Trip or Vacation?

It’s almost the end of summer and we’re at the beach for our second week of the summer. Daniel starts first grade in two weeks, and I’m at a loss for where the summer went.

It’s been a good week…mostly. We’ve had good weather except for yesterday, allowing us to visit the aquarium. Awesome fish, yet Daniel was mostly interested in the gift shop. We’ve had good food although it has been takeout because we don’t feel like battling the crowds, waiting, noise etc.  I was bitten again by noseeums, and my left arm and feet look like I have some flesh-eating disease. And today we dealt with the surliest 6-year-old; you’d think it was torture being at the beach.

Have you read the HuffPo post on Vacation or Trip? That pretty much sums it up.

But the view isn’t bad and it could be worse: we could be at work!


Time to Say Goodbye to Summer

It’s Friday at twilight and Jimmy has just brought in the chairs and umbrella. It is our last full day at the beach and we intended to spend most of it outside, enjoying the gorgeous weather and soaking up every minute we could. We went in for lunch, decided to have a short quiet time and next thing I knew, the boys were napping. It happens rarely these days, so I let it continue; the result was that we forfeited the rest of our afternoon outside.

It’s OK. We’ve had a great time, spending hours each day outside, taking evening walks and relaxing. I can’t help but feel a bit melancholy. Some of it is due to the usual angst of leaving the beach and ending vacation, especially when we won’t be back for 10 months.

Most of it is due to my worry that we didn’t maximize our time here; you know, sucking the marrow out of our beach week and all that. We didn’t play in the water as much as we would have liked. We didn’t collect as many shells. We didn’t spend as many evenings chatting into the wee hours while the ocean breezes blew. The truth is, we were tired. It has been a busy summer of work projects, home projects and camp, and I think the three of us were relieved to sit (the adults) and dig in the sand (Daniel).

The end of this trip also symbolizes the end of summer. School will start in a little over a week and we will have a kindergartener. Our lives will begin to revolve around a calendar again; June and August will take on significance beyond “summer” and “hot” as “school” creeps in and takes over.

Time passes and all that.

Maybe I should focus on all the things we did do. Daniel had ice cream every night. He tried crab cake and lobster bisque (sadly rejecting both). Jimmy found a sandwich he loved (a bigger deal than it sounds for my sandwich-rejecting men). We added 6 new starfish and a clamshell to our starfish family. We ended each day sandy, salty and tired. It was a good week.

Now it’s time to pack up and go home. Wash the beach clothes and start organizing the back-to-school items. And maybe one day when the nights are crisp, I’ll put on a shirt I wore at the beach, inhale the scent of the beach and find myself back here.





Happy Place

By last weekend, we were counting down the minutes to beach trip #1. Sunday finally arrived and we were on our way. Great weather so far, and we’re having a great time. Daniel has already “found” three starfish, and Jimmy and I have loved sitting outside and talking until the stars came out. We’ve also spotted Mars & Saturn. It truly is our happy place and we are thrilled we are able to return in two months.









We leave for our second week at the beach in a few hours. It’s a beautiful day here, and I hope it’s as beautiful at the beach. It feels decadent to be able to spend a second week at the beach; some years we didn’t go at all. As with our first trip, our plans are minimal: relax, play, enjoy.

My 36th birthday is tomorrow. Last year, I felt like my 35th caught me in a bit of an existential crisis: who am I? What do I want to be?  What do I want to do? This year, I feel rather nonchalant about adding another year to my tally.  Maybe it’s because there is an evenness to 36 that feels more stable than the angular, pointed 35. Maybe it’s that 36 is firmly on the other side of the symbolic 35. Or maybe, it’s because we are so busy that I barely have time to think about personal existential crises. Parenting a 4-year-old and working will do that.

I’m not saying I’m at peace with the pesky gray that is consistently infiltrating my hair or the under-eye bags that grow more prominent (especially the one under the left eye. Nothing like uneven under-eye bags) or what I optimistically call crinkles at the edges of my eyes that are more accurately called wrinkles.  I wage war with creams that I suspect delude me into a false sense of well being. I’m just not ready to do anything more permanent about these mile-markers of my time here. I hope to one day be as sanguine and appreciative as Arch Mama is about hers.

35 was a year of up and downs, highs and lows, but couldn’t that be said of any year? A few months ago, I worried that perhaps I had peaked. Maybe I reached the zenith of my achievements a few  years ago, and that thought depressed me. I don’t feel that way now. I’m hopeful that Marty and I will produce a second year of Listen to Your Mother.  My 4-year-old, my chance at immortality, delights and infuriates daily. Jimmy and I have found time for wonderful late-night (if 9 PM is late!) conversations on the back porch. And Fall is coming.

So, 36, I welcome you. Or at least, I don’t fight you or deny you. Tomorrow I will spend the day on the beach, reveling in the salty air and the gritty feel of the sand. Making sand castles. Finding star fish. Maybe being squirted by a water gun. Eating great food. And not being at work!

As I slowly feel the rejuvenation the ocean brings me, I’ll think about how something so old can still be so beautiful and powerful.

“Shore” Do Miss Vacation

Let’s take a break from ranting and write about something more feel-good: our beach trip!

We had a great time. The weather was mostly good, and we spent a few hours every day on the beach. We never made it to the aquarium, but I don’t think Daniel minded. We ate great food; I think I had shrimp, scallops and tuna almost every day!  I was able to read 4 awful books from my book sale stash. They were Dan Brown wannabes specializing in conspiracy theories and though ludicrous, fun to read. I definitely taxed no brain cells reading them.  Never fear – I was able to visit the magical book store on the island (by myself!) and buy 3 new books for me and 1 for Daniel.  I call the book store magical because it has the most eclectic collection, and I am always able to find something unique.  The town house we rented was perfect as well with enough room for Daniel’s toys downstairs and two huge bedrooms and an amazing view upstairs.

It was the best beach trip our little family has had.  At 4, Daniel still requires constant vigilance on the beach, but he didn’t try to run off and was able to entertain himself playing with sand for short periods of time. Jimmy and I were actually able to sit at the same time and watch him play before he demanded to go to the ocean.   Daniel loves the water and he’s quite the water baby. We brought back an impressive collection of sea shells, and Daniel even found a few star fish 😉

The three of us returned home rested, yet exhausted (vacationing is hard work!).

We’re firmly back in the real world of work and day care, and thinking about our vacation fills us with longing and a bad case of the vacation blues. Seven days in which we shut out the world and did whatever we wanted to do. How we needed that.

So, we decided that going to the beach once this year is not enough. Last weekend we booked the townhouse for the week of my birthday in September. I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday.


Beach attitude

Beach attitude



Beach selfie



Eating at Amos Mosquito’s



View from our enclosed lower patio







View from our upper deck



Daniel finds a star fish





I’ll stomp your sand castle!

Gone Fishing

Daniel's favorite.

Not really. It might not surprise you that I don’t fish.  I have fished. I grew up with a pond in my back yard and can dig for worms and bait hooks with the best of them. And yes, it is fun when a fish takes the bait and you reel it in. Cleaning and eating what I’ve caught? No thank you. I’m weird about fish in that I prefer someone else to cook it for me. Just one more way I differ from my family.

I digress.

Jimmy, Daniel and I are leaving for the beach in a few hours.  Seven glorious days at the beach.  This year we’ve rented a beach house.  That sounds very grand. In actuality, it’s a townhouse, but it’s an end unit and ocean front (my one requirement). When we began to plan our annual beach trip, we talked about finding a three-bedroom condo or a beach house.  Jimmy wanted to find a house if we could because he thought we needed more space.  A third bedroom in a condo would just get us another bedroom but not really more space.  Last year’s condo was good, but it did start to feel a tad claustrophobic in the living area. 

Surprisingly, there are affordable options for ocean front beach houses for one family.  We’ll see how it goes. Since it’s a townhouse, it’s two levels, and the beach views are on the second floor where the bedrooms are.  I wonder if I will miss seeing the beach from the living room.  On the other hand, it will be nice to be in a real house with real appliances and not Lilliputian ones. And we’re only steps from the sand and water!!

There are new bathing suits. New sand toys. New books.  We are ready. Most importantly, we are mentally ready.  We need this vacation.  Jimmy has been working so hard at work. I don’t think a week has gone by that he hasn’t had to work late (thankfully from home) at least one night. Daniel has been working hard at daycare, and I know he’s ready for a break.  As for me, work continues to be interesting.  Some days are good; others make me want to beat my head against the wall. Sometimes it feels like death by a thousand well-meaning cuts.  The last two years, our beach trip has happened after the summer all-staff meeting at work. I know I’m ready for vacation when I leave that meeting muttering, “F this. F all this.”

And then there are the dreams.  In the last month, I have started having vivid dreams about work. And violence.  In these dreams, something bad always happens.  People are hurt. People are shot.  I neither perpetrate the violence nor am a victim and as dreams go, it’s never exactly the people you work with, but the theme is the same: bad stuff happens at work. Gee, I wonder what that means.  Stress? Anxiety? Uncertainty? Psychologically unsafe?  All of those things, but for now, I’m concluding it means that I am very ready for vacation.

I’ve posted before about the beach restores me.  I’m looking forward to that and very much need it.  I can’t wait to build sand castles for Daniel to smash. To wiggle our toes in the sand. For the three of us to swim in the ocean and pool. To go to the aquarium and see what’s new. To eat great food. And most importantly, to do nothing but what we want to do and if that means nothing at all, that’s OK. I hope we three return rested and rejuvenated.  And hopefully I’ll read a better book than 50 Shades of Grey (one of last year’s beach reads).

See you next week.


Wordless Wednesday: Where I Wish I Were

Yesterday, 50 Shades.  Today a cute picture of Daniel.  See, it’s not always over-thinking and ranting about societal issues that no one cares to read about. Or quite possibly, I’m insane.

Fun at the beach!


Not gonna lie: two hours after returning to work on Monday, I sent Jimmy a link to rates for a long weekend at the beach in September.

What’s in the Box?????

Diva Cat in the Box

What’s in the box???? Ok, so yes, my diva cat Lucy is in the box. The box, though, came from Land’s End and contained my new bathing suit for our beach trip. Today, we head to the beach for a week, and I don’t think we could feel less prepared.

Compared to other trips, this one was easy to pack for because we have almost no summer clothes. Despite our house being declared “clean” (feel free to imagine that being said by Tangina in Poltergeist) after our last carpet beetle treatment, we haven’t had a chance to bring back our clothes from storage. Daniel has 14 pairs of shorts and assorted shirts; Jimmy and I have the jeans we’re wearing, a few t-shirts and bathing suits. Looks like we’ll be going shopping. In addition to my wardrobe, my body is definitely not beach ready. I’m flabby and out of shape from months of takeout and quick meals due to stress and general busy-ness.

This vacation is also our first week-long one. Normally our beach trips are more like long weekends. Those trips were fine pre-Daniel, but another pesky little detail left out of “What to Expect”-type books is how vacations change with children. Honestly, that realization was a rude awakening for me 2 years ago during our first family beach trip as silly as that might sound. I was used to spending all day on the beach with several books and doing whatever, whenever I wanted.

Vacation with a toddler? Relaxing isn’t quite the word I’d use. On the first trip we lugged a high chair, pack ‘n play and a million other items into a hotel room and felt claustrophobic after 5 minutes. Last year we found a place with a bedroom that could be closed off from the living room. It was small and Daniel ended up sleeping with us on the pull-out couch. Comfy! That trip did have the perk of exposing us to old reruns of The Office, and when we returned, we bought and watched every season.

This year’s trip will be different. Hopefully. We are renting a two-bedroom condo for the week, and I already feel less stressed at my need to cram in as much quality time on the beach as possible. Exhale.

I love the beach. That may be a surprise since my skin is the color of a dead, plucked chicken and my encounters with the sun include the highest SPF possible. But I do. I have to make a pilgrimage to the ocean every year to let the sand stream through my toes and bathe in the ocean. When I look at the ocean, its size overwhelms me and I feel like I’m at the end of the world. I remember that life began in the ocean and thousands of generations later, my soul still responds to that primordial call. It calms me and puts everything into perspective. It’s a giant, much-needed reset button.

I feel a little unready for this trip considering how much I’ve been out of town recently; I don’t think I could have waited a moment longer though.

Also? Five points if you can name the movie in which the title of the post was uttered.