Friday, July 21, 2006

Michigan Vacation 2006

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Last week we were in wonderful Grand Rapids, Michigan visiting a new nephew, family and friends. The kids traveled well and we had a great time.

I was treated to an entire afternoon of pampering. Trista generously split her day long gift to the spa with me. I will be forever in her debt. We had full body massages, pedicures, got our hair styled (after an amazing hair wash!) and our makeup done. I haven’t felt so good in a long time. The massage was my favorite part of the afternoon, but getting my hair washed was very nice. The stylist could have washed my hair for an hour and I would have enjoyed every minute. We both looked and felt fabulous.

Mallory and Sophia didn’t take long to warm up to Uncle Danny. One morning we went over to Meridith’s house and she just smiled and smiled at her Uncle Danny. When we met Donielle and Sophia for lunch, she almost lunged at him. He really seemed to enjoy playing with his nieces. He was also Mr. Entertainment for the kids. He installed our new, two screen, DVD player. He came up with a great idea to use a CD wallet to store the DVDs in so that we didn’t clutter up the car with DVD cases. Just as with music, Danny always comes up with just the right combination of movies and other videos. He knows what we like! He also keep Ethan and Abby in giggles. Ethan got a huge ball for his birthday. I don’t know how many times he bounced each of the kids on top of the ball.

Emma was such a little mother on this trip – especially with Caden. She was glued to the person holding him and played the role of baby hog when she was allowed. At one point while she was holding Caden she asked for me to take him. I asked her if she was tired of holding the baby. She said, “No. I have to cough.” She coughed and then went to wash her hands. She helped Mallory and Sophia walk around and thoroughly enjoyed her position as the big cousin. She is so loving and mature! Although we saw Trista, Abby and Ethan just a couple of months earlier, she interacted with them so much more during this trip. She’s always acted as Ethan’s mother, but she played so well with Abby, too. When I was wrapping Abby’s birthday gifts, Emma was excited to help and couldn’t wait to celebrate. She loved the afternoon we spent at Lake Michigan with Donielle and Sophia. She is going to be my little beach bum. I really wish that I had brought my swimming suit with me so I could have played with her more. As it was, I was soaked up to my ribcage and had to change my pants afterwards. She had her first taste of blue moon ice cream (my favorite when I was a little girl).

Allison, on the other hand, was very jealous of her cousins. When I held Caden for the first time, Danny had to take Ally out of the apartment because she was screaming and carrying on. If I called for Mallory or Sophia to come to me, Allison ran over as fast as she could to claim my lap for herself. If one of her cousins looked at her the wrong way – even from across the room, she grabbed her Pooh bear or blankie and yelled, “Mine!” The best incident occurred when I let one of my nieces play with my cell phone. Allison took it away and yelled, “MY mommy phone!” I got such a kick out of that. Two years really makes a difference at this age.

Still, Allison’s personality really blossomed while we were in Michigan. On Tuesday night, Emma and I went to Trista’s house for a scrapbooking get together. Instead of getting back to Grandma and Grandpa’s house late, we had a sleepover. Danny stayed at my parents with Ally. The next morning all I heard was about how much fun Ally was that night. He was expecting her to be upset that I was gone, but she kept the house entertained instead. He’s never had so much fun with Allison before. She started to say “Yes” for the first time, too. She also picked up the word meanie from Emma. If she didn’t like something, she called the responsible party meanie. It was especially funny when she called Mallory or Sophia meanie for doing nothing more than look at her Pooh bear. On Thursday Grandpa, Danny, Emma and I took a trip to New Buffalo, MI to meet Donielle and Sophia for lunch. While Ally stayed with Grandma, she did the most hilarious thing – she covered most of her face with the bowl she used to pick beans and shouted “Shut up!” over and over again. It took Grandma and Meridith a while to decide that she really was saying that. The next day at Mark and Trista’s house she picked up a toy microphone that adds an echoing effect to your voice. She walked around their living room and play area shouting “Shut up!” into the microphone over and over again. Where did that come from?

It was nice to get some time to spend with my sisters (Trista included). It’s been a while since we’ve been able to get much quality time in. Last year Meridith and Donielle had newborns to care for during our visit. The summer before that we seemed to have wedding after wedding. This year was so much nicer. I especially enjoyed being able to have a sleepover with Meridith and Trista. We went through her stamps, had Steak-n-Shake shakes and cheese fries (ahh… the advantages of having a sister as a Steak-n-Shake manager) and talked late into the night. The ten year gap in our ages is shrinking more each day. I helped her set up the new baby’s crib and did just about everything I could think of to bring on her labor. My powers of labor induction aren’t very strong. As I am writing this post, there is no baby in sight. The first night I slept over at Trista’s house we stayed up until almost 2am talking. Even though we mainly talked about our children, it felt like those first nights together at the Notre Dame retreat house.

The highlight and reason for our trip was to attend the 80th birthday party held for my maternal Grandma. With the exception of three of my cousins, all of her children, son and daughter-in-laws, grandchildren and great grandchildren were there. Many of her siblings and spouses came as well. It was a quite a group of people. It was held at my Great-Grandfather’s farm. I haven’t been there in at least 15 years. Walking around the yard and being in the house brought back a lot of memories. I sat in Grandpa’s chair and looked out the window just like he used to. I felt very close to him there. Despite the heat and humidity, it was such a blessing to be there to celebrate my wonderful, beautiful grandmother. We shared food, laughter, stories, music and more. I am honored to be a member of that family.

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