The second part of our summer vacation was spent at the beach in Ocean City, NJ, with my family. My family has spent our summers at "The Shore" for as long as I can remember. The town itself, dubbed "America's Greatest Family Resort," is as cute as they come, but we really go for the people...our extended family and the friends we have made over the years. My father's brother's family lives in Pennsylvania. When we were young, we didn't have the opportunity to see them very often, so every summer we met at in OC. For many years, we all rented a big house and stayed together. My fondest memories stem from those times. Now, we are carrying on the tradition with the third generation.
The beach is not entirely unfamiliar to Kaden, but being able to play in the warm water was a treat. It took him a few tries to get used to the waves splashing up on his belly, but once he figured out that we weren't going to allow him to be swept out to sea he loved it. I spent most of the time fretting that our little albino was going to get a sunburn. Thankfully, he has grown quite patient when we slather him in sunscreen.
Something entirely new to Kaden was the amusement park. The first time we took him he wasn't sure what to think - all the noise, lights, people, and action were more than he was ready for. As with everything that is unfamiliar to him, he spends some time taking it all in and then makes a decision as to whether or not he is comfortable with the situation. One of the many things I love about him is that he doesn't make instant judgments on a situation. After taking it all in, he decided that he very much liked amusement park rides. He went on the Flying Dumbo ride with Dad and insisted on handling the controls himself; he rode the carousel so many times that I was surprised he didn't fall down from dizziness; and the arcade kept him quite amused (anything with buttons, levers, or steering wheels peeks his curiosity).
Teddy (Kaden's second cousin and new favorite playmate) and Kaden were thrilled to meet the patriarch of the family, Uncle Rich Oski. Uncle Rich wasn't sure what to think of the rambunctious rugrats.
Miriam and Lila drove in from New York and stayed with us for a few days. I always love spending time with Miriam, but even more so now that I get to squeeze her precious little girl. Lila is all smiles and she was smitten with Kaden (of course!). The wedding planning has already begun.
Kaden found his way into the cooler as Pop was trying to get it packed for the beach...he is great at preventing you from accomplishing certain tasks!
While we were in Ocean City, the Northeast was experiencing a sweltering heat wave. Getting the kids down to the beach between naps and meals was a chore in and of itself, so we brought the beach (or at least the water) to the kids. Teddy and Kaden spent quite a bit of time in the kiddie pool we set up in the shade of the garage. It was the perfect way for them to cool off!
Kaden loved spending time with Gammi, Pop, and Uncle Paul.
Every year, my family would take two special photos. We always made sure to get a family photo on the boardwalk - looking through them today fills me with equal amounts of nostalgia and embarrassment (my hair, my clothes, my poses!?). The second photo we always found time for was taken in a photo booth at the arcade - Dad would get a strip of four photos with each of the kids. I remember thinking how corny it was when I was a teenager, now I treasure each and every one. I'm sure I will end up making some of our own family traditions, but for now I will just recreate the ones I grew up with.
Kevin couldn't stay the entire time, so he flew back to San Diego - work sure does get in the way of fun sometimes. We were able to Skype with him one night, which was fun for all of us.
The flight back was less than enjoyable. Kaden was able to get his own seat from Philly to Nashville, so he did great. Once we got to Nashville things went downhill quickly. First, our flight was delayed for two hours. Trying to find something to entertain an eleven month old in an airport for three hours is tricky business. Prior to having children, I remember passing these kid play areas in public places and proclaiming that I would never allow MY child to touch what is certainly a cesspool of germs. Turns out, I made quite a few proclamations about parenthood that I have since retracted. My child did indeed play in the cesspool of germs and enjoyed every second of it. As it turns out, that is the way you keep a child occupied and entertained during long layovers.
As a child, my summers were special times. Now that I am a parent and have the knowledge that the calendar turns entirely too quickly, I realize that these summers with my baby boy are priceless, that the memories we make I will always cherish, and that these are truly treasured times.