In July, my family gathered together for our annual “Family Week” up on Dewey Lake in Michigan. This has been a long tradition in our family, started when we’d go up for a full week to my grandparents’ cottage on Dewey Lake. Now my parents have a Lakehouse of their own on Dewey Lake and have kept the tradition going. Through the years we’ve grown from a family of seven to a family of 17, so it’s harder and harder to find a week in the summer with everyone’s busy schedules. The group texts usually start in February to try and lock down a week in July. After much discussion we managed, yet again, to find a week to all be together for a few days, and what a fun week it was!
Since my husband Mike had to work, I hitched a ride up with my sister Jane on Tuesday. My parents had already been there a few days, and my brother was on his way up with his three kids. In classic Kelly family fashion, Jane and I had scheduled to leave in the morning, but we were running late, so we didn’t end up leaving until around noon or so. The two of us had a great ride, jamming out to some tunes, Jane BELTING out every word, while I struggled to find places to put all my drinks for the car ride (Jane has a nice car but the cupholder situation is a little lacking). We were excited and energized about the upcoming week. I asked Jane if she planned on breaking any coffee pots this year during family week. Jane has a long history of accidentally breaking the family coffee pot. So much so that my Mom keeps an extra coffee pot on hand just in case Jane “I break coffee pots” Kelly comes out to ruin your morning. To my relief Jane informed me that my mom no longer allows her to wash or touch the coffee pot so we should all be properly caffeinated all week long.
About an hour and a half into our ride we realized how hungry we were. All that packing and running around really worked up an appetite in both of us. We paused the music and started to get serious about how we would solve our hunger situation:
Me: Maybe we should stop and pick up sandwiches for everyone for lunch on our way, what do you think? Mike is bringing our cooler so I have no food to offer accept that spaghetti squash I threw in your back seat and I only brought that because it’s been sitting on my counter at home for two weeks so I am down to the wire on cooking it. I know Mike won’t cook it while I’m gone and it will just go bad.
**Editor’s Note: Secretly I was hoping one of the 16 other people up at the lake might be “inspired” to cook the spaghetti squash so I didn’t have to. I only really brought it to prove a point to Mike-he wanted to just throw it out but I kept claiming I had big plans to cook it for dinner. I am a big “ideas” person when it comes to cooking but my follow through could use some work. Honestly I just needed it off our counter at home.**
Jane: I don’t know, don’t you think there is food at the cottage to eat for lunch? I mean Mom and Dad have been up there for a few days already.
Me: If I know Mom and Dad, and I do, there won’t be much food, maybe a can of tomato soup since they like to eat like it’s still the Great Depression. I think we should just stop and pick stuff up. Or Mom will tell us to make quesadillas. No one loves quesadillas more than Mom.
Jane: You’re right. She does love quesadillas. Can you just text Mom and ask her if there is food there? I don’t want to eat out so I’d like to avoid it if I can.
Me: Ok, HEALTHY JANE! I will text her but I know she will just tell me there’s stuff to make quesadillas and I am just not in the mood for all that work and cheese! And I sure AS HELL am NOT making that spaghetti squash I brought and eating THAT for lunch on my first day of vacation! I don’t feel like breaking my hand trying to cut that thing today. I am just too tired! And it’s too healthy to eat as our first meal on vacation.
So, I texted my mom and here is her response:
So after much more discussion we made a quick decision to stop for sandwiches at Subway. I had talked to my mom prior and she said her and my Dad didn’t want anything for lunch if we stopped of food on the way, but being the saint I am I called to double check if they wanted lunch. She said “Mmmm, Subway?!!” Sounding very interested, “Let me check with Dad when he comes in and call you back in a little while with our order. He’s working outside cutting down some bushes!” But we were about three minutes from Subway and didn’t have all day to wait for my Dad to finish hacking away every square inch of Michigan forestry so I said, “Well we are almost at Subway, do you mind just asking him now and then could you TEXT me what you guys want? It’s just easier if you TEXT what sandwich you want so I can just read it off my phone and to the Subway worker. I don’t have a pen and paper with me.” “Oh right, right! Sure sweetie!” She said “I’ll ask Dad what he wants and we will get our order to you right away!” “Great, thanks!” I said, “TEXT it to me!” We pulled into Subway and I turned to Jane laughing and said, “How much do you want to bet Mom is going to CALL me back with their order?” Just as I finished my sentence my phone rang. I answered the phone laughing because it was my Mom, getting right down to business with her Subway order “Hi sweetie! Dad and I will have a six inch turkey on whole grain with lettuce, tomato-” “Mom, can you text this to me?” I said laughing “Oh right, right! I’ll text it now! Love you! Bye!” She said. Jane and I had a good laugh. True to her word she DID text me her order. Once we arrived we all had our sandwiches on the patio and my Dad called me a “Little SNIP” for calling him out for asking for a bottle of Diet Coke OR Fountain Pop Diet Coke from Subway. But my parents practically had to rent a U-Haul truck to bring up all the cases of Diet Coke (cans) they brought up for this family vacation, so I was just making a point.
After lunch my nieces and nephew gave a Taylor swift performance for everyone using Jane’s karaoke microphone. Then Connor did the most serious performance of “Monster Trucks” I have ever seen. He really got into character. If you haven’t heard this jam, add it to your playlist.
After their performance Jane and I went for a walk around the lake and we saw a swan. We talked about what we should name the swan and whether it was a boy or girl swan because we were not sure. Then we got into a discussion about what our parents told us we would have been named if we were boys. I just assumed since my parents were going to use the name “Tom” on me if I were a boy it would just trickle down and they’d use it for Jane but apparently they were going to name her Joe. Mind blown! “Well that’s good,” I said “Because I can’t see you as a Tom but I can definitely see you being a Joe.” She took offense to this for some reason but I told her I just could not see her being “Tom” if she were a boy but I feel like I would have pulled off the name better. After that important conversation was out of the way we moved on to discussing who’s skin was more dry. “Jane, don’t even kid yourself you know my skin is way more dry. Have you seen my arms?! FEEL THESE!” I said, shoving my arms in her face. “Like sandpaper. You could file down the corners of a picnic table with these babies.” That’s when Jane agreed, I won the dry skin contest. Jane and I always have only the most deep and meaningful conversations when we are together.
Once we got back from our walk we went on a boat ride and then my sister Maggie and her family arrived in their Honda Mini Van. We all helped them unload and I swear I don’t think I have ever seen a mini van more packed to capacity with stuff. I helped get her three children out of their carseats and I felt like I was looking for survivors of a building collapse through Paw Patrol suitcases, boxes of Cheerios, toys and stuffed animals. We got everyone settled, figured out the sleeping situations and then went to sleep.
Wednesday my sister-in-law Alyssa, sister Bridget and her Fiancé Steve all arrived. Everyone was happy to see them but we were a little distracted by a much more exciting event-a dead bat was found on one of the trees outside on my parents’ property! So honestly the dead bat stole the show that day-the week really, we all couldn’t stop talking about him. After that anytime someone asked me how I slept the night before I told them I slept “like a dead bat.”
Thursday, Jane decided to make brunch for everyone which included a French toast casserole, eggs, and bacon. Unfortunately she very much underestimated the amount of bacon to buy so she had to ration it. Before we were allowed to get our food she made a big announcement that adults were only allowed one slice of bacon and the children were allowed a half of a slice of bacon. She felt kind of bad about it but I reassured her, saying we were used to Mom starving us growing up with the skimpy meals she would divide among us so we’d all be ok. Our bodies were used to going into starvation mode.
We were all sitting outside on the patio enjoying our brunch with one thin slice of bacon each when my sister Maggie said, “Jane, this French Toast Casserole is delicious! I really love the pecans on here! It really adds a nice crunch!” Everyone enthusiastically agreed about how tasty the crunchy pecans were. But I just looked around confused at everyone’s plates as I had NO pecans on my French toast casserole Jane gave me. Bewildered and disappointed that I was missing out on the pecans, I finally said, “Hey… you guys got pecans on yours?” Jane quickly and flatly replied back, with no remorse in her voice, “Oh yea, I served you and I think maybe a few other people a part of the casserole that didn’t have any pecans on it. Sorry about that.” But she really didn’t sound sorry AT ALL. “Well!” I said dramatically, “I didn’t realize it was ‘Bring Your Own PECANS’ to this brunch! MY APOLOGIES! BUT I’M GLAD EVERYONE ELSE IS ENJOYING THE ADDED CRUNCH THEY BRING TO THE CASSEROLE! IT SOUNDS DELICIOUS BASED OFF THE CRUNCHING NOISE I HEAR!!”
After everyone BUT me had their brunch with plenty of crunchy pecans and only one slice of bacon, we took the boat to the island and hung out, getting into a deep discussion about a tattoo contest Nestle Drumstick was hosting. Basically if you tattooed a drumstick on your body you would get free Drumsticks for a year. We were a family divided on whether or not we would do it. After the island we went around the lake and then through the channel so people could see turtles-which I of course didn’t care about-turtles are the squirrels of the lake. I am over them. A dead bat is impressive, but turtles are old news. It was an awesome day though. We spent all day long on the boat. So long that my skin started bleeding from too much sun exposure and we had to stop for Band-Aids. But it was totally worth it. And everyone commented on how bright my blood was which I think is a compliment. We docked the boat and then my husband Mike arrived so our family was finally complete!
Friday morning I walked with Alyssa and the kids from the house where we were staying to my parents’ house so we could get coffee. (Jane had kept away from the coffee pot so it was still in working order!) The distance from the two houses wasn’t that far but my three year old nephew Connor led everyone a certain way specifically so he could be sure we all saw the dead bat on the tree again. As if we could forget the star of the week. Then we talked about the dead bat for the next half hour or so. Later in the morning it started raining and the rain didn’t stop all day so it was kind of a lazy day. We all kind of just hung out until it was time to start drinking again. Bridget and her fiancé Steve made tacos for dinner and then we watched the rain from the gazebo while we warned Steve about all the “Catholic things” and “Bridget things” he should know. The most important thing being the family rule my parents had to establish long ago because of Bridget: No one could-under any circumstances-order chocolate milk and pancakes together. You could order them separately but NEVER together. This was because one time we were out to breakfast and Bridget threw up all over her plate right at the restaurant after eating chocolate milk and pancakes. I guess the experience was so traumatic for my parents they felt the need to establish this rule, but I don’t think the rest of us were that phased by someone in our family puking yet again. It was almost a daily or nightly occurrence in our house. Real sensitive stomachs in the Kelly family. I remember the incident and I don’t think any of Bridget’s four siblings even asked if she was ok, we were all just yelling at her that ‘NOW the rest of us can’t have chocolate milk and pancakes anymore.’ 25 years later and we are still working on forgiving her. There’s nothing like washing down a plate of sugary pancakes with an icy cold glass of sugary chocolate milk. A luxury the Kelly family will never get to experience again. We wanted to be sure Steve knew that in marrying Bridget he would accept the fate that he and their future children would never be able to eat chocolate milk and pancakes in one sitting again. He accepted and that is what we call true love.
Saturday, our final day together, the weather turned beautiful again. We grilled and took a family photo with my tripod selfie stick complete with remote. If you don’t have one of these babies I’d highly recommend:
After that we went to the island and played catch with a football. Even the girls joined in! On a scale of zero to spicey, us girls were definitely the sportiest of the spices that day. Until we accidentally hit a sleeping child on the head with the football. Connor was ok though. He looked up for a minute and then went right back to sleep. A win for everyone! After that Jane made a Jeopardy game which was a ton of fun to play. For dinner Mike and I ordered pizzas for everyone because we didn’t want to actually cook anything (Each family provided a meal for the group. Everyone else cooked something but since Mike and I are lazy we outsourced our meal to the local pizza place). Then we karaoked all night long. It was a blast.
And just like that the week was over and Mike and I were loading the spaghetti squash that I never cooked into our car to go home. Another Dewey Lake Family Week on the books. Like every “Family Week” we spend together at Dewey Lake, it was a week filled with great weather, a lot of fun, lots of laughs, and my dad ranting about how we are all putting too much stuff in his shed. And like every year, I left feeling grateful to be part of my awesome family of 17…well 18 now if we are counting the dead bat. Because after the week we all agreed he felt like part of the family. I was also very thankful Jane didn’t break the coffee pot this year so we had coffee all week. Thanks Jane!
Family Week is a vacation that’s only a few days but it always leaves us with a ton of happy memories that keep us smiling all year long.