Lake Michigan Summer Vacation

Earlier this spring we received a call from one of our brother in laws asking us if we wanted to vacation with them this summer to Lake Michigan.  A chance to escape the Houston heat in July?? We quickly said yes and I'm so thankful for that decision as it was one of the best trips we've had in awhile.  They had never been to Michigan but had heard great things about the area and their only requirement when looking for a vacation rental was on the water.  They ended up finding a house in Manistee, MI and it did not disappoint.  The house was a little outdated on the inside but the outside more than made up for the the small shower and crummy beds.

I have to admit I was very anxious about traveling with two little ones and all the "gear" that we required but surprisingly, it wasn't that bad.  We had two huge suitcases, two car seats, two strollers, two carry on bags and golf clubs.  We could have taken one less stroller since Henry decided he was too big for that and wanted to walk everywhere.  Lesson learned.

I was also pretty anxious on how the flight would go and the plan was for Charlie and I to sit in the single seat and Ryan and Henry to be across the aisle from us.  Our plans changed slightly when they had to move us due to the number of breathing masks above each seat so I ended up with both boys and Ryan got off the hook.  Thankfully both boys were great!  Charlie quickly fell asleep as soon as we took off and Henry was pretty content watching the movie Planes on the iPad.

Henry did get a little restless after a while but eventually fell asleep as well :)
We flew into Grand Rapids, MI and had another two hour drive to Manistee.  Both boys did pretty well again except for the last 20 minutes.  I think we were all a little restless and eager to get there after a long day of traveling. The rest of the crew was waiting outside when we pulled up and we immediately went out back and down the stairs to the beach.  This was Henry's first time in the sand and he seemed to love it.

The view from our backyard was spectacular and one of my favorite memories from the trip was watching this beautiful sunset the first night we were there.  All of the kids were running around in the backyard, the temperature was perfect, we had music on and a cold drink in our hands.  It was definitely a good start to the week :) 

Henry was a little shy when we first arrived but quickly warmed up to this crew.  It didn't take long until he was right in the mix and hanging with the older boys. 

A perfect spot to watch the sunset...

Having a blast with cousins!

We woke up Saturday morning and headed to the local Farmer's Market.  We picked up blueberries and cherries among other things for the week.  

After the market we walked around town and picked up hats for the kids.  It was 3 for $10 dollars so they each picked a classy neon trucker hat :)  

That afternoon we loaded up a few bags full of towels, sunscreen, hats, snacks and a few beers and headed down to the water.    

We had the BEST afternoon playing in the sand, in the water and lounging in our chairs. The water was a frigid 62 degrees and while the kids didn't seem to mind getting in, I barely got in past my knees. 

One of my favorite pictures from the trip.  Henry was smiling ear to ear and having the best time.  

Charlie even got in on the trucker hat action :) 

Nothing better than an afternoon nap on the beach while listening to the waves. 

The next day we drove up to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park and did a driving tour in the park and made a few stops.  While the driving tour was a little touristy, the views were pretty amazing. We managed to get a photo op with this crazy crew.  

We also snapped this picture while at the Dunes.  I can't say it's the best picture we have taken but I still love it.  It sums up the stage of life we are in right now.  Henry was a mess and was more interested in touching Ryan with his candy cane and Charlie wouldn't get his fingers out of his mouth.  I'm also pretty sure I didn't even shower that morning but it didn't matter.  We were having a good time and enjoying the time all together.  

Ryan and Chris played golf that afternoon and Robyn and I drove all 6 kids back home from the Dunes.  It was a memorable drive (think babies crying, boys fighting and us pulling over to mediate the argument) but we made it back and opened up a cold one and took the crew down the beach to burn off some energy.  With the two of us and 6 kids in/near the water we weren't able to take our eyes off them and take many pictures but I did manage to snap this one of sweet Charlie enjoying the waves. 

We enjoyed an easy hot dog dinner and let the kids ride bikes and play golf before going to bed.  It doesn't get any better than playing golf in the backyard without a shirt while watching this sunset, right?? 

The next morning we lounged around the house and then went to a nearby park.  It was an awesome wooden park that was great for all ages.

Charlie woke up for a bit and enjoyed some time on the swing :)

We picked up a few kites at the dollar store and went out to the beach for the afternoon.  It was another beautiful day with perfect temps.

After a few hours both Henry and Charlie took naps on the beach :)

I attempted to get a picture of both boys on the beach looking at the camera but I should have known that wouldn't happen.  I had to settle for some action pics which I think are pretty cute anyways.

Charlie was at least up for smiling at the camera!

Our attempt at a group shot of all the cousins.  Henry was not happy that we made him stop playing with his dump truck and take a picture.  I do love this picture though as everyone looks so happy... minus Henry :)

That evening we made a campfire on the beach which was another favorite memory of mine.  It was so beautiful to watch the sunset that night as we cooked smores.

I'm also in love with the next two pictures of Charlie.  It doesn't get much better than this :)

The next day was our last full day and the big boys played 9 holes with Ryan and Chris.  I wasn't so sure how Henry would do but he loved it.  He claimed it as "the best day ever!"

We thought it was going to rain that afternoon but it held off.  We went down to the beach for a little bit but it was really windy and even chilly.  I was hoping to get another picture of our boys but once again, Henry was not cooperating.  Charlie is always up for a smile though.

All in all, it was a fabulous vacation and I'm so thankful we were able to go.  Yes, at times it got a little crazy but for the most part it was relaxing and just what we needed.  I'm hoping we can continue this tradition and head back that way next summer!

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