Thursday, January 3, 2019

#McDotsDoMichigan Recap {Christmas 2018}

If you follow me on social media then you probably saw a few of our adventures while the hubby and I were back in Michigan for the holidays, but I thought I'd do a quick recap of some of the highlights since we had so much fun. Ryan's mom lives about 45 minutes north of Detroit and my parents live about 45 minutes south of Detroit. We flew in on Friday, spent the first few days with Ryan's mom, met up with my parents for the 'hand-off' in Detroit on Christmas Eve and then stayed with them until Friday before flying back to SoCal. We have lived in California for over twelve years now and I think we've flown back to Michigan to celebrate the holidays with our families for at least ten of them. Since we don't get back to the mitten state as often as we'd like, we always jam in as much as possible while we're there - this trip was no exception.

Let's see what all we did when the #McDotsDoMichigan!


Detroit Red Wings Game

The hubby and I are both HUGE Red Wings fans, so you better believe we had to go to the new arena to watch the Wings play (even if they have been sucking major donkey dick this season). Little Caesars Arena is amazing (although, I'll be honest, I am partial to the nostalgia of the older locations). It was awesome to check out the home of our fave hockey team - and the Downtown sports area is AMAZEBALLS (Ford Field, Comerica Park and Little Caesars Arena are all a stones throw away from each other). Maybe next time they'll even win a game we go to... #AChristmasMiracle

Left: A winged wheel from Chevy parts / Right: The crew with Mr. Ted Lindsay's statue

Left: We're stoked / Right: The ice before puck-drop

Left: Puck art / Right: In front of the arena after the game

Gingerbread House Decorating

Okay, this one isn't Michigan specific, but the hubby and I love having a contest every year to see who can decorate the best gingerbread house. This year we picked up a couple kits before flying back so we'd have them ready to go when we arrived. We grabbed two village kits (each with five different designs) so each of us could put our personal touches on at least two 'houses'. Ryan's mom and 'aunt' may not have been as skilled as Ryan and I (haha), but we all had a great time!

Sort of loved all of the different "house" options (and how everyone decorated them)

I did an A-Frame and a standard cottage

Candlelight Service

If you didn't know, the hubby and I are both Christians and go to church on a regular basis (we attend North Coast Church in Vista, CA), but going to a Christmas service is always a little extra special because most places break out the candles for a few verses of silent night. The pastor of the church Ryan's mom goes to is actually the chaplain for the Detroit Lions.

Moonbeams for Sweat Dreams

My mom told me about this activity at the Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak and as soon as I heard about it I knew I wanted to participate. At 8 p.m. every evening in December pediatric patients will shine flashlights from the hospital windows and look for community members standing outside the hospital to flash them back. It only takes a few minutes, but it means a great deal to young patients and families. "Many children are unable to leave their rooms and can feel isolated in the hospital as the rest of the world continues without them," Beaumont Children's Child Life Supervisor Kathleen Grobbel said. "With the help of the community, we can make sure they go to bed with smiles on their faces." I think it was maybe 10-15 minutes of us standing there, flashing our lights, waving, singing Christmas carols, etc, but it was super special! I think there were maybe 10 volunteers (from directing traffic to telling us when to turn on our lights) and very little prep work needed. Hopefully this is a program that can spread all over the world!

This is a video from the night we were there (taken from a firetruck ladder high in the sky):


No one in my family is very good at bowling (although my dad was on a league back in the day, hehe), but we still find it fun to hit up the alleys and bowl a couple games. We ended up getting in three games on Christmas Eve. To give you an idea of our skills, there were five of us bowling and our total points at the end of the 10 frames each game were 509, 465 and 504. Yup, an average of under 100 for each of us... But at least we were having fun and making memories!

Someone commented and said it looked like I was holding a watermelon... Nope, just my 6 pound ball - HA!

Toledo Christmas Weed

This one needs some explaining. When my parents first asked if we had heard about the "Toledo Christmas Weed" we thought they were talking about marijuana. Apparently we were WAY off! There was a weed growing at an intersection in Toledo and one day someone threw a little tinsel on it. Well, this TOOK OFF and people started decorating it, leaving trinkets and treasures, and by the time we went to visit there were boxes to take donations for homeless shelters and gifts for underprivileged children! We joked because I don't even think the original weed was under all the decorations, but it still made me smile to see how the community was coming together with some extra holiday spirit.

Left: The street corner and all the shenanigans / Right: Me pointing at the weed (somewhere under the mound)

Left: Someone brought a tree and folks started leaving gifts / Right: Donations were being collected for those less fortunate

Cherry Street Mission

Instead of buying each other gifts, my family does donations. We all get to choose an organization that is near and dear to our hearts and everyone donates the money they would have spent on gifts in that person's honor. I much prefer this - especially since we are so blessed and don't need more things. Anyway, since we don't have gifts to open on Christmas morning (and because we love helping those around us), my parents, the hubby and I volunteered at the Cherry Street Mission for a couple hours. We served breakfast to the homeless and were the hands and feet of Christ.

The hubby volunteered to do dishes and I handed out blueberry muffins

Snapping a quick picture next to the building before we went home (it was dark when we arrived,
seeing as our shift started at 6:30am)

Lights Before Christmas

One of my favorite traditions that my family has is going to the Toledo Zoo to look at the Christmas lights. The zoo does it up and has the whole place decked out from top to bottom. A few of the animals are out (we actually lucked out and saw the wolves and the cougar close to the edge of their exhibit) - but the main draw is the billions upon billions of glowing lights around the grounds. I was joking with the hubby and said I would dance along with the 'dancing lights' (they sync a light show to music) if they were playing "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas"... Well, when we walked up we caught Michael Buble's Jingle Bells but somehow I still got talked into getting my groove on ;) #IAmGreatAtMakingAFoolOfMyself

Loved all the new zoo lights!

So many awesome lights to look at! We were there for about 3 hours!

Maumee Bay State Park

My dad retired a couple months back and since then my parents have been living up the retired life. In fact, they have become BIRD WATCHERS! Since the sun was finally shining on of the free afternoons we had, we decided to drive down to the Maumee Bay State Park and walk around - looking for birds and deer. The wildlife must have been taking advantage of the great weather too because we saw almost FORTY deer in our three mile walk (and three of them 'had sticks' {how we describe bucks with antlers ;) }). I may not be a bird watcher, but I love me some nature!

We were bundled up, but at least the sun was out!

Toledo Walleye

Seeing as the Red Wings were only home one game during our trip, we decided to check out the next best thing, the Toledo Walleye ;) They are a minor league team (that feeds a team that feeds the Wings, hehe), but sports are sports in the Padot household. My goal for the evening was a picture with Cattrick (one of the many mascots) and I snagged one right after we walked in! The Walleye winning 7-4 (and getting FREE CHILI for a power play goal) was icing on the cake!

Left: Cattrick (sort of like a hat trick) / Right: Madonna (the female mud hen for the local baseball team)

Third Man Records

The hubby wanted to hit up this record store owned by Jack White, so we decided we would leave for the airport a little early to make a few stops on the way. This record shop is pretty amazing! There's a booth where you can record your own voice direct to vinyl and they even have a "factory" in the back where they are pressing vinyl. (Apparently the Nashville location even has a venue where musicians can play and record their live set direct to vinyl - the only place in the world where that's an option.) We could have spent hours there, but we had other places to go so had to call it a day.

Loved this area of town. So many fun shops around!

Motown Museum

I grew up about 40 miles south of Detroit and had never been to the Motown Museum before. Well, this was the trip we were going to change that. We bought tickets online (they sell out, especially on the weekends) and got there right on time. The tour is about an hour long (including a 15 minute video on the Detroit Sound). Our guide was AMAZING and the museum is nothing less than AWESOME! Walking through the two houses and realizing how much talent came through there makes you shake your head in wonder. I wish you could go through some of the areas at your own pace so you could stop and read all of the information, but it was still fantastic to see. They don't allow you to bring cameras with you, but I had my phone because I had the tickets in my email. Right before we were leaving Studio A (where all of the recording was down between 1958 and the mid seventies), our guide told us we could snap one quick photo if we wanted. It might not look like much, but the history in those walls is outstanding! If you're ever in the area I would highly recommend the tour! (And they will be expanding over the coming years so I imagine it'll only get better and better.)

The original buildings are historical landmarks, so they are there to stay! #PreserveHistory

It might not look like much, but it was AMAZEBALLS!

Belle Isle

Can you believe I've never been on Belle Isle before? Our flight was delayed (thankfully it didn't have to do with bad weather or anything - the plane we were supposed to be taking was about an hour late leaving so, in turn, our departure was pushed back) so we took advantage of the extra few minutes by checking out the small island park on the Detroit River. The view of downtown, the bridge and Ontario is pretty awesome (and if it wasn't so cold and windy we would have hung out longer to soak in the scenery). And now I can cross visiting the 2.5 mile long island off my list of things to do. (Did you know Detroit is the only place where you can look SOUTH and see Canada?! Fun fact, huh? I'm full of 'em ;) )

To the left of the bridge is Canada and to the right of the bridge is Detroit


You didn't think I could go a week without running, did you?! Even though I am in the thick of the taper for my 50-mile race, I still needed to get in a few miles while I was back in the frozen tundra. I've gotta be honest though, the weather definitely could have been worse. Sure it was chilly, but the roads and trails were clear, there wasn't anything dropping from the sky (frozen or otherwise) and the sun even made a few (albeit short) appearances. I was lucky enough to run on Paint Creek Trail near Lake Orion, at Wildwood Metropark in Toledo, and around my old stomping ground in Bedford (I even ran around the Junior High and High School I attended, by the soccer field I played at, around the track I was a cheerleader on, etc). But, let's be real, being a runner is MUCH EASIER in SoCal than Michigan! #INeedSunAndWarmth

Thankfully the only thing that ever got cold on me were my hands... even with gloves!

All the inflatables!

Left: To raise money for our new football stadium, the school sold 'bricks'. My parents bought one and put our names on it. /
Right: My dad is extra crafty and built a deer from a down birch tree (and put a blinking red light on his nose on Christmas for Rudolph)

As you can see, we definitely squeezed in as much as we could while we were back on this trip {my mom always says 'you can sleep when you're dead'}. We flew back to San Diego Friday afternoon with happy hearts, tons of memories and al the gratitude. Not sure when our next trip back will be, but Michigan will always have a mitten shaped spot in our hearts!

See ya again soon, Michigan!

What was the best thing you did over the holidays?


ahotsouthernmess said...

I am proud to say that my godddaughter is a child life specialist. God bless them :) I will share with her...what a neat idea. There is a fast food restaurant near a hospital in a town where I lived that puts up really gaudy Christmas decorations on their roof...just for the kids in the hospital. Love :)

ma.runs.happy said...

Well...I've just worked a lot. I'm not celebrating a proper Christmas since 2006, when I've moved to mountains with my boyfriend to work for the winter (and summer) season. So, for us, maybe sad to say, it was all just normal working days. Even if I've tried to put some magic on them, with decorations and special meals,'s always nice to see what others did for holidays ;)