posts tagged with 'beach'

the latest in beach vacations

This past weekend we enjoyed a getaway to Grandma and Grandpa Bernstein's house on Cape Cod. Lots of other people were headed that way too for Labor Day, but they live so far down the Cape that we escaped most of the crowds. There was certainly plenty of room on the beach to play with the new inflatable boat Grandma bought.

the boys and Grandma Beth playing with a raft in the calm waters of Cape Cod bay

vacation boating

The second day there were a few other kids on the beach, which was nice. The boys traded a turn in the raft for a go on their paddle boards. Then later they all caught fish together—that day there was an amazing river of small fish swimming along the beach, just a couple feet from the shore, and by afternoon they were so concentrated you could just put your hands in and pull them up. We got maybe 30 or 40 in one bucket before I started feeling sorry for them and made the kids turn them loose.

Harvey's hands filled with little fish

like catching fish in a barrel

Our vacation time also included some adventuring a little further afield;

the boys walking on a bridge over salt marsh

the expansive National Seashore

some quality resting time;

Mama and Lijah napping on the beach in a nest of towels

cozy

and, of course, some Pokemon practice.

Harvey and I playing pokemon on the big vacation house porch

anywhere and everywhere

It was a lovely few days; we liked it so much we're planning to go again in a couple weeks!

the sunset over the bay

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beach vacation

It got really hot the middle of last week, so we were glad we had a cool place to go: Leah's parents' house on Cape Cod. It has a private beach.

the calm waters of Cape Cod Bay

cool waters

We left home Thursday afternoon, and it wasn't hot then; it was raining. The rain made for a dreadfully long traffic-plagued trip there, but we didn't mind too much. Mostly, we enjoyed the chance to chat, play with the iPads, or sleep, as appropriate by age and maturity level. Then when we got there we were treated to a terrific thunderstorm that passed just overhead. Luckily we were all unpacked before it hit.

Friday day dawned coolish and hazy, but by mid morning the mist had cleared and the temperature was rocketing upwards. So we headed to the beach—the one just a couple minutes walk away, with no waves so even the littlest of us could feel comfortable swimming in the beautiful cool water.

Lijah chest deep in water, Harvey and Zion swimming beyond him

getting into it

The only problem was we got a little carried away enjoying the sun, sand, and water, and by evening all five of us were suffering from some combination of sunburn, dehydration, and heat exhaustion. Good thing we'd had so much fun, so it felt worth it.

The next day, after making solemn vows to drink water and apply sunscreen on a regular schedule, we split up: Leah and Lijah to spend more time at the quiet beach, the bigger boys and I on a cycling adventure to find some big waves. We drove a ways to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, with the thought of riding a segment to the National Seashore visitor center and thence on the bike path over the dunes to the Coast Guard Beach. I have fond memories of taking that trail as a young person myself, and wanted to introduce it to my own cycling boys.

Missing the turn off the rail trail meant we had a couple extra miles at the beginning of the trip that we didn't need, but never mind; it would have been too short otherwise. Then we enjoyed a picnic lunch outside the visitor center before taking to the roller coaster of a trail to the beach. It was every bit as lovely as I remembered.

Harvey and Zion cycling on a tree-shaded bike path

swoopy

Shorter, too. Those kids are better cyclists than I was at that age (Zion especially got lots of compliments as he powered his little bike up the hills). Before we knew it we were at the beach, where we joyously confronted the awesome waves.

Harvey and Zion standing in the wash of the big waves

wave hello

Actually, they were a little too awesome for the kids to engage with them fully. But they still had a lot of fun running and jumping in the wash of the breakers, and then making sand castles in a futile effort to hold back the fast-rising tide. Then to show that getting knocked over by waves wasn't so bad I put on something of a comedy performance, letting them have their way with me. I lost some skin but it was worth it!

The water was a lovely temperature and the oceanside breeze was charming (as long as we avoided the deadly burning rays of the relentless sun). But of course we got all hot again on the ride home, so it was convenient that right where we had parked the car there was ice cream available.

Harvey and Zion licking ice cream cones in front of a wall decorated with buoys

ice cream Cape Cod style

Back at the house we collapsed for a few hours: all that fun was hard work. But after dinner I had a little more energy and invited Leah out for a walk. That sounded good to everyone else too. The flies were too terrible to be anywhere but the beach, but the beach is always a fine place to be.

the boys playing on the beach at dusk

day is done

Sunday we met up with some friends who were also staying in the area (we know them from church, so it was appropriate plan to meet them just in time to skip church together). We thought we were going to do a hike, but it was so blazing hot we couldn't manage it. Just like last time! But this time we had friends to share our complaints with, so they didn't seem so bad; and it seemed like a reasonable thing to do to just sit down by the water and throw some stones. The kids didn't have swimsuits; of course that didn't stop them from getting wet.

Zion and Matthew wading in the ocean in their clothes

oh well

All that didn't take long, so we had plenty of time to enjoy a relaxed lunch of fried food together. (Relaxed for us; other patrons watching our crew of wild children seemed to be a little worked up. Come on, we were on the beach—deal, people.)

the kids sitting around a picnic table, Rascal lying in the shade under it

the lunch crowd

The best part was we had already packed up the car, so with lunch over we could head straight home to Bedford. The traffic-free trip was smooth and easy, leaving the boys plenty of time to play with their friends in the neighborhood before bed.

Now that's a vacation. It was wonderful. And exhausting. So now we're resting. Or trying to; it's close to 90° in the house right now. When can we go back?

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wet day

Harvey and Zion swimming in Walden pond

in the big water

Today was a hot one—though not as hot as forecast—so we did our best to spend as much of it as we could in the water. We started the day off with a visit with our friends in Lowell... we expected to be luxuriating in air-conditioned comfort, but in the event we spent the whole visit outside in or around their lovely new inflatable pool (luckily there were spare swimsuits for the boys, since we were not at all prepared!). Even just a foot-and-a-half of water was plenty for hours of fun.

Zion and Lijah playing in Havana's inflatable pool

in the small water

I didn't go in that pool—though I got splashed plenty! Then when we got home Harvey and Zion ran next door for an hour of swimming in the neighbors' beautiful new above-ground pool. I didn't go in that one either; I was taking a nap. Getting splashed is tiring!

To continue the theme of ever-bigger swimming opportunities, I dragged the boys away from the pool in the late afternoon to head to Walden Pond, where we planned to meet yet more friends (and also Mama). We brought a picnic supper, and while we waited to be hungry enough to eat it we all—me too finally—had a delightful time in the water.

Lijah playing in the pond

not crabby at all

Unfortunately, when Mama showed up it made Lijah remember how tired he was from all that outside time, and he became not the most relaxing beach companion. So the two of them headed out early, but as it turns out they didn't miss much—just moments after they left lightning and thunder had us scurrying out of the water and running for home ahead of the rain. It's not that I minded too much getting wet; just that there was no rain in the forecast, and everything—bikes, tools, laundry on the line—was out at home.

We made it back just in time—or almost just in time. The bigger boys and I got wet one more time as we raced to bring everything in. We didn't make it to the ocean—our thought for what would be the next step up from the pond—but the thunderstorm was plenty big. And just as wet!

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who says we never do anything?!

Yesterday we at a picnic lunch and a picnic dinner, in two separate state parks. That wasn’t the plan for the day; I had thought to have a pretty quiet day at home, working and playing here like we’ve been doing a lot of the time lately. We did have an early-morning trip to to the grocery store planned, and I expected that that would be all the excitement I could handle. Only then friends invited us to join them for a walk at Great Brook Farm state park. On such a beautiful day, how could we resist?!

Harvey and Zion playing by a pond

out and enjoying life

It was indeed lovely; we played around the pond, looked at the livestock, and took a walk through the woods and fields. Then to top it all off we got ice cream—one small dish per family, to share. Hey, we're not made of money! Everyone was worn out and satisfied as we headed home.

But we didn't stay there for long. Harvey just got new swim goggles the other day, and he's been trying to arrange our first summertime trip to Walden Pond. I mentioned in passing that we might be able to head that way at dinner time—some day, when we hadn’t already spent nearly four hours exploring the great outdoors. But no, he was determined. So not much more than an hour after getting home from Great Brook we’d packed another meal and took to the road again. I was worried, with everyone but Harvey—me very much included—showing signs of dangerous tiredness, but the nearly empty beach was just what we needed and the boys ran, swam, and played for a solid hour and a half. Me, I lay on the beach and tried not to fall all the way asleep when they were in the water.

the three boys playing in the water

peaceful evening swim

Besides all the fresh air and exercise over the two excursions, we also got to see all kinds of amazing wildlife. At Great Brook the pond was full of tiny frogs, bullfrogs, and fish—including a catfish that came up to strike a cheerio one of the kids through in. We also saw lots of chipmunks and observed ants and dragonflies; Zion found a snakeskin to bring home. Walden Pond had less variety, but more excitement when a bald eagle flew across the pond to land in a pine tree down the beach. (“I didn’t see it!” Lijah tells me. He has a hard time seeing his shoes when I point them out to him, never mind a bird moving fast several hundred yards away.)

a frog in the pond

ribbet

It was all super fun. And exhausting. It took til this evening to finish washing all the tupperwares. But as we loaded the things into the car in the beautiful cool of the evening, I reflected that, some days at least, following the moment wherever it leads can be pretty nice too.

Harvey, Zion, and Havana walking in the woods

getting away from it all

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maiden voyage

As I mentioned, we bought a canoe. Then we had to wait while we procured paddles, life jackets, and some means of carrying the canoe to the water (in the meantime we played with it on land). All those objectives were achieved by this morning, so in the middle of the day we took a trip out to Walden Pond to see if it floats. It does!

the boys in the canoe on Walden Pond

out on the water

We've been to the pond hundreds of times, but none of those trips were as exciting as this one. From the dangerously steep, rutted lane down to the boat launch and the violent rocking of the boat as Zion and Lijah stepped aboard for the first time it was clear that this was a new level of adventure. The smaller boys, who didn't have paddling to distract them, were pretty nervous at first; Lijah especially looked like he wanted to kiss the sand at our first stop, on the other side of the pond. There, the boys explored for a few minutes and we had a picnic lunch. After about half an hour of paddling all around the pond, though, even Lijah was starting to get used to the motion. Then, as the sun broke through the clouds, we completed our circumnavigation and approached the old familiar beach—but so different, seen for the first time from the sea! Also there was nobody else there.

towels drying on the canoe pulled up on the beach

relaxation

The boys ran around a lot and swam a little, while I lay in the sun and thought about how lovely it is to be alive (and also some about Pokemon). Then they put the boat back in the water and experimented to see how tippy it really is. It's pretty stable, actually, but if you really want it to go over it sure will! I think it made them feel a little bit better about this whole boating business. Harvey, certainly, was emboldened enough to try a short solo voyage of his own!

Harvey out in the canoe by himself

practicing boldness

Harvey tells me it was a the best adventure we've ever done. Here's to lots more—even better!—in the months to come.

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social studies on site

Never mind that we're meant to be studying Lowell... when we heard of a class in pencil-making offered at Walden Pond on Monday afternoon there was no way we could miss it! It turns out that the folks there put on all sorts of awesome programs—if we had been paying attention we could have been enjoying interesting classes every day of the week. As it was, we were just in time to catch the last Monday offering of the month.

the boys sitting with other kids listening to a park ranger

pencil school

A lesson about pencil-making totally makes sense at the park: Thoreau's family were in the graphite business, and Henry was apparently an innovator in pencil manufacturing (as well as so many other things). The class was a little oversold—we didn't really get to make pencils, but we learned a whole lot about historical pencil-making, the Thoreau family, and life in the 19th century generally. And to be fair, the kids did get to make a pencil... by dropping a lead into a pre-drilled hole in a pre-sharpened bit of stick. Then they got to take their pencils home, which I guess is the important thing.

Harvey with the Thoreau statue, the pencil in Henry's hand

with the master

Of course, since it was a Walden Pond on a desperately warm early fall day, we also made sure to leave plenty of time for swimming with friends. Now that's how you do a school day!

Lijah at the beach sticking out his tongue

happy at the pond

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kicking off the homeschool year

Harvey holding up his

third grader

We enjoy following the Bedford Public School schedule when it suits us. The buses came for the kids this morning, so we figured we could get going too.

Zion holding up his

first grader

With two big kids to get educated we need to be more focused than ever before. In the hopes of getting off to a good start we spent the last couple weeks building systems and previewing expectations. For day one, at least, it seems to be working.

the boys working at their desk

so far so good

Of course, we're flexible too. We squeezed in the morning's work around a visit to the doctor to get physicals for the two school kids, and then in the afternoon when it warmed up we took off for the pond.

Zion and Lijah swimming in shallow water

the place to be on a hot school day

Hey, all the work was done by then anyway! All but phys-ed, that is; some vigorous swimming was just the thing after all that mental effort. (Harvey showed us all how it's done by treading water for 66 seconds!)

Harvey swimming a little ways away from the beach

3rd grade swimming

We also went to the farmers market, picked my parents up from the train station, visited a library, and went out to dinner with friends. That's a homeschool day!

We're using Jonathan Bean's wonderful book This Is My Home, This Is My School to focus our thoughts a little bit these first couple weeks. We read it twice today and thought about the roles each of characters played in the homeschooling life of their family, as we talked about what homeschooling means to us. Then Harvey and I looked at the art, and tried our hand at our own version of Jonathan Bean's messy-on-purpose ink, watercolor, and pencil art. I'm pretty happy with how mine came out... Zion liked it too, so he took a picture.

my painting of our house

truth

You can ask Harvey if you want to see his. Suffice it to say, we all agree with the sentiments. Homeschooling 2017-2018 is off to a fine start.

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back to our Cape house

The end of last week we were on vacation on Cape Cod. That's the sort of thing you can get away with when you have a house to visit there. We had two lovely summery days and one foggy rainy one, and we attacked all three with vacation energy.

Mama and Lijah walking on the beach

vacation

We got to Truro after lunch on Thursday, and spent most of the afternoon on the beach. Unlike last time, the water in Cape Cod Bay was plenty warm enough for swimming.

Harvey and Mama waving from the ocean

ocean wave

Besides spending lots of time in the water, Harvey also got to practice keeping the acrobatic kite aloft. Grandpa appreciated having someone else interested in it.

Ira helping Harvey fly the kite

grandfather-grandson bonding

Zion's role was to launch the thing again when it crashed, which he enjoyed. He and Lijah also made sure to take plenty of time to just sit and relax.

Zion lying on the beach, Lijah sitting wrapped in a  towel

comfortable

The next day was cloudy and drizzly, with serious rain in the forecast. Harvey and I brought our bikes; thinking we wouldn't want to miss better weather with the family later we figured a damp morning would be the perfect time for a ride and headed out. Our first big stop was Welfleet center, where of course we visited the toy store.

Harvey with the bikes outside of a toy store in Welfleet

we got somewhere

Then we explored a woodsy path that led us just about to Rt 6; seeing it we figured we might as well try the other side of the Cape and see if we could make it to the Atlantic Ocean. We did—not that we could really see much when we got there.

Harvey playing in the ocean waves on the foggy beach

who needs sky?

At least it wasn't pouring rain, though the drizzle that had started up as we approached the beach led us to change into our swimsuits a little early, to save our clothes from a soaking. We had the beach to ourselves, and we played in the waves and watched a seal swim just a few yards away, but we didn't stay long—I was a little worried the skies would open. Naturally, soon after we left the beach the rain dried up and started to get hot as we picked our way towards home. It ended up being a 14 mile ride—here's an approximation of our course—and Harvey did great, even with all the hills he had to walk up.

After lunch at home the torrential rain showed up, but by dinner time it was clearing up again. How about another walk on the beach! Rascal swam and swam, then decided he was done.

wet Rascal relaxing on the misty beach

he got all his exercise already

Saturday we started to get bored with playing in the house and going to the beach, so we went out for a hike. Unfortunately even the hikes on the Outer Cape are pretty beachy.

Harvey and Zion walking on a path by a dune

a new kind of hiking

Great Island in Welfleet is a lovely place, but it wasn't quite what our tired kids were looking for—especially when the flies started biting. So we beat a retreat, a little acrimoniously. Never mind, on the way back to the car we got to see two tortoises and five hundred fiddler crabs, and watch the tide race in, which cheered us all up immensely. Well, almost all of us; Lijah actually fell asleep in the carrier.

We had planned to meet Grandma and Grandpa in Welfleet for lunch—with our hike ending early we had some extra time, and while Leah relaxed with the sleeping boy and an audiobook the bigger boys and I set out to explore Welfleet Harbor. Only we didn't get very far, because we had to build a sandcastle strong enough to stand up the incoming tide.

Harvey and Zion working on a sandcastle

it's working!

(We actually did it, too; on the way back to the car later we saw we had built it right exactly on the high tide line. Beat that!)

After a lovely lunch we did explore the harbor, and Zion decided he was in love with the waterfront. I know the feeling. He and I at least felt pretty relaxed and vacationed at that moment.

Zion sitting on the rocks by the harbor watching the sea

he likes it

(Unfortunately then we had to go back to the house and pack up, which didn't go as well as we could have wished. But we made it home, and we learned some lessons for next time! Which might not be for a while... right?)

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proper June outings

Lijah working on a sand castle

down at the pond

Last week was bookended by two lovely summery outings. On Monday we took advantage of the fact that school was still in session to take a homeschool swimming trip to Walden Pond with the Stevenses. After dominating the group ride together two days previously, Harvey and Ollie were excited to demonstrate that they weren't one-sport wonders—they can swim too!

Harvey and Ollie playing in the water

friends in the water as well as on land

(Or at least, not drown—which is the important thing to parents with smaller kids to worry about too.)

After plenty of time in the almost-midsummer sun (we Archibalds all came away a little red) we stopped by "Henry's house"—the replica of Thoreau's Walden cabin—for a visit. Zion loves it there.

Zion making a silly face in the Thoreau house replica

what would Henry think?

Besides mugging for the camera and scaring away tourists, Zion also demonstrated a more interesting way to leave the cabin. Maybe he was thinking of what Henry would have done if a tax-collector had turned up at the front door?

Zion leaping out the window of the house

very good form

As a parent I didn't know whether to be embarrassed or proud when all three of the kids from another family had to follow him out the window, to the dismay of their mom. A little bit of both.

Then on Friday we went strawberry picking at Parlee Farm. For the first time, Lijah was determined to be a helper.

the boys walking to the strawberry fields holding their baskets

field workers

Of course, that lasted about four berries in, but I appreciated the thought. Harvey was a helper, picking almost four quarts by himself. I should have a picture of him hard at work here; instead I just have these two jokers.

Zion and Lijah being silly in the strawberry field

NOT picking

(We also spent some time feeding the goats and taking a hayride, pictured previously.)

Zion and Lijah redeemed themselves a little bit when it came to helping Leah process the berries that afternoon. At least I think they did; you'll have to ask Leah how much they actually helped. Zion may have done some useful work. And today Lijah helped pour the sugar as I made some of the berries into jam. It isn't all fun and play around here, you can see—though in June it's more fun than not.

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first vacation of the (not-quite) summer

Harvey and Zion dipping their toes in the Atlantic

greeting the big ocean

We had a tough week last week, so it was wonderful to be able to get away to the outer Cape, courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa Bernstein and their new house in Truro.

They bought it in early spring, and as summer neared they'd been working ever-harder at bringing it up to their standards and getting it ready to rent out come the high season in July and August. They invited us up for a trial run. It's a great place—plenty large but still cozy, with three separate clusters of bedrooms to make space for multiple families, and a wonderful series of decks and patios on all sides.

Zion and Lijah eating appetizers at the deck table

snacks with a view

Of course, as much as we loved spending time in and around the house the real draw was the beach. The closest one was on the bay side, about a four-minute walk away. We all headed down there pretty soon after arrival, and spent a delightful couple hours running on the beach, playing in the sand, and very occasionally dipping into the water (it's still kind of wintery, even in the bay). The sand there is too coarse for building up, so instead I dug holes. I got pretty deep!

Zion buried up to his waist in sand, Lijah looking on

he could get himself out

Grandma and Grandpa have a new puppy, as seen earlier, and we had fun playing with him and watching him romp and run (and lie in the shade of anyone sitting still). Rascal came along, and spent more time in the water than anyone else—and most of the rest of the time lying comfortably in the sand.

Rascal on the beach

he still loves a beach

He did give into the puppy's entreaties to play with him for maybe 45 seconds over the course of the afternoon, but that was it.

The air was turning chilly as we ate our hamburgers and hotdogs on the deck so we went inside for desert, but we couldn't resist heading out through the big sliding doors one more time in the fading light. The boys played chase with the dogs up and down the sandy dirt roads around the house before we all settled down to watch the sunset.

the sunset as seen from the house

day is done

We're not so good at sleeping when we're not in our house—and I guess not so much even when we are!—but we made it through the night and were restored to full energy with a pancake breakfast courtesy of chef Grandpa (with no baking powder in the house he just beat the egg whites extra hard). Breakfast was over by 7:30, but nobody had any trouble finding something to do as the morning inched on.

Zion and Harvey reading on the couch

content

Of course, we can read at home! So even though the boys would have been happy to sit around until the mini-golf place opened at 10:00 I galvanized (forced) them into taking off early for a look at Atlantic Ocean over on the other side of the Cape. We stopped first at Marconi beach, where the stairs down to the water were closed. But we could still see and hear the power of the waves down below the bluff, and the boys were energized by seeing them as we explored the site of the first trans-oceanic wireless transmission.

Harvey and Zion running down a path through the dunes

energetic explorers

Once we exhausted the possibilities there we headed a mile down the road to a town beach, where we experienced the waves directly (that's the picture at the top of this post). Harvey, Zion, and I were beside ourselves with excitement. But because of our golf date we couldn't stay more than a couple minutes, so we managed to drag ourselves away—not before making plans to come back soon! When we got to the golf place we found that, despite the published material, they actually opened at 11:00; never mind, the National Seashore visitor center was just down the street, and easily good for 45 minutes of entertainment. We visited the history museum, learned about shells, used the bathrooms, and generally enjoyed being tourists among other tourists. A pair of Asian tourists taking pictures with a selfie stick paused to watch me tell the boys to pose for a photo, and they fully approved of how the young Americans responded.

the boys showing off their silly poses in front of a salt pond

yes they're silly

Then we went and played golf. I took a turn to wrangle the kids so Leah could devote her attention to the game, and I got them through 18 holes in record time (I was worried we'd hold up other groups, but I shouldn't have—we even managed to play some of the holes twice through!). They all had fun, even though Harvey was a little frustrated with his level of play and Lijah only hit the ball maybe three times. The appeal for him is apparently carrying it and the club around as he climbed on rocks and waded in the streams; well worth the $8 we paid for him to "play".

We went home for lunch—so nice to have a fully appointed house as a convenient home base!—before the bigger boys and I got into swimsuits for a second attempt at the real ocean. Never mind the hazy overcast moving in as the wind picked up: we were going to do this! And so we did.

Harvey and Zion looking small wading in front of big waves

the Atlantic at its finest

We went to a beach in Truro this time, to save on travel time and avoid traffic, and the waves were even better there. Almost overwhelming, in fact! We did a lot of squealing. The cold was kind of overwhelming too, though the fun and delight carried us through for a while. There's something wonderful about splashing in the waves while the scant few other beach-goers huddle in winter coats with hoods drawn tight around their faces. It was very windy. Zion was the first to run out of internal warmth, and even two towels around him couldn't do much to bring his core temperature back up!

the boys sheltering in towels in the lee of a branch

some slight protection

But it was worth it, we all felt. As we got in the car and turned the heat up full blast, Zion announced: "that was the best ever!" It sure was.

As I write these words on Monday evening it's crazy to think that was all just yesterday and the day before. After all that excitement—and there's lots I didn't write about, like playing ball, putting together a hammock chair, playing eight games of Uno, more reading (Harvey and I each finished two books)—and a full day with friends here at home today, it feels like about a week's worth of activities in the last two days. We're all tired. We left Truro after dinner Sunday so the boys could sleep in the car. They did, but none quicker than Lijah: he was out within a minute of getting into his seat, before we could even buckle him up.

Lijah sleeping in his car seat with the doors open

like a light

And he slept the whole way home, and then all the way through the night (well, with one easy tuck-in around midnight). That's what a great vacation will do to you!

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