Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Break!

Whoooooo!  We are on Spring Break!  I put in for this time off last July- long before I scheduled or even knew about my foot surgery.  I didn't even remember that I took it off, so when I was freshly returned from 2 1/2 months off work and received the acceptance slip in my work mailbox, I almost changed my mind and said I didn't need it.  I'm glad I didn't do that!  I also somehow still had one day of E-time I needed to use, so I took Thursday off for parent-teacher conferences.

Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows how much I HATE parent-teacher conferences!  I've dealt with dramatic teachers, stupid teachers, teachers who didn't like my kid for lame-o reasons, teacher who did like my kid for lame-o reasons and teachers who just didn't care.  We've had a few great teachers over the years, but most of the time I leave conferences wishing I could pull my kids from public school and homeschool.  This round was different.  It was even somewhat pleasant!  Both kids are behaving well, got good grades, understand everything, etc.  Other than Kaylin's English teacher keeping me for well over 30 minutes while she vented about all the standardized tests the middle schoolers have to take (not AT ALL about Kaylin, just a general rant), everything was quick, pleasant and inoffensive.

I spent the rest of Thursday tearing around packing and getting everything ready for a long weekend in Michigan.  Gene got Good Friday off and took Monday off, so we only have 4 days.  We needed to go somewhere we could easily drive and Gene wants to drive over the Mackinac Bridge.  I tried to change his mind and do this trip in July, but we couldn't come up with a better plan.  So far, I'm glad we didn't.  We had a blast yesterday!

We left home Thursday after Gene got home from work and drove a few hours to Indiana.  I wanted to go to Indiana Dunes State Park and we spent the night at a hotel a few miles from the main park entrance.  I was up much earlier than the rest of the gang, so headed over just to scope things out and figure out where we were going.  I hiked a trail from a nature center that turned out to be WAY longer than I expected.  It lead me through birdy forest to the top of a huge dune overlooking Lake Michigan.  It. Was. Awesome.  I think I picked up 6 year birds on my little jaunt!  I also saw about a dozen red-headed woodpeckers, which always makes me happy.  I was back to the hotel a little before 9am and we packed up and headed to the beach.  The kids had a blast playing in the sand, searching for rocks and other treasures and climbing the dunes.  We tried to fly our new barred owl kite, but there was so little breeze, we only got it up for a short time.  The birding at the beach area wasn't fantastic- other than the dozens and dozens of noisy sandhill cranes that kept migrating over :)  We then headed up along Lake Michigan.  We stopped and climbed Mount Baldy, a gigantic dune that the kids tore up and down three or four times while Gene and I took in the view of the gorgeous water and the not so gorgeous neighboring nuclear power plant.  We spent the rest of the day stopping at random beaches and places to hike.  We completely forgot about the time zone change, so we unexpectedly lost an hour.  We stopped a bit early for the night so the kids could swim at the hotel and so we could have our annual gigantic hotel Easter egg hunt.  We had so many eggs this year (no, Mom, I don't count them) I'm guessing housekeeping will find at least one surprise.  Overall, it was a fantastic day!

Our original goal was to get to Traverse City last night, but we were having too much fun on the beaches.  We only made it to Grand Rapids.  So far, Indiana and southwestern Michigan were fairly warm and snow-free.  Just as we were nearing Grand Rapids, I noticed most of the small lakes and borrow pits were iced over and there are still some patches of snow in the shady areas.  The plan for today is to take the highway up to the U.P. and go over the bridge and check out what there is to see.  That way, if it's too cold or not as much fun, we can come back down and have more beach time.  The kids definitely want to stop back at the Indiana Dunes if we have time Monday.  We'll see how it goes!  Right now, I'm going to shower and get dressed and head over to the Meijer store next to our hotel.  Maybe I'll also find somewhere to bird before everyone else is up for the day.

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