Tips For A Fun Day At The Beach w. Your Toddler

We have been spending all our long Summer days together at the beach and it has been so beautiful. By beautiful I mean not just the gorgeous scenery, but watching Mila and her fearless demeanor when running into the waves is out of this world amazing to see. Going to the beach was one of Ryan’s favorite Summer activities. He has that same fearless attitude when it came to water and pouncing into the shoreline. Seeing Mila resemble her big brother in that way nearly takes the breath out of me. I feel so lucky. Of course, remembering Ryan always brings on a bit of bitter to the otherwise sweet scene. Though thinking about him, talking about him is worth the pain … simply because it always ends up reminding me of the great he was. The great he still is within us all. Especially his little sister.

Heading the beach with Ryan those first few times as he at the peak of his toddlerhood was daunting. At first I really wasn’t expecting the struggle and down right cardio it took to rangle a toddler on the sand. The beach really must seem like a giant open play area equipped with water and a never ending sandbox. Both kids run wild the second their feet sink into the sand, they either run straight into the waves which gives me a heart attack or head straight into another families beach set up to check things out. Because who believes in personal boundaries when your two years old? Now, I realize that all little ones are different. But all I know is wild, which I am grateful for. So beach going with Ryan proved to be interesting, hard at first but I soon got the hang of it. Last year taking Mila to the beach was quite easy because she wasn’t crawling or really interested in the water. We sat under the umbrella and enjoyed the sound of the waves. This year we spending the majority of our time holding on to her as thinks she can swim right into the crashing shoreline. We build sandcastles so she can demolish them. And we eat a hefty amount of re-fueling snacks. Gone are the days where heading to the beach meant laying out on a towel, reading a book or falling asleep while listening to my iPod. Now we head to the beach for a full day of sandy fun and try to keep up with our ever curious kid. (I’ll enjoy the later every day if I could)

Since we are heavy beach goers I have developed a few tricks I like to do that make my life a bit easier. I am no pro and honestly I am pretty casual compared to most. I love letting my kids get dirty and explore on their own. But if you are heading to the beach with a toddler here are few things to possibly keep in mind …

Applying sunblock to a squirmy child could be a sport. Of course both my kids are redhead and fair skinned and both my kids loath putting on sunblock. Especially when I put it on their face. If someone wanted to rub lotion all over my body I’d lay still and enjoy it, but I’m not a toddler I guess. You might already to do this, but try applying a nice full coat of sunblock before heading down to the beach. I like to do this to so getting sandy isn’t an issue. I also apply a layer of sunblock while my kids are just in a swim diaper. This way I can get every inch of their body in case their bathing suit or rash guard moves. Try and use a sunblock that contains zinc, I love Supergoop Play Mineral Mist sunblock and their new Super Power Mousse. I’ve been using Supergoop ever since Ryan was little and just love the products. The consistency and texture is smooth and goes on really easy. I also love that it rubs in and absorbs quickly. Which helps a ton when your kid is screaming their head off. I’ve also found that offering Mila a snack while applying that second layer of sunblock mid-day is helpful. It keeps her occupied and still. For me I think you can never have too much sunblock on!

I love love love a baby in a bikini! But truthfully full coverage is key and kids in bathing suits are downright adorable … keeping them covered and free from sunburn is better. Both of my kids wear rash guards which I have found to be the easiest way to have peace of mind when playing in the sun for hours. I buy them big at the start of summer so they can wear them all season long. I will say, having kids in just a rash guard and bathing suit bottoms is easier. Last week Mila wore a one piece and the rash guard over, which was fine at first. But it made diaper changes a little more difficult because I had to completely undress her. O’niel makes great rash guards for kids!

Nap time at the beach is touch and go. Mila has never been a great napper and I typically follow her lead when it comes to day time sleep. If she seems overly crabby and keeps rubbing her eyes I know its time for a little rest. I always undress her completely, rinse her off and put a fresh swim diaper on. I wrap her in her towel and she’ll go down (in my arms). With Ryan we were able to lay him down under an umbrella, but Mila is a bit more high maintenance. We rinse off her bathing suit and lay it out to dry so when she wakes up we put sunblock on again, her semi-dry suit and she is off to the races again. Recently a friend on Instagram mentioned baby powder as a way to get sand off. I tried it and it definitely works. I bought a travel size and keep it in my beach bag now! This works great if you have to get sand out of their diaper area ;) or their face and hands before snack time.

Ok so snacks at the beach are a huge highlight for my kids. Scaring me as they charge the water is their favorite, eating comes in as their second favorite. I have found that keeping a stash of healthy snacks that are unique to the beach has been helpful. This way anytime Mila begs for a “nack” I can offer her a variety healthy options like; fruits, granola bars and cheese. I also try and offer snacks that she doesn’t normally get at home. For example, nectarines she gets excited for at the beach because she doesn’t eat them at home. I switch up her normal cheese sticks and give her new granola bars. I don’t know really why I started to do that, maybe because I thought it would keep her attention longer so she would sit still and eat rather than roam around and eat. Which always leads to her tripping and getting the snack covered in sand. But I do always remember getting special treats when on vacation as a little kid, so this is probably an extension of that. Some snacks we enjoy are; That’s It bars, Annie’s Fruit Bunnies, Natures Bakery Fig Bars, mini boxes of raisins and stone fruits (which travel well to the beach). We keep a small cooler lunchpail and only drink water. We use Klean Kanteen water bottles which keep our water ice cold all day!

You know, you can only play in the sand and get pummeled by waves for only so long. One thing we like to do is go for a walk. We’ll take our personals, but otherwise leave our stuff and take a nice walk down the beach and back. It is a nice way to break up the day and get Mila’s wiggles out. Right now she is obsessed with birds and loves chasing them down the shoreline. Taking a walk always seems to ground us in a way, Dan and I end up talking about upcoming Summer plans or stay quite and soak in Mila. I think a lot of the time we both end up thinking about Ryan and have our own way of embracing our life as it was and as it is now. Honestly, if all else fails. Go for a walk to clear your head, get your wiggles out and remember why life is so damn good. Even in the midst of dark times you can seek goodness to be had. Promise.

Sand games are a huge hit in our family! Right now Mila is all about destructing sand castles, but soon she’ll grasp a few games and beg to play them. Here are few ideas you can do with your little ones; Set up 8-10 bucket sand castles and race to destruct them all. Outline 6 different shapes in the sand a few feet from each other, then have your child jump into the shape you call out. Dig 3 holes at various lengths away from you and toss a ball into the holes. Designate points for each hole and who ever has the most points in the end wins. (Winner gets to dump a bucket of water on their opponent!)

In all honestly I think the main thing to remember is, sand everywhere is inevitable. Embrace it. A full beach day with your toddler will be messy, but great fun. Follow their lead and soak in every moment (even the hard ones). Take a ton of photos that also include YOU in them (don't worry about your body). You and your children will love to look back at the fun you had together! Cheers to Summer and the gift of beach days with our little ones!

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Beach Bums

"The beach house!" That's what Ryan used to call the beach. Dan's family owns a beach house in Laguna and we typically spend our lazy Summer days there. Ryan always heard us say "the beach house" and just associated all beach going as such. When he said he wanted to go to "the beach house" he meant the actual beach. Naturally, it's a fond memory, Ryan at the beach. Spending time there with out him just isn't the same. Though now as Mila is at the age to truly begin enjoying the beach, this past weekend was pure bliss. Her tiny sand footprints following the lead of her big brother. Of course Mila taking her own route from time to time, trailblazing her own beach style!

Last year she didn't care for the beach one bit. While she loved being in the pool and the warm beach water in Hawaii. Laguna proved to be too cold for her liking. She was so unsure about the crashing waves barreling toward her. She spent her time sitting in my lap or laying on a towel. Those days are clearly over now, which I'm happy about!

Last weekend we headed to the beach or the "the beach house" rather for our first official beach day of the Summer! Even though the weather was a bit cloudy, the days were perfection. In fact, it ended up being great days wherein the sun was hidden but the wind was warm. The water was indeed cold, yet Mila wasn’t phased. As most kids aren’t! I remember Ryan shivering while having the time of his life. Totally not noticing the chill, just focusing on the fun of things. Mila went head first into the sand and stood with zero fear by the ocean. It is funny how much can change in a year!

We figured out Mila has a serious knack for playing in the sand. We’ll definitely have to invest in some more sand toys this season! Her favorite was having me or Dan build a sand tower to have her knock down. We also dug up a giant hole she enjoyed playing in. Until she accidentally took a spill within the hole and got stuck. It was awful, but kinda hilarious.

Seeing Dan hold Mila’s hand down by the shoreline made my heart sing. Sometimes during those moments time seems to stand still. My heart throbs with gratitude and I am able to take a step back and just take a good hard look at my family. Does this happen to any of you? It happens at the most random times, but all of them seem to have this raw memorable quality. I never want to forget this day however, I’m certain our beach days this Summer will bleed together. I am positive though that watching my husband and daughter holding hands while dipping their feet within the water is a memory that will be imprinted within my memory.

This past weekend got all three of us excited for Summer and long beach days. Days where no matter how many showers you take, sand just seems to pop up in every nook and cranny. The scent of sunscreen lingers on our sun kissed skin. And let’s not forget the joys of having redheads … freckles are starting to pop up and I can’t help but kiss each and everyone. Mila has acquired a few, the one behind her right ear is my favorite.

Cheers to family beach days! Below are a few photos from our weekend …

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Little Swimmer & Life Latley

As April is coming to a close, I sit here in awe of how incredibly quick it blew by. At the start of the month I felt optimistic, on top of all the things that had to be done, all the things that we had planned. I love that powerful feeling that washes over you when you have a handle on life and its surroundings for once. I wish I had a handle on it all for longer periods of time. The times I feel OK and productive are fleeting lately. Does anyone else feel like that?

We had two family weddings this month, both in Arizona back to back. Plus a laundry list of work to do for Baby Boy Bakery Shop and a few other partnerships. April was proving to be a busy few weeks. In the middle of it all Mila and I came down with the flu which we are still trying to ward off. It all happens like that though. When you have plans and just the slightest thing derails it, then somehow things are snowballing out of control. I recently was on a panel and a woman asked me, "Out of children, husband, family, work and fun which do you let go of the most?" I immediately said work. I am not sure if that is a great quality, but I tend to let any sort of work go when things get a little overwhelming for me. I turn into homebody who just wants to spend with my family. I ignore emails, text messages, all of it. I tune it all out and try to focus on my children and husband to help bring me back to life. Those two wedding weekends were good for my soul. I was able to relax both weekends in Arizona and really hone in on what I love most. Of course now I am in drowning with all the catching up I have to do. I guess the moral of this rant is...I am not exactly sure. I am working on not shutting down when things get overwhelming. I am open to any tips you may have. Question: Out of children, husband, family, work and fun - Which do you let go of the most?

The upside though was spending quality time with family. Re-connecting with family we haven't seen for months! The best part? Was taking Mila down to the hotel pool for her first "swim". These firsts are so exciting and emotional. It seems that with each day she grows up ten times more than she is supposed to! I can't believe this little sweetheart will be four months soon. We took Mila to the pool first to just put her feet in, but I mean she seemed like she loved it. Haha! So I ran upstairs to get her swim suit. Her tiny swim suit that I bought for ONE DOLLAR!! Of course we forgot swim diapers though...

I loved her little face as she warmed up within the water. She was definitely unsure at first. But afterwards she told me she was ready for swim lessons ;)

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