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Posted Apr 03 2013 7:22pm

I am down and out with strep throat today – not fun at all.  Casey has it too, and we are dragging trying to simultaneously take care of Cullen and not infect him at the same time (knock on wood – he seems fine!).  I haven’t had strep since I was a kid, and man – it SUCKS!

But the show must go on, and we need to catch up on the rest of our beach adventures!  They were too fun to skip, and selfishly I want to preserve the memories.  Moving right along, we all woke up Tuesday to a few more exciting arrivals – Grandma! 

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And Aunt Sarah!  Even though we were there remembering my dad’s parents, they were a big part of my mom’s life for a long time, and she’s remained close with her former in-laws.  So it was a fun treat to have our whole family together for a few days!

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Tuesday was the chilliest day of the whole week (50 degrees and windy – brrrrr!), so we opted for the Harbor Town playground in the morning, in lieu of the breezy beach. 

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Three happy sisters.  Don’t mind my Salty Dog sweatshirt – I seriously wore it every day of our trip, so expect to see plenty more of it.

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After lunch and naps inside, we ventured back out to the beach in the afternoon.  It was cool, but sunny, and kids seem to have no sense of temperature. 

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Cousins playing together.  It’s so fun to watch them interact and relate to each other.  As they continue to get older, their age gap (just five months) seems like it’s disappearing.  They are two peas in a pod.

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It is impossible to NOT take a million pictures at the beach.  Seriously.

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Grandma and her boys.

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And Aunt Sarah on the chase!  Despite the cool, breezy temps, Cullen still insisted on sprinting toward the water any chance he got.

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We finished up our first evening as a full family with one of the most gorgeous sunsets I’ve ever seen. 

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I felt like my Grandma and Grandpa were sending us little messages all week long, and this one definitely spoke to me.

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Tuesday night was homemade burrito night.  Nothing fancy, but totally delicious.  Rice, squash, mushrooms, refried beans, avocado, and greek yogurt.  Perfect end to a fun day.

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Wednesday morning we were all up early to get prepare for the “Ash Wednesday” celebration for my grandparents.  My mom entertained Cullen while Casey and I got ready. 

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I have no idea what we did in the morning – beach maybe?  But around 2pm, we all gathered at the beach house that my Grandparents built to say goodbye one last time. 

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Before they passed on, they told us they wanted their ashes mixed together and released into the ocean off the beach of their old house.  I can only imagine the pride and love they felt watching their legacy – which has grown to be 45 people! – all gather on the beach in their memory.  I picture them clinking their glasses together and each giving a slight smile.

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Pails of ashes were distributed to members of each individual family (my dad is one of five siblings).  The water was freeeeeezing, but I volunteered to represent the Holcombe girls.  I walked out into the surf and thanked them for all they did for us. 

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It was sad, peaceful, and very fitting.  It felt right.

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We all gathered together that night for a big catered dinner at the house.  But back at home before dinner got started, I had the task of making brownies for 50 – not easy in a beach condo kitchen!  We baked and got ready, and then all headed out for an evening family celebration.  Obligatory family beach photos were taken.

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After dinner, my cousin and I rallied the whole crew for one big family photo.  My grandparents built this house many years ago (it’s now available for rent), and we have a picture from about 25 years ago on these same front steps.  It seemed fitting to recreate the photo and see how our group has grown and changed.  I wish I had the original to show you!

I actually didn’t take the final group shot with my camera since I only had a close-up lens, but I snapped a few chaotic pictures as we tried to get 45 people to sit in a relatively small staircase.  My cousin’s son, Sam, is four – and he took his role of Cullen’s caretaker very seriously down in the front with the rest of the little guys.  Too cute!

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They left a nice little hole for me to squeeze into since I was operating the self-timer.  It was not easy to fit everyone in!

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Finally getting somewhere…

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I can’t wait to see the final picture when I get it back from my cousin, Kate.  It will be neat to compare the two side by side.  Overall, I think our new “Ash Wednesday” was exactly what Viv and Marsh would have wanted. 

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They will forever be missed, but with a legacy that has grown so big – they will definitely not be forgotten. 

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