Every summer, Scott takes a week of vacation - usually in July - and every summer, people ask us where we're going. To us, the answer is obvious - we're not going anywhere!
We moved to South County (from the Boston area) 11 years ago because we love so many things about it, but one of the main draws for us was the beach. And what better place to be in July than the beach?
I grew up on the coast in Connecticut, but never really went to the beach there, except to walk along it and breathe in the salt air. But then I spent my first summer on Block Island (21 years ago - yikes, I'm old!!!), and I discovered what a real beach was, and I was hooked!
And lucky for me, Scott (the 'summer fling' from that first BI year, which obviously turned out to be a bit more than just a summer fling) is a beach bum, too. He grew up spending his summers at Bonnet and Narragansett Town beach, and once summer weather hits, priority number one is getting to the beach - everything else can wait until after Labor Day.
So ever since we moved down here, we've been all about the Staycation. We anxiously scope out the forecast for his vacation week. We stock up on deli meats, chips, iced tea, and other beach snacks. And now that we've got three kids in tow, we stock up on spray sunblock and juice boxes, and I bake a big batch of chocolate chip cookies for our afternoon treat - because you have to have afternoon treat when you're at the beach.
We hit the sand as early as possible every day, and stay as late as possible (or until one of the children has a meltdown of epic proportions - and it has to be really, really epic to get us to leave any earlier than 3pm).
This has been our routine for all of our summer weekend days since we moved here, and for all of Scott's summer vacation weeks, as well.
And our plan has worked - all three of the boys have been coming along for the ride since they were babies, and all three are bona fide beach bums. They can't get enough of the water, the sand, the mud, and their boogie boards (Carmine is even trying to boogie board now!).
It's a ton of work, and there are plenty of hassles, but the payoff is so, so worth it. We can have the most stressful morning getting everyone out the door, but once we step onto that sand, it all melts away.
There are times during the summer - when we've been to the beach for three days in a row, and kids are getting worn out and crabby, and I'm getting tired of packing sandwiches and rinsing off sandy children and sweeping sand off the floor for the millionth time - that I take it all for granted, and I forget how amazingly fortunate we are to live where we do.
But then there are moments like the other morning, when we were on the sand, with all our stuff set up by 9am, and the boys were chasing each other around in the surf, laughing and screaming, and all I could think about was how lucky we are that we can pack up any day of the week and do what some people only have the chance to do a few times a year.
I try to remind myself of that as I'm loading and unloading the beach cart every day, and as I navigate my way through the crowds of tourists at Stop & Shop, and as I sit in traffic heading to Narragansett on a busy weekend morning.
Because if I didn't live here, I'd be one of those tourists. Yes, it may be slightly annoying to have your town taken over by out-of-town visitors for several weeks every year, but I'm more than willing to put up with it and share the space, because they only get to enjoy it for a short while, but we get to spend so much time here that we need to remind ourselves not to take it for granted - not to forget that we're surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the Northeast, not to mention some fabulous restaurants (all of which we visited last week) and a calendar chock full of fun summer festivals, concerts, and kids' activities.
We loved living in the Boston suburbs, and it was tough to leave, and at the time, we felt like we were making the move down here mostly because we were ready to start a family and wanted our kids to grow up living closer to both of our extended families.
But now I can say with complete certainty that whether we had kids or not, this is where I'd want to be. Having them to share it with just makes it that much more special.
For more from Michelle, check out Me and the Boys, her blog.