The Cottage is the Thing Pt. 1

Summer for Michiganders consists of many small grievances. Mosquitoes, construction zones, humidity and firework season. But for all those hot weather annoyances there is one sweet bit of relief we can all share.  The Cottage.

Being the Great Lakes State is pretty awesome when you think about it. We’re surrounded by 3 incredible bodies of water in our country. And all along the banks of those lakes are beaches. And just beyond the sand there are cottages. Where there is beach and lake front in Michigan a cottage is not far away.

Everyone has their own little piece of ‘Up North’ (what Michiganders call anything 40 minutes north of where they live). Be it a campground they spent their childhood summers at. Or the cabin their great-grandpa built by hand. Some prefer the Michigan side, others head for the big inland lakes like Houghton and Torch. And a few brave and intrepid souls wander all the way up to Superior every summer.

Our family? We go to Huron every summer. We’re a Huron kind of family. Our beach is the pristine and uncrowded stretch in Oscoda. Our beach is the one that the entire country sees in our famous ‘Pure Michigan’ tourism commercials. It’s lovely.

I can’t even remember how many years now we’ve been coming except that my dad never came so it has to be within the past 10 years. And I never remember being there without Michael, so that narrows it further to 8. That’s a lot of memories. And so many more to come.

And it’s only gotten better and more important now that I have kids. To give them this time, in nature, out of the city, with their extended family. It’s such an important tradition to me.

This year we added to the tradition by inviting my inlaws, Jiddo John and Teta Hilda and bro-in-law André to share the Father’s Day weekend with us. And I’m so glad we did. It’s the first time both sides of our family have spent this much time together since our wedding. How lucky are we that they get along and enjoy each other’s company? Everyone had a great time.

Our lovely stretch of Pure Michigan. Isn’t it stunning?

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It was cold. Even cold for Up North. But Cedella could not stay away from the lake.

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Miss Isora discovered a natural affinity for digging. She did so for hours.

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Hours of digging made Biz hungry and exhausted. Breastfeeding on the beach? Win. Win. So glad I have these beautiful photos to remember our breastfeeding relationship.

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And…passed out. The beach is the perfect spot for a nap. Don’t mind André, he’s a beach-posing pro.

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Fun times around the fire circle. My Mom lives for a good camp fire. S’mores and beers and whiskey and wine and laughs and oh yea…fire. What’s not to love? I think my FIL and MIL loved the fire as much as we did. We had some really good laughs and told lots of stories. If it hadn’t have been so damn cold we could have stayed out there all night.

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So when it got too cold outside we packed it in and poured some drinks and started out playing a game called Apples to Apples. Which was all very fine and funny and PG-13. Clearly we needed to step it up and take it to an NC-17. Enter Cards Against Humanity. Officially it’s a game in which a question is asked (black card) and the person with the best answer wins (white cards). It’s totally arbitrary based on the person reading the black cards taste and sense of humor. Though it had the potential to totally offend the old folks they had a blast. In fact my FIL John won the first game and my MIL Hilda won another game!! We laughed so hard we cried. And we got my Mom to say “Motherfucking Sorcerer” (Thank you Kylara for masterminding that one). If you are looking for a good time and every one is over 16, get Cards Against Humanity. You won’t regret it.

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Cold and rainy days require lots of good things to read. And lots of folks to read them to you. Uncle André put in some time reading fairy books with Cedella.

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While Isora did a little light reading catching up on the goings-on in Westeros.

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Beers and walks on the beach. Works for us 😉

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The Grandmas and their wiggling silly Granddaughters.

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Bedtime with Jiddo.

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Thankfully by Sunday it was quite a bit warmer so the beach was the thing. Besides, this kid couldn’t be deterred from the water. See LOVES the lake.

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Jiddo John and Uncle André had a blast flying kites with the girls.

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Shells and tadpoles and a million little creatures captured Dad and Ella’s imaginations.

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Braving the icy cold waters of Lake Huron.

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My sisters chillin’ on the beach.

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The Mansour guys and the Mansour little ladies. A handsome bunch, no?

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Father’s Day lunch was delicious. We made beef and pork kabobs, salad, asparagus and of course lots of delicious watermelon.

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We managed to find a Father’s Day version of the best. Card. Ever. It’s a Hamburger that sings a really obnoxious song. And it makes all of us laugh ever time we play the song. Ella found it at Target. She was so pleased with herself to give it to her Dad.

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The whole gang (minus a sleeping Izzie). All these people I love, that love each other, that love my babies. God, I just really love this picture.

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Have you taken a trip with both sides of your married family? What are your family summer vacation traditions? Are you a Michigander? Which Lake is yours?

Well that was quite a photo bomb…but guess what? There’s a LOT more. Coming up is Part II…our day trips to Dinosaur Gardens & Ocqueoc Falls and other spots in the great Up North.

 

 

 

 

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: 2012 Wrap Up

2012 was quite a year. A crazy, busy, exciting, brilliant, exasperating, joyful and crazy year. We started the year with one independent child and ended the year with an independent diva and a smiley new toddler. And we took an awful lot of pictures along the way.

Wordless/Wordful/Nearly Wordless Wednesday are a staple around these parts. Some weeks these are the only posts I do. Cause I know the pictures of my sweet babies, that’s why you’re here, right?

The hard part? Picking the pictures for this post. I have a bit of an editing problem. Especially because I love every single picture of my girls. Every. Single. One.

So this is one (or maybe two or three) picture(s) for each month of last year from one of my W Wednesday posts. Enjoy!!

JANUARY Bang the Drum. Cedella got a set of drums for her 2nd birthday. This picture captures her personality so completely. Adventurous, silly, joyous and so incredibly noisy. Just the other day my Mom asked “Does she ever shut up?”. And the answer is…nope.

FEBRUARY Social Butterflies. The month of February we were super busy. Showers and playdates. Paczkis and Valentines. I was only a couple weeks away from giving birth and was big as a mobile home. But a pregnant tired Mommy doesn’t really mean much to a busy little Monkey. Here she is, acting a fool, at my cousin’s wife’s baby shower. And bonus…me and Katie. Her daughter is only a month younger than Isora. No, really, I was HUGE.

MARCH In These Quiet Moments was written two days before Isora was born. I will never forget the sweetness of this moment with my Monk. And the before we knew it… She’s Here. Isora Rose was born on an 80 degree St. Patrick’s Day. It was glorious. Wanna read her birth story? HERE you go.

APRIL The New Girl was just sleepy and squishy enough to let me take some really pretty newborn photos. Who needs a photographer when you’ve got Pinterest for inspiration and photography tutorials? I can’t even handle how wrinkly and roll-y she is in these pictures. And the light. Swooning.

MAY We celebrated 50 years of marriage of my amazing Grandparents with a really lovely party. And we struggled with the onslaught of sibling rivalry and Cedella’s inevitable sense of displacement in My Beautiful Monster (I ridiculously love this picture of her).

JUNE For the love of the beach we spent ten days at the cottage on Lake Huron. And it was relaxing, rejuvenating and so much fun. For seven days it was just me, my girls, my sisters and my mom. All us girls. Thrifting and eating and sunbathing and playing board games. Can’t wait to go again this year.

JULY Saw our first trip to the ER and Cedella’s First Battle Scar. It was gut-wrenching and horrible but in the end a rite of passage and a truly eye-opening experience. We learned how incredibly brave and resilient our dear Ella is.

AUGUST The Olympics enraptured us for several weeks in August. Getting to share the triumphs and joys of the Fabulous 5 with my daughter was super cool. And now she’s in gymnastics class where Jordyn Wieber got her start. But it was Usain Bolt that really got us jumping out of our seats.

SEPTEMBER Where the Wild Things Are captured an awesome family trip to the zoo. Cedella became obsessed with maps (thanks Dora) and me and Izzie put on babywearing demos throughout the Detroit zoo. And we celebrated TeTe’s birthday at a super delicious restaurant. Lots of family fun…

OCTOBER This was the second year I participated in the Week in My Life challenge. And boy did we have a busy week. We started out on Monday at the pumpkin patch and by the end of the week we were trick-or-treating (with some baby smiles in between). It was a busy busy month and I barely made it to post every day (never did get Saturday and Sunday published).

NOVEMBER I didn’t publish a single WW post in November. In fact I only published one post in the entire month. Guess we were busy. But I did post our pics from Silver Balls in December even though it happened in November. Though if I was on top of things I would have had a whole post about our Thanksgiving road trip to South Carolina. But no, all I have is us at Silver Balls and the girls through the years (which I LOVE looking at)

DECEMBER We began Teaching Democracy when we protested right-to-work laws at our state Capitol and even got to meet our Mayor. And tis the season for Here Comes Santa Claus as Izzie had her first encounter with the big guy.

Wow. It was quite a year. Looking back on it, it was a really really good one. Hope you enjoyed going through these pics as much as I did.

If you haven’t checked it out yet please take a look at my Life List post from yesterday and check out all the great posts through the linky.

Happy Wordful Wednesday everyone!!

 

My Don’t-Call-it-Bucket Life List

Yesterday I already let y’all know why I won’t be making any resolutions this year. Mainly because life with two small children is too incredibly unpredictable to be nailing down a list of even five lofty goals for one year. But I like the idea of having things to accomplish. Just as long as the pressure of having to complete things within a year is off.

Then a fellow blogger/writer Alissa over at Clever Compass came up with the incredible idea of writing and sharing our life lists. Honestly I’d never put together a definitive travel list let alone ALL the things I want to accomplish in my years on this Earth.

It’s kind of hard to think of isn’t it? Try to come up with the top 5 things you want to do in your life and list them right NOW…

What’d you come up with?

Hard, no? And yet, it’s hard to stop once the ball starts rolling. In fact I thought of so many things I want to do I need five lifetimes to accomplish them all. I know some things may never happen, like seeing the Shire or going to outer space. And I know I’m tempting fate by saying I want to see my girls have babies. But still…these are the things I WANT to do, not the things I know will come to pass.

And no this isn’t a Bucket List. Cause I don’t want to look at this list like something I have to do before I kick the bucket. I want to look at it as things to do while I’m alive. A reference in case I’m ever bored and wealthy. You know, for the Lottery Years.

So without further ado and in no particular order my Life List

  1. Become a prenatal and postpartum Doula
  2. Adopt or foster a child
  3. Own our own European-style cafe where you can get an awesome cup of coffee, or beer or wine or whiskey, a great bite to eat and watch a band or a film or read a book or write a book or meet your friends or meet new friends
  4. Get a Master’s Degree or Law Degree
  5. Run for political office
  6. Meet President and Mrs. Obama
  7. Visit NYC during the holidays and ice skate at Rockefeller Center
  8. Take the girls to Disney World
  9. Go to Lebanon and meet Michael’s grandmother and see their village, Deirmimas
  10. Learn to speak Arabic and teach my children how as well
  11. Take a RV trip to the West coast and back with my husband, kids and my mom
  12. Go on a road trip with only my sister Tracey
  13. Write and produce a feature film
  14. Go on the White House tour
  15. Read all the Harry Potter books with my daughters (and Narnia, Tolkien and Hunger Games)
  16. Take a photography class
  17. Begin a monthly dinner party club
  18. Write a children’s book
  19. Write a fiction book
  20. Write a memoir
  21. Publish something I write
  22. Sing a song in public that isn’t karaoke or Happy Birthday
  23. Record a song with my husband
  24. Build a coop and raise chickens (thanks for the reminder Kelli!)
  25. Have a proper and well-tended vegetable garden
  26. Learn to compost
  27. See the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin in concert one more time.
  28. Go back to Tuscany, rent a villa outside of Montalcino and renew vows on our 10 year wedding anniversary
  29. Find a forever house, buy it and fix it up and never move my things again.
  30. Find where my ancestors are from in Africa and go there
  31. Live in a foreign country for at least a year
  32. Meet my long-lost Uncle
  33. Go on an ancestral road trip from here through Indiana, down to Mississippi and back through West Virginia seeing all the places in this country where my family is from
  34. Visit the Forbidden City and Great Wall in China
  35. Visit the Shire in New Zealand
  36. Visit our friends in Cape Cod
  37. Visit Las Vegas, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle
  38. Visit London, Dublin and Glasgow
  39. Travel through the south of France by car
  40. Visit Vienna, Berlin, Budapest and Prague
  41. Visit Vietnam, Thailand, Bejing, Honk Kong and Tokyo
  42. Travel through Brazil to Argentina all the way to the southern tip of Chile and back up to Peru
  43. Hike Macchu Picchu
  44. Go to the World Cup or the summer Olympics or both
  45. Visit India and see the Ganges and ride an elephant
  46. Go on the Amazing Race with my husband and see the world
  47. See my daughters get married to someone they truly love
  48. Be an Auntie
  49. Be a Grandmother
  50. Grow old with my Michael
BONUS: Go to Outer Space. Preferably the Moon but Mars would be nice too. Or anywhere with The Doctor.

So what do you think? Are there things on my list that you’ve already done? Anything that you think I should add to my list? What do you think is the most easily accomplished this year? I’d love to hear from my readers as well as other bloggers what’s on their lists.

If you are a company or blogger who can help me check any of these off my list I would gladly accept your help. You can contact me at

aliwayout (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Thanks for reading! Now link up!!