Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beach Report 3: Foodie Edition

For today's (final) "beach report," I want to share some ideas for beach meals that are easy on the brain and budget.  Matt & I agreed that our dining for the week was both low-maintenance and yummy.  We didn't feel like we went overboard, but we didn't think we skimped either.

The first thing I did was sit down and plan out meals for the beach (options for breakfast and lunch and specific menus for dinner) that had some overlapping ingredients.  I made a list of every item we would need, and divided the list into things to bring from home (like chicken seasoning and cooking spray), things to buy and bring (dry grocery items), and things to buy upon arrival (refrigerated/frozen items).  I actually made this list a month in advance and watched the sale ads and coupon inserts for the items on our buy and bring list.  Most of the things we took I was able to purchase on sale!  (To take it a step further into budget friendly, you could base your meal plans around your current coupons.  To really get crazy, you could plan for meals that have a variety of produce and meat options so that you have the flexibility to work with sales at your beach grocery store.)

These are the basic meal options we ended up with:

For Breakfast- cereal, oatmeal, waffles, fruit, yogurt/granola, muffins, cinnamon rolls
(coffee, milk)

And for Lunch- PBJ, meat & cheese sandwiches or wraps, chips and dip (see below), or leftovers from dinners.  Sides: carrots, sunchips, fruit, yogurt

1-  Dinner Salads (greens, baked chicken, craisins, feta, and pecans) and garlic toast
*We also ate salads once for lunch later in the week, and you will see the overlap of ingredients in the lunches above and dinners below.

2- Fiesta Tacos
*Tacos sound like a lot of chopping and prep for an easy meal, but we used simple, quick ingredients including Ready Rice (spanish flavor- heat in package in microwave for 90 seconds), cucumbers (also used in meal 1 and 3), canned olives (meal 3), cheese (a Reed staple anyway), salsa, and onions and cilantro leftover from dip recipe below.  Paired with a couple of fresh margaritas, easy taco night is a fiesta waiting to happen!

3- Grilled cheese sandwiches with steamed veggies and salad
*This is a good "safety net" meal- all of the ingredients are from other meals so you can take it or leave it.  Reed eats the leftover steamed veggies with other meals.

4- Greek Wraps (Chicken, greens, feta, cucumber, olives) with fruit
*A great meal to enjoy on the balcony after bedtime with a glass of wine!  Again, all ingredients overlap with other meals and chicken was ready to go.

5- For the rest of the meals, we planned to go out twice and eat pizza once.

Other Ideas and Snacks
 One of the best ideas we had was to bake all of the chicken on the first night.  This meant there was basically no other cooking for the rest of the week- just throwing ingredients together... we thanked ourselves often for this!

Another specific idea, passed along from my friend Lauren, was watermelon for a beach snack.  Reed was LOVIN' it!  We chopped the melon into pieces and froze baggies full to take down to the beach each day.

Of course, we also had a few favorite splurge treats on hand including twizzlers and snickers ice cream bars!  For Reed, we brought lots of crackers fruit pouches.

Lastly, I mixed up a huge bowl of fresh chip dip on the first night and we dove into almost every afternoon when we came up from the beach.  It lasted us the entire week and was a great fresh and healthy staple to have on hand, complete with veggies and protein.  Here is the recipe!

Chip Dip
1 can black eye peas
1 can black beans
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
2 Tbls. chopped parsley or cilantro
1 medium chopped onion

1 chopped green pepper
Zesty Italian salad dressing (use as much or as little as you'd like)

Drain and rinse all the canned ingredients. Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate overnight covered.

Serve with "scoop" type chips.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Beach Report 2: Sun Safety and Resources

In yesterday's post, I mentioned our "early-out" schedule at the beach that kept us safe from the sun between 10:00 and 2:00.  I also think it is important, especially for little ones, to wear sun-protection clothing, a good hat, and to take cover in the shade whenever possible.

The Environmental Working Group recently published a sun safety section of their website for the summer, which highlights some 2011 sunscreen products.  It looks like a few of the better choices are the neutrogena or aveeno sunsticks for baby, and Blue Lizard brand sunscreen.  You can check out the full article for yourself here: http://breakingnews.ewg.org/2011sunscreen/

The EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database provides information on personal care products, which unfortunately are not well regulated in the U.S. and can contain harmful ingredients.  I don't know all of the ins and outs of the politics of the organization, but I do like that someone is providing information to protect families and consumers from potentially dangerous, readily available products.  I first encountered the database as a link from Dr. Greene's website.  In an article about environmental health and personal care products, Greene writes:

Allow me to share some of the jaw dropping statistics about the products you rub into your scalp and skin and trust on your baby's body and even use to clean your mouth every day:
  • Even though the average person uses about ten products a day constituting hundreds of individual ingredients, safety testing of these products is voluntary and conducted by the product manufacturers.
  • Eighty-nine percent of the 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products have never been evaluated for safety by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other institution.
  • The FDA has banned only nine personal care product ingredients. For comparison, the European Union has banned over 1100.

An eye-opening 8-minute video by The Story of Stuff Project is also worth a view and presents "The Story of Cosmetics" in this way:

Again, I haven't researched the affiliations of these organizations, but my point is solely to pass along the important information they are providing about safety and personal care products.  I have slowly started trying to do some research to find some of the best "middle ground" brands for my family.  To me, middle ground means safe, but also affordable and available.  I don't want (and can't afford!) to have to use products that you can only get from online organic boutiques at $20 an ounce--yikes--so I am trying to navigate the database to find products that are both economical and accessible.  Hopefully I'll be able to report back on some finds as I make progress...

In the mean time, does anyone have any good resources or product suggestions?  Have you made any changes, even small ones, to pursue a safer, healthier lifestyle?  Would love to hear about them!

    Sunday, May 29, 2011

    Beach Report 1: Tips and Tricks Revisited

    We just got home from our week at the beach... We had a wonderful vacation!

    Thought I would report back on my experiences with some of the beach tips and tricks I solicited before our departure...

    1.  The jogging stroller was a hit!  We did have to carry it over the dune walkway (the stairs part) each day, but we got our system nailed down and it wasn't really a big deal.  On a couple of days, Reed actually fell asleep in the stroller during a beach walk, and snoozed for a bit while we parked him in the shade of an umbrella.
    Sleeping Cutie
    A few times he just requested rides in his chariot to "chill," but not necessarily sleep (it was his normal morning nap time).  When not occupied, the stroller doubled as an extra beach chair, good for keeping things up out of the sand.  I stuck the cooler in the underneath basket so that it was always shaded, and used the small zipper pocket on the back as a "sand-free zone" for phones, ipods, and the like.  We attached the mommy hook to hang bags and sand toys as needed.
    Pack Horse
     One last note: Knowing the set-up and terrain of your beach destination ahead of time would help determine if the stroller is a good fit.  (Okaloosa Island had this weird slant at the shoreline that was hard to work with at different tides.  Also, if we had more than one child to escort I am not sure carrying the stroller over the dune walkway would have worked/ been worth it--depending on ages.)

    2. Schedule.  Some of our beach-loving friends who also have a toddler told us that they always hit the sand by 8AM.  Since our vacation time zone was an hour behind and Reed decided to wake up between 5:45 and 6:30 each morning (except for the last day of course), we had no trouble testing this early-out schedule!
    "What!?  Was I up early, Mom?"
    Matt was a little reluctant, but I loved being out on the beach before most people.  Usually, we would head up for lunch and nap around 10:30 or 11:00, just in time to avoid the most dangerous sun rays. My favorite part of each day was back at the condo, relaxing on the balcony overlooking the beach during Reed's midday nap.  We would usually return to the beach and/or pool around 3:00.  An added bonus to early rising + the time difference is beating the dinner crowds if you plan to eat out.  Of course, vacation always works best with a go-with-the-flow mentality.  We started out super early at the beginning of the week, and our schedule naturally shifted to a little bit later by the time we left.

    3.  We didn't end up bringing an inflatable pool or any big containers, but we did fill a few buckets with water for Reed to play with in the shade.  Um, jackpot! 
    The Best Day!
     Seriously, one morning Reed played in these buckets (splashing, scooping, pouring) for 2 hours straight!  Matt and I seized the opportunity to lounge in our beach chairs and read our books.  Well, Matt had to make the occasional trek to the ocean's edge for bucket refilling missions, but still.  So thankful for cousins with extra buckets to share! :)
    Bucket Buddies

    4.  I want to report on one last product.  My friend Lisa ordered a powder pouch (www.powderpouch.com) for her recent trip to the beach, and loved it so much that she sent it with us on our vacation too.  It is basically a pouch filled with talc powder that effectively removes sand from your skin.  We actually didn't even get to try it out ourselves because every time we left the beach we sprayed off with the water hoses and then hit the pool before heading upstairs to our condo.  It would be a great for any time you didn't chase the beach with a dip in the pool (or even if you did), were planning to eat on the beach, or had to change the diaper of a sand-kissed baby.
    Our beach to pool setup

    Later this week: Beach Report 2 and 3... Beach meals and sun safety

    (Update: See next year's Beach Tips & Tricks for Age 2 and Infant)

    Sunday, May 22, 2011

    Something about the Ocean...

    We're here!  We're here!

    We arrived at the beach yesterday and so far everything has been just perfect.  It is gorgeous.  Reed loves the beach and the sand.  I am looking so forward to the rest of the week ahead...

    I can never be at the beach, standing at "the end of the world," and not think on Psalm 19.
    (Or Ten Shekel Shirt's "Ocean" lyrics).
    But I will leave you with the psalm:

    The heavens declare the glory of God;
       the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
    2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
       night after night they reveal knowledge.
    3 They have no speech, they use no words;
       no sound is heard from them.
    4 Yet their voice[b] goes out into all the earth,
       their words to the ends of the world.
    In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
     5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
       like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
    6 It rises at one end of the heavens
       and makes its circuit to the other;
       nothing is deprived of its warmth.
     7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
       refreshing the soul.
    The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
       making wise the simple.
    8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
       giving joy to the heart.
    The commands of the LORD are radiant,
       giving light to the eyes.
    9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
       enduring forever.
    The decrees of the LORD are firm,
       and all of them are righteous.
     10 They are more precious than gold,
       than much pure gold;
    they are sweeter than honey,
       than honey from the honeycomb.
    11 By them your servant is warned;
       in keeping them there is great reward.
    12 But who can discern their own errors?
       Forgive my hidden faults.
    13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
       may they not rule over me.
    Then I will be blameless,
       innocent of great transgression.
     14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
       be pleasing in your sight,
       LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.


    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    On Love & Marriage

    This past weekend we were planning to swing by an alumni picnic for our N-Weds community group.  "N-Weds" (newly and nearly weds) is a two-year class/community group we participated in at North Metro Church from 2006-2008.

    Bowling with some N-Weds friends, 2007

    We didn’t end up making it to the picnic (boo!), but N-Weds holds such a special place in our hearts!  It was fun to be reminded of the memories we made with special people and the lessons we studied as we started our marriage journey.

    With Greg & Barbara at our N-Weds Graduation Luau- May 2008

    I haven’t blogged much about my “wifey hat" anyway, so in the spirit of N-Weds, here are a couple of thoughts on Love & Marriage.

    One of the first concepts we studied in our N-Weds curriculum was God’s purpose for marriage (*from Marriage: A Solid Start).

    God established marriage to…
    -       Mirror God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:24)
    -       Mutually complete one another (Genesis 2:18)
    -       Model Christ’s relationship with the church (Ephesians 5:22-23)
    -       Multiply a Godly heritage (Gen. 1:28, Deut. 6:1-9, Psalm 78:1-8, Prov. 22:6)
    -       Manage God’s creation (Gen 1:28)

    Our project following the lesson was to write out our own marriage purpose statement:

    The purpose of our marriage is to glorify God as we live a unified life, seeking to sacrificially meet one another’s needs, to nurture one another’s gifts, and to model godly lives and values in our home.

    Maybe I can convince Matt to pull out the ole N-Weds notebook!  I am sure we could benefit from going back through the lessons.  And then perhaps “On Love & Marriage” posts will make a regular appearance on here.  If I had to choose one theme we took away from our time learning with N-Weds, it would be purposefulness in marriage.  We talked often about how easy it is to slip into “parallel living.”  And in this busy season of life, we could definitely use a reminder to be intentional about God’s purpose for our marriage.  How about you?

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Reading List

    I said I would post my reading list by the end of last week, but google's blogger was under the weather or some other nonsense.  Anyway, the list below is what I've got on deck so far for parenting literature.  I am sure we will be re-reading several of these down the road as Reed grows, but might as well start now right?  And just as we did with infant care books, we will probably pick and choose from various ideas and methods and come up with what "works" (term used loosely!) best for our style and home and Reed's temperament.  Or we may just wing it for the rest of our lives.  Probably a little of both. :)

    In no particular order:

    The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old: Revised Edition Shepherding a Child's HeartWords Kids Need to Hear: To Help Them Be Who God Made Them to BeBringing Up BoysGrace-Based ParentingTo Train Up A ChildOn Becoming Toddlerwise

    Some of these come highly recommended, and others I'm not sure what to expect.  I will try to report back after reading each one, and let you know some of the highlights!  In the meantime, I am still taking suggestions :)

    As you can see I have lots of nonfiction waiting in the wings, but what I would really love is a good fun fiction read for the beach... Any ideas!?

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    These Feet were made for Walking

    “These [feet] were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do...”

    We have a walker!  Last Tuesday, we had planned to go the Braves game, and were disappointed by the rain out.  We headed home all bummed, but Reed’s exciting new feat quickly turned the evening back into into a home run!

    Leading up to last week, Reed would walk multiple laps around the house with his push toy, and sneak a few steps here and there to get from one object to another.  We knew he could walk if he would just let go, but he wasn’t going to have any of it!  Whenever Matt or I led him around holding on to his hands, we would try to slip one hand away, but Reed would stop walking to turn around and look for the second hand before he would proceed.  I think I see some of my own low-risk personality reflected here in my little man… He waited to walk until he not only knew he could do it, but knew he could do it well.  I hope we can encourage in Reed as he grows some of Matt's humble confidence and more of a sense of adventure than I possess. :)  As you can see in the video, he practically took off running, and in his very first go (prior to what we captured with the camera), he busted out about 30 consecutive steps!

    To keep up with our little walker, we bought his first pair of “real” shoes today.

    I will still let him walk barefoot as much as possible, but now that he is officially a toddler, we needed a real pair of kicks for shoe-ish occasions.  I chose this sandal type shoe since it is summer time.  It is more supportive than a flip-flop (which wouldn’t really be a good choice for a new walker), and it also has a protected toe.  Hopefully his new shoes will fit him into the fall months too!

    "One of these days these feet are gonna…" What?!

    Allow me to direct your attention back to Reed’s walking video for a quick moment.  Did you catch the part at the end where he looks into my eyes and intentionally starts pinching his own face?!  This is how he currently experiments with being naughty!  Anytime he is told no (or tells us no!), gets mad about something, or thinks he is about to have something taken away from him, he grabs his cheek.
    (That probably sounds weird (it is), but pinching MY face was the first behavior I started correcting a few months ago.  I would tell him no-no, that we don’t hurt people, and then demonstrate “gentle.”  Inevitably, his response would be to hit/scratch/pinch my face again, so I would repeat my schpeel and inform him that if he hits again he can’t sit with mommy right now.  Yep—you guessed it—he would swipe a third time and I would plop him off of my lap and onto the floor, where he would immediately wail about such a cruel and unusual punishment.  My approach hasn't seemed to abate his hitting habit much, but I guess he has started to associate his signature crime with the word “no”?).
    Anyway, back to the face pinching habit.  In addition to when he is mad or gets corrected, he also just grabs his face randomly to see how we will react (as he does in the walking video).  This pinching is usually accompanied by him saying “no” over and over again.  And Reed saying no?  I’m sorry, but it is hilarious!  He says the word “no” in such a funny way (think sarcasm meets intense southern drawl meets baby voice) that I have to put some real effort into not cracking a smile.  I am trying to be consistent in correcting/encouraging behavior, but I just want to take this opportunity to say that I wasn’t quite ready for how quickly my helpless cooing little infant started smacking me in the face and testing the boundaries.  Good thing I am so madly in love with him! :)  Pinches, “no-no”s, and tantrums—oh my!

    I am adding to my parenting literature reading list- Any good suggestions?  I will check out suggestions and share my full list later this week.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Mother’s Day Crafting

    Last week, Reed and I got together with some creative and fun friends and made some painted flower pots for Reed's grandmas for Mother’s Day.  Today I want to share those with you along with a couple of other Mother’s Day craft ideas.

    This is Reed’s finished pot.  The back of the flower pots say Happy Mother’s Day to Grannye (Mimi/Murry) and with Love.  The little bumblebees are made out of his thumbprints.  “Reed” made one for me too, of course.  I love it!

     Also, this is Reed and his pals taking a quick break from their hard work painting. :)

    These gift bags from at second street are really simple and sweet.  You could fill them with any type of Mother’s Day gift, really.

    And a stepping stone was one of the other ideas we discussed.  Always a great keepsake craft.

     When a child is born, so are grandmothers.  ~Judith Levy

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Mother's Day

    Sometimes I think I have a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde-esque thing going on in communicating about my mommy hat.  Half the time when I talk about Reed I cry happy tears like a weirdo.  And other times I just say silly and detached things—like stealing my friends line and telling Reed he owes me a quarter when he wets a diaper I’ve just changed.  I also recount lots of funny stories, as if Reed’s primary purpose is for my entertainment.

    But what I really feel toward Reed is so deep and so much that I don’t really believe I could adequately put it into words.  I am sure you have heard others describe parenthood and the way that you gain this new understanding of your own parents’ love for you.  And a life-altering glimpse of God’s love for you.  The whole experience must be so alike for every mother, but at the same time so singular, as each of us brings our unique person and our life’s journey to our mothering heart.

    I think one part of the uniqueness that defines my heart as a mom is the path God carried me through to get here.  When Matt and I experienced loss with our first two pregnancies, my sadness was so painful.  God met me in a place of deep heartache, and showed me in a new way (that I didn’t know I was missing) that He is for me.  And it was separate from the gift of Reed on the other side of that valley.  It was purely a work in my heart, and a revelation of His deep love for me.  And for you.  I have to believe that my journey of loss in some way defines how I wear my mommy hat.

    Shortly after Reed was born, my friend Lauren lent me a little book by Stasi Eldredge called You are Captivating: Celebrating a Mother’s Heart.
    You Are Captivating: Celebrating a Mother's Heart 

    I found passage after passage in this small book that echoed with my soul.  Eldredge put words that I couldn’t find to my mothering song, and gave shape to hopes and dreams for further down the road in this adventure that I’ve only just begun.  I wrote down some of my favorite excerpts, and wanted to share them today, as I believe they will echo with your heart as well.

    "Becoming a mother is an amazing thing.  Just ask a mother to tell you her birth story or her adoption story, and she will gladly do so with the same zeal as a soldier recounting a victorious battle…"


    "...but this!  This was altogether different.  This fierce, abandoned, protective, devoted love was wholly new and profound.  I had become a mother.  Everything in the world changed.  Now, not only had my body grown, but my heart had expanded to the point that it no longer fit inside me.  It now took the form of an eight pound mystery that was intensely vulnerable and demanding and hard to figure out… The joy of being a mother is so very closely linked with the sorrow of being a mother.  It is holy ground."

    "…so much of our lives as women is lived in secret, hidden from the eyes of the world and the accolades of others.  So much of it feels mundane… But God sees.  And He esteems most what is done away from the eyes of others.  He loves hidden, secret, small places.  He does his best work there—in the home, in the womb, and in the heart."

     "Every single time we choose to put our children first, before our needs and our wants, before our dreams and our desires, before our rights and what we deserve, a little bit of our selfishness dies and a little more holiness takes root in our hearts."

    "We don’t mother alone.  We partner with God in mothering—in bringing forth life in another!  While our own hearts drink deeply and rest in God’s good heart, he “mothers” us—so that we continue to become ever more truly the women he created us and intends us to be—the women we truly are.
    Life givers.
    And utterly captivating."

    Happy Mother’s Day!

    Happy Mother’s day to my own utterly captivating Mom!

     And may the peace and comfort of God be with all those for whom mother’s day is bittersweet—those who miss their moms or have broken relationship with their moms, those who long to be moms, and those being carried through loss.  He is for you.  Oh, how He loves!

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Traditions: March Madness

    Today I will wrap up the “mini series” on Traditions by sharing one more idea that Matt & I have enjoyed together and hope to grow with as our family grows.

    In case you need to catch up, these are the previous “Traditions” posts:

    As a kid, Matt loved to stay with his grandparents in Mississippi during the first weekend of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  They would watch games all day together and make wonderful memories during these visits.  (As a kid, I had no idea what March Madness was).  Our senior year of college, Matt took me to Mississippi to visit Grannye & POPSi for the first time, during- yep you guessed it- the NCAA Tourney.

    First MMM - 2005
    This weekend visit quickly became a treasured annual tradition, which we creatively(?) deemed “Mississippi March Madness.”  We went every single year… until last year when Reed made his grand entrance into the world during the first round of the tournament… I guess you could say we had our own version of March Madness in 2010!

    The long and short of it is that we want to continue the tradition of March Madness fun.  This year, Matt and I filled out our usual brackets and we even came up with a crazy process to help Reed fill one out too!

    looks like Reed is going for the underdog in this match-up...
    We posted the brackets in the kitchen and kept track of our progress throughout the tournament.  (I will go ahead and tell you that Reed’s bracket did better than Matt’s and mine!)  Our idea is, like with the other traditions, to allow the fun to grow with our family.  With younger kids, to keep it exciting, you could give out silly awards after each round, rigged in a way that each child gets one—best upset, risk-taker award—whatever.  Of course, as kids get older and understand the game, they can enjoy tracking the brackets on their own.  Maybe the family agrees on a fun prize beforehand, like winner picks a restaurant or activity for a celebratory family outing at the end of March Madness.

    POPSi went to heaven in 2007, and I know that March Madness will always be an extra special time to remember him, and for Matt to share stories with his children about their great grandfather.  Grannye recently moved to Atlanta and lives nearby, so we will have her bracket right up there in the mix—probably leading the pack! 

    Matt and I think it would be cool if the brackets one day cover the whole kitchen wall because our kids’ friends want in on the Morgan pool too. :)

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    The Beach or Bust

    In just a few weeks, we will be at the beach!  Yahooooo!  Can’t wait.  Today I have for you the top five the reasons why I am looking forward to vacation at the beach, and, more importantly, a request for your best beach ideas for babies/toddlers.
    Top Five Reasons I Can’t Wait for Vacation at the Beach

    1. It’s Vacation!
    It has been 2 years since we have taken a week-long vacation.  (Unless a week at home adjusting to life with a newborn counts as a vacation… I submit that it does not.)


     2. It’s the Beach!
    Need I say more?

    3. Reed
    This will be Reed’s first beach visit.  I can’t wait to watch him experience the sand and the ocean for the very first time!!  Also, I have already started packing, and I’m slightly obsessed with the little boy beach duds he will be sporting.  Last week, I found this straw fedora on clearance.  Love it!

    4. Matt
    My husband has a servant’s heart, and he is an admirably hard worker.  Not just when he is gone from the crack of dawn until 6:30pm, but also at home as a great husband and dad.  I am looking forward to Matt getting to unplug, relax, and recharge at the beach.  And I’m excited about some time to enjoy each other as a family without (all of)  the normal hustle bustle and demands of everyday life.

    5. Me
    Yes, I realize that with a baby, diapers, laundry, and meals, a mom is still on duty during family vacation.  However, Matt & I have a (fluid) master plan to give each other some time off here and there during our beach week!  And I am SO pumped about lounging in a beach chair, soaking in the ocean air, and reading a good book.   Or doing absolutely nothing.

    So there we have it.  I am super excited about a week at the beach… BUT before we leave, I need your advice!

    What ideas or tips and tricks do you have for a mommy hitting the surf and sand for the first time with a toddler in tow?  Reed will be 14 months old and a new-ish walker when we are there.  So far, these are the nuggets I have collected:

    1. Jogging stroller- You might remember that I bought a jogger at a yard sale a couple of weeks ago but said it was not really for jogging…  My friends says her jogging stroller is her “must-have” at the beach.  The big wheels allow easy strolling on the harder sand, and we are thinking it will make a good packhorse for all of our beach gear from the condo to the beach and back.  We will probably try walking the beach during Reed’s morning nap too.

    2. Kiddie Pool- I have also heard of families with small children (who are too young to safely play alone at the ocean’s edge) who bring a kiddie pool or other large container to fill up with water and set up right next to their chairs or under a sun umbrella.  Anyone tried this? Opinions?

    Do you have any beach tips to share, big or small?  A method?  A rule?  Any must-have toys, supplies, or even grocery items?   Do tell!