Long before my grandfather passed, literally weeks prior, my sister and I made plans to go to the beach with the kids for a day while she was on vacation for a week. Our pre-scheduled day turned out to be the day before the funeral.
I don't know about you, but I think the only day better than any random nice day to go to the beach is the day before one of the worst days of your life. So we went through with our plans, got up super-early, left before first light, and spent the day chasing seagulls in the sand.
We also played in the surf for a really long time and learned that it is really hard to set up a beach umbrella plus a sun tent when there are no big dudes or engineers around, as there often are when we go to the beach (as my husband is a big dude, and he and my other sister are both engineers).
Thank goodness for my cousin Greg and his lovely girlfriend Taylor, who actually is an engineer-in-training, and who met us at the beach later in the morning. Taylor made quick work of the tent, and because we had additional "adult" supervision (more like "addled" supervision, as my high school French teacher might have said), I was able to sit in my chair and play the part of my mother, chain-smoking and reading my trashy romance novel while the kids ate fistfuls of sand and built "sand castles" by basically dumping water on themselves. (I don't know either; my husband is the engineer, remember?)
What -- you don't take a big bathtub-sized plastic bucket with you to the beach, too, so the kids can sit there and look at it? My kid wouldn't use it for anything because she didn't want to "get it dirty." (It's from the dollar store or some such -- it has already suffered worse indignities, no doubt.)
But, as we always do, we had a great time, and now I am really, really stoked for vacation, in just 16 more days. (WHOO!) Maybe exponentially so more, now that I know there is a White Castle nearby. (Half an hour or so, BUT STILL. White Castle. COME ON. Large quantities of tiny cheeseburgers RULE.)
(Also: more pics tomorrow, including some of my niece, who remains the most adorable niece in the whole wide world and just gets cuter all the time.)