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.

 

 

 

 

It’s Beginning to Sink in…

I have two kids. Wait. Did you hear me? I have TWO. KIDS. How crazy is that?!

And now that my bed rest is over and Michael has gone back to work it’s beginning to sink in. I am a SAHM of two kids.

Whoa.

The thing is, and this may not be popular to say, but it’s not THAT much harder than having one kid. It’s just that certain things are MUCH harder.

Like getting out of the house to go anywhere. I am not exaggerating when I say it takes an entire morning to leave the house. This entails getting all of us dressed, packing the diaper bag with enough cloth diapers for two and a change of pants for two (cause Cedella is having a serious case of wet pants these days), changing two diapers just before we leave, nursing the baby just before we leave, getting shoes and coats on, putting the baby in the car seat, getting the toddler a sippy cup and snack for the car, finding my suddenly missing cell phone, and then remembering to lock the door. I’ve been perpetually late since I came into the world and two small children are not helping me break the cycle.

And getting in and out of the car? A whole different debacle. The other day as me and the girls had finally made it out of the house to go on our first solo grocery trip (after two hours of getting ready) Monk fell down the second step off our deck and though she is usually quite the trooper she was hysterical. I had to set Nugget down, who immediately started screaming bloody murder cause she hates her car seat. I had to comfort my big girl while trying to rock my little girl’s car seat with my foot. Thank Baby Jesus it was warmish outside, cause if it was cold I would have lost it.

We hadn’t even gotten to the car yet people. Let alone the grocery store…

But in all honesty the grocery store? Wasn’t that bad. The chiropractor’s? Pretty easy. Restaurants? Surprisingly uneventful. Once we’re out of the house we seem to be blessed with super well-behaved children. It’s fantastic.

And at home? It’s not nearly as bad as we thought it would be. I’d even say that in the parenting department…we’ve got this.

Bringing home your second newborn is just easier. You’re more relaxed. You know more. You don’t think they’re going to break. You trust your instincts and know what’s normal and what’s not. And when you compare the needs of a newborn to that of a toddler the newborn is just, easy. Think about it: they need milk, clean diapers, tons of sleep, a little bit of interaction and a lot of snuggles. That’s not hard to fulfill.

Especially when you have a toddler that wants milk, no juice, no milk. That has an angry tummy and an itchy butt (her words…not mine). Who selectively listens despite being able to completely understand what you’re saying. Who says ‘Huh?’ more often than a 13 year old. Who insists on doing things herself that she just cannot do, like tie shoe laces or lift the baby’s car seat.

What’s better yet is that as soon as Cedella finally does decide to take her toddler butt to bed, Isora is sleeping, which means we can all sleep! And Zorie? Sleeps for 2-3 hour stretches, wakes up to nurse and goes right back to sleep. The nights don’t seem nearly as hard as I remember them being the first time around.

I like to think this is all cause this isn’t our first rodeo and Michael and I are working like a well-oiled machine at this point. That’s it right? Well-oiled machine.

Cause the other day I even got all three of us girls to take a two hour nap at the same time. This is how Michael found us when he got home from work…

Now I gotta preface all this by saying that we’re lucky enough to not have any nursing issues. This kid loves to eat, has a naturally good latch, my supply and nipples are good. Even in spite of what we believe to be a milk-sensitivity in our little Nugget breastfeeding is going really well. I know that’s not the case for many mamas who have lots of breastfeeding/bottle feeding struggles, and I imagine that makes life with a newborn much harder.

Here I am breastfeeding and comforting simultaneously. I look thrilled, don’t I?

But I know if we did have issues everything would be alright cause we have an Incredible support system. So Incredible it deserves a capital I. I’ve mentioned my awesome friends and family that filled our home with food and love in the past few weeks. But I’ve also got fabulous Mamas that I can rely on for support, advice and questions.

My kick-ass friend and doula Kelle is always there to listen and check on me and I never could have survived two years + of breastfeeding and birthing without her.

My girl Leslie is always there when I just need to get my butt out of the house.

My amazing and loving midwives who make sure I’m taking it easy and make sure I’m feeling well in my soul and spirit as well as my v-jay.

My friends in the Lansing Babywearing and LLL groups that have given me support, a place to go for a few times a month and lots of answers to even my most inane questions.

And then there’s my Mom, Tracey and Kylara. They’re always there. Visiting, helping, cooking, cleaning, taking care of us and laughing, there’s always lots of laughing involved. They make me feel normal and loved and happy and accomplished.

And really, that’s what’s beginning to sink in. Just how big this village we’ve built for our little family really is. As much as I could complain about missing Detroit and being far from all I’ve ever known, Lansing is beginning to grow on me. A small town feel in an urban area. Farm land just beyond the edges of a busy downtown. Charming enough that I always run into someone I know at the grocery store and close enough that my family can come visit often. And everyone I’ve ever met here knows someone else I know here. It’s a great place for raising kids. Don’t tell Michael but I think this may just be where we’re supposed to be…

BTW…we still have not one single picture of all of us, including Michael. So if you read this and you see us or visit us, please take a picture of all four of us. Cause I will forget to ask…Thanks!

Things I’m Lovin’ Thursday!

It’s November in Michigan and usually this time of year everyone is batting down the hatches for the inevitable snow that’s headed this way.  But this week has been Beautiful with a capital B.  It has given us the opportunity to enjoy so much more outside.  So to begin…

1.  I’m lovin’ this mild weather we’re having folks.  The foggy crisp mornings, are just perfect for sipping hot coffee.  The bright, sunny and warm afternoons are just perfect for walking or hiking.  If it could stay just like this every day of the year I would be a very happy camper.  It was so Beautiful on Tuesday that New Friend and I walked almost 10 miles from my house to the zoo and back!

The Lansing River Trail.  Thank the universe for a city with green space!

2.  Coffeemate Italian Sweet Cream Creamer.  So I’ve been loving this for a while, but it’s just perfect for these foggy early mornings.  It makes my coffee perfectly sweet and milky without sugar or milk.  Yum yum yummy.

Liquid Coffee Crack.  Seriously folks.

3.  Hokey Pokey Elmo.  Procured for Monk from her grandma for a mere 60 cents at a thrift store.  It is good for nearly 30 minutes of entertainment.  She goes absolutely nuts for it.  Glad that when she’s over it only 60 cents and a few packs of batteries will have been sacrificed.  Toy recycling rocks!!

The Best 60 cents ever spent.

4.  The time change.  Never thought I’d appreciate a good ‘fall back’.  In fact I was a bit bitter about it earlier in the week.  But today it felt great to be up so early, I almost felt well rested. And it gave me a great excuse to drink three cups of coffee with Italian Sweet Cream!

What are you lovin’ today?  Link up your blog at Marlie & Me and join in on the love!

Couldn’t leave you without one gratuitous cute baby pic…

How cute is the Pebbles ponytail on top of her head?  Lovin’ it!