posts tagged with 'beach'

work-beach balance

Our outing on Monday was wonderful and educational and great exercise. And it was productive for the work of our household, because Leah was home using her bigger computer to do hours of work and appreciated not being interrupted. That's why, after exhausting the possibilities of the pond, we finished up the trip with a stop at Whole Foods and the play space. Yesterday the weather was even hotter, so we needed—really needed!—to go to the swimming pond. But Leah was away at the office, and there were things that needed doing at home. So how was I to justify spending three hours at the beach?! (besides, of course, the fact that the beach is really awesome).

the boys at the edge of the pond, Zion jumping

jump right in!

We sure enjoyed it. The water was super cold, but with the air hitting hot-for-summer levels there were lots of people there in swimsuits, even if it was only preschoolers and college kids that showed any real interest in playing in it for long. After about two hours in the sun I finally got hot enough to brave full immersion, and it almost stopped my heart. Sure made the air feel a whole lot nicer afterwards, though!

Lijah smiling with this towel over him

warm and happy

With no ropes and no lifeguards, the boys were free to roam and play to their heart's content, and they did. Harvey and Zion headed off right away; Lijah was a little slower to get started, but after a bit of sand-piling with me he too was off to join the fun.

three boys playing far away along the beach

independent play

So I read a book. It was delightful, but I couldn't help thinking of all the other things I could be doing while my children were playing independently, if I could be somewhere else. One problem of modern parenting is the need to constantly provide our kids with entertainment. When I read the Little House books I don't see Pa trying desperately to interest his girls in one thing or another so that he can have ten minutes together to plow the field!

Still, if I had been off cutting wood or whatever I wouldn't have been there to help when Zion tripped and fell headlong into the deep water. As it was I was right where I needed to be to yell at Harvey to go bring him a towel (delegation is the best parenting).

Zion holding his towel to his face

cuddle towel

I was also there to hear Zion's pride, which he was ready to share as soon as he got the water out of his eyes. "I swam!!" he exclaimed (he can't properly swim yet). "I flapped my hands like this and I flapped my head out of the water! Like a fish! Maybe my totem animal is a fish!"

"Great!" I told him. "You'll have lots more chances to swim this summer." Too bad there's no swimming holes they can walk to by themselves. Oh well, the work will all get done somehow...


beach retreat

Just like last year, we had an October church retreat to the seaside. This time it wasn't on an island, but the ocean was bigger.

Zion walking towards the gray stormy ocean

almost-november sea

The event was in Falmouth on Cape Cod, and since we're shiftless layabouts we were able to leave early on Friday to beat the traffic. That meant we had plenty of time to sight-see, so we met friends in Woods Hole to see some sights.

Zion, Harvey, Matthew and Sam looking at the research ships in the harbor at Woods Hole

young men and ships

I had no idea, but Woods Hole is full of free attractions, including an aquarium and a museum of oceanography. The latter featured a very realistic mockup of the cockpit of Alvin, a famous submersible that sails out of the port.

Harvey, Zion and Matthew in the mock-up Alvin cockpit

there's a 5 1/2 in floppy drive in there

There was also a movie to watch and lots of delicate displays that our energetic children needed to be warned away from occasionally. So when we got to the hotel where the retreat was being held the boys and I headed right down to the beach—with the gray sky, spitting rain, and whipping wind we knew we'd have the place to ourselves with plenty of room to run. Never mind the weather, the ocean is wonderful.

Zion running away from waves

don't let the waves catch you!

my feet, wading

feels nice

the boys playing in the waves

inevitably wet

As we settled into out luxurious hotel room a few minutes later—distracted only slightly from our unpacking by the littler boys dancing naked on the bed—the setting sun peeked from below the clouds, giving a promise of better weather tomorrow.

the setting sun peaking below storm clouds

promise for tomorrow

Of course, who needs good weather when you have a king-sized bed, a tv, and chicken fingers and fries served on fine china?

the boys and friends enjoying chicken fingers in 3-star surroundings

they better not get used to this

There were also cookies; a plate for each kid, adorned with a decorative flower. The adults had a Mexican buffet.

True to the promise of the previous evening, the morning dawned bright and fine. It turns out that tv is a wasteland—even the kids didn't find anything they thought was worth watching—but never mind, we had a balcony.

Harvey and Lijah on the hotel balcony watching the morning

watching the morning

At this point—maybe a little past 7:00—Leah was already out and about, on her way to running a half-marathon. Maybe she'll write something about it here... but probably not. So I was in sole charge of the kids for the morning. My own three were perfect angels at the delightfully complete breakfast buffet, although Lijah, with a waffle and chocolate chips on his plate (basically his favorite foods, and the latter not usually a breakfast choice), ate only a single packet of sugar. After breakfast I took charge of a group of 15 other kids (well, 12 others and my three), and about that the less said the better. It did not go so easily. But, as directed, I took them to the beach (not sunny any more—in fact, pretty chilly!) and, for variety, to a marsh behind the parking lot.

kids walking in a marsh

nature walk

They also acted crazy in a small ballroom for a while. In retrospect it wasn't so bad—they were all making the best of a tough situation, and we mostly had fun—but at the time it was pretty stressful. So I was glad to get outside for a picnic lunch with just a few close friends (including Mama with her fresh new medal!).

After lunch I couldn't dissuade the boys from swimming in the heated indoor pool, which was fun and all... but it didn't have waves. So after a bit I declared unilaterally that I was going out to swim in the ocean, and I got Harvey and Mama—and few other kids—to come along for the fun!

Leah and Harvey in the cold ocean

we're a hardy bunch

The water was only regular cold, but it was super windy, so we didn't last long. It was still lovely, though. Harvey and I made plans to try it another time with snow on the ground. Zion and Lijah are more sensible.

Lijah and Zion on beach chairs wrapped in towels

probably a wiser choice

Mid-afternoon it was back with the Kids Program, but less-programed: another volunteer and I just took everyone interested out to the beach. That was super fun. The wind was stronger than ever, so it was just the thing to play in a deep hole.

Harvey and Abby working in a deep hole

hole buddies

A little later I took a small group for a run down the beach. We found a breakwater and walked out along it, then turned around and walked the other way along an inlet and then under the beach-front road (we had to crawl!). On the other side we were all delighted to find a secret beach!

Harvey and friends walking on a secret beach

first footprints

It was out of the way and out of the wind, and we would have loved to stay to enjoy it fully... but sadly, our retreat time was drawing to an end and parents would soon be looking for their children. So we ran back—much easier with the wind!—so they could be delivered. It was hard to leave the beach.

pinkish afternoon light over the beach

some sun somewhere

At no point in the weekend did I or Leah get to participate in any of the many retreat activities planned for adults—well, except the spectacular meals! But that's ok, because I had a great time with some lovely people, which as far as I'm concerned is much more valuable.

Harvey, Zion, Elle, and Reed looking at a book together

comfortable together

Let's do it again next year! (with some minor changes, already being discussed among the church staff...).


October swimming

Last year September was so warm that we were able to enjoy the pond all the way to the end of the month. Not so this year, and not only did the early chill mean I was disappointed in my hopes of getting Harvey really swimming before the end of the year—it also felt like our beach days were cut off suddenly and unexpectedly. So I was glad when it got suddenly warmer for a few days in early October!

Harvey in the pond, Zion on the beach

water in October

Circumstances kept us away from a pond visit on Thursday, but this past Friday was even hotter so after lunch the boys and I packed up and headed over there to meet friends. While the air was hot and summery, the water was not—but it wasn't chilly enough to keep out the brave Archibalds! (Harvey and Lijah being the bravest when it comes to cold water, though I was the only one to put my head under.)

Lijah sitting in shallow water with a bucket

just like summer

You see Lijah in the water there, unlike our last beach outing when he confined himself to the bucket. He didn't just sit, either: he chased me all around, going chest deep without any hesitation. The difference is that it wasn't the ocean. He won't even have me call it the beach: "not the beach, Dada, this the pond". He doesn't trust the ocean.

But for the rest of us a pond beach is still a beach. And the best thing about an October beach trip—besides the lack of crowds—is that by this point in the season the boys know just what to do, and what they needed to bring. And with their backpacks they can manage it all themselves.

the boys sitting on a stone wall holding all their gear

experienced beach-goers

Or maybe it's just that they're growing up? Just think of all the great beach outings we'll be able to do next summer! Though given that we had a freeze last night, I think we're probably all done for this year.


summer's last adventure

I said I was waiting until I had time to think, but that may never happen; so on a day when the temperature started out in the mid-30s it feels like a great time to revisit our last big beach trip of the summer.

Harvey and Zion on the beach

getting away

Leah's cousins(ish) Marcy and Joel live in Sandwich on Cape Cod, and a couple weeks ago they invited us down for an overnight. We've been before, but not for a while and never for more than an afternoon. So when we had an opening in our busy schedule, we went for it! Aside from getting to spend some time with lovely people, we do like visiting the sea. Or, you know, whatever's handy.

the rest of the family getting up close to a pond in historic Sandwich

we're drawn to water

Sandwich is closer than we thought, and we got there well quicker than we expected, leaving us time to explore before our hosts expected us. It turns out that the town is the historic center of the Cape, and plenty of that history has been preserved. Like the gristmill, which was too expensive for us to visit; luckily we could see pretty much all we needed from beyond the fence.

Zion looking over the fence at the mill

do they make sandwiches there?

Just as interesting to all of us was a big tree on a little town green, which looked eminently climbable.

the boys headed for a big tree with many climbable branches

they can get somewhere on this one

By the time we got done amusing ourselves there, the time specified in our invitation had arrived, so we piled back in the car and got to our hosts' home just in time to enjoy an enormous lunch. As we digested they offered us a list of entertainment options, but we had ears for just one: the beach!

Harvey and Zion heading down the boardwalk bridge towards the dunes

it's that way

It had been raining as we packed up in the morning, and clouds still lingered in half the sky as we made our way to the water—which meant that the afternoon light was just beautiful. I took about fifty pictures right there.

Zion with his net, looking for creatures among the rocks

looking for creatures

Of course, we also enjoyed the beach in more direct ways. Leah swam, and the bigger boys an I played in the waves which, while smallish, were enough to entertain.

Harvey sitting in the water, turning away from a breaking wave

right in there

Zion lying in the sand with waves lapping around him

the Zion way

Lijah is really not feeling the sea-bathing this year—"I don't like the ocean," he'll tell you whenever the subject is even mentioned—but he enjoyed digging in the sand. And even he eventually figured out a way to get into the water.

Lijah sitting in a big blue bucket on the beach

now that's how you swim in the ocean

After about 17 hours on the beach we headed back to the house for dinner. While Joel was doing the grilling we hung out by, and in, the pool.

Zion lounging on a lounge chair


Zion eventually went in the water, but he needed to rest up a bit first. Just after I took that picture I asked him if this was the life. "It would be if there were some food here," he answered. Luckily in that house lots of good food is never far away, and mere minutes later we were treated to a delicious dinner of "something from the sea", as per Harvey's request.

lobster and grilled fish for dinner

sea food

Harvey's other request was to go mini-golfing, and after a tough night (in which Zion fell off the bed onto Harvey's head, among other disruptions) and an abundant breakfast, we we went to Pirates Cove Hyannis to reprise our delightful experience in Bar Harbor. For some reason I didn't take any pictures, but I have to note for the record that Leah won this time, convincingly.

Then we went to the beach again—well, a different beach. We shared a tremendous picnic—you sense a theme here—then took to the water. It was a hotter day and we were all pretty tired, so mostly we just lounged in the water or under the umbrellas. That and picked up rocks.

Zion on the beach picking up rocks

finding precious ones

The blue bucket came along again, so of course Lijah went in it again (if you're interested, Marcy and I probably have about 200 photos of him). As we were getting ready to go Zion got in on the act too.

Zion bathing in the blue bucket

he looks happy

It looked like so much fun we all would have loved to have a go... sadly, from Harvey on up we'd need a bigger bucket. Still, when that's the only thing that could be improved you know it's a pretty good time! Thanks Marcy and Joel for inviting us for one last wonderful weekend of summer—now to remind us of warmer days as we head into winter we've got these pictures, and our rocks. Lots and lots of rocks.

shiny stones at the waters edge, macro

beach gems


stolen moments

Leah and Lijah at the edge of the ocean, looking out to sea

peaceful escape

This time of year seems way too busy. Fun things, burdensome things, routine things—between working and starting homeschooling and never-ending chores in the house and garden there hasn't been much time for peace and reflection lately. So a quick overnight trip to the ocean was just what we needed.

Of course, we had to come back; and the stress and fighting started right up when we walked in the door. But there's fun times to look forward to this week, and maybe we can look at the photos and rocks we brought back with us to recapture a little of that wonderful vacation feeling!

I took maybe 150 pictures, and some of them aren't bad. I hope to write about our recent adventure, and lots more less recent, when I have a minute to think. Someday.


moments from the week

the boys looking at the choppy surface of Walden pond

Walden waves

Moments and images from the past week.

Zion huddling in his towel on the breezy pond beach

chilly in August

Zion smiling with a personal pizza he made

personal pizza

Harvey pushing his brothers in a shopping cart car

shopping car

Zion and Harvey eating corn on the cob by the playground

picnic with corn

lots of tomatoes of different colors and sizes in a big blue bowl

tomato season

Lijah sitting on the side of the koi pool at the nursing home

relaxing at the nursing home


camping 2016: are we getting good at this?

unsettled weather over the beach at Lincolnville

this is when we feel like we're on vacation

A week and a half ago we hopped in the car for a trip to our favorite place ever (well, besides our house). In the several hours before hopping we packed, adjudicated fights between the kids, and finished building a coop for our smaller hens so they could be unsupervised outside in between visits from the neighbors. You know, the stuff that everybody does before going on vacation!

All those tasks meant we didn't get out the early start we might have hoped for, but by hitting the road at 10:30 we were within just a half-hour of my "realistic" goal time, so that was fine. Also because we got them in the car early to stop the fighting, the kids were all settled in and already watching their shows as we loaded up the final items and checked the house, which was helpful.

the boys in the car, watching a show before we even leave our street

settled in for the long haul

Since we're old pros at the camping packing by now, we only forgot the lantern this year; much better than last year's oversight of the chairs. But despite our proficiency, I was still feeling pretty stressed as we rolled away from home—besides the chickens I was worried about my garden in the terrible scorching heat, and about how things would carry on without me at work—so I appreciated that Leah was driving so I could try and calm down.

Unfortunately, the mid-morning traffic was the least calming thing imaginable, and since I wasn't behind the wheel I was free to keep constant tabs on its sprawling extent via my phone. Unable to bear a backup on 95 that stretched for that road's entire length within the state of New Hampshire, I directed us off onto Route 1 in Salsbury. I had earlier vowed never to venture onto Rt 1 in NH again; apparently I need a reminder of why I feel that way every 15 years or so. Using ever-smaller local roads we eventually made it to Maine, after a little more than an hour of New Hampshire purgatory.

Once in Maine—and as soon as we crossed the mighty Piscataqua everybody in the car calmed down considerably, especially me—we made our first stop at Maine Roasters, as has become our tradition. Leah needed a coffee and Harvey a bathroom; Lijah was glad to whine and beg his way into a bag of trail mix that was displayed right at his eye level, of which he ate only the M&Ms. Never mind we had a gallon of our own trail mix to eat M&Ms out of—that's why he's a two-year-old. At least the other two boys are rational human beings and could be content with the homemade stuff (which of course we had to break out for them).

Before long we turned onto Rt. 1 again—this time in the right place, Brunswick—and happily left the highways behind. Now there was plenty to look at: oceans, antique stores, weather. The week before our friends had told us there were thunderstorms in the forecast for the day of our drive up, so it was gratifying to see them really deliver!

threatening clouds over the road ahead

and we're going that way

We stopped in Waldoboro for a grocery run (emergency chicken nuggets—something else we forgot—batteries, deli turkey, and beer) and got caught in a delightful downpour in the parking lot.

And then the phone redeemed itself, because for the first time ever we managed to detour successfully around the Wiscasset traffic. Very gratifying. And Camden wasn't bad at all: we diverted ourselves by playing I-Spy with letters, and didn't even make it all the way though the alphabet before we got through town (just Z was left).

After Camden, of course, comes Lincolnville beach—and gratifyingly the weather cleared up (as pictured at the head of this post) in time to let the boys do what they've been looking forward to for weeks...

Harvey and Zion wading in the ocean

they're content

Lijah, unfortunately, has developed something of an ocean phobia—never mind that the waves were maybe two inches, except when a wake washed up. But there was plenty for him to do as well, and he and I had fun exploring around the shore, playing pirates, and ringing bells.

Lijah tugging on lobster bouys hanging from a tree

he prefers more terrestrial amusements

And Leah went swimming.

Leah swimming in the ocean

that's how she relaxes

The stop was far the highlight of the day, and in fact we didn't need to make any more—not even for the bathroom! (Lijah asked "can I pee in the car?", and was reassured to be reminded that yes, he was wearing a diaper). There was a little more rain before we got to the island, but once again it stopped in plenty of time for us to be able to set up our tent in dry comfort. And all our friends had arrived long before us, so as I worked my family enjoyed a delicious dinner of chicken fajitas. Don't you worry, I got some too: had to keep my strength up for a busy day of hiking the next day!


big kid outings

the three boys hiking way ahead of me, walking into a clearing

look at them go

A couple days ago I took the boys out for a hike around the Old Reservoir. We walked over a mile, and Lijah was on foot almost the whole time. I was pretty confident he would be, so I didn't even bring anything to carry him; correctly so, because even when he was getting tired he couldn't stand to see his brothers walking for long without wanting to join them. He just needs to be a little quicker—as well as his legs, his voice gets a workout as he shouts after them to wait up. Sometimes they even do! Of course, every strenuous hike needs to include a snack break!

the boys sitting on a bench eating their hiking snack

just desserts

The only bad part of the outing was that Zion lost the water bottle he was carrying in the side of his backpack; it rattled right out as he ran along the trail, and we didn't notice at the time. We tried to retrace our steps to find it—and the boys were all very patient with the change in plans—but without any luck. Too bad... it was one of our best ones!

the Old Reservoir in Bedford

somewhere around there is a red water bottle...

Today it was too hot to do any hiking, or really anything at all, except go to a pond that we'd want to jump into. Other people had the same idea, so we were able to meet up not only with friends but with Grandma too! It was a great time, and all three boys—and their friends too—put in some quality swimming practice. Lijah was particularly impressive in how comfortable he is with the water: he just lay there chillin, with his hands on the bottom and the rest of him floating comfortably... He'll figure out how to swim before his big brothers if they don't hurry up!

Mama watching Lijah as he comes pretty close to really swimming

like a fish to water

Leah got to do some swimming too, all the way across that big pond. Based on past performance she was a little nervous about leaving Lijah for long, with nap time approaching, but he continues to surprise: he played happily with the big kids the whole time, and didn't mind a bit about her being gone. And I was delighted to sit in the tent out of the blazing sun and watch him.

the boys and friends playing by the water, seen from some distance through the opening of the tent

everybody's happy

This time the well-earned dessert at the end of the outing was ice cream from Bedford Farms, but I was too sticky to try and take a picture. It turns out ice cream is pretty melty in this hot weather! Harvey and Zion each almost finished a kiddie cone, which is really something—Zion actually ate more of his. Lijah isn't quite there yet, and he was still happy to share with me... but the way he's going I guess pretty soon he'll be ready for his own cone too!


moments from the week

Harvey, Zion, and Hendrick playing (almost) in the waves

run away from the waves! (they're cold in May!)

Some scenes and moments from the past week of summertime fun.

three boys on the couch with three books

they all get in on the act

Lijah standing in the new beach tent

that's how you enjoy the beach: in a tent, with a lollipop

Harvey and Lijah playing in the sprinkler on the lawn

smaller water

a relaxed group of kids playing board games and drawing in our playroom

just hangin out

Leah holding a naked Lijah as he eats a grilled lamb chop

primal baby

Naked Lijah standing on top of a table on the lawn, holding a stick, watching the chickens

I don't know... I guess it's safer up there?

Harvey looking serious holding a hot dog on a stick over a fire

hot dogs are serious business


the water in april

Zion looking at water going over a dam spillway

water water everywhere

It got warm for a couple days, so our thoughts turned towards splashing in the April water. Well, relatively warm... but as you can see from the last post, we made it all the way to the pond. Of course, we had to start small first.

Harvey and Zion, in swimsuits, looking down at the kiddie pool

looking dubious

The air was plenty warm in that picture, but the water from the hose not so much. There was not much playing done in that little pool before we headed out on our afternoon adventure to a playground—but the playground was so hot and dry that I needed to find somewhere wetter, just to look at.

Lijah looking out over the pond and falls

spring vista

Of course, the big boys need to explore more closely!

Zion atop a high wall by the waterfall

a different perspective

They threw sticks and rocks, then found some cardboard to make into boats to float downstream. Then getting the boats unstuck from the rocky rapids was a project that took the rest of our time there. Nobody fell in!

The next day wasn't quite as hot, so when I suggested a trip to the pond I wasn't thinking about actually swimming. But everybody else was!

Harvey in his swimsuit and life jacket standing in the pond

hardy New-Englander

At least we communicated about it before hand, and were fully prepared. Lots of other families visiting historic Walden Pond on a mild spring Saturday were thinking about visiting the Thoreau house site, maybe taking a hike around the pond, and not expecting that, on seeing water, their children would need to immediately jump in. They should have known better.

somebody we don't know splashing neck-deep in the pond

that happened

The girl in that picture went from dipping her feet in to fully submerged—fully clothed, of course—in under a minute. Most kids took a little longer, but they all got wet. As cold as the water was, though, nobody could just swim: we needed other entertainments as well.

Zion working on our sand castle

sand walled village

Of course, even in early spring, it's the water that's the real draw. Yay water!

Zion airborn, leaping from a rock into very shallow water

jump in!