Before we slip into Labor Day Weekend (what? already??), I have to share my favorite, favorite week in all of August. Cecile and I traveled north and west to the little town of Whitehall, Mich. We were guests at The Little Cottage, a whitewashed bungalow perched on a hill overlooking Lake Michigan. There, we met up with two of my dearest friends and their kids: Ali and her son, Oliver, who's family has summered at The Little Cottage for decades; and Liz and her daughter, Ainslie, and son, Declan. I went to Denison with both of these girlfriends and, my oh my, how things have changed since we all roomed together senior year. Today Ali and her family live in Cambridge, Mass., and Liz's brood lives in Northville, Mich. If you had asked me years ago if I saw us vacationing with our young families together, I probably would have told you yes, of course. But I never could have anticipated just how perfectly perfect it could be.
Really? In a house full of kids?, you ask. Why, yes. Everyone was working under the same circumstances, after all. Up early? Guess what: We all were. Beholden to a nap time (or two)? Heck yes. Want your kids fed and in bed on time? You can bet your bottom dollar each and every mama had that timing down, pat. And it was nice to be in a house where it took everyone 30 minutes to pack beach totes, lather up with SPF, and get those baby bums down to the beach. In short, it was fantastic not to be the only one looking out for a little. Oh, and my girlfriends were pretty great company, too ;) ;)
^^Meet Declan :) :) Gorgeous child.^^
Once everyone was up and breakfast was finished, it was time to start the (long) process of getting to the beach ... beginning with a full strip-down and lotion lather-up. Pass the sunscreen, please.
^^"Welcome to our ocean," Liz said of Lake Michigan. Yes, please.^^
Cecile is cruising and standing everywhere and anywhere, and Declan, who just turned one on the first of the month, is a long-time expert walker. But the sand threw both these babes through a loop. Toes sinking! Uneven ground! What to make of it?? Declan eventually got the hang of it, and Cecile ... well ... let's just say she ate less sand this time around.
^^Cecile, my little thrill-seeker.^^
Ainslie and Oliver are two peas in a pod. Over the week they were inseparable. On the beach it was: dig, gather, stamp, splash together. Want to fill the bucket? Sure. Want to dig a hole? Yes. The two worked as such a team, giving and taking each other's orders, quarreling and negotiating and learning with one another. One could say they acted like more like old lovers than friends. It was wonderful to watch.
And then there was Cecile. Never before has my girl been such an easy bean. She was so entertained by all the action that I barely heard a cry of complaint the whole week. It was great.
^^Pile on Ali ... ha! With a mama like her, who wouldn't be a mama's boy??^^
The beach was cool enough to stay out for hours, it seemed. And the kids got plenty sandy and so tuckered out that they were (relatively) easy to march off to bath and bed.
^^Everybody wanted a bit of bath time.^^
After a nice bath and a nice dinner, it was time for bed. But not before cuddling together for a few books ... and a bottle.
With the kids tucked in (true confession: sometimes it took a few tries ... there was such excitement!), there was time for us mommies to gossip and drink wine. Now that's a vacation. Happy kids, happy mommies, happiest of nights. The Little Cottage, I hope, will become a tradition we keep for many years to come.
(P.S. You can check out more snaps on Ali's blog here.)