The Art of Beach Shlepping

As all good holiday weekends go, we set out for the beach last night, except this night was different.  Since I’ve had kids, I have promised myself that one day I would splurge on one of those roll-y beach carts–the ones you see effortlessly pulled by pretty models in the SkyMall catalogue.  We’ve sort of been the Griswold Shleppers when it comes to beach excursions and, while I’ve mastered the art of cute beach totes and proper sand toy bags, there are still a lot of bags to be carried from car to beach.  And when you factor in the additional kids-to-be-carried and coolers-to-be-carried and chairs-to-sit-in, what you get is a lot of turning heads on the beach–and not for a great bikini.  Which is perhaps why I have a thing for cute baby bathing suits and little girl sun hats.  It’s an attempt to redeem our beach dignity, to distract from the hot mess dragging blankets, dropping shovels and begging her crying kids to follow her. 

But this weekend?  I was ready.  Forget the roll-y beach cart, I found something better.  A roll-y beach wagon that promised to glide through sugary sand.  Constructed of heavy metal with plenty of room for coolers and bags and stray shovels, my wagon was going to transform our beach trip. I knew it.  Goodbye Shleppers.  We were going to skate onto that beach, and we were going to look good doing it. 

Feeling unusually prepared for our trip, I maintained responsibilty with all the beach necessities–like a cooler packed with ice as opposed to a grocery bag with a few juice boxes tossed in it.  We had the towels, the beach chairs, new pails that weren’t broken, new shovels that weren’t bent. And I set out to the beach last night with pride.  Finally, after all these years, we were going to do it right. 

I would normally curb the “to bring” list for lack of hands to carry things, but last night?  We have a beach wagon!  Kids, bring your dolls!  Bring your toys!  Fill ‘er up!

We loaded that baby to the brim.  Chairs, cooler, bags, boogie board.  And I cockily (um, new favorite word) rolled it along the parking lot, up past the boardwalk and down unto the edge where board meets sand.  The true test. 

Epic failure.

The wheels came to such an abrupt stop that the whole wagon fell over.  Blocking the boardwalk.  While families waited for us to clear the path.  And the Griswold Shleppers returned.  Except this time I held a baby, called to another one to follow me (she wouldn’t) and grimaced while I pulled with all my motherfreaking might, a steel constructed wagon with crap wheels.  Friends waved in the distance while I planned my route.  A kind man came to offer help, but I was more embarrassed watching him pull it for me than I was pulling it myself.  He was grunting.  And leaning at a forty-five degree angle, feet skidding in the sand, just to get the wagon to barely budge.  And he was sweating so profusely, my friend (who finally picked up Nella) pointed at the drip marks in the sand and mouthed “Oh my God.”

“Please tell me you’re not going far,” Kind Man said.  And though I saw my friends still waving in the distance, yards away from us, I smiled and answered, “Nope.  Right here is great.”  Because I couldn’t bear to watch him grimace and sweat any longer for us. I waited until he was out of sight and then continued the haul until we made it, breathless, to our friends.

We were rewarded with a beautiful sunset and the widest stretch of shallow water, broken by sand bars peppered with shells, sand dollars, star fish and inky sluggy things.

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retro polka dot suit, Popina Swimwear

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We carefully examine living beach creatures and then return them, unharmed, to the water.

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Baby boy loved Nature’s Boppy.

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And we loved God’s little post-sunset encore.

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The beach wagon will be returned, and we will scout out a new beach cart with the rolliest wheels possible.  A do-over is in the works.  It will be good.

Today did make up for yesterday’s wagon failure.  It was everything a rainy day should be.  Coney Island for lunch.  Back home for quiet.  I actually laid in bed this afternoon, snuggled next to a sleeping Dash and listened to my girls color and play while it rained outside. Nella wrote on the window with crayon, and I let her.  All is well.

This past week, we enjoyed:

Pre Summer Activities. 

Like Hula hoopin’

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And Driveway Site Word Games.

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Increased Curiosity for Critters…and a little less fear for getting close to them.

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Newsboy Caps. 

Seriously.  It’s Baby Guy Ritchie.

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Wayward Braids.

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Afternoon Sunflare.

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Over-the-shoulder Peeks.

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Catching the Girls Reading (and hearing Lainey sound out words aloud).

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Color Games with the Girls.

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Found these footprints at the teacher store, taped them to the floor in the bedroom, and Nella likes saying the colors as she walks the path.  Fun way for Lainey to play teacher too.


For those who have asked, Brett is recovering slowly at home.  He had some incision complications and can’t lift or hold the kids right now.  He’s feeling better but being very careful to make sure things heal up as quickly as possible.  Things are a little “off” at home right now, but we are so glad he’s okay.  I heard a lot of appendix stories and know we are lucky.  Looking forward to when he’s fully recovered and, in the meantime, thankful to family and friends who’ve helped out. 

One day already down this week–four more to fill up. 

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I smell summer.

Happy Memorial Day.  Big love to all the soldiers and their families out there.  xo


Leave a Comment
  1. Dash’s little sun kissed nose is so sweet. Hope your holiday weekend was great!

  2. That wagon story is too hilarious. What in the world! I just know you will find the perfect one : ).

    The color feet, the book reading, the sand boppy? LOVE your weekend.

    We are so excited that summer is just around the corner. 10 more days of school for Kaish and he is SO incredibly ready for it to be over.

  3. Wonderful photos. I love you bathing suit!! I’m a big fan of one-pieces that are fun and stylish!

  4. I want to go to a sandy beach some day. All I have ever been to is an overcast muddy beach with random sharp rocks.

  5. I just adore all these photos! :)

  6. Good grief, Dash is such an adorable baby!

  7. I love you. I truly do! You are so good at making me giggle out loud. I’d bet money that you are as good a story teller in real life as you are on the blog.

    Enjoy the rest of your week x

  8. I bought one of those roll-y beach carts and it didn’t work. I had the same experience you did with your wagon. I did find a ‘Lil Tykes’ wagon with the huge plastic wheels to work if you didn’t overload it. Now the grandkids can carry their own stuff down to the beach. Chairs that can be strapped on like a backpack an that leave your arms free are a must. Wish I could visit the beach as much as you get to!

  9. That wagon schlepping story really had me laughing. I’m reading BLOOM now…can’t put it down. What a beautiful book and family you have.

  10. that had me cracking up! I know the feeling….
    and I smell summer too. 5 1/2 more days and we can sleep past 7am. I can’t wait

  11. We’ve always been a schlepper family, never did get around to buying one of those cool wagons. Always envied them though!!! :) Have a great week and good wishes for a full and speedy recovery for Brett. My sister just had emergency appendix surgery two weeks ago in Germany. I hated not being able to be there for her helping out…

  12. So you know, the Griswold’s rock. “Surprised Eddy? I wouldn’t be more surprised if I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet.” xo

  13. After having my 3rd, my mother bought me the beach cart thing that I never wanted to don’t really either. Until…you do! And might I say me and my 3 can roll onto the beach with little to no help and just a few drops of sweat.
    Go for it, you will be glad you did.

  14. At least you’re a local… we’re going on a trip soon to the ocean and I know I’m going to look a hot mess :)~

  15. The beach cart is a must. I could easily tote umbrella, chairs, and everything while carrying my then 9 month son. This year I know he’ll insist on walking. So ready for beach weather up here in NY.

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  17. I laughed so hard at your beach wagon story! The last time I was in Naples was Thanksgiving, 2007. My sweet mama was with us, with her oxygen tank. I hadn’t anticipated the difficulty of schlepping it through the sand, but I was totally out of breath myself by the time we found our spot. I’d do it again though; that was her last Thanksgiving.

  18. That wagon schlepping story really had me laughing.

    P.S. Please tell me that’s a dolphin fin gliding through the water!!!!!

    Glad to hear Brett is doing much better.

  19. Yes, that is us when we are down at my parents. We usually go around 18th and there is never anywhere to park, so we have to unload and I make my kids stand by the shower as I gather and get my gameplan together …Beautiful photos as always! Also, glad my parents are in MD now or else I could imagine that being my Dad trying to help you out 😉

  20. Glad to hear that Brett is recuperating…sorry to hear it’s been slow, though.

    Love the pics from the beach, especially the one of Dash in the sand boppy! How sweet.

    Really love the Mr. T shirt and the Mr. Rogers onesie — too cute!

    Hope your next beach trip is a little easier!!

  21. AH! Nella is getting so big! Your babes are such beauties x

  22. oh Kelle- I just love ya! Funny sand story. We went to the beach with a shity cooler that wouldn’t roll. A broken umbrella and lower than low beach chairs on our last vaca……..good memories.

  23. I could not stop laughing at the wagon story… familiar..especially the bit about the crying kid not wanting to follow you:) Definitely been there.

  24. Glad to hear Brett is doing better. Must be hard on him not to be able to pick up his littles. The time will come. Quick recovery to him.
    Sir Dash is soooo BOY!! He is beyond adorable to begin with and then you put that newsboy cap on him. And that big smile of his sitting in the sand…a true Florida boy. Those big bros of his will have him surfing before you know it!

    Happy week to you and your Sun Shining Family
    PS LOL at your sand wagon story. I get ya. Cuz my family…we are the Griswolds up here in Canada. No matter where we go and how organized I think we are…something is bound to happen to classify us as the Griswolds…gotta laugh and carry on!!

  25. Oh this story had me cracking up! Going to the beach is hard work, but so worth it! Where on earth did you get nella’s Mr T. shirt?

  26. how could you not include a picture of the wagon!!!!!! =)

  27. Ha!

    We WERE the beach griswalds when I was growing up, I distinctly remember my mum’s rule: if you can’t carry it, you can’t play with it/surf on it/wear it.

    Problem was, I could always carry TO the beach, it was just the homeward journey i struggled with, our beach is called steppy beach for good freaking reason.

    happy week guys

  28. Have you considered some kind of wagon with sledge blades instead of wheels? I don’t know if they would work any better, but it’s worth a try, right?

  29. As a Michigan-transplant you could totally rock a sled for your beach stuff! We do it all the time at Lake Michigan. (I’m a momma of four babies in four years….if you needed my street cred on this crazy idea). Load up a long, $5 plastic toboggan with a rope, and haul away! Can you get those in FL? :)

  30. Praying for Brett’s continued healing. Glad that he’s on a slow but steady road to recovery.

    And cheers to summer and to doing anything with Griswold style.

  31. So funny about the beach cart! As I was hosing ours off after a trip to the beach Sunday I was thinking to myself how glad I was that we pulled the trigger and spent the money about three years ago. I would happily do it again! I even use it to push all of our stuff down to the community pool.

  32. We haven’t been to the beach yet as a family (my last trip was a few days before E was born), but I KNOW we will be schleppers. Unless we are going to the grandparents’ houses, we are the epitome of schleppers, a thousand bags for three people. Ugh.

    Where, oh where, did you get those ADORABLE shirts / onesies for Nella and Dash (the Mr. T and Mr. Rogers ones)? That is some sweet swag, and my little man has a birthday coming up!

    Finally, I’ve been following you for about six months now, maybe more, and for the first time, I saw your book in the bookstore and thought “I sort of know her from the interwebs, and I’m so excited to see her book on the shelf! She’s living the dream!”

  33. Such a pretty beach! How lucky you have all those beach creatures right there!

    Love all these photos.

  34. oh, dash is so stinking adorable! (so are the girls of course!) but man, that last picture of him is just ridiculous. Cute!!

  35. Would have loved a picture of the hot mess that was the cart! I laughed reading it. Having 3 kids myself, I know exactly what those beach trips are like!

  36. Kelle….
    I love, love, love Nella’s overalls!! Are those crabs on them? Too cute!! 😉
    Wow, in all my years of visiting our local beaches, I have never seen a still-wet sand dollar!! Never. They are always white and dried up!! ;-D
    I –love– that seashell with the heart!! Did somebody bring it home? I definitely would have!! 😉
    That picture of Dash in the sand!! One word. Love!! ;-D
    “It’s Baby Guy Ritchie.”!! Crack. Me. Up!! I love Guy Richie!! 😉
    Glad that Brett is slowly recovering.

  37. We’re friggen shleppers too. Now that two of my kids are old enough to help carry, it’s not as many trips, but hard work none the less. We unfortunately don’t have much beach to work with unless we head to the lake/river a couple hours away, but shlepping is still an art at the pool. 😉 Your weekend sounded delightful. Ours was filled with 12 inches of rain in 48 hours, basements filled with water and mud. Messy, but it could be worse I suppose. We were all a little bummed it wasn’t warm enough for the pool to open. We are out for the summer Thursday so hopefully pool days are in sight. I love being a teacher! Summers at home are glorious. Thanks for sharing! You are always a great “coffee buddy” in the mornings. :)

  38. Oh and I’m so glad to hear Brett is recovering. That sounds like it was very touch and go for awhile. Scary scary! Praying for strength and healing in the days and weeks ahead!

  39. Kelle,

    You need a sled. A good old flat bottomed plastic sled. I have seen many families glide smoothly across the wide sandy beach in South Haven, MI, with smiles on their faces, easily toting loads of crap to the water’s edge. Every time I see this I giggle and so does my family. Then, last summer, my own mother pulled a winter sled from the back of her jeep to load all of our beach crap in to. My kids cheered and called Grandma “brilliant”. The kids didn’t have to carry a thing and made it to the water quickly with no bickering!

  40. Oh no! I hope I didn’t bug you right after you dropped all the stuff!! lol

  41. I just bought a beach wagon at Costco, and hope it works. Please don’t tell me the one you bought came from there. I go to the beach in 3 weeks.

  42. I love Dash’s Mister Rogers onesie. My youngest children (twins) had a Mister Rogers themed birthday party a few years ago. It was something special, but I was a little sad to discover how many children had no idea who Mister Rogers is.

  43. We have the same sort of story with our beach must-haves. We did find that the Tommy Bahama Beach cart from Sams or Costco does pretty good. We still end up lookin like pack mules carrying the beach toy bag and the boogie boards. But oh well….it probably does make for good conversation or at least a laugh from the passers-by! Happy Summer!

  44. I wanted to let you know that we have a Deluxe Wide Wheel Wonder Wheeler and it works great for us. We are in Boca Grande so I think the sand type is probably similar to yours. EVERYONE literally asks me about it every time we go to the beach. We have had it a couple of years and with three kids it has been the best investment ever. Make sure you get the one with WIDE wheels for southwest Florida :)

  45. WHERE is the Mr T tee from? My husband would die for our kids to have that!

  46. That story is just hilarious. Sounds so much like us until we found a cart that worked. Just too much work “Schlepping”. Try this one, it really works with the big, wide wheels.

  47. Ok, I laughed out loud when I got to “motherfreakin”. LOL. The whole post about the cart is a hoot. Since I totally understand the sand, kids, lots of stuff and these new carts, this just made me laugh. Sorry. And then the part about the nice guy….to much. Glad cart is being returned.

  48. What a cute blog post! Wondering if that was Nella who did not want to follow you out on the boardwalk to the beach -too cute- probably was thinking I am not following you with all that c*%p falling out…ha-ha…smart girl :) Love ‘nature’s boppy’ and sight words on the driveway, and of course that shell with a heart in it. Happy Memorial Day!
    Tejas love,

  49. I read this post this morning, then my mail came & I saw the Tuesday Morning ad shows they have an “ABO Beach Lugger” for $39.99. It appears to be the same one on Amazon here:
    Looks like a great deal!
    Love your blog!

  50. Just an idea – but a snow sled would work pretty well on sand (although maybe noisy and scratchy on the boardwalk). I don’t know if the sides would be high enough for your needs, but it’s worth a shot?

  51. Love the photo with the heart shape in the sand dollar. Also lovin the stripes and pearls you’re rockin. It looks like you had a wonderful weekend.

    – Erin

  52. Love this post so much. I keep wondering if I am doing something wrong with our three kids because the chaos is unbelievable at times. So great to see that it is just as it is meant to be. Thanks for reminding me to laugh about it all later and enjoy the small things along the way. Hang in there. It will get easier…… I hope!!!!

  53. I love every word of this. And the pictures? They aren’t bad :) xox

  54. In the last picture, Dash looks like he learned to whistle!

  55. Loved your pictures! The baby in the sand pic is priceless!!

  56. I love reading your blog! I am just wondering where you found Dash’s Mr. Rogers onesie? It is the cutest thing! You have a beautiful family!

  57. ,,,i adore the photo of nella and her “wayward” braids. she is the sweetest child and her baby brother dashel i think resembles her. cheers!,,,

  58. We try to pile all our stuff on my 7 year old’s boogie board…..and watch things fall off every few feet. The sled is a great idea. Little Dash in the sand cracks me up. Hoping that Brett feels better soon.

  59. My daughter could not navigate the sand on two feet until she was almost FIVE!!! I never did get a rolly cart thing. I guess I thought being a pack mule was more dignified. sigh.

  60. I want that Word t-shirt so bad! Incredible.

  61. Nella in that Mr. T shirt – YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  62. The wagon story is too funny. Mr. T rocks an I love the sidewalk chalk sight words idea, thanx…

  63. Last time I went to the beach was my first time ALONE with the two kids. I decided to try to load up the BOB stroller. I figured its big cooshy wheels would do great. It was HORRIBLE! I’m really glad someone helped you. I just had people staring at me, and was completely shocked that none of them offered to help. I mean, people literally STOPPED walking their dogs to stand there and watch me take half my stuff about 50 yards, plop it, go back for the rest, repeat.
    BUT I love the beach enough to attempt again with no help :) Luckily its summer break in a week, so I’ll have friends around!

  64. um… where have i been? i missed this wagon story!!! so funny. the way you tell it is reminiscent of the way you wrote your Mother in Bloom. what was it? graceful in her self deprecating humorous way. This valley of health issues is an opportunity to walk in her shoes (or clogs if you will)

    sending your husby some healing thoughts. I can’t imagine my guy being out of commission. my husband and I are a real team effort around the house. & I think that that is a strength when raising young children.

    while i am sure it is empowering to find inner strength to take care of your family with a compromised partner, i’m glad that when all is well, you and Brett are such a great team!

    always sending the good vibes, missus.
    Oh! and loved the nature’s boppy. very crunchy.

  65. ummmmmmm that ^^^^ was me
    <<<<< (signed in as my husband :)

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  67. Not sure if others suggested this yet but a cheap, plastic winter sled works wonders on the beach! It glides over the sand effortlessly and has a rope to pull it! The girls could even pull their own stuff!

  68. I’m a total schlepper and I’m all on my own. My future family doesn’t stand a chance! Also Dash in “nature’s boppy” was so adorable! I love all of your ideas for fun, creative and educational games.

  69. Beautiful beach pictures! I’m so jealous of where you live!

  70. Dash using a sand boppy is the cutest picture I have seen in quite a while. He looks like such a happy little fellow!

  71. These pictures are so beautiful. I miss my days at beach.

  72. Summer means spending some time at the beach. Summer time at the beach requires major schlepping!
    The childhood was so awesome. Thanks for sharing your nice photos.

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