This party is held at a beach near Santa Cruz, a terrific one that's easy to get to and park, with nearby bathrooms. Jake's party is right at the beginning of the summer, so it's sort of like a summer kickoff for us. And what a great way to catch up with your friends!
Katrina was so excited about the beach that she was up and ready to go at 6:15am today. I had to ask her sternly to wait when she woke me up again at 6:20 for breakfast. She loves the beach, and today again spent almost the entire time running around the surf, drawing numerous comments about how self-entertaining she is. I keep forgetting that parents have to actually pay attention to their children sometimes -- especially at the beach, it's all I can do to get my childrens' attention at all.
The boys start off in the water, but as usual ended up retreating to the sand. Jake's father always digs a huge hole for the kids to play in, and sure enough, they spend the bulk of their day there. This time, the boys dug a second hole nearby and spent all day trying to connect the holes with a tunnel -- and succeeded.
I learned later that he'd experimented on a boogie board, and me and my camera missed it!
We sure enjoyed the wildlife today though. The surf was so packed with sandcrabs that you could feel them swarming against your ankles when the waves rushed out. Lots of little shrimp (or something) too.
But my favorite was the pelicans. They were out in full force today, and several times joined huge groups of cormorants, probably to fish a big school of...well, something. We saw two or three massive feeding frenzies today, and the pelicans were still plentiful inbetween. I find them fascinating, how they glide in perfect synchronization in pairs inches above the water's surface, then dive-bomb fish with their beaks leading the charge like swords.
For once I made conscientious efforts to sunscreen everyone properly -- once in the morning before swimsuits, and again thoroughly when we arrived. You're supposed to re-apply frequently, but the kids are always so wet and sandy it's really hard to do even if I could catch them. They all refused to wear their T-shirts; the only way that would happen is if I were to prepare them carefully well before the party and made sure they understood they had to wear sunshirts or rash guards or whatever...and you know, I don't quite have the heart to insist. They really like the feeling of the wind and sun on their skin, harmful as it's supposed to be, and it's so infrequent in their lives I have a hard time insisting. What a spoilsport I'd be if the one or two times we go to the beach I wouldn't let them feel the freedom of just bathing suits! As a result, Julian has random red splotches, and Katrina is pretty uniformly fried.
This beach party turns into an all-day event, at which I occasionally attend to my children to insist on lunch, walk Katrina to the bathroom or help detangle kite strings -- but mostly I hang around, take photos, chat with other adults and watch the pelican show. Jake's parents have terrific friends and some of them I feel like I know pretty well now.
It was all I could do to drag the kids away from the beach at 4pm. They were pretty mellow afterward though -- all that sun and surf is exhausting. Like with camping, I've learned to maintain momentum when you get home, and immediately unpack the car, vacuum the sand out, and give the kids an "express bath" right away, or it just won't happen. And that sand gets everywhere!.