So here it is: King family vacation 2011.
Our young family already knows we love the beach, as we had a fabulous quick trip last year to Chincoteague Island. So in February of this year when the youth of our church held a fundraiser for a summer camp/ mission trip to Malawi in Africa in the form of a Chili Cook off with the #1 prize a week's stay at a beach home in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we took the contest seriously. The home was generously donated by friends in our church, and with BJ's recipe using his Big Green Egg, a cute little girl in an apron and some padding of the pot on our part, we won.
Anna Cate wanted her Nana and Daddy Doug to come, too, and while Daddy couldn't make it, Mom did and it was everything we could have dreamed of in a family vacation.
We went to the beach every day but one, and this mama is so proud that neither of the girls even got the slightest bit pink. Anna Cate's bravery and joy for the water was delightful.
She swam with the waves as BJ helped her "ride them."
The day after we didn't go, we were walking out the door to go to the beach and we heard thunder so after explaining we couldn't go in the rain, Anna Cate said, "I'm having deja vu. We didn't go to the beach yesterday!" She loves making me laugh almost as much as she loves the beach.
My mom hates the water since as a child she nearly drown in a river, but that fear lost out to the joy of these little girls in the crashing waves.
Or walking in the sand.
We spent part of the July 4th holiday with friends for beaching it in the morning.
Jessica and I taught one year together at high school (and both hated it) and while I don't see her as much as I'd like, she is just one of those special friends whose spirit is kindred. She got me into mountain biking, read Shakespeare at my wedding and taught me how to press dried flowers. Her confident, adventurous, sweet presence allures me.
We enjoyed the fireworks show that evening.
It makes me smile to see our kids play together.
As a family, we enjoyed a lot of hanging out.
I loved having time with the girls with extra help from BJ and Mom. The girls liked having them around, too.
Seeing this relationship develop is thrilling...and exhausting. The little baby who got water poured on her face at four weeks old or dumped out of a swing at 2 months old or slung around for the past year is coming back at her big sissy with full force. As I'm sitting her typing the situation, I think it is kind of funny to know Molly Mae can hang.
We made a family deal that we would have ice cream every day.
Ice cream at the beach makes everyone happy (except me after I got on the scale when we got home).
Anna Cate and her Nana made a deal that they would have the same kind every day.
These two are buddies. When Anna Cate was hot in this coverup as she stripped it she said, "I'm having a hot flash." They slept together, which is generous of Mom since Anna Cate is gifted in taking up the most possible amount of room in a bed. I know those of you with children understand this.
We stayed in most nights and enjoyed fabulous meals prepared by BJ or Mom, preluded by BJ's fruity cocktails. We enjoyed a shrimp boil, steamed crab, grilled steak and salmon, shrimp cocktail, shrimp and grits and that is what I can remember.
If you love to grill, try grilled romaine lettuce as a fabulous side. It is not only cheap but delicious!!!! You just cut apart the lettuce in halves and put some olive oil and salt and pepper on it. Lay it on the grill until the edges are crispy; top it with Parmesan cheese. DELICIOUS!!! And speaking of food, BJ and I had a lunch date and afternoon to ourselves, where I had the best salad EVER (and you know I'm a salad girl so I've eaten a lot of them).
The tuna was marinated in this sesame ginger sauce and topped with peanuts and green onions. The arugula salad had grilled peppers and portabella mushrooms and mango and pineapple. The dressing was sesame and gingery. AMAZING! Ok, back to our date.
We went out for lunch since BJ goes to bed very early and my idea of splitting a bottle of wine on the sandy beach by moonlight doesn't interest him. But lunch at a bar and watching the ships roll in does.
My dear friend Allahna drove down for the evening. We went to college together and she was the matron of honor in our wedding; the last time she and I were in the Outer Banks together was the spring that BJ and I were engaged, and Susie was with us. She is as beautiful and calming as ever, and Anna Cate adores her. Molly does, too.
We visited the Sand Dunes.
The motto at this state park about the wonders of nature is "Always Changing....Always Beautiful."
"A faithful friend is the medicine of life."
All of us, even Mom, trudged the steep side of one
to reach the prize of a fabulous view.
BJ was not posing, but I loved getting this picture of him.
He looks good!!! So wine by moonlight isn't his thing and we drive each other crazy but we make a fantastic team, but more importantly, I love him and I know that there really is no one better suited for me. Having a full week to spend with him reminds me how glad I am he is my partner, even though I wish he would relax and he wishes I would hurry the hell up!
We went out for breakfast Stack Em' High, which had quotes galore written on the walls.
The quote at our table was, "Hell hath no fury like that of a lawyer of a woman scorned." This gave me a big chuckle: "When at first you don't succeed, try again. Then, Quit. No use making a damn fool of yourself" Or: " To be is to do" - Socrates; "To do is to be" - Sarte "To be or not to be" - Shakespeare "Do Be Do Be Do" - Sinatra.
One evening BJ and Anna Cate went fishing. They and the birds were fishing.
The beach is so beautiful at sunset.
(notice how Molly is reaching down my shirt in the last photo as if to say, I think these were of use to me once. I weaned her a few weeks ago and while I miss it at times, I know it was time for us to quit)
We tried to go back the next evening for a family portrait, but it didn't work out as perfectly as I had hoped.
We couldn't get a smile on everyone at the same time.
And I thought this dress was much more flattering on me than it seems here.
Or a wardrobe malfunction in the form of misplaced head bands.
And then, there is always Molly's squirmy self.
(or Anna Cate's panties showing)
The lighting was off and I was frustrated by my not putting the camera on the correct setting. But after I calmed down my frustration, I now enjoy the pictures we did capture. I guess all the takes do not need to be perfect for some to be great.
This is us....not perfectly flattering, or all smiles at the same time, but it is our family at the beach...life is good.
And these girls, like a family vacation, take a lot of work and energy and time and money (when you don't win it). But they take my breath away, too.
On the walks home from the beach, Anna Cate absolutely hated the way the sand felt between her feet and the flip flops. She would run back to the foot shower and try to get every speck of sand off a few times before she would give up and beg me to carry her because she said she hated the way the sand stung. So it provided the analogy of explaining that to get the beauty and fun of the ocean you have to deal with the sand. To distract her, we played an idea game: What are the sands of life? What are the waves?
Some of mine are
Sands: I don't like working and would rather be a stay-at-home mommy; Ocean: my children get to spend their days with Miss Diana whose guidance and love never cease to amaze me.
Sands: Getting up in the morning Ocean: my health when I do wake up
Sands: when my kids whine Ocean: how fun they are to be around when they aren't whining
Sands: I wish we lived with Nana Ocean: We have skype.
Sands: When I don't listen Ocean: When I'm a good girl
Sands: I don't get to see you during the day Ocean: I get to be with my friends at Miss Diana's and go to Kindergarten
Ok, so she didn't totally get it and even sort of copied mine, but hopefully she learned a little life lesson along with distraction from the "sting of the sand." The main point is that the ocean is worth it.
And sometimes, even the sand can be fun.
“Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think.”