29 August 2014

Those Summer Nights

As much as I love our beach days in Michigan, summer nights are equally as anticipated. We had countless barbecues out in the yard, followed by yard games and batting practice.
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We gathered around the campfire for s'mores.
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Blake took it upon himself to be the bug spray distributor.
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Evening walks to the pier are always a favorite.
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Especially when there are ducks to feed.
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And warm golden sun to bask in.
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We ventured out to the musical fountain overlooking the channel one evening. 
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There were several gatherings with extended family members. My mom's sister celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary.
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Troy could only join us the second week of our stay so he missed out on a few lively game nights with aunts and uncles.
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We had plenty of gatherings with my dad's side of the family as well. Almost all of my extended family lives in Michigan so it makes it fairly easy to gather relatives together in one place at one time.
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My dad's sister rented a cottage on a nearby inland lake and the boys were thrilled to utilize their hot tub one evening.
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Except poor Crew who wanted so desperately to join his brothers.
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The boys were delighted to be carted by bike in the evenings.
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Only to get covered in sand again. Many days were two-bath days.
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Blake and Nash found what they claimed to be a fighting ring on the main beach and geared up on opposite sides to run and attack each other.
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It still surprises me how much boys have the need to fight. My brother captured it all on film for the yearly compilation video he is so kind to put together.
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The weather isn't very nice in Michigan the majority of the year, but you sure can't beat summer nights in August.
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28 August 2014

Michigan Friends

Two of my best friends from college were nice enough to drive far distances to join us at the beach this year. I guess it doesn't take too much convincing to spend a day at the lake.

Collectively, we now have nine (almost ten) children. We're doing our best to ensure that the next generation are best buddies as well.
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It isn't too hard to get friendships brewing between them. Especially when the beach is involved.
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The boogie boards were such a hit for all ages.
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Of course, all Crew really needed was a shovel and he was happy as could be.
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I remember holding these twin brothers when they were newborns - how did everyone grow up so fast?
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The group shot is always an ordeal.
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Ha! Better luck next time. And maybe we'll remember to capture the moms amidst the chaos as well.
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My best friend Stephanie and I didn't plan our trips very well this summer. We swapped states at the same time, which meant that we could only get together for our beach day at the very beginning of our time in Michigan, and she could only stay with us at the very end of her trip to Utah. We generally like to spread our visits out so we can see each other more than once a year, but we make the most out of whatever time we have together.

The boys were excited that they didn't have to say goodbye to their friends in Michigan, knowing that they'd be staying with us right when we got home. We headed to the water canyons and a new children's museum while they were here. Both outings turned out to have a few kinks; the water was shut off in the canyons when we first arrived and we had to wait in a long line for access to the children's museum (in the rain, no less) on discount day. But they both worked out in the end, despite the crowds. And most importantly, we savored every minute we had together. 
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27 August 2014

Back to School Fancy Dinner

We started the tradition of having a fancy dinner to commemorate the first day of school last year. It was such a success that I knew we had to incorporate it again.

It takes an extra amount of effort to plan and implement "extras" like this, but it is always worth it in the end. The boys kept asking if we were having company over for dinner when they saw me gathering supplies. They beamed when I revealed that all of the extra fuss was just for them. By setting the bar of excellence high, we are trying to teach them that they are valued and important to us and we have high expectations from them in return.

Last year's family theme of "Respect" was posted by our back door all year and we often referenced the concept. We settled on "Be Grateful" as this year's theme; something we can all work on.

We introduced the theme during dinner and had a great discussion about incorporating more gratitude into many aspects of our lives.
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The boys picked most of the menu which included homemade macaroni and cheese, garlic rolls and fresh green beans. They were most excited about the cloth napkins and sparkling cider which justified the use of our "fancy" glasses. We topped off the meal with the chocolate chip cookies that Nash and I baked during Blake's first full day of school.

Just like last year, we plan on spending one day a month, either during a meal or for family night, focusing on our theme of being grateful and reminding our boys what we're working on as a family.