The kids know the way to carry on through the day, la la la la! And that is exactly why I am both anticipating and saddened for the start of school. This is that bittersweet time of the year where families settle into the big routine and big yellow makes its way down ever street, alley and corner in cul-de-sacville. I am part anxious for this moment because it means this year I have two boys off to school. Yet, it also brings with it the realization that my babies are growing up and growing up fast!
I remember four years ago when I sent my oldest off to Kindergarten. It was with great hesitation that I did. He was a little on the shy side then and I worried how he would do. I participated in every event at the school just for a chance to be close to him. Cookie Castle Co-Chair, school photographer, room parent and attended every parent teacher meeting like my life depended on it. I also had a test your patience 13 month old at home.
So on that note, it would be a lie if I said I wasn’t anticipating my second sons start of Kindergarten back then. Four years ago, it seemed like this day would never come. Now, it is almost here and I absolutely do not want to see him go! I had a moment yesterday all to myself. I went out on the front porch at the break of dawn and opened his Kindergarten packet. Therein contained his bus number, teacher assignment and supply list. As I started to leaf through the contents of the packet, I had a moment. A tear started to stroll down my cheek and in an instant I was sobbing and couldn’t believe I ever wished for this day.
It was there in that moment that I wanted him to be 13 months again! As I stared out into the front yard I could see him waddling down after my oldest son saying, “bye-bye” and waving his chubby little fingers when the bus drove away. I remember thinking as we walked back up the driveway, it is now just you and me kid. Now fast forward four years and what I pictured yesterday is a glimpse in the past. It is time to walk down the driveway again, holding onto another hand and wishing him off.
I know I am going to be a mess and then I will look at my youngest son as we hold hands back up the driveway and once again think, it is now just you and me kid. Then what? Then what will I do when big yellow takes all three of my boys in a few years? I will be walking up the driveway not holding a hand, but by myself. I will probably be a wreck but then like all things, we move on. We step forward. We anticipate the next path our lives weave even amongst all the uncertainty. With anticipation, we can only look forward and cherish the past.
So big yellow, be good to my boys. Protect them from careless drivers. Cushion their bottoms through all the first day bumps. Give a soft jerk if a bully is going a bit too far. Hold them safe for me. As you drive away with my babies and I become a distant reflection may the hum of your engine calm their nerves. Upon the conclusion of the days’ journey, open your arms and let them scurry out to meet mine!
I will welcome our reuniting with fresh-baked cookies and milk. We can talk about the journey and another milestone completed during dinner. When we are getting ready for bed I think I might just tuck them in one extra time. I might head back into their bedrooms for one more kiss and hug. And when they drift off to sleep, I will whisper out one more I love you!
“Think what a better world it would be if we all-the whole world-had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. And it is still true, no matter how old you are-when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.” ―Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
Well there, we came, saw and wanted to stay! Really, and I was worried that three nights and four days of Mackinaw would be more like a bust, running out of things to do. First of all, who was I kidding? We had three young energetic boys in the house hotel. I could have taken them to a creek in Tennessee and they would be busy. Yet, not really knowing what to expect in Mackinaw, I was a little concerned.
My very first impression was jaw dropping beautiful! Usually on a weekend road trip I enjoy the trip but don’t start planning our next big come back before we even check-in. So Mackinaw, you’ve got it going on! With your back in time persona, crystal clear blue water flair and intoxicating island time, we will definitely meet again!
After a cruising of some major mileage, a tire tread scuffling up the new ride and six hours and some minutes later we arrived in Mackinaw City. And the arrival to town made for every new vehicle flaw that now exists! Yet, not without a little shout out to thank you Oh Big Semi for littering up Highway 23. It couldn’t have been a banana peel or something right? Nope, that would be no fun! But 98 pounds of hard-a*$ rubber, now that’s entertaining! Anyways, there was no road block getting in our way! We had a destination to arrive at and an itinerary to follow. Oh wait, actually scratch the later part of that statement. We had no itinerary but I was not going to let on. I will keep my traveling folks and kids busy as bees starving for honey.
Within minutes of check-in the kids were tossing off shoes and grabbing their beach gear. Our hotel had its own private beach. The first thing I spotted on the beach was not the loungers. This mama isn’t going to have any R & R via a beach chair with three kids. What I did notice was the bonfire pit and immediately was sold on our place of accommodations!
From the time I was a teeny, tiny girl I always wanted to have a fire on a beach, and by golly, my dream last weekend came true! It was fully equipped with s’mores and all. My five-year old needed a little help with s’more etiquette though. Oh yes dear, you have to actually blow off the flaming marshmallow before inserting it into your mouth. Aside from the flame broiled marshmallow meeting mouth incident, I was able to cross a to-do off my bucket list.
I loved everything about our nightly beach parties. Kids playing in the giant sand box, s’mores flowing and meeting families from all parts of the Great Lakes Region. Oh and did I mention B.Y.O.B or wine in my case or was it a case of wine? Who’s counting, ‘eh?
Our first full day we consumed the powdered egg and pseudo sausage breakfast freebie buffet and hopped onto a Ferry to Mackinaw Island. Lake Huron you are beautiful and the weather was perfect! Because I wanted to follow the itinerary (that didn’t exist) and make sure we took in the whole island before last call for Ferry departure, I came up with this great idea to rent bikes. I was all for it and plopping my five-year old and two-year old in a burley. Mama is gonna pull this 100 lbs like it’s nobody’s business. Except for one thing, the hills of Mackinaw Island.
I was a hot sweaty mess but I had my camera, because that never happens, and I grabbed some really great shots. I was fully consumed in photography when my mother and 9-year old made like Team Bobsled USA and with bikes in hand started heading for Cliff Mackinaw with Lake Huron as their landing. I whipped on that Mountain Ladies Plush Cushion Cruiser with doggie basket and with 100 lbs trailing me rushed to their aid. You would think they would be happy to see me come to their rescue. Instead they wanted to tighten the rope of the camera that was now wrapped around my neck due to my high-speed chase. They both gave me that look like, “Can we wrap up this joy ride now?”
Uh oh, time to return the bikes. It was fun, they played good sports and they didn’t even get wet, other than a lot of sweat. A lot, I know mom! So check it out! These are a few glimpses of what we saw courtesy of are sweaty hot mess bike ride and my photo ops.
On our way back from the Ferry Dock, all three kids fell off to sleep to never, ever land. I told my mother we should take full advantage of this “quiet time” and go for a little air-conditioned pedal-less ride. We decided to travel down Highway 23 and I did it with one eye open in anticipation of another rubber attack. I scored us some wood via roadside park for a soon to be bonfire. Then I told my mom let’s scope out the famous Mackinac Bridge.
It was breathtaking and I loved how it connects the lower MI peninsula to the upper MI peninsula and is the separation point between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Just absolutely neat to be on the world’s largest suspension bridge, or something like that, connecting two parcels of land and separating two of the Great Lakes. Then we hit a toll bridge and I mention, “Oh we are not staying just taking a ride.” It is still going to cost us four dollars if we want off the bridge. Fine, it was worth every penny. I make a quick toll bridge personnel approved u-turn to head back across the bridge but not before paying another $4.00. Hurry kids wake up! We are not crossing again just for the fun of it.
Somebody saw us coming because the hotel turned their indoor 4 foot pool into a giant indoor water park. My nine-year old wanted to be brave and do the slides but he wouldn’t unless someone went with him. After what I just put my mother through on a bike, I couldn’t even think of asking her. So here I go, standing in line with a bunch of teenagers and middle school kids, getting prepped by the Lifeguard on water safety. For the love of middle age what am I doing?
Just as I was ready to back on up out of line, I get motioned to climb the steps. The pressure was on, I was holding these preteens and teeny boppers up. Get up there lady! I ascend and what comes up most come down. I launch myself onto the mega twirling gonna give me motion sickness slide. Twisting and turning and whirling and water smacking me everywhere and then whoosh! I made like Free Willy coming down from a jump. My nine-year old comes down looking like a Baywatch model and I am still trying to figure out where I left my brains. You probably can expect to see a future post about how I got Vertigo.
Get me to the lazy river will you? I make it and get jumped by a two and five-year old. Relaxation at its finest. They were clawing me like a lobster about to get rubberbanded. Anyways, we had a blast and I might have decreased in age by 10 years. So all good. Who needs Botox when you got accelerated at light speed on a water slide?
Final day of our mini vacation was our beach and shopping day. Mackinaw is a fudge lovers paradise. And where there is chocolate, there is bound to be espresso. So I was in java lovers heaven! We walked the city and hit the playground. We toured the shops and I snuck out the camera every chance I could get.
Even though the kids were exhausted and so were my mother and I, we were not ready to leave the next day. Well, actually one of us might have been ready to leave because she packed up like a hurricane was about to hit land and was waiting in the car with ear plugs on. Really though, it was a beautiful weekend. A chance to travel with three generations and all live to tell about it is family bonding at it’s finest. Even amongst the tantrums, the cliff hanging and the 300 million “are we there yets?”
I miss you Mackinaw and the carefree attitudes you gave us. The sandy beaches and blue water glistening in the sunrise. The nightly beach bonfires and your simplistic beauty. I will be back again! I will see more of you! Until then, may you stay majestic and open to tourists to view your never-ending beauty!