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My Rebound: Inexpensive treasures of West Michigan

Kendra Bylsma and family at drive-in theater
Posted at 11:53 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 15:01:57-04

Editor's note: Kendra is blogging about being a mom trying to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic at My Rebound by FOX 17. She is married with four kids: a 1-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son, 5-year-old son, 10-year-old daughter and 16-year-old bonus son. She is also the owner and lead fitness coach of Allegro Coaching in Grand Rapids, which she founded in 2009. She lives in Tallmadge Township.

Everyone seems to be in limbo these days.

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Do we plan a summer vacation or make plans for the fall? Will schools even open, and if so, how will it look different for our family? For us, we continue to ask the question of whether or not we will both have businesses or a strong enough income to support extra spending.

For now, we sit tight, and we learn to practice contentment. I remember growing up, my mom was always so content in life. We would sit at the kitchen table on a Sunday night, putting the necessary money in each envelope (Dave Ramsey style), and I thought it was appropriate to ask, “Where is all the extra money?” We lived paycheck to paycheck, but somehow, we always made things stretch. And we still got to go camping and even plan the world’s best family vacation out west, RV style. I guess when you don’t have a lot, you learn to really appreciate the little things that much more. Even my first personal training client once told me, “The more you make, the more you spend.” How very true.

These days, we are enjoying our new country home out in Tallmadge Township. It’s peaceful, and it’s full of wide-open spaces, star gazing and wildlife. We don’t have any family vacations planned this summer, but I’m using my creative talents to come up with fun, weekly trips that make the kids light up.

Like the Gettsyburg Drive-In in Muskegon. For just $5 a person (kids 5 and under are free), you can’t beat this price for watching a movie. Plus, it’s the experience! Pack up the blankets, the campfire chairs and the snacks, and you’ve got the world’s best road trip for kids. You should have seen these kids light up. They were ready to leave for the drive-in by 4 p.m., so it took everything in the world to stall and make our way out west. And yes, we stopped at the gas station, so each kid got to pick one movie snack before debuting "Sonic the Hedgehog."

I’ve made a laundry list in the office for our summer “day trips.” Hiking at Hoffmaster State Park, picnics at A-nab-awen Park downtown. Day hikes at Aman Park or sunsets at the Grand Haven Pier. A road trip to Saugatuck to go shopping and a day trip with Dad for fishing on the Muskegon River. Biking on the Muskatawa Trail or spending a Saturday in downtown Rockford.

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The beauty is that we live in one of the most amazing states of America, and summer is upon us. Yes, make the most of it, but don’t think that you have to break the budget. Just be a little extra creative this year and find beauty in the places you have never gone but have always hoped to visit. Write down a list of your top 10 places you want to visit in West Michigan, and I guarantee, it will be ginormous for your kids to experience WITH you. After all, that’s what this is all about. Not how much you spend, but how much time you spend with your family!