Taking Stock

Vacation is over. I’m getting the kids settled into their new school routines, and I now have small pockets of time all to myself, to begin tackling the chaos that is our home. To be honest, it feels almost like a fresh start. I’ve been running on a treadmill with small kids for five years now, and I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. A chance to breathe, to complete a thought or two, and to reevaluate the way we do things ’round here.

And that’s got me thinking about the beach.

We spent a week in Rehoboth earlier this summer. We rented a house with some friends just a few blocks from the beach, the shops, the restaurants, and, of course, Funland. (Ah, Funland. My boy is still talking about Funland on a daily basis. It may have been the highlight of his little life. But I digress. Back to our beach week.)

To be honest, I don’t get as excited about the ocean as most people do. I don’t consider myself a beach bum. I’m just happy to have a vacation, to be outside, and to break away from my regular routine just to shake things up on the inside, you know? I think that’s my favorite thing about vacations - the little epiphanies you have as you live a different lifestyle for a bit.

Living an almost-car-free existence for a week – that always makes me feel more alive. In my regular life, we don’t have a sidewalk and I drive a giant minivan almost everywhere. (Yes. I’m so cool.) In my beach life, I walked everywhere, and the kids could scooter alongside. Ever notice the difference between the face of a child strapped into a minivan and one zooming along on a scooter? Moving on your own power is just soooo much more fun.

The best feature of our group rental house: A large picnic table in the screened-in front porch that became the communal art table for the five-and-under crowd. Aside from beach time, this table was almost never empty. The creativity just poured out of the kids at all hours of the day.

And behind the table, a wall dedicated entirely to the creations of small children. I kept thinking, this has got to be one of the best kid spaces I’ve ever seen. Fresh air, constant companionship, and art supplies constantly at the ready. Hooray for my super-organized friends who thought to bring along the art supplies!

And of course, there’s the beach.

The joy of experiencing the ocean, the sand, the sunshine … this provided hours and hours of entertainment. Filling the buckets with water, pouring it over the sand, running for more water, pouring it over the sand again, digging, building, shaping, and running for more water … just like what my kids love to do in my backyard, but with sand instead of mud. And a backyard shower to keep it out of the house.

This is how my kids thrive.

I know this isn’t exactly locavore-related. For me, trying to eat locally is just part of a larger way of looking at things. In this hectic and materialistic world, I want more of this. Simple. Outdoors. Connected.

So as I begin to have these tiny pockets of time when my son is at preschool, or napping, and my daughter is off at kindergarten, once I’ve become reacquainted with the sounds of solitude (and gone out for a few celebratory lattes with girlfriends), I’d like to reshape our lives a bit more in this direction. Does this make sense? Do you get this post-vacation inspiration too? (And do you see my tenuous locavore connection or is it all in my head?)

These are the memories I want to keep. This is the part of vacation I’d like to bring home with me.

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