A day at the beach, Michigan-style

My house is full of nieces! My sister arrived late Saturday night with her children, Jennifer (18), Rebecca (7) and Olivia (4. We've been busy ever since tooling around Ann Arbor, practicing our fashion runway walks, figuring out how to tie a bandana on the end of a stick in case any of us ever opts for the hobo life. The younger ones are water babies and so yesterday, we headed out to Kensington Metro Park on the advice of one Fara Warner. It's a fantastic state park and I don't know why we didn't discover this sooner, like, say, last year. It's located in Milford, about a 25-minute drive from here and, among its many offerings are two small sand beaches with lifeguard-attended swimming areas in Kent Lake. (Next to one beach is a pair of intertwined water slides that were, regrettably, still under construction.)

The 4,000+ acre park seems to have it all -- trails for running, hiking, biking and cross-country skiing; a huge disc-golf course; boat rentals; a nature center; picnic areas. For an entrance fee of $4 per car, it's by far the best family value for gettin' cool I can find around here.

We had a swell time, sitting on the sandy beach (not your fancy white sand, mind you, but good enough) and wading into the lake. The "swimming" areas cordoned off don't get very deep, which is perfect for little kids. And little kids aplenty there were. Including, of course, mannerless little heathens who thought it fun to pluck stones from the lake bed and hurl them at innocent bystanders until the lackadaisical teen lifeguards reprimanded them half-heartedly through muddy megaphones.

My personal favorite was a gorgeous little girl, maybe 4 or 5 years old, grabbing her sister while yelling, "You want a piece of me?"

Ah, kids. But the ones we brung with us had a good time and we all had a little sun on us by the time we headed back to the van. Then, we fulfilled a goal from the girls' "must-do" Ann Arbor list and stopped by Stucchi's on South University so they could slurp up some lemon sorbet.

Today, we head to Ikea in Canton to stock Jenn up on some stuff for her dorm room before she heads off for IU in a few short weeks. What a fine, fine way to spend the day, eh?