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Hello from Northern Michigan! Where the wifi is spotty but the summer bucket list potential is GOLD. We are on our way home from Traverse City where we spent the day exploring downtown while three children slowly crumbled into reminders of why traveling with kids is haaaaarrrrrd. But they are all sleeping in the back seat right now while I edit pictures of them being cute and making memories, so we are right back to that place where summer endorphins control the brain and packing everyone up in the car to drive two hours to a state landmark is not a ridiculous idea.

So, summer review so far:

We caught our toad (check).

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…held a baby chick (my dad has an incubator this year and six little baby chicks hatched right before we arrived).

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…caught butterflies in the butterfly house.

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…watched falling stars lying on our backs on the dock at night, blew through two bottles of bubbles, braided wildflowers into crowns and napped in the hammock on more than one occasion.

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…roasted so many marshmallows, we are all experts in achieving perfectly browned crisp-on-the-outside, melty-on-the-inside goodness.

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Dash loved the opportunity to climb inside a fire truck last weekend when the fire station here had a family day celebration.

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And our annual summer hit from the bucket list: pizza on the dock.

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We found out when we arrived in Michigan that my grandma was vacationing with my cousin in a nearby northern Michigan city, so we had the extra treat this year of another visit with her, this time in our favorite place. She loved the butterfly house…

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…and Dash loved giving her a lesson in Snapchat filters.

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Our Michigan adventures were perfectly timed this year with Gaylord’s Alpenfest, a festival celebrating the city’s Bavarian roots. Since we’re minimalists, we, of course, celebrated with very simple details and subtle enthusiasm.


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Not shown in photo: Gary’s socks-with-crocs.

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My cousin’s daughter Peyton is a year younger than Lainey, and we are so grateful that her family lets us enjoy so much of her while we are up here.

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Dash wore that hat the entire night. Even when it flew off on the fun slide, he grabbed it, put it right back on and asked, “Is it on the right way?” A kind gentleman who had a similar hat showed him how you pinch the indentation on the top of the hat to put it on so you always know it’s on the right way.

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I thought I missed this moment but was so glad when I went through my photos later to see that I had captured it. When Nella and Dash got off the rides, she’d put her arm on his back and lead him to the exit, saying, “Good job, Dash! You did it!” Dash usually fights to be the leader and his adventurous spirit often has him being the one to lead and protect, so it’s not often Nella has the opportunity to do this. You could tell she loved having that chance, and his rare moment of timidness allowed it.

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Lainey informed me at the end of the evening that the true Bavarian hairstyle is pinned up braids and that our go-big-or-go-home approach missed the mark.

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And for some reason, I thought putting real darts in Dash’s hands and saying “Go for it” was a good idea. Surprisingly, he did just fine.

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We are past “peak” on our summer now, winding in to the last month before we return to school. The free life-loving spirit of summer is still very much alive, but something shifts in the last weeks with the awareness that a month from now, our schedules and responsibilities will be driving the ship again. We’re storing the goodness and so very grateful for another season of memories.

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Leave a Comment
  1. I adore all these photos. Summer is such a great time for family memory making. I miss those carefree days.

    I did notice Gary’s crocs and socks, and in the same photo on the right, a woman is also wearing crocs and socks. Hes in good company… :):)::)

  2. I have been wondering this for weeks.
    Don’t your dad and Gary live in Florida? who takes care of those chickens and bunnies when they aren’t there? :-)

  3. Oh my heart, this is adorable! Small town festivals are the best!

  4. Jodi Lloyd says:

    You didn’t miss it! The socks with crocs picture I mean. Look down a little further in your post. It’s really a picture of Nella holding hands with Poppa but Gary’s crocs got in the pic too! Love it!

  5. You managed to get the socks & crocs in the post after all! Living life to the fullest. Its beautiful to see. Thanks for letting us follow along on your adventures!

  6. Shelley Donohue says:

    So adorable, all of it. Your posts always make me smile.

  7. Marjorie Dineen says:

    When do you head back home to FL and Dad!

  8. 7 pictures from the bottom- you nailed the socks and crocks photo!!

  9. Mary @ 120 Spring Street says:

    Best pictures ever, love all the color and the fun. This looks like a fantastic area to visit!

  10. Your outfits are adorable. I always feel like I’m with you along on your adventures.

    Fav photos:
    Lainey & Peyton
    Gma and the butterfly
    You & Nella in your swimsuits
    Nella & Dash getting off the ride
    … and Gary’s crocks & socks =)

  11. Cynthia says:

    Ohhh, but we actually DID get a peek at Gary’s “socks with crocs” look… just not in the photo where you mentioned it… and I am SO glad. :) Thanks for sharing!

  12. Such a beautiful recap of your family’s summer! Northern Michigan is beautiful. Loved my time there. Also, the photo of your kids introducing Snapchat to their grandmother is just so precious. Love how you captured these fun, wonderful memories.

    Fariha |

  13. Warm greetings to you! I often check your blog — a peek behind the curtain, though I don’t often comment. But I had to here — we were at the same place and at the same time and I felt rather sad that I didn’t know! I spend much of my summer in Gaylord and have since I was a kid — I remember the first Alpenfest and Gaylord before it was an Alpine Village! Your children are adorable in their Alpenoutfits and I can tell you had a marvelous time! Here’s my Alpenfest post — I hope you stop by.

    Much joy and do enjoy the rest of your summer!

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