One of the greatest things to me about a beach vacation is that there is almost always something for everyone. This is a difficult thing to find, yet so priceless when you are taking a family of 7 different personality types ranging in age from 37 down to 4 months old to one location and hoping that each one comes away with the feeling that they had had 'fun'. If you are feeling adventurous, for example, you can grab yourself a boogie board and swim out into the deep where the biggest waves are breaking.
If you are feeling that you'd like to be adventurous, but would rather stay on the safer side of it, you can hop on a boogie board and plop yourself down in the surf and wait for the waves to come and carry you across the smooth sand.
If you are feeling non-adventurous, grab yourself a book or a friend, a chair or a lap, and snuggle down in the sand for some relaxation. There are birds to entertain you, sailboats to watch, children to laugh at, and sounds that will relax even the greatest feelings of frustration and stress.
And so everyone gets to hang out in their own element.
If you're feeling introverted, there are waves to keep you company who don't demand any conversation.
If you're feeling social, there are people all around to join in your play.
The beach truly is one of my very happiest places. So when we started making preparations to go to the beach for the last week before school started, I was all on board.
As were all the kids.
We borrowed boogie boards from our neighbors and the kids jumped right into the cold water with hardly a thought.
I knew we didn't have much time on the beach the first night before the sun set, so right after we parked in the driveway of our little rented cottage, I told the kids to get their swimming suits on and leave all the unpacking for later. I think this surprised them because I'm very naturally a 'work first then play' type of personality. But when the sun is dictating your time, you have to play by its rules, and I wasn't about to miss the last hour of daylight for some silly principle. The kids played their hearts out and didn't even seem to notice the setting sun. But my camera and I did.
The sunset kept getting more and more beautiful as the night went on, and I started feeling emotional over the beauty of it all. When the last of the sun went behind the horizon and the clouds started filling the sky with a fluorescent orange, I couldn't contain it anymore.
I cried. Real tears. It was just. so. beautiful.
I am so grateful to be living in a place where my kids are thriving. I'm so grateful for Brian to have a job that he absolutely adores. I'm so grateful for the friends we've made and the down-to-earth people that populate the small town in which we live. I'm grateful for the sense of community and for the landscapers that work to make this desert landscape as beautiful as it is. But every once in a while my heart pulls for the beauty of an ocean. For the salty sky and the comforting sounds of the waves. For the wide expanse of nothing, and everything, as I stare out at the line where the sky meets the sea. In these moments I miss our year in Miami more than ever and I feel a deep mixture of gratitude that I have that year in my heart, and sadness that I no longer live it.
Anyway, back to our vacation. After we were a little beached out one of the days, we rode into town and went exploring through the shops.
I think the sunglasses were one of the greatest purchases of the day.
These brothers... I hope they always realize how lucky they are to have each other.
Little Eliza tolerated the whole ordeal rather well. There were a few moments of frustration on her part as she begged to eat at inopportune times, but all in all, she handled it well.
And she absolutely charmed everyone on the shuttle to and from downtown.
We attempted to take a family selfie a few times, and the results were mixed. We have a lot of people these days, you know.
But regardless of the lack of our selfie taking skills, we are so in love with each other. I choose to believe that the frustrations and the fights are just making our bonds stronger. We know each other inside and out - we know each others weaknesses and strengths, and sometimes the temptation to pick on each others weak parts gets too strong to withstand. But we love each other anyway.
We have a beautiful little tribe. And family vacations help us remember that.