The August List – 2017

I feel like I say this every month, but this has been the busiest month of the year by far.

Not counting the awesome vacation we took to upstate New York, which I failed to post about save for one photo last month. sigh I do hope to post a New York list, but in case I don’t get around to it, know that it was amazing. We swam, we read, we played, we gathered, we had pie on my grandmother’s plates. What could be better.

But I press on. I must not fail “The List,” even if it is fast and furiously put together.

1)  This photo pretty much sums up my August. It’s blurry because top secret holiday catalog information, but welcome to my world. Coffee. Eating meals as I stand and type. And papers everywhere. Apropo because that’s how my brain feels.

After landing a couple of freelance writing gigs, I was asked to take on more responsibility and hours at my job at the school. GAH. I am not complaining. I am grateful. So grateful. BUT. Momma needs a cocktail.

2)  Speaking of cocktails, my friend Renee, cocktail maker extraordinaire, whipped up a version of the to die for concoction we enjoyed at Detroit City Distillery. It consisted of a mixture of mango habanero and lavender simple syrups and couple other secret ingredients and it was soooooo good.

And aren’t we so healthy with our sliced veggies, but this is before I asked her to please go get the Chex Mix already.

3)  We had peaches at The Garden! Last year we were only able to enjoy a handful, as many succumbed to disease or an animal of some sort. This season we had a whole bunch and I made peach cobbler with blueberries. Happy happy.

4)  There was a meet and greet on Belle Isle for the Detroit women who participated in the FEMALE photo project. I’m so very glad I went, as I get so nervous about these things. But it was just lovely.

I think I was the oldest one there which…not that it matters really, but I’m usually NOT the oldest person there, so I took note, but anyway I loved being surrounded by all the positive energy. We’re going to try and make it a monthly or bi-monthly thing. I’m in.

FEMALE photographer and meeting organizer Kacy brought a bunch of rose (too lazy to make accent over the E) single serves she found at Trader Joe’s and guess what? They were pretty stinking great! And I love the can’s shape.

5)  We viewed the eclipse the old fashioned way (thanks to my husband, otherwise we would’ve had nothing) and it was actually pretty cool and very fun.

Noticed all the trippy shadows, but it didn’t cross my mind  to take a photo. I’m so bummed about that, but those make the best memories, right?, where you are just in the moment.

6)  I love all the murals at Eastern Market, especially in early evening when the shops have closed and the sun is going down. I keep meaning go down there one day for the sole purpose of taking photos, but it hasn’t happened.

I did made a quick pit stop at Detroit City Distillery after boxing one night (because now that I am a cocktail snob, I need to only drink very expensive vodka) and got a couple pics.

7)  Our Rose of Sharon plant exploded with blossoms this month, as it always does in late summer. The only way to enjoy it is out my daughter’s bedroom window or by walking to the side of the garage. I could cut off some branches to bring them inside, but they don’t last long in a vase. Beauties.

8)  My dahlias from Detroit Abloom have begun to open and they are gorgeous. I wasn’t sure how they would fare in the backyard because we don’t get much sun, (and admittedly some plants will not produce flowers), but I am pleasantly surprised at how well they are doing.

Also admittedly, I don’t love orange flowers (I’m sorry, nature! I’m working on it!), and a few of the dahlias I have are orange (many of the tubers I planted were marked “unknown” variety, long story).

And yes, they are pretty, too, in their own right, and to spite me they look extra pretty in this photo, but the Cafe au Laits are just magnificent. Wait until you see the latest one (which I picked yesterday, which was technically September, so it doesn’t belong here).

9)  The beekeeper who takes care of the hives at The Garden Detroit and Detroit Abloom held a fundraiser this month. It was at the Detroit City Distillery warehouse (can’t seem to get away from that place), which is housed in the old Stroh Ice Cream building. Which by the way if you haven’t read “Beer Money” it’s a really interesting read.

It was very loud, so it was hard to hear Brian’s speech, but the parts I did hear were fascinating. Bees are amazing. Please support them in any way you can!

10) I forgot to bring my book one day to the Yacht Club. Luckily, my 3rd grader brought hers and it was not a Rainbow Fairy or Geronimo Stilton, but this one about a boy who rents a room at a house where miniature dragons come to life. I only got a few chapters in (girls still not great swimmers, so I have to keep an eye out) and now the book has been returned to the library, but I do hope to finish it some day, it had potential.

11)  I finished “A Gentleman in Moscow” this week and I highly recommend. Take a little while to get into if you don’t know your Russian political history, but it was intelligent and wonderfully written and the characters are deep and fleshed out. Story line is interesting as well. I wondered how such a long book could be based in one very centralized location, but the author tackles that issue with ease. Bravo.

12)  Woo-hoo! I did it! Number 12. On a more somber note, my heart is with Houston and the surrounding areas and states affected by Harvey. Our girls have been so fortunate, so it is difficult to explain certain things, but we talked about it quite a bit and at my suggestion they made cards for some of the families.

If you have not yet donated, please consider it. There are many local organizations who will make sure your money 100% goes to helping Harvey victims specifically. One being www.legacycollective.org (a sorority sister’s organization).

Over and out, August! Sorry you got the shaft. It’s not you, it’s me. Happy September! Back to school yeesssssss!

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The July List – 2017

It’s August tomorrow – whaaaat!? First of all, I am writing this while on vacation in upstate New York, although you would hardly know it was a vacation because I have been working the entire time, but that’s neither here nor there. What I was starting to say is that I’m sitting here after having spent a restless nights’ sleep, a morning berry picking (how many squats did I do looking for those darn raspberries?), an afternoon in the sun and now I’m sipping Prosecco (recommended by the woman at the local liquor shop), which is surprisingly “not too sweet” as I had requested.

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SO. Please excuse any typos or ramblings or anything that plain just doesn’t make sense because I am running on empty and also relaxed, if one can be both at the same time.

1)  July went by crazy fast. I wouldn’t even know what happened if I didn’t have photos to look at. Fourth of July weekend was really exciting for us this year because it was the first year our littlest was able to stay awake long enough to see the fireworks show. We walked down Lake Shore Boulevard and found a nice spot. I sipped on my homemade craft cocktail, while the girls chased fireflies.

2)  We spent the 4th with family by the pool (not ours). The hammock is always a big hit, although not with me. I’m not a big hammock lover, although I do like the idea of it, but whenever I get in it, I find it uncomfortable and not soothing.

3)  My little vegetable garden that is somewhat neglected did well by way of lettuce, kale and sweet peas (although something ate the bottom of the plant in the second row so they all died. Weird).

My green onions were better than last year, but still very scraggly, and the carrots actually look decent, but we pulled one up and it was so small. Can still eat the greens, though.

4)  The onions at The Garden Detroit, however, are gorgeous. We planted several varieties and they are all delicious.

And I just cannot get enough of our curly kale. My favorite thing is to eat it raw with some cheese (any kind will do, but feta or goat cheese are my favorite kale combos) homemade super-tangy vinaigrette.

5)  The fam stopped at Mike’s on the Water one Saturday afternoon for lunch. I’d been there before, but it has been a couple years. It was packed, so the wait was long. Thankfully there was good people-watching, so I was able to amuse myself. It’s not a place I’d go for the food, but definitely a spot I’d go back to for a casual drink by the water.

6)  Speaking of water, I’ve spent a good chunk of time at the Yacht Club pool, due to swimming lessons (for the girls) and sometimes just to hang out and enjoy the weather.

One Sunday afternoon, I was able to get some significant reading done, while my husband was with the girls in the water. I haven’t been able to really read by the pool in years, so it was amazing. I’m still in a suspense phase, so I was reading “The Widow” by Fiona Barton. I enjoyed it. Good writing, interesting characters and not too creepy.

7)   My book group has taken somewhat of a summer hiatus from committed reading, but we are still getting together once a month, which has been nice. There is always food and wine. Because can you have a book group without food and wine? If you can, I want no part in it.

8) I started doing freelance writing for my first local client (woo-hoo!) Ahee Jewelers, a local shop that has been family run for 70 years. I’m always happy to stop by because it is a beautiful space, not to mention the refreshments table. And no I don’t always take a cookie, but sometimes I do.

9)  On a particularly stressful day, I was at The Garden Detroit headquarters (our Directors’ home) and the flower farm gals let me partake in their succulent jewelry-making. Oh my gosh. You guys, it is just so unique and pretty and so wow. This is the one I made using both dried flowers and tiny succulents. How can your stress level not go down after making something like this, right?

10)  I made my first official Detroit Abloom bouquet this month. The process was at first intimidating, but ultimately fun, as I slowly got the hang of it. Working with flowers is so balancing, I feel.

11)  I won’t even go into my three haircuts I had this month. One of which I did myself because I wanted edgy and got soccer mom and I really, really didn’t want soccer mom, so I had to do edgy myself. I have to say that on my way to get my DIY haircut evened out, I got a compliment from a clerk at Trader Joes (good ole TJs). She loooved my hair. So there.

And no, that’s not me in the photo clearly, but I figured you’d much rather see a picture of my daughter dancing as the sun goes down.

12)  I went to the Detroit City Distillery for the first time as part of a girls’ night out. It had a good vibe and the drinks were delicious. Our bartender was great and made me a drink based on what I told her I liked. It was perfect.

That’s a wrap. Enjoy your August!

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The Naples Florida List – 2017

Adult vacation – woohoo! The first real one since our honeymoon. When I found out we were able to go, I was beyond excited. An entire weekend of sun and relaxation and friends. I mean, I was giddy.

Plus, I’ve never been to Florida! Which is a big deal because everyone here has been at least once, and many people have homes/condos there, where they escape to during colder months. I remember all my New York relatives driving down to Florida each each, wondering what it was like.

1)  We took a really early flight (woke up at 5:30am), which was harsh, but once we got going, not too bad. Plus, thanks to Delta miles, we flew first class. As soon as we got on the plane, my husband ordered a vodka soda because 1. adult weekend 2. rockstar. That’s my plain hot water next to his big boy drink.

2)  Even though I need to be medicated to fly, I love looking down at the landscape on takeoff and landing. It was neat seeing the little channels/outlets (don’t even school me on the terms, I will not remember) and it reminded me of all the books and movies set in the Florida everglades (which I’d love to explore on another trip).

3)  My girlfriend invited eight of us (including her and husband) to stay at her parents’ condo in Naples. Long story short – water damage, mold – we ended up staying in another condo in that same building, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is that we stayed in Naples, in a condo along the beach. The weather was hot hot hot and I welcomed it with arms wide open.

4)  First stop: a leisurely lunch across the street. I can’t remember what I had but I was hungry and finished it and also finished off my friend’s pizza (“are you going to eat that?” classy.), so it must have been delicious.

5)  After that, we hung out on the beach for several hours. The Gulf was probably the warmest water I have been in. I hate being cold and I hate being in cold water, but I love being in warm water, so it was a nice surprise for me because I could get in and enjoy it right away!

6)  I spent some time alone, walking along the shore, looking at and collecting shells for the girls. The sand was powdery white.

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Not my photo – grabbed off Pinterest.

7)  We went to the best Italian restaurant for dinner – Campiello – in the very quaint downtown area. They had homemade pasta, which I of course ordered and loved. I think I was one of the youngest people there which was awesome.

Apparently Naples is pretty fancy and also (and probably also because it’s fancy) there’s a large population of retired folks who have homes there. Also, it was the off-season which meant that many people were not in town. Whatever the reason, I actually felt young, which has not happened in a while.

8)  Naples sunsets are gorgeous.

9)  The next day was my friend’s birthday. The night before, we (by we I mean everyone but me because I was asleep) decorated the condo to surprise her in the morning. It was really cute.

 

9)  The guys went golfing (it was in the 90s – eek! Not sure how they survived, but they did) while the girls went to yoga, then brunch downtown and window shopped and grabbed coffee. It was so nice to be leisurely and not have any plans.

10)  Before pre-dinner cocktails, I popped in to the condo’s free library/book exchange and spent way more time there than I’d planned. I found three books that I had to have. One that I’ve been wanting to read – Dead Wake by Erik Larson about the Lusitania. Love, love, loved his book Devil in the White City. Read it if you haven’t.

Speaking of cocktails, because 1. adult weekend and 2. rockstar, my girlfriend packed a whole suitcase filled with drink supplies. I thought she was joking when she posted something on Instagram, but as it turns out, she bubble wrapped simple syrup, fresh lime juice from Farms Market, and a plethora of other things. Hysterical. But also amazing.

11) On our last full day, we rented a boat and took it I don’t even know where…to a little spot that is usually not as busy as it was (Memorial Day weekend), but we found a spot and docked.

I loved seeing the birds’ nests on the signs as we drove along. Oh and we saw dolphins!! Oh my gosh, it was…so fun to see the pair of them playing. One of the highlights for sure.

I also liked seeing a lot of plant life that was new and different to me. Some of them reminded me of Hawaii plants.

We saw a bunch of pelicans on our boat trip. I so love pelicans. They’re so prehistoric-looking. Kind of goofy up close, but when they are in flight, they look really cool

12)  Seven hours later, we pull up for dinner at a Mexian place called Mr. Tequila. A bunch of people ordered their signature drink, which is a margarita with an upside-down Corona in it. Ay carumba. I did not partake, thankfully.

13)  I was so relaxed and happy that I didn’t even take my mediation on the flight home. Big mistake. The screen showed two minutes to landing and 3000 feet (or something like that), then all of a sudden, lots of turbulence and a quick ascent into the sky and a big turn and more turbulence and I was freaking. OUT.

I know stuff like this happens all the time and of course it was the pilot being safe and not landing in a storm, but still. The only saving grace (besides the fact that we landed with our lives intact) was the phenomenal view of the storm over downtown Detroit. Photos do not capture the powerful beauty of that view. I had to muster all my inner strength to bend down and fish around for my camera and snap a pic. All the while, digging my nails into my husband’s arm.

Except for those last few minutes of the plane ride back, our trip went by in a flash. If your friend ever invites you to Florida, please say yes!

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The December List – 2016

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Looking out at the Detroit River (beyond the tree line)

Happy New Year, all! December had the typical hustle and bustle of the holidays and then some. Here are the highlights…

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1)  Early December brought our first snowstorm of the season. The girls were so excited and played outside all day, and that night we got the call that school was cancelled the next day – yipee!

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2)  Everything looks more beautiful in the snow. When driving through Detroit’s Jefferson Chalmer’s neighborhood, I had to stop and snap a photo of this burned home. It looked so calm and peaceful surrounded by all that clean, white snow.

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3)  I’m a little less thrilled about the shoveling this time around. It wasn’t so bad once I got into it, but it does kind of suck being out there at night, huffing and puffing while you watch your neighbor fire up his blower and finish the job in a third of the time and minutes later, having to move aside as the city plows come through and throw wet, dirty snow on the driveway where you just shoveled.

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2)  I chopped my hair off! Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but was nervous about since I’ve had long hair for the last 15 years.

I scoured online for the perfect cut and made an appointment with my hair stylist. I knew the experience was going to be traumatic, but it was even more so when I realized that I’d been given a mom bob vs the chic cut I had requested! Oh. My. Word.

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What I imagined I’d look like vs. what I actually looked like. Nailed it!

My stylist was really nice to accommodate me the next day and put more layers put in, but there wasn’t a lot she could do because too much length had already been cut to achieve the look I wanted.

I made an appointment at another salon a couple weeks later, and the gal there fixed it up a bit so now at least I look more hip and less like a suburban mom. At least that’s what I tell myself.

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4)  For some reason (well, I suspect the reason, which was also probably the catalyst for my haircut – the cuckoo election! Gah!)  I have been really into murder mysteries lately. I hate gore and anything too psychotic, but I have been devouring the genre (escapism!?). I just finished the Robert Galbraith series (JK Rowling) which fit my mystery bill perfectly (not too icky, not too scary, great characters, good plot) and I just picked up these three titles from the library. Have read about 10 pages of “The Passenger” and am already sucked in.

My book journal (book title, author, number of pages, and a short review) says that I read 15 books in 2016. Not bad, but I hope to have a longer list this year. Some of my favorites this year were “Beer Money” by Francis Stroh, “Before the Fall” by Noah Fawley (so good. Don’t let the premise deter you) and the Robert Galbraith books. Comment with your recommendations!

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5)  Another hot-off-the-presses article from the local paper.

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6)  So I went to an event at the Yacht Club where a male model was walking around with Chanel shoes on a platter.

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7)  After eight years of a silvery Christmas tree, I switched it up and went gold this year. New glittery balls and a new star. Before I moved to Grosse Pointe, I pretty much hated gold anything and now I kind of love it.

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8)  Sometime around Thanksgiving, I brought up a couple boxes of Christmas stuff to sort through. I put a small box of gifted ornaments (ones people have given us over the years) in the dining room cabinet, so the girls wouldn’t go rifling through it after school.

I completely forgot about that box and when it was time to trim the tree, I started panicking that I’d mistakenly donated that box along with some other holiday items at the end of last year.

When I say we turned over the entire house, I mean I spent over a couple frantic hours going through all cabinets, closets, rooms, the space above the garage (okay, my husband did that one), the furnace room, everything. Except the back of the dining room buffet, obviously. After accepting that they were in fact gone, I found the box several days later while looking for a platter. Oopsies.

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9)  We made sugar cookies for Santa, as we always do, but this year I tried a new recipe that included vanilla and almond extracts, and cream of tartar, which I’ve never used before.

The first batch came out very poofy, but they were super delicious, so I will probably go with the same recipe next year and tweak it. The girls didn’t put up a fuss about it (it could have completely given them a meltdown, you just never know with these things), so it was all good.

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9)  I went to our youngest’s class Christmas party, which was also a pajama party. Holy cow, all those kids in their pjs = so much cuteness.

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10)  I made a sweet potato pie for my December book group. I usually don’t add the bourbon, but this time I did and whoa. The girls were so nice and pretended it tasted good but it pretty much tasted like alcohol! Hahahaha. Note to self. But it looked pretty. And the toasted maple pecans were yum.

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11)  The Garden Detroit’s new hoop house is almost complete! We are so excited. Thank you to all of you who have contributed towards the project. We still need about $5k more, so if you are feeling extra giving this season, you can donate through our website!

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12)  We rang in the new year at a friend’s celebration at the Dearborn Inn. A couple hours before we were supposed to head out, I tried my dress on (I haven’t worn it for about a year) and I don’t know if it got stretched out or if a year of yoga shaved some volume off my booty or what, but it was about an inch too long! Luckily the sweet ladies at our dry cleaners were able to fix it in a jiffy.

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We haven’t gone out on New Year’s Eve since before the kids were born, so it was quite a treat. And I haven’t stayed up til 2am since I don’t know how long. It was a fabulous event. Beautiful decor, dinner, dancing, cocktails, friends and lots of laughter. A perfect way to ring in the new year!

I am nervous but also hopeful for what 2017 has in store for us. Ready or not, it’s here and it’s already moving along quickly! Blessings to all of you for a wonderful year!!

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First Stop, San Francisco

We were only in San Francisco for two and a half days, but we were able to make to several of our favorite spots. I was hoping for sun, but we got the typical cold and fog of early spring (and summer and winter and often fall). I miss seeing the fog, so it was just as well.

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The March List

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March, at least the end of it, was a whirlwind of Spring Break fun. In fact, I’m still living vicariously through myself on vacation. The Grosse Pointe weather report on my phone is showing three snowflake symbols this week.

1)  Dear Michigan: So you probably heard me telling all my friends in California and Hawaii that Michigan winters “really aren’t that bad.” You’ve made your point. Please, please, please move along so Spring can arrive.

2) Our neighborhood pheasant has been very noisy lately. I think he is also annoyed that Old Man Winter has been lingering. We hear him (and sometimes see him) every day now. Mostly I see him in Shirley’s yard (they haven’t come back from Florida yet. Can’t blame them). In fact, I can see him there now, pecking at the ground.

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3) Our living room curtains finally arrived. For the second time. Oh my word. The whole curtain thing has been such a ridiculous fiasco from the beginning. I won’t tell you how much we spent on them because I’ll start feeling nauseous and I just ate. I’ll detail the whole story in another post.

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4)  My four-year-old’s drawing of an elephant. Hearts.

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5)  One day in early March we got some unusual morning fog. After dropping the kids off at school, I headed to the Pier Park to pick up my park passes (city parks here are private and open only to residents). I walked around the docks for a bit because it was so beautiful and made me think of home, I was the only one there. Serene and magical.

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6)  There’s a strip of silver maples down Kenwood Road that were planted when the Convent of the Sacred Heart on Lake Shore was still in operation. It’s called the nun’s walk, as they are said to have been planted as a pathway for the nuns who lived there. Many of the trees have fallen, but this section of Kenwood is still intact.

I snapped this photo on one of my walks with Sam. It is lovely, but not nearly as lovely as it is in the spring and summer, so I will have to remember to take another shot in a couple months to show you.

7)  Our book this month was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. It was a perfect beach read (and although I did finish it on vacation, I never actually read it at the beach. We have two non-swimmers). Not deep, but the plot held enough interest and the characters were fun and the mystery aspect was mostly exciting.

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8)  We stopped in San Francisco for two days on our way to Hawaii. It was nice to take the girls to some of our old spots – Golden Gate Park, Baker Beach, Ocean Beach (although the trash. nasty), eateries on Fillmore Street, the playground at Alta Plaza.

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9)  I got to see a handful of girlfriends, which always lifts my spirit and fills my heart. There’s nothing like spending time with old friends.

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10) A new Fillmore spot (although I’d been to their Hayes Valley location before) was Smitten ice cream. I initially resisted having some since we’d just got done eating next door at Pizzeria Delfina, but after ordering for the girls, I got back in line to order some for myself. They had sea salt caramel. Ice cream always wins.

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11)  I’m already on number ten and I haven’t even touched on Hawaii ! Let me just say it was just what the doctor ordered – a fantastic trip! So wonderful to see family (and the sun!) and have the girls bond with their Hawaii family.

Aside from the two flying cockroaches (pronounced cock-a-roach by the locals) that got into our bedroom two days before we left. One on the wall above our bed, so I slept the rest of the night with the covers over my head, which was very stifling because no air conditioning (this was after my husband smashed it and pronounced it dead).  The other was in the bathtub – GAH! So I of course showered in the other bathroom, even after my husband killed it. I mean, you guys. Deathly afraid. Obviously.

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12) Easter in Hawaii was really fun. The girls colored eggs and went on an Easter egg hunt in my mom’s front garden.  On Easter morning, my littlest woke up at 4am, her usual wake-up time on our trip (I know!) and I was able to spend the morning at the beach, reflecting on the day. Later we all went to my former church (still my mom’s) and it was great to worship with some of my old church family.

I hope all of you had a blessed Easter. I know some of you are already enjoying Spring. I know it’s on its way to Grosse Pointe. It’s just so hard be patient, especially after a warm-weather trip. Wishing you a very happy April!