Sunday, July 14, 2013

10 Things of Thankful, Week 6, Day 2

Oh so much for which to be thankful after a wonderful vacation.  While I did correctly predict things for which I am thankful, it wasn't how I like to do my thankful lists.  I like to take the time to ponder my week.  To think back to all that happened and highlight the good things.  Because even on wonderful vacations, scary and sad things happen which can derail the positive thoughts. 

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?
2.  I am thankful for Lake Michigan beaches.  I know I put this on yesterday's list, but now I have photos to show you.  I love these beaches, because, as I saw on a t-shirt, they are "unsalted and shark-free".  And beautiful.  So beautiful.

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:

Raft racing


Noodle racing

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.
4.  I am thankful for rainy day activities.  There were two days of less than ideal weather, so we took those days to have some indoor fun.  One day, we went to a huge bounce house place.  It was a whole lot more than just bounce houses, and we all had fun burning some energy and flinging our bodies down slides, boxing, racing through obstacle courses, and playing "Sardines" (Kind of a backwards hide-n-seek.  One person hides, the rest of the people seek.  When a person finds "it", he hides with her.  The last one to find the hiding spot is the next person to be "it".) 

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?
We finally made it to the top. 

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!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts


  1. 1. And it makes phone calls, too! 2. Ice cream is a perfect vacation food. Or anytime food. 2. (again, silly girl) Great pics and I LOVE the colorful rocks. 3. NOT ON THE WHITE PANTS! 4. Sardines is an AWESOME game. 5. Again, great pics, especially the one of you and C.O.W. 6. I don't like amusement park rides, but I'm happy for people like you that do. 7. We love hiking, too! 8. Great marketing idea! 9. My daughter dug a hole in the sand and sat in it and peed when we told her just to go in the ocean. 10. Obviously, a magnificent time was had by all.

    Now, where is Buttercup? Camera shy?

    p.s. Glad you're back in blogland! I've missed you!

    1. Good gravy, I am not very good at counting.

      I know, my favorite white pants. I was most upset about that.

      Buttercup is choosing to be absent from as many photos as possible. You will notice her in the hiking photo. It is the back of her as she gives Cuckoo a piggy back ride.

      It's good to be back. In blogland. Not in reality. :)

    2. Ahh. Thought that was YOU giving the piggyback ride.

    3. I've been told she looks like me. :)

  2. I have been to the dunes countless times and I had no idea they are a result of the Chicago Fire. I'm stuck in a "duh" moment right now...
    Also, the photos of your vacation are amazing!

    1. I am so sorry, I just found this comment in my spam.

      I didn't know about the dunes, either, until we talked with a friend who went on a dune-buggy tour.

      Thank you!

  3.! Just as I requested...I know it's all for me. The whole list is fabulous...I knew you'd have a great time...but frankly, you had me at the Dairy Bar. You're right...who WOULDN'T love a place with a blue cow on the roof? Glad you're back safe & sound!

    1. You would love the place. Best ice cream ever.
      Me, too. :)

  4. hey, excellent List.

    I share your gratitude for the current state of technology. You post tells and shows what you enjoyed on your vacation. Very cool.
    (google vacation slides c1950s for a laugh sometime)

    (Shouldn't they be called Lake Gulls?)

    Welcome back.

    1. Thanks.

      I shall look them up soon.

      I've thought the same thing every time I say "sea gulls". :)

  5. This is an amazing, gorgeous post, which I can't even begin to express how happy it makes me to read. The photos are wonderful - thank you for a view into them. And you weren't kidding when you called it a sand mountain! WOW!

    Glad none of the injuries were too bad and that you had some awesomely fun, amazing times.


    That photo of the kids on the frog hopper. I totally see what you did and why, but you have NO IDEA HOW CREEPY THOSE GIRLS LOOK WITH NO FACES! It took me several goes at looking before I figured it out.

    The thing I really love about this post, is that it's all about the FAMILY having an amazing vacation. I'm sure there were moments that kids and adults variously preferred, but what shines out is the pleasure you all took in each other's company, and that's so precious, so special, and so wonderful. Thank you for sharing it so beautifully :) Makes me happier than you could know, to know that your children have such a brilliant home life and such great parents and lovely relationships with you both.

    Gonna go now before I cry on my keyboard.

    But I LOVE it.

    1. Don't you go and make me cry, too.

      Those dunes are huge. And ridiculous to climb.

      Ha! I thought the same thing about the faceless girls, but I figured no one would notice because they'd be too enthralled with the cuteness of Cuckoo and Turken. :)

      I'm glad you liked the photos.

    2. No, no, *stiffens upper lip, in true Brit style*

      What fun those dunes must've been though! Did you dune-surf down them?

      Hmmm. Enthralled by cute wikkle boys when there's TERRIFYING FACELESS GIRLS THERE! Er, no. Scared for their lives, perhaps! (til I figured it out)

      They are beautiful.

      OH and if you see my post You'll see I am a HUGE fan of prettily coloured rocks. And compulsive collector of same.

      Glad you're back :D

  6. Sounds like a wonderful, fun-filled vacation. Michigan is a beautiful state and the beaches are awesome! You have a wonderful family!

    1. It really was. I agree, Michigan is lovely. Thank you!

  7. Wow sounds like your prediction(s) held true! I may have to call upon you for some readings!

    I've never been to Michigan, but I've always been drawn to it. I'm not even sure why. In fact, odd random out of the blue tangent nugget from the get go: I found out there was someone in Michigan who shared my name(can't recall about the middle name, mind you, that would have been creepy) who was a writer. It's possible someone has already taken my spot in the writer's world lol

    Those dunes seem awesome, I never knew about any of those facts. I wonder why they never tried replacing them (trees)?

    The Pool Olympics seemed amazing! You guys did so much, I can't fathom how you are all so active. If I went on a vacation I would probably be one lazy bum; more so than I am already, if you can imagine it being possible! Your family has some inherent energy generators in your DNA.

    Hmm... perhaps my Ninja Bush Babies will have a new mission... one that can be undertaken while your family isn't on vacation.

    Side note: I'd never chase after sea gulls in fear that they will chase me back lol

    I couldn't help but laugh out loud hearing about Cuckoo and his anti-pant peeing screams. That would be hilarious on film! Youtube sensation!

    And I have no idea what kind of face editing you use... but that Frog Hopper picture is creepy as all hell [to use PG terminology]. It looks like 3 demon ghost girls are focusing on — a possibly panicky — youngin' and wanting to eat him...

    Overall, it sounds like it was an amazing vacation regardless of the accidental bloodshed sprinkled throughout.

    Did you see Despicable Me 2? How was it? I really want to see it!

    Jak at The Cryton Chronicles & Dreams in the Shade of Ink

    1. I highly recommend you get yourself on a vacation. Michigan would be a great one, and not just so you can size up the other "Jak".

      What is the point of going on vacation if you're going to be a lazy bum? You can do that in your own home. We see vacations as opportunities to explore, find things we've never seen before, learn a few things, and have a whole mess of fun. Of course, when you have six kids, five of whom are boys, you don't have much choice except to be active.

      It really was hilarious. If I would have been the easily embarrassed type, though, I would have been mortified.

      Ah! It was just a quick copy thing to cover the girls' faces! I copied the bit right next to their faces. Did you see how much fun my boys were having?? That's what you were supposed to be looking at! :)

      We did see Despicable Me 2. I enjoyed it, and actually laughed a few times. I can't compare it to the first one, though, as I never saw it.

  8. Beautiful rocks!
    What's a vacation without a little blood??
    The Olympics look like SO much fun!

    1. Aren't they? And they were everywhere!

      It's not vacation at all. :)

      The Olympics were a blast.

  9. I can see that everyone had an awesome vacation even if you did manage to bleed a bit.

    I don't pee in my babin suit had me laughing out loud.

    Your TToT was awesome :) much better than day 1 :)

    1. It really was a fun vacation. Of course, I don't know when we've NOT had a fun vacation.

      I'm still laughing about it. :)

      I agree. Day 1 was lame, but I had to do something.

  10. Beaches that are unsalted and shark-free blows my mind! I spend a little too much time worrying about sharks in our neck of the woods/beach. Loved this whole collection of pictures and thankfulness.

    1. It really is so relaxing to swim without worry of being eaten.
      Glad you liked it.

  11. Man, take me on vacation too. These pics and places look wonderful. I AM thankful you shared them with us! Erin

    1. Anytime. You gals would most certainly fit in. :)

  12. I am thankful for these things too, and so agree about the beaches and smartphones! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ah, I just found this in my spam. So sorry.

      Beaches are wonderful, aren't they?

      Thanks for stopping by!

  13. What a great list, I love the idea of the Olympics!

    1. Thanks. You should try them at a pool near you. We had a great time with them.

  14. Ooooh South Haven, so pretty!

  15. You are making the very most of summer break from the looks of things!

  16. I love the things kids say. I have four nieces/nephews all 5 and under, and the things that come out of their mouths are hilarious! Sometimes embarrassing in the moment, but so much fun to laugh about later on.

    1. Preschool/kindergarteners are really the most fun to converse with. You just never know what they will do or say.

  17. Your photos are absolutely incredible and make me want to go to Lake Michigan for a beach vacation. I've never been to Michigan and so don't even THINK about the fact that there are beaches there. The rocks are gorgeous and I laughed out loud and poor Cuckoo not wanting to go to the bathroom in his bathing suit! Adorable.

    1. Well, thank you!
      Even if you've been to the east side or mid-Michigan, you wouldn't think there'd be great beaches in the same state. They are a treat, though. Visit if you ever have the chance.
      I'm still laughing about the bathing suit debacle. :)

  18. I am right there with you about smartphones, I don't know what I would without mine.

    Love the pictures you posted, the sand of those beaches look amazing, seems like you had the time of your life!
    Thanks for sharing ;)

  19. What great pics!!! Looks like you guys had an amazing time! Peeing in the lake cracked me up...baahaahaaa!

    1. Thanks! I still crack up about it, an entire week later.


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