Sunrises, Shade, and Swim Diapers: Beachin’ with Baby

Tap, tap.

Is this thing on?

Y’all, I have to admit something.

I thought once Luke grew out of his newborn stage that I would be ALL UP IN THE BLOG. I suddenly would have way more free (well, hands-free) time, so many thoughts to share, and, as the Dixie Chicks sang, Wiiide Opppeeen Spaaaccceeessss!

Well, that hasn’t exactly been the case.

As our sweet baby boy has grown, he wakes up as the Energizer Bunny a little bit more every day. Listen. I’m so grateful he is so healthy.  Once we passed that “fourth trimester,” the time, it really does fly. He’s seven months this week, and while that does hurt this mama’s heart a wee bit, I am just so thankful he’s growing and, by all accounts, thriving. I love watching him explore and discover something new every day. He is the definition of precious, curious, active, unintentionally funny, and WIGGLE WORM. He has brought my husband and me endless joy.

Just not said hands-free time, my thoughts are a little scatter-brained, and not a wide open space to be found.

(Except our living room floor which has been sans coffee table due to the tiny human who I think is part-monkey.)

(Just watch out for the board books, squeaky toys, singing train, stuffed animals, and puppets).

(He still hasn’t learned to clean up after himself after seven months).

While he’s napping in his crib (which, for the record, I still feel like I deserve a SHINY RIBBON every time this successfully happens), I thought I’d revisit this little memory-keeping space.

Oh, I could do something more productive.

Clean the bathrooms.
Sweep the floors.
Watch last week’s Nashville. (#TeamDeacon).

But I’ve chosen to invest in the blog, and I know my husband will be ever so appreciative.

So, I thought I’d share some baby beach tips we learned on our recent trip. As the date was getting closer, I was seeing RED FLAGS. However, we really had a wonderful trip, and was even more surprised how well he did in the car. We only stopped twice on the way down, and just once on the way back (winning!).

For the days and weeks leading up to our Great Voyage to the Gulf, I googled and pinterest…ed until I think I read every blog offering advice for traveling with an infant to the beach. Some were helpful (a baby pool!), and some we realized weren’t for us in a manner of 3.05 seconds (a baby tent).

In no particular order, here’s what worked for us both in the car and on the sand:

1. A Baby Fan

While Luke is generally a happy baby, he considers the car seat his arch-nemesis.  That’s not too big of a deal on a fifteen-minute drive to church, but on an eight hour drive spanning three states? HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM. Other than the whole restraint thing, we think one reason he wasn’t a fan was because he gets so hot in it. So we bought this baby fan and I think it chilled him out a little (pun totally intended).

2. Sit in the Back

This was the one I was dreading the most because I haaate riding in the backseat on a long trip (I know, #firstworldproblems). But, I think our trip would’ve felt much longer if I didn’t. I could play with him, pat him to calm him down, distract him with a squeaky toy, and he just knew I was there.

3. iPad in the Car (YEP).

Don’t go calling the American Academy of Pediatrics on me. We will only do this for long trips, but it was a lifesaver. During a meltdown one day on the ride home from church, while being stuck in traffic, Brett and I were feeling pretty desperate. So, I pull out my iPhone and pulled up an Elmo video from YouTube. And all of the sudden, the demons left my child, and he went back to being sweet angel baby. Well, what do you think we did before our trip? We bought the “Best of Elmo” for $10 on iTunes, downloaded it on the iPad, Brett “McGuyver’d” it with binder clips and twine, and we were set for our trip. He only watched it probably about an hour total or so each way, but DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG AN HOUR IS WITH A HAPPY BABY? A lot faster than one with a baby that hates the world (even if I know the words to every song Elmo has ever sang).

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4. Ground Floor Unit

Brett knows I have one requirement for our stay on the beach. Our room must be beachfront. If I have to drive or walk across the street to get to the Gulf, I’d rather just stay home. I know, that is totally snobby, but it’s just how it is. I now have a new one: a ground floor (at least while he’s little). I cannot even tell you how much easier it was to just walk out to the beach from our patio. We could leave gear on the patio without hauling up and down stairs, easily go to the room for a quick diaper change or break, and it just saved so much headache. Do it if you can! I promise your view will still be better than fantastic.

5. Rent a Crib

This one may just be tailored for our sensitive sleeper, but we knew our Pack N’ Play wasn’t going to cut it for our baby boy to sleep in every night. Great to play in, but not so comfy to sleep in. We never have “co-sleeped” during the night, so that was out. So we rented a crib for a small fee and it was worth every dollar. I’d write a check for a few good nights of sleep every time. I was able to enjoy gorgeous sunrises a lot more with a few hours of consecutive sleep (key words being CONSECUTIVE).

6. Inflatable Baby Pool

One of Brett’s coworkers was kind enough to loan us their shade tent for Luke to sit in on the beach. Well, after one attempt at that, we knew it wasn’t for him (though for many babies, it would be). He couldn’t see us, and though it was shaded, it was hot since the breeze was blocked. So our plan B was using the $4 inflatable baby pool we bought at WalMart on clearance, and he was so much happier. He could see everything, and feel the sea breeze his Mama loves. Put a few toys in there, and he was a happy crab (if there was ever such a thing) for a little while at a time.

7. Sun Protection

It was just our luck that when we got to the beach, we discovered that all of Luke’s sweet, floppy beach hats were just a tick too small (thanks to my genes for the big noggin’…). Thankfully, we had a pretty adorable crab cap that fit perfect and he generally kept on. So, hats of course, swim shirts, and baby sunscreen. You know what’s not fun? Putting on baby sunscreen on a baby’s face. It’s similar to herding cats, except more hissing is involved. (Also, I had read that swim diapers only hold, ahem, dirty diapers and not wet. So, he was in regular diapers on the beach.) (I learned this was true when walking back to our room holding Luke, and feeling a warm stream down my swim cover and legs. This gives me great comfort to know that the pool is completely clear of any bodily fluids, I’m sure).

8. Find a Routine

Our first day was the rude awakening that HEY, YOUR BEACH DAYS HAVE DRASTICALLY CHANGED. Part of this has to do with him hating the baby tent that I mentioned, and that made him pretty grumpy. So after I had been down there ten minutes, we went back to the room, and then Brett gave me beach time that afternoon by myself (which, I have to admit, was guilt-free and LOVELY). The next day though, we switched gears with the baby pool and learned that once he played in there for a few, a beach walk and the sound of the waves led to a nap under the beach umbrella. It was different than years past, but no less enjoyable (in fact, a lot more sweeter).

9. Pack Essentials

My husband laughs (and slightly grimaces… or maybe that’s the other way around) at my packing when we go on a trip. I pack anything I can that we might need. Laundry detergent, dryer sheets, trash bags, ziplocks, all the bath products, even a couple rolls of TOILET PAPER (There are certain things that you just need to have your brand, you understand). He likes to remind me that we’re not visiting a remote island, rather just near the Florida/Alabama line where a Publix is a mile away. So, basically I’m saying don’t be like me, pack less. (I did just pack a few diapers and bought a pack down there). (But I totally used a coupon). (#SorryNotSorry)

10. Set Up a Tip Jar

If you have a cute baby, your beach set-up will be a destination on just about everyone’s beach walks. We should have had a sign that said, “Stop and See: $1, Picture $2.”

But really, could you blame them?

We could have made a fortune!

We are thankful God blessed us with that little crab a little more every day.

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Sunsets, Speedos, and Sass, Oh My!

Oh, Fall Break.

It’s not me. It’s you.

You are hurting my feelings by wanting to end our relationship. We were just getting to know one another and getting used to having each other around, and now you are preparing to LEAVE!?

Downright rude.

However, I sure have enjoyed our time together. It’s not quite over, but I had a school dream last night.  And that… that is the beginning of the end.

I thought I’d document a few random thoughts and observations to remember the time we’ve shared.

Head’s up, I’m listening to The Pistol Annies right now, so my thoughts may be a little sassy.

(Speaking of, Miranda Lambert, could you write a song about the current education system in my lovely, landlocked state? You have a way with the snappy words).

(See? I better stop).

(Like our current focus on tests, tests, and FOR GOOD MEASURE, more tests, rather than learning in the state of the volunteers).

(I better change it to some James Taylor and remember I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, and I love my kiddos.  The end).

  • Speedos are a privilege, not a right.  And it is a privilege that should only be granted to a few (VERY FEW) gentlemen. I’m talking like Olympic swimmers only, and that’s iffy.
  • Europeans, particularly Germans, have been very fond of this island I’ve been on the past week.
  • And a fan of the Speedos, short ponytail, and gold necklace.
  • You’re welcome for the mental picture.
  • I will add bikinis to the privilege category. Lawd.
  • I know being on a TROPICAL ISLAND AND ALL may influence this statement, but I truly don’t miss the change in seasons. I don’t mind it being cold for Christmas, but after that, I could get my sun on in the 80s all year long.
  • I have shown serious restraint on commenting on some things related to some stuff on the Facebook lately. Is that vague enough for you?
  • (Let’s just say I love people who voice their opinions backed with research).
  • (In the words of Forrest Gump, that’s all I have to say about that).
  • I’ve been busy shell-hunting, so haven’t done as much reading as my usual on the beach.
  • However, I did read Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman (author of one of my favorites, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt). It was good, but was the first book I read following Redeeming Love.
  • Redeeming Love will never be topped for me in the land of fiction.
  • I know… never say never. But really, it never will.
  • God always reveals to me His beauty at the beach more than anywhere else. When I think that the God who created the ocean, the gazillion grains of sand, the beautiful shells, and everything else just on this little stretch of coast… that He cares about little ole me? Well, that is some kind of powerful, my friends.
  • After visiting the Lighthouse today, I had quite the dilemma. My feet were sandy with no hose (NOT hosepipe, people. That word makes my skin crawl) in sight.  So, I was going to have to put my flip flops on with my feet caked with sand.
  • (See: Problems, FIRST WORLD)
  • Anyway, the point of this almost-pointless story, is my sweet husband stood with me by the ocean’s edge, then carried me to the sidewalk so I could slide on my flip flops with sand-less feet.
  • Seriously, it was the most romantic thing he could’ve done.
  • Clearly, it doesn’t take much to make me all googly-eyed.
  • The most I’ve done for school these past two weeks has been pinning some cute ideas on Pinterest.
  • Put the phone down. I really don’t need to be the Teacher of the Week for my dedication, but the thought is appreciated.
  • I did, however, collect some pretty scallop shells for my twenty-one first grade darlings.

I could keep going, but I’m sure my hand full if that of readers are snoozing from boredom.

So, thanks, Fall Break! You’ve recharged my batteries and have provided some gorgeous sunsets to remember you by.

Next time though, talk to your pal Summer Break and keep me around a little longer.

Take It With A Grain of Sand

Greetings from Perdido!

I have enjoyed a wonderful week of sun, sand, and the sea with my darling husband.  We still have one more day o’ fun before the drive home, but it’s been SO nice to not think at all about work,  Master’s classes (well, mostly… I had to post discussion responses Sunday night), and the other daily chores. Plus, I don’t have to worry about what we’ll have for dinner. (Brett would argue that I never worry about that, but we won’t bring that up). :-)

And while I could write a really sweet, tender blog about how everyday I’m reminded how God planned the perfect guy for me, I will save you from the sap. (Off topic: Why do couples have to post their unconditional love for each other on Facebook nearly daily??? Look, I post the occasional I love you to Brett or a sweet status, but if I want to write an essay to him, I know where he lives. End of rant).

Instead, I decided to write about my raves and pet peeves of the beach. Now, I am what they call “Beach Extraordinaire” (don’t ask me who ‘they’ is… just go with it). I’ve gone since in the womb at least once a year.  And over the course of my at least twenty-three beach trips, you begin to pick up on things that you adore and things that make you want to stick your head in the sand.

Please hold the applause until the end of the show.

TOP TEN RAVES:

  1. The ocean: Of course! Its beauty and majesty never cease to remind me of the Almighty God we serve.
  2. The sand: Some people hate the sand, but I love it! Can’t have the sea without the sand.
  3. Reading: I haven’t gotten into a book this trip, but I have read a few magazines. One of my favorite things to do that I don’t get to much because my reading time is devoted to textbooks.
  4. Walks: This is going to sound kind of sad, but I probably get the most exercise during my week on the beach. I’ll walk a mile twice a day without even realizing it. Why can’t Tennessee have one of those?!
  5. Sleeping to the Waves: Our condo has a window looking right out to the ocean in the bedroom, and we have had it opened all week with the screen covered. It’s straight up magical falling asleep to the waves and waking up to them too.
  6. Condo Living: I wouldn’t want to live in a condo back home, but at the beach it’s my preferred way to stay. I love the pools, the units are nice, and it’s just enough space to spread out but not be too far away. If that makes any sense.
  7. Eating Out: Feeling ZERO guilt about eating out every night of the week. :-) (When we have kids, that will change… so we are taking advantage!)
  8. Groceries: This is going to sound weird, but I love going to the grocery store (Publix) as soon as we unpack. We pick out just about anything we want… cokes, popcorn, candy, chips, and yes, we got some healthy things too… love to eat fruit on the beach!
  9. Donuts for Breakfast: Need I say more.
  10. Stress Free Living: When we’re here, we are as low key as we can be. We don’t argue (us? argue? NEVER! ;)), we stay up, we sleep in, we eat what we want, we swim… you get the picture.

TOP TEN PEEEEEVES:

  1. Boom Boxes: So, let me get this straight. The sound of the waves aren’t good enough for you, so you need to bring your 90s boom box and BLARE your country music, and in doing so, everyone within FIFTY FEET of you has to hear your awful Toby Keith tunes.  They invented this really cool thing called HEADPHONES. Use them.
  2. Two Pieces: Takinis are fine, but bikinis should be outlawed for one reason only: 99% of ladies who wear them shouldn’t (I would include myself in that group). Some girls who have such cute figures make themselves look like they have extra weight when they really don’t, but they insist on the bikini. I don’t get it. Leave some things to the imagination…
  3. Speedos: I really don’t need to explain, do I?
  4. Litterbugs: I don’t think the sea creatures enjoy your glass bottles.
  5. Cigar Smokers: This kinda goes back to the boom box, but everyone around you smells your nasty cigar. Have it somewhere where no one will vom from the smell, k thanks?
  6. Double Parkers: The condo parking lot is limited, so could your SUV learn how to park? (I’m looking at you, Kentucky drivers). ;)
  7. Parents: Ok, not ALL parents. 99% of the parents at the beach are awesome and so fun to watch them play with their kiddos. However, (and this is really about a restaurant on the beach, but oh well) when your child (who is at least 5 years old) is SQUEALING at the HIGHEST PITCH in the restaurant, and you continue to play on your iPhone, the teacher in me wants to make that child pull her card and think about her choices. And yours too. There, I feel much better.
  8. Those Loud Paddleball thingamajigs: You know the ones I’m talking about. They tend to make the loudest BOOOOOOOOOIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNG sound anytime it hits the ball. As a kid, I can see the appeal. But seeing adults use them? Only if you are on a private beach where no one has to hear your boooinnngs.
  9. White Shirt, Khaki Shorts Combo: It kind of became a running joke with Brett and me, as we would take drives to Gulf Shores, or stare out on the balcony: “Family picture time! White shirt, khaki shorts!” I know that’s an easy solution for everyone, but let’s show some creativity people!
  10. Those Who Take Forever at the Hose: By the time you’re walking in from a day at the beach, you are exhausted and the only place you want to be is in your condo taking a shower. So, after walking what feels like a football field length of hot sand, you are ready to quickly rinse off your feet and supplies and head up. However, the people in front of you are interested in cleaning off EVERY SINGLE GRAIN OF SAND off of themselves and seem to be in no hurry at all, despite you standing there. This happened to Brett and me yesterday, except the man was SPRAYING OFF THE STEPS. We were seriously standing there holding the chairs, umbrellas, cooler, book bag, etc and he says “Hi” and CONTINUES TO SPRAY THE STEPS OFF.

Having said allllll of that, there is no place I’d rather be.  Would just enjoy it more if we had some friends and family down here too!

I hope you get your toes in the sand wherever that may be! The lake, the ocean, or your own backyard.

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