The Best Part

This past weekend our little family joined my mom and dad in a little cottage up in Pentwater, Michigan. I love that cottage. My parents have been renting it on and off for more than 20 years. I have some great memories there, so it was so fun to take the kids and help them make some great memories too!

At the end of each day, we would ask the boys, “What was the best part of today?” They would laugh and giggle recollecting all the fun we had. It was always difficult to choose just ONE best part.

pentwater, michigan

I will say the 90-minute drive was not my personal favorite. Usually I enjoy the trip; it’s a very beautiful drive, however you see how close the boys sit to each other? And Alice is rear-facing behind me. Yeah, there was loudness.

pentwater, michigan

Breakfast was always a highlight. Grandpa made lots of breakfast meat and french toast for the troops. You can see that Charlie is dressed and has his backpack on. He was so ready for the beach, man. SO. READY. Sandboxes are his love language and the beach? Dude, it’s one big sandbox.

pentwater, michigan

See? Homeboy is in heaven. We had the best possible beach weather ever. Charlie still talks about this as being one of his “best parts”. He would live at the beach if he could. Annnnddd…cue beach pics….

pentwater, michigan

Alice hates sand and dirt and getting dirty. Such a diva. But she sat in that little beach chair just as nice as can be for two plus hours with her cold drink looking cute. That is really my kind of beach day too.

pentwater, michigan

Grandma gave the boys a snack of Vanilla Wafers…on frisbees! Grandma is so smart when it comes to snack distribution.

pentwater, michigan

Even Alice enjoyed some beach vanilla wafers. With her cold drink. In her chair. Not touching the sand at all.

pentwater, michigan

It was a super hot day, but it was quite breezy, so we didn’t feel like were were sweating too much. Plus Lake Michigan was around 75 degrees.  I could have stayed much, much longer, but Alice needed a nap and the boys were getting sunned out.

pentwater, michigan

We did plenty of sitting around too. That was probably one of my best parts. I enjoyed not having too much access to wifi and having no TV or other screens available. I read a whole book from start to finish from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon. My mom and I both brought a plastic horse shoes/ring toss game, so the boys had a good time sticking the stakes into the ground and making up rules about what “level” they are on. My very patient parents went along with these nonsensical rules and laughed and laughed as my mom pretty much missed every time she tossed.

pentwater, michigan

When we got home, Eddie made the comment that Grandma is so good at helping us find things to do when we might be bored. My mom totally understands that four and seven-year old boys need to keep busy. If there started to be hints of whining or fighting because of boredom, grandma would swoop in with a game of Go Fish, or Old Maid, or going for a walk to the dock or around the block. Eddie helped set the table most of the time, and Charlie helped carry out food.

pentwater, michigan

Charlie made a comment that we are pretty lucky to have a Grandpa who shares his boat and fishing hooks with us…and “cuts up a good watermelon!” Charlie is pretty much his Grandpa’s shadow–both lefties, both bearing the name “Thomas”, both loving watermelon and “putzing” around.

pentwater, michigan

Speaking of watermelon…apparently I bought a good, crisp, juicy one! It wouldn’t be a summer vacation up north in Michigan without a messy delicious watermelon after dinner.

pentwater, michigan

Alice even needed a sink bath after she demolished a huge chunk of melon. All of the sticky in her hair and on her whole body!

pentwater, michigan

I mentioned my parents have a boat. They were kind enough to haul it all the way up north and my kids LOVED it. They boys always love boat rides. When we out of the channel and onto the big lake, my dad “put the hammer down” and as we lifted up, Charlie–who was sitting in the “first mate” seat–said to Cortney, “THIS IS MY BEST PART!” After a ride, we circled back to the beach.

pentwater, michigan

It was another HOT day, but with no wind. My dad anchored off shore from the beach and we all took a dip! The boys jumped off the boat over and over into the refreshing water!

pentwater, michigan

Both boys showed us all the things they learned in swimming lessons, but with life jackets on since we were in water that was around 6 feet deep. Little Bird paddled around for hours!

pentwater, michigan

It was so hot we even got Alice to float around a bit with her Daddy! She clung pretty tightly to him, but I think she enjoyed the cool dip.  In fact, she fell asleep on me on the ride back to the boat launch.

pentwater, michigan

Both boys have fishing poles my dad gave them for their birthdays. They were so excited to fish with Grandpa! He was super patient with them as fish after fish swallowed up his hooks. I even showed off my casting skills (that my dad mocked!) and ability to reel in a bluegill when Charlie got a little nervous about doing it himself. I think Cortney was impressed!

pentwater, michigan

It rained on our last morning at the cottage. My parents tried to keep everyone busy with Old Maid and other games, but things got a little punchy by afternoon. Luckily, the sun came out and we were fortunate enough to get to town to get my dad the ice cream cone he was craving and find treasures for the boys to take home to remember their vacation.

pentwater, michigan

Even Alice was getting antsy to leave the cottage by the time the sun came out. It’s a lovely cottage, but it’s small for seven people–three of whom are small people with a lot of energy!

pentwater, michigan

Before we left, we put jammies on everyone so they would be all ready for their beds when we got home. But we couldn’t leave without one more tickle session with grandpa!

pentwater, michigan

We were all stinky and tired and ready for our own beds…and showers…by the time we hit the road homeward bound. But we were happy. Because being able to spend so much time with Grandpa and Grandma was definitely the Best Part.

Thank you, mom and dad, for the awesome time. We are grateful to you for sharing the cottage with our noisy, energy-filled crew. Hopefully you got some sleep and quiet after we left! We love you!

Ditching the Get Away Plans

All last week I felt a bit frantic about our looming cottage “vacation”.

I had trouble sleeping.  The To Do List was sooo long.

I kept going over and over in my head: Saturday to Sunday evening I have Cort with me.  Monday to Wednesday I am parenting solo.

{It’s a good thing I had a therapy appointment last week too.}

I was so anxious and stressed.   Even though I knew my brothers, sisters-in-law, and parents would help.  Even though I knew I was not really alone.

I kept making up “Get Away” plans in my head.

If it sucked, we could go home Sunday too.

If the boys did horribly Sunday night at bedtime, we could hit the road Monday.

If Monday was a disaster, we could leave that night.

And so on.

After big days on Saturday and Sunday, it was time for Cort to head back home.  He had to work.

Before he left, though, we did decide it would probably be better for the boys if we came home Tuesday night.  But of course, no one was holding me and if I felt really anxious, we could always pack up and leave.

There was always an out.

I feel foolish for ever feeling this way.  I always feel foolish about my anxious episodes.  Rarely do the worst case scenarios I play out in my head over and over and over come to fruition.

Sunday’s bedtime was fairly uneventful.  Eddie had a bit of a time wanting to go to bed, but when he realized I was right outside his room reading on the couch, he passed right out.

Monday was every kind of sweaty hotness.

We took advantage of a cooler morning and shade at the tiny public access beach.  Charlie napped through the whole thing and Eddie swam and built castles while I was actually able to chat with my sibs and read my book.  Once the afternoon heat started to creep in, we made lunch and pointed all the fans in the world at us in our un-AC-ed cottage.

Somehow Eddie took an epic nap.  I swear that kid was made for camping and the outdoors (so NOT like me).

Charlie was a bit of a fussy face since he handles heat about as well as I do.

After nap Eddie took full advantage of running around with his cousin and letting his aunts and uncles and grandparents keep an eye on him while I was consumed with his very unhappy baby brother.

But it was Ok.

Charlie eventually went to sleep with a fan on him, and Eddie came in and was cool with going to bed.

Enough so that after we read books, I asked him if it was Ok if I went next door to play cards with his aunts and uncles and he said yes!  He would stay and sleep until I got back.  Oh, and keep my side of the bed warm.

Yeah, it didn’t need your help, Ed.

The next day, my mom made a point to compliment me on how well my solo day and evening went.

I did what I always do with compliments.  I got uncomfortable and tried to brush it off.

But she said, “no.  Don’t disregard it.  You did great!”

And you know what?  I did.

I kept my patience even when I was so hot and tired.

Yes, Eddie was good, but I was also “good”.  I gave him choices and trusted him.

I let others walk Charlie around when he was grumpy, but I took him to feed him each time.

It was…smooth.

Tuesday I made sure to leave Charlie with Grandma for awhile so Eddie and I could finally get some one-on-one time swimming and playing.  I know he loved it as much as I did.

And when we all got home Tuesday night?  We hugged daddy, bathed our stinky bodies, and fell asleep like logs.

But not before I high-fived myself for doing something I would have NEVER considered possible just a few short years ago.

I did not let my depression and anxiety win.

I took that vacation, and I made memories with my boys.

The Cottage

For years my family has gone to cottages as our summer vacation.

The last time we went was 9 years ago.

My brothers and I decided to beg ask our parents if we could do it again.

Restart the tradition now that we have families to share.

They jumped on it.

So my parents secured two cottages for 11 people and one fetus (not me, people).

We all arrived on Saturday.

Cort had to leave Sunday night, but the boys and I stayed until Tuesday evening.

It was exhausting.

And fun.

And so many words filled my head and sprang from my fingers into journals for later.

It was wonderful.

Here is a glimpse of what I hope will become an annual trip…

the cottage

games {my brother, Chris and my dad}

a quiet afternoon with my buddy and a Word Doc.

hanging with grandma

Cort makes breakfast for everyone

cousins: Jack and Eddie

small chairs are small

note: a dropped dr. pepper can will explode, but helpful Eddie will wash it off the cottage.

cottages are for relaxing

walk on the dock with daddy.

hot weather makes us stinky, but happy

bath in the kitchen sink

beach day!

campfire food on the hottest day ever

so much swimming!

getting some much needed relaxation

books with grandma

ahhh. cottage life.

Next year we hope to stay the whole week.

With Cortney there the whole time too.

Because despite the heat, humidity, dirt, and lack of TV and internet, it was EXACTLY what we needed.

Thanks, mom and dad, for making this happen.

The cottage is Sluiter Approved!


If you missed it yesterday, I am helping my friend Mark get his story out there.  It’s important to me because it’s HUGE to him.