Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving in SC

As a general rule I prefer to celebrate holidays in the comfort of my own home, but if you offer a beach house on Hilton Head Island, you know I'm going to say heck yes! My Uncle is a very generous man and he let us use his beach house for a Thanksgiving family reunion. We had almost 40 people under one roof and it was amazing! We had a slight scare that we wouldn't be able to make it because Paul waiting a little too long to ask for vacation. Thankfully, his boss is a boss and gave him the time off.

We took 3 days to drive down. Yuck. So many days in the car! The payoff was swimming at the hotel and helping my parents pack up all of the delicious food. When we finally got there we enjoyed a week of bliss. Paul works so hard every week and it was a dream to wake up with him next to me each morning (so I could kick him out of bed to take care of the early riser).

Throughout the week we enjoyed lots of swimming, playing at various parks, going for bike rides (except for that one time that the pedal broke off while I was riding, leaving me in a heap on a poor defenseless bush), walking on the beach, finding starfish, throwing a carnival for the grand kids, playing lots of games, singing, and even squeezing in a few games of golf. Phew! It was lovely. And I could definitely get used to waking up to an oceanfront view.

I love my family. People are usually slack jawed when I tell them I'm the youngest of seven. While it seems crazy to others, it's totally normal for me. Being surrounded by family is what I love most. It was heaven to walk outside of my room and be surrounded by my favorite people. There's a whole different level of closeness you get when you live with people for a week versus visiting for a few hours. I'm grateful for all the time we were able to spend together for Thanksgiving week.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Big Reader Boy

As Vincent approached his 3rd birthday, he began showing signs of readiness to learn how to read. He was doing an online preschool and had already begun blending sounds together. For his birthday we gave him a book of 100 reading lessons. Theoretically, we should have done all of the lessons in just over three months. That would have been awesome. BUT even though Vince was mentally ready to learn, his little body hated sitting still for our lessons. It was battle. I began dreading Kate's naps because I didn't want to do lessons any more.

Then something miraculous happened. One day Vince figured out that the less he complained, the faster the lesson went. He began flying through lessons and sometimes requested to do two in one day! In the end, it took us six months to complete all of the lessons. Now that he's done he absolutely loves reading! In fact, he's sitting on my lap right now reading what I'm typing.

To celebrate we went to the Grand Rapids Children Museum. Since day one we told him that he would get a BIG prize once he got to lesson 100. He was so ecstatic to finally earn his trip! His favorite things were playing with the trains, digging in the sand, and playing at the "fire station".

Teaching him how to read was rough stuff, but definitely worth it. It brings a smile to my face every time I overhear him reading to Kate while I'm cooking dinner. Reading has shaped my life and influenced it in so many ways. I'm grateful that I was able to share the gift of reading with my boy.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fall in Michigan

I forgot just how beautiful Autumn is in the Midwest. The folks around here say that this has been the most beautiful Fall they've seen in a long time. This time last year, there was snow all over. Last week we were playing at the park in 70 degree weather! We have been soaking up all of the outdoor playtime we can.

First, we went to Schawllier's Country Basket to go apple picking. We thought they had a tiny selection and did all of our picking... then we discovered row upon row of apple trees that we had totally missed. Next year we'll get it right! To make our mistake less painful, we bought some apple and pumpkin donuts, played with hyper baby goats, pet the kittens and floppy eared bunnies, played in the corn pit, and raced rubber duckies on the water slides. It was a total hit!

We also enjoyed Grandville's Fall Fest. I have been impressed with the sense of community in our little city. Almost every month there is some gathering put on to bring us all together. They had blueberry days in late Summer, the Fall Fest, a silent parade of firetrucks to commemorate those who serve our county, and soon we'll have a Christmas tree lighting. Vince loved the makeshift slides and Kate couldn't get enough of the corn pit.

And let's not forget the simple joys of fallen leaves. Our neighborhood has a mature population of trees. They are EVERYWHERE. This being our first Fall here, we have been surprised with the amount of raking we've had to do. The leaves just keep coming! While this poses a problem in the adult world, the leaves are pure heaven for the kiddies. Kate watched Vincent for half a second before she caught on and dove into the pile. I will admit, their playfulness makes is quite difficult to actually get the leaves rounded up and bagged for removal.

Fall has always been my favorite.