Meeting Santa and Merry Fun

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Our time in Michigan was magical. It was so much fun catching up with my sister and making memories with her darling family. We fit in a lot of fun during our short time there, including a trip to the movies where half our large group went to see the new Disney movie, Moana, and half went to see the Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Another morning Kelly and I snuck away for a few hours to go grocery shopping and out to breakfast without children. Toby and Tom graciously offered to take care of the kids on Saturday morning so Kelly and I could enjoy some uninterrupted sister time. It was wonderful. We went to a cute little café in downtown Gaylord for breakfast and enjoyed our first uninterrupted conversation in what feels like years. We talk regularly on the phone but our conversation is always sprinkled with interruptions by crying kids, having to break up fights between boys, stopping to clean up dog vomit, or yelling over a smoke alarm going off. Somehow we manage to stay connected and plugged into each other’s lives despite the lack of deep, meaningful, extended conversations. We take whatever minutes we can to connect before we are pulled away to parent, recognizing this is simply the season of life we are in.

So to get to sit and visit uninterrupted for an hour, while enjoying a meal that we didn’t prepare, was a blessed gift! And we loved every minute of it!

The following morning Kelly was able to enjoy another morning out, this time with her husband.

Kelly and Tom went out for a breakfast date on Sunday morning after we insisted they take advantage of babysitters being in the house. As you might imagine, being parents to 5 little ones doesn’t allow for a lot of date nights. We are blessed to have babysitter-aged children now, but Kelly isn’t quite to that stage yet, so we shooed them out the door to enjoy some time alone before we left to go home.

On Saturday night we all went out together. Treetops Resort, a golf/ski resort in the area, was having a light-up night. They were offering all sorts of fun holiday activities free to the public so we decided to head on over to check it out. It ended up being a really, really fun evening.

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When we arrived we discovered different stations set up for the kids. The resort had gone all out to make the evening magical for its guests and the generosity they showed the community with this free event was impressive.

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Santa was there and Lydia, Ozzie, Nate, Sammy, Noah and Charlie all took a turn talking to the jolly fellow and letting him know what was on their wish list. Ozzie, in his Ozzie-like style, was very specific as he told Santa his top 3 gift wishes, including make, model, and where they could be purchased, sounding much like the little boy in The Christmas Story expressing his desire for a Red Ryder BB Gun.

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After everyone had a turn with Santa we began working our way around the lobby making Christmas crafts:

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Assembling marshmallow snowmen:

And waiting in line to get a custom balloon from the 12 foot tall elf.

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The balloon man could create 500 different possibilities and the kids all picked unique creations. The little boys all chose various weapons including swords, bow and arrows, and bazookas, so the could battle when they got home.

Rusty chose a Christmas wreath, Molly a rose, and Grace a hippo, in honor of the classic Christmas song, “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”

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After everyone had completed the activities inside we headed outside for free donuts and hot cocoa/cider by the bonfire.

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It was magical and put everyone in the Christmas spirit.

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We ended our magical evening with a horse drawn carriage ride around the resort. Everyone was bundled under blankets as Christmas music played softly in the front of the carriage and we talked and laughed under the cold, starry night.

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It was my favorite moment of our Michigan visit.

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It was a great trip. We loved spending the holiday with my sister’s family and loved getting time with Toby. His absence has been hard on everyone so to get a stolen weekend with him after weeks a part was a treasured blessing.

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, let the Christmas season begin!

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