Living The Lake Life

IMG_1629.jpgIn July, we had our annual “Family week” in Sister Lakes, Michigan. Each year the seven of us would spend an entire week together at my Grandparents’ cottage on Dewey Lake. As we got older, it grew harder to be able to find a week that worked with everyone’s schedules- jobs, sports, and friends’ weddings and other events got in the way throughout the years, but we always found at least a few days during our Family Week (Or in some years only a few hours) for everyone’s schedules to align and be together. While a lot has changed through the years, especially now that my parents have their own cottage across the lake from my grandparents’ cottage, much of what makes our family week so much fun, remains the same.

The day we would leave for our big week at Dewey was always a very hectic and chaotic one. Our family isn’t really organized or big “plan ahead” people so we left much of our vacation prep to the last minute. If we planned to leave the house at noon, we were lucky if we got on the road by 3:30 or so.

It always seemed my Mom would decide she needed to have her life long to-do list done before we left, as if she was leaving for a six year journey through Antarctica and not a seven day vacation a two hour drive from home. She was always the last to pack her suitcase as well.

Mom: Ok kids, we’ll leave very soon, I just need to throw a few things in my suitcase and we will hit the road. Oh, and let me just pay a few bills, my Kohl’s and JC Penny Charge Cards, clean and dust the entire first floor, finally put all your baby photos in scrapbooks, get the house tuck-pointed, meet with the financial planner to discuss Dad and my retirement plans, and sew up the the clothes that have been sitting on my sewing box for the past five years, and then we can go. Oh and can one of you kids’ water my flowers? Thanks!

As a child, I never understood why it took her so long to get ready. I’d grab my Simba backpack, throw in my Pocahontas swim suit, Stretch Armstrong Doll, some crayons and maybe a pair of sandals and I’d be set. It wasn’t until I switched up my packing technique and travel gear last year that I realized it may take some time to get five kids ready for a week-long vacation.

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Just waiting on the porch with my Simba backpack on, ready to head up to Dewey Lake.

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The Simba backpack was a little camera shy.

No matter how late we left, a McDonald’s stop was always made a top priority because we were fattys and obsessed with McDonald’s. Plus, we couldn’t let our Mom suffer a fry attack while on the road. That would be dangerous for all of us. McDonald’s growing up was a huge treat. If any of us five kids ever found out the others got McDonald’s without us we became enraged. “YOU OWE ME NOW, MOM! YOU OWE ME!” We’d say if we were out at a birthday party or friend’s house and got home to find evidence of a McDonald’s meal. Yes, we kept score, we were that petty. As a family we were devastated when McDonald’s discontinued their Super Size Fry option. It really messed up our order. We had our fry to child ratio down to a science. But like any family, we stuck together, adjusted our order (after A LOT of trial and error) and got through it.

I still distinctly remember one trip to McDonald’s on our way up to Michigan. My Dad had to stay home to work for a few days so it was just my mom and us five kids in the car. As the golden arches came into view, my mom asked everyone what they wanted to eat. From her car seat my tiny, two year old sister, Jane, took her thumb out of her mouth and said she wanted two cheeseburgers. We all tried to dissuade her and convince her she probably couldn’t even finish one cheeseburger but she was adamant that she wanted two cheeseburgers. With fries. After we were done fat shaming her, my mom gave in and ordered her two burgers and Jane scarfed them both down very quickly. As we drove off we were still in disbelief and talking about how much Jane ate, while Jane just sat listening in her car seat, looking very content with her thumb back in her mouth. “Wait…” My older sister Maggie said. “…Did anyone feed Jane breakfast this morning?” It was dead silent as we all looked around at each other. Then all at once we burst out laughing at the fact that we forgot to feed Jane. But no one laughed harder than my Mom. “Whoops, sorry there Janie!” My mom managed to get out through her laughter. “Don’t worry sweetie, I promise we’ll feed you dinner.” We still laugh about it to this day. Jane turned out fine.

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Smiling because our bellies are nice and full with the deliciousness of McDonald’s.

Sometimes, I miss the days when we all drove up together, all packed in one car. It was so much more simple. As we got into high school and college and got busy with other things, it became like trying to solve a complex algebra equation figuring out who was driving up what car, when, and with who during our vacation week. It was always the worst being the last one up to Michigan during our family week because then you became the “Errand Betch,” running around gathering things people had conveniently forgotten and requested you bring up, or making last minute trips the store for things they had run out of so far during the week. Sadly, this year, I was the last family member to join everyone on Family Week so I was the Errand Betch and IT WAS HORRIBLE. I wouldn’t wish being my family’s Errand Betch on my own worst enemy. My family members are some needy people, let me tell you.

Here is evidence of my nightmare in our family group text:

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It’s like you give people an inch and they take a mile am I right? Classic Millennial generation.

My Mom was the worst offender though. She tried to soften her demands with her use of emoji’s but I wasn’t going to be fooled.

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Beaten and worn, I prevailed and finally did make it to the Lake. Also wasn’t aware Michigan didn’t sell carrots or pretzels, very interesting, MOM!

While it’s always a crazy rush to get to Dewey Lake, once we’re there we go right into vacation mode. Year after year, we always have a great time and lots of laughs together. Sure, we still have the occasional fights, but not like we used to when we were younger. I actually credit having the internet and technology up at the cottage now with helping to eliminate some of our fighting. I remember in the pre-internet years we got in two really huge family fights. One was about the lyrics to the song “American Pie” and the other was about what color the shutters on our house were. Half of us said they were green and the other half insisted they were tan colored. We were a family divided for days until the end of our vacation when we pulled into our driveway to finally have closure and discover that our shutters were not green or tan, but actually white to everyone’s disbelief. A simple Google search now a days could have solved both those fights in a matter of seconds. IMG_1638

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There was no room in the car to pack hairbrushes.

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We had to get my Dad’s favorite family member-the broom (on the far right), in this family photo as well.

Now we have a new generation enjoying the lake with five grandkids in the mix. It’s cool to see them play together and have fun at Dewey Lake like me and my four siblings did when we were little. And it’s such a relief that they also get a thrill out of a seeing a turtle in the lake like we did and STILL DO. My family could honestly see 30 turtles in a day and each time the thrill does not fade. You would think the turtle was doing a juggling act or providing some sort of entertainment for us instead of just popping it’s head out of the water. When a turtle makes an appearance conversation stops and everyone rushes to get a glimpse of the astonishing turtle:

“Hey can you pass the sunscre-OH MY GOSH LOOK! EVERYONE STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING THERE IS A TURTLE IN THE LAKE! WHAT A MAJESTIC CREATURE! I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT I AM WITNESSING RIGHT NOW THIS IS AMAZING! WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF SEEING A TURTLE IN ITS NATURAL HABITAT OF A FRESH WATER LAKE! I AM IN SHOCK!”

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Despite the looks on their faces WE WERE ALL HAVING FUN DAMN IT!

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Connor was nice enough to wait until after the camera flash before pulling Ava’s hair and making her cry.

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They claimed they had no money to throw in for gas for the boat so we put them to work instead. We love the nieces and nephews but they are so stingy when it comes to money.

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Baby Ciara fake sleeping on the boat to get out of doing chores. Lazy.

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Baby Michael gets really chatty after a few too many bottles of juice.

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Aunt Bridget wouldn’t share her Mini Mouse umbrella with them.

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Baby Connor raising awareness for the endangered bee species with his outfit.

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When at Dewey Lake we do what we want-calories don’t count and if you want to wear Christmas PJs in July go for it.

While our family week is always chaotic and crowded and no one ever seems to get enough sleep, I think that’s part of the reason we have so much fun. Every year, it’s such a blast just being together, laughing, hanging out and enjoying the lake life! We already can’t wait for next year!

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Best part of being up at the lake: Jane and I get to be BUNK BED BUDDIES AGAIN YEAHHHH! reliving our glory days.

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As you can see, after eating those two cheeseburgers, Jane’s shirt no longer fit.

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Our Dog clearly just saw a turtle. He was obviously still in shock.

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Cheersing to the Aunt life, to being able to play with the kids when you want, and then give them back to their parents so you can go drink.

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I told Maggie that since there are no seat belts on jet skis I had no choice but to hug her the entire ride.

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I like to make sisters uncomfortable until they are comfortable.

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My Dad was trying to take a picture of his beloved shed and we got in the way.

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Dewey=Donuts all day every day thanks to Mike Sr.

Summer Where’d You Go?

As I was walking to my car in the freezing cold, snow hitting my face, lips and hands already turning purple, I started to think back to summertime. This summer was quite an eventful one for my family as my parents bought something they have been wanting for years: a lake house.

happy hourOn a sunny Thursday afternoon back in early June of this year I pulled up to Ma and Pa Kelly’s Old Maid Boarding House after a hard day’s work at the office and noticed my roommates (a.k.a my parents) were sitting out in the backyard enjoying a drink. This was not uncommon, as they often had a happy hour drink before dinner (HUGE Thirsty Thursday people, but they did seem to be starting a bit early on this particular Thursday). “You two drunks are starting the boozing a bit early today don’t you think?!” I yelled, loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear, as I walked up the driveway to join them. Just as I was about to grab a drink for myself I noticed my mom was filming me with her phone. In typical “Mom” fashion she had the phone angled at an extremely unflattering low angle with her thumb covering half the lens. “Whoa! Mom, why are you filming me? And remember what I said about the angle! Always angle above! You’re going to make me look like I have 17 chins. Don’t think I’m going to help you upload this to your Instagram when you film like that.” She ignored me and said excitedly, “Guess what Dad and I did today?!” Before I had time to guess she yelled “We bought a cottage!!” While my initial reaction was pure joy, I suddenly felt a pit in my stomach, for I realized this meant we would never, EVER get the washing machine fixed at home. I got over this rather quickly though and grabbed my drink to celebrate the new home purchase with them.

For as long as I can remember my parents had always talked about buying a lake house, but we never thought they’d actually do it. We had been going up to my Grandma’s cottage on Dewey Lake in Sister Lakes, Michigan for our entire lives. Besides the occasional sibling fights, we always had a blast spending time up there. Lots of great Dewey Lake memories through the years.

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Living my best life hanging with my boyz and reppin’ my favorite Native American friend, Pocahontas back in the day up at Dewey Lake

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Good times back in the summer of 2009 when I had to wear a t-shirt for a week because I got such bad sunburn the first day of our vacation. Had a super cool looking farmer’s tan though.

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When my parents told me they bought a lake house, at first I wondered how they were able to afford such a large purchase. Then I saw this photo and realized that they must have saved a substantially large sum of money through the years by feeding me mere compost scraps such as muffin wrappers and not real food. Really cut that grocery bill in half and I was pretty happy just to be licking a muffin wrapper so it was a win-win.

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Awful bangs + a blue Hawaiian Punch Mustache = 1994

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I still don’t think it’s fair that Mom and Dad got chairs and we had to stand.

Unfortunately, with this new summer home purchase, my parents were gone a lot living their best lives at their new summer home, leaving Jane and me orphans at home to fend for ourselves and basically be the backbone of the household. They would leave for long weekends at the lake, leaving us not sweet little love notes, but notes that said things like “Can someone please return my library book? It’s due tomorrow.” or “The dishes in the dishwasher are dirty. There wasn’t enough in it to run.” and “Please water the house plants while we are gone.” These may seem like simple tasks but do you know how many house plants Mo has?! Watering her houseplants is time consuming! She has a bad habit of taking in other people’s dying houseplants and nursing them back to health as if she’s running her own little plant emergency room. When her plants in the kitchen began to encroach on my seat at the dinner table, I finally had to confront her. “Mom, what’s with this indoor vegetable garden on the table you got going on here?” I asked one day as we were sitting down to dinner. “Oh yes!” She said enthusiastically, “I’m growing some fresh basil and parsley! Is it in your way?” “Not at all,” I responded, “I always loved eating at the Rainforest Cafe. I’m glad you could re-create the experience for me here at home with all this shrubbery surrounding my food so thank you.” “Well aren’t you a little smart-ass” was all she said back to that and the plants stayed exactly where they were.

All this new responsibility was a little stressful for me as I was also preparing to go on my SECOND business trip of my business career. When would I have time to buy a business woman briefcase to put all my important business files in for my business trip if I was tied up watering plants and returning library books?! No one takes you seriously if you’re on a business trip without a business briefcase. But, being the modern day Renaissance woman that I am, I did manage to maintain my image as a successful career woman and keep up with the demands of the household.

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She didn’t even have time to write out the word “thanks” we got a “thx.” Classic Baby Boomer.

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One time at dinner I asked the Basil to pass the salt and got totally ignored.

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Jane and started to become jealous of Duke-My parents always left food in the fridge for him.

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Didn’t have time to purchase my briefcase to put all my important business files in for my business trip but it was nice to have a vacation away from watering plants.

So, the summer of 2018 pretty much went like that. Mike and Mo spent lots of time at their new cottage, while Jane and I held down the fort back home. But if I have to continue returning library books or become a botanist in order for my parents to continue to live their best lives up at Dewey Lake, I’ll gladly do it. I can’t think of two people more deserving of some lake time than them. So here’s to you Mike and Mo. Thanks for working so hard, spoiling your five kids and just being the best. Cheers to many more years of good times at Dewey Lake.

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Mike and Mo celebrating the closing with my Dad’s 6th child, his Chevy Impala. 10 cup holders in that baby.