Obviously this post is out of order because I’ve already written about the process of setting intentions for 2020, but even if it’s just for my own memory I want to get a few highlights down.
On the last Sunday of break we took the kids up to Grand Rapids to an indoor play place that they love, followed by a stop for Ethiopian food. Everyone was hungry and K and I had misgivings about taking the kids for food they would be totally unfamiliar with, but K gave them all an amazing pep talk ahead of time and to our surprise they were incredible. Did any of them like the food? Not especially, but they tried it and they weren’t rude and we had a lovely conversation throughout. K asked everyone to share their top three moments from break, and by the time we’d gone around multiple times I think that everyone shared at least four or five. (And while they may not have cared for the food, the mango juice at the restaurant made at least one kid’s top three).
The 24 hours we spent in Dearborn on the first weekend of break made a few lists. We stayed at a fancy hotel, went to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village (which was charming and wonderful and we plan to do it again), and had breakfast at a wonderful old diner (Leon’s) on Sunday morning. I don’t have pictures from Holiday Nights because I was either too involved in the moment or the light was too dim for good photos, but I have breakfast photos.
Jude actually came down with a stomach bug 36 hours before this meal, and we decided to risk it and stick with our plans anyway and we’re so glad that we did. The stomach bug didn’t reemerge until Christmas eve at about 2:30 a.m. when it hit Vivi. K and I had probably only been asleep for two hours max when she vomited all over her bedroom rug. We both snapped into action, and at some point Jonah heard the commotion and woke up, so now we have two kids awake who suddenly realize that Santa came and they are ready to dig into their stockings. Whoa there, Rudolph. It is NOT morning. Somehow we convinced them to go back to bed and try to get a few more hours of sleep (Viv in our bed with K, me in Jonah’s bed with him).
Cue the motion lights in the backyard. Jonah pops up from bed and runs to the window (this is the usual – they love to see what wild creature set it off this time). “Oh it’s a[n] [o]possom. It’s trying to get our milk…”
Maybe I should back up. Are you familiar with the Michigan Fridge? We normally keep our fridge in decent shape so we don’t do a lot of this, but it’s fairly typical in cold weather to put beverages etc. outside when there isn’t room in the fridge. We had a big casserole dish in our fridge so things like milk and OJ and champagne were sitting on the stoop in the backyard. Back to the story…
Jonah: “It’s trying to get our milk…it just knocked it over, and it’s leaking…”
Me: “What?!” I jumped up and went through the house to the slider where the milk was sitting and watched an opossom dragging a full half-gallon of milk across the lawn by its mouth. I went for my phone but Jonah opened the door and it ran away. By morning the milk was nowhere to be found (we eventually found it way across the yard under some trees, completely empty and covered in sharp bite marks).
Fortunately we’d already prepped breakfast, so we could live without milk, but try to imagine getting kids back to sleep on Christmas Eve after all of that.
By some miracle Christmas was perfect. Everyone actually slept till 8:00, the kids were happy and excited in all of the ways that make Christmas a parenting dream.
I haven’t even mentioned Ivy! We got a kitty, our very first family pet, from the shelter on December 13th during an Empty the Shelters event. She’s three-years-old and a calico and she’s perfect. Kristin picked her out on a secret visit a few days beforehand with our friend Krista. She had a couple of other cats in mind just in case Ivy was gone when we returned (and we’re lucky because around 55 cats found homes that weekend), but when I walked up to her cage to meet her she came right up to greet me and I knew she was the one. We surprised the kids (they had no idea we were even considering it) and they were thrilled. Later that first night Jonah told Kristin that she’d chosen the perfect cat. “I love her, mom. She’s the best thing in the house now.” She’s the best gift of Christmas for sure.
A few other highlights from various “best of” lists from our gang:
A couple of walks at Asylum Lake. The kids sometimes balk when I suggest a hike, but then we get out there and they love every second of it, especially when they spot fallen trees and logs to climb on. Jonah managed to fall into the freezing cold creek two days in a row, but he was a trooper about it.
Taking the kids to see Frozen 2 in the theatre (which we realized was the first time we’ve ever taken them all to see a movie. The show was sold out during the day so we took them to the 7 p.m. show and that turned out to be a huge win because the place was practically empty (too late for most kids, I guess?). We all loved it and the kids can’t stop listening to the soundtrack.
We spent a perfectly wonderful NYE at the home of our friends Sarah and Lucas and didn’t intend to stay past midnight but did it anyway. Dinner was incredible, the conversation was hilarious and riveting, our hosts were more gracious than perhaps they ought to have been, and we went away so grateful to greet the new year in exactly that way. SO much gratitude for good people in our lives.
On New Year’s Day we visited some other neighborhood friends for some sledding and conversation. There was gorgeous sunlight and it was wonderful to be outdoors. From there we took the kids to Climb Kalamazoo (which V reminded us the night before was something we’d promised to do over break and hadn’t followed through on). Jonah initially got discouraged and almost quit, but somehow he decided to give it another try and we were both so proud of all three kiddos. Vivi is a beast on a climbing wall, and Jude isn’t far behind. Jonah has some of his own fears to battle with, but I love watching him swell with pride as he works to go just a few inches higher than the last climb. He doesn’t seem to compare himself to his siblings, which is beautiful. He just goes for his personal best.
The last Saturday of break we took the kids ice skating at WMU. They were geeked about it but we weren’t sure what to expect because they all put on skates at Greenfield Village and it was a mess. Just a lot of scooping kids off of the ice again and again. Either they’d forgotten or didn’t care, because they could not wait to ice skate. The boys both happily accepted skate trainers (plastic walkers that slide along the ice) but Viv was having none of it. She was determined to get out there and learn to skate on her own. By the end, Jonah was whipping around the ice and turning circles with his giant, awkward skate trainer, and told Kristin, “I am having the time of my life!” I think that V was proud of her progress (as much as one can make in an 75 minutes) and all three seemed to love it. Jonah in particular can’t wait to return.
It was a wonderful two weeks. We’re in the process of planning more magic and adventures so that we have things to look forward to in this long season without any school breaks. These ages, 7 and not quite 5, feel like a magical sweet spot and one that I wish could last forever.