Taking Baby To the Beach.

I make no secret of the fact that I LOVE the water  A fish, I tell ya.  I could spend all day every day watching the waves if that was an option.  I’m sure many of you feel the same way.

So you can imagine my excitement to take Cullen on his first real beach adventure this past weekend.  (We took him with us to Maui in February, but he was so teeny tiny he didn’t really grasp the whole sand and surf thing.)  One thing I learned this weekend?  Taking a baby to the beach is RIDICULOUS.  Long gone are the days when I strolled down the boardwalk with nothing but a book and a beach towel in hand, ready to spend sun up to sun down beneath the blazing sun. 

IMG_3121 (640x475)

Nope, beaching it with a baby looks more like this.

IMG_4696 (640x426)

Totally ridiculous, right?  I haven’t written as much about Cullen’s adventures recently, but I thought it might be fun to share our beach outing since it was a first, and it was also slightly comical.

First off, our plan was to leave the house at 9am.  Casey was absolutely convinced that if we didn’t get to the beach super early, the parking would be nonexistent and the beach would already be filled with ghostly Seattle-ites desperate for sun.  But after Saturday’s outing to Alki beach, we realized we needed some new beach gear.  Most importantly – a shade tent or umbrella for Cullen.  I don’t know what it is about the sun up here, but it’s fierce and burns happen quickly.

We woke up early so that I could start packing us up to get ready to go – outfits, diapers, blankets, snacks, towels – the works.  Meanwhile, Casey headed to the store in search of some beach accessories.  I suggested a small cabana tent.  Ninety minutes later, he returned with an 8×8 tailgating monstrosity.  We are absurd. 

An hour later than intended, we finally pulled out of our driveway.  Knowing we’d be gone all afternoon, I packed as if we were headed out on a two week vacation.  I thought of any and all scenarios.  New moms learn quickly to be prepared.

For example, YES – it was going to be a high of 85 on Sunday.  But this is Seattle, which means the high temp for the day isn’t reached until something like 4pm.  I knew it would probably be about 65 degrees when we got to the beach.  Extra layers were packed for everyone.

IMG_4665 (427x640)

Good thing we got there early, too!  We got the LAST spot in the sand.

IMG_4669 (640x426)

I’m kidding, obviously, but in reality I was glad we were there early.  We got a money parking spot and we had clear unobstructed views of the water and mountains in the distance. 

IMG_4670 (640x427)

I learned that it is always, always important to have something available for Cullen to climb.  When we go for walks at the park, I often put a blanket down for a bit when we’re done so he can stretch his legs.  And despite the warm grass and toys strewn about the blanket, he is only ever interested in climbing up his stroller. 

The same rule applied at the beach.  After discovering the joys of eating sand, he quickly moved on to climbing beach chairs.

IMG_4685 (426x640)

And he practiced his side-stepping and assisted walking by going back and forth between the chair and the cooler.  Nevermind the long stretch of sand and crashing waves.  In-tent entertainment proved to be just fine!

IMG_4690 (427x640)

I also learned that when babies are around sand, you cannot take your eyes off them for even a half-second.  If I looked away at all, I looked back to find Cullen eating fist-fulls of sand or trying to swallow rocks.  And as he took a bold step between the chair and the cooler, I was too slow to catch him before he landed open-mouthed in the sand.  He was not pleased.

IMG_4698 (427x640)

He did, however, LOVE the water!  It was shockingly cold, and I thought for sure he’d scream the minute it touched his toes.  As it turns out, he couldn’t get enough of it.  We both stood in the 45 degree (no, really) wading pool while my toes went numb and he splashed and danced with glee. 

A few solid hours of climbing, eating sand, and splashing – and he was more than ready for a solid snooze.  Casey took one for the team and offered to sit in the shade for Cullen’s nap.  They sat like that for almost two hours while I was able to close my eyes and relax in the glorious sunshine.  My hero.

IMG_4692 (640x427)

Finally around two, my little crab woke up and was ready to eat.  I fed him in the beach chair while he peed all over both of us.  What a stinker. 

IMG_4708 (427x640)

Luckily I was prepared and had plenty of extra outfits on hand.  Some brief public nudity later, he was dry and clean and feeling much better. 

IMG_4712 (425x640)

We were all feeling pretty crispy and sunned-out, so we packed up and left around 2:30pm.  What I used to consider my peak beach hours was now my I’m ready to go time.

If I had to pick, I’d say the beach is probably my absolute favorite place.  It used to be something so simple and so relaxing –a  place to unplug and recharge.  Things are a lot more complicated now – packing, planning, chasing, feeding, napping – the works. 

Despite all of that, I can honestly say that my favorite place just got better.  Sandy baby feet.  Splashing and flashing that toothy smile.  Big tufts of baby hair matted with sunscreen, blowing in the mountain breeze. 

IMG_4713 (640x425)

It just keeps getting better.