I sliced up a watermelon that I had on hand into big semi-circles and got the girls and myself ready. Clara picked her own outfit and while my initial thought was to put her in something that looked a little more put together than the mismatched leggings and shorts she paired with her favorite "turquoise" shirt, we just went with it because it is just so...her. And I try really hard not to overlay too much "me" on "her" when I can help it, you know what I mean? I think about things like this. And I just put an old shirt of Clara's on Rose that already has stains on it that I can't get out because I knew that juice was just going to be dripping all over the place and I didn't want to worry about ruining any newer outfits.
Honestly, all I really expected of the morning were some cute, summery photos of my girls enjoying one of their favorite treats. But we got so much more than that. The sign is just in front of the store in the parking lot but we got there early in the morning before it was very busy so there wasn't much traffic or anything. After taking their pictures, I just sat on the steps next to the girls, supplying them with additional slices while we enjoyed the slow, time-honored tradition of just "sittin'-on-the-curb-watching-the-clouds-go-by".
We stayed for probably half an hour. Rose talked on and on in her own language that is getting closer and closer to some real sounds each day and filled her soliloquy with gestures and grunts and pointing her finger to draw my attention to birds or other things that caught her interest. Clara and I played the color game (where we identify every color of car in sight), I Spy, and I taught her how to see shapes in clouds. I don't do enough of this slow, simple stuff and I sat there resolving to change that about our lives.
The girls were so happy and there enthusiasm for the day was infectious. Person after person smiled and waved and talked to us on their way about their days running errands. Cars slowed down so the people inside could wave and the girls would wave right back like we were watching a parade just for us. I was told by more than one person that seeing my girls enjoying their watermelon in this way had made someone's day. A Trader Joe's employee came out and noticed us and asked to take our picture so she could show it to their "sign team" to see how much we loved the sign and were taking advantage of it.
By the time we ran out of watermelon the girls were a sticky mess but I had come prepared with plenty of water and wet wipes to wash them off. And their tummies and my soul were full. I hope this is a memory that stays with Clara as she is growing up. She's getting to the age where that might start to happen - things we say and do together might actually stick with her to adulthood - and I think about that too.
Luckily, before leaving Dublin I had texted my friend and visiting teaching companion of 3 years, Lisa, to see what they were doing and if they had any time to hang out. She came up to see us with her boys just a few weeks ago (Blake is just two months older than Clara so they have grown up together and Miles is just a few months older than Rose) but I miss her and they recently redid their backyard and wanted to see that too. Lisa is the kind of friend who I knew wouldn't mind me inviting myself over last-minute and she wrote right back to say that they actually had some stuff going on in the morning but that her husband's college roommate was in town and so they were going to the beach around lunchtime if we wanted to join. I won't say I am always down for a beach day, but given the right circumstances I definitely try to make them happen and circumstances were perfect so I had packed a beach bag and brought that with us.
We hung out at Lisa's for a bit while Miles finished a nap and Lisa even fed us the most delicious lunch of leftover salmon that she had made the night before (I got the recipe - it has cinnamon in the marinade and it blew my mind). It cracked me up that we had dressed identically - dark jeans rolled up into capri-length with red and white layered tops - but for the record it was Lisa who thought to take this picture. We also discussed their future kitchen remodel.
We went to Sunset beach, which I had never been to before. It is a little further south - past Manresa - but SO worth the extra drive. It's my new favorite northern California beach, hands down. There is a big sand dune between the parking lot and the ocean and it was covered in gorgeous wildflowers that were in full bloom. And I liked how you couldn't see any cars once you were on the beach itself because they were hidden behind the dune. I also liked how Clara is big enough to help me carry beach toys from the car to the beach.
The beach itself is a long stretch of clean, white sand stretching in both directions with a very gentle slope to the water. The kids immediately set about digging in the sand. Clara had the foresight to ask to bring seashells from home that we had used as decorations for her party, which was a great idea because there were no shells on this beach for finding really.
Lisa will deny it, but she is one of my most glamorous friends.
Rose scooped up a cupful of sand within 30 seconds and dumped it over herself and then took a swig from it. There was sand everywhere, but in a way, it was nice that she just got it over with since it was inevitable and saved me all the reprimands to not put sand in her mouth because she learned that lesson on her own (at least for the day).
Of course, Rose didn't get enough watermelon in the morning so she begged some off of Lisa when we busted out the food. Between the juice from the fruit, her running nose from teething, and the sand, Rose was a MESS. But at least it was a happy mess.
Eventually everybody braved their way down to the surf. The day was on the cool side with the stiff breeze that is always blowing off the ocean but when the sun broke through we were all warm enough. But the water was freezing. The kids had a blast running away from the waves. Even when Clara, and then Rose, stumbled into the wet sand and got soaked they were still having fun. But that's when we called it a day because I didn't want them getting too cold and we needed to head home anyway so we didn't get stuck in Memorial Day traffic.
I showered the girls off at the beach showers since they were both coated in a layer of wet send and they squealed and giggled and played bare nekkid while I held a towel up for them, then dressed them in warm, dry clothes in the back of the minivan (which is awesome for that sort of thing). Rose was asleep in her carseat within about 90 seconds of pulling out of the parking lot and slept almost the entire way home. This definitely goes on my list of "days I would choose to live over and over again" and I am already making plans to go back to Sunset beach this summer on a day when Paul can come to and we can stay and make use of the firepits to have a cookout.