Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Girls Weekend Traverse City

My Oma turned 90 years old back in January of 2013!  When you are 90 there really isn't much that you want other then time with loved ones. (that is what she says anyways!)  So for her birthday my mom, two sisters, and I went on a weekend getaway to Traverse City, Michigan.

We did not go in January, (thank goodness! although I'm sure it is pretty at that time of year too, but more difficult to walk around in the snow and ice) but waited until mid-May when the weather was nice to venture there.  Our first stop of course was to go shopping.  Downtown Traverse City was very picturesque with blooming trees along the main street.  The quaint buildings contained specialty food and beverages, boutiques, and unique treasures!  I have only been shopping there one other time, but it is worth the time to go there!  I love going into the Cherry Republic for free samples of all things cherry and Haystacks which has super cute clothes at surprisingly good prices! (many times when you are in smaller towns the boutique prices are outrageous, but I found a super cute dress there for a great price!) 

There really is just one main street where you will find the shops.  There are a few side streets with some shops worth visiting, but we stuck to the main street during our time there.  Parking is easy to find and close to all the action, which was a big plus for our group!  There are also plenty of benches to rest on and places to step inside for bites to eat.

After shopping and a brief rest time in our hotel, the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, which has fabulous views, a fun pool, and nice rooms, we journeyed to Sutton's Bay.  We went specifically to have dinner at Martha's.  My mom had seen it written up somewhere as a very good place to eat.  It is a small little home converted into a restaurant so there aren't many tables.  I was glad we made reservations because it filled right up!  The food was fantastic, but the service wasn't as good as I had hoped.  We waited a long time for a lot of things.  What I liked the best about the dinner was that Oma began telling us stories of when she was younger.  I learned a lot about her that I had never known before!  It is times like these that really make a little getaway more then just a little getaway!

The next morning we all received spa treatments or nail treatments at the hotel.  (I just don't understand why upscale places do not offer all of the designs and glitter on nails that the cheap shops down the road do!)  Again, this was a great time of talking with Oma while we were pampered!

Our last stop before heading home was of course more shopping.  We went into Sutton's Bay again and hit the galleries and shops they have.  There are many wineries around that area that are worth stopping and sampling as well!  My favorite shop there has to be Bayside Gallery which is very overwhelming, but fun!

It is always an odd feeling to think of my oma not as Oma, but as a young woman with a young family.  I love hearing her stories and getting a better idea of who she really is!  I am truly blessed to be able to spend quality time with her and it was nice to do so in such a nice setting!

Two down only one more to go...

I think at least one of our children should aspire to be an orthodontist!  Holy hardware! 

First it was Jackson getting an expander on the top, then one on the bottom, and finally braces on the top!  It makes a HUGE difference with his jaw and teeth!  Wow!

Now it is Lola's turn.  I originally brought her in to see the orthodontist because she had one tooth that was pointy and another tooth coming in right in front of it.  It was determined that her pointy tooth was an extra tooth (supernumerary tooth) which after some research I found many children from Guatemala have supernumerary teeth.

She had this pulled and it was a pretty easy procedure, but had the grossest sound I have ever heard!  She handled it like a champ and put it under her pillow for an extra prize from the tooth fairy.

For those of you looking forward to your visit with the orthodontist here are the steps we took that seem pretty universal now adays.

  1. Initial consult:  This was free and our orthodontist, Dr. Armbrecht, sat down with Lola and I after looking at her teeth and x-rays from our dentist.  He showed her models of teeth and pictures on a television screen of what he would do.
  2. First Appointment:  Lola went in nervous, but the Orthodontics Assistant that she and Jackson both initially saw was phenomenal!  It was her job to take pictures of Lola's teeth from the outside as well as the inside.  She also made a mold of Lola's teeth and finally put in spacers.  What made her so great was that she talked to Lola and told her exactly what she was going to do and involved her in each step.  Lola helped to mix the mold and was able to handle each thing that would be used.  She LOVED it and was smiling the entire time!
  3. A week later we went in and they took out Lola's spacers and fit some rings around her back teeth.  While the rings were in they made another impression of her teeth and then put the spacers back in.
  4. A week after that Lola had the actual expander put in her upper jaw.  This isn't too uncomfortable depending on the kid.  Jackson said he couldn't eat anything for about two days where Lola was fine to dive right in! To be safe, a little Tylenol may be a good plan before the expander is put in.
  5. We turned the expander depending on what we were instructed.  (they give you a little key like apparatus that you stick in a small hole in the middle front of the expander - you put the key in and push it toward the back of the mouth - that isn't always pleasant) After a certain point you will be told to stop turning it.
  6. Most likely a bottom expander will be put in after spacers and molds as explained above and you will have to turn that as well.  The bottom expander had a much less frequent turning schedule.
  7. When all the turning is done the expanders will stay in for an extended amount of time.
  8. Braces were put on the front teeth of both of my children and at some point the expanders were removed.
  9. The kids are given retainers which they won't wear!!
Good Luck!

Guatemala Follow-up


Better late then never!  It took awhile to get my hands on this video!

Above is a video that was taken at our church, Orchard Hill Reformed, to present to our congregation about our time in Guatemala.  If you want to read about Jackson and my time there in 2013 go here.  I wanted to share it with all of you because I am so proud of the insights Jackson had about the trip!  Oh and don't mind me in the video!  Do I really sound like that???

New England Vacation - Oh the Horror!!

Take note here moms because I am going to let you learn from my misfortune in the hopes that I can spare you the horrific images replaying in front of my closed eyes and the stench that has yet to leave my nostrils!

If you allow your children to pick up any shells or treasures that they find on the beach, first, bring a small bucket or bag.  Do not give them a huge container to collect things in.  A large container says fill me to the brim with whatever you can find!  These items may not even include real treasure.  They just put things in the bag to fill it!

Second, do not allow this bucket or bag into your car unless you have fully inspected each treasure.  Think of it as Halloween and you must look at each piece of candy to be sure it is safe.  You never know the kind of treasures children are able to find.  When you have the treasure at home it is too late.

I allowed the children to gather as much and whatever they wanted in large containers.  We made it as far as the parking lot in the marina before we knew we had to downsize.  The bags were so full and heavy that the kids couldn't carry them.  That was the positive part.  They smelled so bad my eyes were watering!

After inspecting the bags we found many dead creatures like horseshoe crabs that were missing most or all of their insides, but they hadn't been dead long enough.  The smell that was released as Ryan and I pulled them out of the bag was enough to make a person pass out!

Stay with me.. It gets better...

After consolidating the treasures of the sea, we brought them back home and put them outside.  The smell still lingered so we wanted them to air out outside of the bags.  Each time the slider was opened to the patio the smell shot into the house like a bullet ripping through our noses.  It was still intense!  The house began to smell and I couldn't figure out why the smell was getting worse when everything was outside, until I found the bag that all the treasure and dead animals had been in under the coach!  Ugh!

I thought we were rid of the stench until I again went outside to pack up the shells.  The smell was so strong, but there was a horseshoe crab that a child had smuggled in on the table so I believed that was the culprit.  I was wrong.

As I was picking up a shell to put it in a new clean bag, part of it's fleshy insides came out as I picked it up!  I screamed when I saw the thousands of maggots pulsating on it.  I should have kept my mouth closed because as soon as I screamed the aroma from the rotting flesh filled every orifice and I staggered backwards!

The kids came running when they heard me.  Lola said, "Oh gross!"  Tyce said, "Oh cool!  Can I touch it?"

I am still scrubbing my hands because I think I can still smell that thing on me and I can still see those worm like maggots squirming around on the slippery innards of the shell.  It was like a scene out of a horror film.  Learn from me!  Check the inside of all of the treasures your children bring home!!

New England Vacation - Whales

Toward the end of the week we drove into Hyannis and boarded the Whale Watcher.  I purposefully picked different ports of departure each time we went on a boat so we could explore different towns.  We were very happy we chose this particular boat to take out to see whales!

It takes awhile to get out to where the whales are, but once we were out there, we were not disappointed!  Ryan and I have been whale watching before and we just saw the whales come up for air and that was about it.  There were none of the cool views of the tail or of the whale jumping out of the water.  It was a bit boring and cold!

This trip, however, couldn't have gotten any better!  The first sign of a whale was a calf breeching and mom following suit!  They both jumped out of the water landing on their backs right near the boat!  We watched as the calf and its mom played in the waves and saw more of the whale then ever!  Other whales joined in too!  At one point the baby even went right up to the boat and rolled on its side with its eye open and looked at us! It was the coolest thing!

While we watched the whales the naturalist predicted what the whale would do next and where we may see them come up again.  He did an excellent job of telling us bits of information about the whale and directing everyone where to look!  I was very impressed and we all had an awe inspiring time watching those majestic animals!

A few words of advice if you go whale watching.  
Dress warmly.  It will be at least 10 degrees colder on the water and if there is any breeze at all it will feel like a cold wind on the open sea!  Wind resistant jackets even on a hot day may be needed.
Take a seat inside the covered area of the boat on the way out.  You will be tempted to take a seat outside or up top, but you risk the cold wind and the waves.  You will see the same views inside as outside, but you will be warmer and if the captain sees anything he will stop the boat and everyone moves everywhere for a view anyways.  On the way back everyone comes in to the covered part of the boat so if you set up camp inside already on the way out you are guarenteed a seat back!

After whale watching we went to the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory.  It is a self guided quick tour and at the end you can pick out two bags of chips to sample!  It was actually very interesting although the kids only really appreciated the chips at the end!  It was worth it just to have a little look since we were really close!

New England Vacation - Seals, Shells, and Dunes

Mid-week we spent doing a couple different adventures in one day.  The first was a huge success and the second not so much...

We journeyed back to Orleans and went aboard the Blue Claw Boat Tour.  We were five out of 9 people on the boat so it was a nice group in a small boat.  Our captain showed us a map of the area which detailed where great white sharks had been seen, where seals were seen, where landmarks like lighthouses and islands were, and where we were going.

He did a good job of talking about current activities and people in the area as well as some history that interested the children.  I had no idea so many pirates were in these waters, captured, and prosecuted in Boston!  A local man in Orleans even found a sunken pirate ship complete with some treasure although the rest of it is still out there somewhere!

We cruised around islands and near sandy beaches taking in the gigantic homes and picture perfect scenery.  After a short ride we were surrounded by about 50 seals!  They peeked at us with the curiosity and big eyes of a puppy dog.  We watched some of them sleeping with their snouts pointing to the sky while others rolled in the waves.  Some of them were almost close enough for us to reach over board and touch!  The kids were in awe!

Our next stop was on a small island outside of Chatham.  It had a few shacks on it and nothing else.  It is a popular place for boaters to stop and hang out on nice days.  Our day was sunny, but a little on the cool side so we had the island to ourselves!

The three kids ran like maniacs collecting "treasures".  They found tons of shells and many more carcasses of horseshoe crabs.  The crabs were the most popular treasures, but were the most cumbersome to carry with their pointy tails pricking through the bag and poking anyone who was near.  They were also a bit ripe.

We left with bags of "treasure" and fish smelling hands, but we had a blast!

Once we dried the kids off and did a "towel wrapped around you" change into clothes and out of suits, we were on the road to Provincetown.

Out of all of the towns we drove through and saw Ryan and I agreed that Provincetown would be one that we would come back to and spend more time in.  It is a small town, but it has everything you would need in a short distance and a ton to do!  You can even take a ferry into Boston or a whale watching boat out of the harbor.  There were signs everywhere advertising events that were coming up and things to do along the shore.  The beach was a stone's throw away from town and it had a fun atmosphere.

We took some time going through some of the cute shops and ate lunch and then we went on Art's Dune Tour.  They are the only company allowed to go on the dunes.  I thought it would be fun to see more of the National Seashore and to drive through all the dunes which go on for miles!  However, they did not measure up to the dune rides we have taken in Silver Lake.  This tour was more for older people to hear about the history of the area and preservation of the dunes.  The only fun part for us and the kids was when we were allowed out of the cars to run up and down one of the dunes.  Old Baldy in Pentwater was bigger then this dune, but it was sand and the kids liked being full of it!

With bored kids the day started going a bit downhill.  We hit a restaurant for dinner and were once again thankful that the tourist season was not in full swing yet as we didn't have to wait and had the restaurant to ourselves.  The waitress told us during the prime season people were shoulder to shoulder all through town!