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A trip to the beach

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Ezra’s first overnight trip away from home was to Valparaiso, Indiana, where we met a big group of friends at our friend Jeremy’s parents’ house for a weekend of eating, playing games, and adoring Ezra.

Ezra was not the only little one in the house. Jeremy and his wife Catherine have a 2 1/2 year old, Floyd. Floyd met Ezra a few weeks ago and, when asked if he knew the baby’s name, said “I still call him Perquackey.” When construction-equipment-obsessed Floyd was informed a baby would be coming for the weekend, he said, “But babies don’t know ANYTHING about WOODCHIPPERS!” This proved true, but when pressed, Floyd allowed that baby Ezra was “pretty cute.”

The assembled group was perfect for an exhausted new mom. Hadas and Tony’s baby is due in November, so they appreciated the practice. Carrie and Lucas are considering having a baby some time in the future, so Carrie made sure Lucas got lots of time with Ezra. Catherine and Jeremy enjoyed the nostalgia value of a baby so small. Stacey and Levi played aunt and uncle with aplomb. I gratefully handed him off any time he wasn’t nursing.

Ezra showed his appreciation to the assembled company by pooping three times, an unheard of bounty these days, when he usually only poops every three days. I hope our friends appreciated this special gift. We certainly tried to make sure they did, by talking about it way more than is appropriate in mixed company.

The highlight of the weekend was a trip to the Indiana Dunes. While we’ve taken Ezra to the lakefront a few times already, we actually hadn’t yet taken him to a real sand beach. We lugged his carseat down to give him a shady place to sit, and I huddled under a tropical beach umbrella to nurse him. I mostly avoided getting sand all over his face.

But hanging out in the sand was not why Sandy had brought our child to the beach. He has been dying to get Ezra in the water, and would have done it right after birth if I would have let him. With great restraint, I watched him strip Ezra completely naked and walk right into the lake with him, forcing him first to promise not to test the breath-holding reflex or let the baby get too cold. I tried to act cool, but I was terrified.

After watching Sandy holding Ezra gleefully out toward the waves, letting the spray hit him, but keeping him safely out of the water, and noting that the little guy was not screaming in misery, I took a very deep breath and calmed down enough to do my wifely duty of taking tons of photos.

(I take that particular deep breath a lot these days, trying to force myself to take a minute and evaluate how freak-out-worthy a situation is. Last week, for instance, I lifted Ezra out of the moby wrap and noticed one of his pinky toes was wildly misaligned. Just before I screamed and rushed him to the emergency room for a baby toe splint, I took the deep breath and noticed that he wasn’t crying. Whatever had happened to that toe, it didn’t hurt. I massaged the toe back into its normal spot while Ezra cooed at me, and now it’s fine.)

After the photo shoot was done, Ezra started shivering a little, and I demanded he be wrapped in a towel and sent back to the blanket, where I grumbled as Sandy tried to keep sand from making its way into the diaper. Then, warmed up and more or less sand-free, Ezra fell blissfully back to sleep. I relaxed again, flipped lazily through some Martha Stewart magazines, and practiced taking big deep breaths for our next trip to the beach.

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