My mother-in-law rented a house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware last week. This beach is halfway between my brother-in-law’s family in Maryland, and our house in Pennsylvania, and since our four kids are perfectly matched up with their four kids in age, it works well to vacation together. Of course, any vacation involving eight children under the age of 10 (including two toddlers!) is not going to be entirely relaxing, so we had some low moments. But also some good moments.
In the fun category:
Fun Land. I know, it’s there in the name! This arcade and kiddie ride business has been on the boardwalk for 50+ years. The kids had a good time, of course, but I also learned I am freakishly good at the piano game. You press one of four keys that corresponds with the tile you see lit up on the screen. At Fun Land, I made it on to the leader board, a feat I repeated at another smaller arcade nearby. I won so many tickets I traded them in for a Nerf bow and arrow for the 6-year-old.
Running on the boardwalk. This is always a highlight of beach trips for me. I only got to run twice because the temperatures hit 90 degrees almost every day. So I needed to run early, and my early mornings were either consumed by the toddler or napping after being up with the toddler. However, when the toddler was up early, I would go for long walks with him on the boardwalk. Add in some beautiful sunrises, and a path that went by some fragrant honeysuckle, and it was OK. Not as nice as sleeping past 6:30 a.m., but OK.
Swimming in the waves. When the surf isn’t too rough, getting out in the ocean for a bit is marvelously cooling on hot days. I spent a lot of time chatting with my 9-year-old out in the ocean, since he likes to go in and stay in for as long as possible. Any time I was on the beach and not responsible for the toddler was nice. My in-laws packed this great tent that made for serious shade. It was a nice touch. (A side note: I am a chronic under-packer. This is why I like to vacation with just-in-case types. I get to use their stuff!)
Girl bonding. My sister-in-law and I managed to hit the outlet mall and get a pedicure during the week while the menfolk had the kids. My daughter was not thrilled that I left her behind on the pedicure trip so I guess I’ll have to find a salon around here to let her try it some time.
Sipping Blue Moon on the porch. Our house was on a corner with lots of passersby to watch. I find that a beer on a summer afternoon (naptime) or evening (post toddler bedtime) makes people watching even nicer.
Cousins! We did a bunch of “sleep overs” with the kids switching rooms. They had a great time!
The family Olympics. My 8-year-old nephew organized an aquatic competition in our house pool involving cannonballs, most original jumps, races, and belly flops. He had medals for the winners. It was very cute (and methodical — he had a whole binder listing the events and who would be competing).
Ice cream. I would gladly eat ice cream parlor ice cream (chocolate moose tracks!) nightly. But I cut myself off at 3 cones during the week, and tried to savor them.
Browseabout Books. If anyone is planning on visiting Rehoboth Beach, I would highly recommend the local book store. I walked in and was not at first impressed. The front section was all kitschy beach gifts (it is a beach town). However, I walked farther in and learned that the children’s section was great, and it included a Thomas the Train play table. We spent a loooong time there before I left with a talking Thomas engine and 3 books (Ladybug Girl at the Beach, the BFG, and a Jedi Academy graphic novel).
New words. The 18-month-old is learning new words left and right. He can now string them together (Bye-bye Dada, etc.) He quickly picked up “shovel” and “bucket” and other beach related phrases. He is incredibly friendly too. He would wave at anyone walking by, with his little face lighting up. It is the rare person who won’t grin back to a toddler that says “Hi! Hi!”
In the not-so-great category:
Getting to a restaurant that had claimed kid friendliness, only to find they had no kid’s menu — which is OK, kids can eat smaller stuff off the regular menu — but also no high chairs. Fortunately, I was in the no-toddler table that night but my husband and his brother had quite the time of it with the un-contained little ones.
Middle of the night wake-ups. Not fun at home, not fun at the beach.
4:40 AM wake-ups. So I can deal with a middle-of-the-night wake-up if the toddler goes back down and then sleeps past 6:30 a.m. (as often happens at home in these situations). But a few nights this week, the toddler woke up at 3:30 a.m., one of us would get him back down, and then he would be up again at 4:40 for good. Ugh. However, last night at home he slept from about 8:10 p.m. to 6:10 a.m. This is progress, and I will take it!
Photo: Boardwalk fun! (Time-stamp 6:18 a.m.)