Tag Archives: Family

Easter (a little late)

I found this Easter to be filled with disappointments.  I hate to say this because of course Easter is not about me.  It’s about the resurrection of Jesus, and I do rejoice in that.  But I found myself today, Easter Sunday, feeling really down about the whole thing.

To begin with, our plans to visit my husband’s family fell through when the kids and I were not feeling well on Good Friday, and we weren’t sure if it was the kind of thing that would get worse or better throughout the weekend.  The kids were super crabby all morning as we finished packing and prepping to leave. It was one of those days when both kids are fussing at the same times, and it’s like they’re competing to be heard, so they cry extra loudly.  The older one was whining and crying about the silliest, littlest things, so we knew something was up.

I decided I could handle the trip by early afternoon and the hubs figured we should at least give the trip a real shot before giving up.  After changing both kids’ diapers about seventeen times in the hour before leaving, a bath became necessary for the older child (don’t ask).  Thank the Lord we hadn’t left our house yet–dealing with that in a dingy gas-station bathroom would have been awful.

We finally got going three hours after we’d hoped to leave our house.  The longest car ride we had taken the newborn on was an hour long each way, and on that return trip, he’d cried a LOT.  So we weren’t too optimistic about a four-hour drive (which we knew could easily become six or more with two children).  Sure enough, less than half an hour in, the little one burst out wailing.  Since our first child was a remarkably good traveler, usually sleeping soundly until hungry, this second kid’s fussiness in the car is uncharted territory.  After the stress of the morning, dealing with crying kids at home and packing our tiny car to bursting at the seams, we already felt as though we’d been traveling all day.

We turned around right away.  Nope, not gonna attempt that long of a trip yet.  Imagining dealing with sickness and crying and crabbiness in a tiny Vibe and then being a guest in someone else’s house on top of that was too much. (Illness is always a bit easier in your own home and your own bed.)

Anyway, some more disappointments: I feel like a lame-o mom with holidays so far.  Case in point: Liam’s first birthday, we decided on a simple cookout with a few neighbor friends instead of a big themed party with all our relatives (no way all sides of the family could fit in our house for a party anyway, and no one lives locally).  We ended up having to cancel even that casual gathering when Liam turned up sick that day.  Score -1 in the mommy game.  Other holidays–well, we have managed to get Liam’s picture with Santa both Christmases, so that’s a win.  However, we didn’t even have a Christmas tree this year because he kept pulling the lights off.  I never decorate for Valentine’s Day or Easter or St. Patrick’s or 4th of July.  About all I do is maybe bake some cookies.

This Easter, I have not done a whole lot with creating traditions for our kids to cherish.  We missed out on all the fun we could have had with Nate’s sisters and their families (they always do tons of cute crafts and treats and activities).  We then found out about all the local Easter egg hunts about an hour too late.  I didn’t buy presents or make up cutesy Easter baskets for the boys, nor did I dress them in matching pastel outfits.  I didn’t hide plastic eggs with candy all over the house and yard for Liam to find first thing this morning.

The worst part was missing out on Easter worship services.  The past few years, we’ve been absent for this Sunday anyway, since we’re usually visiting with relatives we rarely see.  We don’t feel like missing out on the limited time we have to spend with loved ones just for the sake of visiting some random church.  This year, for once, we were home, but now we have a six-week-old who is extremely fussy at times, usually including church times.  So we couldn’t make services on Good Friday or Easter morning.  I don’t see the point of going through all the hassle of getting all of us dressed and out the door only to spend the whole service hiding out in the foyer because the baby is crying.  (Kudos to you parents who deal with the hassle anyway! I salute you.)

I was very grieved to not be present with the body of believers for worship today.  I longed to sing along with the congregation my old familiar hymns, like “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”.

However, I learned a lesson today.  The resurrection is not about me.  Easter is not about the perfect Pinterest-y holiday filled with dozens of cutely-posed photo ops.  I felt jealous as I scrolled my facebook news feed, seeing the parade of adorable children in coordinated ensembles, hunting for eggs, visiting the Easter bunny, and whatnot.  But you know what?  All the trappings of this holiday, as sweet and fun as they may be, do not make Easter what it is meant to be.  If I can rejoice today in the fact that I am a sinner, filled with sinful thoughts, guilty of sinful actions, yet Christ died to bring me back to God, then that’s ALL that matters.  I’m alive in Christ.  He has risen, and one day I will rise with him.


Traverse City: Wrap-Up


Well, we’re home!  I was too tired/lazy the last couple days of the trip to write anything, so now that we’ve been home for a day (two days–I wrote most of this yesterday and am now posting it), I am ready to recap things.  Our last full day we had warmer weather and sunshine, so we parked downtown and just walked around.  Clinch Park was lovely, with a nice beach and fountains for kids to play in.  We weren’t really up for swimming as the water was pretty chilly, but enjoyed walking along the bay shore.  The downtown was also fun to explore.  We browsed in a bookstore and had lunch in a neat little sandwich shop called The Dish, where the food was delicious and service extremely friendly.


Later, after Liam had his nap, we took him for one more swim in the pool and went to dinner at Schelde’s, another casual diner-y place near our hotel.  Our Hampton Inn was fine, but the location wasn’t very convenient for going downtown.  We still found good places to eat within a five-minute drive, though.  We noticed that we always are seated near the kitchen–they must recognize little kids won’t be the quietest patrons! And yes, Liam did have fun tossing his toys and food and water cup on the floor:).  It was a good thing we chose not to risk one of the cute little French bistros–his antics might have bothered anyone seeking a private, romantic dinner experience!


There are definitely some things we’d like to do if we ever return to TC.  Kayaking or canoeing, touring wineries and breweries, dining in finer restaurants…those are things that just don’t work very well with a toddler.  We had a blast showing him new things and places, and we are okay with the fact that in many ways, we’re limited now that Liam is in our lives.  It is still only for a short time, relatively, and we want to appreciate the years while he’s little!

Thankfully, we didn’t stay past Friday…during our final night there, we had some noisy hotel neighbors.  A man was very loudly complaining about his food not being what he ordered, swearing about it at midnight.  We were really irritated for a few minutes until we finally managed to get the A/C running steadily and loudly enough to cover up the sound of his voice.  I guess we were fortunate the rest of the week to have fairly quiet hall neighbors!  And we were so glad that Liam didn’t cry much at night, so we didn’t have to worry about being “those” people ourselves.

The trip home on Friday was looooooong…we took 31 south all the way to Grand Haven, which was a two-lane highway much of the time, and took a lot longer than we’d hoped.  GH was our planned stop because my brother and his family live there.  It was relaxing to just hang out with him and his wife and three of their four kids for a few hours.  Liam loves the attention his cousins always shower upon him.

From Grand Haven, we had another four hours or so to drive.  It seemed like we needed to stop a bunch of times and it took much longer than it should have.  Liam only napped for an hour, and then seemed crabby enough that I decided to sit in back with him, to keep him company.  That helped his mood as he was not so bored or lonely.  We did finally arrive home around ten, so tired.

Today has been a recovery day.  Everyone always needs a vacation from their vacation, right?  We are so glad we were able to get away as a family with only minor inconveniences and frustrations.  On to the next journey!


Traverse City update

Yesterday was pretty low-key.  We took the kiddo for a stroll along the shore and let him play on the playground there.  In the afternoon, a leisurely drive to see the Mission Point lighthouse was lovely.  After a swim, dinner was at Red Lobster.  I know, it’s lame to eat at chain places when you’re on a trip, but in our defense, we have four nights here, and we had a gift card to use.  It had been too long since I had Cheddar Bay biscuits!  Liam charmed our waitress and all of the others, dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”.

IMGP1477playing on the slide

IMGP1531at the Mission Point Lighthouse beach

IMGP1562Red Lobster

Wednesday–what a fun day!  We decided to venture out of town a bit and check out the Sleeping Bear Dunes, just about a half-hour drive away from us. The morning began overcast and cool, and only got colder as the day continued (down to around 55 at one point, and very windy).  Thank goodness we wore our jeans and brought extra warm clothes for Liam!  He snoozed a little on the way to the dunes, but woke up when we stopped at the Visitors’ Center.  He oohed and aahed at the little museum display inside, showcasing various wildlife of the area including a cougar, owl, and beaver.  (Fake ones, but he still gets super excited to see them!).  Since he loved looking around there so much, we ended up getting him a small stuffed bear as a souvenir of his first family vacation.  He hugged it tight and loved holding it as we drove the few miles further to get to the actual dunes.

I had heard the story of the Sleeping Bear dunes years ago.  I believe my nieces and nephews received a picture book telling about a mama bear and her two cubs who didn’t quite survive the journey with her.  We opted to go directly to the dune climbing area rather than do the scenic drive.  We took turns carrying our own little cub as we climbed this steep wall of sand.  It was just beautiful, both while climbing and at the top.  We foolishly looked at the backpack we’d brought before going up the dune, but decided to leave it in the car.  After all, why would one want bottled water or an extra sweatshirt or a snack after making an arduous sandy climb?  Yeah, we regretted that decision…oh well!  Nate was the tough guy and carried Liam the majority of the ascension.  I kept offering to take him, but he kept declining my help.  So I ran a little bit of the dune…yikes, that was a tough workout!  I wish I had been close to something like this back when I was coaching cross-country!  This place would be such an awesome hill workout for me and the kids!






So, we reached the top of the dune…and lo and behold, we could now see the next level of dunes!  So of course, being a bit competitive with myself, I insisted we push ahead and get to the next height.  The views from the top were breathtaking!  We couldn’t see more water from the second level, but a rugged, hilly, woodsy area.  It was great watching other visitors making the trek up the dunes, lots of small children running and racing each other, even an elderly woman hiking up with a cane and a helper.  She made it the whole way…we saw a man waiting at the bottom who said she was his extremely determined mother-in-law.


We thought Liam would be more interested in playing in the sand, but as soon as Nate tried to let him sit down, he pulled his feet up and his hands started shaking.  Maybe he just needs a bit more time to get used to this new stuff…he used to have the same reaction to grass, and now he’s fine with it.  Anyway, he was carried the whole way up and the whole way down the dunes.  By the time we reached the bottom again, it was getting awfully cold, so we put some more layers on the baby and grabbed our snacks from the car.  He loved the gulls as well.

After the dune climb, we drove a few miles down the road to a maritime museum and viewed some old boats and learned about Coast Guard history.  Lots of neat artifacts to see.


Little dude was worn out and slept on the trip back to the hotel.  Traffic getting back was awful-construction was blocking a lane right in front of the hotel, so it took awhile to get there from half a mile away.  Once there, though,  Liam slept another hour, so we all got some rest.

We chose a very casual diner-type place for dinner called The Cottage, and the food was delicious.  We rounded out the evening with a walk around the restaurant’s neighborhood, a short drive out of town, and ice cream at Sweet Treats, located where we got our pizza the first night.  Liam was so sleepy by the time we got to the ice cream shop, but perked up quickly at his first taste of ice cream.  Wow, he loved that and kept begging for more!

Seeing our son’s excited expressions every time he discovers something new is a joy.  He loves the simple things, evidenced by the way he coos every time the hotel elevator door opens.  He crawls around and gets into everything.  He loves to go after the hotel room drawers (some child locks would have been helpful, that’s for sure)!  Traveling with a toddler is definitely more of a challenge than without one, but it’s totally worth it.

Traverse City: Arrival!

Let me just say for the record: we have the best baby EVER!  He was such a trooper during our day of driving…nearly eight hours strapped in a car seat…took us at least a half an hour after getting to town before we found our hotel…hardly fussed or cried at all.  In fact, during the time he was awake (about half of the trip), he entertained himself with his books and toys and when my husband turned on Volbeat, he lit up like a firefly! (Yes, I’m stealing that line from “It’s a Wonderful Life”.) Anyway, the music thrilled our boy and he began clapping, kicking his legs, and smacking his legs to the beat.  Watching his big goofy grins and listening to his squeals of delight made us forget about how he had made us sit up with him from 2 until 3:30 this morning.

IMGP1458ready to leave!

Our drive was easy, without too much traffic for the most part.  A bit rainy here and there. A simple picnic lunch of cheese, bread, and fruit satisfied our appetites to keep us from succumbing to the temptations of fast food.  We made another quick stop for gas and when Nate came back from paying, he tried to get me to go in and buy something, too.  Why?  Because, he said, the cashier looked and talked exactly like little Joe’s male nanny from Modern Family.  Apparently the boy was very enthusiastic about helping him save money on his drink and candy.  While curious, I didn’t go in the store, so I guess I will just have to take Nate’s word for it!

IMGP1461C’mon, Dad! I can drive!

Anyway.  Back to the day…

You know that feeling of relief when you finally reach your destination? That’s what we experienced when we saw our hotel after changing directions several times in the city, just praying Liam’s good mood would hold out a little bit longer.  We really couldn’t believe he was so calm and happy, just singing to himself as we drove.  Of course our navigation system wasn’t working very well, so we couldn’t count on that to get us there.


Once in the room, with a clean diaper, the bambino was still just as happy as could be, crawling and toddling around the hotel room.  He is SOOOO close to walking on his own, and we’ve been poised with the camera for days trying to capture the moment when it does occur.  Maybe he will finally break free here in Michigan!

Pizza at the East Bay restaurant, just down the bay shore from the hotel a mile or so, tasted awesome.  Liam got to marvel at the wooden bear sculptures out front and the taxidermy display of wild animals inside the restaurant.  We watched everyone else who came to the place getting ice cream that looked delicious, but of course we did not have room for that after the pizza. A man came in with four children.  We overheard him talking to another fellow, telling him, “Yeah, I have three more at home.”  Wow.  Seven kids.  Bravo, man.  I cannot imagine trying to manage that many people 24/7.  Another TV-land connection: one of the guy’s kids was wearing nothing but a diaper and shoes.  Who knows the reference?  Oh yeah, it’s the little kid from the scary neighbor family down the street in The Middle.  Thankfully, this kid was not carrying around a baby bottle at age seven and swearing like a sailor.

To let Liam burn off some energy after sitting so much today, we had to try out the hotel pool.  It’s nice, there is a hot tub in the same room, but…the pool water is freezing.  We decided to go in anyway, and  Nate and I both even got ourselves fully submerged briefly.  I don’t very often get my husband into a pool, so it was nice he did it for Liam.  We helped the kiddo kick and splash around for a short time and then warmed him up with a bath in our room.  It must have worked, because he is sleeping angelically now, and didn’t fight sleep one bit tonight.

The bay waters here are sparkling and lovely.  I hope to get some photos added later in the week–sorry!

Trippin’ to Traverse City: The Preparation

At long last, the time has come for our first family vacation as a family of three!  We originally had planned on Myrtle Beach for a full week, but thanks to some confusion about the dates of the husband’s doctoral class, we canceled that.  By the time we realized we could still go away this week, our place in Myrtle Beach was booked, so we debated awhile over Florida, Kentucky, and other options until we settled on Traverse City, Michigan. 

Pros: the scenery is supposed to be gorgeous, it’s a MUCH shorter drive (only six hours versus sixteen to S.C.), we should get to see my brother and his fam on the return trip, it shouldn’t be terribly hot, and we’ll still be staying in a hotel right on the shore.  With a one-year-old, a shorter drive and a shorter stay sound wiser to us.  The kiddo is a great traveler and has been to quite a few places already, but I wouldn’t blame him if he lost it after being cramped in his car seat for sixteen hours, so six hours seems a much safer bet. 

I’ve already taken the lil’ guy on two two-night trips since summer break started, so the packing is all very familiar.  It’s a lot more fun this time, though–my husband wasn’t able to join us on the two little trips, so I had to prep everything and pack the car by myself while keeping the little one entertained and safe.  Tonight was nice, though; I was able to organize my bag in peace while Liam and his daddy played together. 

Anyone who has traveled with a small child, even for one night, knows the sheer VOLUME of stuff you have to bring.  Really, there’s not much difference between going away for a night and going away for a week or two.  A few more clothes, but that’s it.  Either way, we need the Pack’n’Play, stroller, some toys, the diaper bag, clothes, sippee cups, snacks for the road, the baby’s white noise machine with the little light projector of sheep and the moon and stars, disinfectant spray for the hotel room, med kit…yikes, as I type this up I’m trying to remember whether or not we actually remembered to pack all of this! Our car is not huge (Pontiac Vibe named Jack Black), but we know we can fit everything if it’s packed strategically.  

The plan is to wake up early (6ish is early in summer), quickly load up ol’ Jack with our bags and paraphernalia that are pretty much ready to go now, and get the kiddo ready, hoping he’ll go back to sleep once we’re en route.  We want to drive about halfway and then find a nice rest area or town to stop for a couple-hours’ break.  We’ll see what happens when that alarm goes off.  Wonder how much longer every little task will take than we expect? Whatever happens, we’re looking forward to getting away together, just the three of us. I’ll try to keep updates (with pictures) coming throughout the week!


This weekend, my son will sit in the tiny red rocking chair that his grandfather sat in as a baby.  He will eat while sitting in a green high chair that his grandfather also used.  His cousins have been in those chairs over the years, trying new foods and making messes and posing for photos.  If it isn’t too cold, we may take him out to Allerton Park to see the Fu Dogs and other statues, which we do as a family just about every year around Thanksgiving.  I hope to instill in him a respect and enjoyment of traditions, especially those passed down through family generations.


My Grandma Schieber would be celebrating a birthday (her 95th, I believe) if she were still alive today.  So today, as Americans recognize and remember sacrifices of our military, I also pause to remember her.

I remember how she would inevitably find some little chore to be done around the house and mention it, conveniently, as soon as we were getting ready to go home.  “Oh, Jim, could you just move that picture above the fireplace to the left two inches?”  “Oh, I wanted to send you home with some of those canned peaches I had down in the cellar.”  My brother Mike called this her evil plot–she never wanted us to leave, so she’d invent any excuse for us to stay a little longer.

I remember how she would always take the piece of chicken or toast or casserole that was a little bit burnt.  She didn’t want anyone else to get stuck with it.

I remember going to her Apostolic Christian church services and being fascinated by the order of things–men and women seated separately, on opposite sides of the aisle.  The nasal singing voices, clearly heard due to the lack of any instrumental accompaniment.  Women with their hairnets as their head covering. So serious and reserved, yet jubilant and family-like at lunch as soon as the service had concluded.

I remember countless games of Skip-Bo and Rummikub with her and Grandpa Carl.  After he was gone, she and I would play Bingo in the nursing home’s common room, which was a hilarious experience.  Competitive and hard of hearing is quite the combination in a game of Bingo.

My first few years of teaching, we had Veteran’s Day off, so I would drive down and visit her for the day.  I remember her telling me the same story over and over again as her memory grew weaker.   I would remind her that I was a French teacher, and she would respond, “I never took French, I took Latin.  My brother Curt heard I was taking Latin and told me to go ahead, but I would flunk it because he never took Latin.”

I remember how she loved her family more than anything.  She would have been been utterly smitten with my baby boy.  We will wrap him up in the blue-and-white blanket she made years ago for his cousins, and as he grows up, I’ll tell him about his great-grandmother.