Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sage Lake Reminiscing Part One

We have just arrived back from our annual trip to Sage Lake in Hale, Michigan.  I wanted to write all week and lose myself in storytelling but alas, that did not happen.  However, as we have settled back into the routine of daily life I have found myself feeling very melancholy about the blessing we have received.
My Uncle Dan and Aunt Bev purchased a small cottage in Hale Michigan about 20 years ago.  No one could ever have anticipated how that small little cottage would bring our families together.  After many renovations and lots of investment, the small cottage home became a massive house to hold all of our families.  Through the years my dads side of the family would gather every Labor Day and 4th of July to boat, swim, laugh and bond.  It was a place where we were able to gather and be thankful of the blessing of our extended family.  As families expanded, we slowly started losing the connection to the cottage.  For Shawn and I it was nearly impossible to come from Kentucky with little babies for a weekend of fun in the sun.  We missed all of these times and it made me feel really bad about having my children not experience that amazing family time that I grew up with and took for granted.
About 4 years ago, my Uncle Dan and Aunt Bev had an opportunity to sell their cottage and the burden that comes with upkeep from a cottage home used only a handful of times.  So many of the extended family had families of their own and it was really clear that the Bountiful Buckleys had outgrown coming together under one roof.  However, instead of selling their home, they made the incredibly, unbelievable decision to keep the house and divide the summer weeks for each Buckley family.  Each family had 2 weeks to enjoy the cottage and boat with their growing families.  To this day, I can not fathom the generosity of this gift.  I believe that my Uncle Dan and Aunt Bev will never understand the gift they gave to our family.
For starters, the cottage has provided my brothers and sisters to have a home to create memories for our children.  Let's be honest... where else could we find a home that could accommodate 6 families with 27 children between them?  We are spread throughout the United States and the lucklihood of us being able to get together annually would have been slim to none.  Getting our families together, gives us siblings time to get to know each other again.  For our spouses to get to know all of us better.  To have some uninterrupted adult time while the kids lose themselves in kick the can or swimming in the lake. 
Its not just the connection of my siblings and I, it is this moments of relationship building that happens with our children.  This summer I watched a true friendship blossom between Shawn and Emma.  It reminded me so much of the amazing relationship I had with my own big brother growing up {I went to prom with him Junior AND Senior year!}.  That relationship was one of the most important ones during my high school years.  It kept me out of trouble and safe while I was dabbling in trouble :) 
Kiley and her Dad developed a closer Dad/Daughter relationship.  They have always had a magic bond since birth but this year I got to see it, up close and personal.  The secret glances and quiet talks.  The little pick me ups that he can give and that change her whole outlook on life.  As I stood back and watched this, I thought of my Dad and I.  He is still my biggest cheerleader and the one person I go to in all times of trouble for wisdom, guidance and unconditional love. 
Dylan and Keegan were inseperable and this year I found myself laughing hysterically, as they came up with all sorts of ways to make the lake their own.  Hillbilly handfishing and trying to catch little minnows had me rolling!  Concocting games that involved throwing rocks, tying up toys and finding little treasures.  This reminded me of the games my sister and I would play growing up.  We were forever making up stories, games and activities that kept us busy for hours.
But, its not just our children.  It is the relationships that are forming between cousins, Aunts and Uncles.  Growing up I had the best relationships with my cousins- on my moms and dads side.  I would challenge ANYONE to tell me that you had it better.  The memories I have of connecting with my cousins are some of the best memories in my childhood.  There was a time I thought I had lost that for my children.   I really had a lot of guilt over that.  The cottage has given us all an opportunity to create a place for the cousins to play, get to know each other and create lifelong bonds.  These bonds will give them a confidence and security most kids are never privy to. 
The relationships they are building with their aunts and uncles are giving them countless cheerleaders and role models for their futures.  To this day, my Aunts and Uncles are my heroes... because I knew them and looked up to them.  I was provided countless opportunities to spend time in their prescence.  My uncles threatened every boyfriend I brought around and my Aunts showed me the value of true sisterhood.  I knew, and still know, I can count on any one of them to have my back any time, day or night.  Because of the "Cottage Gift" my kids are learning this as well.
For the next few days I intend to write on some of the highlights from our trip.  I am doing so with the hopes that some of these moments will explain the magnitude of such an amazing, undeserved gift of love that has been and will continue being life changing for my kiddos.  It is a blessing that I can only repay through the building of the family bonds that we are able to focus on for one magical week every summer in Hale Michigan.
One of their crazy made up games

Shawnie and Emma bonding at the Lake

Daddy and his little girl

Cowabunga dude!

Sassy Olders experiencing independence on the Lake

Daddy and his boys

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