Prior to arriving in Michigan for vacation last week, our just turned 3-year-old niece Ivy kept asking, “Are we at Michigan?” It is hard to explain the concept of “State” to little ones. Our oldest niece, Rosemary, who is almost 6, has an affinity for maps, so when we’re headed somewhere I tell her to look on the map. Ivy, however, was not going to understand that. So as we stopped at gas stations along the way, she’d ask the question, until finally we could confirm, “Yes! We are at Michigan!” When we pulled into our AirBnB for the week, she was pleased with “Mommy’s new house.” Thankfully she let us stay too 😉
Brad and I didn’t take a spring vacation because I was saving up PTO for Spain and then I was in Spain, so we didn’t get a summer vacation either. This week away was very much needed for Brad and after being gone a few days, I realized how much I needed it too. We spent a full week in northern Michigan on Houghton Lake. A friend offered to let us borrow his pontoon boat, so we were able to tow it up there (hence all the gas station stops!) and keep it on the dock just a few steps outside the house.
It was surprising how relaxing the trip was considering we had a 3-year-old child and an almost 5-month-old puppy with us. They both go with the flow and despite a few frustrating moments, they did really well.
We arrived in the dark, so the next morning when Steve woke me up, I saw the beautiful setting for our week away. The sunrise over the lake was spectacular. Steve and I walked out on the dock and I used the moment to take a few photos of him. He is quite photogenic! I later found out that this little photo shoot took place at the very spot where he walked right off the dock the night before! It was dark and cloudy, so he didn’t realize where he was. My brother-in-law was standing there and said Steve realized what was happening seconds before he fell into the water! Thankfully the water was very shallow and he didn’t seem to mind 🙂
He ended up in the water a few more times – some on purpose and some not. However, he loved hopping around (the water was knee deep for over 100 feet!) and didn’t mind his few seconds in deep water when Brad helped him off the boat later in the week. One afternoon after having been on the boat a while, he was very excited to be on land, but in the midst of his excitement he fell off the side. Ivy was worried at first but when he came bounding around shaking his wet fur all over us, she found the humor in the situation!
We took one day to visit Mackinac Island – yes, with a toddler and puppy. They both rode their first ferry and got to explore an island with lots of horses. At lunch Ivy let Brad know every time a horse came by, which was a lot since we were eating across the way from The Grand Hotel. Steve hasn’t mastered walking calmly on a leash yet, so by the time we got on the return ferry he was worn out from all the pulling and whining. I’m not complaining though – they were both really good!
Toward the middle of the week I found myself bored for the first time in I don’t know how long. It was that point in the vacation where we’d done all the things we wanted to do and didn’t feel the need to cram anything else in since it wasn’t the last day. I struggle with not being productive at all times, but on that day I allowed myself to take naps and watch random TV and not worry about my step count. It was lovely. I often consider resting to be lazy, but it’s anything but lazy! Rest was built into the rhythm of life from the beginning of time. Perhaps some of that rest was another reason I did so well in my recent half marathon. My sister-in-law suggested that I have a week of rest before every race – I support that idea! 🙂
Because the nieces on my side of the family live over 5 hours away, when we see them it’s for an extended period of time – at least a weekend, if not longer. This means we see them in their pjs and tell them goodnight. We see them with their sleepy eyes in the morning and have breakfast together. We are part of their daily routines, which creates a deeper bond. Since Brad’s family lives closer, we don’t often have those kinds of moments with our niece and nephews. I loved that we got one-on-one time with Ivy for a week. We went fishing, colored, played with Pepper (Peppa) pig, watched TV, made music, ate together, went bowling, rode on a ferry… we did a lot! We now have deeper shared memories with her that I will cherish forever.
On the last morning, Ivy walked out of her room and said, “Anne, Michigan is over.” “You’re right, Ivy, it’s time to go home.” I love time away in a new place. I cherish extended periods of time with family. I like running new routes and exploring different parts of the world. However, I love coming home too. I think we all got what we needed – slow mornings, afternoon naps, wind in our hair, sun on our faces and campfires at night. I’m so glad we got to be at Michigan for a week.