Monday, August 6, 2012

What's For Dinner?

Last week was one of those early August weeks. The kind that creeps around at this time of year. A week full of back to school anticipation and agitation, as well as deep remorse that the summer is indeed drawing to a close...rapidly. Yes, we've got a couple of good weeks left, but in mere days we will start football practice, back-to-school shopping, and dry-running some sort of morning and bedtime routine so my kids will not go into shock come August 30th.

It's also the time of year when I start dreaming of applying chap stick to lips rather than sunscreen to faces; of strapping ski helmets to heads instead of boogie boards to ankles or wrists; fastening boots and binders instead of bathing suit hooks. I'm just about ready to hang up my beach chair for the season. Every year at this time I begin to look forward to more crisp, less humid days... days that are slope and not sand filled.

So while last week I could have gone the beach route during the day with kids...I just didn't have it in me. I simply wasn't in the mood for another trip to the ocean. Yet I also felt as though I were robbing the kids of another beach experience during summer vacation.

Then it dawned on me to shake it up a bit. To think outside of the box. Keep everyone happy...relatively; have dinner on the beach, picnic style. Clearly this isn't a novel idea on my part. I've been reading lots of blogs, lots of Facebook, and lots of summer mini-bucket lists that others have so dutifully created. And the beach at dusk, (with or without food) seems to be high on a bunch of other people's must-do lists. (Unfortunately for my children, I'm more the kind of mother who will sit down in September, pen in hand, and list all of the things I meant to do, but forgot!)

Regardless, with this sunset trip to the beach I had my kids in mind. But I also had myself in mind. If I planned an evening picnic at the beach I could accomplish so many things at once. #1 I wouldn't have to cook dinner, because for me, dinner at the beach = take-out. #2 I would provide my kids with a great beach memory, yet avoid the hassle of another trek to the beach in the heat without my husband.  #3 The kids could splash happily, ankle deep, while my husband and I sat in our chairs, toes in the water, sipping wine, holding hands...talking about the future. #4 I would finally remember the camera, and we were going to make such good memories they would be photograph worthy! #5 The drive home would lull the littlest to sleep (yes, I brought their jammies!) and we'd have one less monster to deal with at bedtime.

With the best intentions carefully laid in place, we hit the road, and then we hit a few snags.

#1. Take out...delish, unless you are Gillian and picky as all get-out. And yes, I didn't have to cook...but keeping four out of five of us happy, and full, cost nearly $50.00. And I still had to wipe grease from faces, and pick up trash...and worry about being bombarded by seagulls.

Someone wasn't thrilled about their pasta...

but someone really loved the pizza...

#2. While my husband was there to co-pack mule with me, it was kinda still a hassle. First, my great idea seemed to be shared by hoards of others, who had all found the best parking, and the prime spots on the beach! And shame on me, I just can't make a trip to the ocean without mounds of gear. Although, man was it nice. I mean really nice...a gorgeous night! No heat. No sunscreen. Warm water. Low tide. Beautiful sunset.

And the best part...

Three someones thought it was another "best day evah!"

#3. My husband and my post dinner relaxation plan, the one that had us sitting in our chairs, holding hands and chatting quietly, instantly became a frantically-trying-to-collect-the-blowing-trash-while-standing-up-and-waving-our-arms-while-screaming-at-the-kids-to-come-back kind of thing. We hadn't even uttered the words "stay close" and they were off. Running. Like. The. Wind. It didn't help that the tide was excruciatingly low, leaving sand bars, tide pools and islands begging to be explored.

Also, the kids weren't having any of the "ankle-deep" idea and they refused to even entertain the "knee-deep" idea. I'd tried to outsmart them by leaving the tops to the girls bathing suits at home and forcing Quinn to keep his t-shirt on, thereby tricking them into thinking they were actually mostly dressed. In clothes. That weren't waterproof. But eventually Quinn fell in the water. Then Sophie begged me to get wet. I told her I didn't want her getting her whole body wet, but if she fell...well than what could I do really? Seconds later she fell into the water too. Head first. And Gillian...she didn't even bother asking. Or pretending to fall.

#4. You know that one great shot...that one picture that we all want of our kid? The one where her back is to the camera and she seems so deep in thought? Where she portrays wonder and hope, contemplation and deep understanding? Where she gives us a sense that she is looking deep within herself, deep into her little girl soul? I thought I had that shot too...

Turns out she was just peeing.

#5. The drive home. Boy were a couple of us exhausted. But then again, three of us weren't. In fact, one of One of us was full of energy. All. The. Way. Home.

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