Happy Thanksgiving week! To celebrate, we're flying out to Michigan to visit family. Our first day was packed with a trip to Frankenmuth, visiting Bronners (the largest Christmas shop in the world), Zehnders (for a chicken dinner), and the Frankenmuth Cheese House.
My kids are great little travelers, and lately it's become lucrative for them. Now whenever we go through airport security, they keep their eyes on the ground looking for dropped coins. Today was a really good day with them finding 10 coins totaling 55 cents.
The Southwest ticket counters are pretty good about decorating for the major holidays. The kids happily posed with the giant turkey.
Ready to race down the jet bridge to board the plane.
It's tradition to touch the heart on the Southwest planes. And if they don't have one on the outside of the plane there's always one on the inside.
Welcome to Michigan!
Hi Uncle Don! Thanks for picking us up!
And hello to the rest of the family.
The next morning the Flowers family and Uncle Don piled into the van for a 2 hour drive up to Frankenmuth. As soon as everyone got out of the van, Ian's eyes were drawn to a hotel nearby. Ian - What's that over there?
That is a waterpark. Seeing as it's currently 32 degrees we aren't going over there.
Instead we're going into Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, the World's Largest Christmas Store.
And they've got ginormous ornaments to decorate it.
When you're visiting a Christmas store I think it's appropriate to wear proper clothing. The kids got so much attention and Theresa said she was asked multiple times about where she got their hats.
This little space boy was happy to find an Earth ornament. I quizzed him on different ornaments. If there was a Mars ornament would it be bigger or smaller? Smaller! What about a Jupiter ornament? Bigger!
A mug shaped like the Apollo 11 command module.
A penny machine! Don grabbed change so the kids could both get one.
Oh boy Alli. An entire wall full of pink ornaments. Donald said he'd buy each kid whatever ornament they picked. Alli picked a pink princess ornament to start.
On each of our previous trips, Donald has carried Ian pretty much the entire time. Once in 2014 and again in 2016. This time another little elf wants to be carried.
Those kids are all smiles. Donald is going to get a workout today.
Every 3-4 minutes or so Donald would see something so amazingly incredible that the kids just had to hop down and run over to check it out. After about a minute of letting his arms rest, he'd pick them back up for another round.
And then once you get to the miniature Christmas villages, they're all a little too high to see from the kids' level.
Alright, up you go.
This being a National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation village, there needs to be way way more lights on that house.
Faces are hard.
Each time the kids saw an ornament they liked, they compared it to the ornament they already had. This bright green Christmas tree was a contender. What do you think Alli? Alli - It's beautiful but I don't want it.
Ian, do you know what this crazy shaped device is? He correctly guessed it was a phone, though how I couldn't say. It looks nothing like a phone he's ever used.
After looking through the regular sized snow globes Ian knew what kind of ornament he wanted. A snow globe ornament. With this many kinds of ornaments, surely they have one somewhere.
Asking a worker there were a couple different choices. And they even have it in Ian's favorite color. Gold!
Alli found these over-sized Valentine conversation heart ornaments, but that princess ornament is just too good.
Ms. McKenzie even wrote Alli's name on it.
Alli loved it because it was both of her favorite colors: pink and purple.
Even here they're celebrating Mickey's 90th birthday (which was yesterday).
Amazed at all the Christmas trees. Like this one that not only lights up, but also spins!
This 16' behemoth would look great in my yard. Only $3700.
Alli - Mommy I want this one!
Thanks for bringing us up here Donald! We love Christmas!
There's a photo contest here at Bronner's. A worker here told us about it and said she'd vote for them.
A couple more family photos before we go to lunch.
Brr. Bundling up cause it's so cold here. It does put you in the Christmas mood though.
Lunch was tasty fried chicken at Zehnders.
There's a bakery that's a part of Zehnder's as well. For dessert the kids got to pick whatever they wanted.
Of all the things in the case, this white Christmas bear with sprinkles on its feet was calling Ian's name.
And after perusing the entire display case, Alli also decided that she wanted a white Christmas bear with sprinkles on its feet.
Uncle Don was all about treating the kids.
Alli - Uncle Don, we've never had this kind of chocolate before!
Uncle Don - Get it!
One more penny press over here and of course the kids had to have one.
Ian was determined to do it all himself.
And squishing pennies is not easy.
Our first visit back in 2014 to the Frankenmuth Cheese Haus brought about a new love of cheeses. Ian especially loved the aged cheeses. We visited again in 2016 when Alli was just over a year old. We had some fond memories of this place. So seeing that it was closed was a little disappointing.
But they're doing so well that right next door there's an even bigger and better Cheese Haus.
Posing out front with the Cheese Haus mouse.
The inside of this area was so much bigger than the last place.
On previous visits we've loved the aged cheddars. This time we sampled some 14 year old cheddar ($72.99/lb) and 12 year old cheddar ($58.99/lb). You never do know with cheeses though and unfortunately sometimes it just doesn't work out. In the past the aged cheeses we've loved have been crumbly and crystalized with very sharp flavors. This time though the aged cheeses we tried weren't crumbly at all and T and I thought they had a bit of a sour bitter flavor. We were not fans this time. In the end we bought a cheddar of unspecified age, but only $10/lb.
A 1000 lb block of carved cheddar and a 300 lb celebrating the Cheese Haus' 50th year in Frankenmuth.
Time to join up with the rest of the family. Ian and Alli both snacked on their bear cookies on the way home.