For the love of Michigan

One of the perks of living in Illinois is that my family is now only 2 1/2 hours away.  One of the other perks is that Lake Michigan, a boat, and a beach is also only 2 1/2 hours away.  Having grown up in Michigan, summers will never be complete without a good amount of the Big Lake!  Though we couldn't truly vacation there this summer with Chad starting a new job, we were able to make several short trips throughout the summer.  Here are some highlights!

Kassidy LOVES the sea doo!

Chad waterskis at every opportunity he gets.  (I got one run in this year, so we're hoping for more next year!)

We got to spend time with my cousin Jason, his beautiful wife Jen, and their 4 boys.  Kassidy and Carter love playing together!

My sister Jenn was in Michigan for a couple weeks.  We enjoyed spending time with her, though it was much too short!

 Cameron LOVES the beach!

 The kids both had fun playing in the sand and water.

Once Cameron warmed up to the water, we couldn't keep him out!

 Quality time with Aunt Jenn!

No matter what water toy, Cameron feels a need to drink the water he is playing with.  I suppose his immune system is going to be pretty strong!

Big Lake Perfection!

All 4 of us went on the tube together!  It was Kassidy's 4th summer tubing and Cameron's 1st.  Though we weren't moving in this picture, I assure you we did get pulled around the lake.  Kassidy LOVED it this summer... Cameron was neutral on the experience.  :)

My parents with their 3 grandkids.  We loved being able to see Madison several times throughout the summer!

 Lots of time was spent around this table, enjoying summer and family.



We have been settling in to life here in Illinois.  Sorry for the lack of blog posts.  Here's a few pics from the last couple weeks.

Our friends, The VanZantens, stopped over for a quick one-night visit on their way to Michigan.  Kassidy LOVED having Nora sleep over!  And we, of course, loved catching up briefly.

These two kiddos melt my heart.  They sure love each other!

Cameron has discovered the joy of sweet corn this summer.

We now live only about 30 minutes from the Jones family.  Sara is one of my friends from Hope College.  It has been so much fun getting together a few times this summer with our kids!

As expected, our summer has been full of settling into our new home (aka: projects, projects, and more projects), getting to know our new town and area, meeting new people, and of course Chad getting into the rhythm with his new job at Christ Community Church.  Hopefully I'll be better about blogging more regularly in the months to come.  :)


Summer Happenings

We have officially lived in our house for 6 weeks and this summer has absolutely flown by!  Here's a little update on what we've been up to these last several weeks.

Kassidy loves to help in the yard!  We have plenty of weeding to keep her busy!

We went to "Homerfest", our local town celebration.  Kassidy and Chad rode the swings, and Kassidy got to have her face painted.  Cameron just smiled from the sidelines this year.  :)

Our church walked in the Homer Glen Independence Day parade.

We watched a lot of soccer during the World Cup.  Cameron was taking notes for the future.

We went up to Michigan to visit our new niece, Madison!  My brother Kyle and his wife Haley had their first in the end of June.  She is a doll, and we are so excited to add another baby to my side of the family.  :)  Kassidy was thrilled that it was a girl!

During our time in Michigan, Kassidy got her first Sea Doo ride.  She was ready to take control and loved every minute of it!

A family from our new church gifted us a membership to Brookfield Zoo.  We have gone twice already and cannot wait to take advantage of the membership all year long!  The kids love it (and so do their parents).  :)

My dear husband has been in "project mode" almost every day since we have moved in.  He works hard all day at church and then gets a whole list of projects when he's home.  I have several pictures that still need to be uploaded, but this is him putting the finishing touches on our new play set for the kids.  I found it "free" on Craigslist and he did a fantastic job setting it back up in our yard.  He has also hung many, many pictures and artwork pieces around the house, weeded lots of the yard, mows/weedwacks regularly, made a fire pit with old pavers that we repurposed, organized the basement and garage, and the list goes on...

We are feeling more and more settled each day and our project list is shrinking.  So far we really enjoy our new home and are adjusting back to life in the midwest.   :)  We had a great weekend with my parents this past weekend and expect Chad's parents to arrive tonight for a few days.  I'm sure I'll have more updates soon!


The Move

On June 5 the moving truck got loaded up in New Jersey.  The conclusion of our NJ chapter had arrived.  It was a hard good-bye.  We have really great friends there that we are leaving behind.  It's different too, because we don't know when we'll be back for a visit.  When we left Michigan, we knew family would always draw us back.  We don't have that with our NJ "family" and that made for a tough parting.  Even this picture of our family in front of our house makes me a little teary.  We have a lot of memories there, and we are so thankful God brought us to NJ for 3 years!

Around noon on June 6 we all piled into our (much too full) minivan and began our journey across the country.  We stopped in Canton, Ohio the first night to visit the Schnyders crew.  They are wonderfully hospitable and we had a great time with them!  Next stop was Illinois.  We stayed with a family from our new church who graciously allowed us to unload most of our minivan into their garage until we could close on our new house.  The following morning we headed off to Iowa (see previous posts).  

On June 17 we closed on our new home!  We are so excited to discover all the wonderful things about Illinois and what God has in store for this new chapter He has brought us into.

My parents came down from Michigan to pick up the kids.  They took them back to their house for the rest of the week so Chad and I could get as much done in the house as possible!  Of course, they had a wonderful time and even squeezed in a tea party with Uncle Kyle!

Our main objective was to get the kids' rooms completely painted and organized before they returned that Friday.  Almost the entire house is white (better than crazy colors, but still sterile in my mind).  So we worked from the afternoon of June 17 until the kids arrived on the evening of the 20th pretty much from 7am-midnight/1am every day.  We scheduled the moving truck to arrive on Thursday so we could get somewhat settled in before the kids came home.  Here's a picture of how jam-packed that truck was!  Chad's cousin Tanya and her family live about 45 minutes away.  Our second night there, Rick took the kids and brought us dinner and came for a visit.  We are thrilled to be so close to their family!

It was so much fun to see Kassidy find her new room when they returned and to have her discover that all her old things from NJ were in place!  The walls are even the same color in her room.  :)  This is her first night in her new house!

We are still unpacking and de-cluttering our house, and there is plenty of painting and projects to be done.  BUT... we are home!  We love our neighborhood so far and have met so many neighbors.  The kids have adjusted wonderfully!  We bless God for a smooth transition across the country when there were so many little details that could have gone wrong.  Thanks to so many of our friends/family and both our old and new church communities for going the extra mile on our behalf.  And to those of you in NJ who are reading this, you're always welcome to visit!  :)


Iowa - Part 2

We had a wonderful time during our week in Iowa!

We got to meet our new nephew Jayce at only one week old.

Ben and Kassidy had a wonderful week together!  They are only 7 weeks apart, so it's fun to see them playing together more and more.

Kassidy loved spending so much time with her big cousins!

The skid loader was a huge hit!  Uncle Ryan happily gave rides.  Cameron is officially a farm kid.  He absolutely loves tractors and animals, so his week on the farm was a dream come true.  :)

All 8 cousins together!  This is a rarity!

Oldest to youngest... Taylor (12), Aidan (9), Kya (6), Ben (3), Kassidy (3), Cameron (1), Brooke (4 months), Jayce (pictured at 1 week)

We took the kids to the aquatic center for a day.  We weren't sure how Cameron would do with water, but he was a crazy boy!  He couldn't get enough and refused to get out, even with purple lips.

We also got to meet this little beauty, Brooke.

 We stopped over at Great Grandma and Grandpa De Jager's house after church on Sunday to say hello and have them meet Cameron.

The last day of our trip was Father's Day.  We spent the afternoon/evening with family at the park and then grilling at Matt and Joy's house.

We are so thankful that we were able to spend a whole week in Iowa and enjoy time with family.  Now that we live only 8 hours away instead of 22, we are hoping for more of these fun visits!