The Advice Column

gooseI am feeling very protective of my family recently. There have been times in the last few months where I’ve almost said something snarky on return of a comment made about (or for) one of my boys, my extended family – or even the dogs. Typically I let things glide on past without getting too irritated, but perhaps this ridiculous weather has had an affect on me.

Mama Bear is roaring out of me. I’m the annoying mother goose protecting her nest. If you know me at all, I do try to avoid conflict at most costs, but my heart is bursting with pride for my peeps, and I feel the need to protect.

I know that most of the time, people:

1) Do mean well, usually. They are just trying to make conversation.
2) Are not trying to pick a fight.
3) Enjoy sharing their experiences and what they accomplished. Who doesn’t?
4) Might be jealous or seriously curious/concerned.
5) Don’t know what they are saying or don’t fully understand the situation.

I realize that having a family and getting older provide opportunities for mostly well-meaning people to give unsolicited advice. And there are plenty of times that I need and appreciate and seek advice. But, this seems different. It’s like, seriously, I’m becoming Mother Hen.

Here’s an example. Jokingly, it’s been told to me that Wes is frequently sick. “Germy” was actually the word used. He’s a toddler. He’s around kids that touch each other and their faces often. It shouldn’t be, but this is a hot button for me. I guess it makes me feel like person(s) joking either thinks of me as an unprepared mother of bad hygiene, that it’s unfortunate Wes has to attend daycare where all the germs gather or that Wes himself is just a silly kid with poor immunity. Listen, folks. Mothers – and all women, really – have a bad habit of thinking themselves inadequate. Poking fun or offering advice sometimes rubs us the wrong way because it fuels the fire already burning.

I’ve been on the opposite side of the conversation, too. A few years ago, I bought an item off craigslist that happened to be listed by a former coworker. He had just adopted two beautiful children from the Democratic Republic of Congo – a boy and a girl of same age. When I went to the house to complete the sale, I got to meet the children, just a few months younger than Wes. I was so taken with them and asked all kinds of questions about the adoption process, including, “Are they brother and sister?” He respectfully responded, “They ARE brother and sister, yes.” Pause. It sank in. “No, they are not biologically from the same birth parents, but they are my children and therefore, siblings.” It stung. I instantly felt awful for being that person – uneducated and assuming. I apologized, and he was kind enough to understand my inquisitive nature.

I think that experience made me more aware of my conversations with people – new parents, those with a diagnosis, couples struggling with infertility and other difficult subjects. It’s fine to be curious and interested in others’ lives, and I’m sure the party is happy to share information, but my point is to be aware of what you’re asking or commenting on. Phrase it in a way that makes it flatly honest and not disrespectful.

In the meantime, I will work on my hot buttons and how to keep my cool. :)

Posted: February 16th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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Conversations with Wes: Lawn Mower

As I picked up Wes from school today, he started the following conversation as I was buckling him into his carseat. I really couldn’t keep up with his thoughts. He talked ALL THE WAY HOME. Twenty minutes. I still don’t understand what prompted it. Or what the heck he kept labeling lawn mowers as we drove by multiple houses.

Wes: (getting into car) Where’s the lawn mower, Mama?
Me: What?
W: Where’s the lawn mower go? I see lawn mower!
M: Wesley, I don’t think lawn mowers are out this time of year. See all the snow still on the ground? People don’t need to mow grass right now.
W: (pointing out the window as we’re driving) I see SNOW! There it is! There’s lawn mowers!
M: I don’t see a lawn mower. Where?
W: I see it! I see it! See it, Mama?
M: Where, buddy?
W: Oh. Okay, Mama. I try it.
M: Try what, sweetie? I don’t understand.
W: Mama, lawn mower? Where’s the lawn mower go?
M: Maybe the garage? I really don’t know.
W: Oh. (Pause.) I don’t like lawn mower.
M: You don’t?
W: I don’t like it. I see lawn mower! (points out window at no particular thing) There it is!
M: Wes, hey. Can you show me? I don’t see what you’re talking about.
W: I see lawn mower! Where’s the lawn mower go?
M: (Trying to figure this out.) Did you play with a lawn mower at school today?
W: Oh. Nooooo. Where’s lawn mower go?
M: Are you just being silly? Because I really don’t understand what you’re asking. Are you talking about your little blue lawn mower that blows bubbles?
W: Blue lawn mower! Red!
M: It’s in the garage at home, honey.
W: Oh. Okay, Mama. I try it. You try it, Mama?
M: Sure.
W: Blue lawn mower! Where’s the lawn mower?
M: (Defeated.) I guess you’ll have to ask Daddy at home.

What a weird kid. I love him to death.

Posted: January 14th, 2014
Categories: Leah
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Dirty Boy Smell

Photo 1 (1)

Snuggling with a not-so-happy Jake

One of my favorite new scents is the sweet, sticky smell of sweat and dried slobbery boy-just-woken-up. It’s a horrendously pleasant scent that I have come to associate with a whole new dimension of love.

As the new year begins, I’ve been able to inhale that scent many times. The last few weeks have been wonderful – staying home, lounging, snuggling – but these habits in between Christmases and traveling have made Wesley’s sleep patterns completely off-kilter. During these two weeks, some days he’ll nap 3 hours and be super cuddly the rest of the day. Inhale scent. Other days, he’ll fuss and scream and/or talk to himself for an hour in bed. Team no nap! 

This week, in particular, he’s had lots of trouble going to bed at night. Typically he’s exhausted after a full day of school, and he usually is ready for bed shortly after dinner and watching “Brian.” That’s Brian Williams. He loves that guy. And has been very disappointed that he is on vacation over the holidays. “Where’s Brian?!” Anyway. It’s been a week of restlessness and stalling and crying from the bedroom. He actually STAYED UP for New Year’s, which is crazy, and was up nearly that long last night until he finally fell asleep with me in our bed, post-Benadryl.

But, “since we’ve no place to go” (it’s snowing today), I really don’t mind that he’s wanting/needing extra attention so much. Oh, I know next week is going to be rough as we adjust back to normal routine, but I’ve enjoyed spending precious moments rocking and holding my little boy. He is too long for my lap, so we have to get creative these days. My favorite is squeezing in his little crib-sized toddler bed and whispering secrets to each other. Sometimes we recite whole verses of Jingle Bells in a hushed voice. I breathe in the scent of tired kid and it relaxes me enough to dose off right alongside that boy.

It’s been a great winter break. If nothing else, it’s shown me my New Year Resolution. I’m going to be an attentive mom for my son. I will listen and be available. Not that he will be spoiled, but he will know that he can confide in his parents as he continues to grow. It does me well, too. He helps me keep my head on straight. That pleasant dirty scent may not always appeal to me – especially once hormones change! – but right now, it’s delightful.

Posted: January 2nd, 2014
Categories: Leah
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2013 Year-End Update

ShattucksThis year has been one of our more change-heavy ones! Here’s a few updates from the last time we sent out a Christmas letter.

Steven joined Bloomerang as VP of Marketing in May. He educates not-for-profit organizations on how to use web and social media for donor retention, and I usually learn a thing or two when I read his published posts across the internet. He is also a bit of a local expert on social media and inbound marketing. We often get jests from family and friends that they see/hear more from Steven on TV and radio than in person! Steven is still involved with the Historic Irvington Halloween Festival, Art Institute of Indianapolis and CICOA, and he continues to speak at various conferences and meetings all over the United States.

As of August, Leah is Communications Director for Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter. I am responsible for media relations, marketing and promotions and overall communications for the statewide chapter. The Association provides complimentary services to families caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia, as well as raises funds for Alzheimer’s research. This fall, one of my design pieces I completed for Joy’s House – the annual report & calendar – won a national award for creativity and design. For fun, I dyed my hair red to celebrate my 30th birthday in May and was featured in the Indianapolis Star with my childhood best friend for our unique ways to celebrate the new decade.

Wes, now 2, has recently exploded his vocabulary. He has been named “class clown” for his humorous antics and ability to lead his other classmates into silly phrases and actions. Despite his goofy side, Wes is very loving and enjoys giving hugs and now, kisses. He scolds the dogs just like Daddy and then nuzzles his face in Lucy’s fur (which then gives him hives). We’re still in diapers, but he’s showing more interest in bathroom procedures. His favorite foods are pizza, grapes, apple sauce and green beans. His favorite color is purple, or sometimes, yellow. Right now, he’s fascinated with the “Chri-muh tree” and points out every single “ai-pwane” in the sky.

Jake, the 8-year-old Italian Greyhound, is becoming a cranky old man. He loves to groom himself and stay warm under covers, and he makes it known when he doesn’t want to be bothered. He still has lots of affection and follows me around the house until I sit down long enough for him to hop in it. Lucy, the 4-year-old lab/pit sweetheart, doesn’t realize how big she is. She is wholly devoted to Jake, and she obeys his every word/move. She wouldn’t hurt a fly, though she looks out for her pack members. She and Jake are an odd pair, but they are the best snuggle buddies – especially in a patch of found sunlight.

As we get older, our world gets smaller and perhaps more boring. But, we’re happy and ready to see what 2014 brings! Thanks for being a part of our lives.

Posted: December 6th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Merry Christmas from The Shattucks

2013 Christmas Card

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

For our annual year-end updates, click here.

We’re doing something a little different this year. The money typically spent on printing and mailing our Christmas cards is going directly to support my friend of nearly 20 years, Angie Mayle. She and her young family are moving in July to a small Madagascar island to serve as medical missionaries. To follow their journey, visit maylesinafrica.com.

Posted: December 6th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Thankful. (Still) Working on Contentedness.

This year is weird. So many twists and turns and never really knowing up from down. But since it’s Thanksgiving season, I wanted to take a moment to be still and reflect on our blessings. Because we do have a lot.

Around this time last year, I was not content. There were things I wanted to change about everything. I complained about the size of our house. I was overwhelmed at work. I didn’t feel connected to our church family. And I so badly wanted a better car. I’m sure I was a nightmare to live with. Poor Steven.

It wasn’t fun to live that way. This past spring, I prayed (not very hard, mind you), that I would learn to be content with my surroundings. I typically don’t like change, but it’s funny when you’re set on something new and different and it doesn’t phase you as “change.” Even though it wasn’t a very fervent prayer, I know God understood my heart and where I wanted to be. And this Thanksgiving, I can say, “it’s okay. I’m good.”

Our house isn’t big or glamorous, but it’s cozy. And I love that we are “forced” to spend every evening together in the same room as a family. Tough nickels, eh? Our neighbors are wonderful. And it’s a snap to clean since there isn’t much that gets dirty!

The most remarkable and difficult and out-of-nowhere change happened this summer. After 2012 passed and the dust settled, I became comfortable in my job again. I was happy, but things weren’t right. Just when I started to understand (and sob) that it was time to move on, my current position fell into my lap. It made so much sense that I’m still baffled today at the easy transition. Not that it was easy to leave; quite the contrary. But once the mourning period was over, I was able to spread my wings. My 4.5 years at Joy’s House taught me to fly.

Our church is small, and on a typical Sunday, we average 80 members in attendance. Most of those 80 people are older families or empty nesters. I have hoped for and desired a handful of people our age with young kids that share similarities with me and Steven to join our church so painfully much that it got in the way of the things that really mattered. I’m relearning how to love our congregation. Did you know that you CAN be friends with 50 and 60-year-olds? And heck, they have lots of living under their belts to give you straight answers and advice.

It seems silly now to write about a car. But, you know? You spend a lot of time in that thing, and when you don’t love your car, it can be a problem. I’ve never really had a car I loooooved like some people do, but I certainly had affection toward my first driving-machines. The car I currently drive – it’s not its fault that I don’t draw a big heart around its name – wasn’t my choice of vehicle when we bought it. I had higher hopes outside of our price range. It’s a fine car, really: gets great gas mileage, has a wonderful warranty and everything. But over the last few years, I decided I NEEDED a Subaru Outback. I spent hours researching used Subies for killer deals, and it became salt in the wound for all of us. Instead of learning to love my car, I’ve become detached. Now, it’s “just a car.” Who cares, really? It gets us safely from point A to point B, and all Wes cares about is firetrucks.

So, there. Just a few things that I can now call blessings. There’s still a lot to be done to be fully content; it’s a work in progress. Honestly, it doesn’t mean that I’m always happy and life is full of rainbows. But being content with who you are, where you live and what you’re doing – well, that’s peace I haven’t known before. It’s nice not to worry so much about every little thing. To hand over the reigns and walk down the path set before you.

And I know I’m getting sappier as I age, but I embrace it. I like that I can morph this Leah into a gentler, sympathetic, more loving person. Well, actually, I guess it’s the guy upstairs who’s doing the morphing… but I’ll follow.

Posted: November 20th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Today’s Special

VNHXJC2CUBGSRHCAs Wes is developing more likes and dislikes, it’s entertaining to see what he gravitates to. We don’t watch much TV as a family while Wes is awake, but we do allow a little PBS time while the adults are getting ready in the morning. Thomas & Friends is obviously a favorite because it’s full of talking trains. Now Thomas appears in conversations, along with his other favorites: tractors, clouds, busses, airplanes and firetrucks. He also like Martha Speaks, mainly because it directly follows Thomas on PBS.

This week I made the comment to Steven about how I used to get annoyed as a child that Thomas & Friends started taking over Brio train sets. And I started talking about how it all started with Shining Time Station, a PBS show that I didn’t really like to watch, but did anyway when I was home sick. It starred Ringo Star, who was a conductor the size of a ruler. He would tell the children of the small town train station, who were the only ones who could see Mr. Conductor, of course, stories of a fictional train. The show would then transition into the Thomas & Friends shorts.

Steven had no idea what I was talking about, as is typical. But the conversation got me all nostalgic about shows I enjoyed as a preschooler like Wes. With an older sister, I watched shows that might have been slightly above my age level, but I loved them all the same.

The Great Space Coaster theme song has been stuck in my head all week. I loved the giant elephant puppet in particular. A few shows were taped off Saturday morning TV, and I rewatched that VHS (complete with old commercials!) over and over again.

Zoobilee Zoo! I still catch myself humming this theme song. I had great admiration for Whazzat Kangaroo. She was beautiful – mostly because she resembled a pink ballerina. Apparently there are multiple full episodes on YouTube. Noted.

I remember wondering if all mannequins were like the guy in Today’s Special. What a cool idea for a show.

And then, remember Small Wonder? Truthfully, I don’t think this was a regular show in our “line up,” but the opening song and the shot of her robotic back amazed me as a child.

Equally as great as Small Wonder is Out of This World, which starred an alien who talked to a little girl through a prism. Of course, I can’t omit Punky Brewster or Alf, but I feel like everyone remembers those shows well.

I guess I had a thing for outer spacey, mystically magically great characters. Or, more likely, my sister did, and I just watched whatever she chose! These clips look so outdated, but it makes me feel happy and nostalgic. Knowing how excited Wes becomes over Thomas the Tank Engine, maybe he’ll be giddy over 30-year-old clips found down the road, too. I have a feeling Thomas will look the same in 2040.

Posted: November 7th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Two, Spew and the 2-hour Tantrum

photo (6)He’s really a good kid. His teachers tell me, unprompted, that he’s an entertaining and mostly obedient child in their class. And he makes friends much more easily these few months. But I tell you what. He’s definitely TWO.

Because Halloween evening’s weather was the pits, the city moved treat-or-treating to the following night, which was yesterday. Our office closed early both days, so I was excited to spend the afternoon with my buddy. Steven left early yesterday morning for a weekend-long business trip, and I was thinking how fun it’d be to get a Papa Murphy’s pumpkin pizza and pass out candy to the neighbor kids.

I finished some errands before heading to Wes’ preschool. His class was still sleeping, so I waited a few minutes until he woke up to make sure he was good and rested for the evening. “Hi, Mama!” Seriously, he kills me with his over-excitedness to see me out of his ordinary schedule. On the way home we talked about pumpkins and what to eat for dinner. (Usually chicken nuggets is suggested from the back seat.)

Since it was too early to eat when we got home, I thought it would be fun to watch some annoying, kid-friendly Halloween shorts on Netflix. Wes wasn’t interested in any of the crackers or snacks I brought out for him, which I thought was weird. We watched a few minutes of Thomas the Train Spooky Stories, and then, out of the blew, Wes vomited all over the couch. It’s the first time I ever saw him throw up. Ever.

The poor kid was so distraught and confused. I took him to the bathroom to hose him off a little and console him. I cleaned up the couch, and he seemed normal enough, so we watched a few more minutes of Thomas. Mistakenly, I gave him a package of fruit snacks that he quickly gobbled up. Within minutes, there was another watery mess on the floor to clean up. The weird thing was the consistency of the vomit – mostly water. I figured he would soon get dehydrated if this continued, so we packed up to get some Pedialyte, and guess what? I was the mom with a spewing kid in a store isle!

Weirdly enough, we made it through the majority of the evening pretty well. I didn’t know what this kid HAD, so not only was I responsible for a public vomit-mess, I was also the person with lots of candy and no porch lights on. I felt so guilty every time a group of kids came on our porch. I felt like I was hiding from salesmen or Mormon missionaries. And now what do I do with all this chocolate?! Now I realize the enormity of the Halloween candy haul problem. IT WILL GET EATEN.

We hunkered down and watched Dumbo – mainly to distract Wes enough during the 15 minute intervals between small Pedialyte dosages. He was sooooo thirsty and whined for “MORE WATER.” I knew he would guzzle down too much and spew it back up if I let him, so it seemed like a very long movie. All was pretty well until he got up to go to bed… and you can guess. Ugh. #4.

Now here comes the part where I say he’s “definitely two.” See, typcially, Wes is super easy to put down for bed. And he was again last night. He brushed his teeth happily and laid down and repeated all the words of my prayer, as usual. I went back into the living room to eat some candy and actually have dinner (since I felt bad he couldn’t), and enjoyed a little “me” time. But around 10:30, he whined enough for me to check in on him. Instead of going back down, as he usually does, he sat straight up and refused to go back to bed. Maybe it was because Steven wasn’t home, or maybe he just felt awful – or both, really – that for the next TWO HOURS STRAIGHT he screamed, cried, wriggled, and nearly lost his voice in defiance.

I’ve been offering choices to Wes over the last few months to help him feel like he has a little more control – though he is actually doing something under mine. So for what seemed an hour, I calmly explained that I could see he was upset, but that it was time for bed and why it was important, blah blah and gave him the choice to go to bed 1) in his room or 2) in my bed, with me. I really thought this would be a no-brainer, even though I really didn’t want to give him the option to sleep with me. Instead, this only prolonged his full-blown tantrum. I tried everything. Putting him back into his bed and letting him cry with fingers crossed he would eventually fall asleep (nope, only worsening screams), holding him in bed with me as he tossed and wrangled, letting him throw a fit on my bedroom floor, thinking it would be ok if he fell asleep there (nope), offering more “water,” putting him in time out…

I mean seriously. It was almost 1 a.m., and I considered strapping him into his carseat and driving to my parents’ house. I almost expected to hear a knock on my door from how loud and how LONG he screamed bloody murder. I’ve never seen anything like this from him. Of course I wondered if maybe delirium was possible from dehydration and if I should take him to the ER… everything crossed my mind.

Finally I broke. I looked at Wes and started sobbing. Through tears, I told him I didn’t know how to solve his problem, but that I loved him. And that I was sad and tired. I set him down and walked to my bedroom. He stopped screaming, followed me down the hallway, raised his arms up and snuggled into bed with me.

From toddler kicks and jolts throughout the night, I obviously didn’t sleep well. I cried silently at various times and found myself wishing Steven was home. I wasn’t mad at Wes, but I was upset with myself that I couldn’t resolve the tantrum. But maybe that’s the point?

For as bad as a night it was, I woke up to little pudgy hands tracing the shape of my cheek and touching my nose to a whispered, “beep, beep.” The smile on his face this morning was priceless.

Here’s hoping tonight is a little smoother, but thankfully we had a successful naptime today. You know, I’m learning so much as a parent. It truly is the most challenging thing I’ve ever attempted. I may not be getting straight A’s, but I don’t think I’m failing. At least, based on his loving gestures and our breathy in-bed chats from this morning, Wes doesn’t think so!

Posted: November 2nd, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Oh, hai, Fall.

Today was an all-around great fall-ish day. The weather was perfect. And it was a rare day off in the middle of Walk to End Alzheimer’s season to boot. I will now wow you with a collection of photos and cute happenings from little people.

If you’re looking for a killer deal, head to a small, local pumpkin patch on the inaugural morning of their annual month-long fall festival. They opened at 9 a.m., and we arrived at 9:30, only to be greeted by a bunch of apologetic employees saying most things were still being set up (apparently there’s a super awesome pumpkin-eating dinosaur). In return, we received half off our admission AND a season pass to come back later. You know what’s the best? A two-year-old doesn’t know any different, so it was a fun morning with the promise of another fun morning(s).

There were tractors (RACK [pause] TOR!) and pumpkins (PUN-kin) and miniature horses (neighs) and baby goats (baaa) to pet. We walked through a corn maze and discovered a tractor which was brilliantly turned into a slide. Wes kicked and screamed mightily when we had to go. We were covered in mud, and it was great. Even stopped for pumpkin spiced lattes on the way home.

tractor  pumpkins

Once home, we found a praying mantis on our front porch. Also found were grasshoppers and crickets resting in our new mums. How cool. Probably any other day I would have missed these little pieces of intrigue hanging out under our noses. Having a little boy is so fun – he totally loves dirt and bugs and things with engines and horns.

558327_10101452254347648_135982669_nLater on, I met my mom, sister, niece and baby nephew at a tea room. Earlier this year, my mom had promised Elli, 5, a proper tea party with the girls. And proper it was! We dressed up and wore my late great aunt’s gloves (she had an enormous collection) for the 3-course tea party, complete with sandwiches, scones and desserts. Elli felt so special this afternoon, and her joy was contagious. I just love her. She makes me laugh deep down in the gut, and she makes me proud to the point of tears. There’s definitely something to be said about love for a child (outside of your own)- especially your sister’s first-born. I love all my nieces and nephews tremendously; Elli just has a little different kind of love from me. It’s hard to explain any more than that.

teaparty1  teaparty2

I came home to my two boys, who did not care that they missed out on such a fun, girly experience, and enjoyed the great outdoors a little more. One of my favorite activities of the past few months is “family yard work.” I’m not very handy in this area, but I do enjoy pulling weeds and dead-heading flowers while Steven mows the lawn and Wesley wanders around with his bubble mower. It’s really the best. I will be sad to say goodbye to these days once the weather turns in.

Dinner is more fun than ever before, now that Wes is actually saying literal words. He’s always been chatty at meal times, but now we understand most of what he’s saying. The evening ended with a rousing version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and other songs. This basically means that Wes watches my mouth intently while I sing most of the words, and chimes in triumphantly with the last word of every line.

Twinkle, twinkle little STAR!!
How I wonder what you ARE!!
UP-PA UP-PA WORLD so HIGH
Like a DA-MON in the SKY
Twinkle, twinkle little STAR!!
How I wonder what you ARE!!

We sang all the way to the bedroom, said our prayers, and I closed his bedroom door with a smile on my face. It was a great fall-ish day.

Posted: September 28th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Lake Michigan Vacation

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South Haven, MI

Last year we took our first family vacation just after Labor Day to Hilton Head. It was the perfect time to go because everyone else was in school. We vacationed among snowbirds and locals and retirees. Hardly any busy families in sight. Our place was steps from the beach and swimming pool, so we had options for Wes, the little guy. It was even better because all the rates went down after Labor Day. We had thought about taking a “real” summer vacation this year, but because of our job changes, it made most sense to wait until September again.

Our first idea was to drive up to Toronto for a week. This idea still intrigues us, and we may decide to go next year or sometime in the near future, but we quickly realized it might be a little too much for a two-year-old. We needed somewhere relatively close by. Preferably a beach of sorts, because it just makes it an easy vacation for everyone. Plenty of sand entertainment for the kid, plenty of sun and reasons to be lazy for the parents. And we needed to find a place to stay close to the beach for naps and short duration beach visits.

Hilton Head was great for us last year, but we knew the drive would be too much for Wes now. Lake Michigan came to mind, and we had lots of suggestions from friends that frequent the area. Neither Steven or I had ever stayed near Lake Michigan for any length of time. We settled on South Haven, Michigan, because of the layout of the town and easy access to the beach. Our apartment rental was located within a late 1800’s Victorian home just 3 blocks from the water. The neighborhood was picturesque and reminded me of Irvington in some ways. Beautiful old homes with tiny yards and manicured lawns. People sitting on porches. Quaint and inviting.

The beach is separated by two piers, each with its own lighthouse. Our house was near South Beach, which had its own playground within the sand. As soon as Wes saw the his-size swings, he was in heaven. We spent the afternoons introducing Wes to beach bum life – although he pretty much failed at this. He was always moving.

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I don’t know why I thought I would be able to read on the beach like all my previous summer vacations. I reduced my take-along book count significantly this year (only one, with the Kindle as a back up), and I am just halfway through it. Hahaha, I have so much to learn about family vacations. The only time I had to read was nap time. However, I was so tired from poor night sleeping and wake ups with Wes that I usually took my own nap during those times.

But, we had great fun over the course of 4 days. Because the mornings were too chilly and windy for the beach, we visited an orchard and petting zoo,

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climbed sand dunes at a nearby state park (i.e. nearly passed out from cardiac arrest) and visited a neighboring beach town for a carousel ride and children’s museum.

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Our trip was short, but it was just about the right amount of time away. The drive wasn’t bad at all – just about four hours. We opted to go up along 65 in order to pass through the windmill farm, which is always an out-of-body experience for Wesley. “WHOA! STARS! STARS, MAMA!” For twenty minutes straight. And! To divide up the trip a little on the way home today, we stopped at Fair Oaks Farms for a totally fun dairy adventure and some fresh milk. Highly recommend.

If we decide to go back (which is highly possible), I’d want to go during peak summer season. Yes, it was nice that there were no lines or crowds anywhere we went, but most places were closed for the season by the time we arrived. The morning and evenings were pleasant, but too cold for swimsuits or boat rides. Apples were just beginning to be ready for picking, but we were a few weeks late for the famous Michigan blueberries.

I’d love to venture a little further north to check out some other Michigan beach towns. I enjoyed day trips to Mackinac Island and Holland as a kid, and I think Wes would, too.

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(The above photo is my attempt of self-timer family photography. It still makes me laugh.)

The best part about our vacation week? It didn’t matter where we were; Wes was busy talking, learning new words and discovering his world. Though he has been to lakes and beaches before, everything seemed new to him, and it was thrilling to watch. He sensed that we were on a special trip away from home, and he loved that we were paying so much attention to him. Staying up a little later than normal, eating not-so-healthy and exploring new places – it was all adventurous, and his excitement was contagious.

I don’t mind that my book is half-read because I got some great photos of some great memories. You can see them here.

Posted: September 6th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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