We spent a week in Ocean City, NJ with my husband's family (his parents and sister with husband and 2 kids). I worked 3 days from a library and then spent evenings with the kids going for bike rides or going to the beach. I had a mini-vacation for the remainder of the week. I love having this kind of flexibility.
We went to the beach every single day. I have to spell this out here - I am not a big fan of beach vacations. I am not a big fan of the beach. Before kids, I was never lying on the beach with a book (I tried... it just never worked for me). I would go into the water, suck in a ridiculous amount of ocean, then go for a walk, then leave. With kids - it's been constant vigilance. This was the first time I felt I could sit back and just watch the 2 older kids play in the water and sand (and they did play in the shallow water and sand for extended periods of time). The youngest, who is 3.5 still required constant parental vigilance (and hand-holding).
Digging for sand crabs was awesome. Unexpectedly awesome. I never thought I would enjoy it this much. Watching kids catch sand crabs was cute, sure, but there was this strange, grim satisfaction ("gotch ya!") when I would put my fingers into the sand and feel around for something hard, then drag it out and the thing would be trying to escape (futile!) by burrowing into my hand. It was so relaxing (not for the poor creature, sure) and addictive!
Then we stumbled across a tide pool with a ton of hermit crabs. I didn't like catching them as much, but it sure was entertaining watching them marching on the bottom of the sea, or fighting with each other inside a bucket full of sand and water that the kids used as a temporary holding cell for them.
Oh, and the tiny clams, moving around in my hand - mini massage! Felt so good.
We have released all the critters we caught.
Every day, there was something new at the beach... the kids couldn't get enough. It has gotten easier, compared to the previous years... big kids can rinse off all by themselves in the shower. They can even rinse off their little sister (if she lets them). There are no diapers involved. They are bigger and stronger, so there is less wining.
Oh, oh, before I forget - this was the first year the big kids went on the "big" rides - the roller coaster. My daughter loved it. My son said it was terrifying.
Over and out.