Part 3: Minnesota

Mike had a meeting in Minnesota early Tuesday morning, so I opted to stay in Wisconsin for one more night and then drive solo with the boys the following day.  We had an uneventful trip and finished another book or two.

We spent under a week in Minnesota.  The main attraction was to see the wedding of Mike’s friend and co-worker on Saturday.  One day, per the boys’ request, we explored the skyways.  This included going to the library and participating in their reading challenges. We also spent some time at the pool and visiting Daddio’s work.  Another day, we had the chance to go for a bike ride around one of the beautiful lakes there.  A pending storm really ruined the atmosphere for the boys who really didn’t like the idea of being caught in the rain.

On Saturday, we spent time exploring an outdoor art museum and then went to the wedding celebration.

We really enjoy Minneapolis so much.  Short, but oh so sweet.

Part 2: Wisconsin

We stayed in Wisconsin at my parents’ house (most of that time they were off gallivanting with my sister and her family in Europe, so you won’t see many pictures of any of them) for the next two and a half weeks.  Part of that time Mike was in Minneapolis, but most of it he was also in Wisconsin working from home.  The highlights are too many to count on this portion of the trip, but I especially loved being near my brother and his family to spend every-day-life time with them.

We’ll start with pictures from the first few days while my parents were still in town:

Jen and J gave Ethan the birthday gift of going to Hamilton in Chicago with them.  He did a little preparing for it.  And then I drove down and babysat Salina while they went to the show.  We left the following morning after a little time with the family.  Ethan had a great time and now added two songs from the show to his playlist.

Meanwhile:

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We had a lot of FUN hang out time with the cousins (time at the house, walks, zoo, baseball game, lots of games, and bike races – “Go, Bikes, Go!!!”) :

And we did a few things on our own as a family, like golfing and biking (family met us at the beach after one such ride).  Micah and I also went on a hike on our own one day.  And we visited the lighthouse where Mike’s grandpa used to live and work:

I took the boys on a couple little excursions – Jelly Belly tour and Mars Cheese Castle – and also went on a number of bike rides:

We also really enjoyed getting to see our extended family.  We spent a day at Petrifying Springs with Uncle Brad, Aunt Sal, and cousin Luke (along with my brother’s family, of course!!).  It was fabulous!  Aunt Sal also came by another day to let Micah take Eli for a walk!

Each year we plan a trip with the Maurer clan and this summer was no different, except that they had just had their third sweet baby girl, so we opted for something a little easier.  We spent two days with them at my parents’ house, just soaking up time together and catching up.  It was really fun to see the kids connecting again!  Sadly, we forgot to take a whole group shot!!

We LOVED our time in Wisconsin!  So thankful that we got to spend so much time with the people that we love!

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!

Pacific Coast Highway, Part 2

Day 4: We spent most of this day driving the beautiful coastline and making various stops to gawk and take pictures.

Day 5: We needed a day at the park and at the beach after our day of driving.  Ethan tried hollandaise sauce for the first time and I committed to trying to make some this year!

Day 6:  We spent this day doing a little more driving and then visiting my cousin, Caleb, at college.  Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures.  Oops.  We were engaged in good conversation and sight seeing at Biola.  So much fun to see him there!

Thankful for the gift of vacations with this crew, even when attitudes don’t match the beautiful scenery all the time. 😉

Pacific Coast Highway, Part 1

Over our Spring Break we opted for a 5 day trip to drive the Pacific Coast Highway – starting in Santa Cruz and ending in LA.  I had no idea what to expect as Mike is our trip advisor, planner, and researcher and I do very little prep for these excursions other than to pack everyone. =). Anyway,  he did a wonderful job organizing another fun trip for us.  We will want to do more of this drive someday – the sights were unreal!

Day One: early morning flight, a stop at Apple (where Micah lost another tooth) and Google and then a late night swim with Daddio

Day Two: we took a walk to the beach in Santa Cruz and explored that pier and saw seals before heading onward to Monterey where we played at the beach and then had the very best clam chowder ever for dinner.  We also saw otters at dinner!

Day Three: Monterey Aquarium, 17 Mile Drive and Pebble Beach

I’ll do the final two days in a separate post.  There are a lot of beautiful pictures of this coastline. =)

The Great Midwestern Tour: Pt 5 Missouri

The boys and I drove to Missouri on New Year’s day.  We met Mike at his dad’s house as he had flown to Minnesota for a wedding on New Year’s Eve.  Again, our travels were smooth and we enjoyed some audiobooks (Matilda and the second book in the Wilderking Series that we loved so much).  We loved spending time with Grandpa Russ (and his two dogs) for a few days before heading home.  Some highlights included shooting BB guns for the first time, taking the dogs on recons with Grandpa Russ and playing lots of games.  The boys also started their January challenge of reading out loud every day for 10 minutes – it’s been a huge success and lots of fun!

We loved our annual tour of the Midwest.  It was wonderful to spend time with our family and friends.  What a gift to vacation/mostly-vacation for 20 days over the holidays!  Hopefully it’s not something we take for granted!!  Thanks for celebrating with us, all you Midwesterners. =)

The Great Midwestern Tour, Pt 4 continued

We had lots of fun in Wisconsin.  One day we painted pottery all together.  Another day was spent mostly opening gifts and playing games.  I think the pictures tell the tale better than I ever can, so I’ll just go with those:

There was a whole lotta books and pajamas happening:

grandchildren, 8555

And a lot of snuggling/reading:

And also a lot of gaming/puzzling:

And eating:

And general merriment:

Next up: Missouri!