We packed up our bags, bid farewell to the gorgeous lake and the wretched sandflies and drove through the beautiful foggy mountains to our favorite spot in all of the South Island..
After we stayed at this beach house last summer we went home and immediately booked it again. I can't even describe how relaxing and picture perfect it is to stay here. It is so remote, we have the entire beach virtually to ourselves, rain water is the only source of water and I can only get cell reception if I crouch on the second chair to the left in the sun room and hold one hand in the air. But who needs cell service when this is your back yard.
This place is filled with some of my most loved memories with my most loved people. Swinging in the hammock with Ryder nestled perfectly in the crook of my arm. Early morning sand castle building with Ryder teaching me the fine art of wall building. Lazy afternoons spent napping and reading in the sun with the distant sound of the kids playing in the waves. Meals together in the sunroom over looking the ocean. Climbing into bed with Maddox and having whispered conversations about life and how he wants to come back here with his kids someday and show them the best place to find crabs. Watching Jayden patiently teach Kylie how to skim board. Kylie leaving Ryder in awe as she performs magic tricks with shells. Rescuing jelly fish and collecting crabs, all day errryday. The exercise classes the kids held on the beach, Maddox was quite an impressive yoga instructor. Namaste. Campfires and s'mores under stars and a full moon, cuddling little boys on my lap while listening to the fire crackling. Having Spiderman marathons in pajamas on rainy days. Our New Years eve party, one of my favorites yet. The kids dressing up and making music videos to Thrift Shop. Jayden always winning at monopoly. Falling asleep with Jason to the sound of waves. Late night movies, no bedtime, no dresscode, no agenda and not a single worry in the world. It really is heaven on earth.
For New Year's eve we had a fancy dinner. Loved the sparkling grape juice, regretted the noise makers the minute I passed them out
We recorded interviews of the kids talking about highlights from the past year and goals and things they're looking forward to in the new year. And then we played "dare Jenga". It was going to be truth or dare Jenga, but we figured dares were way more fun than learning the truth about what your favorite color is. So we all wrote down a bunch of dares on strips of paper then taped them to the Jenga blocks. Which ever one you pulled out, you had to do. We had some pretty good ones, like Kylie going in the ocean in her pajamas, which wouldn't have been too bad except that this was the one day that it had rained the entire day and it was pretty cold.
Or when Kylie had 30 seconds to make any creation in the kitchen and Jayden had to eat it. Cheerios swimming in BBQ sauce and soy sauce anyone? Who knows what else she put in there. (Side note: I always wonder if "Uncle Toby's" is like a sister company to General Mills, or if they blatantly copied the Cheerios name)
Jason got a makeover
And had to run around outside in my bra. We laughed so hard that night, even Ryder was totally into it, volunteering to run around naked in the spirit of the game. And then decided to just run around in his undies. Then finally settled on running around with just his shirt off. Modesty first.
More lazy days on the beach. A recurring theme.
And while everyone else is building snowmen, we're building sandmen. And because I've had this idea pinned to my board forever and I couldn't delete it until we did it. I have a weird thing about keeping my pinterest boards clutter free. I spent so much time beforehand pinning ideas for games and activities to do on the beach, but sometimes I forget that it's not always my job to create childhood memories for them, they do a pretty good job of it all on their own. Sometimes I feel guilty if I'm not front and center in their lives, but I need to remember that it's okay for me to slip behind the curtain sometimes. It's okay if I sit back and read a magazine while they use their imaginations to come up with games to play or contests to compete in or creations to build, those are the childhood memories they'll remember. More so than that organized game of shell tic-tac-toe mom had on her checklist. Or maybe that's what my subconscious came up with so that I wouldn't feel guilty about ignoring my kids while catching up with the Kardashians.
It's like we have our own soundtrack at the beach house. Itunes is constantly streaming in the background and the oversized picture window is just begging to be slow danced in front of as Ed Sheeran pours out his soul. Hearing certain songs just brings me back to these moments both this year and the last.
We love when the tide goes out because not only is it the best time to go skim boarding, but we are left with so much undiscovered terrain just begging to be explored. Last year was the year of the starfish. There were so many starfish constantly washed up and left behind that the kids would rescue. This year was the year of the jelly fish, they were every where! Once again their animal rescue unit was called into action. Crab collecting and sand fish catching was another favorite past time.
We did find a few starfish. I think they were secretly thrilled when Ryder would take them for walks.
Bonfire nights are always my favorite kind of nights. It was the perfect way to spend our last night there.
We were so sad to leave, knowing we might not ever come back. I really do hope that the kids come back at some point with families of their own and stumble across ghosts of their younger selves playing on that beach. But so grateful for these memories that we have to take with us and cherish for years to come. A pit stop at our favorite real fruit ice cream shop on the way home helped soften the blow of leaving.
And then a picnic on the side of the road next to this waterfall wasn't too bad either
And finally a stop at our favorite swimming hole. The water level was low so their wasn't enough water for the water slide, and the rope swings were taken over by the teen crowd, so we didn't stay as long, but long enough to stretch their legs and cool off after driving for seven hours. We came home to a warm dinner Judy had cooked for us, then had just enough time to do a few loads of laundry before packing up again for another adventure. So grateful this is the life I get to live and the people I get to share it with. Hashtag feeling blessed.