Okay, so I’m pretty late in posting this. I wanted to share these photos three weeks ago. Oops. I took a gazillion beach photos. I’m only sharing half of them from this trip. You’re welcome. I have tons of beach photos from other times we’ve gone. I think I accidentally uploaded some from a previous trip.

I’m laughing because I think most of my blog entries start off saying the same thing about the sheer amount of photos. And clearly, I am NOT captioning all these pics this time.

In early summer, we bought a beach pass because we go to the beach so often. We spent many days there. There were some weeks that we went three times in a week. The kids absolutely love it and I like the ease of packing a cooler and eating outside on the picnic bench. We usually spend hours there. With Gabe’s work schedule, it’s wonderful to have weekdays that we can do things when places are less crowded, too. Plus, Gabe loves inflating the raft and loading and unloading the car. Hah!
We don’t have a bike hitch rack, so you can picture Gabe loading and unloading 4 bikes into the back of our van on a regular basis. Now picture him loading and unloading 4 instruments (one a cello) and two huge karate sparring gear bags and coolers in between the unloading and loading of the bikes. Then I decided over the summer to do a major decluttering of the toy room. How pitiful is it that the toy room is the biggest room in the house? It was long overdue. When we had two kids, everything was labeled and perfectly organized and then somewhere along the way, it turned into something that could have been submitted for the show Hoarders. Anyway, We borrowed a dumpster and I cleared out tons. We (Read: I) want the room to be a karate, dance and music studio versus a playroom of toys. Gabe’s job was hauling the stuff up a flight of stairs (Hey, I hauled three totes up the stairs with a bum shoulder. Yah! Me!) and across the lawn and into the dumpster. We filled a small dumpster, peeps. Sadly, we still have about 6 Rubbermaid totes filled with toys. Sigh. So…How was YOUR summer, Gabe? HAH! I should have filmed a documentary.

This summer was wonderful because we could take the kids bike riding on the trail and then cool off at the beach. It was special this year because the three oldest kids are really swimming now, too. They like to dive and look for mussels, rocks or snails. Miranda, the little science child, especially loves creatures. If you look through the gallery, you’ll see a photo of the tiniest little mussel. Munchkin Matthew could play in the sand and water all day and night. We pack all the sand toys in a big bag and all of the kids build castles and water trenches. Zachary loves going sometimes and other times, he’d rather not. Once he’s there, he’s always happy that he went, so not sure why he loves to pull the pre-teen card sometimes. He’d rather ride his bike the entire time.

There’s a spray park and showers at the beach, too. This is the perfect way to get all the sand off of everyone before we head home. There’s also a food vendor, but we rarely buy from it because we prefer packing our own food. In the photos gallery, you’ll see this big yellow surfboard looking contraption. It’s an electronic game that’s sort of like Simon.

The last beach visit is a bittersweet tradition before it’s back-to-school time. I’m sad when the kids go back to school. I miss how relaxed, carefree and happy they all are. It’s hard to accept that another year has passed and that the days when they will be off to college isn’t all that far away, too. I know you’re probably thinking um, Matthew is only 3 years old. Let’s not forget that Zachary is almost 12 and time is passing very quickly lately. There are times that I catch myself clinging onto moments with him. It’s hard to describe and I never thought I’d be like this, but I am very much aware of his age and just keep squashing him with hugs and hoping he will continue to let me. Soon he’ll be taller than Gabe.

You’ll see a lot of photos of Miranda this time. That’s because she loves having photos taken. Ally was too far out in the water (diving and swimming all over the place) to take many photos and Zachary detests having photos taken, so I’m lucky if he’ll let me take a couple. And he’s watching me ALL the time to make sure I’m not sneaking any in. I remember being just like that at age 11 and well, I’m like that now at age 42, too. He loves using the camera, so some of the photos that I’m sharing were taken by him.

While we were there, there was a little girl lost. She was about 3 or 4 years old. So park staff were walking her up and down the boardwalk trying to locate her parents as she cried and cried. What was most upsetting was that so much time went by and it was like her parents didn’t seem to notice she was even missing. And if you think that’s bad, this happened TWICE to the same child while we were there.

I tried to lose Gabe several times, but dude’s got mad tracking skillz.