Friday, August 30, 2013

Vacation Journaling 2013: Day 3 - Shopping in Mackinaw City

Monday, August 19th

Our original plans were to head to the island on Monday morning.  After a day spent at home, on the beach, on Sunday we thought the kids might want a little adventure.  Unfortunately, ummm, when Monday morning came the adults were not quite feeling up to an all-day outing. I have no idea why that might be (who drinks apple juice and tequila?) So instead, we decided to push the island trip back to Tuesday and we hung out at the house on Monday morning.  There may have been some naps taken and movies watched, but we're not telling...

After lunch and quiet time we all decided we needed to get out of the house for just a bit.  We packed up the cars and headed the three miles into town, Mackinaw City, to check out the strip. We had no particular destination in mind but we knew we wanted to get some sweatshirts, so we were scoping out the stores for the best looking clothing (Em and I quickly narrowed that down to Harobr Wear/Color Wear). The kids, of course, spotted the toy/souvenir stores rather quickly.

The boys had been gifted with some money to spend on vacation (thank you!  You know who you are!) and we had a talk with them about how they could pick out whatever they wanted, but once the money was gone, it was gone, Mom and Dad wouldn't be buying anymore (except for shirts, because they actually need those for school). Nolan, of course, has no clue what we are talking about, but the big boys, I think they got it.  I will admit I swayed them out of spending money on complete junk that they found at the first stop and after that Keaton seemed uninterested in spending his money.  At the kite store Hutt found a tractor that he really wanted and he picked it up and put it back and picked it up again and finally I moved Keaton and Nolan out of the store while Collin talked to Hutton about spending his money.  When they emerged Hutton was proudly holding his little green bag, tractor tucked safely inside.  And he was happy.

We moseyed up and down the strip a bit more and before heading home we made a run into the Mackinaw City Popcorn Factory. Popcorn from floor to ceiling in just about any color and flavor you can imagine.  Keaton picked green, I believe it was candy apple. Hutton, surprisingly, passed up blue for a chocolate/caramel/plain mix called Chunky Monkey, and Collin and I picked out English Toffee for the baby. And for $2 more we got a gigantic sized butter popcorn.   Mouths were full and bellies were happy as we made our way back home for dinner.

After the sun went down and the kids were in bed the four of us retired to the living room, buffalo wing popcorn in hand (Yes! So, so good!) (Thanks for sharing, Em!) and The Shawshank Redemption on t.v. Finally feeling like ourselves again, we passed on the booze for the evening.

Okay, fine, there may have been one glass of wine.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vacation Journaling 2013: Day 2 - At the beach

Sunday, August 18th

Hutton woke up earlier than I expected on the first morning at the Beach House (I've debated between calling this the Beach House or the Lake House and have ultimately decided Beach House brings with it even more peaceful feelings for me than Lake House. And thus, The House will now be referred to as the Beach House.) And shortly after we were up and rolling Em and Drew and the girls came downstairs, we made pancakes, got the coffee going and then we all convened on the deck.  It's nearly impossible not to convene on the deck each morning when this is your view.

Lucy had a wagon full of beach toys that she was wheeling around the yard and I think Hutt might have felt a little jealous that he didn't have a "place to collect all of the things."  He suddenly disappeared and came out carrying this basket.  These baskets sit by the doors inside and they hold rocks to keep the doors open and the dust pan for easy tidying.  Hutt quickly unloaded those items and came out with the basket slung in the crook of his arm.  "Whatcha doin' Hutt?" I asked him "You look like Little Red Riding Hood." His eyes perked up and he had an idea - "I'm going FOX hunting!" and then he set out to collect all the necessary tools to fox hunt.

When Keaton came outside and heard Hutty was fox hunting he decided they needed proper hunting attire and the camo sweatshirts were adorned.

The boys hunted fox for quite some time that morning.  Their coolers were full to the brim before they took a break to admire the lake.

It couldn't have been even 10 am before the girls were in their bathing suits and playing in the sand.

When Em and I first started tentatively laying out plans for the week we knew that a day at home, on the beach, would be in order for Sunday after the long drive the day before.  If we hadn't made this decision, I'm certain the kids would have.  

The description of the house said the beach was easily accessible with a short boardwalk and leading path to the smooth shore area.  Em and I read that over and over but we weren't exactly sure what that meant. It basically meant this: right outside the back door is a little slice of heaven.  

This could not have been a more perfect arrangement for the kids.  This beautiful, sandy beach was right there and yet far enough away that they could play outside without us worrying about them getting in the water. And the lake, oh man, I can not say enough good things about the location of this house on the lake.  It was tucked nicely into a little cove. There were waves, but most days they were nice gentle ones, and it was shallow for so long.  The kids could really run in water, splash and play and not need to worry about when they could no longer touch the bottom.  I could spend every single day of the summer on this beach and not tire of it.  And I'm pretty sure the boys could too; the sandcastle and moat building began in earnest on Sunday morning.

While the big boys worked, Nolan ran around further up on shore (this was a good arrangement because Nolan likes to destroy things.  Things like sandcastles.)

At lunchtime everyone came up to eat at the picnic table and that afternoon something magical happened: Collin took the boys into the bedroom for quiet time and everyone fell asleep. 

This meant Mama took her book out to one of the adirondeck chairs and read.  In peace. For over an hour. 

After a few chapters I felt like I should go start working on dinner, but I just couldn't leave this serenity.  It was exactly what I needed to start, truly, relaxing.  

When naps were over and dinner had been started, Collin offered to take over the cooking while all of the rest of us headed back to the beach for some more splashing and playing and sand castle building. 

Bedtime came easily on Sunday night as everyone was worn out from the water and sun; and just as the sun was setting, leaving a beautiful pink hue in the sky, the kids were closing their eyes.

After the sun went down and kids were sleeping softly, us parents joined together at the kitchen island. Saturday night had been margaritas and on Sunday Drew whipped up some delicious White Russians. 

White Russians are one part amazing and two parts dangerous.  Have you ever had a White Russian?  It's like candy in a cup.  Batch one went down quickly.  Two and three followed with no problems until, suddenly, we ran into a problem - the vodka was empty.  And so this is when Em posted this pic on Facebook with the title "what parents do when they run out of mixers."

It's safe to say things got a little crazy on Sunday night when the kids were in bed.  Proof, here:



(Additional video evidence on Facebook)

While I might have had a little regret the next morning, the laughs that night (now, that I've recovered) were entirely worth it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vacation Journaling 2013: Day 1 - The Drive & The Arrival

Saturday, August 17th

Our plan was to hit the road early, early and as Collin and I were busy packing Friday night we were trying to determine where we would be at 8'ish a.m. One hour away?  Two?  Which bank could we hit on our way north to get some cash?  

Then we stayed up until 3:30 a.m. packing and cleaning the house.  And my alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. to finish the blueberry pie.  Hitting the road by 7:00, even 8:00, was quickly dismissed. I think it was nearly 11:00 a.m. before we had made our stop for gas, went to the bank in town, and were finally, finally! on the road.

The boys were loaded with snacks and we all had sandwich lunches and we made it about 40 minutes before the boys started to get squirrely.  I dug into their backpacks for their new Travel Bingo games and that worked for about, oh, 10 minutes, before there were cries of "I can't fiiiiind a windmill!!"  and "Mom, can you fix this....again??" We made it about an hour and 15 minutes before we got the first call from the back seat for a bathroom break.  

Busha surprised the boys with a bag full of "travel gifts" to "open as needed" during the trip.  The boys started asking for them almost immediately after we got in the car but we made them wait until this first stop to open one.  

Candy rock/paper/scissor hands!  Thanks Bush!

The baby especially loved this gift, not because he was able to eat the candy, but because it made a lot of noise.  The baby also says shoes are optional.

As we were pulling away from the first stop someone thought it would be a good idea to give Nolan a chocolate granola bar.

Opps.  That someone was me. 

It took a couple more hours, a couple more bathroom breaks, and a lot more gas station food, but we finally hit the lake.  Despite the fact that we still had a lot of driving left to do, seeing the lake instantly made us happy.

By the time we made it into Michigan we decided it was time for another Busha gift.  

Dry erase and sticker books!  The boys were very, very happy - Thank you, Busha!

It was shortly after this that I received a text from Em - this place is effing amazing!  They had arrived at the house and one look at this picture and I was already smitten.

We were still a few hours out - the boys were hanging in there but, I'll be honest, on an hour and a half of sleep the constant requests for new books and crayons and Mom?  Where's my bingo cards again?  were exhausting. I thought being co-pilot would be the easy job, but I noticed Collin never asked me to drive, co-piloting with three small children  But that text from Em, that kept me motivated.  I could not wait to get there.

Unfortunately, an over-tired Nolan, who did nap on the drive, but not enough, screamed almost the entire last hour+.  I think we were all about to lose it.  But just then, just then!, we saw it. The Bridge.  The Mackinac Bridge.  The five mile long suspension bridge (third largest in the US!) that the boys have been waiting to drive over all summer. And as if on queue, Nolan suddenly settled down.

The house was just three miles from Mackinaw City and just as the sun was going down we pulled in, and almost immediately walked down to the beach. To me, the water was chilly, but the kids didn't care - within seconds they were splashing and digging in  the sand. I knew in an instant that this was going to be the perfect place to spend the week.

As the sun tucked herself in for the night we headed  inside where Em and Drew had prepared tacos and the most amazing salsa, guacamole, and margaritas.

With the promise of a day at the beach to come, the boys went to bed easily and after a second margarita, we joined them shortly thereafter.