Before I launch into a retelling of our Sunday at the beach, I need to first congratulate my stepfather, Rob, on winning first place in the Picture of Health photography competition at the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro!
He had submitted several pieces to the competition in April, and at the reception this evening they announced that he had won an honorable mention for Interior Photos and first place for Exterior! Rob is a wildly talented photographer and teacher at my old high school, and though I was excited for him, it came as no surprise that his photo won. You can see his incredible work here.
And now, to the beach! This weekend was a crazy one for us- Saturday we were up bright and early to hit the Wrightstown farmers market (more on that in another post), followed by naps, a visit to Nana, and a party (woop!) in the evening. I finished packing our beach gear up at midnight and crashed.
Six A.M. Sunday found me in the shower while Carolyn sat on the floor of the bathroom looking confused. I loaded everything in the car, changed and dressed both kids, and headed out for a day of sun and sand! But not without plenty of snacks for the road…
Our first stop was McCaffrey’s to load up on (more) fresh fruit: blueberries, cherries, and FIGS! These were perfectly ripe and delicious-looking, but when the cashier tried to ring them up they wouldn’t scan. She told me she would just ring them up for $1.99, and when I politely informed her that there was no way a box of figs at a conventional grocery store would be priced so low, she shrugged and said it was alright. Score! Figs are one of my favorite summer treats.
Jack wasn’t so sure. I think the texture was throwing him off.
These two were rockstars in the car. Carolyn slept the entire way down! Jack didn’t sleep at all, but he was a great little copilot- though it didn’t hurt that I allowed him to have his way with an entire bag of veggie booty. He loved looking at the scenery, and just about lost it when we went over the Walt Whitman Bridge.
He was so excited, I laughed the entire drive over. Even better than the bridge was the views once we got closer to the shore:
Oh yes. We have arrived. I don’t ever go to the shore- I had been a few times with my family years ago, but after living in California and spending so much time on the beaches out there, I thought I had been spoiled forever. Wrong! As it turns out, there are some incredible areas of the Jersey shore!
We met one of my best friends and her family at their motel. They take a family trip down there every summer, and last week they had graciously invited the kids and I down for the day!
One of our old friends from high school was also there with her boyfriend. So fun!
We went to the motel diner for some coffee and breakfast. Carolyn entertained herself with the menu and Tom’s hat…
…while Jack colored. Seriously, best children ever.
After some fuel, it was time to hit the beach! I have never taken the kids to the beach like this before, so I felt a little unprepared, especially since there’s just one of me. Inevitably, something will be left behind- this time, it was beach toys for Jack. I don’t think it mattered too much to him, but I felt like an idiot. He still managed to have fun digging in the sand, running from the waves, and looking adorable.
Jack was not totally sold on the ocean. He had a lot of fun being in my arms and wading out into the water, but I think he really preferred to play in the sand.
Carolyn, meanwhile, is an absolute mermaid. I know she loves water from watching her in the pool and the bathtub, but she was really loving the beach. The splashing of the water didn’t bother her at all- in fact, she couldn’t get enough of it. I loved watching her little feet feel sand for the first time…
Something tells me I have a waterbaby on my hands.
We hung around the beach for a bit, and I got a chance to get in the water thanks to Hulias and Maurya volunteering to stay with the kids on the shore. I swam out past where the waves were cresting and spent a few minutes treading water and swimming over/under approaching waves. It was delicious- I had buried my inner fish so far down, and to finally let it go and be in the water, floating and free, was a feeling that I can not attempt to describe. I probably could have stayed out there all day.
At one point we were hit with some rain, so we packed up our stuff and headed back up to the motel to hang in the pool, only to have the rain persist. It ended up working to our benefit- I was able to get the kids changed and fed and down for naps, and it gave me a little while to relax and enjoy a few moments of uninterrupted conversation with my friends.
This trip was such a great experience for the kids and myself. I am not the type of person who can stay at home for long periods of time. I knew when I had children that I would still want to do all of the things I loved, and share those experiences with them. I say this all the time, but I am really fortunate that Jack and Carolyn are so delightful and flexible. They handle schedule changes so well, and that has enabled us to take some memorable trips together.
After the rain had passed and the kids had woken up, we headed back to the beach for some last-minute sun and waves before dinner. It was so peaceful and relaxing being there. I had forgotten how good it feels to be near the ocean. I was glad to be with some of my favorite people, but being near the water, a part of me ached for California. Of all the foolish, wayward things I did in earlier years, going out there was definitely one of the highlights.
When we had all had our fill of the beach, we packed up and walked back up to the motel to shower and change. Then it was off to dinner at a place called Groff’s. Jack enjoyed some guy-time in the restaurant…
…but knocked out in the stroller as soon as we hit the boardwalk.
Next time I am definitely going to get to the boardwalk earlier. There was so much stimulation, I felt bad that Jack was missing it all, but I knew he needed the sleep.
Carolyn, on the other hand, was perfectly content to hang with Hulias and Tom and take it all in.
There was so much energy on the boardwalk- so many people and lights and shops, and everyone was there to relax and have a good time. In the distance I could see the lights of the Ferris Wheel and roller coasters, and made a mental note to put those on the agenda for next time…
As it was, the kids and I were pretty run-down after our early morning wake up. We rounded out the evening with some skeeball…
…and an order of deep friend oreos!
These were absolutely sinful, but sadly I doubt I will ever brave them again. I felt TERRIBLE all day Monday, sluggish and gross, and I am pretty sure these were the culprits.
All in all, though, a great day at the beach for all of us! I don’t know if there’s any better way to spend a day than hanging at the beach with good friends.
The kids and I are actually planning a trip back, this time probably to the Cape May area, in two weeks. Luis expressed some interest in going, which means there will be someone there to hang with the kids while I jump over, under, and into the waves to my heart’s content. Sold!
Until then, I will content myself with looking through these pictures a hundred times.
Oh, glorious summer.