Yesterday's adventure was a day-long trip to the beach in Ouistreham. The port in Ouistreham, which is right next to the beach, is where you would catch a car/person ferry to the United Kingdom. This beach is also known as the place where the Free French Forces landed on June 6, 1944. The girls and I didn't discover any historical points of the town yesterday, such as a huge bunker that still exists in the middle of the city. Instead we just headed straight for the sunny day at the beach.
I did discover through a little research that there is a movie called The Longest Day that is all about D-Day and includes a feature of the assault on Ouistreham. If possible I am going to try and see this movie. After visiting many of the D-Day landing sites and museums, I am very interested in learning more about World War II. I never thought I would be saying this! If you asked me 25 years ago if I wanted to know more about World War II or D-Day I most certainly would have told you no thank you.
So, back to the beach. I thought this beach was the best one yet in terms of play area, sun bathing and nice sand. There was tons of beach space - so much in fact that the girls wanted to plop down and start playing long before we ever got to the coast line. Maybe next time we will see the actual water... We arrived shortly before 11:00 a.m. and the beach was pretty bare. Fast forward to 4:00 p.m. when we left the beach and it was stuffed with people! The boardwalk, the beach, the little amusement area - full of people. So I was glad we arrived early and were able to find a great parking spot right next to the beach.
Right next to the beach are tons of little attractions. Mini-golf, a bungee jumper for little kids, go-carts, a carousel, a bouncy ride, and of course ice cream, food and a pointless 2-5 Euro toy stand. The casino is also right next door but fortunately the girls are a few years away from being allowed to sink away their saved Euros in the slots.
We spent about 5 hours at the beach. I packed a picnic, blankets and came properly prepared this time with three sets of the exact same buckets, shovels and rakes so there was no fighting over who gets what sand toys. That worked really well - the girls were very happy to have their own set of toys and it helped avoid a lot of arguments. Now, I am concerned about having to buy three of everything for the rest of their lives. Think 16th birthday and cars = big trouble is brewing.
The day was sunny and warm for the most part. Very sunny skies but there are breezes that cool the air. The girls were happy in their short sleeve shirts and pants all day long. I myself wore a sweater and jeans and was chilly at times. It's funny to think about how we head to the beach now to play just as a diversion - even when the weather is not ideal for swimming orbathing suits. In the past, we probably wouldn't have bothered. Now I wonder, why NOT go to the beach? Who says you have to be slathered in Bain de Soleil to enjoy it? I was equipped with my US magazines and the girls had buckets with shovels that did us just fine.
From a personal standpoint, yesterday was a tough day for me. I felt like/have felt like I answer NO to 95% of anything the girls ask me. And I see that the whining becomes worse and worse the more I say NO to the girls. Some things are legitimate that should receive a NO such as, "Can I have just cookies for lunch?" or "Mom, can I use your shoes as buckets for collecting sand?". But other questions, if I just loosened up a bit, could be a YES instead of a NO such as, "Can we ride the carousel when we leave?" or "Can we use this blanket to roll around in the sand?". The more I say NO the more the girls become agitated, the more I become agitated with their actions and then a happy day turns to yucky for everyone. So today, I have decided to be more aware of saying NO and raising my voice or talking in a frustrated voice. Yesterday I just felt awful at the end of it all. Tired and frustrated and perplexed at motherhood! Maybe it's just me?
So, today I am trying an old well-known approach to help with my current mommy problem. I have tied a string around my wrist and it's significance is to remind me to think twice before I say NO. It is also to help remind me to not get frustrated and think twice before I react - can I avert this frustrating situation by suggesting an alternate activity or by diverting their attention in another direction? So far, so good. I have already questioned how I respond. For instance, as I am typing this, Grace came up to me and asked if the could have some chocolates that she noticed in the kitchen. I had told her and Mia and Ella earlier that we could have one as a treat after dinner tonight. But she is coming up and asking me at 10:00 a.m. in the morning for a "few" chocolates right now because she says she is hungry. I reminded her of our agreement to have one after dinner and the whining commenced immediately. I thought twice about it and I still feel NO was the right answer because candy in the middle of the morning, right after breakfast, just is not necessary. But if I continue to think of the reasons I say NO throughout the day - maybe the result will be better. I'll let you know!
This afternoon I have a babysitter coming over for a trial run. She was referred to me by a new friend. Her family is from New Zealand and lives here in Caen. An english-speaking babysitter was key for me to find so I am hoping this works out well. We'll probably visit with her for awhile and then I will let her watch the girls while I run to the store and maybe workout. Cross your fingers - maybe date night will be revived for Andrew and I!