Summertime in Northern Michigan

We’ve been home from our annual Michigan trip for over a month now but am only now getting my photos uploaded. Not because of a lack of time or enthusiasm – I just wasn’t able to make it through all of them without crying! 

There are SO many photos that I want to share so I’m going to divide them into several posts. 

These are some of my favorites from around Grandpa K’s house (AKA the Chassell Castle) … 

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Bringing Baby to the Beach

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #JumpIntoSummer #CollectiveBias

Summertime has arrived here in Hawaii and we are finding ourselves at the beach more than ever.

Yes, even with a newborn.

For a little while, our tradition of surfing on Thursday nights with friends was the only beach time we were fitting in each week but as the temperatures are rising we have been trading in our park days for beach days and squeezing in weekend trips too.

Weekend beach time is extra sweet because Alex gets to come with us.

Yes, it’s a lot of work. Packing up (what feels like) the entire house, loading it – and the kids – into the van, unloading it at the beach, setting up camp, tearing down camp, bringing it all back to the van, washing off the kids, dressing the kids, taking care of the wet, sandy stuff at home (tired yet?).

But it is SO worth it.

I love watching Lyla and Simon’s confidence in the water grow. Alex took Simon out on his surfboard for the first time this week – how cool is that?

I love the quiet time that I get with Etta Rae as I sit with her in the shade.

I love seeing the smiles on the faces of my family and hearing them laugh.

I love watching Lyla and Simon play. They sit in the sand together and make “soup”. They chase birds and each other. They play peek-a-boo with their baby sister. They just have fun.

So much goodness.

I know a lot of you mamas out there will have fresh babes this summer and the thought of bringing them to the beach/pool/any body of water is daunting. Especially if you have older children too. But, mama, you can do it! Whether you are taking them solo or will have extra hands around to help, here are my “must have” items for bringing baby to the beach…

  1. Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) for the kids. My number one concern when taking the kids to the beach is safety. The first thing that I do when we get to the beach is put a Puddle Jumper® life jacket on Lyla and Simon. They both know not to go in/near the water without an adult but having them wear their Puddle Jumper® life jacket gives me peace of mind while I set up our camp. We started using the Puddle Jumper® life jacket with Lyla last summer and recently went back to Target to get Simon his own. The kids love them because they are easy to put on (just slide their arms through and clip the adjustable buckle in the back), they are comfortable (the woven polyester material makes them softer and prevents chafing) and they totally give them confidence in the water.  I love them because they have been approved by the US Coast Guard as a PFD and they have antimicrobial properties built in to resist odor causing bacteria from building up (yuck!).
  2. Designated space for baby. A playard works great at the beach because it offers you a solid surface to put baby down that is away from curious, sandy fingers. We bring a fitted crib sheet to put over the top to keep bugs and sand out and give an extra layer of sun protection.
  3. Water and snacks. Our kids (OK, fine – me too) love to snack at the beach. Taking a nice snack break in between playing and swimming usually buys us more beach time. I try to pack a healthy variety into a bunch of small containers so that if a wet, sandy hand finds its way inside we don’t lose it all.
  4. Baby powder. Even if you rinse your kids off in the ocean or the beach shower and physically carry them straight to the car, they will somehow find a way to cover themselves in sand from head to toe. To make sure you leave the beach at the beach – and to save your car from becoming a crazy, sandy mess – put some baby powder wherever the sand is stuck to your kids and it will brush right off. Seriously, magic.
  5. Water resistant blanket. If your kids are anything like mine, they will constantly be bringing you sand “ice cream cones” and treasures that they find in the water. Having a water resistant blanket helps keep your butt comfy and makes it easier to brush the sand away too 😉
  6. Re-sealable plastic bag. I make sure to have a few of these in different sizes. The sandwich size is perfect for keeping my phone safe. The gallon size makes a great diaper pail.
  7. Sun protection. Duh, right? Make sure you have sunblock and don’t forget to reapply!!
  8. Camera. Point and shoot, iPhone, DSLR, Polaroid – whatever you use, use it! Make sure to capture these special moments with your family.
  9. Baby blankets. Lots and lots of baby blankets. Because inevitably, the blankets are going to get wet/sandy/spilled on/etc. and you don’t want to wrap up baby in a dirty blanket.
  10. A giant beach bag. One big enough to throw everything inside.

If you want to pick up a Puddle Jumper® life jacket for your child this summer, you can find them at Target! They fit children 30-50 pounds and have lots of fun designs for kids.

What is your “must have” item for a trip to the beach?

 

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A Pink Birthday Party

Our biggest girl turned three! 

For weeks leading up to her birthday, the only thing she asked us for a pink birthday party – so we delivered 😉 We started the morning with a pink breakfast – strawberry banana smoothies, cinnamon rolls (with pink icing for the birthday girl), fruit, bacon and eggs. Her presents were wrapped in pink paper – one of which was a pink bathing suit to wear to her party at the beach. 

We met friends at the beach and enjoyed each other’s company, pizza and birthday cake. (and the unexpectedly cool weather was very much enjoyed by this heavily pregnant mama)

Simple was the name of the game this year. No Pinterest-worthy crafts were made. I used artificial flowers on our breakfast table. The cinnamon rolls came from a can. We had pizza delivered to the beach. We ordered her cake from Safeway. I brought Lyla with me to Party City to buy her party favors and I let her choose the cheesiest pink & purple leis and plastic birthday crown.

She was happy, we were happy, it was a great day all around. 

 

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I’m a Better Mom When I’m Not Pregnant

Dear Lyla and Simon, 

We are about five weeks away from welcoming your new sibling into our family and your mama is basically counting down the days (and hoping the countdown is a littler shorter than that). 

Man, do I feel guilty admitting that.

I really don’t want to wish away the last few weeks that we have together as a family of four. We are in a great groove right now. We’ve figured out schedules that work for us. We’re happy. 

But, babies, I’m a much better mom when I’m not pregnant.

As we near the end of this pregnancy, I find myself feeling guilty all the time. 

Like when you ask me to chase you around the coffee farm and I can’t. 

When all you want is to be held but my swollen body is just too tired to hold you for another minute. 

When I skip out on family trips to the playground so I can have a few minutes in silence with my feet up. 

When you tell me your belly hurts and my initial thought is “oh no, I don’t have the energy to be up all night”. 

The bigger my belly gets, the shorter my fuse becomes. My nightly prayers are filled with cries to the Lord for more patience. 

I start each day with the best intentions, and I almost always feel like I come up short. 

It’s those times when I feel like a terrible mom. Like I’m failing you both. 

But, somehow, you both know just when I need you to crawl into my lap for the extra snuggles. When I can’t break up another fight in the car so, instead, you hold hands. Your sweet little hearts are so loving and forgiving and I am beyond grateful for that. 

I know I’ll have hard days when there are three of you running around the house. With each new stage there will be an adjustment period. I will never be a perfect mom, but with the complications from this pregnancy behind me, I know I will be able to do a better job than I am doing now. Because, babies, I’m a much better mom when I’m not pregnant. 

Thank you for loving me always. For reminding me on a daily basis what sweet, loving beings you are. I can’t wait to see you in your new roles as big brother and sister (again!).

I Love You,

Mama

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