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Are you a lake person or an ocean person?

Photo courtesy of Erin Zammett Ruddy

Considering I grew up on Long Island playing in the waves of the Atlantic, it should go without saying that I am a salt-water girl. And I am, through and through. I love rough, unpredictable seas and the change of tides and the taste of salt on my lips and the beautiful shells and sea glass that roll in. And, not for nothing, my hair looks amazing—all tousled and voluminous—after a day at the beach. I also love the feeling of being near an ocean and honestly can’t imagine living far from the coast. It gives me a sense of stability and freedom and an escape (because, you know, I could always swim to England if things got bad here…). That said, I do have a lot of love for lakes. And after spending our summer vacation up on Lake Michigan, I have rekindled that romance and am so happy my kids will get to know both kinds of H2O….

Every summer when I was growing up we would spend a good chunk of time on Newfound Lake in New Hampshire, where my aunt and uncle had a house. Their place was old and rustic—no TVs, no a/c and I remember several run-ins with daddy long legs and bats—but that’s what made it so amazing. Our time up there was spent hiking and swimming and picnicking and having Sweet Tart races (my uncle made up this sport: basically we all sprinted on the trails behind the house and the winner—and runners up—got various colors and amounts of sweet tarts. This sounds simple and yet it was a highlight of the year, particularly for a competitive kid like me). Newfound Lake was pure, unadulterated, childhood fun. Oh, and there was this little perk: The house was attached to a giant candy store that my aunt ran for the nearby boys’ camp. The candy store also had an old fashioned freezer full of Ben & Jerry’s pints and a cooler full of Mountain Dew. Can you imagine that? It was kid heaven. To this day, I can’t see a Charleston Chew without thinking of the MaryLamb (that’s what the house was called—awesome, right?).

Anyway, being on Lake Michigan last week brought back all these amazing memories. And I realized how lucky my kids are to have a lake in the family.

My in-laws live right across the street from Lake Michigan, which is just the most beautiful, amazing place (it actually looks like an ocean it’s so big). The water is clean and crystal clear and refreshing and it’s shallow forever so it’s perfect swimming for the kids. The town is also full of amazing restaurants—it was voted foodiest city in 2010 by Bon Appetit—and Nick and I got to try several. We all had a blast and can’t wait to go back every summer and start making more memories—for all of us. Here are some highlights from this year’s trip:

This is the beach across the street. See how far out they can go? Pretty cool.

Walking home after a rainstorm crept in. I love this shot of my boys.

There are beaches and parks all along the waterfront. We stopped at this one for a quick game of badminton.

My kids love the beach and it’s perfectly suited to their wild and crazy temperament (this beach also had a train that the kids could ride around in with a legit conductor and steam and everything—memories!)

I took this shot while Nora sat next to me on the blanket eating everything I had in the cooler. I was happy to oblige since it meant she was actually sitting.

Alex would find things in the water using his mask—rocks, twigs, “coral”—and then bring them up to the lifeguard station. He took this beach patrolling very seriously.

Friends of ours who we never get to see were also visiting family up there so we spent a day together at the beach—and finally introduced our children. This is Alex and his new pal.

Later that night the adults went out sans kids (one of the best parts about staying with in-laws—free babysitting!).

There are a ton of wineries up there with amazing views. At this one we had some sparkling rose and local homemade cheese. Both were delish!

There are little towns all along the lakes up there. This is historic Fishtown, where we lunched one day just before a crazy storm rolled in.

Neither of my children are capable of taking a nice photo with me and yet I keep trying…. There’s always next year I guess!