Summer time is my favorite. My earliest childhood memories tie to beach and vacations; endless fun building sand castles and staying in the water until the lips turn purple; running after "the ice cream man" and picking out juiciest peaches from the fruit stands; eating watermelons for dinner and strolling for hours in the evenings by the water, admiring the moonlight and the milky way.

Life put me on the opposite side of the world from where I was born and raised, and although there is no Black Sea anywhere within the close proximity of where my kids are growing up, the Pacific Ocean is just as fantastic of a summer friend to them , as the Black Sea was to me.

Work and life don't always cooperate with how as a child I envisioned my summers to be, and for many years in a row our "vacations" always collided with some sort of a business trip. Although kids always had fun ( naturally), we kind of missed playing in the sand too, and since we live in such close proximity to the ocean and there are so many great beaches within just about 2 driving hours of a radius, a day or two away but more often then not, became a perfect solution to recharge, replenish and enjoy the beauty California has to offer.

I often hear that the water is freezing in Northern California. Well, while it's definitely not a luke-warm treat Florida or Hawaii have to offer, maybe because the beach waters I was used to were freezing too, I actually find it quite enjoyable and refreshing. And the kids... Well, the kids would find the Arctic waters warm if they were allowed to play in them, so that's not even an issue here.

We made our way to Santa Cruz on a late Sunday afternoon. If there is one thing I learned about these little getaways, is that season or not - weekends are always crowded here and weekdays is the way to go. We stayed at a hidden little B&B gem just minutes away from the beach. With the first rays of the sun the crew was up and much too excited to sit still, which translated into an early "check-in" at the beach. Can't blame them though: +75, no wind and sunny is a treat.

** a perfect sand castle placement is the fundamentals of sand architecture. so I was told by "pros" **

** too hot to walk on, it really was **

** i couldn't believe that despite of the VERY hot sand this little man dug right in **

** totally my face expression all day long **

** too tired to play - must sit down to chill. when does THAT ever happen?! **

** the sandy hands, the sandy bum , the sandy everything. i must not belong to the "normal mom club" because i totally loved everything about it **

** my usual photographer was too busy building bricks for the sand tower and I didn't want to bother him, so the substitute took about 50 pics, and only one came out in semi-focus :) but the bump and i needed some sort of a record of being at the beach too, so it gets a place here too. also, guess who slathered everyone with suns screen and forgot about her own self and now sitting with cucumber mast on legs that sport a nice shade of maroon? oh, pregnancy hormones...**

** the weekend traditional "mommy-on-duty" **

** and a very popular one too. also, note a little dude inside of the "foundation hole". about 10 minutes later he got into the one that was practically his height and I had a pleasure of viewing the little red hat move back and worth as if alive on its own **

** i absolutely cannot believe that my little baby boy - feels like - yesterday is turning two this weekend! a little patriot too - 4th of July, he's got America's favorite holiday to have a double special meaning for all of us too **

** after my failed attempts to convince the little guy to take a nap, daddy-on-duty made it simple : he just strapped him in the stroller, smiled and said "sleep". 10 minutes later i had peacefully snoozing dude. i think i'll be turning for assistance more often then not from now on  **

** the team of architects. they were discussing all day what to build. dug about 10 different foundation holes. when we left the beach 6 hours later, they still didn't agree on WHAT exactly they were building. go figure. **

** sisterhood is all about having fun! who's with me?!**

** five pairs of shoes hidden under the stroller. on my question "why" the answer was "so they don't get too hot and sweaty!". i LOVE having children.**

FAQs: girls swimming suits - gap kids ( there is an amaaazing summer sale going on now too!) ; boys swimming trunks - target couture; i am wearing an Anthropologie one piece ( regular kind, but fits the bump perfectly! the swimsuit is also from a great sale that's going on now); girls headbands are *mint and arrows; the stroller is Bugaboo Buffalo Escape; the bag is Petunia Pickle Bottom and the purple shoes are little Birkenstocks. if anything is missed that you want to know about - let me know here or on Instagram! **