This is the place where everything's better and everything's safe...

After our aborted trip to Baltimore (cut short due to the fact that I spent the night in Spectacular Gastrointestinal Distress in our hotel room bathroom), I was so disappointed. I had loved trips to the National Aquarium with my parents as a kid, and was so excited to share it with PJ. But, the trip was not meant to be.

Although many days of vacation still stretched out before us, I felt like I had ruined our break. I insisted all week that, if the weather was nice on Sunday, our last day of vacation, we were taking PJ to the beach. The beach is PJ's temple and the ocean is his religion. I don't know how it happened since he has a mother who is a terrible swimmer and a father who burns if he thinks about the sun too hard, but PJ is a Certified Beach Worshiper.

Thankfully, Mother Nature obliged.

PJ slept until nine on Sunday morning, the effects of late-night partying at his cousin Sarah's 13th birthday party. It was a welcome treat, but we had things to take care of and by 10am, we were on the road.

As we approached the long bridge that leads into Ocean City, PJ began to tremble with glee. When he hit the board walk, we hopped on to a bench and slipped off his shoes and socks. When he hit the sand, he took a moment to wiggle his toes and touch the sand, as if he could hardly believe he was there.

And then, a wave crashed, PJ heard the call, and he was off.

The ocean was a frosty 41 degrees, and the wind chilled the air a bit, but PJ hardly noticed. He splashed his toes in the water and dug his fingers into the sand.

I had thought we would have a quick dipping-of-the-toes into the ocean, but PJ ended up spending a blissful hour and half playing on the shore. I watched him, snapping away with my camera as if I could drink in his happiness through the lens. Without a doubt, the beach is his happy place, his panacea, his favorite song.

When we were finally able to detach PJ from the beach, we headed back to the car to clean up and change clothes. As we walked to the car, PJ caught sight of the amusement park, just as a mini roller coaster was winding along its track. So after a pizza lunch, we headed to the amusements. First thing, PJ spied his favorite game- ski ball!

Truth be told, he is terrible at ski ball. His little arms can barely bowl the ball past the lip at the end of the ramp. Four games in and PJ scored a whopping zero points. Thankfully, the score means very little to him.

A quick stop at a height marker let us know that PJ, finally and officially, is 42 inches tall. This means one thing:

Big kid rides!

I was nauseous just watching them spin, but PJ had a blast! We hit the roller coaster, the tilt-a-whirl, the fun house and the giant slide, and the whole time, I wondered how the six-pound nugget I we brought home from the hospital could be officially 42 inches tall.

The afternoon was winding down, so we headed back to the boardwalk for some ice cream before we hit the road. I ordered a cone with rainbow sprinkles, but it was quickly hijacked by The Boy- my fault for thinking I could get away with ordering his ice cream in a cup. Even though the day was cool, the ice cream was just what we needed; a little bit of sweetness as the day drew to a close.

Have I mentioned that I love my camera. I do. I love it, hard.

The drive home was a quiet one. We chatted about how perfect our afternoon had been, about how much fun we had, and the always-asked question when we are at the beach- "I wonder what the Autism services are like here." PJ sat quietly in his seat, not napping but obviously very, very tired. We arrived home just as the light was turning early-evening golden. We grilled steaks for dinner and scrubbed sand out of the ears, fingernails, and various orifices of my very dirty son. Beneath the dirt, I could see that his cheeks were pinked from the sun, my fault for forgetting the sunscreen. On another day, this oversight wold annoy me, and I wold put a check in the "Mom Fail" column. But slightly sunburned cheeks couldn't take the shine off of this day. It was a perfect, perfect day, and if it wasn't already seared into my brain, I could use the nearly 200 pictures I took to remind me. 

Our can be complicated. The everyday worries and splinters and scrapes can cloud my view of just how lucky we are. But on a perfect day like this I can see for miles, and all I can do is try to wear my gratitude instead of my blinders. 

Cheers to perfect days! 

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