A’cottaging We Went

When I was a kid, our family vacations consisted of my family packing up our vehicle and towing our boat “up north” to an inland lake and renting a cottage for a week.

This continued until I was in high school when we took a few summers off to do “regular” vacations like go to Disney and hit up Cedar Point. By my sophomore year we were back to cottages…one cottage in particular in Pentwater.

My family went to this cottage for about 8 years before it was apparent that my siblings and I were becoming adults with busy summers of doing other things.

Last summer, my brothers and I asked my parents if we could do The Cottage again.  We missed it. We missed the lake, the boating, the meals together, the Tootsie Pops that my mom always brought, and the family game time each evening.

Last summer we reignited the tradition, this time with spouses and children in tow, and needing two cottages to house us all rather than just one.

This year we gathered again for five days and four nights.

That time gave me many blog posts (and a bazillion photos). I’m not sure I’ll ever flesh them all out, or post all the pictures, but there were many realizations and experiences this year that need to be “written out”.

For now, however, I will give you a quick glimpse into the pattern of those five days….

Breakfast

Breakfast

Every morning, my parents got up first and sat outside in their bag chairs reading and drinking coffee. Eddie and my nephew Jack were usually next up followed by me, Cort, and Charlie.  Slowly my two brothers and their wives and my baby niece Maria would wander over from their cottage.

Someone would make eggs or pancakes or bacon or toast. There were numerous pots of coffee consumed. It was always a nice slow start to the day.

The Beach

The Beach

Every single day we followed breakfast clean up with putting on our bathing suits and heading to either a tiny beach on Bass Lake or over to the Big Lake (Lake Michigan) for a couple hours of beach. Some days we played in the sand and water, one day my dad put the boat in and pulled a few of us around the lake on the knee board, and one day we drove/walked to Lake Michigan for a big morning of sun and waves. But every day had a beach in it.

After the beach was lunch time. Lunch time was usually around 1:30 or 2pm.  Then Charlie would take a nap.

Game time

Game time

Between Charlie’s nap and dinner we filled the time with walks, relaxing, playing, and of course games.  My mom bought Old Maid and the kids (all of us) LOVED it. It got quite competitive with lots of hooting and hollering whenever anyone picked The Old Maid.

Dinnertime

Dinnertime

We ate outside every night as a big family of 12. Each family was in charge of one dinner…that included bringing all the food, cooking it, and cleaning up. The Sluiters were in charge of Food on the Fire Pit Night (hobo pies and hot dogs) and also for one big breakfast.  I think our meals were a hit.

More playing

More playing

It seemed like dinner was later and later each night. We would play until it got to be around 8pm and then the Sluiter kids…or at least Charlie…needed to be cleaned up, pajama-ed, and put to bed.  Eddie usually stayed up late with us to play a card game or sit by a campfire, but because he and I shared a little bed, I usually went to bed when he did…around 10pm.

Don’t get jealous…it was hard to sleep with a windmill-like child on a lumpy tiny bed. I didn’t sleep great, but at least we had cool nights so we didn’t add sweating to why we didn’t sleep well.

The weather was perfect, the days were long, and it’s always great to see the smiles that our boys bring to the faces of our family.

There is so much more to be said about those five days, but for now this is what I remember…we still had structure to our day, but that structure was all about relaxing.

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!

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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.

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