Well! We did it. We took a baby on a trip to the beach and we all survived! I'd definitely recommend NOT going to the beach in a hurricane, but you know, in October you take what you get. Really, any day, you take what you get at the beach. Because beach!!!
I was really nervous about Willow being in a car for the four hour journey to Corolla. My little 45 minute napper didn't inspire much confidence that she would sleep for long. But we did our best to time it so she'd sleep. As soon as she had a good long feeding and was tuckered out, we popped her into the car seat and hit the road. Willow's a stubborn little thing though, and very curious, so she spent the first 45 minutes or so just hanging out before she finally fell asleep. She woke up again about an hour later and occupied herself for a good long while, but when we were 30 minutes from our destination (we had JUST made it to Duck, which is so so close to Corolla!) she was melting down. She couldn't handle being in the car anymore and was probably starving, so we pulled over and fed baby so she could make it those last 30 minutes!
And we made it!
Packing is such a different thing when you bring a baby to the beach, too. A few days before we left I remember looking at Erik and saying "ya know, it would be really nice if we could bring the swing to the beach..." Erik looked at me like I was crazy and said, "OF COURSE we're bringing the swing to the beach!" And we totally did. You would be amazed at how much we packed into my little Corolla, including a baby, a puppy, a swing, and a stroller.
We did this trip with my parents and my grandma. So one of the nicest things was just having other people around to entertain Willow! Erik and I even got to go on our first date since baby was born. We went to the kind of restaurant that I'd never bring Willow to. We ate SLOWLY without panic that we'd need to leave any second with a screaming unhappy customer. We drank cocktails on the roof and walked around the shops with ice cream for dessert. It was heavenly! And we felt like we'd been away from Willow for so long (well, I did!) and when we got home, my mom and grandma told me we'd hardly been gone at all and they hadn't even had a chance to feed her and put her down for a nap! Babies certainly make time weird.
As for the beach itself, I am disappointed to report that baby was not a fan. First of all, we really got only one nice beach weather day, which was the first day we were there. It was warm and not too crazy windy. I'm really glad we took her out to the beach that day because every other day was too cold or windy for her. But even with optimal conditions, it was extremely bright and Willow didn't really have the patience to keep her sun hat or her sun SHADES on (yes she has her own little sunglasses). Luckily we had a little tent to hang out in and it provided enough shade for Willow to do a little bit of baby beaching. Even that was kind of tricky though because all Willow wants to do right now is grab everything in sight and put it in her mouth. That includes all the beach towels she was laying on and any surrounding sand! ;)
I'm also disappointed to report that there are hardly any pictures from this monumental occasion. I had to hold Willow most of the time to keep her happy while Erik ran around with Lily on the beach (who LOVED every second of it, I wish I had photos of THAT for you). And I have not mastered the art of holding baby and photographing baby simultaneously. Erik didn't even want me to BRING my camera (I know, what a loony!) but I coerced him into taking at least ONE picture of me and Willow, who was obviously super psyched about it.
I think my favorite part of the trip were the nights and the mornings. At night when Willow went to bed, my mom and grandma and I would grab some wine coolers and hit the hot tub for an hour or two. That's one thing that weather never messes up... hot tub time!
And the mornings were nice because Willow is always a sweet, happy thing in the mornings so we took her out onto the deck while we all ate breakfast and drank coffee, playing pass the baby so that everyone got to eat and enjoy baby snuggles. It was hilarious to watch her react to the first cold winds we got from the hurricane. This May baby had never experienced cold or dramatic gusts of wind and she would throw her arms up in surprise and gasp every time the wind blew hard.
I can't wait for Willow to be a little older and enjoy the beach a little more than she did on this trip. She was a sweet girl and hardly cried at all when we were in the house just hanging out. She did so good in the car. But beaching, probably not her favorite activity... YET. We'll work on her.
WE, however, enjoyed the break. Enjoyed the time with family. And even though we had to come home early because of the hurricane, I think it was even nice to have that day at home recuperating before I headed off to shoot a fun, hurricane wedding!