Over the week, a dear friend of mine found out that her pregnancy has some major complications to go with it. It's a scary situation, and I was busy praying for her all week. But through our emails and texts, I was once again reminded of how strong women are. I was reminded of the importance of finding good and happy things, even in the midst of difficult times.
So, I'm making my real list today. (Sooo glad this is a 2-day hop!)
It's going to be long. With lots of photos. Consider yourself warned.
1. I am thankful for smartphones. Gone are the days of calling around for information. Gone are the days of finding our own routes on maps and making several wrong turns because our the maps weren't exactly detailed enough. Gone are the days of trying to refold those maps after getting to our location. Now, we can simply decide what we want to do and type "hiking trails around South Haven, Michigan" into our phones. The options pop up, the addresses are in blue, and the phone gives directions in seconds. These phones make vacationing so blasted easy!
2. I am thankful for Sherman's Dairy Bar. No vacation is complete without a stop at an ice cream shop. Gotta say, South Haven has the best one on the planet. (We've been to just about every ice cream shop on the planet, so I know.) It was so good, we went twice. The prices are normal for specialty ice cream places, but the amount dished out is enormous! They have about 50 flavors, some classic favorites, like cookies and cream, but also some unique ones, like red velvet cake. We were so busy enjoying our ice cream, I didn't get a photo of the actual ice cream. However, on our way out of town, I did snag a photo of the place.
|What's not to love about a place which has a blue cow on the roof?
We went to three different beaches. Two were gorgeous sand beaches where we swam and built sand castles for hours. The third was covered in the most colorful rocks I have ever seen. We spent a good long time collecting, admiring, and skipping rocks that day.
|I cannot stand having sand stuck to every square inch of my body, but for some reason my children don't seem to mind. We buried Cuckoo and Turken many, many times.
|Lots of sea gulls for Giant, Turken, and Cuckoo to stir up.
|There was a good, strong wind on our last beach day, so the five big kids and two dads spent almost two hours body surfing. C.O.W. is still recovering.
3. I am thankful for friends who take a child's idea and run with it. One morning, Star mentioned to Other Dad that we should do an Olympics competition. Other Dad loved the idea, so he and Star became the Olympic Committee and planned 8 pool events in which we would compete. The two of them came up with rules and actually practiced the events to make sure they would work. It was an absolute blast.
Some of the events:
Categories (One person is "it" and, with eyes closed, has to tag people before they get across to the other side)
|While I was "it" Phoenix tried to throw his dad into my path.
|Star and Turken doing their best to whack each other with hilariously oversized but terribly heavy boxing gloves.
Despite the fact that I managed to open an old wound in a race through the obstacle course
|See the blood on my knee?
and Turken hit his chin on C.O.W.'s head, which knocked his teeth into his tongue, causing blood to pour from his mouth, all say it was a fun way to spend an afternoon.
5. I am thankful for (relatively) healthy bodies. One special thing about the shore of Lake Michigan are the dunes. Back after the big fire that destroyed Chicago in 1871, there was a huge need for wood to rebuild the city. The closest and easiest source of wood was on the opposite side of the lake. The trees along the lake were cut down and sent across the lake to Chicago. The trees along the shore were practically wiped out, which meant the erosion blockers were gone. The end results are huge mountains of sand where trees used to be. We ended up climbing one of them. It was the best workout I've had in years.
|See that tree into which several children are diving? It was the halfway point, and many used the tree to help them keep from sliding back down.
|Did I mention it was steep?
|After several minutes recovery time. The beach you see below is where we found the beautiful rocks.
|Heading back down on the other side.
6. I am thankful for amusement parks. I love a good amusement park, and Michigan Adventures fits the bill. It is on the lower end of price as far as amusement parks goes, and it has lots of rides for the little kids. We picked the perfect day to go, so the big kids never had to wait more than 15 minutes for a roller coaster ride. I was especially happy that the little boys have not inherited their dad's weak stomach. They went on spinny rides like the Scrambler with me, and loved every minute.
|First time on the ferris wheel
7. I am thankful for interesting hiking trails. We always find a place to hike on vacation, and South Haven had a great walking/biking path for us. We ate wild black raspberries, saw ducks and lots of turtles sunning themselves, and a fabulous bridge.
8. I am thankful for quirky, small town businesses. We needed a little rest time after our big hike, so we decided to go to a movie. We found a wonderful little theater in downtown Coloma, Michigan. There is a banner out front that says, "50 cent refills when you bring your bucket back!" The movie was only $4 each, drinks (including Slushies) were 50 cents, and a bucket of popcorn was only $2.25. Refills for anything was only 50 cents. When we left, we saw crowds of people coming in for the next showing. They were all carrying the popcorn buckets.
|In order to get a photo of the banner, the kids would have had to stand in the middle of main street, so a photo from the side will have to do.
9. I am thankful for ironic moments that make me laugh. After months and months of potty-training a toddler to a point where he finally understands and only goes in the toilet, we went to a beach without facilities. When Cuckoo told me he had to go potty, I discreetly pulled him to the side and told him he'd have to go in the lake. He immediately tried to pull his bathing suit down. I stopped him, pulled him into the water, and said, "No, keep your suit on. Just pee with it on." He ran out onto the crowded beach and very not discreetly screamed at me, "I don't want to pee in my babin' suit!" over and over again.
10. I am thankful for spontaneous time-fillers. Some of the best moments of any vacation are the ones which we don't plan. They're the times we have some time to kill, and fly by the seat of our pants.
While waiting for the movie to start, we ducked into an antique store. While browsing, we came across a clock identical to the one sitting on our mantel at home. It seems the kids didn't know that the clock was the first thing their dad ever purchased with his own money.
With another 30 minutes of down time, we found a park and played "Camouflage". I had never even heard of it before, but all 4 big kids knew how. One person hides his eyes while the rest of us go hide somewhere in a designated area. Without moving from "base", the person tries to spot the others. If he does, those players are out. He then closes his eyes again, counting to 15, and the players move to a spot closer to base. The person who is "it" then tries to spot them again. Finally, "it" closes his eyes and counts to 10, and the players still in try to make it to base before "it" opens his eyes.
|Cuckoo is counting, Star is trying to get to base, Turken and C.O.W. are caught, and I have no idea what Giant is trying to do.
Of course, no one complained the few times a game of whiffle ball broke out, either.
If you managed to make it through that incredibly long post, I thank you.
If you haven't already, there's still time to link up with our 10 Things of Thankful blog hop. I always love reading through all the good things which happened during the week. Feel free to jump into the conversation.
Have a lovely day!
A Fly on our (Chicken Coop) Wall,Bringing the Sunshine, Considerings, Finding Ninee, I can say mama, Steps into Parenthood, The Wakefield Doctrine