[Note: continuing with the catch-up posts - this one is from August 2014 -- ed.]
The summer is best spent at the beach, and there is no better beach in California to enjoy warm temperatures and a refreshing ocean than Del Mar.
Nieve loved finding kelp, and then chasing people around with it
Sure, I'm biased as Del Mar is the beach I grew up on. But it really is an ideal spot for a family; in August the water is cool but not cold, the waves are small but still present, and the sandy beach, especially at low tide, is wide and soft, accommodating all kinds of games.
Nieve about to start excavation on the quarry for her very own drip castle
I love watching the kids use the beach to their own ends, and what each chooses is very different from one another. Nieve loves to find and use materials; she collects shells, pulls kelp, and stacks rocks. She can spend an hour or more simply building drip castles, watching how the sand collects to form Gaudí-like spires.
Heading out to sea
She also enjoys the water, but she is still a bit timid in the waves and typically requires one of us to accompany her. Her favorite game is to stare down an incoming wave and have me lift her over it in the nick of time time. Once safely over it she yells, "not today Mr. wave, not today!"
Wave riding is a blast
Ronan is less intimidated by the turbulent water. He's happiest when charging into the water with a boogie board, trying to catch and ride the waves in. Thankfully he's a fairly strong swimmer and is wise enough not to push his limits too far.
What time is it? Yep, it's dig-a-hole time.
Ronan goofing in front of the camera
He is also equally happy to be digging in the sand, be it a large hole or creating a sand fortress. He seems to delight in getting sand to cover his entire body (hair and ears included); many times he buries himself in the holes that he digs.
"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die." Life as a boss on the beach.
Nieve reheating and recharging
But both kids very much enjoy 'lizarding' - lying on a spot of undisturbed sand that has been heated by the sun - after they have sufficiently cooled their core body temperatures while playing in the waves.
A relaxed, stress-free moment for Mom? Inconceivable!
For Mom and I the beach is a place where we don't have to incessantly nag the kids. I cannot overstate how valuable this is for parental sanity. Only very rudimentary safety and courtesy rules need to be reinforced, and at this age Ronan and Nieve can go the whole day at the beach without requiring behavioral (or judgement) corrections.
At the beach even Ronan takes breaks to simply sit and enjoy the scenery
"See Dad? Nothing! There is nothing you have to worry about."
At the beach the kids can be silly, loud, messy, and crazy without creating problems. Pretty much all we do is force them to drink (fresh) water occasionally and reapply sunscreen every couple of hours. The beach for kids is a garden of saltwater, sand, sun and pure joy.
A prelude to a tattoo? If so, I hope he refines the design.
Predictably, Nieve ended up with Mom's hat. To be fair, Nieve wears it well.
So if you have kids, I strongly recommend you take them to the beach. Frequently. Your kids will love it, and while you might get irritated by the sand you'll find in the car, your kid's hair, and on just about anything else you come in contact with in the following forty eight hours, it will be worth it.
[note: a *huge* apology and THANK YOU to Nana, as it was her house, towels, containers, toys, and everything else that ended up covered in sand from our beach adventures.]