Beach, no salt

We just got back from vacation last night. We drove out to Indiana on Friday, June 30, and spent the week at two different houses on Lake Michigan, visiting with my husband's extended family. I mean just about everyone. All his three siblings and their families were there for the first part of the week (total: 12 grandchildren), and then over the next part of the week, we saw his mother's four siblings and their families.

It was not exactly an easy trip. First, there were the 12-hour car treks in both directions. We drove it in one day each time. The way out we only stopped twice, which is pretty amazing if you think about the bathroom implications. Once we arrived, my older children played with cousins the entire time and were basically self-sufficient. The 2-year-old was a different story. There was no way to contain him (as there is with his baby-proofed doors on his bedroom at home). So to get him to nap or go to sleep at night, one of us -- generally me, as my husband was visiting with the dozens of relatives -- had to lie down with him until he conked out. When he was awake it was constant vigilance and chasing after him in unfamiliar locales. Every time someone writes an article about how vacations are relaxing, I know this person does not have a toddler.

However -- thanks to my time log! -- I know I did get some relaxing moments too, even if they were not the dominant theme of the week. I continued my running streak, often running in the morning with one of my sisters-in-law. I ran barefoot along the beach twice near Michigan City, which is really not something I'd done before. The sand works some new muscles! I also did some nice runs by the woods near the Indiana Dunes ("by" the woods -- the mile I ran "through" the woods I was getting dive bombed by mosquitos and dragonflies, so that was not so awesome.) I read a few books during naps. Indeed, one day I ran to a lighthouse in the morning, and then (re-)read most of Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse later. I liked the combination. I went shopping with another sister-in-law at Lighthouse Place outlet mall and scored some massive deals. I went to visit my parents one day with the 2-year-old and they took him for a walk, during which I played the piano (my old piano!) And they came to visit us in Michigan City and took the 2-year-old to the zoo, so I could lie on the beach and just watch the bigger kids play.

The 2-year-old and I also did an improvised "Mommy Day" of sorts. I took him to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, partly to get him out of everyone else's hair. We enjoyed looking at the fishes and eating popcorn. Humorously, he was roaring at people in the park (like a dinosaur, as you do) and one man actually roared back.

I am glad to be home now, and in my own bed, and with the 2-year-old in his bed. But the lake is beautiful. It's like the beach, but with less crazy waves and no salt.

In other news: Are you following me on Instagram? I posted more pics of the vacation there.

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16 Responses to Beach, no salt


  1. I always think these kinds of things are trips vs. vacations. Vacations conjure up more restful images to me….but when you have small kids along, it’s just not ever THAT restful!

  2. LD says:

    I know you probably know this, because you have older kids, but just some encouragement: Next year will be a different story. I have a 3 year-old (who was 2 last summer) and the difference is amazing — and welcome! He is much more content to play in a smaller area, and generally much easier to keep track of and up with. Sometimes I can look at a magazine or the paper while he plays in the front yard!

    • @LD- oh, I know! If I can just hang on another 6-12 months! (and not get pregnant).

      • LD says:

        You know, there are HIGHLY effective permanent and semi-permanent options to help with that. 😉

  3. Mary says:

    My 2 year old roars at everyone too! Although he is usually a lion or dragon.

    • @Mary – they all probably sound the same, when it comes down to it. 🙂

  4. Meghan says:

    We just did a quick weekend beach trip (5 hours’ drive each way, so maybe “quick” isn’t totally accurate). We were meeting my cousin and his family — they have a 2yo, while my youngest is 4, and I had forgotten how exhausting a toddler is! I’m sure you’re very glad to be home 🙂
    The drive yesterday wasn’t as painful as it could have been because I got both my boys hooked on Nancy Drew, and each audiobook is about 4 hours long — just the right length, and so much fun.

  5. Barb says:

    I live on Lake Michigan, and yes, the sea without the salt! The Shedd is a great place to take a toddler. After you’ve seen the exciting marine creatures (the otter river!) and have a snack, it might be time for a nap. Nestled in the stroller and strolling through the quiet river fish area can be quiet relaxing. The toddler will nod off, too.

    • @Barb – he fell asleep in the car on the way back! Slightly less useful place to nap than at the house, where I could have read, but oh well.

  6. H says:

    I always feel so relieved when others talk about how “vacations” with toddlers are not really vacations. Fun in their own way (or at least can be) but a lot of work, with new challenges to figure out!

  7. Cloud says:

    We’re just back from vacation, too! My younger daughter is 7 now, so we’re far from the toddler days. I remember some fun and somewhat relaxing vacations with toddlers, but yes… not as relaxing as they are now. I guess they were relaxing because there were no work issues to solve, only kid issues. But even with rose-colored glasses looking back, I remember a lot of kid issues! The roaring story made me think about one of our favorite memories from the road trip vacation we took when my 7 year old was almost 2. We drove around California, including a stop to see the state capitol in Sacramento (my husband has a thing about visiting capitols…) She saw the bronze bear statue outside of the governor’s office and gave a rousing “ROAR” at it. Even the trooper guarding the office cracked up.

  8. Diana says:

    My husband and I did a decent amount of traveling/vacationing in our 7 married years before kids (because even without kids, sometimes traveling is still not “vacation”) and now we take our son and it’s not the same but still great. He’s 4 which is getting to an easier age and where he’s old enough to remember things!! I grew up traveling with my family and those are some of my favorite childhood memories. I hope my son (and future kids) will feel the same!
    If you took the toll road through Indiana you drove past our lake!

    • @Diana- oh, we took the toll road all right. So I’ll retrospectively wave at you!

  9. Kaethe says:

    Our family was vacationing between SW Michigan and Indiana Dunes last week too, including a stop at the outlets! Lake Michigan was perfect. We have six kids, including twin two-year-olds, so vacations are not exactly “relaxing”. This is my favorite read before any traveling. 🙂
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/m-blazoned/vacation-or-trip-a-helpful-guide-for-parents_b_7789310.html

    • @Kaethe – love the article at the link. Yep, it was a trip, not a vacation 🙂

  10. Jennie says:

    We are currently on vacation in DC. It’s been a lot better now that the kids are older. My youngest, 9, is still a pill though. I think it’s his personality though. He hates travel. He likes his home and routine. So even kid friendly Air & Space Museum was a fight that ended with me sitting with him at the McDonalds eating fries while he played on my phone.
    However, today we separated and I took my older 2 children, 14 & 12, to the Holocaust Museum and the National Gallery of Art. It was glorious. We walked some and got to see the city. With the youngest, we have to get a lyft/uber everywhere. Ate shawarma from a food truck, no nuggets. I still hold hope for the youngest, but I don’t know that he will ever enjoy travel. (He hated Disney and Universal.)

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