Sunday, August 29, 2010

Road Trip!

Walking along Lake Michigan in Milwaukee

Playing with cousin Logan on the beach at Lake George Resort,
West Branch, Mi

Hanging out with Grandpa & Grandma Gray

Peeking out the door of our cabin

Had to make a pit stop to do some wine tasting in Rose City, MI
on our history tour of the West Branch area

Enjoying the beach

Mike's parents, 3 sisters and their families at the resort

Our family

New Glarus Brewing Company

Trying on clothes for Godfather Matt's upcoming wedding!
(this picture was taken today - I couldn't resist including this pic of my little man in a suit)

Last week our family returned from our first big road trip together. Our destination was West Branch, Michigan to help host and celebrate Mike’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party. We started out on Tuesday at 6:00 pm and drove the 5 ½ hours straight to Milwaukee. Miles slept peacefully in the back the whole way. Wednesday we explored Milwaukee. We spent the day at Lake Michigan enjoying the beautiful sunshine, toured the historic Pabst Mansion, walked around the Milwaukee Public Market and had dinner on the riverfront downtown. Miles was an absolute champ being trekked around on our road trip adventure.

Thursday we took the 6 am Lake Express Ferry out of Milwaukee, across Lake Michigan, and landed in Muskegon, Michigan. Oddly, the ferry was recommended to us by a used car sales man on our search for a new vehicle (no, we didn’t buy the Acadia from him but he was very nice). The ferry cut at least 4 hours off of our drive time and was great because Miles could toddle around the boat, sit on our laps and not be restrained in a car seat for so long. Once we landed in Michigan we drove the remaining 3 ½ hours to West Branch where we stayed at Lake George Resort with all of Mike’s sisters and their families. The resort had cabins 10 feet from the quiet lake with a nice beach, paddle boats and a row boat to use and a horseshoe pit. Mike’s immediate family gets together rarely so it was wonderful to have some of them meet Miles for the first time and spend quality time together as a family. We enjoyed many good meals, sitting by the water and relaxing. Mike and Mariann, Mike’s parents, also led us on a driving tour of the places they were born, got married, etc. It was nice to see the history we hear so much about. About this time Miles really started motoring – he is now walking everywhere, completely independently!

That Saturday we hosted a party to honor Mike and Mariann and Miles got to meet many extended relatives for the first time. Sunday came too quickly when we all said goodbye for now and went our separate ways – some to Alaska, others to Oklahoma and Arizona. Mike, Miles and I headed back to Muskegon to take the 11 pm ferry across the lake to Milwaukee. Unfortunately, the ride home was not as smooth as the trip there. Poor Miles was an overtired and seasick baby – it was a rough ride. We arrived at our hotel downtown Milwaukee about 1 am and I seriously thought I had entered the twilight zone. After an exhausting journey so far that evening we arrived at the hotel to find gobs of people partying and milling around drinking while loud Irish bands played in the courtyard and the lobby – Irish Fest! Luckily, the 16th floor was quiet and we collapsed that night in our beds.

Monday we took time to explore Madison and walked up and down State Street and ate lunch outside at a little Italian restaurant. We then took a detour to New Glarus to see the New Glarus Brewing Company and so Mike could buy beer. We then drove about 5 ½ hours to home. While it was good to be back we all had a great time on our first official family road trip. I wonder where we’ll go next!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Miles is now a baby who is up, down and all around - all of the time. He now very adeptly climbs stairs and is getting pretty good about going down them as well. We've been working on getting him to go down feet first on his belly instead of head first. In the spirit of climbing he also doesn't just want to sit at his little picnic table - that's too boring. He likes to climb and either sit or stand on the top. He still will only take a few tentative steps once in awhile without holding on to anything. He likes the assurance of having a hand or toy to hold onto in order to toddle across the house but we know it's only a matter of time before he's sprinting independently.

Our not so little baby continues to assert his independence and likes to do and eat what he sees us doing and eating. This past week we had a desperation 10 minute meal of Trader Joe's frozen pizza and Mike and I were sprinkling red pepper flakes on ours. Miles pointed and emphatically grunted, indicating that he wanted exactly what we were eating - i.e. the red pepper flakes! He is pointing at things more and more and easily recognizes and does simple commands such as "pat your head."

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity in our house:
  • Monday - goodbye dinner with friends, Becky and Mike, who moved to Portland this weekend
  • Tuesday - my book club dinner
  • Wednesday - Miles' had an ear re-check with his pediatrician and although he doesn't have another ear infection at the moment he still has fluid in his ears. We have an appointment to see an ENT September 1 and Miles is on a 21-day course of antibiotics for his chronic runny nose and congestion which could be a sinus infection. I also had the final dress fitting for my bridesmaid dress for Matt and Janelle's wedding.
  • Thursday - Miles and I had dinner with my parents and Mike went out for a beer.
  • Friday - Miles and I went shopping and out to lunch with my mom, Rachel and Corey and Mike had his monthly beer club meeting
  • Saturday - We left Miles with a non-family babysitter for the first time, his teacher from school, Darcy, and we went to Matt and Janelle's bachelor/bachelorette parties.
  • Sunday - Relax and recover was our highest priority today. We actually took a long walk around Lake Susan and visited the playground there for the first time as a family. Lake Susan Park has a toddler playground and Miles loved going down the slide, climbing the stairs and playing on the swings. Can you believe I didn't bring my camera! I think that this week was my all-time low in picture taking since Miles was born.
No post next Sunday...first long-distance family road trip - here we come!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bye bye G & G Gray

Miles and his little buddies. 1st playdate on the new deck!

Daddy's so fun.

Relaxing on the deck.

Helping mama set the table.

Oh boy, this pool is fun!


It's hard for a certain little man to "sit on his bottom" while in the pool.

Cheers to our new deck and good company.

Snacking with Grandma Gray.
(Possibly Miles' 1st picture with shoes on.)

Friday at 3 pm. Happy hour with the grandparents.

Reading bedtime stories with Grandpa Gray.

All aboard the Mississippi Queen.


Having fun as we enter the St. Anthony Falls Lock on the Mississippi River.

We've had a wonderful visit with Miles' Grays Grandparents. They arrived July 4 and are hitting the open road tomorrow morning heading to Michigan and beyond. Besides the long list of home projects Mike's dad has helped us with (and when I say "helped" I pretty much mean he did himself) including finishing the doors, trim and lights downstairs, building a custom cabinet, fixing random broken things around our house and of course being the master contractor on our beautiful deck (can you tell from the pictures above how much we love it?) we’ve also had a fun and relaxing time with them – cooking together, playing cards, taking a cruise on the Mississippi, and watching them be wonderful grandparents to Miles. I’m a little worried about Miles – he’s had the undivided attention and adoration of 4 grandparents this last month (can a little boy be anymore loved?) and now that he’s a little older and more aware I think he’s really going to miss the Gray Grandparents. Who will dance with him to the radio, cook him pork and steak (which he loves) and make funny faces at him during dinner? Thanks for a great visit Mike and Mariann!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Outdoor Spaces

The start of a huge project.

The three workmen.

Our dream deck!

Dining al fresco at the cabin.

Sweet cheeks.

It's normal to hang out together in a dirty clothes basket, right?

Enjoying the lake view.

Snacking with Godmother Rachel.

Swimming with Godfather Matt.

What a busy week - it's been a bit of a whirlwind. After about 3 weeks and countless hours of research, test driving and haggling we purchased a new vehicle to replace Mike's single-cab pick-up truck. Minivans were on our potential new car list but our little family opted for the GMC Acadia and got a good deal on a silver 2009 model. Mike and I are very happy to have car shopping behind us (hopefully for the next 7-10 years).

Our dads (with Mike's help when he wasn't working) finished building us our dream deck. I've been fantasizing about having a wonderful outdoor living space right off of our great room since we moved into this house 7 years ago and my dream came true! Our dads put in a lot of sweat and time to complete this huge project and their craftsmanship looks wonderful. I hope to post a picture of us all enjoying a glass of wine on the deck next week! We now just have to find the time to really enjoy it (which we will for years and years). Thanks dads!

Thursday night the work/daycare/home weekly rat race ended as we headed up to the cabin (in the Acadia, of course) for a long weekend. This was the one weekend the whole summer my whole family, parents, Rachel and family, Matt and Janelle and us, could get together for a weekend. We commented how different our annual family trip was this year with the babies. They add a whole new dimension of fun and schedules to the mix.

We spent hours relaxing and playing with them. Corey and Miles' personalities continue to emerge, much to our entertainment. Corey's a talker and a little daredevil while Miles is a bit gentler and likes to observe the action before diving right in. Watching them play together is hilarious because of the 100 toys on the floor they inevitably want the same one so a few tug-of-war struggles ensued. We also only had a couple of injuries (Corey bonking Miles on the head with a plastic coin and Miles slamming Corey's fingers in a play computer). They offered us countless hours of joy and entertainment. My favorite moments were when they both stood, pounding at the sliding glass doors, watching the doggies and taking "rides" in the laundry basket. Miles also swam in a lake (Straight Lake) for the first time and I think he is now a true Minnesotan kid. He was a little tentative to go in the water at first but once he experienced the splashing of water and the sand between his toes he had fun. In between caring for the babies we adults also had our own fun playing games, boating, reading, eating feasts, shooting clay pigeons and enjoying the weather. We're looking forward to our other family vacations this year but hope we can get up to the cabin one more time this fall.