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So, You From Joisey?

Rugratsatbeach

[This is an original New Jersey Moms Blog post - newest sister site to Silicon Valley Moms Blog - cross-posted here to This Full House and yes, I am VERY HAPPY to be their first contributing blogger!]

Contrary to what other people may have told you - especially, if you've ever watched the opening credits of The Sopranos - there are some very pretty places to visit here in New Jersey, if you're willing to travel beyond the toll booths outside of New York City and away from the factories lining both sides of the New Jersey Turnpike.

It's not called the Garden State for nothin,' you know.

There are dozens of state forests, wildlife preserves and farmland that hasn't been taken over by the McMansions (not yet, anyway) and, of course, we've got "the shore."

We live less than 15 minutes from the nearest beach - yes, we measure distance by the time it actually takes you to get there, here in Jersey - and, as most anyone who's ever traveled anywhere near the Jersey coastline will tell you, going "down the shore" is an experience you don't soon forget. 

A seasonal ritual of hunting for hermit crabs and silver dollars on the sandbars at low tide, or going to the boardwalk for frozen custard and fried clams bellies (don't even bother with strips) are what makes a trip to New Jersey a popular family summer vacation.

Unless it rains.

Or, you have your period.

Or, if you're traveling with kids.

Or, if you actually live here and have to drive anywhere near the Garden State Parkway, or Routes 70-80 and 33-37.

Still.

Living so close to the shore, it's not unusual for me to make our plans on the spur of the moment.

"What do you guys wanna do?'

[blank stare]

"Um...I dunno...what do you wanna do?"

[looks out window and reaches for the change jar]

"Wanna go to the Hook?"

After raiding the fridge for yogurts and the last of the string cheese, and then packing half a dozen bottles of water, a huge bag of chips and plenty of Motrin...my kids and I usually head on our way to Sandy Hook, home of America's oldest operating lighthouse (1764) and the $10.00 per carload entrance fee.

Yes, you have to pay to get on the beaches here in Jersey.

"Woohoo, can we get ice cream and french fries at the snack bar?"

Life is like that, sometimes - it's the little things that make the compromise a whole lot easier - and if you're spending the day out with me...here in Jersey...well, then be prepared to be amazed.  As I will, without a doubt, be amusing someone else's child, somewhere along the way.

A total stranger, no doubt.

It happens every time.  I head onto the beach, walk to the edge of where the water's breaking and my breasts (or perhaps it's my hips) send out a homing signal to other people's children that clearly spells - as the air crackles and begins to smell a bit like warmed milk that's been dipped with Oreo - iMom!

Like, the last time.

When I sat down with my youngest daughter and began to "dig for pretties" and two scoops of wet, rocky sand later, we were joined by *Benny and his neighbor, *Shoobie and we dug...and dug...and I was relieved to finally look up and see a pair of grownup knees.

"How's it goin'?"

The woman gave me a quick nod and, judging by the way she whipped out the sunscreen and started slathering it all over his face, I assumed she was Benny's mother.

"Just let me get this on and then you can go back to...whatever it is...you're doing."

No, we never did get around to introducing ourselves (officially) but, at least she gave me a quick nod before heading back to her umbrella and plastic jug of whatever her and her mommy friends were...you know...drinking.

Sigh.

It's hard being a mom (I know) especially, when children see you as their single source of entertainment and I long for the days of being able to just lay on the beach...all day...and party on the boardwalks of Wildwood all night.

She could've had me at, "So, you from Joisey?"

"Oh...well...hello there, baby...what's you're name?"

Yep, I turned around and found that I'd attracted the attention of yet another child - this one was actually reaching for my breasts.

"Uh...sorry...not before dinner!"

At least my children think I'm funny, sort of.

"Oh...well...okay, if you insist...but, YOU'RE BUYING!"

I grabbed his sandy little hand, as he silently guided us two blankets over.

"His name is Matty."

This time, mommy didn't even bother to get up.

"Thanks for bringing him back...he's sixteen months...and I've just had foot surgery, you know!"

Oh.

So, I sat down and listened to her story. How she loved the shore, so much. Quite frankly, I was amazed that she even managed to get to the beach, with one working foot.

"We're here visiting with family and I don't get to the beach much, anymore...."

We sat together for a very long time - we managed to go through a whole box of fishy crackers - as we shared our favorite childhood memories and how much she missed her summers on the Jersey shore.

"I bought a new bikini, just for the occasion!"

UGH.

There you have it - adding to my list of things to hate about the summer - but, I still love going to the beach and feel very lucky to be living so close to the Jersey Shore.  No, really I do.  It's just, sometimes I wish I wasn't such a babe magnet!

[*Benny and *Shoobie:  Locals use these to describe people who visit the seashore for a brief period of time, primarily to use the beach during the summer months.]

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