Stone Harbor Summer Getaway.

At last, my final photo dump from our summer adventures!  Like I mentioned before, we had two big vacations this year – and as the timing worked out for both families, the ended up being almost back to back.  We got back from the San Juan Islands, had a week in Seattle (which Casey actually spent traveling in NYC!), and then we re-packed the suitcases to head all the way out to New Jersey.

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I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I spent my summers growing up at the Jersey shore.  My great grandmother had a house there, and every summer – as soon as school let out – we packed up the station wagon and my mom, sisters, and I headed to New Jersey for the next three months.  My mom took care of my great grandmother, while Rebecca and I (and eventually Sarah) played in the sand, soaked in the sun, and lived this amazing beach life that I thought was normal at that age. 

When my grandmother passed, the house changed hands to a different branch of our family, and our beach summers came to a close around the time I was 13 or 14.  Other than one brief weekend that I spent there back in 2000, I hadn’t been back to Stone Harbor since I was a kid!  So it was really exciting to spend a week there with my family this year – both reliving my own childhood memories, and creating so many new ones with my own children.

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This was Graham’s first trip to a real (sand) beach, and he absolutely loved it.  I was worried he would just eat sand and cry the whole week (which is what he does on Seattle beaches!), but he discovered shallow waves and warm water, and couldn’t have been happier.  Cullen was a fish as always!  Beaches are such great vacations at this age – so easy to just let them run around and be messy all day.

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And of course, time with Grandma is priceless.  She had her hands full with all FOUR grandsons for a week!

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I love our rocky Seattle beaches and cool Pacific water, but you just can’t beat an East coast beach.  I love the soft white sand, the miles and miles of beach to walk, the songs of the seagulls, and clean salty water to jump in. 

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It was such a treat to spend a whole week with my older sister and her family.  Of all our loved ones, they are the furthest away and hardest to get to, and we don’t see each other nearly as often as I’d like!  But we sure do savor the time we do get together.  This was my first time seeing them since January, and both of her boys have grown so much since then! 

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The toddlers hadn’t been together in a full YEAR, but they jumped right back into being buddies like it was yesterday.  They were both pretty excited to fly their first kite!

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My mom’s fiance, Jim, brought his kite from home – and Cullen and Jonah had a blast watching it dip and fly, and helping to move it all around.  It is so fun to relive all this stuff again through the kids!

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When we originally booked a trip for Labor Day week, we were all worried it might already be too cool to enjoy the beach.  The joke was on us because it ended up being over 90 degrees the whole time we were there.  We got into a good vacation groove, with every morning spent enjoying the sand and salt water from morning to lunch time. 

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I decided to suck it up and buy some new bathing suits for our trip – my first one-piece suit since back in my Speedo days.  But I really wanted to be able to enjoy time in the beach with the kids – sitting in sand building castles, running after beach balls, and holding grabby babies.  I didn’t want to waste time or energy worrying about my stomach rolls or feeling self-conscious.  And so while I definitely felt like a M-O-M in a one-piece and baseball cap, I also felt a lot more comfortable.  And yes, Graham has a mouth full of sand!

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Such a treat to spend a week away all four of us!  I am surrounded by crazy boys all day long, but I sure do love it.  (Stitchfix top!)

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In the afternoons and evenings, we explored the town – checking out shops, playgrounds, and going for bike rides.  We found some bikes in the garage at the house, and I rented a bike trailer at the local bike shop so I could sneak in some exercise while entertaining the toddlers.  It was a hit!

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And we’d also go back to the beach to play paddle ball, run around in the sand, and watch those pretty pink sunsets. 

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Another big reason this trip was planned was the opportunity to see my grandparents – it has been FIVE years!  They had never met any of their great-grandchildren, so it was really special to all be together. 

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The grandparents were troopers and even came down to the beach to hang out on many mornings (they are 85!).  Also mid week, Sarah (little sister) and her boyfriend arrived!  More vacation scenes…

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Check out Levi and Graham the last time they were together – all the way back in January at just 12 weeks old!

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And here they are now as big 10-month olds.  Their birthdays are just 18 days apart, and it was so much fun to see them finally really play together.   

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Four generations on my mom’s side of the family, in the backyard of my great-grandmother’s home.  Pretty cool!

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A wonderful week full of so many new memories, in a place that has been near and dear to my heart since I was a baby myself. 

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And with that, our summer travels came to an end, and we came home and jumped right into the start of school and rain boots and pumpkins, and all the fun that is the fall.  Up next – toddler/pre-school lunch ideas!