Fall Favorites!

For those of you who don’t know me…FALL IS MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR! Like if fall could be 9 months out of the year (with summer being the other 3 obviously,) I think I would be the happiest girl in the world!

I’m not sure I can chose my favorite thing about it: the cool temperatures (hello jeans+sweatshirts,) the beautiful colors of the leaves, football games, outdoor activities or pumpkin spice lattes. Either way, the vibes of Fall are just something I look forward to all year long.

This year was especially fun and special; being that it’s Fitz’s first Fall experience! Does anyone else feel like Northern Michigan really lucked out this year with some warm, sunny and colorful days! Kwin and I definitely took advantage of this with lots of hiking, biking and “fall-ish” activities. Let me know if you enjoyed any of these too; or if we need try some new things next year!

Hiking and Biking

  • Vasa Single Track– HIGHLY recommend going here for an epic bike during the fall! NMMBA has done an awesome job recently of creating more trails for you to explore all over the state land in Williamsburg, MI. You can also hike or RZR on designated trails.
  • Electric Bikes on the backroads– We invested in some Electric bikes a couple years ago, specifically for bike rides like these! We are able to cover so much ground, and still enjoy the ride. Plus adventuring on back dirt roads is always so much fun with Kwin. Shoutout to Oma Jo for hanging out with Fitz so we could have a little day date!
  • Home Sweet Home– We’ve spent so much time over the past five years working on trails around our property. I’m not lying when I say they are my favorite trails to hike! The dogs can be off leash, so many different trails to choose from, and the beauty of the landscape makes it great too!
  • Mt. Holiday– A local favorite for skiing in the Traverse City area is also a favorite for hiking year round! Climbing to the top of the main ski hill really gives you an epic view of both East and West Grand Traverse Bay!
  • Marquette Trip– Our annual UP fall trip took place in Marquette this year. It was a beautiful and sunny weekend; filled with lots of hiking! Some of our favorites are Hogsback, Sugarloaf, Deadriver Falls and catching sunrise on Lake Superior. Fun fact… FOUR years ago Kwin and I got engaged on top of Hogsback Mountain; and look at us now with our beautiful baby girl in the same spot! This hike will always have so much special meaning to me.

Fall Treats

  • Pumpkin Spice Lattes– I’m usually not for frilly drinks, I’m pretty lame and just prefer a good black coffee. BUT this time of year calls for all the frilly pumpkin drinks I can get my hands on. If you’re in the Traverse City area…. go to Espresso Bay and get their pumpkin spice latte (it’s made with REAL pumpkin, no fake sugary syrups) YOU WONT REGRET IT.
  • Third Coast Bakery– Donuts aren’t really my jam, and I usually only have one pumpkin donut a year. However, after trying one of there HIGHLY RECOMMENDED GF donuts… I was converted to a donut person. Lets just say we made it a Sunday tradition to get a few of these bad boys! If you’re in the Traverse City area and looking for a bakery that is Gluten Free and very allergen friendly (soy, dairy and some items even egg free) give this place a try! I haven’t had a bad bakery item yet!
  • Pumpkin Patch– Is it really fall if you don’t go to a pumpkin patch? Unfortunately with COVID, this wasn’t the “usual” pumpkin patch experience…but we still made the best of it!

Sports

  • Lions Games– Even though the lions let us down 75% of the time, we still spend our Sundays cheering them on!
  • Elk Rapids Sporting Events– I love fall because of all the sports! And with Kwin taking a break from coaching this year, we had more time to go support the other teams; like football, soccer and volleyball! Fitz is enjoying going to all these games too. I’ve got a feeling she’s going to be a little sports star!

Family Fun

  • Sauna Season – I missed out on sauna season last year, due to being pregnant. But let me tell ya, I’m so excited the weather is cooling off and the sauna is being lit again!
  • Hot Tubs– Kwin and Fitz have some fun bonding time in the hot tub before “tubby time” almost daily! My heart melts watching her splashing around in there and interacting with daddy. She really is a water lover already.
  • HalloweenEEEEKKK, I was looking forward to Halloween so much! In fact, Fitz rocked three outfits and looked absolutely adorable in all of them. Dottie from a ‘League Of Their Own,’ A Polar Bear, and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!

Writing this on our first wintery day -hello white stuff&40mph winds– and getting a little sad that fall has come to an end. We are lucky in Michigan to experience all four seasons, as it really makes you appreciate whatever season you are currently in.
So I’ll sign off hear and say: Until next year Fall!

Wow that flew by…Third Trimester!

As I’m sitting here with my little baby girl laying on my chest, I can’t help but reflect on how fast pregnancy truly went! I was incredibly fortunate to have had a pretty great pregnancy, feeling good throughout the entire process.

Third trimester came and went in the blink of an eye; and I’m excited for all the fun adventures ahead for us as a family of three!

My Symptoms

  • Ligament Discomfort: The ligament discomfort continued from second trimester, but because of my awesome chiropractor, Dr. Darnell, the discomfort actually improved. That is until about week 37 when baby girl had started to drop; increasing the amount of pain/discomfort in my lower pelvis!
  • Gastric Reflux- As pregnancy progressed I was experiencing more and more reflux after eating. It wasn’t terrible, but enough to steer me away from certain foods due to the reflux feeling after eating them! Pasta sauce was the major culprit….
  • Braxton Hix Contractions- Yup, these guys were definitely more noticeable during the third trimester. They acted as a reminder to me to SLOW DOWN!
  • Edema in my ankles- After a day of work, or just being on my feet all day, my feet would be pretty swollen!

My Cravings 

The cravings continue! I’m lucky that for the most part that I was able to eat mostly the same foods that I did “pre-pregnancy.”

  • Pasta or Pizza- Usually with pesto sauce though, thanks to my reflux with tomato sauce!
  • FRUIT– Similar to all the previous trimesters, I could eat fruit all day! But once third trimester hit I noticed that I really wanted watermelon, cherries and pineapple!
  • Cranberry Juice
  • Big Salads
  • Fruit smoothies

Adventures

  • CABIN TRIP! This was a little bittersweet as it was our last cabin trip just the two of us. We enjoyed lots of hiking, reading and kubota rides around the property(:
  • Local Favorites: Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Brown Bridge Quiet Area, walking around our property, sunset paddle boards, bike rides and just being spontaneous!
  • Boating! This summer has been one of the hottest that I can remember in a very long time… and because of this, Kwin and I spent almost every day on our boat!

Quick and Dirty On My Labor Experience

Friday July 10, 2020
All day I was experiencing intermittent “period cramps” but no regularity to anything. I had this gut feeling that our little girl was going to be making her appearance soon though!
8pm I started experiencing contractions that were about 8 minutes apart and lasted about 1 minute in duration. Kwin and I decided to pack up the car with our luggage and chill the rest of the night!

Saturday July 11, 2020
1245am my water broke while sleeping in bed. Kwin and I made our way to the hospital at this point (as instructed by our midwife) and were both super excited!
130am the admitting midwife confirmed that my water indeed was broken and the admission process was started. She checked me and said I was about 3cm dilated. She reiterated that labor could be a long process still since I was a ‘First Time Mom.’ Kwin and I got settled into our room and tried to get as much sleep as we could.
730am my doula, Harmony, arrived to the hospital. She was an absolute SAINT! I don’t know what I would have done without her during the labor process.
9am Kwin, Harmony and I went for a walk around the L&D unit and that’s when my contractions really started getting intense!
10am I started experiencing the intense feeling like I needed to poop, and that I couldn’t go through labor anymore. My amazing nurse, Heather, said those are the two magic words and checked me again (I hadn’t been checked since first being admitted due to increased risk of infection after your water breaks!) I was so nervous that I was not going to be very far still and would have to make the decision whether or not I wanted an epidural or not. BUT, then she told me I was 8cm, almost 9, and I got the biggest feeling of motivation to finish it out unmedicated! I asked to get in the tub at this point to help my body relax for the rest of labor until I was allowed to push.
11am I was really having the urge to push, so again, my nurse checked me and now I was finally fully dilated and ready to push! The team finished setting up the room, got the doctor and the pushing period began! I pushed for about 45 minutes, which was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. After much profanity and other kind words….
1147am Fitz Annmarie Morris made her entrance into the world! She was absolutely perfect in every way.

Stay tuned for an update on Fitz’s first month of life and all the crazy adventures she has already done! We are completely in love with this little girl and cannot wait to show her the world(:

PS. For everyone curious where we got the name Fitz from…. I read her name in a book (My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Piccoult) awhile ago, It was a characters nickname, and absolutely loved it. I told Kwin the name, and well he loved it too for a completely different reason (the Edmund Fitzgerald!)
FUN FACT- two years prior to Fitz’s birth, Kwin crossed Lake Superior on his paddle board (this paddle took place July 10-11, 2018) which is exactly when I went into labor and delivered her! It’s like this name was almost meant to be(:

Annual Trip To The UP…AND WE SAW TWO BEARS!

Yup you read that right, TWO BEARS! Don’t worry, both were within reasonable distance away…but still pretty cool! Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is pretty chuck full of wildlife and it’s especially noticeable this time of year. With animals coming out of hibernation, and the lack of leaves on trees to hide things in the woods; You’re chances of seeing something on a hike are very high!

We weren’t uncertain to whether or not we would even be able to make this annual trip of ours to the cabin (due to COVID and the stay-at-home order here in Michigan.) However, when Governor Whitmer loosed the restrictions allowing people to go to their second residences, we ran for it! Obviously following all necessary precautions- wearing masks at gas stations, bringing in all our own food from a grocery store around home, and only going to the cabin!

The trip was nothing short of amazing, per usual! In fact, because Kwin doesn’t have to be at work currently we were able to stay longer than ever… 6 days! Whew, that’s a long time staying at a primitive cabin with no running water, electricity, or cell phone service. But man, it was much needed during this time of craziness!

We spent lots of time hiking (averaging 8-10miles per day,) reading, doing chores around the cabin, fishing, searching for the biggest White Pines we could find (we found one with 14ft circumference) and spending quality time with each other!
Would you believe me if I told you there were still HUGE snowbanks? Welp, there was! The currently melting snow resulted in REALLY high water levels in the rivers and HUGE waterfalls, I had never seen them pumping so much!

Kwin and I enjoy and look forward to this trip so much!
With the sprouting tree buds, the chirping birds, muddy terrain, and sunny days…It’s a true sign that we’ve made it through another Michigan winter!
I hope you enjoy the blog and are getting outside during this beautiful spring weather yourself!

PS. For anyone who cares, baby girl did great with all the hiking and activity this past week! I cannot wait to bring her up to the cabin with us and make a whole bunch of new memories with her(:

Refreshing Weekend Getaway, North Country Trail Style

What do you do to escape from reality?

Do you go for a run or chill and watch Netflix?

Do you call a friend or just need alone time?

For me, I look to nature. Whether it be a nice walk or run; surrounding myself with fresh air and the sound of birds chirping is what I crave.

This past year has really been a year of self development.

Growing up my mom and dad always told me that time goes by fast and to appreciate everyday as it comes. But, like most young individuals I had a hard time understanding this concept. I would dwell on the little things in life and worry about silly stuff out of my control. Stressing for no reason on things that really WONT MATTER in the long run.

After much reflection I now understand that everyday is precious. I’ve learned to make my physical and emotional health a top priority, to make sure to spend quality time with those that I love and most importantly BE PRESENT!

This past weekend Kwin and I were lucky to escape to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula…which is nothing short of a nature getaway. While up there we hiked along the North Country trail, did some rock climbing, swam in creeks and had a cliffside camp out. JUST WHAT I NEEDED FOR A REFRESH!

One of the nicest things about the cabin is the remote setting of it and having no cell phone service at all! It forces you to unplug and be present with whomever you are with. Dinners filled with uninterrupted conversations and watching movies without the glare of someone’s phone are only a few examples.

My only complaint about this weekend was the BUGS! Ticks+ Deer Flies+ Mosquitos can definitely ruin a trip…luckily we were prepared with bug spray, bug nets, and had a bonfire every night.

I hope you all enjoyed the blog! Remember to LIVE IN THE MOMENT and appreciate everything around you.

What Are They Doing Out There….They’re CRAZY!

Michigan…what is up with these curveball winters lately!

Winter really started off hard; being dumped on by snow in December. Then the new year rolled around and we haven’t gotten much of anything….UGH.

As you all know, I use to dread winter when I was younger. But as I’ve gotten older (Lets be honest..since I met Kwin and he has challenged me to try new things) I’ve really started enjoying this season.

Our normal winter activities have kind of taken to the back burner, do to the lake of snow. BUT….with this recent weather that we have had lately (warm days+cold nights+rain/snow mixtures) the ice skating has been OFF THE HOOK!

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We are lucky to have friends who are just as crazy as us! Not many people would want to walk a ways away from shore to the perfect glassy ice.

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It was Kwin’s birthday, and what better way to celebrate this birthday boy than will some pond hockey out on East Bay.

Check out our friend Mark Goethel’s video [HERE] of our skating adventures!

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If you’re ever looking to tire your dogs out…just have them chase a ball on ice! Kanyon was having so much fun with the guys trying to get the hockey puck. She was at a little disadvantage when she couldn’t stop and would go sliding a couple hundred feet!

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We stayed out until sunset, because WHY NOT! I love February because by this time of year the Great Lakes are usually cold enough,  that when a front passes over cloud formation doesn’t happen. Blue skied winter days are the best! 

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DISCLAIMER: It’s always important to remember that being out on the ice is dangerous. NEVER DO IT ALONE! Pay attention to the weather, and don’t go out on ice when it’s been too warm. Too many people risk it and fall through and can be seriously injured!

January Thaw, NOW BRING ON THE SNOW STORMS!

Well, January in Michigan was NOTHING like a Michigan January should be. I think at least half of the month was 30+ degrees! SO NOT NORMAL. A little thaw was nice, but bring on the snowstorms!

While in New Zealand Kwin and I were so excited to getting home (to the 2 1/2 feet of snow) so we could do all the winter activities! That first week of being home we managed to Fat Bike at the Single Track VASA trail almost everyday! We were kicking ass with our 1 mile a day biking! 

Kanyon also got some new glasses to protect her eyes during our activities! 

We were also able to cross country ski a ton; It’s my favorite when there is a lot of snow on the ground! Trails are a little slower…which is definitely my preference 🙂

Would you just look at how beautiful these sunsets are! We were defiantly spoiled these past couple weeks! Sunset paddle boarding and hiking, a must do on nights like these.

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It just doesn’t feel like winter without snow…but one good thing that came out of the most recent warm episode was POND SKATING!

The combination of:

Rain+Wind+Below Freezing Temperatures at night= Perfectly Smooth Ponds!

Something exciting that happened this January:

Stand Up For Great Lakes ‘Crossing Lake Huron’ documentary (by Corey Adkins) was the feature film in the Thunder Bay International Film Festival! It was so awesome watching the documentary and getting all the emotional feelings from the crossing again! Not only that…but seeing Kwin, and all the other team members get a standing ovation for their tremendous efforts brought a couple tears to the eyes again.

If you’ve never been to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary museum in Alpena,MI it’s definitely somewhere to check out! Learning about the history of “Shipwreck Ally” in Lake Huron is awesome!

January- Goals Check In

Kwin and I love being active and preach living a happy and healthy life! This includes setting goals and challenging yourself  to be a better person everyday!

This month, my challenge was:

  • NO MEAT: To some people this would be extremely challenging, and to others it would be extremely easy! Growing up I ate meat at almost every meal, but after much research I’ve slowly started to cut back. I don’t think I will ever completely get rid of meat (because I believe everything in moderation)…but I wanted to see how I could do. Honestly, it was easy and I really enjoyed it! It challenged me to get creative with other foods: Tempeh, Lentils, Quiona, etc.

Goals for the 2018 year:

  • Reading everyday before bed: I did OKAY on this…definitely something I need to continue getting better at! I still tend to browse through my phone and social media a little too much. So February to be more successful at this I will plug my phone in somewhere else NOT NEXT TO MY BED!
  • Yoga 3x per week: Man, this was definitely a great goal to set! Yoga has helped me physically and mentally in SO MANY WAYS.
  • Being more Green: This is A LOT harder than expected! Especially being that it’s the middle of winter, and it gets dark so early (which means lights on in the house more.) I love my new reusable produce bags [I got theses] that I’ve been using at the grocery store, and switched over to reusable laundry lint balls too [Got mine form Woolzies]! Making small steps, but better than nothing. This month I want to get better at unplugging outlets that I am not using!
  • Blogging more: Still struggling with this one. I feel like what I want to blog about would not be very relevant to people…but I need to get past my fear and JUST DO IT!
  • Biking: Kwin and I have a goal of getting better at biking this year, so we have either been fat biking outside…or using the new Bike trainer in the basement. Getting 1 mile a day has been pretty easy (with a .5mile penalty for every day missed). I’m really hoping that all this biking helps (M22…inspiration point…you are my motivation!)

My monthly goal for February is to cook 1-2 NEW MEALS every week! I tend to get into a slump at times…especially with cooking! Thank goodness for Pinterest though, I’ve already got a lot of new recipes on the list! If any of you have must try recipes though I would love to hear them!

Puppy snuggles are the absolute best! Thankful that my mother-in-law (Chocklabs.com) breeds the cutest pups ever!

I hope that everyone’s 2018 started off great and January was a success! Now, lets make February a huge hit too!

Did I mention I like Sunflowers?

Ahh, it’s that time of year again…SUNFLOWERS! Only one of the many beautiful things that Northern Michigan is known for in the summer.

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The vast fields of bright yellow sunflowers cover the country roadside. Cars parked along the road shoulder to snap a picture with not just one, but millions of them!

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Where Kwin and I live, we are lucky enough to be able to jump on our bikes and ride to a couple different fields in a matter of minutes. We take full advantage of this and catch sunset multiple times a week! Because let’s be honest, sunflower sunset pictures are THE BEST!

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Kwin recently got a new toy called the One Wheel which is so much fun! Both of us are obsessed with it. You can ride on the road, trails, sand, and supposedly snow (haven’t tried yet..and really don’t want to anytime soon!)

We have had a lot of memories the past couple years at the sunflowers.

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First Summer together (2014), the night before I had to head back to school in Grand Rapids.

 

 

 

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Summer 2015, when Kwin got home from Africa. Longest time apart we ever had, but we made the best of the summer nights when he got home!

 

 

 

 

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Summer 2016, first official summer living up north!  Only the one of many summer sunflower sunsets.

 

 

 

With our wedding being only 9 days away (holy cow!) can anyone guess what our main flower is?

I hope everyone is able to get out and enjoy these beautiful pieces of nature like we do!