Sunday, May 30, 2021

goin' down the shore

We survived our first road trip as a family of four! Two weeks ago, we packed up and drove to the Jersey shore for a short vacation with Dan's family. The drive lasted about 12 hours of car time each way, but the kids handled it surprisingly well. Mae entertained herself with a book, a scratch art pad, a little crossword book, and an old iPhone loaded with hours of Octonauts. I knew she'd be an easy kid in the car when all her toys fit into the small side pocket of our diaper bag. Colin cycled between napping, playing with rattles, and roaring his displeasure about being trapped in a car seat. I don't think he ever cried. He just made Chewbacca-sounds at the top of his lungs whenever he was tired.

We arrived late on Sunday evening and spent time with the family while the kids got some residual wiggles out from being stuck in the car all day. We got to meet Colleen's fiancé Bobby for the first time in-person! She asked me to be a bridesmaid, and Mae will be their flower girl. We are so excited!!
We went to the beach after Colin's morning nap on Monday. Mae got right down to business building a big sand city complete with moat and Uncle David's signature Sea Witch. She checked off all the important kid-at-the-beach tasks: dig a big hole, build a sand castle, bury your legs in sand, collect shells, and hunt for sand crabs. We made a lot of sand mermaid tails!
Mae's favorite activity was darting in and out of the waves like a little sandpiper. She didn't mind that the water was only 60 degrees! The weather was beautiful all week, sunny and pretty warm for spring. Mae was in her element!
Colin had a very different opinion of the beach. For his first introduction to the ocean, I carried him down to the edge of the water and dipped his toes in the edge of the surf. INSTANT SCREAMING. He dug his nails into my arms and clung to me like a terrified baby monkey. Eventually, I was able to put him down on the beach blanket. He slowly worked up the courage to crawl on the blanket and then pull up on a beach chair. He edged along it until his foot touched sand; he looked down, and then started screaming again.

I tried some beach immersion therapy on our second day. I carried him and sang baby songs as I walked along the edge of the water. He started out screaming every time a wave washed over my feet, but relaxed and even babbled a little as we walked. Then he sat in my lap in the sand for a while. Eventually I was able to set him in the sand by himself, though he sat frozen in place for a good ten minutes, clutching his new favorite toy: a yellow shovel. By the end of the day, he was happily playing in the sand... as long as he was far away from the scary waves.
We took a baby pool to the beach and filled it with a couple inches of ocean water. Colin loved splashing around in it. On our last day, we caught a handful of sand crabs and put them in the pool to observe. Colin tried to eat one.
Between naps and feedings/meals, we usually only had about an hour and a half to spend at the beach each morning. In the afternoons, we hung out at the house. Mae and Colin got lots of quality time with GranE and Batman. Mae had so much fun setting up her new Playmobil zoo, playing with Batman's Bat Cave toy, and having sleepovers in their room every night.
Mae and Colleen got in some yoga practice. Colin tried yoga also. He decided he wasn't a fan after attempting a complicated pose involving sitting on his knees and putting his hands behind his head... and promptly tipping over onto his face.
Of course Mae had to get some quality time with Uncle Tim on the front porch. Instead of their annual reading of the newspaper together, they had an in-depth review of the Playmobil catalogue. Tim also introduced her to Scooby Doo, which she found hilarious. (I asked her which episode they watched, and she told me, "the one with the ghost." That didn't narrow it down much.)
We also made a few visits to Shark Park. Colin loved the swings, and Mae impressed me with her climbing skills.
This was a much needed vacation after a very challenging couple of weeks. I've been working overtime for the past couple months to prepare for a few big reviews that happened the week before we left for our trip... which means Dan was been working parental overtime taking care of kids by himself in the evenings. In addition to that, we were dealing with a family medical issue that had me sick with anxiety for a few days. It was just... a lot to deal with. We are back in a rhythm now and enjoying a (slightly) slower pace for a bit.

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