And yes it is a town that was built by settlers to be a mini Holland. They have a tulip festival in May which we went to last year with our expat friends and had a blast! There were clog dancers (in full costume) and festival grounds with animals to pet, bouncy castles and of course tulips! The most tulips I have ever seen! They are everywhere in the town and are beautiful! Every colour you can imagine, grown in rows and rows of different colours.
We can't go to the festival this year and given the unusually warm weather, the tulips are all flowering early so I decided (inspired by a friend who has just been) to head up there with the kids today. We only really went to Windmill island which has a couple of windmills (of course!) and few other little things to see like an old carousel, organ and model village. Plus wooden clogs for the kids to try on! The weather was unusually grey so we didn't stay long but the kids had loads of fun running up and down the rows of tulips together - they play so well together now (when they aren't fighting) and I loved taking it all in.
Charlotte loved the tulips and kept stroking them (her little brother was not so gentle - he grabbed one and destroyed it!)
I decided to go for a few reasons... To see the beautiful tulips before they disappeared, to prove to myself that I could do it and to make the most of being able to take the kids on day trips during the week. Toby will be in school 3 days in Sept and Charlotte will do 4 so I won't have the chance to do these kind of trips... They make being a 'stay at home mum' worth it to me. If I have this fantastic opportunity to not work, I want to make the most of it. Plus it's easy to get caught up in everything else that needs doing and I needed a day with my kids. I loved having them all to myself when I went back to the UK in Feb - don't get me wrong - it was so hard work and I missed Jeremy loads but I feel we really bonded during those sleepless nights. Snuggling up together in bed, me doing everything for them all day and evening rather than letting day care or Jeremy do it. I so want my kids to grow up with happy memories of day trips, holidays and fun at home, not how nice the house looked. I love decorating the house and it is my relaxation time - doing something crafty, but I try not to stress over the house being perfectly tidy and organised (our basement hides a lot of junk!!) and try to remember to relax every so often and spend a day enjoying my kids.
Living in England I think we took for granted that we could drive for 3 hours and there would be so many things to do and places to see on the way. 10 minutes in a car and you are in a different town.
With all the space in America that isn't always true. A friend who lived in Atlanta was saying that there isn't anywhere to go on day trips - you were just in Atlanta. So she loves it here because there are so many places we can go that are only 1 or 2 hours drive away. It's like being on holiday every weekend, doing all of the touristy things! Grand Rapids is a cool city 1 hour north of here, there is Holland, and numerous places along the 'coast' of lake Michigan. We have been so caught up in the move here, visitors over the summer, Jeremy's cancer, 2 trips back to the UK and Christmas that we haven't had a lot of time to do any exploring. So I am hoping that we can rectify that over the next couple of months and get visiting! :) I hope we will have lots of cool new places to take our visitors this year and get a feel for what Michigan has to offer outside of Kalamazoo!
It's going to be a fun year! :)