School’s Out: The Rest of Week 3 Unfolds at Michigan Adventure

Despite a packed calendar of family, social, work and enrichment commitments, I was determined to find some free days to give our family a vacation from the usual scenery. So, after lighting up the sky with a spectacular firework display the previous night, Tracy and I loaded up the car. We buckled Buddy, our Pekingese into the middle seat between Issa and Riff. Then, we took off for Michigan Adventure, an amusement park located in Muskegon, Mich. In addition to a number of thrill rides and its wild adventure water park, Michigan Adventure is mere miles away from the shores of Lake Michigan.

Issa and Riff are ready for fun at Michigan Adventure

Highlights from our adventure include …

The pool at our hotel, Baymont Inn and Suites cooled off Issa and gave her the opportunity to practice for upcoming swimming lessons.

Issa enjoys the Frog Hopper.

100-plus temperatures on day 1 of our visit to Michigan Adventure did not deter Issa from all the thrills she was tall enough to ride. In 2010 we visited and she was denied entry onto the Mad Mouse and Zach’s Zoomer because she wasn’t quite tall enough.

Riff nursing a sick tummy at the hotel while I finished reading Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and watched Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals on Saturday. Issa and Tracy enjoyed Day 2 at Michigan Adventure splashing in the water park.

Upon returning home, week 4 includes the beginning of enrichment classes for Issa and Riff, swim lessons, and a three-day family reunion. Gotta love summer.


School’s Out: Weeks 2 and 3

Temperatures north of the “D” have been hovering between 90 and 100 for nearly two weeks. So, most outdoor activities involve water. My kiddos have been dodging sprinklers, hot-dogging in the kiddie pool next door and taking swim lessons. Plus, both Issa and Riff have tutors they see one time each week. I do not want them to lose skills during the summer months.

At the conclusion of last week, my husband, Tracy, returned home from a five-month project in Dayton, OH. He works for GM and has been out of town, M-F plus some weekends since the end of February. When he arrived home last Friday, he unloaded an impressive arsenal of fireworks for the Fourth of July holiday.

Last night, Tracy and several of our neighbors lit the sky with beautiful colors to commemorate our nation’s birthday. We are all so very fortunate to live in a community where neighbors get along with each other. There were a lot of moments I thought of what others — living elsewhere on this planet — have to endure on a daily basis.

The remainder of Week 3 has yet to unfold.

Bonus Post: Lyric Status Friday — Be Good to Yourself

When you can’t give no more
They want it all but you gotta say no
I’m turnin’ off the noise that makes me crazy
Lookin’ back with no regrets
To forgive is to forget
I want a little piece of mind to turn to

Be good to yourself when, nobody else will
Oh be good to yourself
You’re walkin’ a high wire, caught in a cross fire
Oh be good to yourself

Be good to yourself when, nobody else will

— By Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain, Neal Shon, Journey

What can I say? My Journey Greatest Hits CD is always at the ready whenever I drive anywhere. All of their songs put me in a better place when I listen. Be Good to Yourself felt like a great selection for today’s post because of the countless young people celebrating various milestones in their academic journeys; and because of the countdown to summer vacation with my two cutie-pies.

Previous Bonus Posts …

It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me  (

We Are Young (

Feeling the End-of-School Vibe

Despite my rantings on here, I am a bit stoked to admit there are only four point five days until my children break loose from school for summer vacation. I am not immune to feeling the end-of-school vibe, which started beating through the entire neighborhood at the beginning of May.

What about you? I can’t help but feel a bit of nostalgia. First, I watched a live production of Xanadu last Saturday, which took me back to the early years of the K-12 education. Then, Rock of Ages trailers have been playing on television all week. The soundtrack to this film contains many fave hits from my junior high and high school days. Finally, our neighbors — who live two houses down — have a son graduating from high school this week. There are quite a few of his friends celebrating their accomplishment with him this evening. Hearing all the shouts, laughter, and cars zooming around brings back a gazillion memories of the same from 23 years ago.

The Lost Week

Map Credit: Mapquest/

I confess to being stuck in scenes from a three-day, mini-vacation my family and I took during the Memorial Day Weekend holiday. It all began …

Saturday, May 26

The beautiful shoreline of Lake Huron beckoned. My family and I loaded the car and escaped Shelby Township. Our destination: Port Austin.

Buddy, a happy companion. Photo credit: kateschannel

Located at the tip of Michigan’s thumb, Port Austin is one of my favorite destinations. It is quick two-hour drive, offers a number of scenic overnight accommodations, and interests for everyone — including our dog, Buddy. Plus, is holds a bit of nostalgia. Throughout childhood, my dad treated my sister, mom and I to multi-week sailing cruises on Lake Huron and Lake Michigan on his 32-foot Galaxy. A common port-of-call was Port Austin. There we would rest up from a day on the lake, eat Blue Moon ice cream, play on the beach, and run into friends from our neighborhood in Rochester, Mich.

Taking the edge off at The Bank 1884 in Port Austin. Photo Credit: kateschannel

Upon arrival on Saturday afternoon, we treated ourselves to a late lunch at The Bank 1884, which is a registered Michigan and national historic site.

When I woke …

Sunday, May 27

Despite stormy weather for a majority of this day, I was lucky to capture a number of early-morning shots while walking this peaceful beach town with Buddy.

Vacant, silent streets soon to be filled with escapees like myself. Photo credit: kateschannel

Most were still slumbering away in their motel rooms and cottages when Buddy and I set out. But, there were a few souls about.

An early beach morning with the goslings. Photo credit: kateschannel

I just couldn’t resist. After bringing Buddy back to our kitchenette for a snooze, I needed more. So, I took my steaming cup of hot coffee goodness and meandered along the shore. There, some geese and their goslings enjoyed a morning absent of people. Small-town streets remained vacant, but expectant of many future footprints, motorcycles, bikes and cars.

Later on that morning …

Stormy waters churn. Photo credit: kateschannel

Frothy, violent, majestic water churned as the clock ticked toward noon. Hours prior the peaceful, glass-like waters beckoned. So, suddenly it turns. A brilliant display of Mother Nature and what she decides to unleash on Michiganders — like us 3 hoping to frolic on the sand of the state’s 3,224 miles of shoreline.

Sunday evening …

As storms moved on, suburban escapees — like myself — took time to play and to take in the views.

Issa, Riff, Buddy and Tracy at play Sunday evening. Photo credit: kateschannel

Monday, May 28

We lucked out. Sunshine and 90-degree temperatures greeted us this morning. So, we spent the morning building sandcastles and hunting for freshwater mollusk shells.

Freshwater mollusk shell. Photo credit: Wikipedia

So, this is where my mind has been this week. Issa and Riff are done with school for the summer in just nine days. So, this brief getaway served as a preview for hot fun in the months ahead.

16 Days ‘Til Summer Vacation

This weekend served up a preview of what awaits when summer vacation begins in 16 days. My children and I were treated to 80-degree-plus days, outdoor fun, and a firework display from some overzealous neighbors.

Unlike last summer, I am expecting this one to be busy. In addition to swim lessons, vacations, and a mega family reunion bash, both children will see a tutor once a week. Plus, we’re going to make visits to see my sister in Ann Arbor, take some nature center classes, visit the zoo, watch the stars, and go camping.

What are your plans for maintaining summertime sanity? Mine include running some 5ks, scheduling regular outs with girlfriends and my hubby, and keeping the fridge stocked with adult beverages for late-night breaks on the back patio.

In the Middle of Beautiful

kateschannel -- in the middle of beautiful

Quiet lake tucked away from the hurried pace of now. My Aunt Kate picked this respite and often shares her treasured spot with family and friends.

What a way to spend a couple vacation days. She invited Tracy, Issa, Riff and I to join her in the middle of beautiful. Her break from the world on a small private lake named Lake Taho. Take note. I did not misspell. There is no “e” and it’s not located in Nevada or California. No plane ticket required. It’s located a couple hours north of my home, near Clare, Mich. where harmonious breezes mix with peace.

Loons, lily pads, tall trees, birds and insects co-exist. We kayaked, fished, played and enjoyed each others’ company as well as a connection with nature in its purest sense. A full moon lit the lake on the first night of our visit. Lightening and thunder woke us all early the next morning. But, breaking storms yielded to some blue and we took a quiet boat ride. We took a closer look of some loons swimming on the lake.

kateschannel -- kayaks provide fitness and fun

We have visited many other times when sunshine and warmer temps. made use of the lake more inviting. But, the weather is always secondary, really. The company — whether it be for an intimate re-connection with just my crew or raucous reunion parties with our big, extended family — my Aunt Kate’s place is always in the middle of beautiful morning, day or night; during rain or sun.

Schools Out in 8.5 Days

As I write this post, I feel the warm summer breeze and I see blue skies and sunshine. Alice Cooper‘s song, Schools Out, is playing in my head. In 8.5 days school is out for Issa and Riff until September. I look at this timeline with a mix of happiness and terror.

The images of play dates, trips to the beach, backyard barbeques, swim lessons, firework shows, stargazing, and enriched learning opportunities give me plenty to smile about. I think back on my time during elementary school. Those long summer breaks were heaven. However, those images of long summer days and starlit evening skies, also give way to a reality of less time to accomplish household tasks, run errands, write, socialize with adults, and relax.

For some weeks, I thought about sending Issa to a summer day camp at her elementary school. After doing the math, the cost is equivalent to about $1/hour if she went every day for the six weeks the camp is open. This camp would have given her more structure, social opportunities and learning experiences. But, the thought of her spending so many hours away from me during her “vacation” made me feel sad. After all, “vacation” means a break from the normal, the structure and the routine. It’s a chance to re-charge and to refresh. It’s also a time for activities we don’t have adequate time to enjoy during the confines of the school year; and for more whimsical tendencies. I love having more flexibility with the when and the where.

The reality of less adult time, just means I am gaining skill at adapting. There will always be change; and it won’t always give me 8.5 days of notice.

In closing, I thought you might enjoy links to posts about traveling and summer time with children from other parenting blogs I read. These are all supportive resources that offer up plenty of smiles. All Happy reading!

Dances with Chaos

The Laughing Mom

Life From the Trenches