"So, how was your summer vacation?" I always ask my students during our first class after the break. I listen to their stories and they usually ask me the same question. My answer this year was quite simple, "I just spent time with my family, saw my best friend and her family, and had a nice trip to Chicago." And although those were the best parts of my summer, upon cleaning out my wallet this morning, I discovered that I actually did quite a lot besides sitting in my parent's backyard sipping beer and eating yummy food.
So, first, for those interested, a few interesting places to visit if ever in western Michigan.
The day my brother and family arrived at the Grand Rapids Airport from Maine, we went to Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. My mother and I went early and enjoyed a guided tram tour of the amazing collection of outdoor sculpture - fantastic! When my niece and nephew joined us, we headed to the Children's Garden. A michigan summer off to a great start!
The next day we had a "Girls Day Out" and Grandmommy Lila, my sister-in-law, my niece and I headed down to Holland to watch Charlotte's Web performed at the Hope Summer Repertory Theater. Uniquely presented and magical! We adults enjoyed it as much as the kids around us.
The next day while the rest of the family headed to Holland to cheer on my brother in his long-course swimming pursuit... (He SWAM a 5k in just over 1 hour!! WOW!) my mother and I made a brief stop at our local art museum, where my mom volunteers as a docent. For such a relatively small town, Muskegon sure has a fantastic art museum.
Then we drove just minutes away to the bustling Muskegon Farmer's Market to fill our big wicker basket with juicy blueberries, cherries and peaches; ripe tomatoes, fresh picked corn, etc., etc. What a great season for fresh fruits and veggies!
So, at this point I'm feeling very cultured and well nourished, indeed! But, until my parents and I took a trip to Chicago, where we visited the new modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago,
(And... finally some pictures to accompany my blog...thanks to my sister-in-law. <-.->)
Here's my twin brother, Sam
my sister-in-law, Emilie, and her (pictured here as calm and quiet, but otherwise very lively, very funny and very cute) little boy, Reed,
(Just look at that beach! How much do I wish I were still on vacation??!!)
Most evenings we just spent on the back patio chatting and, need I say it again?...you know, the beer and food with my parents. It's just such a wonderful place to be.
The summer also provided a nice weekend of visiting with my dear aunt, many cousins, their children and grandchildren. It was so special that so many made the effort to come visit us. (Photos covered nicely at manhartfamily.blogspot.com, as I'm sure you who care, know.)
Here's just one I like of me with my cousin and his beautiful daughter who I can't believe is going into her last year of college.
I also had the chance to visit with my best friend from Florida who brought her whole family up to Michigan during the time I was there.
Two days was too short, but...but...hmmm...just too short as it is with almost everything there is to say about summer, and vacation, and time spent with family and friends while living so far away. Sometimes short and sweet is good, sometimes just not. But it was a sweet summer.