If I could wake up every morning and walk down to the beach, wow. That would be awesome! Our rental house was just a few (ahem… 207) steps down to a lovely private beach. As soon as all the kids finished eating breakfast we climbed down to spend a few hours playing in the sand. Please note: you can thank my dad for any and all good pics from this point forward. I will take credit for all the average or below average photos. :o)
Ruby and Clara were thrilled every morning to wake up and see their cousins Lydia and Norah were still there too. The girls played so well together – especially when the playing involved the buckets, shovels, and watering cans that their Grammy brought for them.
It was a wee bit windy and chilly that first day, but that didn’t stop Ryan from rocking the bro-tank on the beach. I couldn’t be more in love with that man.
Aaron and John dug a huge hole for the kids to play in. It grew so large that at one point I feared we would lose a child in the depths… Uncles are fun.
And of course, pretty much every evening included delicious grilled food, meticulously planned and prepared by John, Aaron and Ryan. Nothing like it.
Over Labor Day weekend we took Charlie to Cox Cottage for the first time. He probably loved it. I can’t be sure. He’s pretty chill and never told us he wasn’t enjoying himself, so I’ll assume he had a great time.
I spend most of my time these days protecting sweet Charlie from his ever-loving sisters. This pic pretty much sums up his life to date.
Ruby and Clara LOVE being at their Nana and Papa’s cottage, floating on the pontoon and swimming in the lake.
Ruby was a super swimmer this summer. She was in the water every chance she got… even when it was REALLY COLD! I’m so proud of her.
One of the extreme highlights of the weekend was when the Ice Cream Boat came by the dock. Pretty much the best idea ever! They told us they’ll be selling pulled pork sandwiches off the boat next summer. I love America.
Clara picked the biggest popsicle in the universe as her treat. So funny.
Summer went TOOOO fast! So thankful for the time we could spend in Michigan at Cox Cottage.
We spent last weekend at Ryan’s parents cottage in Michigan. Ryan’s whole family was there to celebrate Father’s Day – so I figured we should be there too, even though at 37 weeks pregnant I probably shouldn’t have been traveling too far from home… I did check with our insurance company ahead of time and found out that Foote Hospital in Jackson, MI accepts our insurance… you know, just incase this baby decided to make his debut.
Sarah and Kyle brought their 4 month old twins Abbie and Ellen. It was our first chance to meet the girls. Ruby and Clara could not have been more excited about their baby cousins. Sarah is doing amazing as a mom to twins. I can’t even imagine doing what she’s doing. Look at her feeding 2 at one time!
We took a lot of boat rides, swam off the pontoon and spent all day everyday outside.
The guys rode their bikes around the lake a few times – Ryan’s dad told me that time with all of his sons was his favorite Father’s Day gift of all.
It was such a fun weekend! The food was amazing because every dinner was fresh off the grill. Chris incorporated summer sausage stacked on cheese and crackers, which was a delightful appetizer.
Last year when we visited Aaron and Tracy we discovered Kelly Park and decided that it needed to become a tradition with every visit. Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park is a 72 degree, spring-fed, natural lazy river you float down. Each “run” takes about 25 minutes, then you walk on a path back to the beginning of the river and jump in again.
Most people rent tubes from the Tube King, but this year we decided to bring some pool noodles to see how those work. Aaron and Ryan were hilarious discovering many ways to float with pool noodles.
We made a train.
After a few hours floating down the river and soaking in the sunshine we headed home to shower before meeting some of my cousins for dinner at the Mellow Mushroom. Josh brought his son Noah and Joel and Lizzy brought their son Luke, who told me a hilarious joke:
“Jada and Ella!” …that’s it. that’s the end. hahaha.
Wednesday morning Aaron and Ryan made delicious blueberry waffles for breakfast. We packed lunch in the cooler and went to Wekiva Springs State Park for some kayaking. The weather said 60% chance of rain, which was awesome because it scared everyone away and we pretty much had the whole park to ourselves.
Bug spray was liberally applied as soon as we arrived.
We rented our kayaks and then saw this little gopher tortoise. One of the park rangers gave Tracy a piece of lettuce to feed him and we made a video of the tortoise for Ruby and Clara.
Here’s the classic shot by the kayak launch… my life jacket wouldn’t buckle around my preggo-ness. awesome.
The sun was shining bright and we started down the river. Aaron and Tracy in one double kayak and Ryan and I in another. We laughed a lot as we made our way though the wilderness. We saw a lot of cool Floridian birds, turtles and alligators. Aaron had polarized sunglasses so he saw a lot of fish too. Tilapia and Mullet were a couple that he pointed out.
We paddled for a while, then floated for a while, then paddled some more. Aaron found some secret passes where we had to duck under cypress trees just to get through. Ryan lost his sunglasses, but managed to pick them up off the riverbed without tipping us over. After more laughing and paddling we had traveled quite a distance down the river. We decided to head back, which meant paddling up-stream the whole way. My view was awesome.
The sun shone bright throughout our kayak trip. After a couple of hours on the water we landed back at the spot where we started. We grabbed our lunch out of the car and had a picnic with a herd of squirrels by the spring. After lunch we took a swim in the always 72-degree spring water. It was sunny for a while, then the rain let loose. It was pretty great swimming in a spring during a downpour. Don’t worry – we got out when the thunder and lightning started.
Later Wednesday night Rob and Kristy-Lee and their baby Emma-Kate came over for kabobs on the grill. Of course, here’s the classic guys at the grill pic. And here’s a look back at the guys in 2011, and 2012
Such a great day.
This is a repost of my Beef Tenderloin mishap, which came up in conversation last night. Re-reading the post I wrote in September 2009 made me glad I’ve kept up with this bloggy blog… Ruby was only 3 months old back then!
I love Ryan and Ryan loves food, so this morning I got the notion in my head to make him a delicious and meaty man meal to show him how much I love him. As you may know, I am not much of a whiz in the kitchen… so planning, shopping for and making a meal is kinda a big deal for me.
I decided to get my “One-Armed Cook” book off the shelf because it says “Quick and easy recipes, smart meal plans and savvy advice for new (and not-so-new) moms.” I can’t think of any cook book that would suit me better, eh?
I turn to the “Main Dishes” chapter in search of the first really meaty meal. “Beef Tenderloin – There is no finer main dish for a celebration, serving a crowd, or serving an important guest.” I think to myself, “This will be perfect for Ryan! He is a very important guest!” So I write down all of the ingredients on my shopping list, pack Ruby into her car seat and head to the grocery.
I have mentioned before here, here and here I do not love going to the grocery, mostly because I’m not good at it. You know those women who love the grocery? The ones who are aware of sales and knowledgeable about how much a gallon of milk usually costs compared to the price they are looking at. They have fancy ingredients in their carts, they buy fresh vegetables that I don’t know the names of. They are amazing to me. I want to be like them… but I’m not.
Honestly, I do not know how much a loaf of bread costs. I have bought bread every time I’ve ever been to the grocery in the last decade, but I could not tell you right now how much a loaf should cost. The same goes for a gallon of milk, or a bag of apples. I know – it’s embarrassing! You’d think a gal with honors grades in college could retain such useful information, but instead my brain is full of the first and last names of all the students in my 2nd grade class. I could even tell you some of their phone numbers from memory! RIDICULOUS!
Back to the grocery. Most of the items on my grocery list are in my cart and get to the one that says “3.5 to 5-pound beef tenderloin, trimmed by the butcher” (I wrote it on my list EXACTLY like the One-Armed Cook book had it listed.) I go up to the counter and calmly place my order as if I’ve ordered this particular cut of meat a thousand times before. The butcher walks over, grabs a HUMONGOUS beef thing and begins slicing around and around until there is a beautiful chunk of meat. He puts it on the scale, wraps it up in white paper, sticks the sticker on it and hands it to me with a smile. I say thanks and turn to put it into my cart. That’s when my eyes caught the price tag. $83.27!! WHAT? How could the One-Armed-Cook book people think that new moms would have such incredibly deep wallets?!?! The butcher must have noticed the look on my face and probably could tell that maybe I wasn’t the brilliant chef I wanted him to think I was. He asked me what I was going to make and unfortunately I had not written the title of the recipe on my grocery list, so I said to him “Beef Tenderloin… like a roast type of thing?” He said I could try to do it with a cut of steak instead, so I took his advice and got 2 $8 cuts and thanked him for not forcing me to purchase the huge slab of meat that had been specifically cut to my request.
I swiftly rolled my cart a final time down every aisle (because that’s just how good I am at grocery shopping) and headed for the check-out. That’s when I looked down and noticed that the navy blue t-shirt I was wearing had a huge dried smear of white chunky spit up from my shoulder down to my belly button. Nice touch.
As the check-out girl is ringing up my order and putting everything in bags I notice that she is really filling them up to the brim. I think to myself, “She must think I’m really strong. Doesn’t she see that I have an infant in a car seat that I’m also carrying? I am not sure that I can pack-mule bags that heavy… I am going to have to make a million trips back and forth from the car to unload these bags! I better say something!”
Apparently my hint, “I’d rather have more lighter bags than a couple really heavy ones” wasn’t clear. Just for kicks I put a couple of my grocery bags on the bathroom scale when I got home. 13.4 and 14.6 pounds each!
Other than expensive beef, spit-up on my shirt, and the heaviest grocery bags I’ve ever had to carry, I’d say it was a successful trip! I’ll let you know how the Beef Tenderloin recipe goes when I try to use steaks instead. I’m guessing it’s going to be a disaster!
Beef Tenderloin – Part Deux
I’m sure you’ve all been waiting on pins and needles to find out how my fancy dinner for Ryan turned out…
Let me begin by saying, since I didn’t buy the $83 tenderloin… it was more like beef ‘New York Strip’ loin.
When Ryan saw the bag of deliciousness marinating in the fridge he got a curious look in his eye and asked if he needed to buy more charcoal for the grill. I said excitedly, “No grill needed – I’m going to bake it!” To which he replied, “Bake? Steak? I don’t think you can bake New York Strip… can you?”
So I googled “bake a steak” just in case it’s impossible to bake a steak. I found that it’s been done… however, these steaks were so huge and glorious it would be a pitty to ruin them with such experimentation.
I considered titling this post “I appreciate the effort, though!” because that’s what Ryan said to me when we decided to grill the steaks instead of bake them.
Ruby was having a bit of a cryin’ jag while the Weber was heating up, but thanks to her swing we enjoyed our dinner in peace with some instrumental Imogen Heap playing in the background. This was a dinner we will remember for a long time.
Before we left Grand Rapids we went to Robinette’s Orchard with Chris and Ryan’s parents to enjoy some cider and donuts. Ryan loves apple cider, as I mentioned here back in 2008 when he polished off a 1/2 gallon. (Quick sidenote – I love that my blog is so old I am able to refer back to things we did in the early years of our life together. Blogging is my favorite hobby. Hopefully a few of you enjoy reading it at least half as much as I enjoy writing it.) Ok, back to Robinette’s! Take a look at these dapper fellows drinking their cider.
It was literally the most gorgeous weekend of the fall… sunny, warm enough for light jackets and shorts, cool breezes, fresh air, colorful leaves – just spectacular.
Ruby was enamored by the horses pulling the wagon around the orchard. She was also amazed that the exoskeleton of a locust will stick to your jacket. Ha! Good times with science!
We celebrated Ruby turning 3 while we were on our vacation at Cox Cottage. Ryan’s parents came down for the weekend and we had gorgeous weather for the happenings. If you watched Ruby’s 3rd Birthday Interview, then you know why her cake has Honey Nut Cheerios on it… Don’t look too closely – it was the best I could do. Pretty much I asked Ryan’s mom to buy a white cake with white frosting and I decorated it with Cheerios. Ha! Ruby loved it, so that’s all that mattered anyway. Before Ryan’s parents arrived Ruby made sure the flag was raised and Nana’s flowers were watered.
Donuts for breakfast, Honey Nut Cheerio cake for lunch, burgers for dinner and a swim in the lake. Birthdays are the best!
Ryan’s brother Chris graduated from Hope College and we got to be there for the weekend to celebrate with him. I first met Chris the day Ryan and I graduated from Hope. He was in 6th grade and was wearing a tight t-shirt that said, “St. Joe Dad’s Club” on it. hysterical.
I was glad that Chris and I hit it off the first time we met because I was in love with his brother… here’s a flashback to 2003 when Ryan and I graduated from Hope.
Saturday night a bunch of Christopher’s friends came over for a grill out. Ryan’s mom is an amazing hostess. You might recognize a few of these guys who have been featured in Chris’s photography throughout college.
He got a special gift from my dad (yes, that would be his brother’s father-in-law) in the form of a Mediterranean 4-horned Ram head. Chris first saw this fella when he came to Granger for Ruby’s baptism… and for years the legend of the 4-horned goat has grown and grown. It made sense for Chris to become the owner of this mysterious creature.
Sunday on campus we got a 75% successful family pic by the Hope Anchor.
Before heading home we got to see Chris’s senior show in the gallery at Hope. It was a grid of photographs, each tells its own story, and as a whole they take you on a journey.
Such a fun weekend, CONGRATS on your graduation Chris!! We are so proud of you and can’t wait to see you continue growing as an artist and photographer! Keep on making your way in this world because you’re making the world a better place in the process.