every night doesn't exactly light my fire. The kids all loved it. Unfortunately, we didn't get home until after 9pm most evenings, and coupled with all the excitement that is crafts + snacks + singing + dancing ... well, bedtime and our usual routine got a little off kilter.

Which is why I was utterly unprepared for our 8+ hour trip to Michigan that Thursday. Jack has had quite a few 7+ hour trips from Virginia Beach to PA under his belt (as a baby), but this was the longest trip we've ever taken as a family of 6. In an ideal world, I would have actually followed through with some of those great road trip ideas that are all over Pinterest. But in reality, I only managed to throw a bag of snacks, a box full of books, some coloring books and crayons, and a pile of DVDs into the car at the eleventh hour.

We managed, but it wasn't always pretty. And after a potty break that ended up being much longer and more involved than we ever imagined, I decided to swear off any more travel for the rest of the summer. Like, the Target two exits down from our house is the only road trip I want to take with my kids between now and Christmas.

You may be wondering what would possess us to drag 4 kids across 4 state lines. Well, our wonderful Coastie friends of course! I'm sure you've heard us mention Nick and Lindsey several times on this blog. We were due for a visit with them and their kids Rose, Lucy, and Caleb, as well as a peek at the burgeoning baby bump that is Quattro.

This dear family has been stationed in Detroit for the past 2 years. I haven't really been keen to visit them because, well, Detroit. But apparently I have Michigan all wrong. Although the actual city limits are just blocks from where they live, their neighborhood is all grid-precision streets, perfectly manicured lawns, fantastic 1940s brick houses, friendly neighbors, and adorable downtowns. I'm almost ready to add Detroit to our job list for next year, if it wasn't for those killer winters ...

Races, because our kids had been cooped up in the car for too long!

Races, because we were trying to catch the trolley two blocks down!

Resting, because it appeared that we had missed the trolley.

Fit-throwing, because you just realized you're going home.
They also have an elite neighborhood pool/splash pad/park/marina/lakefront/place where everyone hangs out on Independence Day. And that's where we spent a good portion of our time as well! And don't even get me started on the free trolley rides!

It was getting chilly ... and the trolley ride lasted WAY longer than we anticipated.
So while it isn't easy to travel with 4 kids, or do anything with 7 kids under 7, some sacrifices are worth it. We had a wonderful long weekend just simply spending time together. The gentlemen also got in a morning of golf and the ladies a quiet trip to Target. And our hosts fed us incredibly well and willingly shared all their toys with our chaotic bunch. So, worth it!

Does your town's free trolley also include karaoke?!?

Lindsey had the fun idea to commemorate our visit with tie dye shirts. Everyone got to choose their style and colors, which made them all special and personal! Unfortunately, the shirts weren't dry before bedtime and our family started the drive back before their entire family was all awake. So we only have a picture of 6/11ths of us.

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7:00am!
The drive back was very much like the drive there. We survived, although it would have been 98% easier if we had shipped Joci back all on her own. And while I was ready to clear the calendar for the rest of the summer right about the time she started kicking my chair/throwing puzzles on the floor/drawing on the chair arm/stuffing goldfish down her seatbelt slot ...

Visit to the Ford Museum.

While the parents are waiting in line to buy tickets ... the kids are making music with the metal coat hangers.

I personally enjoyed the windows and floors.

We took the "What car are you?" quiz. Jack got this Roadster.

And I got a 1984 Plymouth Voyager. That makes so much sense ...
24 hours at home, all caught up on laundry and with 1 out of 3 clean bathrooms has me thinking that maybe it wasn't really that bad. And maybe, given a few more weeks to recoup, we can still manage that NY camping trip.

Paper airplane races.

Joci ended up throwing her's down a chute from which it could never be retrieved. To this day, she still asks  "Where plane go?"

Daddy showing off those muscles!
We'll see. For now, I'm going to go chase another handful of garlic down with some iced coffee. And perhaps make my girls put some clothes on...

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