In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Babies' First Beach Day

We’ve driven up to Lake Michigan every year around my husband’s birthday.  Only a few hours away from home, it’s one of his favorite places to relax. 

We had talked all summer about whether we should skip the beach this year or go as a family of four.  I knew that taking two four month olds to the beach for the first time was going to be a lot of work!  I knew that it could go really well or it could go really bad.  I knew that we could drive all the way up there, and then have to leave if the babies decided to be super fussy that day.  In my head, I thought of all of the things that could go wrong…..and then I thought who cares?!? Either way, we would be making memories.  And memories we certainly did make!

Just preparing everything for a family beach day was a lot of work.  And then there is the three hour drive there and back.  Like anything we do with the babies, I had to come up with a strategy to work around their feeding schedule.  The plan was: wake the babies up for a feed at 6am, let them go back to sleep while Mommy and Daddy got ready, pack the car, get the babies ready for the day, feed the babies at 8:45, leave the house by 9:15, arrive at the beach around 12pm, feed the babies lunch once we got unpacked on the beach, walk around with the babies and let them play, put the babies down for their nap under the umbrella, eat our lunch and soak up some sun, feed the babies at 3, pack up our stuff and head back home, get home around 6pm just in time to feed the babies, give the babies baths and do our evening routine, feed the babies a night time bottle and put them to bed by 9pm.  

Yeah, that was the plan.  Here's what really happened.  One word....CONSTRUCTION.  Yep, there was some unexpected construction about about thirty miles away from the beach, which led to an additional hour of bumper to bumper traffic on the way THERE and on the way BACK!  

Now, my babies love car rides! They love the interstate!  But I kid you not, my fussy Aaron will cry every time we have to stop at a red light or a stop sign.  As soon as the car is moving again, he'll calm right down.  So when I saw the traffic jam ahead, I knew what was gonna happen.  You guessed it!  We had an hour of screaming from both babies on the way THERE and on the way BACK!  Not to mention the traffic jam put our entire feed schedule off.  I had to try to bottle feed two hungry babies in a traffic jam!  It was not an easy task, in case you were wondering.  

One thing is for sure, having a beach day as a married couple and having a beach day as parents of twin babies are completely different! For starters, when it was the two of us, all we packed was a cooler, a beach bag, an umbrella and our beach blanket and chairs.  With the babies, we had to add a whole lot more things to our usual beach gear.   We had to pack the stroller and two car seats, two baby carriers, two bumbos, the babies’ beach bag full of diapers and toys and the babies’ food bag.  Oh and of course we had to pack the babies!  And that’s just packing the car!

Unloading our gear on the beach was another story.  I'm sure we looked ridiculous as hauled two babies and our gear from the parking lot to the sand and down towards the water!  Matt made fun of me, but I had us do a practice run at home, so we knew how many trips we would have to make from the car to the beach.  We figured out we could make it in two trips.  We each had a baby on us in their carrier.  Then I had both beach bags and the babies food bag, while Daddy carried the cooler, umbrella and chairs.  Once we got our spot on beach set up with the babies’ still attached to us, Daddy went back to get the bumbos, while I reapplied sunscreen, changed diapers and prepared bottles.  Not even at the beach five minutes, and we were already worn out!

Secondly, when we had a beach day with just the two of us, we could actually relax on the beach.  I could read a book or take a nap.  Ahhh, yes those were the days!  I could soak up the sun with no worries, while Matt enjoyed the water.  I have no idea when or if we'll ever be able to do that again!  We could eat our lunch in peace and enjoy the picnic we had packed.  There is absolutely none of that now that we are parents!  I can't tell you the last time I sat down to enjoy a meal with out a baby needing me or me wondering when a baby will need me.  Ha! 

From the day we got home from the hospital, our lives have revolved around babies.  The babies come before any of our needs or wants.  I don’t even get naps at home, let alone on a beach with two four month olds.  The water was too cold for the babies, so Matt didn’t get to swim.  I had to stay under the umbrella and hold my fussy Ethan, so there was no soaking up the sun for me.  And we ended up taking our picnic to the park, because Ethan decided the beach wasn’t for him.
Another thing we had to consider with the babies was the weather.  Before babies, we just checked to make sure it wasn’t raining.  After babies, the weather couldn’t be too hot, too cold or too windy.  It had to be just right.  This really limited when we could go to the beach.  We ended up going up on a Sunday, because it was the best weather on our three day weekend.  It was sunny and in the 70’s with no wind….perfect weather for dipping the babies’ feet in the water and then letting them play under the umbrella and/or take a nap while Mommy and Daddy enjoyed the sun.

Well, that was the plan anyway.  We had hoped that the babies would enjoy walking with us along the beach…..and we had hoped that they would think dipping their feet in the water was fun….and we had hoped that they would play with their toys in their bumbos under the umbrella….and we had hoped that they would take a nap under the umbrella after they took a bottle and were tired. 

That’s the joy of taking two babies to the beach.  You never know what they are going to do.  If we only took Aaron to the beach, then all of those things that we hoped would happen probably would have happened.  Aaron really liked the beach.  He loves being outside, and the beach was the place for him.  He loved the water and all of the people.  Ethan on the other hand, decided he wanted nothing to do with the beach.  He hated the water.  He cried unless I was cradling him under the umbrella.  We ended up leaving the beach after about an hour, because my usually happy little Ethan wouldn't stop crying!  I figured that people don’t come to the beach to hear a crying baby.  Not wanting to ruin everyone else’s beach day,  we packed up the car and took the babies and our lunch to the park.  Afterwards we took the babies for a walk into town to get some ice cream.  Once Ethan was in his familiar car seat for a walk, he was one happy little fella.  It didn’t take us long to figure out that while Aaron is our little beach bum, Ethan is just not a beach baby.

The babies' first beach day could have gone better.  But ya just never know how it's gonna go until you give it a try.  I'm glad I didn't back out of our family adventure, for fear of it not being worth all of the work.  Their first beach day was indeed worth all of the work!  Seeing Aaron's face when he felt the sand and the water for the first time was totally worth it!  And seeing Ethan's reaction was just as cute, even if it was the exact opposite reaction of his brother.  

We have no regrets about packing up the car and taking this memorable family day trip.  We have no regret's because it was just that....memorable. I love that we were able to make memories as a family.  Sure, I would have rather had those memories been two happy babies doing exactly what I had planned when I had planned to do it.  But let's face it, how realistic is that! The babies' first beach day was just what we expected it to was full of the unexpected!  This is our new life with twins and what a fun life it is!  We're so thankful for our little fellas!  Who knew these two little cuties could bring us such great joy, while at the same time completely wearing us out!  Here's two hoping next year bring just as many fun memories.

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