Last week I returned from a week of travel in Wisconsin, Crystal Valley, MI, and East Lansing, respectively. Here is a sampling of my trip highlights:
Meeting my nephew. Nichol is a strong baby, and pretty mellow at this point. He's starting to respond with smiles and my sister was training him to stick out his tongue. I was trying to see if he'd curl it, to no avail. Nichol is pretty comfortable so far with other people besides his mum holding him, so I got a few peaceful half hours with him tucked onto my shoulder. He did amazingly well when we went to the mall, only howling once when he was hungry and sleeping the rest of the time. He also favors "Va Pensiero," which I hummed whenever he fussed. (I made sure to pass this along to my Dad, who started the whole humming opera thing.)
Chasing Ruth. We had a nice walk in a big field and around the Fox City gardens, and some quality play time at home and out and about. My niece is two now, and full of energy. Sometimes when she came down the slide at the mall, she'd take a lap around the play area waving her hands in the air and dancing like a little sprite. She also chased a little boy with her stuffed frog. That's my girl. The mall is also where she got some brand new sneakers with princesses on the side and lights on the bottom. They're awesome. I forgot to mention that when I got to their house, and Ruth came down from her nap, she came right to me and didn't leave my side for at least an hour. Love!
Houseboat. The movie. I include this because for some reason Ruth was very engaged by this film. One night after she'd been playing outside I was watching it, and she sat still in my lap for ages drinking her milk and gazing at the screen. Later, she got down, puttered around for a bit, and then told me she wanted to go to sleep in her bed. "Nice baby," she said.
Sister giggles. It didn't take long--my sister and I had a giggle fit my first night during dinner, based on Ruth's new conversational trick. It's totally natural to repeat what a toddler says to be sure you understood, but she tricked us, as if the whole thing was our idea.
Ruth: "Baby go park. Go park? Baby p'ay in park. Baby go park."
Sarah: "Baby go park?"
It was funny as is, but even funnier because we kept walking into her cleverly laid trap.
Family. My favorite time of the whole trip was a blissful hour or so when the Brewers won their baseball game, we had a delicious dinner, Sarah was playing with Ruth on the floor, and Dave was having "man time" with Nichol. It was so peaceful that I located their camcorder and took some footage (I think--I have little experience with camcorders). I mean, THAT'S living. A cozy, intelligent, warm family. It was beautiful, and I feel blessed.
That's right, I took the ferry again. The weather was supposed to be fine and clear, and the wave forecast was 0-1 feet. After much consultation with my Dad via phone, and considering that it was going to pour over the northern route to Michigan, I opted for the boat. I'm glad I did. I had a good trip, and I finished Stardust, which I'd borrowed from my sister. I also met a guy who is an athletic trainer grad student here at BGSU, who gently parked my car on the boat for me and left his info in the car in case I ever want free tickets. Coming into Ludington, I was standing next to a woman to whom it turns out I'm distantly related.
Ludington. My gran and I went up and had lunch at a little place in Ludington. Then we sat in the car and looked at the lake for a bit, chatting. I also took her to Meijer. We came back and both of us had a long nap--all that lake air. It was nice to be able to help my grandma out a little and get some time to catch up. I tried to ask her questions, more than I usually do, learning for instance about what sorts of foods they canned when she was little and which was her favorite in the middle of winter. Things like that.
Party. Some cousins were having a party for another cousin, and so we drove the mile or two to the giant house of Vince and (drat...can't remember his wife's name--and she's the one I'm related to). I knew only a couple of people at the party, and most of them were outside my age range one way or another. I walked about and chatted with a few people, though, and then I hung out with Patrick, Vince's son, who is 26 and was literally the only person my age there. He gave me a tour and we had a nice long conversation about our respective lives. After the party, Gran and I stopped by a little market owned by some neighbors. We also took a spin around the cemetery to visit the vast number of family members I have there.
Barn. The barn at the farm is for storage now, but it used to have animals in it and, in its somewhat dilapidated current state, it's always been fun to poke around in. No one's been in there for some months, except for some foxes, so I spent an hour clambering around. If my sister and I were playing archaeologists again, we would have been in heaven. It was full of various animal bones and not-bones, and feathers, and all kinds of things. I made a list.
Church. My grandmother's church is tiny, and in the summer it's even tinier. I guesstimate 3/4 of the attendees on Sunday were my family in one way or another!
I spent a night at home before I came back for a board meeting. I spent much of the day and evening regaling my parents with stories of Ruth and Nichol, and also of my grandmother. I basically gave them a report, and also showed them my pictures. There was much to say, but we took a break to watch the most confusing Miss Marple ever, after dinner. It was a nice visit, as short as it was, and I was glad to be able to convey good stories and information.