Like all beautiful plans, this one started with a spreadsheet.
My sister and I populated the cells of a Google Sheet back and forth, adding links, amenities, checkboxes. And soon our parents had booked a last-minute deal for an Airbnb on Martha's Vineyard – in Tisbury, to be exact.
The trip was so last-minute, in fact, that all of us couldn't be there the entire time. My siblings' stays overlapped with the beginning and end of ours, our parents and their dog Chance being the common denominators. (Plans are already in the works for next summer with the goal of having all of us together for the vacation's entirety.)
Kristie, Miles, and I arrived two days into their stay. Miles's mother and I were feeling...let's say, apprehensive, about our first longer trip with the baby – primarily because we three had worked so hard on the baby's sleep. But from our favorite sleep-training book [affiliate link], Facebook group, and everything we'd read on the internet, we were planning to stick to the prevailing advice for traveling families: throw all sleep rules out the window. Get sleep for your baby and yourselves however that makes sense.
THAT beautiful rule (or lack thereof, really) was a big part of what made this vacation so lovely and perfect for our little family. Miles slept in bed between Kristie and me, and I nursed him to sleep at night and for naps. It was dreamy. I felt tipsy on the closeness and freedom and sweetness of those moments. We all relaxed. Child wanted to be held while drifting off, though, so it meant Kristie and I didn't eat dinner together at all, but rather took shifts around the table with the rest of my family eating and playing Bananagrams [affiliate link] – I don't want to brag (or maybe I do?) but I won every round.
Another aspect of the trip that inspired tension was the travel it would take to get there. Two and a half hours in the car, 15 minutes in a shuttle bus, 45 minutes on a ferry (baby's first boat ride! and glimpse of the ocean!), five more minutes in a car. I was so proud of our babe. He transitioned, wide-eyed, from car to bus to boat to car with such flexibility and ease (well, aside from hearing the horn of the ferry which scared the bejeezus out of all of us), I thought, why don't we do this all the time? (A thought that was quickly repaired by a drive home colored by high emotions from a certain someone. But let's promise to remember only the trip there.)
The house my parents rented was a five-minute stroll from a small public beach that was rocky, but quiet, safe, and lovely. (PS – that's not the house we stayed in, nor is that our car, sadly.) We drove to visit bigger beaches (South Beach and Lake Tashmoo Town Beach). At each one, Miles carefully selected large pebbles that he then tried, unsuccessfully, to eat – I highly recommend, if you can, traveling with five babysitters, each of whom readily swoops in to pry rocks from pudgy fingers, provides an arm to catch a new sitter who sometimes still slowly tips backwards, or cheerily changes a diaper when two mothers who won't be mentioned have just about had enough.
I thought perhaps the baby would feel cautious or even fearful around the crashing waves, cold sea water, or crowds of people, but my child thrived. We dug a shallow hole in the sand and deposited him there with a small bucket clenched in each hand, and there he merrily sat, sneaking a mouthful or two of sand and crowing happily to his grandparents, aunt, and uncles. At Lake Tashmoo, the waves were gentler, and I planted him where they could lick his toes, thinking he'd soon be complaining about the frigid water. To my surprise (again!), there he sat as the ocean visited and retreated – simply issuing a sharp intake of breath each time it lapped around his legs – wholly content.
We continually dodged a marauding family of wild turkeys that lived in our neighborhood as my dad shuttled us all downtown, or to Oak Bluffs. Kristie and I stole away for an afternoon screening of Jaws (the Capawock Theatre plays it every Friday at 2); our group sampled as many different ice cream shops as we could find; my sister Phoebe and her boyfriend Alec took Miles on the Flying Horses Carousel.