This entry is the perfect follow up to my earlier post “What I learned on my summer vacation.”  I learned a lot and, all things considered, we did a lot.  I mentioned that we hit the beach and then hit our beds and while that’s true, there were quite a few activities packed in to our amazing, sun-filled, work-free week on the Cape… and many of them were all time “firsts” for Kevin, Declan and Cormac, our 2 1/2 year old triplets.

One first: taking in the view after 1st “big boy pee on the beach”

There was their first boat ride, a seal-watching expedition that departed from Chatham and returned less than two hours later with our little crew wind-blown, awestruck and eager to go back for more.  If you’re ever in the area and game for adventure, I’d recommend you take your crew to the sea with the amiable Captain at Beachcomber Seal Watching.  Bonus:  you take a trolley ride to the dock, which for our clan was almost as exciting as the boat ride itself!

There was also the first game of miniature golf for all five kids.  Believe me when I tell you that trekking 18 holes (mini or not!) with five “Cubs with Clubs” is not for the faint of heart!  Our little guys and gal were swinging with all their might, as if they had hockey sticks instead of golf clubs.  There was absolutely no regard for the basic rules of golf — of which I know very little but, picking up the ball and dropping it in the hole just doesn’t seem right.  In any case, fun was had by all, we escaped with minimal damage (to ourselves, others and the course itself) and I’d highly recommend Arnold’s mini golf in Eastham – which, as an added perk, also includes Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar and apparently “world famous hot fudge” which we didn’t have the chance to try given that it was 10AM but it sure did look good!

Five Cubs with Clubs practicing their swing

We also made our annual trek to the Beachcomber, a bit of a dive overlooking Cahoon Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, which is exceptional for several reasons — the cliffs, the dunes, the waves and the rather notable fact that this is where Des and I got engaged — exactly ten years ago in August of 2001.  It was after a few drinks at the Beachcomber that we went for a walk on the beach, Des popped the big question and we daydreamed about one day returning with our kids… though we certainly never imagined there would be five of them!

Our five tots at the spot we got engaged… and apparently not all that thrlled about it!

Given that we have some avid baseball fans in our family, we also took in a Cape Cod Summer League game where we rooted for the Orleans Firebirds or, according to the triplets, the “Yankees.”  They think all baseball players are Yankees and sometimes refer to them as simply “Super Guys”.  It is very very good to be a baseball player (of any stripe!) in the eyes of our 2 1/2 year olds.  They were enraptured by the players handing out raffle tickets but petrified of the team mascot — a gravelly voiced “Firebird” that even I have to admit was a tad rough around the feathers!

Last but not least, we had our annual visit to Sundae School which, if you ask me, is where they have the best hot fudge, on the Cape or anywhere else… they also top their sundaes with real, homemade whipped cream and a real black cherry.   Yum.  I started going to Sundae School with my grandfather, Pop-Pop, when I was right around Liam and Ciara’s age… and I would cry like bloody hell that I didn’t want to go to Sunday school!  Until, of course, we arrived and I was treated to a treat so good that I still crave it and indulge in it annually.  YUM!

A sweet little lady who seems to enjoy ice cream as much as her Mom!

There were other spots we visited along the way that I’d recommend for any family that is Cape-bound toward East Orleans.  For a quick bite (though a long wait!), there’s the always reliable, fun and very local Land Ho that has a great bowl of clam chowder; we had dinner here before watching the “Super Guys” play ball.  For pizza, eat-in or take-out, there’s Zia Pizza, which is right on the way to or from Nauset Beach, our favorite spot… although, if you asked our little Kevin, he would likely tell you, as he told me that the bayside Skaket Beach “is a better beach for me.”  As two year olds often are, he was right!

A happy boy who finally found the beach that’s just right

While I returned from vacation as rested and relaxed as one could be from fitting all this in with five kids under six, I do have to admit that it was a bit of a relief to return to work on Monday, sit in a chair for a few hours and daydream about our next trip to the Cape, which can’t come soon enough!

My happy place
We waited a long time for our summer vacation this year and boy, was it ever worth the wait.  The week before Labor Day was a sun and surf filled week away from work, home and our typical daily responsibilities.  As I look back on our blissful getaway, I’m reminded of a few more things that I love about summertime… and, about our “Cubs”…
Outdoor showers — whether it’s the sun or the stars shining down upon you, few things are more freeing than an outdoor shower.  Not to mention, with five sandy kids, it really simplifies the post-beach routine!
Sunsets.  Nothing beats sunset at the beach.  It’s the perfect punctuation mark to a day filled with sun, fun and sandcastles.  And, it is quintessential summertime — the kids are up past their bedtime, they may still have salty, tangled hair… they may eventually just go to bed that way… and, that’s ok!
Relaxing.  And not necessarily in the literal sense of the word since there is little relaxing to be done when you hit the beach with five tots running in five different directions.  But, when we’re on vacation, we tend to relax the rules a bit and, as it turns out, this is good for everyone.  It’s ok if the kids watch some TV before breakfast.  It’s ok if breakfast includes a typically-forbidden sugar cereal and/or donuts.  It’s ok if naps get skipped in favor of lingering a bit longer on the beach.  It’s ok if there’s no veggie with dinner and it’s ok to wait ’til tomorrow to fold the laundry or empty the dishwasher. This is what vacation is all about.
Exploring.  Whether it was searching for seashells or wowing at whales, each day contained some new adventure.  Des tried surfing (braving hurricane force waves in a noble attempt!), I tried paddle boarding and the kids made discoveries big and small… hermit crabs, the aforementioned outdoor shower and one of their Mom’s perennial summer favorites: Sundae School (http://www.sundaeschool.com/store_orleans.asp)
Exhaling.  Literally just letting it all out. Taking deep breaths, inhaling the salt air and exhaling all the angst that builds up each day… each day until we are lucky enough each year to return to the Cape.  To the place we came individually as kids and now come together with a family of our own.  The place we got engaged. The place that we love. 

It’s hard to believe that we’ve only been home for a week — it’s been a whopper of a week… back to work, back to school, and back to reality.  As anticipated, the memories will last a lifetime and the pictures will provide smiles for months — and years — to come.