Christmas in Michigan

We flew to Wisconsin, rather than driving, this year.  The boys and I weren’t thrilled about it, as we cherish road trips, audiobooks, and we especially love getting to stop in to see Grandpa Russ on our way home.  On the day of our flight, my mom asked if we had left for the airport yet and this was my response from our uber:

Micah was my seat partner on the plane.  We spent some time listening to our separate audiobooks, but mostly talked and looked out the window.

We landed just in time to get to see Ivan’s Christmas program!  SO thankful we were there in time.  It was precious!


The following day (well, it ended up being night due to drama with our rental car), we drove to Michigan to spend the weekend with our extended family.

Michigan was filled with enjoying time with our family at the retreat cabins.  It’s such a fun spot and allows for games, sports, hikes, good conversations and lots of yummy food.  I count on my Dad to capture our time together, so I didn’t take a lot of pictures.  But here’s what I took:

That picture of a bunch of people was from a hike I went on and we were laughing so hard about the “views”.  Let’s just say this hike was done for the company, not the views.  More pictures to come from my Dad’s camera.  Those will be much better. =D

Part 1: Michigan

We spent the majority of June on the road visiting various midwest favorites: Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri.  We started by driving to Michigan for my cousins’ wedding.

We’ve found our rhythm for road trips: I drive and listen to audiobooks with the boys (finished Penderwicks in Spring and Hatchet on this portion), while Mike works (and apparently sometimes naps when his schedule allows).  He does all the directions, getting gas, and deciding on food.  It works well!

We arrived in Michigan before the rest of the family, so we enjoyed a quiet evening with my grandpa which was definitely a highlight for me.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had hours of chatting with only him like that.  Such a gift.  This was Ethan’s last night as a 9 year old, so I took some pictures of our evening.  The boys are still working towards their goal of reading aloud for ten minutes for 275 days of the year (I think that’s the goal…I should have written it down somewhere!!).

The following day we celebrated Ethan’s birthday a bit and went to the wedding.  I have a few favorite memories from that day: Eddie dancing with Ger at dinner, Abe and Ivan crushing the dance floor with their moves, and Ivan calling Aunt Dawn a princess when he saw her waiting to greet us, Salina giving kisses to Micah, all the boys teasing Uncle Brad, etc. etc. It was a fun day!

The following day we went to church and then had a picnic in the park.

After the fun, we drove to Wisconsin for the next part of our trip.  Michigan was short, but very sweet!

The Great Midwestern Tour: Pt 3 Michigan

The next stop on our tour was Michigan, where we met up with the extended family (even from as far away as New Zealand!).  This was our first year staying at cabins on Lake Michigan and I think we all loved it!  It was wonderful to see everyone and spend time hiking, eating, playing games and opening gifts together.  Lots of fun memories were made, as usual.

My Dad took some lovely family portraits:


Hiking the sand dunes by Lake Michigan:

General Michigan merriment:

Photo cred for all of the nicest shots goes to my Dad, as usual. =)

Next up: Wisconsin

Third Stop: Michigan

In Michigan, we celebrated Christmas with our extended family from my Mom’s side.  This is a big, fun group of about 30 people and is such a special time for us!  We opened presents after a delicious feast at my aunt and uncle’s home.  Two big highlights for the boys: Ethan got a ukulele and Micah got a djembe!!  Thanks, Great Grandpa! =)  Other highlights included playing ping pong, going sledding, Ethan doing piano recitals and radio shows with cousin Matthew, our annual cousins movie night out at the theater (we saw the new Star Wars!), and lots of time to chat with family.

Grandkids and great-grandkids with Grandpa (aka Great Grandpa):



We had a lovely time in Michigan, as always!  Such a fun group of people to spend a few days with every Christmas!

Picture Cred mostly goes to my Dad again. Thanks for capturing the fun!

My Dad’s Pics from Christmas

Just wanted to do a small sampling of the pictures my Dad captured over our Christmas vacation.  These include pictures from Michigan, Chicago and Wisconsin.  Thanks, Pa, for always taking such nice pictures of the fun we had together!!


I absolutely love how nicely Ivan and Micah play together.  They genuinely enjoy being together and it’s super sweet to see.  The keyboard they are playing with is the same one I used to play on with my cousins growing up!


This is Jen and Jason’s place in Chicago.  We always stop there for dinner and dessert on our drive back from Michigan to Wisconsin.


We had such a great Christmas vacation!!  Thanks for the pics, Dad!

Christmas in Michigan 

The Fennema Christmas gathering is one of the highlights of my year every year.  Most of the relatives on my mom’s side get together to catch up, eat amazing food and open presents. (This year I think we were only missing my newly married cousin who lives in New Zealand. I guess we can give her a pass. ;))  All in all we usually spend a couple days together and it’s never enough time to catch up with the 30+ people that attend. It’s wonderful. 🙂

Here are some pictures of time with family in Michigan:

And here are the pictures my dad took of the whole crew and all of the cousins:


On Christmas Day, the Cleve Crew flew to Michigan.  We left very early that morning and had a layover in Baltimore.  The boys were fantastic on the flight, as usual, and even spent some of it sleeping!  Micah was still feeling pretty sick this day, so that’s why he looks so miserable.

We made it to Grand Rapids in time for Christmas “dinner” (lunch) and all of the celebrations thereafter.  In all we numbered over 30 people – all on my Mom’s side.  It was awesome!  We stayed at my Grandpa’s house until Monday morning, when we drove (in the snow!) back to Wisconsin.  These are pictures Mike and I took from the Michigan part of our trip:

Mikey and I went out for a quadruple??? date with some cousins, aunts and uncles, my bro and his wife to see the Star Wars movie.  That was lots of fun!  Thanks to Dad and Mom for hanging back with all three of the boys!!  Mike bought a massive container of popcorn to share with everyone and it made me laugh!


And these are the much better quality pics from my Dad from our time in Michigan:

We all LOVED our time in Michigan.  It’s always a very special time for us.  Having family that are all friends is a very sweet blessing.

Christmas Trip: Michigan (Pt 1)

On Christmas Day, we flew to Michigan, which is where the Fennema side of our family gets together each year to celebrate together.  We had a wonderful time – lots of laughter, lots of tasty food, lots of game-playing, and even a fun Christmas play.  It’s always fun to be with our family!

Brad and Ethan (1 of 1) cards (1 of 1)-2 cards (1 of 1)-3 Christmas meal (1 of 1)-2 Christmas meal (1 of 1) crayons (1 of 1)-2 Ethan and Jen (1 of 1)-3 Ethan, Ivan (1 of 1)-4 Ethan, Jason (1 of 1) explosion box (1 of 1)-4 explosion box (1 of 1)-5 flag book (1 of 1)-2 Gerrit and Ivan (1 of 1)  Micah's present (1 of 1) playing cards (1 of 1) IMG_1872 IMG_1877 playing chess (1 of 1) <– Milestone: E played his first game of chess!

playing chess (1 of 1)-2John and Deb (1 of 1)grandkids (1 of 1)-3   Fennema-Hengevelds (1 of 1) Fennema-Hengevelds (1 of 1)-3  <–haha! I love this purposefully corny picture =D

A note about our Christmas play: growing up, my cousins and I ALWAYS did a play for the adults.  I was usually the director and my cousins were the talent.  Ethan mentioned wanting to do a Christmas play with them, so I asked if they’d be interested.  OF COURSE they all jumped for the opportunity and absolutely made Ethan’s day.  He was SO proud of the play and all the cousins’ excitement to do it.  It was such a sweet gesture on their part and was lots of fun.  Thanks, cousins!! =)

Christmas play (1 of 1)-3 Christmas play (1 of 1)-5 Christmas play (1 of 1)-7

Exciting milestone on Christmas Day: Ethan lost his first (of 3) tooth!

IMG_1870 Ethan (1 of 1) lost tooth (1 of 1)


Photo Credit: my Dad!  Thank you for always capturing our great memories so well. =)