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Lessons at the Beach

Girls at BeachGrowing up in the Midwest, I dreamed about summers on the beach. Sure, we had the Great Lakes, but in my mind that wasn’t quite the same. Not to mention my childhood home(s) were nowhere near any lake. I was landlocked in suburbia with the closest body of water located in the neighbor’s pool where I spent many days floating, planning my future life which would most likely be lived out in some quaint coastal New England town.

And while many of my childhood dreams did not come to fruition, living in the quaint coastal New England town certainly did. Some dreams become requirements and living near the ocean was a pull that I could not resist. It’s like I had a homing device that lead me to a place that I always knew would be home.

After living here far many more years than I’ve lived anywhere else, I identify myself as a New Englander. No other validation is needed because one could argue that my heart was here long before my feet were.

Now I have four kids who have been birthed in New England. And what I so desperately wanted growing up is quite literally in their own backyard. Whether they are on a school bus or just taking a ride with me to pick up a gallon of milk, the ocean is part of their daily life.

It’s either to the right of us or to the left at any given moment. Still breathtaking to me, but ordinary to them. A blasé attitude that I battle with every day, trying to teach them that not everyone has this kind of natural beauty surrounding them. That they need to stop and take this view in once in awhile, appreciating the gift that it is.

I’m not very successful with this lesson, mind you. I guess it’s hard to appreciate what you have when you are born into it. Maybe if I took them for a two week vacation back to the middle of the mitten Michigan (not near water), they would better comprehend the lesson I’m trying to teach.

Cape Cod BeachThis summer was a really good example of this lack of appreciation. I’ve asked the girls numerous times if they would like to go to the beach for the day. This is usually met with a shrug of the shoulders and a glazed over look of indifference. But yesterday I made the executive decision, packed the requisite snacks/towels/sunscreen and ordered them into the car. We were going to the beach.

With Leela off of the crutches and out of the brace, there was no reason not to go out and enjoy probably the last beautiful beach day of summer. And truth be told, I did this more for myself than I did for them. They might not appreciate the gift of living in this special place, but I still do. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t reflect on how blessed I am to live here.

Cape Cod BeachWhen we first got to the beach, the girls were a little cranky. And I’m not entirely sure why because there was no reason for their sullen mood. Quite possibly it’s the anxiety of going back to school. Or maybe it’s because I forced them away from their Minecraft session. I’m not really sure, but for the first hour they weren’t there because they wanted to be which made me wonder if this was even worth it. It’s no fun being somewhere when the majority of your party doesn’t want to be there.

But after awhile the sun and sea started to warm up their spirits. The sisters went off on a search for sea glass and met a new friend along the way. Five hours later we were the last two families on the beach. The sun was going down, a chill setting into the air, but the kids were still dancing in the waves with their new friend.

And when I announced that we absolutely had to go. No more warnings. Get into the car or you are sleeping here. They actually asked if that was an option as there is a campground onsite.

No, I said. We can come back tomorrow. Actually, we can come back any day we like. All you have to do is ask because this is ours.

On the way back home the girls were limp like noodles. Completely drained of all energy but infused with the glow of summer.

With her head leaning against the window, hair full of sand and salt, Shannon said to me “Our new friend was on vacation. She said that she never gets to see the ocean. That’s sad. I thought everyone had it.”

That lesson I’ve been hammering into their heads all of this time was finally driven home by a chance encounter with a tourist.

Parenting is interesting. As a mother I strive to teach my kids all the things that I should. To be appreciative. To be courteous. And especially to be kind. But sometimes the very best lessons in life are taught by others. And I think that those lessons are the ones most readily received.

My Weekend

Cape CodThe past weekend was rather busy. School’s starting this week and we’ve been taking care of last minute purchases that should’ve been bought weeks ago. We excelled at procrastination this summer.

All of this preparation for back to school has taken a lot of the wind from my sails. So I took a few hours off on Saturday and took a walk on the water just to center myself. This year more than any other, I’m the one who’s not looking forward to the school year starting. And this is something entirely foreign to me because I can’t remember a year that didn’t have me anticipating the arrival of that yellow bus.

This year, not so much. I’m just not ready for the homework, school projects, packing lunches and the inevitable drama that comes with having tweenagers. Not to mention, having the kids around this summer was nice for a change of pace. So much less bickering between the kids. I daresay that I’m going to miss them.

emile henryAfter my walk I took a ride over to the local thrift store. As I’ve shared before, thrift stores are wonderful for finding interesting props for food photography on the cheap. I don’t often visit them in the summertime because my area is a real tourist attraction in the summer months. You know, the ocean and all. Cape Cod brims over with people in the summertime.

So I wasn’t expecting to find much of anything. And as I scanned the shelves filled with glassware, I could tell that it was really picked over already. But you have to look closely when shopping at thrift stores because the best stuff has a way of hiding in the corners.

My first good find was a stack of three Emile Henry  ramekins. Ok, so it isn’t the normal vintage goodness that I usually hunt for, but they were marked $1.99 while they retail $36 for a set of four. Some simple math will show you that .66 per ramekin is a very good deal compared to $9 per ramekin. Score!

vintage pyrexMy other find was something that I debated with for awhile. I saw this vintage Pyrex bowl you see above when I first walked into the store and it didn’t grab me right away. It’s sort of plain and not very much to look at. Also, it’s a Pyrex mixing bowl that was originally part of a Hamilton Beach stand mixer. Not very notable.

But as I walked around the glassware, I kept coming back to this bowl. I guess I just can’t walk away from vintage Pyrex. It’s like buying a little piece of history. $1.99 worth of history that is now living in my kitchen cabinet. I am weak.

Pain D' Avignon HyannisOn Sunday Michael and I finished up his school shopping. Boys are so much easier than girls when it comes to clothing. Or at least my boys are easier than my girls. While the girls required four different stores and countless trips in and out of fitting rooms to settle on a few well accessorized outfits, I was in and out of the store in a half of an hour with Michael. God love him.

And to celebrate the end of the back to school cash hemorrhage, Michael and I had an amazing lunch in Hyannis at Pain D’ Avignon. If you ever find yourself visiting Cape Cod, I highly recommend this wonderful French cafe. They are famous for their fresh baked breads and pastries, but don’t come here just to buy a loaf of bread. Oh no, sit down and have a meal because their menu is exquisite.

I had Croque Madame which consisted of crusty country bread topped with melty cheese, black forest ham, two baked eggs and arugula. A hearty meal and priced at $8.50 which I thought was a completely fair price. So wonderful.

Michael had a monkfish sandwich which was also to die for. Tender chunks of fried monkfish stuffed into a fresh bakery roll with some kind of spicy mayo brushed on the grilled bread. Yummy.

And if you make your way down and don’t try the fries, you haven’t really been there at all. Worth the trip for the fries alone.

Pain D' Avignon HyannisOn the way out the door, Michael asked if we were planning on visiting the dessert case. Well of course, I said. One doesn’t come to a French cafe and NOT visit the dessert case.

And while I abstained from dessert, Michael did not. He picked out a blueberry lemon tart which he took to go. Not that it went far. He ate it in the parking lot.

Not a very eventful weekend, but a good one nonetheless. Now starts the 48 hours of prep required for the first week of school. Belongings to be labeled. Food for lunches to be purchased. Forms to be filled out. Damn forms. And the hours it will take to help the girls figure out which outfit they want to wear on the first day of school.

Can we go back to June?

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