Monday, May 26, 2014

Ocean Shores: High Tides And Low Tides

At the last minute last week, I booked us a hotel in my favorite place on earth, Ocean Shores, Washington. I actually had already booked the hotel right before I asked my husband, with all my fingers crossed, if we could go. Luckily, he said yes! Sometimes, you just have to take the initiative and have a little faith.

Washington's coast is one of my favorite places on earth. I love it when it's grey and drizzly and the sky and the water are the exact same color. On those days, I bundle up and beach comb, letting the cold, wet sand press between my barefeet. I watch the seagulls dive and soar, their usually ugly coats a brilliant dazzling white when set before the grey backdrop. I love to stare off into the expansive, never ending ocean and watch the horizon disappear. All my problems suddenly seems so small. Then, I'll come inside, enjoy a hot drink and cozy room, and just listen to the waves massage the shore.

My idea of heaven:

On sunny days, it's an entirely different place. The beach is imbibed with energy and life. I'll follow the receding waves and then let them chase me back to the dry shore as they crash playfully on the beach. There is kite flying, sand castle building, children laughing. I let the water lap my ankles and enjoy its refreshing, salty touch. I'll write names and messages in the beach, watching the damp sand crunch in the wake of my driftwood's pointy edge. And when I've given my energy for the day, I'll find a perfect sandy spot and let the heat radiate beneath me and as doze under the bulb of the sun.

The beach community is laid back and casual. There are little souvenir shops on every corner selling trinkets, kites, and saltwater taffy. You can go absolutely ANYWHERE in yoga pants and a hoody and fit right in. The locals are mostly retired, loaded with stories of their own grandchildren, and completely down to earth. The two main streets in town will take you anywhere you need to go. The side streets off these two main drags are named for the local shipwrecks dating back to the 1700's. The biggest news of the town is the latest stuff to wash up on the shore from the tsunami that hit Japan a couple years back.

I have so many memories of enjoying this place as a child. But the beach is even better when you're a parent. You get to watch your children discover all these wonders for themselves.

Jacob turned out to be my beachcomber and went swimming on the day of our arrival despite 45 degree water and 65 degree air. By the time we left the beach, he was wet head to toe!

Ryan, was NOT so fond of the ocean and it's rugged waves. When a wave ran up to him and soaked his beach shoes, he cried hysterically. After that, he was careful to hide behind his dad when the waves got too close.

Ryan screamed traumatically, "the water gonna get me!"

But once I pulled out his shovel and bucket, he was happy to dig away and spent an entire hour flinging dirt into the air.

Luckily we enjoyed the beach on our first day because it pretty much rained non-stop after that (as a true Washingtonian, I didn't mind one bit).

18 weeks pregnant at the ocean and feeling lots of jabs. Apparently, baby likes Ocean Shores as much as I do!

On day two, we were sure to see all the popular attractions. Like Sharky's souvenir ship.

Jacob had found $5 on the ground earlier in the day (lucky dog!) and we let him buy these shark grabbers. I loved these as a kid!

Ryan stuck his hand in his shark's mouth and said, "Sharky bite me!" I think it's time he saw Jaws.

As idyllic and wonderful as this place is, it unfortunately did not bring quite the vacation I had planned. That's the frustrating thing about vacationing with children. You have all the ingredients for a perfect time and yet,  you cannot escape the everyday drama and trauma that comes with having children. Against a backdrop of bliss, you still get stuck in tufts and tussles and arguments and you still find yourself relying heavily on bribery. It's emotionally exhausting to try to have so much fun amidst all the turmoil! After this vacation, I have decided that unless you are vacationing in a place with tropical weather or are traveling without children, you are simply not on vacation at all. You are on a trip. Same stuff. Different place. That is all.

Although our hotel was ideally located but the room was tiny and cramped, allowing us plenty of opportunities to get on each other's nerves. We had to tell Jacob everything five times before he will listen. Oh and Ryan is two. So that explains THAT. My husband and I took turns having short fuses. And while our pictures tell a different story (a mostly happy story), there were times when it was not pretty.

Like when we went out for pizza and our food took an hour. The kids were unusually pleasant for the first 20 minutes but after that it was like they had eaten a million rubber balls and bounced off at the slightest provocation (or no provocation). We spent forty minutes giving out the following commands, "don't run," "don't lick your chair," "don't poke strangers," "come sit down," "here have some gum," "did you eat the gum?" "no, no more gum," "I said NO MORE GUM," "stop yelling." It was pretty exhausting.

These commands were not limited to the restaurant. I feel like we were yelling, and scolding, and pleading, and begging with them ALL WEEKEND. There were times I wanted to lock them in the bathroom and let them sort out their own disagreements. Whoever emerged would be the victor.

Sunday, Ryan had been begging all morning to wear his swim trunks. He had a fit when we made him wear shorts (I wanted the swimsuit to be dry for when we went to the pool later). Then when we actually went to the pool, he threw a fit and refused to wear his swimsuit. I totally lost it and smacked him in the stomach with the swimsuit. Then he cried louder and I felt like a complete jerk. Definitely a low moment that I won't easily forget.

There was also the time Jacob insisted on staying in the car as we stepped out for a moment to take pictures off a scenic trail. The car never left our sight but when we returned to it, Jacob was gone! We found him a couple moments later much anger!

By far the lowest part of the trip was this morning when, after breakfast, Ryan began crying that his butt hurt. I figured he pooped his diaper and had a diaper rash. I set him down, fully prepared to deal with a rash. I was so not ready for what was about to happen. I pulled off his diaper and there was a hard, round poop stuck in his butt. Forgive the TMI. This is a necessary part of this story. Let's just say that I used my bare hands to "birth" that poop. And it did not come easily. Ryan was screaming in pain and we both walked away from that totally traumatized. Ugh. The image is forever burned into my memory.

Before we headed home, we stopped by Ocean Shores Interpretive Center where the kids got to feel and hold and touch all kinds of animal pelts and bones and pose behind a captain's wheel.

There were also moldings of Sasquatch's footprints. Jacob had asked me a week ago if Big Foot was real and I insisted he was not. Now, I'M the fool!

Mom, you promised me a hamger ("hamburger")!
The were gifted with seashells and shipwreck maps on our way out the door. Then we said goodbye to the beach (I wanted to stay and play but was out voted by Grouchy the Dad). Right before we left, I completed my mission of finding an unbroken sand dollar on the beach. We used to treasure those as kids and Jacob was as excited as I was. I explained to him that if you break them open you will find little shell pieces shaped like doves, but neither of us had the heat to break our treasure. I think we are satisfied just knowing our shell doves are locked safely inside.

 Found a shell shaped like a "J"

My sand dollar has a heart in the middle!

Goodbye ocean! Next time I'll come back by myself!


  1. De-lurking to say that I really appreciate how you share both the highs and lows of life with kids. And congrats on your pregnancy!

  2. "Same stuff. Different place." Word. That is why I've given up on unnecessary trips with the kids until Noah is at least 3! But love your be-hearted sand dollar.