Yesterday was the last full day with the kids. They actually let us get some sleep, so I didn’t get out of bed until around 8:00 or so. We got up and the kids played Super Smash Bros. again for a while. Justin and Amy both decided to get some more rest after being up for a little bit, but I kept an eye on the kids.

Once Amy was up and moving again, we made plans for the afternoon. The kids really wanted to go back to the beach again, even though the weather wasn’t looking great. So we packed up lunches and all the things that we use at the beach and packed into the van. The adults picked up food on the way out, since we didn’t have Lunchables like the kids, and then we ate a picnic at the playground and park that’s near where we’ve been going to the beach.

The kids played for a while until Audrey hit her head really hard on something in the playground, and then we decided we’d make our way down to the water. As soon as we got set up, we could see lightning way out over the ocean and the life guard pulled us all back out of the water just as we were getting into it.

That was a bummer, but we all played in the sand for a while, waiting for the storm to pass by. Okay, they played. I took pictures.

image-2709

Digging holes in the sand

image-2710

Ethan works on digging in the sand

image-2711

Amy helps Isaac with his digging

image-2712

Audrey cleans off her knees in the water

image-2713

Ethan’s hole keeps getting filled with water

They did eventually let us get into the water, and Audrey and Isaac definitely wanted to go in, so Justin and Amy went in with them. The currents were kind of strong and the waves were fairly choppy, so they ended up drifting pretty far down from where we’d set up all our stuff — which is why this is such a terrible photo.

image-2714

Swimming WAY away from where I was standing

Ethan wanted to keep playing in the sand for a while, so I stayed on shore with him. It was rough enough out that it was hard to be heard and I didn’t want any of the kids heading into the water without someone watching them. The wind was strong enough it blew our umbrella over and I had to go rescue it.

After a while, it started to rain big heavy drops that stung with they hit skin and sent several of us running back to shore and the protection of the (now on it’s side) umbrella. I wanted to make sure my camera was safe, too. We wanted to stay longer, so when the raindrops got less painful, we went back out to the water. I was walking out to the water and Amy looked at me from where she was standing calf-deep in the water with Isaac and Audrey and shouted over the sound of the surf and rain, “WE’RE MAKING A MEMORY!!”

But it was just too hard to keep an eye on the kids with the weather the way it was, so we packed up and went back to the car. Justin sent us back to get the kids taken care of and he bought all the things — boogie boards, towels, umbrella, etc — dragging the tote with all the dry things all the way back up the boardwalk to the picnic grounds, with the umbrella held above it so things would stay dry-ish. We dried off the kids and got everything packed up, stopped for Sonic drinks on the way back home, and started the 6-person rotation through the showers.

After that, we all went out to Jim ‘n’ Nick’s for dinner, which was probably the best-loved by the kids meal we had the whole week. They ate every single thing on their plates!

We went back home and the kids Skyped with Nathan again and then we worked on picking up things as much as we could, getting toys found and laundry sorted or washed, in the case of the wet beach things, and dried. The kids were exhausted, so they went to bed earlier than almost any other night they were here.

When I woke up today, I was worried I’d missed saying good-bye, since it was 7:30 and quiet upstairs. All the kids’ stuff upstairs had been packed up and taken down, but I ran into Audrey when I was checking her room — she came back up for something that had fallen off the end of her bed.

I went down and the boys were playing games and Amy was working on getting things packed into the van. Justin got the kids to sit down for breakfast and we sat there chatting while they ate. And then we did a last sweep of the house, got all the rest of the stuff packed up into the van, and started the good-byes. Everybody got hugs and “let’s do this again sometime” and then they were in the van and buckled and pulling away. Justin and I stood and waved until they were out of sight and then went back into our suddenly very quiet house.

We looked around a little bit, went “yeah, we’ll clean this later” and I went back to bed. Justin sat up at his computer for a while before joining me there and we both caught up on a little bit of sleep.

It was a long visit, but we really did enjoy it SO MUCH. We enjoyed taking the kids to the beach and playing around in the sand and the waves. We enjoyed taking them to the playground and having fun with them there. We played video games, Justin played Magic cards with Ethan, we did a craft project thing and made brownies and watched movies. I listened to Audrey read and tried to define a new word to Ethan from the book he was reading. We laughed and laughed at Isaac’s crazy antics. We listened to so many knock-knock jokes in the car and tried to answer riddles from the book Ethan brought with him from home. Justin answered question after question after question about so many things. Sure, we had to break up fighting and remind them again and again not to run in the store and not to shout when we asked them to be quieter and keep hands, elbows, heads, feet, legs, bellies, and chests inside their space in the car. And we made our own mistakes, for which we apologized and learned and tried to do better. All in all, we had a FANTASTIC time and we would love to do it again! We LOVE these kids and it was a DELIGHT having them in our lives for the week. And our house, while it’s more clean now this afternoon than it was this morning, and it’s also a lot more quiet, it’s also a lot more empty and we’re both looking forward to the next time we see our nieces and nephews.