Happy Noises Return

Week 3 has brought energy and liveliness to the house again. We loved (or at least, I did), the quiet of the 3 and 4 of us that was week 2. We had down time for puzzles, Rummikub, paddleball on the beach, bike rides and movies on the couch. I would have loved another weekend of just the four of us but Casey had a lacrosse tournament in Maryland so she and I left Saturday morning and returned Sunday night. However, I believe there was a purpose to that, as well. I got a lot of one-on-one time with my girl and Henny and Ryan had a true boys weekend filled with batting cages, trips to the arcade alone and with friends, beach time, a guys dinner out and a Jitney ride to meet friends, again. The time spent with just one child is really something rare and genuinely something wonderful. 

So upon our return, we were filled with a house of very wanted guests who had planned to stay until today but are extending a day to help me out while I shoot tonight. And we all couldn’t be happier. One of my dearest friends in the world and her three boys are here. She and I get through parenting together and have the pleasure of working together a fair amount now. She a wonderful photographer based out of Virginia and I’ve been blessed to work alongside her at events around the country doing headshot studios at corporate conferences. We have a great time. But we love nothing more than having our children together at the beach, drinking coffee on the porch while we chat the morning away and sucking up every little experience we are happy to add to our (and their) memory banks.

So the house is again filled with games of spit and blackjack, yelling strange and ridiculous commands at Alexa, big kid walks to Nickelbys for donuts and candy, Ryan becoming weight training for the 14 year old giant, Jake, and laughter about everything. As I always say, it’s not all roses. There are tired kids and sassiness and those who don’t want to do what everyone else wants to but I’d still take it over just about anything else in the world.  

I will most certainly look forward to another week of down time as a family in week 4 but I will not wish this time away for anything.

Gnarly Barrel

“Dude. I got rolled by a gnarly barrel.” These are the words that came out of Ryan’s mouth after one week of surf camp.  And Casey cried her eyes out the afternoon of the last day. Needless to say, they both loved it.  And I loved watching them in it. I stayed the first day because Ryan gets nervous for every new thing and needs a little bit of security. And in truth, I wanted to stay. I brought my camera and a beach chair. I’m also fairly certain there was a bit of divine intervention from above because I inadvertently forgot my phone. I had nothing to do but sit, observe, photograph and enjoy. It was a beautiful two hours. 

I was aware that this was a camp for them and I tried not to be a hovering Mom so I sat back as much as possible. But it was really cool to watch both of them take on something they’ve never done before and even if they had to pretend at first, do so fearlessly. And it is hard. Just getting out past the crashing waves with a surfboard in hand, is exhausting. They certainly had help from a great group of instructors but add the popping up and trying to ride the waves for roughly two hours, and they were wrecked every afternoon. I watched them eat it many times, as well. But get back on, even when other kids bailed.

I avoided it for the next 3 days, letting them do this on their own and loving being able to get back to a couple of yoga classes and visit the grocery store alone.  But Henny came back Thursday night and we went together on Friday to watch them again. They were both catching waves, riding them in and forming friendships along the way. It was so great to see. 

Now, of course, the little guy is asking for a surfboard.  I knew that was coming. And I think we’ll hold off for now. Perhaps a rental is in our future. 

Thank you Avalon Surf Camp for providing a great time and great instructors for the week. I felt safe leaving the kids in their hands and my kids miss them already. I took lots of pictures but the memories in my mind may have been enough.



4 Things

Sea Isle City holds a special place in my heart for many reasons. And one of the first places that comes to mind for me is Nickelby’s Bakery and Deli. I got my first summer job there when I was 14 years old. Working the register because I was too young to use the deli slicer. I spent 3 summers there before moving on to other places. 

Being down here, I’ve been understandably reflective on those years. I believe Nickelby’s is where I honed a work ethic that had already been planted by my parents. I was then, and still am now, a morning person. I arrived at Nickelby’s most mornings at 5:30 a.m. to start unloading the newspaper delivery to be ready for those diehards who would arrive by 6 a.m. for their papers. On the weekends, my father was one of them. I knew what every newspaper cost on both the weekdays and weekends. I also knew the cigarette order of all of the regulars, no matter how obscure. And I made pleasantries with all of the customers from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I loved it. And I was on the beach by 3 most afternoons.

Last night, I wanted to take the dog for a walk. Henny and Casey were hard at work on our puzzle so I bribed Ryan to come with me with a trip to Nickelby’s for candy. I love making that walk. Every year. But it’s even better this year as it’s part of the regular routine. Everytime we have walked there or the ice cream place next door at night, we’ve passed an older couple who sit on their front porch, watching the people go by. I’ve waved every night. But last night, we stopped to say hello. Jim and Mary have a St. Joseph’s University sign out front. My grandfather went there so we chatted about that, as well as summers in Sea Isle City. Bunker even got to say hello.

We got to Nickelbys and I asked Ryan to go inside and pick out a candy for him and something for Casey and then to come back out to hold onto Bunker while I went in to buy them. When he came out, he said “4 things.” I asked him what 4 things was I grabbing. And he kept saying the “4 things” inside. I thought maybe because it was late, they were low on the candy selection and there were only 4 things left. So I went in and found lots and lots of candy. I said to the woman behind the counter “my son came in and said he wanted 4 things. I have no idea which 4 things I’m supposed to be picking out.” She said “they’re all right here. He put them on the counter for me and said Mom would be back in to pay.” That kid.

I loved that he feels as comfortable at Nickelby’s as I do. He knew what he wanted and what he was supposed to do to get it. He’s a newly minted 8 year old, by the way. I didn’t care which 4 things he’d picked out. I was absolutely buying them.  

Both of my kids are making their own memories of this place. And it’s exactly why we’re here.

The Lull

So we hit it. The place where things started to go slightly off rails. We’ve had four days by ourselves and they’ve been filled with daily surf camp, trips to the beach, bikes rides and a bouncy house waterpark trip. All awesome stuff. But they’re beat and bored with one another. It’s a lull and I get it. I’m somewhat annoyed as it’s a beautiful beach day and they don’t want to go. But again, I get it. It was bound to happen. 

So I’m sitting here working on the puzzle and waiting for this to pass. Henny comes back tonight and they’re looking forward to seeing him. We all are. And let’s face it. He makes beach days easier as they have less crap to help me carry down. We get a tent instead of an umbrella that threatened to impale someone when it took off with the wind this week. And Daddy makes four. Evens everything out and all is right in their world. Makes perfect sense.  

It’s been a lovely week that I have enjoyed being with them through. They have really enjoyed camp and I have loved being able to get in a yoga class a few times. I have great pictures from all of the fun. But I’m not posting right now. Who wants to document boredom? But like I said in an earlier post, boredom here beats boredom at home any day of the week. And I'm a firm believer in learning to make your own fun. So for now, I'll let them stew in it and then, perhaps, I'll offer a solution. Perhaps, I will not. I like to live on the edge. 

Relaxation and Resetting

Week one has come to an end and it was wonderful. We started it out, just the four of us. And then we had some visitors. Some expected. Some unexpected. But all were welcome and great to have.  

But now it’s Monday, and for this week, it’ll just be us again and I’m really looking forward to that. The kids had a tremendous first day at surf camp (a separate blog for later in the week) and as soon as we got home, we decided it was time for some relaxation and resetting. The kids curled up on the couches with their iPads and blankets. The dog rolled up on the floor nearby and I proceeded to clean house. A day to sweep away all of the first week’s sandy feet, vacuum the hallway and bedrooms, burn through heaps of laundry and wipe away the toothpaste from various children’s inability to rinse the sink.


It’s beautifully slow moving in here. Music is playing in the background. There’s a puzzle going on the kitchen table and I’m enjoying the perfect size of this place that the owners refer to as their “cottage.” Save for the bedrooms and bathrooms, we are all in one room. We don’t always have to be talking or doing the same thing. But we are all together. And I’m loving every minute of it.


Surf camp will be my next installment. I may be loving it as much as they are.