Sea Air

It has been a strange summer.

Our baby was born just before school ended in June. And so, it has been a hectic few months.

On the one hand, having a summer baby is great. No crazy winter clothing. Easier schedules and less schlepping the newborn around to the older kids’ activities.

On the other hand, this lack of structure for my two older children has been a challenge. Not that they need to be scheduled all the time, but they are feeling the effects of me being trapped under a nursing baby for what feels like 56 hours a day. When we do get out, we hold our breaths to see if the baby is going to scream his head off in the car. {Usually, the answer is yes. None of that car-induced napping here. Perhaps he disapproves of our minivan purchase and is firmly in the SUV camp}.

So it has been hard for the two bigger kids and, although they have been troopers, it does make me feel bad. I think we were all going a little stir crazy, even if in the warm weather of our own backyard.

While logging my 12,000+ hours nursing the baby, I saw everyone’s Facebook pictures posted all summer long — on the beach, traveling near and far, relishing vacation. I sighed when I looked at them. Let me be clear: I adore our new baby. And I know that the newborn stage is time-sucking beyond words, yet temporary. But, still, I did  feel that the summer was happening at an arm’s length. Happening to everyone else. I just wished for a little change of scenery.

Enter our good friends, who graciously invited our Van of Chaos to visit them at their beach house for two nights.

I have to admit, I hesitated. It’s hard to visualize how your two month-old is going to do in a new environment. Our baby is, shall we say, a crier. And I really cringed at the thought of him torturing everyone. But my husband made the executive decision that we were going, crying baby and all. The older two kids needed it. And so did I. It was time to pack up the minivan for a brief escape.

One of the perks of being married to an engineer is his ability to pack a disproportionate amount of our belongings into a vehicle in an efficient, Jenga-like manner. As you probably know, including the baby’s belongings into any trip, no matter how brief, instantly turns any family into the Griswolds. We considered bringing the Pack & Play, like normal traveling people with an infant tend to do, but the reality is that our child won’t sleep in it. Just like he won’t sleep in any of the seven other contraptions around our bedroom specifically designed for that purpose.

Except for the swing. We had to bring the swing.

Again, I hesitated. I’m not talking about a travel swing or any sort of compact item. Noooooo. I’m talking the full-size, tripod-like swing that has five speeds, including what we refer to as the Six Flags setting. It’s sort of obnoxious to rock up to someone’s house with a van full of crap that includes an industrial-sized swing. But these are good friends. I hoped that with some brief yet convincing reassurances that we weren’t, in fact, moving in for good, all would be OK.

And it was OK. More than OK. Our friends are incredibly gracious hosts. You know the kind of people who seem to effortlessly whip up gorgeous meals and serve them on beautiful plates and yet nothing feels forced or stuffy? Where everyone feels right at home? That is this couple.

So my older two kids played in the ocean and built sand castles with our friends’ kids. They ate ice cream by the beach and stayed up late and slept really hard out of sheer exhaustion. They were thrilled.

I didn’t hang out on the beach much with the baby. Because as great as it sounds {“Just put him in a tent or under an umbrella!”}, there’s something about the combination of sweating, sunscreen, sand and breastfeeding that just didn’t do it for me. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy myself — I absolutely did.

I went for walks near the ocean with the baby. I told him how he would spend many summers at my beloved Jersey Shore {with the appropriate and constant application of SPF 5 million — it’s never too early to start sunscreen discussions}.

I sat up on the deck of the house reading magazines while he napped.

I ate seafood and drank great wine.

I smelled the sea air, which is somehow so transformational and comforting. I had missed the shore.

And we even got some of our own summer getaway photos that I can look at when I see everyone else’s adventures online.


Good friends. Good conversation. Good food. Good wine.


And the baby? Hardly a peep out of him, and with his longest stretches of sleep to date. Clearly this can only mean one thing: We need to spend more time by the ocean.

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  1. Teri says:

    It may be time to move.

  2. Rebecca Stay says:

    I loved this one because I feel your pain. My summer experience is fodder for my own next post. As an aside, I’ve been a silent fan of your site. You’re a wonderful storyteller.

  3. Carrie says:

    This was a great break for me. The boss is hovering around my area and I don’t care. I needed an escape and sister, this was it.

    Thank you.

    My fam had a beach cabin growing up here in Texas. Hated it then because I HAD to go. Miss it now because I WANNA go and can’t.

    So glad you enjoyed it and made such great memories!

    (OK…the boss is way too close now. He’s pretty sure I’m farting around on his time.)

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