Project Happy: The Vacation

I’ve been back in LA for a few days now, but I’m still living as if I’m on vacation.  Kindergarten starts in just a few days for Riley, Liam will start preschool in a couple of weeks, and Sean is right back where he was before we left our lives behind for a week:  Working long hours in dark studios.  But me?  I’m hanging on tight to every last second of summer.

There’s something about the Connecticut Shore that always soothes my soul.  My East coast friends who never left tease me when the nostalgia kicks in.  You’re memory is hazy, they joke on Facebook and in text messages.  For them, it’s just daily living.  Their East coast is my LA.  But I’ve lived in three different cities.  I loved them all in different ways (yes, even Philadelphia) and found my way in the world along the way.  I wouldn’t change a thing about the journey I’ve taken.  But the older I get, the more Connecticut calls me home.

I want my kids to experience a world where the streets are ruled by bike riding kids and fresh air is everywhere.  I want fewer airborne allergens, less stress, and less scantily clad Hollywood hopefuls roaming the streets.  I want less US Weekly (which, for the record, I do NOT read) and more digging in the sand.  I want ice cream cones and beautiful sunsets that are not compromised by smog and airplane exhaust.  I’m smart enough to know that summer is just summer, but I want my kids to experience the kind of summer that I enjoyed year after year.  The kind where kids bike everywhere and never wear shoes.  The kind where crabbing is practically a sport and beach days last until 6pm.  I want a little more Connecticut in my life…

Last week, we rented this cute house that backed up to the water.

We traveled back and forth to the beach by way of Radio Flyer wagon and ate crazy vanilla ice cream cones with rainbow sprinkles just because.

The kids had only one toy each (except lucky Liam…because Uncle John was nice enough to share his old Matchbox cars for the week) and hardly even played with them.  They were too busy digging in the sand, collecting shells, meeting hermit crabs, and enjoying nature…look at the forest, Mommy!

And we savored every single sunset…

We could have stayed all year.  The kids have never looked healthier.  My eczema covered little girl who is plagued with allergies all year long didn’t even need her medicine back there.  My husband, who spends far too much time in dark, air conditioned studios, finally lost that ghostly studio pallor and finished the week with sun-kissed cheeks and well-rested eyes.  I can’t remember the last time he was so relaxed and energized.

I sobbed when it was time to go.

The kids sobbed when it was time to go.

Even Sean, the hardest working guy I know, didn’t want to go.

We promised that next summer we will stay longer.  We’ve made that promise before…but this time I intend to keep it.  Because that one week on the Connecticut Shore was the most magical, soul soothing trip we’ve had in a very long time…and that is always worth it.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an enormous mountain of laundry to conquer.

What made you happy this week?

About Katie

Katie Hurley is a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She works in private practice in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, writes for PBS Parents, Washington Post Parents, and the Huffington Post. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World" (Tarcher/Penguin, 2015) and "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" (Penguin Random House, 2018)