Our trip to the shore was wonderful, and I gathered several observations to share.
1) It takes patience and good aim to successfully coat children with sunscreen. While I've never wrestled greased pigs, I imagine there's some commonalty.
2) If you're sitting on a beach chair with a baby on your lap and you think the baby is perfectly balanced, beware. Like a rogue wave, there will be no warning when the baby lurches forward and face plants into the sand. Kerrington managed this.
I turned her over to inspect her face, already greasy from a film of sunscreen and now peppered with sand. Her baby hands were so quick that I had a doozy of a time preventing her from permanently damaging her retinas by rubbing those sandy hands into her sand-filled eyes. Like all things at the beach, the towel I used to clean her face was gritty, but at least I felt productive as I dusted her off.
She looked so cute in her sun shirt and hat that I forgave the episode. She got interested in eating the sand and did the same.
But that one starfish will multiply.
Then other random stuffed animals -- a duck, a monkey, an elephant, a pair of sharks, and an oversized Tweety bird -- will join the starfish to form a strange menagerie.
Your children will notice if even one of them is missing.
4) As I reviewed the pictures taken at the amusement park, I noticed that I appeared to enjoy the spinning tea cups more than my children did.
5) When attempting a family photo (one that will not turn out as well as you had hoped) you will overlook important details. In my case, I forgot that my daughter was holding an ice cream cone.
I asked her to stand next to me. Since she has no concept of personal space, she took this as an invitation to position herself directly behind me and let the ice cream drip onto my head. I noticed later in the evening when absentmindedly running my hand through my hair and discovering a clump of sprinkles.
5) Take every opportunity to swim in the ocean. Really, it's worth it.
6) Even if you manage to pack systematically while headed to vacation, the process while returning home from vacation will be much less thoughtful. Items that do not belong together will be haphazardly jammed into any open duffel or loose shopping bag, which is why, upon our arrival home, I emptied one trash bag that contained sunscreen, paper towels, seashells, coloring books, worn socks, a tee shirt, loose change, a box of gummy snacks, empty sippy cups, an apple, and a bar of soap.
7) The ride home will contain some of this:
a fair share of this:
and not nearly enough of this:
We permitted an ungodly amount of Curious George episodes and one Wiggles movie to be shown on the travel DVD player, even though I internally questioned whether this was ruining my children's imagination and thwarting budding observation skills.
Didn't I used to press my forehead against the backseat window and daydream about life in new places when I traveled as a child? I wondered. I nearly convinced myself that my daughters would be deprived of creativity, appreciation for travel, and the ability to process scenery, but then I remembered one of my own childhood road trips where I escaped within an inch of my life after driving my parents to the brink by whining, kicking the back of the driver's seat, and arguing with my brother for ten consecutive hours between Raleigh and Pittsburgh.
The DVD's didn't seem that bad then.
Eventually Joel and I had a discussion about how the drum line on a certain Wiggles song was actually quite good.
8) You may attempt to be creative. While stuck in traffic, I launched a game of Create-a-Song by generating three random items or words -- say, puff ball, umbrella, and skydiving -- and asking each family member to compose a song that included all of them. This continued for forty-five minutes. We're superstars now.
9) I have visible tan lines. They're fading quickly, though. I only have 14 more minutes of darker pigmentation until I revert to my pale Caucasian self.
10) I'm still finding sand in random places, even days later.