So a couple months ago (in July… I know, I know, I am Queen of Procrastination when it comes to getting up a ton of pictures. I am so sorry guys! I will definitely work harder at not taking so long next time!) we went up to Michigan to visit with my grandparents (my dad’s parents) and to celebrate their wedding anniversary. My Grandma isn’t doing too well. She’s in her eighties and her health is rapidly declining, so everyone on my dad’s side who was able to make the trip went up there to see her before she gets worse.

My dad’s side of the family is spread all across the United States. They’re in Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, Washington State, Tennessee… so you can imagine how hard it is for us to all get together. The last time we saw each other was in 1987. Yes, you read that correctly… it had been TWENTY FOUR years since I had seen most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Although I took a lot of pictures of me and my family, for privacy reasons, I only posted pictures of me, my husband, and my son.

Here we are leaving Tennessee. My mom and dad rented a minivan and although I must say I borderline LOATHE minivans, this one was pretty bad ass. I packed tons of stuff for Nathan to play with, including his favorite thing in the whole wide world- books. He did remarkably well, considering this is his first long road trip ever. We had to stop a number of times for food and diaper changes, but it wasn’t a problem. Nathan did get a little fussy at times (who can blame the poor kid?) and we’d just simply find a restaurant or gas station and let him walk around with us to work off some energy. Traveling with Nathan wasn’t bad at all.

My dad, wearing his aviators. And you see mine in the first picture? They match. That’s because my dad knew I have been dying to have a pair of REAL aviators (not those knockoffs you get at the local store) so he went to the PX and picked me up a pair… the exact same kind he’s been wearing ever since he flew in the army.

Happy once we got out of the car
Keeping a watchful eye on Nathan... we both kept our fingers crossed that we wouldn't have to wait long for the food!

Since my husband, brother, and my cousin P flew up, we stayed near the airport in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The day after we arrived, we made the 45-minute drive from Grand Rapids to Grand Haven, Michigan. Since Cousin P was pretty familiar with that area and armed with maps and directions, we all decided we would follow her to Grand Haven. Only she missed one of her turns, and instead of ending up at our destination, we ended up in South Haven, which is approximately an hour or so south of Grand Haven. Adding a VERY hungry and tired Nathan to the mix made for a rather stressful adventure, but once we found a little pizzeria in South Haven and got some food into his little belly, it was all good.

Once we ate our fill of delicious pizza, we made the trek to Grand Haven, where we sought out the beach. That’s right, we totally went swimming in Lake Michigan! If you don’t know anything about Lake Michigan, it is COLD. I mean… coooooooooooooooold. That was the coldest water I have EVER been in. In fact, the day we were there, the temperature read a whopping 55 degrees.

Nathan didn’t let the frigid water stop him, though. That kid loves, loves, loves the water. He played in it, splashed around, and enjoyed watching the boats whizz past.

He was completely oblivious to the cold water. Well for him, it doesn’t matter. Water is water, and water is fun to play in, regardless of the temperature. This kid is seriously a total water bug!

He loved walking in the sand, and that odd sensation you get as you stand on the sand and a wave laps at your feet. He walked up and down the beach, smiling and clapping his little hands. It was a rather hot day… Michigan had a heat wave while we were up there. And even then, notice how there is NO ONE in the water.

My Cousin P, me, and my brother braving the frigid waters of Lake Michigan. It was so cold that it felt like needles were piercing my skin as we walked. Cousin P dared us to go out as far as we could stand. Our goal? To get up to our necks. Mission: failed. We were, however, able to quickly dunk ourselves up to our necks though. And see my brother on the right? He is a brave, brave soul. He kept himself mostly immersed, even though he was shivering.

Paul and Nathan’s footprints in the sand. I can’t believe that one day my little boy’s feet will quite possibly the the size of his daddy’s…

Nathan and Daddy walking along the beach. Watching Nathan pretty much REQUIRES a lot of walking around. That child does not stay in one place for long!

A lovely picture of the sun over the lake. And see that pier in the background? Grand Haven has it’s very own pier. We didn’t actually go there (Nathan would have balked had we taken him out of the water too soon) but it was beautiful to look at.

A random stranger at the beach said Nathan could use a sand shovel she had. And let me tell you, Nathan thought he had hit a gold mine! He had so much fun scooping sand and flinging it everywhere.

Of course, whenever you have your children anywhere near water, you must remain vigilant at all times, especially when that kid loves to be around water. So there I am, keeping an ever-watchful eye on my little water bug.

Another shot of the pier. Beautiful, isn’t it?

That’s my dad, Nathan’s Grandpa (or as Nathan calls him, Papa), helping Nathan dig more proficiently. See how my dad is even guiding Nathan’s arm? I think it’s so precious.

Running around near the water, looking for more digging ground. He is holding onto that shovel for dear life… he totally loved it. (And believe me, wringing it out of his tightly-clenched little fists when it was time to give it back and go home was a feat in and of itself.)

That’s me wiping some sand of Nathan’s cheek. I was sooooooooo cold that my already pale skin had this icy blue-purple tinge to it! Totally worth it, though. I would go back in a heartbeat.

I think Nathan was looking at a seagull here… or maybe it was some of the other kids who were building a sandcastle nearby. Whichever it was, Nathan was completely enamored with everything about the beach and tried to soak up everything he saw.

It was hard to get him to stand still long enough to get a smiling picture of him, but at long last, SUCCESS!

Leaving the lake. It may have been the COLDEST water I have EVER been it, and my whole body may have turned purple from the freezing temperatures, but it was the most fun I think I’ve ever had at a lake. It was such a great experience, and now I can say that I SURVIVED LAKE MICHIGAN!

So the next day was the actual celebration of my grandparents’ wedding anniversary. I won’t say exactly how long they’ve been married, but it’s more than SIXTY YEARS… and counting! My grandfather is doing a stellar job helping my Grandma out since she can’t do the same things she used to be able to do. It was so good to see them. See, they live in Michigan… and before my Grandma became ill, they used to drive down to Florida for the winters. And every time they came through Tennessee, they would go out of their way to stop and spend a night with my mom and dad. So twice a year, I was able to see them. The last time they did that, however, was about four years ago. Since then, my Grandmother has become unable to travel… and it’s almost impossible for us to get up to Michigan to see them. Oh it was so good to see her. I miss her so much.

Nathan happily playing with a toy at my Aunt D’s house. Everyone, naturally, was completely in love with Nathan. This was the first time anyone on my dad’s side has met my husband and my son. My grandparents met Paul when we were first dating, though. I can’t even tell you how good it felt to give everyone a great big hug and see my family face-to-face for the first time in 24 years.

There’s Paul, helping Nathan open a gift. Aunt D had gotten all the kids little gag gifts, and of course, Nathan thoroughly enjoyed ripping off the wrapping paper. And Paul was amazing… the whole time we were at my aunt’s house, he watched Nathan for me so that I could socialize and hang out with my family. And you know how I mentioned earlier that whenever you watch Nathan, there will be plenty of walking around involved? Well, Paul walked around after Nathan so much that he developed a blister on his toe! THANK YOU, HONEY! It really means the world to me that I was able to spend time with my family.

Taken the day we were leaving Michigan. We ate a delicious lunch in Grand Rapids before my husband had to catch his flight home. Nathan and I rode back with my parents.

The looooooong ride home. (Well, long when you have a two-year-old with you!) See Nathan holding an orange? Yeah, I totally bribe my kid with fruit. Well, it works! Nathan loves fruit, and he loves to play with it as well. We also had some Blue’s Clue’s and Sesame Street DVDs for him to watch during the drive, and he totally loved it. Our trip to Michigan was super awesome and fun, and it was so good to see my family. I hope that another 24 years does not pass us by before we are all able to get together again.


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