Pure Michigan

I drove alone for an hour today–from Houghton Lake to Lewiston, Michigan, and when the GPS signaled that my final destination was .9 miles away, I had half a notion to keep driving. Not because landing back at the cottage with my family isn’t about the best place at which I could possibly arrive, but because that hour drive was maybe the best drive I’ve ever experienced. Roads that wound around lakes, through thick forests, across weathered bridges that strectch over the Au Sauble River; hugging corn crops and small corner shops. The sky was blue and clear, and the road was mine–only mine. Unless you count James Vincent McMorrow whose voice provided a hauntingly appropriate accompaniment for a northern Michigan joyride.




Thank you to everyone who came to the Wiegand’s signing on Saturday. It was perfect. Warm and colorful and full of life in so many ways. Lots of hugs. I like hugs. And flowers–the place was covered in blossoms and greenery.

All of you have incredible life stories that you are sharing in different ways. It has been such a wonderful experience to meet so many of you and be reminded that we’re all doing this great big thing–facing challenges, finding ways to overcome them, connecting with others, living out our one wild and precious life.


Thank you again to Wiegand’s and Band of Angels for spreading the word and extending heartfelt support to our family but more important, the entire community of individuals with Down syndrome.


And Michigan? This trip? I feel guilty saying things like “I needed this vacation” knowing time away is a luxury, but I’m still going to say it. I am more relaxed than I’ve been in a long time, in complete sync with my family, nature, my own mind and spirit. Like my soul has had a chiropractic alignment.

The same lake frozen lake we walked on six months ago!

As I type this, I am outside, surrounded by nothing but black sky and a few cottage window lights in the distance. The constant whir of rustling leaves sings its chorus, rising to a great crescendo when the wind intensifies and quieting to a low hum when it settles. It feels like summer camp, it looks like a Pure Michigan commercial, it smells like a quintessential Midwestern summer (a mix of lake, fishing worms, dirt, grass, barbecue, bonfire, marshmallows, pines, Oaks and sunscreen).


We spent a vibrant weekend with siblings and cousins, we’re taking a quiet rest this week with our family, and next weekend we’ll reunite with a large, loud Cryderman hollah.

Reuniting with the juke box and the sacred space of the Lewiston Lodge, where memories were made this past January.

Cousin Brooklyn spotting Lainey for some gymnastics.

Saturday night, my dad watched the girls while a parade of cousins walked down to the lake for a pontoon ride. It was definitely one of those “Wow, this is really happening” moments. People who love each other and talk about being together more often–here we were, in the middle of summer, in the middle of nowhere–together.


I love where I live, but lawdhavemercy do I ever love the land I left. Michigan truly is one of the most beautiful states, and we are showing our girls the many ways in which that’s true all week long (hoping to hit Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes later this week!.) This land is rich and lush.

Cousin Brooklyn

I feel so proud and nostalgic giving my girls a piece of my childhood memories this summer.

My girls experience birch trees–I miss them!


My brother

Nella has never been a great night sleeper, but she’s slept through the night every single night of this trip. We’re all relaxed and feeling so grateful for this time of being together.

A Poppa Breakfast

More from Northern Michigan soon.


Thanks to my music buff friend, Meg, some great suggestions on Twitter and a jam fest the other night where my brother and I traded tunes, this is my up north playlist I’ve been loving this week:

Man on Fire, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
I’m Writing a Novel, Father John Misty
All Wash Out, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Jessica, Regina Spektor
Mausam, Nitin Sawhney
Hear the Noise that Moves So Soft and Low, James Vincent McMorrow
Calgary, Bon Iver
Skinny Love, Birdy
Early in the Morning, James Vincent McMorrow
Firewood, Regina Spektor
Song for No One, Miike Snow
Walk the Line, Johnny Cash
Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree, James Vincent McMorrow
Dear Believer, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
The Girl, City and Colour
The Blizzard of ’96, The Walkmen
Blood, The Middle East
Destroyer of the Void, Blitzen Trapper
Elephant Gun, Beirut
Fake Empire, The National


Last week’s Friday Photo Dump:


And our new Friday shared photo dump where your pictures are highlighted (Use hash tag #enjoyingthesmallthings on Instagram. I’m loving your feed!)



And, appropriately timed, check out my new tips for capturing the best moments of summer with your kids over at Disney Baby’s site, Babyzone.com


I’m hearing coyote calls. Time for bed.



Leave a Comment
  1. I just took a deep breath of peace in while reading this post. I am both envious but also hopeful because of the wonderful time you had with your family. It is far too complicated for a blog comment to explain why- but I am going to make an effort to be a regular reader of your blog. You make me breath deeply, and I need to do that more often. Thank you, E

  2. Ohhh, I miss MI sooo much! Nearly 3 years since we left to Texas for a job. :(

    Sigh. Do you think you’d ever move back?

  3. love that you get to be in your home state with your family. Siblings rock!!

  4. “Like my soul has had a chiropractic alignment.”
    That is the goldenest of gold statements I’ve heard today!
    P.S. How much of a Hotty Hotsen is your brother!!!

  5. Loved meeting you on Saturday. Wish I had told you how much your blog has meant to me since I started reading it. Thanks for taking a picture with Chloe (she was the girl with the Cancer Survivor medal who wouldn’t smile for the picture LOL) we had a great time! She was loving on the babies and really loved hugging your Dad :) Was a beautiful day!

  6. Looks like so much fun! Glad you are enjoying some family time!

  7. so pretty!!!

  8. Have an awesome time at Sleeping Bear! Make sure you do Pierce Stocking Scenic drive, you won’t be sorry. And go to the beach at Glen Haven :)

  9. I can almost smell summer. I’m not sure which beauty I adore more the mid-summer green and the lake, or the white out that was winter.
    Either way you win!

  10. Seeing that you might be making it to TC and Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, gave me a shiver.

    I spent my entire childhood growing up in Lake Leelanau and Traverse City. I hiked Sleeping Bear more times that I can count and lived on a houseboat at Harbor West from the age of 2 to about 10.

    I know am raising my family in the mountains of Colorado, after leaving TC when I was 18, but never forget the smells and colors of Northern Michigan. I can only imagine the images you take if you do make it to my hometown, and it makes me happy to think that I might see them through your lens… places I haunted when I was teenager.

  11. So wonderful!
    Your post makes me excited for a road trip we will make later this summer to a lake in Idaho where my aunt and uncle have a summer house…and their youngest son will be getting married there.
    My cousins, sister, parents, aunts and uncles will all be there.
    I will be in a new place, but sharing family…and that makes it home.

  12. My mom (Barb), Zoe, and I loved meeting you on Saturday at Wiegand’s. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us in the parking lot, inside before the book signing, and after the reading. It was so great to meet you in person and see your family, too. I know Zoe liked saying hi to Nella and Lainey and she kept looking for your puppy!

    Not sure how much I managed to say when you signed my book – I know I got emotional – but you have had a big impact on me. We adopted our daughter after many infertility treatments that did not work. We experienced a lot of loss and dealt with grief, but it all led us to our little girl, and we wouldn’t change that for anything. It’s all part of the journey, right?

    Your writing inspires me to write, and I’ve started a book about our open adoption with Zoe’s birthmom. I’ve written a blog for many years as well.

    You also inspire me to be a better mom every day — to make special moments happen, to just slow down, to spend time with Zoe doing the things she loves, to just play, and to see things through her eyes.

    Thank you for all of that. Oh, and glad you got to go to Houghton Lake – we were just there for Memorial Day. It is very full circle to take Zoe to the lake where I spent many childhood summers!

    My blog – Our Story

  13. Pure Joy! You make me happy.

  14. Looks amazing & I love that white dress that you’re wearing for one of the book signings!

  15. Oh, my Nella must be having a growth spurt! She looks so big!

  16. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ve never seen Michigan the way you describe it, but your right, there is beauty here. Thanks for sharing these insights and helping me to see it through new eyes.

  17. Oh how I adore this blog… Makes me want to jump in my car and vacate the premises right now. I just love it. I love family.

    (ps… It’s “tarynaki_sauce” …and it makes me laugh :))

    Have a great vacay:)

  18. ohmyword. i thought i was the only one with a (seriously are they almost) 2 1/2 (already? my heart!) year old that doesn’t sleep through the night.
    (must have been that crazy week in january of 2010. those babies, i tell ya.)
    AND YET?
    he has been sleeping through every glorious night too. must be the lake water – we’ve been in the thick of the up north summers too.
    enjoy it so much. you deserve every single second of it.

  19. Enjoy your time in Michigan Hampton family!
    I think that sometimes living here and being surrounded by the big lakes and nature, I often take it for granted. Thanks for reminding me of what an amazing place we truly live in!
    I love me some Traverse City in the summer! Check out Front Street for some cute shops and fun eats.
    BTW-your description of the smell of a Midwestern summer is everything that comes to mind when I think of summer:)

  20. aha… these pictures take me back to my summers in Michigan at my grandma’s lake. We would make that same drive from Florida all the way to Howard City for a few weeks at the lake. Ever since then it has always been my dream to own a lake house, have lake friends and spend my summers swimming in the fresh waters. Thanks for bringing back those memories kelle!

  21. It looks like a fantastic time! We visited our cousins in Indiana one summer and they took us to Michigan. I remember thinking it was a really great state. I loved Mackinac and the lakes. So pretty. Glad you have this time of rest with your family.

    The garden store looks AWESOME and I love, love, LOVE his little grandaughter. Cute as a button!

  22. My parents have a cottage on East Twin in Lewiston and my uncles own the True Value Hardware store in town! Glad you are enjoying your time in MI!

  23. I have finished reading this post with tears streaming down my face. It’s not the first time that your post have spoken to my heart. I had such high hopes for this summer and the time that I would get to spend with my boys. However, as a parent to a child with special needs, things don’t always go as planned. I was so looking forward to meeting you and your family on saturday, but we ended up in the hospital with my little guy. I wanted to tell you how much support I get from your words and your blog. It looks like our summer might have a different outcome then what we expected, but I am trying to see the silver lining. Thank you for always being there with a new perspective. I am so glad that you are experiencing Michigan with your girls. Have a safe and wonderful vacation!

  24. I grew up at Higgins Lake, just over from Houghton Lake, and used to go to a family lodge in Lewiston we called the “North 40.” Michigan is truly a paradise. You should check out the Rifle River Recreation Area near Rose City…it is truly amazing! We just camped and canoed there last weekend…it was unbelievable. Best wishes to you and yours as you enjoy our great state…if you have a chance you should stop by Frankenmuth, where I live, and enjoy little Bavaria…glockenspiels and family style chicken dinners, what could be better?!

  25. I’m really enjoying your holiday pics on IG. It sounds like a magical place to be. I’m listening to Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven while I catch up on your blog today. That’s my playlist for today.

    Be Happy, Kelle.

  26. Oh Kelle, i’m so happy for you that you and your family are getting to experience a midwestern summer! It is awesome to see it through your eyes, because as we all know, when we live it every day we tend to take it forgranted. Your take on it reminds me to appreciate the beauty all around me in MN. Have a happy week!

  27. My goodness, the photos were wonderful! It looks like you had such a nice time with your family.

  28. I love the Midwest. I want my kid(s) to have Wisconsin memories of where I grew up and what I did. I miss having seasons and wearing jumpers during summer! The smell of autumn and apples from the orchards…. I want to move closer to home. Maybe someday, maybe not. xx

  29. Love. I hail from Minnesota, and we spend summers up at my parent’s lake cabin, and my whole family calls it our Happy Place. Lakes, trees, pontoons, fresh air, relaxing with family. Doesn’t get any better than that!

  30. Great you’re soaking up and enjoying your Michigan holiday. I’m sure you’ll make the most of every moment.

    I love your playlist! A few new ones there that I look forward to checking out, but looks like we dig a lot of the same stuff. Yeah baby!

  31. Love all of it, and you are giving me the travel bug!!

    I follow you on IG, and have been living vicariously through you as I take off for work at 6am…makes me smile :)

  32. Looks like a great trip! Summer road trips with family are the best! Thanks for sharing another playlist, I always seem to find something new to love in your picks. :)

    Hope you enjoy the rest of your vacation! Love your blog!

  33. Looks like an awesome break…..would’ve looked more awesome to me to see all those adults and kids wearing life preservers on that boat where alcohol was clearly being consumed. I know it’s just a lake but take it from someone who lives in a country where many lives are lost in freak accidents on the water every year due to no preservers being worn….IT’S REALLY NOT WORTH THE RISK …..glad you feel relaxed though

  34. That photo of your cousin doing the pose in the water is so beautiful! She looks like a whale tail, so elegant!!
    All of the women in your photo of you reading have the same color tones in their hair!

  35. I can actually see you relaxing. With your family, in the sun, in those glorious woods. I don’t know why you think that it’s a luxury, or that you should feel guilty for needing a holiday!!
    I adore Nella’s red gingham dress, but you know that right? 😉

  36. Everything about this is gorgeous. I can feel the relaxation through these photos :)

  37. Love the deliciously slowed down pace of a Midwest summer. Will be getting my fix in July for a wedding & much anticipated family reunion. You have sooooo earned this break… soul adjustments & all. Do they have lightening bugs in MI? That is one of my favorite childhood memories… convinced the magic little lights were really fairies coming to bring sweet dreams.
    Soak it all up my friend!

  38. I may have said this before, but there’s another “Lewiston Lodge you need to come to. Except that’d be Lewiston, Idaho and the lodge would be my house 😉

    Glorious sun you are experiencing! Since my injury 18 days ago, I haven’t been outside for more than the 5 minutes it takes me to crutch my way to the car (an otherwise 20 second trip). But today I got to eat lunch outside, on the grass, with some of that same sun on my face! I love when the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

    Enjoy your trip. Anxiously waiting for more pics of your paradise. My favorite pic of this post was of Nella being carried by your dad….sweet cheeks!

  39. I grew up in Muskegon and spent my summers on Campbell Lake in Hesperia. Your photos are making me homesick but we, too, are planning our Big Michigan Adventure for this summer. I want my kids to love everything I love (and miss) about Michigan. Enjoy your trip . . . and turn your MI playlist into a Spotify playlist please! :)

  40. An absolute must for a road trip play list is THe Generationals Actor-Caster, garunteed to make you wanna wind the windows down:)

  41. What a blessing! Love your posts from Michigan!

  42. Gosh, Nella looks so big in some of these pictures! Glad to hear ya’ll are getting some much needed (and well deserved) relaxation and family time. :)

  43. That pic of Nella and her new buddy at the signing is PERFECTION. Um, and half my neighbors have her bathing suit :) I guess I missed that memo!

    Looks like a wonderful trip, live it up!

  44. When i lived there in the late 80’s, Michigan’s tagline was “YES! Michigan!” and I found myself saying that at some of your pictures. Pure lovely is what it is.

    Love that last pic of nella. Is she sleeping? She is a girl after my own heart… Sleeping any and everywhere.

  45. What a fairy tale you are living right now! Live it up girl. Thank you again for sharing your words, your love, and your memories.

    It was fantastic meeting you and your family on Saturday. My Dad wanted to take Ginger the dog home but Lainey had quite the grip! :)

  46. I would love to visit Michigan one of these days.
    Beautiful photos, as always.

  47. I love this post! There is no place better than Northern Michigan in the summer :) Enjoy!

  48. Michigan summers are the best. :-)

    I’m so glad that you and your family got to take a bit of a break. I was hoping to make it to your book signing on Saturday, but the schedule didn’t allow. I will most definitely be getting your book, though! I adore your writing. It really takes me away…

    God bless

  49. I LOVE this post! As some other readers have mentioned, I sometimes take living in Michigan for granted. It was wonderful to see my awesome state through your eyes…even if I am crying because the photos make me miss my dad even more. I miss those relaxing summers of my youth where the biggest thing I worried about was wishing summer never ended. It was beyond amazing to meet you on Saturday at Weigand’s. You and your entire family are even more beautiful in person. I hope the remainder of your vacation is equally as beautiful…

    PS I love all of the photos but the one that really connected with me was the one with your girls and cousins on the dock…gosh that could have been me and my family 20+ years ago. Thanks Kelle!

    Debbie (from Rankin) :)

  50. I live in Traverse if you need any helpful ideas of where to eat, wander etc!

  51. Love seeing my state through your eyes. It is a beautiful place. Enjoy your family and kudos on the soul alignment. I want one! :)

  52. Please say you will visit Charlevoix or Petoskey; you will not be disappointed:) These are our favorite summer destinations.

  53. no place like home that’s for sure. heading to my home state (IL) on sunday. can’t wait to see nothing but farmland as far as the eye can see. love your pics girlie. that one of brooklyn was so cool.

  54. AHHH!!! I grew up in Minnesota and totally get what your saying about a Midwestern Summer. There is nothing like it. My kids are the same age as yours and we are headed up for a month in Minnesota in a few weeks. I’m dying for my grandparents cabin!!!

  55. traverse area is nice and all…but you are only about an hr south of the bridge….you need to get your fill of Mackinac!!! Your girls will go crazy with the horses and beauty. Ditch the touristy area for some magical walks through the woods and quiet bike paths. Breathe in the lilacs. You wont regret it. THAT is pure michigan and pure whimsy.

    I may be completely biased though…Mackinac Island is my hometown. If you do go, though, email me (erica.l.chambers@gmail.com)….i will totally hook you up with free carriage rides (family business) and great tips.

  56. So glad you get to relax and unwind, I am a born and raised Indiana girl and while I lived in Ohio briefly, I don’t think I could be happy anywhere else. I love the change of seasons, the rolling farmland, dunes around Lake Michigan, and the many lakes and forests….sigh=) We are getting ready to head to Virginia for a vacation and I am making magnet cookie sheet boards this week, thanks for the inspiration and great ideas! Enjoy your family and those gorgeous girls of yours!

  57. AWESOME! I can’t wait for my trip this summer back to one of my childhood places with ALL my kids………making & preserving memories!

    Bug & Ruby’s Gram

  58. Thank you for showing the world how beautiful our state is. Michigan often doesn’t get the credit it deserves for being a beautiful and scenic state. I can’t wait to see more pics of Pure Michigan. Enjoy your trip!

  59. What an amazing vacation so far! Sounds like a perfect mix of relaxation and family, the perfect vacation equation. Can’t wait to see more pics!

  60. Two things… 1. Tim Allen aint got nothing on you. I wonder if Michigan will endorse YOU as their spokesperson because this post makes me want to go right now. 2. I just went to grooveshark and plugged in 80% of your playlist for my workday. Thanks! 😉

  61. I spent the weekend up by the bridge (Pelston) (UofM Biostation) and then dropped my boys off at cottage that was near Lewiston also. They are on Lake Manistee for the week! Looking at your pictures it looked very similar to the cottage the grandparents rented there. Jealous of all of you as I sit in an office downtown GR.

  62. Your family vacation is truly spectacular! The girls are getting so big! Nella is so gorgeous! :)

  63. Oh I see rainbow goldfish :) a new favorite at my house. I bet Nella enjoyed them.

    Glad you’ve enjoyed your family vacation. Summer memories are the kind that last a lifetime.


  64. I’m from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and this post makes me cry because I miss it so much! It makes me very proud when other people see and appreciate it’s beauty :)

  65. The Wiegands signing was perfect indeed. I felt like I stepped through a picture on your blog into a theme party to celebrate Bloom. Like you had spent weeks making sure every detail was just right ~ gorgeous flowers to symbolize life and blooming where you are planted. Beautiful littles on Mama’s laps, in strollers and exploring their surroundings. Friends wearing pops of yellow to celebrate your love of the color. Nella asleep in Papa’s arms and a fairy garden around the corner. Yes, Wiegands was perfect. A perfect celebration of you, your beautiful family, your inspiring book and your love for life. I am certain I speak for every person that was part of that special morning when I say we all left there with our freak flags flying high and ready to enjoy the small things.
    I am so happy your heart is being filled with all things Michigan this week. We live in OH but my family has a cottage in Jackson, MI on Lake Leann that we have been making memories at since I have been two years old. It’s my happy place. I love taking my own children there now to share with them the same summer experiences I had there as a child. We also love to hop in the plane and spend the weekend in Traverse City when we can. It’s my Isles of Capris. I hope you find time during your vacation to make it there. I know you will love it.
    A million thanks for including our picture in your post. Unicorns I tell you. Unicorns!
    I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled across your blog around the time of Nella’s birth but I am grateful I did. It was such a pleasure to finally meet you in person. I think you are sorta awesome!

  66. I’m so glad you’re having a good time. I absolutely love nature although I am terrified of spiders, which makes camping and cottages in the woods a little unsettling.

    Still, breathing in that fresh air is ALWAYS good for the soul. I can’t imagine how busy you have been since your book went up on the shelves. Now it is time to relax and let life happen.

  67. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE me some Michigan and my heart has been yearning this summer to make a quick trip up there. Now your photos have sealed the deal : ) Glad you had a wonderful time and thanks for sharing!!!

  68. Kelly, I just love your photography! I love looking at the world through your eyes! *sigh*

  69. your joy is simply contagious. thank you, thank you, for taking us along for the ride. xo! blog.tarapolly.com

  70. Have fun and enjoy every small thing.

  71. I feel so homesick for Michigan after reading your post. YES to every single thing you said about what is, in my humble opinion :), the best state in this country! I was born and raised in “the mitten,” left the state for college, met my husband, and settled in another area of the country. (I’ve tried to get my husband to agree to move to MI, but, sadly, he loves his home state as much as I love mine). I love Michigan for all of its wonderful seasons, but I think Michigan summers hold an extra special space in my heart. My summer memories of Michigan are filled with lots of trips to the Irish Hills lakes and going “Up North” to Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and Charlevoix.
    YAY for memroies filled to the brim with Michigan summers. Your girls will look back on these days with pure Michigan happiness!

  72. Love the pic of Nella on your dad’s shoulder. Precious. I wanna kiss those cheeks!!

  73. I love cousins and pontoon boats. And cousin Brooklyn?? Hello, hot legs!

  74. This post makes me incredibly happy. I live in Michigan , so the nostalgia this makes me feel is immense and wonderful! I have cousins who have lived on Houghton Lake all my life, and I just love it up there!!! And your mention of Pure Michigan..LOVE IT!!


  75. Enjoy your time in Michigan and especially you time in my town, Traverse City. We were just at the dunes last weekend with our 3 year old and oh what fun you will have. You couldn’t ask for a better Northern Michigan week. Some cooler temps Tuesday and Wednesday and then back to the upper 70s and 80s. Enjoy your family and friends. So glad Brett could be there to enjoy it with you this time. Blessings to you and your beautiful family!

    PS I am the same age as you and I too went to Carman-Ainsworth Schools, but I went to Dye. I would later become friends with many of the kids you went to school with at Randals. Jorie Kutzy and I were good friends in High School and we laughed to see your blog post once about her Keds.

  76. Beautiful pics as always.. so glad you guys are enjoying your trip so far… what a blessing to reconnect with family. Traverse City is having it’s “scoops” festival this Saturday down by the bay, which means lots of icecream novelties from various vendors (including Moomers!) and activities for the kids. 8 and under are free… adults are $5… your ticket gets you all the ice cream, hotdogs and smoothies you want. Proceeds benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters. :)

  77. Oops, the festival is at F&M park, not on the bay… close to the bay though. 😉

  78. I am so glad your enjoying MI! I am a Michigander, small town called Farwell, & I know how beautiful this state is! If you get the opportunity Lake Michigan near Ludington is beautiful too!

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  80. The “this is really happening moments” – makes you have an out of body and IN BODY experience that is peaceful above all understanding. Your pictures always seem to have that peaceful, “we are living” feel. It inspires me to cozy up to my/our life, slow down and capture it. I have been a follower for awhile and shared a PROUD moment with you the morning I was chasing kids around the basement and realized you were on The Today Show announcing your book release. Such magic moments – you deserve them all! PS- In Indianapolis, IN – any plans for book signings S of where you are ?? :)

  81. This post makes me miss the Midwest so much (MNgirl) what an awesome blessing for you and your family to get to spent some time there with your family.

  82. I love looking at our lovely state through your lens – you have a great perspective that I don’t often get to see my favorite place through (Houghton Lake)! I’d fall out of my seat if I were sitting up at our cottage and I saw you guys drive by on your boat :)

    Oh, and the sleeping well up north is totally in the air – always!

  83. Thank you for so adequately capturing and promoting our state! I love it here … I’ve often thought of going elsewhere ‘just because’ but nothing beats Michigan.

    That photo of your niece … WOW. All of your photos are stunning.

    Now, I feel like taking a road trip … I’m in need of that soul re-alignment.

  84. Love the playlist! Your ability to combine pictures and music so perfectly has long been one of the reasons I come to your blog several times a week. :)

    On another note, can you swing by St. Louis for a book signing on your way home? I was ready to make the trip to Chicago, but I didn’t have anyone to go with me on a weeknight. (Just kidding, I know you can’t redirect your route home for me. Although if you did, I can promise a crowd of at least 10 of my friends who are fans!)

  85. Beautiful!
    I’ve never been to Michigan….but birch trees are so cool.

    We’re looking forward to cousins and family this summer in bolivia!

  86. Oh my. In just 2 short weeks, I will load up my minivan donning its “Coexist” and “Thank God Your Mom was ProLife” bumperstickers and trek across PA and OH to go back “home”. We moved to the NJ almost three years ago, and I feared going back for fear I wouldn’t return. Your photos, your words sike me up for the 15 hour drive to Evart with 4 kiddos on my own….I can do it because its God’s Country and its calling my name! Thanks for the boost of get up and go go go!

  87. I discover America from you. Michigan seems beautiful. Thank you for sharing your Holiday with your family. I haven’t a big family (with sister, brother, dad….), and it’s missing for my children, i would like to know these magical moments. Enjoy these precious moments!
    Nathalie (from France)

  88. My post today is inspired by you and ‘Enjoying the Small Things’


  89. I almost started crying. This has made me miss Michigan more than some of my friends photos have…! Enjoy your trip. Please!

  90. I always feel so refreshed after I finish reading one of your posts. I honestly am ready to embrace every single moment that comes my way, big or small.

    Thank you so much for having such an encouraging, inspiring blog! And for sharing your wonderful pictures with us.


  91. Glad you loved my pic :) And Sleeping Bear Dunes?! Cant wait to see those pics and bring back some childhood summer memories of rolling down those (and complaining the whole walk back up!)

  92. I am taking my kids to my childhood summer vacation spot for the first time this summer. Can’t wait.

  93. We are getting ready for our own trip home…I can’t wait. I recommend next time you go on the pontoon boat, you should listen to Pontoon by Little Big Town…it’s cheesey but fitting

  94. So beautiful! It looks like you are having a wonderful holiday! I admire your photography so much! Thank you for the summer tips on the Disney Baby site, they’re fantastic, I can’t wait to try some of them! :)

  95. Nella’s sleeping – it’s that fresh air. I am guessing the Michigan air where you are is similar to the Vermont air I get to experience. I LOVE to sleep with the windows open (when it is 60+ at least) and always get the best night’s sleep!

  96. What an honor to be able to make the drive and to meet you , your family and listen to you. It was very special to pull into the parking lot and Nella was right in front of us. She is simply beautiful. And I knew that the gentleman with her must have been family, but didn’t know right then that it was your father. What an astounding person. He was so friendly and was delighted to meet Jonathon and I! And I will never forget the day that Jonathon and I got to meet an extraordinary family. God is good. Thank you for all that you do and for coming to MI. Your daughters are so kind and caring. And Jonathon talks about Nella all the time now! I am thoroughly enjoying your book.

  97. Yay for the Lewiston Lodge..best baked spaghetti and club sandwich’s!! We have a place up there as well, we live downstate Michigan so we get up there quite a bit :) Enjoy!!!

  98. Beaver Island….look it up, I’m telling you, you would LOVE it!!! just a short trip into the middle of Lake Michigan from Charlevoix :)

  99. Oh, how you make me miss my home state…and I’m only over here in Wisconsin! I spent two glorious summers working on Mackinac Island and enjoying the surrounding areas on my days off. Those beaches on the southern side of the UP just west of St. Ignace – pure white sand, clean water, just GAWGEOUS! Enjoy!

  100. Loving where you came from makes you appreciate/embrace where you are going. Keep livin’ the dream. Thanks for sharing your many adventures.

  101. It’s so lovely! We get to see your present all the time, but it’s a real treat to get to see your past lived out and enjoyed in your present. I love that y’all are getting to relax and really just soak up and enjoy one another. Such a gift and blessing to have family like that. And I’m bitter and mad at the south for our dry county laws and would like to think it’s all Alabama’s fault that I will never convince your lovely family to come stop and say “hhhhaaaaayyyy y’aaaallll” in our soon-to-be-hometown of Birmingham….at least not on a Sunday. :)

  102. A book needs to be written called “How to Be a Poppa”. Either he can write it. Or you. Or you and your siblings. Or all of y’all. But it needs to happen. Stat.

  103. beauty!

  104. Outside Traverse City gotta check out Interlochen Center for the arts. Sit and listen to a summertime symphonic concert, and take a pic of the sun going down through the windows on the back of the stage, over green lake. I spent several summers at Interlochen bent accross my figure drawin easel, loving every minute. I miss that place so much, and wonder if Ill ever go back and see that gorgeousness again. Please oh please, if you go, take a picture and post it for me.

  105. it looks beautifuk! love the pic of nellas face on your dads shoulder- he needs a copy for fathers day!

  106. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8inJtTG_DuU

    this song is called “bloom” and its by the paper kites. i believe you might like it and just wanted to share.
    because i am so thankful that you share your thoughts and part of your life with other people on this blog, it is always heartwarming and inspiring.

    best wishes from germany,

  107. michigan is absolutely beautiful! so grateful that i get to call it home. :)

  108. now I’m jonesin’ to move to Michigan….where to start looking??? Hmmmm….suggestions?

  109. Thank God for sleeping babies! Another beautiful post that never fails to relax me. I think that’s why i keep on reading. I sink into your writing like a big comfy chair and just ..relaaaaax. You do know how to have a good time ..and write about it so we have a good time with you! Thanks XO! Sue
    P.S. I Stumbled upon this as I was researching and trying to get my health steady and thought it might interest you…
    “Some doctors are now using iodine in the treatment of children with down syndrome as well as autism with positive results.” It’s from this website…http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/iodine/
    Iodine is important to every cell in the body, especially women’s reproductive organs and can boost fertility. Have a great day!

  110. Thank God for sleeping babies! Another beautiful post that never fails to relax me. I think that’s why i keep on reading. I sink into your writing like a big comfy chair and just ..relaaaaax. You do know how to have a good time ..and write about it so we have a good time with you! Thanks XO! Sue
    P.S. I Stumbled upon this as I was researching and trying to get my health steady and thought it might interest you…
    “Some doctors are now using iodine in the treatment of children with down syndrome as well as autism with positive results.” It’s from this website…http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/iodine/
    Iodine is important to every cell in the body, especially women’s reproductive organs and can boost fertility. Have a great day!

  111. In the picture with you and the woman in the beige shirt with the heart on it – there is a woman in the background wearing itty bitty twins in her moby wrap! Adorable!!

  112. Ah. Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes. You’ve just brought back awesome memories for me too! My dad grew up in Cadillac, so we spent two weeks every summer going somewhere in MI. Whether to visit family nearby or borrow my uncle’s pop-up camper (how my mom hated camping!) to park it for two weeks at some KOA or State Park. Thank you for making me think of that!

  113. Any chance of a Denver area book signing? =)

  114. I just got your book this weekend, and I finished it in one day. Your story (and your family) is beautiful!

  115. Kelle – I love this picture of Nella in an orange life vest, a rite of passage for any child who visits Michigan. We’re headed up past the Holland Area this weekend and I’m happy to finally break the seal on Bloomed at the beach this weekend! BTW -I love the imperfection in every photo you post of a coffee cup with lipstick smear around the lid. Thank you for that. Enjoy your time with family and “home,” friend!

  116. I don’t know if you would ever be able to read all of these comments, but I thought I’d leave one anyway. A friend of mine let me borrow your book recently and I’m about halfway in and loving it! I greatly appreciate your honesty and sharing such a personal journey with the world. I will now be a regular reader of your blog as well! Your girls are beautiful and I admire how you seem to make the most of your life! You seem like a beautiful person both inside and out.

  117. So many parts of this post inspired me & spoke to me, or opened my eyes, or showed me your beautiful view on life….but there’s one bit I want to comment on….Nella and her sleeping :) I guess I always assumed that she was a good sleeper as she has the amazing ability to have day naps in the most loudest & random of places…and the fact that you have NEVER complained about being sleep-deprived dur to sleepless children. But to hear you say she isn’t a great night sleeper made me feel really connected. My daughter has just started sleeping through the night {at FOUR years old} and my 7 month old has me up 5+ times a night. The fact that you don’t whine about having a ‘not so great sleeper’ and you just take it in your stride inspires me Kelle. Thank you! I’m not alone :)
    Happy holidaying!

  118. I love the Mary Oliver allusion…it certainly looks like one of her poems!

  119. Lovely post, you’re making me wish for holidays so much…
    I love making playlists, and love most of the music on your list, so I am unashamedly going to suggest some songs to add to it;-)
    Bon Iver- Holocene
    Beirut- Nantes
    The Cinematic Orchestra- Home
    The Acorn- Antenna
    Peter Broderick- Colin
    Beach House- Myth
    The Riptide Movement- Thieves in the Gallery
    I’ll stop here before I lose the run of myself completely… Amy

  120. Are you kidding me???? Lewiston is where I spent my childhood summers! Picking blueberries in the woods, sleeping in the garage of my grandparent’s cottage with my cousins, boating and swimming and playing water volleyball in the twin lakes, canoeing in local creeks, riding dirt bikes in the dunes! Ahhh!!!!!! Your family might bump into my family come Fourth of July!

  121. Hi,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of years now, and very much appreciate your optimism and ability to enjoy–and find beauty in–not only the small things, but the hard things. I read this article in our local paper about a local high schooler who (among many other things) has Down Syndrome, and though of you.


    Thanks for sharing your joy with all of us!

  122. You vacation 20 or 25 minutes from my cottage on Otsego Lake! (I’ve been going through your old Michigan posts!) I think of Lewiston as Home of the Redwood Steak House as a friend’s family owns it and we stop by usually once a year!

    Next time you come to Michigan and are thinking of heading to Gaylord, I hope we can meet for coffee, tea or a hello! Meanwhile, wishing you safe travels back home.

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