Thursday, July 22, 2010

Northern vacation part 2: the Lake

For the second week of our vacation, we rented a beach house near Michigan City. You don't need a good reason to spend a week on the beach at Lake Michigan, but we did. Jill's parents had their 40th anniversary last year, and this was the celebration. Matt's family, Mom and Dad, and we all came.

A typical looked like this: breakfast, beach, lunch, beach, dinner, beach, bed. Clara took some excellent naps on the beach.
Brent and Beth's family came down for a beach day. We squeezed some bubbling blowing, squirt gun fights, and board games into our beach days.
Usually, I'm not that excited about swimming, but swimming in the Lake was a blast. The water was mild, shallow for a Long distance from shore, and mildly wavy. We played catch with a frisbee, nerf football, and tennis ball. We swam out to the buoy because it was there.

Clara and the boys played a rousing game of 'where is ___?'. They would all hide behind the coffee table and stand up when their name was called. Super funny!
So the vacation came to an end. We saw a Lamborghini on our way through MI City. I returned to bug picking from our spruce tree. The bugs enjoyed the 2 week reprieve.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Northern vacation part 1

Taking advantage of my massive vacation allotment, we just took a 2 week vacation. The first week was a near re-creation of our 2003 bike tour of MI, except that this time we had a baby with us and drove the entire route. On the bike tour, our relatives were amazed that we could ride our bikes so far and pampered us. For this trip, Clara received most of the doting.

The first stop was Athens, MI, where we visited Great-grandpa and Aunt Kevin and Uncle Terry. Clara swam in a pool for the first time in Uncle Terry's pool. She even dipped her face in the water a couple times. The big outing was a trip to Turkeyville for a turkey (no kidding!) lunch and mini-concert by a band playing Johnny Cash songs.
Then we moved on to Jackson (birthplace of the Republican party!) to see cousins Beth and Brent and Amy and Aunt Jan. Clara enjoyed playing with Josh and Alli's plethora of toys. I enjoyed Wii sword fighting with Alli, though she more often got the better of me.

Jill's childhood friends put on a shower for Clara. She loved the chocolate ice cream cake.
We took a day trip from Jackson to Bowling Green, OH, to see Todd and Leigh. Clara enjoyed playing with their son Jack, who is 3 months older than her, and his toys.
Penultimate stop was Evart to see more Aunts, Uncles, cousins, and great-grandma. We watched the cows, birds at the feeder, and the Tigers beat the Twins on tv. If you're wanting to become a Christian but are afraid of losing too much of your Sunday at church, consider joining the Free Methodist church in Evart. The service was 45 minutes, including a nice performance by some dulcimer players in town for the festival.
Finally, we headed down to Zeeland. Here we are at the top of Mt. Pisgah, a 200+ stair-step hike, that overlooks the big lake and Lake Macatawa (fun fact: the property taxes for some houses along Lake Mac are $40k per year).
We took a few short bike rides, once pulling Clara in the chariot and a couple times without her when she was napping (fun note: we didn't leave her home alone). Favorite place was Evart with nice rolling hills, ponds and a river, and dirt roads. I'd love to explore that area more.

Friday, July 2, 2010

bug picking

Last fall, David and Heather told us that some bugs were attacking the spruce tree in our yard. I thought little of it. A month later I got around to picking pine-cone shaped objects off the tree, but no bugs were seen.

This week, I noted that the spruce budworms were back. Wanting to get on the spruce tree's good side, I picked a few hundred and threw them on the ground. The next day, the other David told me that the bug/pods can crawl back to the tree from the ground. Rats! I broiled the next round on the grill, but then settled on drowning them in soapy water. After 5 days of picking, they are harder to find on the tree, but they aren't gone. I probably picked 1000 off the tree.
The worms live inside those mini-cones. Like turtles, they hide inside when startled. Unlike turtles, they are creepy and gross.

On the other end of the cute-ugly spectrum is the happy baby of the house. She's climbing up onto everything she can.
Thankfully, since we haven't locked the cabinets yet, she has only opened one drawer so far. That would be the drawer with q-tips in bulk that can happily be dumped on the floor.
Sunday afternoon church picnics took place all month. Clara did her best to entertain the brethren.
Finally, in competitive sports news, our softball team is playing mediocre ball. We, including me, could hit in a more timely and frequent manner, but our defense is good. As for bike racing, I skipped the 2 races I did last year. One would think that with a nearly perfect angel child such as Clara, Jill and I would never feel worn down. Alas! My fitness went south, and I didn't want to spend the time and cash to race at a sub-optimal level. This Wed, I did join the team for a training ride and even got a shout out in Paul's blog. Thanks, Paul!