Top Ten Tuesday: Vacation Memories

Since I am in the midst of the longest stretch of work with no break (from Sept 7 until Thanksgiving), I thought an appropriate Top Ten list this week would be vacation memories.

Lately I have been finding myself dreaming of going far, far away with my little family so that we can get some much needed rest and relaxation together.  These dreams have taken me back to some memories I have of traveling with my family, with my husband, with my friends, and with my little family of three.

So here we go….

10. My mom walking off the dock in Pentwater, MI. I was in high school when my family rented a cottage up north in Pentwater, MI, and my parents let me take my best friend, Tonya, along with us.  This particular cottage didn’t have any private beach, but it did have a private dock that had a lovely wide end to it for sunning and swimming and just having fun in the water.  The first day we were there, my brothers, parents, Tonya, and I were headed out to the dock to hang out.  Everyone was preoccupied with what they were doing.

Apparently my mom was so preoccupied, that she didn’t  notice that the dock ended and she walked right off of it.  She tried to play it off like she jumped in, saying things like, “whew!  it’s hot out!  this water feels SO good!”  But Tonya had watched her do it and was laughing so hard she couldn’t breathe.  My mom being totally busted…and soaking wet…was pretty hilarious.

9. Buffalo with my fiance. The year before Cort and I were married we took a trip to New York state to visit friends (oh hey, Phil and Liz!!) who lived in Rochester at the time.  Before we got there, though, we wanted to stop for a couple nights in Buffalo.  I wanted to go to the zoo–which was talked up on their website as being the third oldest zoo in the nation, having elephant washing, giraffe feeding, and camel riding–and Cort wanted to see Niagara Falls (even though I

Monkeys at the Buffalo Zoo

told him it’s just a lot of water).

This story could be a whole post, but I will boil it down to this:  Buffalo Zoo?  Lame.  We did not get to feed any giraffes, wash any elephants, or ride any camels.  We set aside a whole day for a zoo we walked int 20 minutes.  And Niagara Falls?  Cort agreed it was just a lot of water.

But we had fun laughing at our misfortune, AND we had a super time once we got to Rochester!

8. Spring Break in college. The one and only time I ever went on a spring break trip was my sophomore year in college.  A group of friends (Go Broncos!!) and I took a plane (my first jet ride ever) to St Petersburg, FL for a week-long stay.  Every day we sat by the pool and tanned.  Most of us were under 21, so we didn’t do a lot of night life, but it didn’t matter.  We had so much fun just hanging out!  And since there were five of us and only two queen-sized beds?  We rotated the person who slept on the floor. It was just plain fun and crazy.

7. Florida with my family. About four years before the spring break trip to Florida, my family took us all to Orlando, FL.  It was one of the first “big” trips my family ever took together (we usually just rented cottages for a week).  We drove the 24 hours there as a family in a van.  I have lots of hilarious memories from this trip, but one that has to do with me was when we were in the Magic Kingdom and I (an almost-sophomore in high school) was SO crabby, my mom actually made me take a time out!  While my dad and my brothers enjoyed Thunder Mountain?  I was stuck on a bench sipping a diet coke until I could “improve my mood.”

6. Tigers baseball game with my family. We have been to MANY Tiger Ball games together as a family, but one in particular sticks out to me because I. DID. NOT. WANT. TO. BE. THERE.

My family had just gotten down with a trip that included Cedar Point and a drive-thru safari (a WHOLE different memory), we were making our way back through Michigan via Detroit because my parents had gotten us tickets to see a game.  People?  As a 16 year old teenager?  I was done.  I did NOT want to be on this trip anymore.

To show my displeasure, I ridiculed (loudly) everything about the game, I insisted on showing off my new Spanish skills (thank you, high school Spanish II) by ordering my refreshments only en espanol, and I targeted the poor kid who was sitting in front of us.

That was probably the most obnoxious thing that I did.  This kid was a total Ken Griffey, Jr fan and every time Griffey did something great, he would say, “ROOOOUTINE hit for Griffey!”

It was that annoying.

So I started quietly heckling.  Finally, Griffey struck out and I leaned forward and yelled, “ROOOOOOOUTINE HIT FOR GRIFFEY!”

Dining at the Experience Music Project

The kid did not say another word the entire game.

5. Seattle with my hubby. One year after being married, Cortney and I decided to fly (my second time on a jet) to Seattle–the home of his favorite band, Pearl Jam–for a week-long vacation.  He didn’t want to be around for the “anniversary” of his dad’s passing away, and Seattle was some place we both really wanted to visit.  So we went.

We went to a zoo (duh), and aquarium (duh), the Experience Music Project, the Space Needle, the Pacific Ocean, Pike Place Market, and lots of downtown wanderings.

4. Montana for one of my best friends. Because I will do anything for my friends, Cort and I decided our vacation in 2007 would be the trip we were making to Montana for a wedding that I was in.  I blogged about it here.

Looking good at the Montana wedding

We found out a few things on that trip:  North Dakota is boring.  Montana is beautiful (and boring), Wyoming is beautiful (and boring), South Dakota has some good place to stop, but the Mitchel Corn Palace is not one of them.

3. Camping/Canoeing with the in-laws. Ok, I hate camping.  It is NOT my idea of a vacation.  But we have gone twice.  TWICE!  I blogged about both trips here, here, and here.  Despite my hate of all things camping, we have a pretty damn good time!

Canoe Trip 2010

2. Indianapolis with my family of three. This past summer’s trip to Indy will always be a favorite of mine because it was our very first vacation as a family of three.  Granted, it was only three days, but in that three days, we spent two (successful) nights in a hotel with a toddler, did some sight-seeing, visited with great friends, met some new great friends, and spent a total of eight hours in the car with

My bloggy friends in Indy

a screaming toddler.

1. My honeymoon. You knew this had to be #1, right?  Most people at this point would talk all about their magical getaway to some all inclusive resort, or perhaps a romantic trip to Europe?  Maybe a cruise?

Not us.  We were on a budget, people.

We went to Myrtle Beach.  Actually, we DROVE to Myrtle Beach. Yes, I know there are some kick ass places to stay and be pampered in Myrtle Beach.  No, we did not stay at one of them.  We stayed at the Mystic Sea Resort–which, upon arriving?  Cort deemed neither Mystical nor Resortish.  In fact, he may have used a swear word and then commented how it looked nothing like what it did on the internet (you would think we would have learned from the Buffalo Zoo debacle, wouldn’t you?).

Two newlywed beach bums

There are so many stories I can tell you about Myrtle Beach, but the main thing is that we started our marriage off with something we could afford and made it fun.  We laughed until we cried.  We enjoyed being together.  And it was perfect.

Don’t get me wrong, some day I would LOVE to go on a “real” vacation.  Something all-inclusive.  Somewhere that creates little swans and monkeys out of my towels.  But until then, we will have fun with our budget vacations.  It’s what I am used to growing up, and it is what you make it!

Now how about you?  Do you have a Top Ten list of your vacation memories?  Link it up!  And tune in this weekend when I announce next week’s Top Ten Tuesday Topic!

Potter Picnic 2010

This past weekend was the annual Potter Picnic–Cort’s mom’s side of the family.  There are five siblings in my mom-in-law’s family and each of the five sibling families wore a different color T-shirt.  Ours?  Yellow!

The Potter Picnic is fun, but it is SERIOUS fun! It is NOT your mediocre, run-of the mill family reunion.  OH NO…

It all starts out with games…tournament style…where you get to compete for prizes.  There is something for EVERYONE.

Ladder Ball (or as we Sluiters call it, Hilly Billy Golf)
Cornhole (yes, that is the real name of this game.  what can I say?  we are classy)
more corn hole…just because we all needed one more giggle at the name.
Horse shoes
Yes, there were even written quizzes.  The Potter family?  They take competition seriously.
and you can’t leave until you guess how many m&ms or what the three objects in the coffee can are.
And you KNEW there was a score board, right?
And Grandpa and Grandma Potter?  They supervised and enjoyed watching us run amok.
And the littlest Potter also did some supervising.  Oh hey, Miles!
The trophies:  which totally went to the Red Shirts (Keith Potter family) AGAIN this year.  I think they have everyone by sheer numbers in their family!
Debate over the scoreboard.
Did I mention it’s serious business?  Because it SO is.
Even Eddie found it fun to run around the playing fields (yes, there are even regulation lines chalked in.  SERIOUS, people.)
The yellow team?  We did not do so well.
But Cody totally represented by qualifying to climb the rope!  And he did it with speed AND agility!  We were so proud!
We all watched the climbers.  They were pretty amazing.  And?  I am glad I didn’t have to try because I am fairly sure I would have hurt myself in more than one way.
The yellow team in their glory…with G&G Potter
The entire Potter Picnic.  We are so dang lucky to have this much love in just ONE of side of the family!
Such a fun day…even if we had to leave before dinner because Eddie was LOSING it from lack of nap.
And I think?  Grandpa and Grandma had a pretty happy day too!

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Sluiter Nation Takes Indy

I promised to share our trip to Indianapolis, so I need to make good on that.  So here is our story…

Last week Monday, our little family packed up and headed south.

 Before having Eddie, four hours in the car for a road trip would have been no big deal for Cort and me.  We love road trips together! But with a 13-month old?  By hour three?  Eddie was done.  D.O.N.E. done. I had to start singing to him to get him to applaud and smile and not scream his face off.

Also on that four-hour tour, Eddie also had his first McDonald’s visit.  I didn’t even think to take my camera in, but there he sat…in a highchair, with a chicken nugget and apple slice happy meal, smiling.  And in that McDonalds somewhere in northern Indiana?  My baby learned to drink out of a straw.  Sigh…

Anyway, we arrived in Indianapolis around 5:00 or so.  Eddie LOVED the hotel room!

The chair and the air conditioner and the window overlooking a bazillion school buses were his favorite parts.

That evening Emily invited us over for pizza and relaxing on the back deck while the kids played.  It was a lovely way to start our visit!  Before we left, we agreed to head out to the Indianapolis Zoo with Emily and her crew in the morning.

Emily has a membership pass so we got in for nothing at all!  You can’t beat that deal with a stick!

Emily’s oldest, PK, was our tour guide for the day.  Now you must know, PK and I bonded over that fact that we both love princesses, and I knew each one of her Polly Pockets princess’s names.  Yup, we are now BFF’s.  Anyway, I believe it was because of this bond that we got such a thorough tour from her.

One of the first places she took us was to see the sharks.  Very cool.  However, did you know you can PET these sharks?  Um…I am a little skeptical of this.

But clearly it is safe because I don’t think Emily would let her sweet little girls touch a man eater.  I don’t THINK.

So of course Cort had his brave pants on that day and cozied up to a shark.  This is the same guy who picked up a horseshoe crab and pet a sting ray in Myrtle Beach.  Show off.

So I leaned in and pet one too.  It was icky, but at least I did it.  Notice my two-finger technique.  That is me all following directions.

We stopped to see the penguins.  Birdie liked the penguins.  I liked Birdie’s pigtails.  It’s a fair trade.

Eddie enjoyed the dolphin dome.  It WAS pretty neat to feel like you are underwater.  And it’s very echo-y in there.  Also a favorite of Eddie’s.

Meerkats, anyone?
Polar Bear butt dwarfing Emily’s girls.
The crew: Emily, Gage, Birdie, PK, Cort, and Eddie
elephant family
Cort’s new BFF, Gage the Rage
It may have been over a hundred degrees.  And some of us may have been crabby about that.
Lucky for us there is a splash pad at the zoo.  Eddie and I put our piggies in to cool off!
Ah!  that’s better!
Right before we left, we met these gibbons.  They were loud.  They were a fan favorite.  Coincidence?
Oh, and in case you are wondering, Eddie got a penguin to add to his collection from this zoo!
We may have had McDonalds again.  This time I had my camera ready.  See?  He’s like an adult with that thing.  Sigh…
Tuesday night was the super fun Blogger BBQ at Emily’s.  It was fun.  It was needed.  I wish I could do it ALL THE TIME!
Wednesday morning we decided we needed some indoor, air-conditioned fun, so on the recommendation of all the Indy natives, Sluiter Nation went to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
It was four floors of exploring, investigating, learning, and playing.  Eddie really liked it.  I may have loved it.
Eddie learned about watersheds (just for you Erin. Maybe he can explain them to me).
He played in a log.
He built things with blocks.
He rode a carousel with dad-do.
We saw dinosaurs. (Eddie applauded this guy).
Eddie explored sand.
and learned about magnets.
he picked flowers.
and played in the Baby Scapes.
I posed on the Barbie runway. 
And stopped for a photo op with my childhood friend.  Girlfriend needs to eat a cheeseburger, though.  She’s making me look bad!
Before lunch (where Eddie drank from yes, ANOTHER juice box), we found his favorite exhibit!
There were rock star cars like this one from Van Halen.
And this trailer o stereo from KISS
we even saw Cheap Trick’s custom John Deere!
We even let Eddie try out a “hog”.  He liked it.  Sort of a lot.  Don’t tell Grandma.
After lunch, it was time to get back in the truck and head north for home.  Eddie and I both slept for part of the trip. We were exhausted from all the fun we had.  It was the perfect minivacation for our first family vacation.  Eddie slept pretty well in the hotel (even if he didn’t nap on Tuesday because the room was just too interesting), and we had a TON of fun with old and new friends!
We look forward to visiting Indy again and maybe hitting the State Fair next time!

Celebrating Those Who Serve By Eating a Corndog

So I know I have a whole trip to Indy to tell you about.  And normally on Fridays you get to come and see my flip-offs.  I don’t have flip-offs this week.  Well, maybe to the 102 degree weather in Indy that had sweat rolling down my back and into my…well…anyway.  But other than that?  Nope.  I had a great week.

But of course if you are longing for the satisfaction of reading some flip-offs, definitely do head over to Kludgy Mom and read hers…and link up, if you’re a blogger.

ANYWAY…this post?  This post is about something that was a LONG time coming for me.

I’m talking about the Coast Guard Festival.

I live less than 30 minutes from Grand Haven, MI where the annual Coast Guard Festival is held.  It’s kind of a big deal.  There is much festival-ness about it, and for good reason!  The Coast Guard is a very important part of our Armed Forces!  And here in Michigan, living on the lake, we rely on them for search and rescue, but nationally the protect our waters!  They are a REALLY big deal, so it’s pretty awesome that we have this festival right here on our own turf to honor them.

And I?  Had never been to the festival.

My friend Missy–you know, my super fantastic talented beautiful friend, Missy?  This one right here? Yup, her family lives in Grand Haven and goes annually.  She decided Sluiter Nation must…MUST…attend the festival this year.

So we did.

On Friday morning we headed out into the pleasant weather to first visit the Craft Show.  I had never been to a craft show either (I know, I know…I am gradually coming out from under the rock), and I was pretty impressed!

There were tons of really cool local crafts.  If it wasn’t so dang busy (meaning if we could actually PUSH OUR STROLLERS through the paths, we would have stayed). But it was too crowded for the whole family to move comfortably.

So…we moved on to the FOOD!

The best food booths were right along the water.  So we strolled through Grand Haven and down to the shore.  This?  Is where I found a delightful corn dog and the best invention ever…butterfly fries.  Freshly cut potatoes in swirly formation and deep fried.  They were like chips, but yummier.  WAY yummier.

And I ate them too fast to take a picture.  Sorry.

Eddie and his BFF, Ethan, had a great time enjoying fruit and fried food from the comfort of the strollers.

And what would going to Coast Guard Festival be without touring an actual vessel?  So we walked to the boats.

And the boats?  They are big.

But the guys and kids toured them.  Because that is what boys and kids like to do.

The mommas and the babies sat and chatted.  and maybe got a sun burned part.  It’s NOT dandruff, people!  It’s pealing!


By the time the guys and kids were done touring the big boat, the rides were open.  Missy was determined to get me on a ride.  I generally do NOT love carnival rides, but Missy wanted me to and I love her, so I went on the ride.

Please notice that we sat near the middle because that is supposed to be the least scary spot.  Also notice the small girl sitting next to me?  Yeah, stay tuned about her.

So now you can see that I was holding on for my life.  This?  was terrifying.  It was high.  I don’t like heights.  I screamed.  A lot.  And that sweet looking girl next to me?  She MOCKED me.


Tiny Girl:  Wait.  Are you SCARED?

Me:  It’s SO HIGH!!!!

Tiny Girl:  Really?  This ride is really not scary.  You should go on the ZIPPER!  That is scary!

Me:  ARGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! (because I can clearly NOT have this conversation right now while the pirate ship is trying to kill me).

Oh that Zipper ride that Tiny Girl was talking about?  This was it.  This was what Jeff (Missy’s bearded hubby) wanted to ride.  With Cort.

As they were standing there in line, I almost vomited just watching the thing squeal and turn.  And Missy told me that Jeff was all excited because NO ONE that they ever take to Coast Guard will go on this thing with him.  Oh boy.

So they get put in this cage thing, see?  And that cage…can totally spin around WHILE the ride is ALSO spinning.

How is vomit NOT going to occur?  I just don’t know. Especially after those corn dogs.  Oh those corn dogs.

That?  Is Cort and Jeff.  Those are their hands holding on for dear life.  I had to stop taking pictures because my stomach was turning.

And yet?  All happy with no puke!  In fact…Cort said he would GLADLY go on again with Jeff.

Yes, we are officially their Coast Guard Festival buddies from now on.  Just based on the Zipper.

Of course, Eddie needed to ride a ride too.  The only thing he could really go on was the carousel.  But he loved it.  I know he’s got his straight face on, but that is what he does when he is taking it all in.  Those little piggies were clamped tight to the horsey and he was holding tight to the pole.

When it was over?  He fussed.  He wanted more.

Although he was also very, very tired. So tired he couldn’t get it together for one last shot with his BFF and his momma’s bestie.

And so, we traveled home.

But we will be back.  Because the Coast Guard?  Is important.  And when they have a Festival?  They serve great corn dogs.

Oh Hey…Another Guest Post:  
So I am over at Tie a Little Ribbon today.  Krystal is all kinds of cool and funny and hilarious and when she asked me to guest post, I just couldn’t say no.  It’s fitting that she runs this post today, after I have been a guest this week.  So head over, leave me a comment over there, and show Krystal some Sluiter Nation love. 

Put Us In the Zoo!

One very fun thing that Cortney and I have in common is our love of zoos and aquariums.  It seems that every summer we somehow find our way to one (well, not last summer.  Last summer we had a zoo in our home with our newborn and everyone coming to look at US).  This week, thanks to my mom, we were able to take Eddie to his first zoo.  But before I get to that, a little retrospective of past zoo/aquarium visits.

The summer of 2004 (the summer when we got engaged) we took a trip to NY to visit friends who were living in Rochester at the time.  We stopped at the Buffalo Zoo for an afternoon.  Of course they had buffalo.

And they also had a rhino.  This zoo was WAY smaller than we expected, but had some good animals.  However, the giraffe feeding, elephant washing, and camel rides their website advertised?  So were not happening.  I was crabby about this.

On a rainy day on our honeymoon in Myrtle Beach in June of 2005, we went to the Ripley’s aquarium.  Cort was braver than I was with all the touching and the holding of sea creatures.

In 2006 we took a trip to Seattle.  We visited the Tacoma Zoo and saw whales and…

reindeer!  It was fun, but sort of hot.  That was one of the nicer zoos we’ve been to, although it was sort of a long drive from where we were staying.

We also visited the aquarium on the Puget sound.  I went into the kid section for some pictures.  What did I think I was doing with that polo and hair do?  Ugg.

In 2007 we went out to Montana.  No zoos, but in South Dakota we saw some REAL buffalo (Cort made me get back in the car because there were signs all over the place about how they will KILL you)…

and in North Dakota we saw this big cow.  But it wasn’t real, so I guess it doesn’t count as part of our animal experiences.

In 2008 we went out to NY again for a wine tour with our friends near Rochester, and on the way home we stopped in the Toledo Zoo.  This has been my favorite zoo so far.  Look at those big polar bears!

They are big…see?

They had camels at this zoo.  I think Cort was trying to impress the camels with his super suave ways.

Did I mention we visit the gift shop at each zoo and buy a new animal?  It’s true.  we were collecting animals for Eddie’s nursery before Eddie was even conceived!  I knew I wanted an animal themed nursery.  Leave it to Cort to find the hooters in Toledo.

On Tuesday my mom brought our little family to the John Ball zoo about 30 minutes from where we live.  Even though we love zoos, Cort and I hadn’t been to the one near home in YEARS!

We saw this Kamodo Dragon.  It was creepy, but pretty neat.  My mom thought it was icky and after he opened his mouth like this she kept talking to it trying to get it to do it again.

We saw lots of monkey butts.  Here is Eddie watching a chimp moon him.  He didn’t seem too traumatized though.  He actually enjoyed watching all the different monkeys.

He even got to play an African drum on his way out of the African exhibits.  Anything that makes noise is cool with him.

 Grandma really wanted Eddie to pet the pygmy goats.  He preferred to point, not pet.

One thing grandma REALLY wanted us to do was ride the camel.  She brought extra money just so we could do it.  I believe her words were, “C’mon, Cort.  I’ve got five dollars burning a hole in my pocket just waiting for you to ride that camel.”  So he did.  We didn’t want to disappoint Grandma!

Even I got on Angel the Camel.  In a skirt, no less.  The ride was much less glamorous than Sarah Jessica Parker made it look in Sex in the City 2, let me tell you!

We saw bears.  A grizzly and a brown bear.  My mom thought those claws were pretty big.  See?

Then we hit the petting zoo where again Grandma tried to get Eddie to pet a goat.  He had more fun running around the area away from the animals.

Eddie and daddy thought the penguins were pretty cool…even after we sneaked the stroller in…shhhhh…

And wouldn’t you know it?  We bought Eddie his own camel to take home!  And he has been sleeping with it every nap and every night.  He loves that darn thing.  I don’t blame him, it is SOFT!

And when we got home?  Louis was in a box.  I guess he felt left out.  He wanted to be looked at in a “habitat” too.

Our family sure does love zoos!  We can’t wait to visit the Indianapolis Zoo (hopefully!) in just a few weeks!

Momma’s Time Out

Sometimes I just need a time out.  I need to get away from the house and do things with my friends.  Totally normal, right?  Cort does the same thing.  He likes to go golfing or out to lunch with a buddy.  Just a little time where we don’t have to be “Momma” or “Dad-do”.

Friday night I got a “Time Out”. It was great!  I was able to go scrapbooking with some of my favorite people!  We all meet at a little place called Scrap, Scribble, and Stick and then go out for some dinner.  Most of our scrapbooking involves chatting rather than actually getting any scrapbooking done.

I love this time for so many reasons.  I mean, yes, I get some work done on my scrapbook (although I am stuck back in 2008.  According to my book?  Eddie has not even been conceived yet.)  But the real fun is hanging out with the gals.

Some of us are moms.  Some aren’t.

Some are teachers.  Some work from home.  Some go to a different job.  Some go to school.

Some are friends from a million years ago.  Some are new friends.

Some are married.  Some are not.

Some are seasoned croppers who bring loads of supplies.  Some are newbies who only have a few items.

But we share it all.  All the supplies…all the knowledge…all the fun.

We all laugh and share over the crop table.

Trips out to the store take three times as long because of the conversations we get into while finding the perfect paper for our page.

We are usually together for about seven hours, but it feels like seven minutes, and I never have a whole lot to show for all my time spent except a happy smile and a recharged attitude.

These ladies help me separate “Kate” from “Mommma” for one brief evening a month.  And I love them for it.

The Perfect Weekend

The fourth of July has always been sort of special us. Since finishing college, all of mine and Cort’s mutual friends from high school (and college) moved away around the country.  One of the only times of the year that we get to see some of them is The Fourth when they all come back to West Michigan.  This year was no different.

Although we missed some people (um, Phil and Liz?  that would be you.  Oh, and you and your no-car-lifestyle, Harbottles), we still managed (somehow) to enjoy ourselves. In fact, while getting settled in on the beach, we ran into our friend Emily, otherwise known to you bloggy friends as DesignHERmomma.  Small world.  Small “Great” Lake.

As I have blogged numerous times before, my friends’ aunt lives ON Lake Michigan.  We have been coming to this beach since high school.

Although throughout our college years, there were beer cans littering the beach, not sand toys.

Last year, Eddie was only eleven days old when we came out to see everyone, and we didn’t make it down to the beach (I couldn’t go down all those stairs.  something about an abdominal incision healing.  whatever.).

This year we were excited to see one of my BFF’s, Erin and her cowboy husband, Brad who live in Montana.  Cort’s BFF, Mat, was also in town from Colorado.

We spent a good chunk of Saturday on the beach.  Eddie helped Owen bury Mat in the sand.

And Cort took Eddie swimming.  We stopped at Meijer on the way out and picked up a $3 swimboat thing.  We weren’t sure how Eddie would do with the 1-3 foot waves, but he loved it!

The boys did a LOT of swimming.  The water was nearly 70 degrees and it felt great since it was nearly 90 degrees out! 
 A LOT of burying went on.  Mat, then Owen, then Cort.  We even buried Eddie’s legs, but he really wasn’t a fan.  I don’t blame him.  I get claustrophobic when that happens too.
After hours of playing on the beach and socializing with old friends, we had to pack up all of our gear and head over to the marina because, my friends, it was time for Slippery’s Pig Roast!
Cort’s dad (known as Slippery to many) spent quite a few years helping roast a pig every July.  We make an effort to get out there for the pig roast every year because it’s a really great fundraiser for the Yacht Club and Cort’s dad always loved it.  MacKenzie and Dave were there as well as Grandpa and Grandma Sluiter.  It was great to catch up and enjoy and event that was so dear to my father-in-law.
Of course the last event of the night was the fireworks over the lake.  Each year the Swanbergs and Visels are kind enough to invite our little family along.  Last year we had to pass since Eddie was so new and fresh and it would have just been too late for us.
But not this year!  This year we slapped Eddie’s life jacket on (which he is not really a fan of…I don’t know why.  Maybe because he becomes like a turtle stuck on its back when he’s in it), and we boarded The Crystal Lee IV for a putz out to Kollen Park for some fireworks
 Even though Eddie missed his afternoon nap and played in the sun and surf and was EXTREMELY tired, he was still in pretty good spirits for the boat ride.
 Although he got VERY sleepy.  Jake stroked his head and hugged him and told him he could just take a nap.  It was so very sweet.

Look how tired my little guy is!  Poor buddy!  Just can’t give in to sleep when there is a party of fun going on!

When we got out to Kollen Park, we anchored and waited for the sun to go down so the show could start.  Cort cuddled Eddie as best as he could with that unwieldy life jacket in the way.

Eddie had a pretty good time watching the other boats and the random, uh, illegal fireworks that were going off preshow.  But once the real deal started, he really didn’t care.  He was tired.  So Cort laid him on his side and he just drifted off to sleep when….the show ended and all the boats started sounding their horns.  This apparently is uncool to someone trying to sleep.

It didn’t take him long though, to drift back to sleep for good on our way back in to the marina.  He slept like a little rock all night.

So that today?  He could do it again!  That is right!  Today was Beach Day The Second:

Again we packed up all our gear and headed out to Lake Michigan. This time it wasn’t just us kid-havin’ folks down at the beach…

Even “The Cowboy” shed his Wranglers for mesh shorts and traded in his Stetson for a ball cap.  There were kids and dogs and people galore cooling off from the mid-ninety degree temps.

Eddie wants you to know this has been his best Fourth of July yet.  He seriously played for another two hours on that beach today.  He played with Owen again, and watched the dogs and the people.  He ate dug in the sand and went swimming.  In fact, when we carried him back up to leave, his little piggies were so shriveled they looked like little raisins.

 On the drive home today I realized just how lucky we are.  We know people with lakefront property.  We know people with a boat.  AND we LOVE all those people and they love us back.  Because of them, we spent the whole weekend celebrating our country’s independence while out on the water.  The weather cooperated.  The water temperatures were perfect.  I would not change a thing about this weekend.  It was perfect. 
Absolutely perfect.

At the Carwash

Yesterday was a grumpy day for Eddie.  For whatever reason napping was not happening.  Cort had homework to do, so I whisked Mr. McWhineyPants off to my parents for a little while and then to my brother’s for a bit.  Upon returning, Eddie ate dinner, but was still full of screams, so Cort decided to wash the vehicles and to take Eddie outside with him.

Eddie LOVES playing outside.  I don’t know what it is, but my usually extremely mobile toddler can sit in the grass for 10 minutes before he feels the need to move.  I think he just likes BEING in the outdoors.

He happily played with toys and pointed at our tree and at the birds and at daddy for almost the entire first vehicle-washing.

But when Cort started washing his truck, Eddie was on the MOVE!  That was interesting stuff…a TRUCK!

He so badly wanted to walk over and “help” his Dad-do.  By the way, Cort JUST mowed, but noticed Eddie’s little piggies are totally buried in the grass?  sigh…so cute.

In fact, while I was busy snapping pictures, Eddie made his way to the driveway and the hose.  Oh BOY was that fun!  Cort actually said, “I sort of want him to discover the nozzle and accidentally spray himself in the face!”  Um? not nice, Dad-do.  Although I agree it would be funny…until the crying starts.

Ed never figured out the nozzle, but by this time he was getting pretty grassy and kind of wet.  Not my favorite combo right before Jammy Time.

But once he got a little taste of “helping” daddy?  There was no more just sitting in the lawn and being cute like this.

So we went inside to get ready for bed.

But man do we love summer days!

The "Official" Start to a Sluiter Nation Summer

…when we get out to the marina for the first time!  That’s right, we are lucky enough to have some VERY good friends (and when I say “good”, I mean so good that Eddie refers to them as Grammy Leone and Papa C) who have a boat and who are kind enough to take our little family into their “clan”.

This wasn’t Eddie’s first boat ride ever.  That was last year.  (there is more there about how we know this super family, if you need the background) Seriously…I can hardly remember how little he was then!  Well, it’s been nine months since then, and we find ourselves right back on the Crystal Lee.  This time Eddie is big enough for a life jacket.

Which he is not so sure of.  Yes, you are seeing right, we had to prop the poor boy between two pillows because he kept falling off to a side.  He wasn’t so mobile in that thing, but it kept him safe…and legal!

He calmed down a bit once we got going.  We putzed nice and slow through Lake Macatawa to the channel that would take us to the Big Lake.

While we were going nice and slow, we decided to get a quick family picture in.  Always fun to have a nice summer picture on the boat!

As we floated through the channel, we waved at all the onlookers having their cookouts and their Memorial Day parties.  Holland State Park seemed to be THE place to be yesterday!

As we passed Big Red, we knew it was time to secure all loose items because Captain Papa C was going to put the hammer down as we headed south for a trip to Saugatuck!

Cort took the “max and relax” attitude about the trip.  Wait…so did the rest of us.  Seriously?  The lake was like glass!  It was such a smooth, soothing ride!

Even Eddie spread out and enjoyed the ride!  He was all about watching everyone in the river at Saugatuck.

 I’m not sure what this means, but I am guessing it’s good thing.  Definitely approving of the trip!

Eddie just watched while I pointed out all there was to see.  He would point and coo.  It was so cute!  Much more fun than the nap he took last year through the whole thing!

On our way back from Saugatuck, we anchored near a beach area that can only be accessed by boat and is about half way between Saugatuck and Holland.  This is also the area where we spread Cort’s dad’s ashes almost five years ago, so it’s a pretty special place to us.

We loaded up the dingy and in about five hundred trips, all of us (9 adults and 3 kids and 2 dogs) were hauled up to the beach.

I am kicking myself right now for not bringing my little “point and shoot” camera along, and I wasn’t about to take my zillion dollar camera on the beach with all the sand and water, so I missed out on taking pics of Eddie’s first beach day.  He was SOOO cute!  Loved the sand (ate his fair share of it) and didn’t mind the water (although it was pretty chilly).  He crawled and played like he OWNED that beach!  And man did he woo the ladies!

After the beach, the mommies got our little boys stripped down, sprayed off, and re-clothed before everyone else and our stuff even made it back to the boat.  I’m telling you, we were efficient!  And big thanks to Jordan for helping wrangle all those nude little guys back into dry clothes!  And, as you can see, give my little guy his “senator” hair comb.

And about two seconds after the motors fired back up, this little guy was out like a light!  BIG day of sun and fun for this one!

Seriously…he was O U T out.
When we got back to dock it was time to eat!  Jason fired up the grill and we had burgers and whole spread.
We all had such an awesome day! 
I don’t think we can express enough how much we love days like this.  We are so graciously taken in by people we love for a beautiful day on the lake–a place we love.  A place where we come to be with family.  And boy howdy, did we feel the family love this weekend!
And it’s just the start of summer!

You Know It’s Summer in Sluiter Nation When…

Yard work begins!  That’s right, Sluiter Nation takes quite a bit of pride in our “curb appeal”.  This year we started early getting the fertilizer out there and starting the mowing process.  We never know what kind of weather good old Michigan is going to give us, but it’s pretty safe to say May is an Ok time to start things up.

This year we decided not to completely neglect the yard pay a little more care to the yard than last year.  To begin with, Cort gutted the front bed and build up bricks around it so we could put all perennials in it. 

We put a hydrangea in the corner by the steps, Shasta Daisies along the back, and a tiny azalea bush on the side closest to the camera.  In the middle we re-located four of our best hastas, and in the front I put phlox.  It looks SO much better!

 Recently, Cort spread some new bark in the bed to finish off the look.  Oh, and my sweet little Eddie gave me that beautiful hanging plant for mother’s day!

 We have already gotten some nice outside time this weekend.  Cort and Ed power-washed Eddie’s play palace.  They were pretty excited about it.  So then while Cort mowed the lawn, Eddie and I tried out the fun.

I realize Eddie looks uncomfortable here, but he was just confused as to why daddy was yelling at him from the deck.  Super fun was had…until daddy started to mow.  After a few passes around the play palace Ed was ready to jump into momma’s arms and head for the house.

Today I bought my annuals.  See, this is a tradition in Sluiter Nation:  the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend my mom and I go and pick out my flowers.  Now, I could totally do this by myself.  I pick out almost the exact same thing every year.  But it’s WAY more fun with my mom.  We spend WAY too much time at the greenhouse ogling everything we would kill since we don’t have the right conditions for planting.

Oh yeah, and I bet you noticed my sweet new mobile planting thingy up there.  It’s as sweet as it looks.  Holds all my “gardening” tools, can be pulled to where I am, AND carries my beverage.  It’s almost as sweet as having a gardening butler.

See what I mean?  Got me all the way down the walk while I planted my moss roses.

I know these look scraggly now, but trust me, these puppies start covering all available space and burst into beautiful colors while they do it.  It’s an explosion of happiness while you walk up to my front door.

I planted impatiens on the side of the house.  So when the dumb neighbor is hauling more crap to put in his falling apart “out building”, he can see some happy pink flowers.

It was 86 degrees out today and I put down two bottles of water while I planted four flats, two boxes, and a pot, but I loved every sweaty minute of it.  I love our little family traditions.  They may not seem like much, but it’s comforting to know that year after year, I can look forward to some “same” in my life–even when it seems like everything else keeps changing.