I’ve been watching all the traditional first-day-of-school-front-doorstep pictures flying by on my Facebook newsfeed. I love them! It’s so fun to see how kids change from year to year. So, I decided to hop on the bandwagon . . . with a twist . . . and just because we can.
For the record, this wasn’t really our first day of school. We started about three weeks ago and have been having a blast. Also, taking four kids to the beach by myself was no walk in the park. Actually, it was fine once we were situated on the sand, but walking (hauling all our stuff) in and out was another story. More about that in a minute. A few other funny happenings and thoughts on the day:
~ Our umbrella blew away despite my best efforts to pound it into the sand. A lovely British-sounding gentleman was gallant enough to chase it down for me as I just happened to be breastfeeding at the moment it decided to succumb to the wind. My second attempt at pounding it into the ground was more successful, though using my flip-flop as a buffer between the hammer and the umbrella shaft proved fatal for my poor flip-flop.
~ I have been reading about alternative sunscreens in an effort to hopefully eliminate spraying my family down with chemicals every time we venture out into the sun. I happened upon a few websites and online folk peddling the virtues of coconut oil as sunscreen. So, being the brave soul that I am, I decided to test it out on myself. Needless to say, I’m glad I spared my children this particular experiment. After further reading (a little too late for me, unfortunately), I will say that coconut oil could be a viable sunscreen option only AFTER one has conditioned his skin to the sun. Meaning, you need to have a nice base tan before you can rely on coconut oil to protect you from sunburn. I used it on my face, my arms, and any leftover got rubbed haphazardly on my legs as I fully intended to sit in the shade with the baby the entire time. My face is barely pink, my arms are burned, but only slightly below my shirt tan-line and TERRIBLY on my shoulders. My legs are completely fried. And that last has me totally baffled as I stayed true to my goal and spent most of my time under the umbrella. Weird. But, they were lily white to begin with, so maybe my 20 minutes coaxing Karsten into the tiny waves was enough to doom me to lobsterdom for a week.
~ This was my first visit to the beach where I really felt like a veteran beach-goer. We had our blanket, beach bag with towels, chairs, umbrella, beach toys, boogie board (THANK YOU, AUNT AMY!!!), and wagon. And, we packed lunches that we kept tightly tucked away as we watched a few of our fellow sun-worshippers lose their snacks to the insanely bold and frenzied beach birds. It made me chuckle because once upon a time that happened to us. I guess it’s sort of a rite of passage.
~ Karsten’s swim trunks kept falling off. They are slightly too big still, but they were the only trunks I could find quickly as I raced out the door that morning. It kind of gave me anxiety as I watched him tear around the beach, running after birds and brothers; I worried that they would drop completely and make him face plant in the sand. After all was said and done, I worried needlessly because A) he ended up taking them off completely, along with his diaper, and running around nudey in front of all the laughing beach bums instead; and B) he ended up looking like he had face planted in the sand anyway, though his sandy face was more masterfully applied (and taste-tested).
~ There’s a picture of this next story down below here somewhere. The picture totally looks innocent and “Hallmark,” but don’t be fooled. Our whole section of the beach was entertained for about 10 minutes by the most awful tantrum I’ve ever seen. The kid was screaming at his dad at the top of his lungs, hitting him, kicking him, CHASING him. The poor dad was trying to pass it off playfully, smiling for all the world to see, but it was very clear that this kid 1) ruled the roost, and 2) was completely out of control. Karsten sat in his little water hole and watched the whole thing with a baffled expression on his face. Even Soren and Anders paused what they were doing to stare at the drama as it unfolded. I feel for parents who’ve never earned the respect of their children.
~ I didn’t think I’d be able to manage the older boys using the boogie board while tending a toddler and holding a baby, but I needn’t have worried. Those boys charged right in the water and had a BLAST on that boogie board. In fact, Soren got so absorbed by what he was doing that he even drifted over into the surfers’ side of the checkered flag and had to be shouted back to the south by lifeguards using their truck PA system. I unplugged nursing Oskar and charged out there to give my wayward son the wherefore’s and how-to’s of beach usage. Upon threat of boogie boarding banishment, he didn’t stray again. I was really proud of Soren and Anders for being as fearless as they were in the face of something new and challenging.
Okay, to wrap up this novel, let me just tell you about the beautiful angels that helped me get in and get out. When we arrived, a she-surfer helped me buckle my Ergo. A little thing, but totally appreciated. On my way out, we were walking barefoot back to the car when my new-found beach pride was completely squashed as I remembered, too late, the burning hot sand at the back of the beach. While Soren and Anders double-timed it off the sand, Karsten just planted himself in one spot and started screeching and hollering and hot-potato-ing his feet. There I was, wearing my baby, carrying our beach chairs, and hauling for all I was worth on our heavy, over-stuffed wagon, trying to figure out my next move, when up ran a tall, beautiful woman who simply took the wagon handle and chairs from me and said, “Let me help you to your car.” I ran back to Karsten and dragged him quickly through the sand to the blessed relief of the sidewalk, then accompanied Miranda to our car as she told me about her beach memories with her three boys, now older and past “the crazy stage.” After she left, yet another woman offered to help me hoist our wagon into the back of our van. I thank the Lord for the good people still on this beautiful earth.
Things I learned for next time:
* Don’t try an all-day beach day without a pack mule (aka Daddy) present
* Wear flip-flops on the sand
* Dig a hole to China, then insert beach umbrella.
* Find a better alternative sunscreen
* Camp farther away from the checkered flag
Oh, and in keeping with his theme, let me just assure you that, yes, Oskar slept. A lot.