July 18, 2023

Family Vacation to the Upper Peninsula

I'm finally working on getting my house back together after being gone for five days. It's kind of crazy how much laundry a family of four can come home with after only five days! (The boys do their own laundry, but I have to hound them to move it to keep the line going.) 

My mood hasn't been great lately--still feeling super overwhelmed and it's hard to pinpoint the exact sources. Everything that we've had to deal with over the last year just seems like we are due for a break! Not even a vacation could erase it from my mind.

However, we did have a good time and I'm so glad that we made the drive up there. Getting to spend time with Jeanie and Shawn--without feeling rushed or chaotic or having lots of people milling about--was really nice. Shawn and I are a lot alike and being able to talk to him always helps validate my feelings and give me some things to think about (he would make a great therapist, actually).

Shawn is still sober--over 14 months now!--and he's doing great. I'm not at all saying it's easy for him, but he's been doing all of the therapy and outpatient work to help him and he's learned a ton. Something that I didn't know until a few weeks ago is that Jeanie quit drinking when Shawn did, too. She didn't have a problem with alcohol, but she quit for Shawn, which I think is awesome. So, there was no drinking all weekend, which was refreshing. We all went to bed at a decent hour and woke up feeling good!

Anyway, I have a lot of photos and there is too much to really go through and describe the whole trip, so I'll just share a few highlights. Most of these, I'll just explain with a caption:

Shawn needed to tow this tractor with another tractor, so I volunteered to steer. I wish I could say I did a great job, but being towed backwards is kind of confusing, haha.

I couldn't believe it when Jeanie served Joey breakfast in bed. He is totally spoiled up there.

Speaking of dogs, this is Walter--he's the special needs dog that Jeanie and Shawn adopted probably a year ago or so. I had no idea just how attached Shawn was to him! Walter and Shawn are like Duck and me.

Remember I said I might get brave and post a picture of me in a bathing suit? Well, I'm doing it. This bathing suit cracked me up! Jeanie said it was a "disposable" suit, which I'd never heard of. I hadn't planned to go tubing down the river with everyone--usually Shawn and I hang back, because we don't like the water--but I wanted to make the most of my time with the kids.

Jeanie's suits would be a million times too big in the boob area, so I went with the disposable suit and a beach coverup over it. Jeanie thought the suit looked adorable (naturally, I could only focus on my body image issues when I saw the picture). But posting it here is a big step in trying to accept my flaws. (Jeanie took a photo in the sun of me, and it was much less flattering, if that tells you anything.)

The texture of the suit reminded me of one of those disposable tablecloths (not the plain thin plastic, but the one with some sort of felt underneath). It was surprisingly comfortable! The butt area was very baggy and a lot of times I felt like I wasn't wearing anything at all, haha.

So, I was a good sport and went tubing with everyone... and I'm so glad that I did! I still don't like the water, but it was something out of my comfort zone and I chose to do it anyway. This is a picture of our full group:

Jeanie, Shawn, Eli, Ava, Noah, me, and Jerry

We hooked our tubes in a big circle so we could see each other and chat. Somehow, I always wound up being the one traveling backwards down the river!

We talked and laughed a lot, and at one point, we even stopped to "bathe" in the river. The water was super shallow, but the current was moving faster than I thought and it was so hard to make my whole body go under water. I eventually learned to quickly sit on the bottom and lean backward... but that short second I went under pulled me several feet back toward the raft, which was funny. Jerry was laughing at me, of course, and I didn't realize it, but Jeanie took some pictures. I look like I was being baptized or something.

It was quite cold, for sure.

Later, we realized just how bad Jerry's skills are at applying sunscreen. His burn was so splotchy! I am always very liberal with sunscreen, so I didn't burn at all--but I got some in my eye, which would not stop burning and tearing up the entire time. Priorities, I guess!

I thought this was cute--Eli and Ava made "pigs in a blanket" one morning (if you're not familiar, you wrap breakfast sausages with crescent rolls and bake them).

This is the SECOND vegan chocolate cake I made while I was there! Shawn couldn't stop talking about how good the first one was (that I made for Noah's birthday) and kept asking for another. I had the ingredients, so Jeanie and I made another. I am so glad everyone liked it! (I get excited when people like vegan food.)

Jerry needed to do some work to take HIS mind off things as well, so he and Shawn cut wood and just played with the big "manly" toys.

Meanwhile, Jeanie taught me the basic concept of American football! Anyone who knows me knows that I loathe football. From the day I was born--which happened to be on the Super Bowl--I have just never understood what people like about it. It seems like that's all anyone wants to do during football season (watch the games) and I didn't know anything about the rules or even the basic concept.

Several years ago, I even read "Football for Dummies" and I didn't "get" it. Well, Jeanie explained everything SO much better in an hour than I learned in the entire book. She used Starbursts to stand in for the teams in order to explain. I actually found it pretty interesting!

She pulled up an old game from last year and we watched a quarter or so of it. She frequently paused it to "quiz" me on a situation and I did pretty good. I am definitely going to try watching a game this fall. I really *want* to like it, because it would be fun to get into it with everyone else. (Jeanie is very good at explaining things; I needed her to talk to me like a five year old, as if I'd never even heard the word "touchdown" before.)

And then finally, after the disaster false-start home we had on Sunday morning, we were on the road to head back home. The trip felt SO much longer, but we made it. (You can read the story about that on yesterday's post.)

It was nice to get away, but it feels good to be home!


  1. Thank you for sharing all the things you are trying to do to get out of your comfort zone.. honestly I don't see any flaws.. I'm so glad to know you 😉♥️

  2. It looks like you guys had such a great time - I'm so happy for you! I've never heard of a disposable swimsuit before. I do the same thing - look at my flaws - but when I look at that photo of you in the suit, I don't see any flaws. You look fantastic!

  3. Oops. Didn't meant to hit publish! I'm a third generation alum of The Ohio State University. Don't be coming at us with TTUN stuff. ;-)

  4. Wasn't Eli just in a car accident? He and his girlfriend don't have seatbelts on in any of the van pictures! That bathing suit looks great on you, you shouldn't worry so much about things like that. Put a swimsuit on and enjoy time with your family. As a person who's been having panic attacks for 35 years, I don't get how you feel them "building up". That's why they're called attacks, they come out of nowhere. Your therapist should be giving you desensitization exercises to do, you're insurance covers it, they should have you in twice weekly cognitive behavior therapy at least! My panic attacks are tied to my IBS, which has been very hard to control.

  5. I love going on vacation, but my favorite part is always coming home! It looks like you had a fun trip.

  6. Katie, you look fine in the swimsuit. Keep in mind that it wasn't one that you picked specifically, so of course it's not going to be great. What I find funny is that it looks like such an old-fashioned style and pattern, as if the manufacturers think only grandmas need disposable swimsuits!

    I have to mention - the backhoe in the photo is from Komatsu. My sister is one of the high-level graphic designers for Komatsu! So that means I always check the brand names of big machinery, LOL.

  7. I've never heard of a disposable swimsuit! That's so interesting. But I guess it would be good for a situation like this, when you have a guest that needs a bathing suit?

    What I've done before is wear a sports bra with a pair of "athletic" style shorts made out that meshy 'quick dry' kind of material. It's not as good as bathing suit material but works okay and if you have a coverup anyway then the 'two piece' style wouldn't matter much.


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

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