Monday, August 15, 2011

Surviving 5 Kids and the Beach

Nothing says summer like a day at the beach. After living in Florida for many years, the rocky patches of sand around the lakes of Ohio do not quite meet my definition of “beach,” but I’ve learned to make due with what is available. Plus, the kids don’t know any better and think the lake shores are a veritable tropic paradise. However, my days of lounging lazily in the sun are long gone: with five kids in tow, a trip to the beach is anything but relaxing.

I make a point to never tell my children we’re going to the beach until it’s time to leave; revealing such exciting information too soon renders them unable to locate sunglasses, pack bags, or do anything other that squeal and run around in circles. So I wake up early and tiptoe around, stowing sun block, beach towels and other telltale items away in the car before anyone is awake to witness it. Then I fill our cooler with snacks and drinks, silently placing small handfuls of ice in one at a time to avoid making too much noise, and hoist it into the back of the Suburban. By the time my first child awakes all beach paraphernalia has been hidden from sight and I am sitting on the edge of the bathtub shaving my legs.

My six year old daughter, Brileigh, stumbles sleepily into the bathroom to see what I’m doing and her face lights up as she spots my razor in hand.

“Wake up! Mommy’s shaving her legs! We’re going to the beeeeeeach!!!!”

So much for discretion. I guess the key to keeping our destination a secret is to retain my wooly mammoth status at all costs.

The rest of the crew wakes up with start and there is a whirlwind of shedded pull-ups and pajamas as everyone clamors to change into their swimsuits and hop into the car. Forget breakfast, forget cartoons, it’s beach time. After a rushed last minute attempt at locating last season’s plastic buckets, shovels and sand toys in our black hole of a basement, we abandoned the search in favor at stopping at Wal-Mart along the way.

I ran into the crowded superstore and headed straight for the seasonal department only to discover that there wasn’t a summer item left in sight. Rows and rows of notebooks, pens and loose leaf paper stocked the shelves along with book bags, pencil boxes and—ya gotta be kidding me—Halloween candy? I located an employee, certain that I had overlooked something, but he assured me that summer toys were long gone in preparation for Back to School. It was the first week of July! I hadn’t even finished unpacking their bookbags from their last day of school yet!

Five eager children were waiting for me back at the car and I knew that returning empty handed would result in those children being “bored” at the beach, which would undoubtedly become my problem. Thinking quickly I bought a large box of generic Tupperware containers of all different shapes and sizes, as well as a bundle of plastic cooking utensils to use as shovels and sifters. I received a few strange looks when I returned to the car, but our unorthodox sand toys ended up creating some of the coolest sand creations ever.

Upon arriving at the beach all five children immediately ran for the edge of the water assuming (correctly) that their belongings would be unpacked and neatly laid out for them when they returned. They collected shells and ran from the surf as my husband and I lugged coolers, laid out blankets and located all ten flip-flops that led haphazardly down to the waters edge.

When I couldn’t put it off any longer I sighed and dug the large bottle of sunscreen out of my bag. Grabbing the first kid that vaguely resembled me, I held him in a leg lock while I slathered white sticky cream all over his wiggly body. All the sand in a six foot radius seemed to lift from the ground and seek out my child’s arms and legs before he ever stepped foot off of the blanket. Within minutes he looked like human sandpaper and I had to wonder whether it was the sunscreen that really prevented sunburn or the layer of rock and debris stuck to him that was blocking the rays. By the time I repeated the process four more times my own shoulders were burned to a crisp and the kids were making their first pleas of hunger.

Despite the fact I wiped off their hands before passing out the PB&Js, the crunch of sand being mashed into little teeth could be heard all around. The baby entertained herself by dipping her banana into the sand and taking a bite before we could wrestle it off of her. I watched as she chewed it with a puzzled expression, swallowed and reached over to attempt this crunchy treat again.

After lunch my husband took the older kids into the water while I played in the sand with the little ones. For a moment I admired how precious their little fat rolls looked bulging out under their bathing suits; then I realized with dismay that I was sporting a similar look without nearly such desirable results.

My family and I spent the remainder of the afternoon building elaborate sand creations for our children to crash through, watching the baby chase seagulls, and laughing as the older kids attempted and failed at a game of hide-and-go-seek on the flat expanse of beach. Once the sun began to melt into the horizon and the breeze took on a cooler edge, we packed up our sandy blankets and our sun-kissed babies and began the long drive home again with enough memories (and enough sand) to last us until next summer.

To see more hilarious comics by J-Sto, please visit

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  1. If you were still here in Florida, shaving your legs on the morning of your beach trip would be a bad idea. You might be able to do that the night before and not give yourself away the next morning. Of course, you'd have to hide your smooth legs for those smart kids of yours.

  2. I've just found your blog from the monday mingle, and i'm so glad I did! I adore trips to the beach too, even tho we live in the UK and are 3 hours from a beach there is nothing better than sandy sandwiches!

  3. Ya'll are just so precious! We want to have around 5 one day ourselves. I found you on Monday Mingle today and love your site!


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