This post is sponsored by Tylenol. I think it’s really important, as a family, to have activities that sort of define who you are. Activities that are mutually enjoyable, that you can be sure will result in a good time for everyone involved. As the old saying goes, the family that plays together, stays together. But defining what that “play” means, specifically, isn’t always easy. Before we had kids, our “thing” was travel. We loved to get out in the world, and to experience different things.  We were active and spontaneous.  If I’m honest, I would even say that the number of our passport stamps was a part of our shared identity.  I used to joke that if I didn’t drink a Fanta out of a glass bottle at least twice a year, that I would die a little inside. Once kids came along, obviously our lifestyle changed.  It’s hard to be spontaneous when your entourage requires sippy cups, booster seats, and portable cribs.  We’ve past that stage, but we still aren’t quite at the stage where the kids appreciate travel as much as we do. They are decidedly happier with a day at the pool than a day in Paris. Mark and I don’t get to be as adventurous as we once were.  And while I wouldn’t change a thing and love my kids to pieces, I think it’s also important to recognize that we need to find new activities that bond us together, both as a couple and as a family.  We need to find a new “thing”.  That thing seems to be emerging this summer, and it’s the beach. Mark and I have both always loved the beach. He’s from Orange County and I’m from Florida but going to the beach was a big part of our lives growing up, and a huge value for why we’ve chosen to live where we do. In fact, our new house is near a bike path that takes us right there, without having to fight for parking. Photo Aug 02, 1 52 41 PM Photo Aug 02, 1 57 08 PM The beach wasn’t always our thing. When the kids were little, the sand was a nightmare. If you’ve ever had a toddler who likes to eat sand and seen the results of that in a dirty diaper, you know what I mean. And as they grew and wanted to go in the water, it was stressful when they weren’t strong swimmers. But now, everyone can swim and while we obviously have to keep a watchful eye, we can also sit and relax.  I feel like being in the ocean is always a zen moment. It seems to push the reset button on life, every time. Photo Aug 02, 2 14 42 PM Photo Aug 03, 7 08 57 PM Photo Aug 03, 7 00 28 PM And getting to watch the sunset over the west coast isn’t too bad either. Photo Aug 03, 7 06 15 PMPhoto Aug 03, 7 07 25 PM The beach isn’t just our thing . . . it’s becoming an extended family thing, too. For both sides of the family. This week we had visits from both Mark’s brother and his family (who live in Seattle) and my sister and her family (who live in Orlando.) When deciding what to do, the beach was the obvious option. Photo Aug 05, 6 46 27 PM It’s the great equalizer . . . all genders and ages, playing together. No one is ever bored or left out. Photo Aug 07, 1 51 12 PM Photo Aug 07, 3 48 27 PM Share how you’re spending time with your family this summer with #HowWeFamily sweepstakes on Twitter or Instagram for a chance to win a trip to NYC. To learn more and for rules,  visit