Monday, September 01, 2008

Aaaannnd . . . We're Back!

We had a wonderfully nice time at the beach this year. Sun, sand, field trips, hanging out and talking, eating yummy seafood, drinking, swimming, visiting with our friends. We already can't wait for next year.

I had imagined, crazily enough, that I might have time to write on the blog during my "vacation" but as you can see, it didn't happen. Those of you with young children will understand why. Taking a vacation with little kids is quite a lot of work! It is not an undertaking for the weak (physically or mentally or emotionally).

It takes about an hour to get ready to go the beach, for example. First you must begin by packing the Snack Bag, filling it with beach-friendly snacks like pop tarts and "gummies" (aka "squishy fruits") and juice boxes and diet cokes and possibly beers. You must also remember to pack insulin and epis and baby wipes and talcum powder (great for getting sand off) and a hairbrush and hair things and and hair de-tangling spray and sunscreen. Then you must find a quantity of towels and sand toys. Finally, you must convince everyone to use the potty and get into their swimsuits and submit to the sunscreen process--this part alone takes about 30 minutes, and I'm not including the time it takes to locate shoes, which is usually at least another 10 minutes.

Are you then ready to go to the beach? Well, no, because then you realize that you've neglected to get yourself ready. :o)

Bring a book to the beach? Relax with a beer? Socialize? Uh, not until they're teenagers, evidently, because once you're at the beach, you must keep a sharp lookout for people and their lives, and also help de-sand sandy people who have sand in their eyes and sand in their hair and sand on their hands and sand on their snacks and sand in their mouths and sand in their personal female areas. This is after you've erected whatever shady shelter you brought.

You must make sure that no one gets carried away by a rip current and ensure quick and full recoveries from any and all waves. Just when you think you can sit down and crack open that beer, you will be required to retrieve a quantity of water for castle-building or that crab he found. Soon it's time to reverse the process and lug everything back to the house, including about 30 extra pounds of seashells (for the Collection) and sand. The outside showers really helped, and it was pretty cute to see lots of naked sandy children running around getting rinsed off.

See what I mean? Go the beach and/or pool several times a day and it really eats up time. We had a pool at the house, so getting ready for that usually took less time, because if you forgot something, then it was easy to get it. Still, that part usually took a good 20-30 minutes, since it required a swimsuit change and re-sunscreening.

Most of this pool/beach business was mostly Brendan's purview this year because I was in charge of Baby, who still needs to nurse every 5 minutes (he's 14.5 pounds!) and can't be in the sun very long, if at all. I helped with the Snack Bag and Swimsuit process, and thankfully our friends were there to help Brendan keep an eye on people. Still, the blogging suffered. I did get a chance to catch up on my blog reading, and that was nice, too.

We had two heart-stopping moments this year. One of the dads had to rescue Morgan from the pool when she got in just a little bit over her head and was jumping up and down, trying to get air. I had the baby in the sling, so could not have gotten to her in time. There was another dad right behind the first dad--a back up rescuer. She was pretty freaked out, I think, partly from getting in too deep, and partly from the surprise rescue maneuver. (She did finally forgive that daddy for scooping her up out of the water.) It was hard not to imagine how it might have been if I had looked over at her 15 or 30 seconds later. Yikes. I'm so glad we have lots of friends with quick reflexes. Talk about grateful.

Then Brendan had a scare with her in the grocery store--she got lost! Like actually lost! Only for a couple of minutes, and one of the grocery store peopleguys found her and got her back to Brendan. Still. We're both hoping she's learned a lesson about staying with us--she tends to wander. She gets interested in things and involved and doesn't hear us. And we have learned a lesson to never take our eyes off of her, not for one second. Which can present a logistical challenge when you are looking for groceries or have other children to look after. I find myself wondering how she or I will possibly make it to her adulthood. Can I possibly survive this? :o)

The Outer Banks is so beautiful--the beaches are very nice and not usually very crowded. There was a lot of vegetation on the dunes this year--must have been a lot of rain in the last year. We saw the Bodie Island lighthouse and the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, but not up close this year. Maybe next time. On Wednesday, we took a tour of the Elizabeth II and the Adventure Museum at Festival Park in Manteo. Again--highly recommended for kids of all ages. I'll get pictures up on the FamBlog soon.

I think my favorite part of our annual vacation is just seeing our friends and their kids. I'm glad our kids will get to know their kids, and our evening grownup dinners are always lively and often hilarious. (The wine helps, of course, although some of us are just naturally pretty funny!) Conversations with our best friend from college are always interesting and philosophically stimulating. (And yes, I take full credit for bringing him over to the bloggy side!)

There's more more more to write--remind me to tell you about our adventure at the hotel on our way home--here's a hint: it involved two fire alarms plus evacuations! But I really must go and work on some laundry and various other things for now.

What's new with you?


Deb said...

Take heart about the getting-lost-in-a-grocery store bit... having to keep your eyes on her every second doesn't last forever. Really, only until she's 5 or 6. Then, in your local store, you can start trusting her to know her way around, and send her off to get things for you, and challenge her to find her way back to you. It's a good, and safe, way to teach self-sufficiency and navigation and awareness of surroundings.

By the way, I have a different spin on the getting-lost routine than a lot of other parents. I hate the idea of scaring the kids with "Never, never talk to strangers." And, really, that's unrealistic. Store peopleguys are strangers, and kids don't know how to recognize uniforms (and of course they can be faked, too). So: Madison and Ella know that they NEVER exit a store without Mom or Dad, no matter what anyone tells them. And: What to do if you get lost? Preferably, find a mom with children; it's pretty much guaranteed that the mom will drop everything and do whatever it takes to help you find your parents. And if you can't find a mom, find another lady.

My girls have always been pretty comfortable with the common sense of this strategy. And no need to mention any of the incredibly unlikely, scarring, scary stuff.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Oh, you reminded me of the vacations with kids routines. Ours were usually camping trips or the summer cabin in the mountains. There it was rescuing kids from the Jemez river, keeping them from getting fish hooked, and getting the mud off! And cooking. You'd just get everything and everyone cleaned up from breakfast and then it was lunch time.

But it really doesn't last too long before the older ones get good at helping with the littles, and you do finally get to pop open that beer!

About getting lost in the store: The Boychick used to hide in racks of clothes when he was small and I got used to looking for him. I taught the same way that Deb (comment 1) did--and even with the AS kid, it worked pretty well. When they get to be 4 and 5, they like to show off their helping prowess, and in the process they learn how to find you.

Welcome home!

Rational Jenn said...

Hi Deb and Elisheva! I'm in total agreement with you both about the "don't talk to strangers" routine. Have you ever read Protecting the Gift? Can't recall the author's name just now, but he's a security adviser-type and suggests telling children to find a Mommy if they get lost. Don't find a man, and don't find a policeman/security guard peopleguy. Only find a Mommy. I was actually that Mommy once, and I can say from experience that no conscientious mother would ever allow a small child to be scared and alone and missing his parents.

I like the idea of "never leave a building without one of us" too. I'll reinforce that one. We went over the Mommy rule with her, too.

It's reassuring to hear that it will get better. This is really our first experience with this, since Ryan, even at 3, was quite dependable about remaining near us. It's not fair of me to expect the same of Morgan, I know. I'm beginning to suspect that Ryan might have been unusually dependable--in this area, anyway. Morgan needs more looking after in this way and we have been more careful to go over our rules with her. Sometimes I think I've told her things or that she's heard me discuss such things with Ryan and that she "gets it" but now I know that's not true--and not fair to her either.

Some of this is that I'm still flummoxed about how to handle this three-kid thing. I'm a bit tired, a bit distracted, and a bit hormonal. :o) But now we know to take a little extra time with her and watch her a little more closely.

And I'm so glad to know that it will improve, eventually! :o)

And I love the idea of sending them on grocery store missions--Ryan will LOVE that. I can imagine his covert ops already . . . !

McLazarus said...

I think your estimate for getting to the beach was way off. I was just at the Jersey shore with my two little ones (2, 3.5) and my niece and nephew (6, 2) and I don't think we made it to the beach from, "let's go" in under 90 minutes.

I think you neglected the go to the potty again, after the adults finally got ready. And the put the shoes back on the 2 year olds (again), and of course the all important put the toys back in the bag (again).

I think the most important part of staying sane on the kid vacation is the adult time, we flubbed this because pop-pop would fall asleep in the only common room when we were actively putting the little ones to bed in a strange place. Next time there will be better planning.

Rational Jenn said...

McLazarus--thanks for stopping by! You're quite right. Obviously I was presenting a best case scenario! :o)

Kelly Elmore said...

Well, at least you guys do the 90 minute prep. I, with the spontaneity and devil-may-care attitude that goes with being an ESFP (some might call it laziness and the inability to think ahead), just trek off to the beach, 5 year old in tow, with no water, towels, snacks, etc. We always have a brilliant Victorian or turn of the century novel with us, but Livy does not appreciate this when she is thirsty and has sand in her eyes. So we end up on a wildly memorable adventure with many tears and a carefree spirit. Thank goodness many of our adventures include our friend Jenn who always has plenty of water, snacks, towels, changes of clothes, etc. I hope one day Livy will appreciate that though I might have driven her half insane, we always had a good novel along for the ride.