Whew, do I have a lot to tell.
In a nutshell, the cottage renting didn't work out this year, unfortunately. Normally, we rent this really great house facing the water with a private little beach- it's secluded, pleasant, and relaxing. To our dissapointment, it was booked out this year, so we decided to rent a different cottage nearby. We were hoping to make due this year, go back to the old one next year, and pretend that the year without our beloved beach house would not stick out as "breaking our tradition."
The other cottage looked cute on the website. It was smaller, but quaint. Another family we know rented the one next door, so we thought everything would be fine.
I think you can probably guess what comes next...
You guessed it. It wasn't fine. The cottage looked old, falling apart- even haunted. My mom even said, and I quote: "This place makes me feel depressed about life!" Okay, so maybe we're exagerating- but only a little. It was really just not good. But we figured we could put up with it since we mostly spend our time on the beach anyway. As long as we only went inside to sleep, we could survive.
Well. Unlike the owners promised, there was absolutely no beach. It was on a bluff, and after going down thousands of stairs (or so it seemed) we reached about a two-foot spot of wet sand. Honestly, you couldn't stand there without getting your shoes wet. How could eight kids total- not to mention supervising parents- fit in there, even if everyone was on their tip toes? The answer was no way. We just couldn't stay there. So we left.
Luckily, very luckily, we had a back-up. My grandparents live in Birmingham, Michigan, under an hour away, and we were already planning to stop there on the way home. So, willfully forgetting this bad experience, we booked a hotel near to my grandparents' (given that my grandfather's health is not at all great and they live in an apartment, it seemed unfair to burden them with lots of kids and luggage.)
It ended up being a lot of fun. We visited my grandparents every day, and they were so happy to meet Sasha and just spend time with our whole family. It was also a great change of scenery for my grandpa, who is on permanent bedrest now. It made me feel so good to hear the way he talked about her to us, marvelling at how utterly beautiful and amazingly well-adjusted she is. Sasha really took to him too. She insisted on playing with her toys in his room, and had an ongoing game of peekaboo with him.
Since we spent nine eventful days there, I can't really describe each one in detail, so I'll mention the highlights of our trip:
1. Visiting the Detroit Zoo. Seeing all of these animals was a big first for Sasha, but while she was fascinated, she was a tad bit confused. We walked into the penguin house and when a big penguin walked out, she flapped her arms excitedly and called out, "Kitty! Kitty!"
2. Going to an Ethiopian restaurant a half a mile from my grandparents'. Again, she could not stop stuffing her little mouth!
3. Celebrating my 16th birthday there on the 8th. (I can't believe I'm eligible to get my learner's permit now!) We spent it with my grandparents and had the most gorgeous cake. I'll have to post a picture of it here- it was truly a work of art! Oh, and speaking of pictures, I got a digital camera (pink!) for my birthday! You can expect many more pictures here now. I'm already having fun with it- I have a few cute pics of Sasha playing dress-up.
4. Taking the People Mover around Detroit and going to Greektown. Sasha, apparently, loves Greek food. (But not fruit or sweet things. Go figure.) We also went to this outdoor plaza with many, many fountains in a row. Stripped down to her diaper, Sasha had the best time. I'm kicking myself now that I didn't have my video camera there, but my dad did take a video of it, so I'll post that here later. I'd say about 95% of the people who walked by her playing in the water commented on how adorable she is, many of them businessmen. It was like she was a big celebrity, the way they were exclaiming, "Ooooh, just look at her!!!!"
5. Going to the Detroit Science Center to see the "Our Body" exhibit. It featured real human bodies, which was SO cool.
6. Driving back to Lake Erie for the day to visit a family friend who has a beach cottage there. Sasha was the center of attention, and had a great time in the sun, sand, and lake.
I should also mention that I was really impressed by how well Sasha did in the car, there and back. Of course, Elmo and Barney DVDs helped, but we got through the drives with only one stop for lunch each way. She hardly fussed. Amazing.
I'm so mad at myself that I didn't videotape more. I have to get into a better habit of that. I will post, though, a video here of Sasha at a restaurant on the way home, just being the typical goofball she is. It's nothing particularly funny or surprising, but it's just a little glimpse of her personality. I added it to the sidebar; I'm starting a new tradition called "Video Of The Week": every week, I'm going to post a new video I've taken of Sasha, the boys, or just anything interesting my camera happens to capture!