Week at Cox Cottage

IMG_4161Last month was awesome. Ryan finished his job in Columbus at the end of June and didn’t  start his new job in Grand Rapids until August – so we pretty much had the time of our lives together in July. It was a daily decision each morning whether we should work on unpacking boxes and getting our new house in order or if we should have fun with the kids… and we decided to just have fun. Even though I’m currently typing this blog among unpacked boxes I know we will never regret the fun times we had making memories together as a family.IMG_3707

The beginning of our week at Cox Cottage was a tad brisk, so we spent the mornings bundled up, taking walks and riding bikes. Clara refused to wear sweatshirts and jackets because “princesses don’t wear those.” Ha! By the afternoons the sun was shining and we were on the water.

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One of our favorite things about the lake is parking the pontoon on the sandbar and floating around. Charlie has never been happier than when Ryan was swishing him around in the water. IMG_3681This was the first year the girls were old enough (and brave enough) to get out and walk around by themselves. Clara was cracking me up seeing how far away from the boat she could walk.IMG_3934

Ruby is the queen of collections. She worked very hard everyday adding to her collection, which included shells, dragonfly exoskeletons, snails, seaweed, bugs, algae slime, leaves, lilly pads, rocks and even some peanut shells. It was a very smelly collection by the end of the week. Thankfully her nose agreed and she did not request that we take it home in the van.

IMG_3972One afternoon Ruby and Clara were exploring the shallow water near the dock, the “swamp water” as they called it, and Ruby found a bluegill. She meticulously stalked closer and closer to it until she was close enough to reach out to touch it. SHE DID! She was so excited that she touched it, she thought she’d see if she could hold it. Of course, I was happy to let her try. A few minutes later I heard screaming and saw out of the corner of my eye that she had indeed grabbed it with her hands. It flipped out and poked her in the leg with its fin, which turned her excited squeals into terrified screams of horror, “IT GOT ME! IT BIT ME ON THE LEG!!!!” After she calmed down I explained that it probably thought she was a predator. She said, “ok mom. I’ll just work on my collection instead.”
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Clara explored under the dock and I had to pull more leaches off her legs than I’d like to share with you. I want my blog to be mostly good memories you know.  😉

IMG_3957IMG_3633IMG_4094 IMG_4131More scooter and bike riding, some Twister, and a bath in the sink for Mr. Charlie Boy.IMG_3638IMG_3642IMG_3662IMG_3961

We went out for pizza one night and on the way home we drove past a massive Paul Bunyon statue. We were laughing so hard we had to stop and take a pic. When we got back in the van Ruby exclaimed, “THAT WAS THE BIGGEST ADVENTURE OF MY LIFE!”IMG_3914

Going places as a family seems to get more fun every year that the kids get older. I like going places and doing things. My favorite thing in the whole world is getting to spend time with Ryan. So thankful for our week together at Cox Cottage.IMG_4087

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Cox Family Christmas

We arrived in Grand Rapids late Friday night after driving through some serious fog and rain. Saturday morning the girls woke up SO EXCITED to see their cousins Ellen and Abigail. Clara LOVED helping to feed “the baby cousins” and Kyle took these fist two pictures with his fancy new camera.12-28-2013 Vacation to Florida-44 12-28-2013 Vacation to Florida-103

We woke up the next morning to the beautiful sight of everything outside covered in a layer of ice. Then we realized the ice storm had knocked out the power at Ryan’s parents house. It was really beautiful… and a little bit chilly, but we survived a couple of days living pioneer style. (pioneers got to go out for pizza, right?)IMG_7262 Thankfully, we were all ready for the adventure and had friendly neighbors who used their camping stove to make a pot of coffee for Ryan, Chris and Dad. Sarah fed the babies over candlelight.IMG_7234IMG_7233 IMG_7247

The ice storm didn’t stop us from venturing downtown to get some MadCap coffee with Chris and his friend Josh who had flown home from Malawi to surprise his parents. So fun.IMG_7242

Isn’t East Grand Rapids so lovely? Look at the way those trees are holding hands over the street. Love it.

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One day we went to Breton Village Mall to see the train set. The girls were mostly interested in these goldfish. Can you tell by Ruby’s hand that she was calling them to her?

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Our friends Bryant and Becky were in town visiting Becky’s family and had a couple of hours to meet us for lunch at Cherry Deli. It’s always so fun to catch up with our Hope College friends. If you’ve ever heard Bryant or Ryan laugh, you’ll know it’s quite a treat to be there when they are cracking up about something.

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We saw our friends Lana and Hans from Columbus at the Christmas Eve service. My friend Lacey’s in-laws live in Grand Rapids. So fun to see her over break.

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After the Christmas Eve services at church we drove down the “Woods” streets that are always lined with paper lanterns on the night before Christmas. It’s so beautiful. I keep thinking the kids will be old enough to love it, but mostly Ruby just continually asked from the backseat why were were on the wrong road and “this isn’t the way to Nana’s house!” and “But we are going the wrong way!” Ha.

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Christmas day included a delicious ham which Ryan carved for us and custom mugs Ryan gave to his dad and brothers.

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Everyone thinks Charlie looks like his Papa Cox. I can’t disagree. Genes are crazy.

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Nana gave Ruby a lovely little tea set. Ryan was happy to oblige her request to join her for tea. One of my favorite, most heart melting parts of my life is watching Ryan as a dad. Our kids truly adore him and it’s not a wonder why.

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Chris and Ryan took the girls sledding. It was SO COLD that all of their cheeks were rosy and frozen when they got home, but they had a good time. Ruby loves taking it to the hills. She seems to be quite adventurous and is becoming more confident and fearless with every passing month.

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My wonderful Mother-In-Law is amazing at wrangling children. I was so thankful to have her help for a few days. Such a great Christmas.  It was wonderful to be in Michigan and we were so excited that Ryan had so many days off in a row. So thankful that we would get to see both sides of our family in one vacation. We love our family.IMG_7312

Great Grandma Cox

I few weeks ago we drove to Grand Rapids to spend a weekend with Ryan’s Grandma Cox who was visiting from Nevada. She is delightful, full of life, and is a wonderful conversationalist. I love hearing her tell stories from her life, of her sweet friends, of her adventures in casino’s in Vegas, and I especially love seeing her eyes light up around her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.IMG_3265 IMG_3267

This was the first time Charlie met Grandma GG, so I took a lot of pictures  :o)IMG_3203 IMG_3151 IMG_3172

Here’s Charlie relaxing on the cool countertop, totally fulfilling all low maintenance, easy-going, third-child requirements.

IMG_3199Ryan’s parents were kind enough to watch our kids while Ryan and I went out for a nice dinner. After dinner we walked by Reed’s Lake, it’s lovely.IMG_3274

We also got to take a bike ride all around East Grand Rapids with Chris one afternoon while all the kids were napping. I love riding bikes with Ryan. Before we had kids we used to bike together all the time… does anyone want to come over everyday between 6-8 so I can go on a bike ride with Ryan? Thanks.IMG_3178

IMG_3184One day Kyle and Sarah came over for a grill out at Ryan’s parent’s house and our kids got to meet their twin girls Abbie and Ellen for the first time. They are precious.IMG_3231

Here are a few more pics from the weekend.IMG_3314 IMG_3286 IMG_3220

Love you Grandma Cox! So fun spending a few days with you. I’m so thankful for the way you love on my little family. xo

Weekend with Bree and Ryan

There are few things in life more wonderful than great friends. Ryan and I got to spend this weekend with two of our favorites. Bree and Ryan loaded up their van with their 4 kids (6 and under) and drove to Columbus for a visit.

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Ruby and Clara were so excited that their friends from Grand Rapids were coming to our house… it’s been 2 years since Ruby hung out with her friends Cash and Parker. Clara was only 3 weeks old when we moved to Columbus and my friend Bree has added 2 more babies since we left GR, so this was the first time for the kids to meet. Clara and Blakely were born only 6 weeks apart.IMG_6377

Saturday we went to our zoo (of course) and had a great time looking at animals in Asia and North America. The Columbus Zoo is divided into continents, there’s not enough time in a day to see them all… not at my pregnant pace anyway. Ryan went nuts when we happened upon the wolverine exhibit. Those crazy wolverines were running all round and putting on quite a show. I think they knew they were among friends from Michigan.IMG_6349

Ryan and Ryan were a walking North Face commercial.

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The buffalo, bobcats, bald eagles, timber wolves, grizzly, brown bears and polar bears were big hits. Here’s Cash and Ruby checking out the buffalo (or as Ryan says, “Tatonka”).IMG_0989

In Asia the kids were excited to see the elephants, tigers, lions, flying foxes, python and monkeys. Our baby tigers who were born in June are really big now! They’re more like Teenage Mutant Ninja Tigers as you can see in this pic. The awesome news is that a few weeks ago a 2nd litter of 4 quadruplet baby Siberian Tigers were born at our zoo and they’re all doing great! You can watch live feed video of our new babies HERE. I’ll certainly keep you updated on their growth since my fascination with baby tigers is unending. In a couple more months they’ll make their public debut – around the time our baby boy makes his  :o)IMG_0997

Ryan grilled out some amazing hickory-smoked chicken and asparagus and we took all 6 kids under 6 to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, because you just can’t come to Columbus without experiencing Jeni’s. All in all it was an amazing weekend that went by too fast. So thankful for the time we had with Bree and Ryan.IMG_1010

I Love My Siblings

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It’s a really special thing that my brother, sister and I are as close as we are. Now that we are all married, it’s even more special that we all truly like and enjoy being around one another’s spouses. I love my brother Aaron’s wife Tracy. I love my sister Angela’s hubby John. Knowing that my brother and sister love my Ryan brings joy to my heart everyday.

One afternoon during the Beeson Family Staycation, my parents offered to care for all the children while we went for a hike. We laughed and told stories as we walked along the trails through the woods. 

Tracy is from Florida… she was loving the fact that we were hiking around the perimeter of a cornfield at one point. Ha! She kept saying, “LOOK AT ALL THIS CORN!” Love her.

Family Vaca at Cox Cottage

Each summer since Ryan and I started having babies, his parents have blessed us with a week at their cottage in Michigan to reconnect as a family. This summer was no exception. Last week was filled with sunshine, bike rides, floating around on the pontoon, swimming, kayaking, grilling out and spending time together without TV or Internet to distract us. It was beautiful. The weather was gorgeous on Monday so we spent the day on the pontoon – parked at the dock mostly, because it was so windy. Then the temps started dropping and by dinner time we all had our jeans and sweatshirts on. We continued adding more and more clothing throughout the night and into the day on Tuesday. BRRRRrrrr.

The chilly temps didn’t stop us from enjoying a family bike ride around the lake. (I’m amazed at how slimming that yellow sweatshirt looked on me!”

Ryan grilled us a delicious dinner, then surprised Ruby with a trip to the Dairy King for an ice cream cone even though it was past bedtime. Ruby was in heaven.

First she smelled the ice cream, then she dug right in!

Hope Friends in Cadillac

We had a chance this past weekend to drive up to Cadillac and hang out with some of our Hope College friends! When we lived in Michigan we hung out pretty regularly, as seen here, herehere, herehere, here, here and here. (did anyone actually click those links to see those old posts?) But since we moved to Ohio a year ago we haven’t made it to Northern Michigan until now. Luke and Lindsay hosted the event, Joel and Sarah, Greg and Jen, and Bryant and Becky all made the trip to Cadillac. We spent the afternoon hanging out at the house, eating a delicious lunch, laughing and telling stories on the back porch.

In the evening all 8 of us piled into our van and rode together to dinner at Lakeside Charlie’s. We sat out on the patio where loud laughing is more acceptable and there was a lovely view of Lake Mitchell.

After dinner Luke and Lindsay introduced us to some gas station ice cream and we ate our cones in the parking lot by the propane tank. It really was good ice cream. We loved seeing everyone. It was good for my soul.

Chris Cox : Graduate

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.

Sometimes I just need some space…

Would you believe my computer has run out of space? My external hard drive from 2007 is full too… so until I get a new hard drive so I can dump the rest of my pictures and videos off of my computer, I’m pretty much unable to post pictures of all the happenings around here lately. Apparently I take a lot of pictures and videos. The good news is that I just ordered a new external hard drive on Amazon, so in another day or two you can be totally bombarded by bloginess.

Until then, here’s how people from Michigan show you where they live. I never knew this until I went to college in Michigan… but I was from Indiana then, so I would just hold my hand up and point below my wrist. Oh Michiganders. So silly.