August 7

How about too many pictures of the kids playing in Lake Michigan? That sounds like fun.

Maggie and Tim live roughly ten miles from Lake Michigan, but we were so busy doing other fun things during our visit that we didn't get to see it. I decided that wasn't acceptable, and suggested that we pack up early this morning and spend a few hours at the lake on our way out of town. Amazingly, my mom and dad had spent the weekend at a town about an hour away for a motorcycle race, and were also on their way home today. They were able to meet us at the lake and spend time watching the kids play. It was so special!

Maggie spent about 45 minutes there with us. We were all expecting it to be cool and windy at the lake, but it was actually sunny and warm. I specifically dressed the kids in long sleeves and pants, thinking it was going to be miserable.
They quickly stripped to their swimsuits.

Daisy found feathers!

Gosh, she's cute.

I mean, really.

When we first arrived, we all had a hard time determining where the lake ended and the sky began. It was pretty amazing.

We were blessed with perfect weather for playing in Lake Michigan, and the beach quickly began to fill up.

These kids had so much fun!

Daisy really enjoyed the sand.
(The bulldozer behind her was working to abate some erosion of the beach. It was noisy, but fine.)

Eli was cold, so I wrapped him up in a Towel Torso Carry using one of Maggie's blankets. I love this picture!

Then my parents arrived, and they had a great time chatting with Maggie.

Yeah, that's my man in the background.

This picture cracks me up.

And then it was time to leave, and get back on the road to head home.

Cleaning all of the sand off these kids was not an easy task! Thank goodness my parents were there!

Our family at Lake Michigan. I love it!

I also love this. Barefoot Eli only wanted to hold Grandpa's hand - no one else's. And then we headed home!

August 6

Today three out of Maggie and Tim's four kiddos drove in from the city to visit us while we were in town, and two brought significant others along, too. We felt so special that they came in to see us, and Maggie and Tim put together a fabulous brunch.
Oh, and the power went out not even an hour into the brunch. Luckily, we were able to move things out to the screened-in porch.

Tim and Maggie's sweet family, minus Kelly, who just returned from Thailand the day before and was sleeping off her jet lag.

While we munched and chatted, the kids colored.

Daisy and I harvested some fresh mint from the yard, and I helped her make mint tea for everyone. Lily approved, and everyone else was very kind. 

Daisy thought it needed more honey, but really it probably needed more mint leaves.

Lily loved Molly and Bridget! I don't blame her - they are pretty glamorous and beautiful

Cousins + kids (though these are really cousins' kids...)

Maggie is Chris' godmother, so it's fun to see him with his kids and her with her kids.

Plus the boyfriend and fiance!

Eli's curls. I couldn't resist.

After everyone left, Daisy begged for me to take her canoeing, too. At first I said no, but then I realized: why not? 
And then I realized that the canoe has three seats, so I could easily take Caleb AND Daisy.
And then I realized that Daisy and Lily are really skinny and the middle seat is really wide, so I could probably take all three of them...
And that is how we ended up here:

I was worried enough about three rambunctious children tipping a canoe in the middle of the lake that Lily got a stern warning about not wiggling or wobbling, and I didn't let Daisy try her hand at paddling. In the end, they did great.

We had so much fun out on the lake together. We definitely need kayaks in our life!

The kids ate their dinner in front of the TV and were very happy about that.

I noticed these scribbles from brunch, and snapped a picture. 
Daisy was tickled that they took the time to ask her favorites and write them down.

August 5

This is what mornings look like at Maggie's house:

You guys. It is the loveliest thing.

Inside, there are sweet babies around a breakfast table in their Gryffindor jammies. But outside?

Wowza. I don't ever want to leave.

We spent the day doing fun things - playgrounds, splash pads, 
and - during nap time for the little ones - this: 
It was Caleb's first time canoeing, and because of Chris' hernia surgery, I got to be the one to take him! I was a bit nervous because I can't remember the last time I was in a canoe; it must be at least a decade ago, possibly two? But my canoeing knowledge base was reliable, and Caleb was a quick study in paddling. We had so much fun exploring the lake together! We watched for wildlife, but didn't see much. Caleb was on the lookout for jumping/flying fish, but didn't see any. He really liked how his paddle made little whirlpools in the water, and the way sound carries over water. It has been much too long since he and I had an adventure alone together!

 What a lovely thing that Maggie and Tim have a canoe. Chris and I have decided that family kayaks must be our next major purchase.

August 4

Today was a different sort of day - Chris took the day off work because we had big plans. First, Chris and the kids dropped me off at a local hospital so that I could photograph a new baby. Meanwhile, they played at a nearby park. Then they picked me up and we got on the road to visit Chris' Aunt Maggie and Uncle Tim.

 The kids were beyond excited, because Maggie is one of their favorite people ever.
The drive was only about five hours, but Chris had to get out and walk around every few hours to prevent surgery-related blood clots. We made it easily, though, and the kids were rewarded with lots of fun things to do and explore.
Like a giant roll of table on her even giant-er dining table, with boxes of crayons and markers for coloring.

And cupcakes. Gluten free cupcakes. 

 And the gorgeous view of the lake out the window, and Uncle Tim to chat with.

While Chris read to the big kids, Eli snuggled up next to Uncle Tim and learned about baseball. All it took was Tim giving Eli a piece of cheese, and suddenly they were best friends. 

Are they cute, or what?
We are going to have a great visit!