We went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina with Mark's family. This year instead of renting one big house for all 20 of us, each family rented apartments in a motel. So we had a 2 bedroom apartment with a kitchen and living room. They were fine for the amount of time we spent in the rooms. The boys spent most of their time with their cousins and we would go hours without knowing which room they were in. It was awesome. They really love being with their cousins and there is never any fighting, the kids all just get along.
We divided out time equally between the beach and the pool It was great to be staying beach-front with a pool. There was always someone from our group at either one, so the kids could go between the beach and pool pretty easily. Here are some pictures from one of our nightly walks. Matthew and Grace hadn't made it to the beach yet for this cousins picture. I said, 'line up by age / height' and Brandon (little guy in blue), said 'no, I don't want to'. To which I said, 'oh I'm sorry, I wasn't asking. I want to take a picture and need you to get in line.' I don't think he was expecting me to say that, but he was a trooper.
The boys learned to body surf this year. Last year for our quick trip, the ocean was too cold for them to spend much time in it. Plus this year, they had older cousins to show them how it was done. John and Luke really got into riding the waves. Or maybe it was just John who rode the waves, Luke clung to Mark a lot but was able to catch some waves before the week was over.
The boys also spent a lot of time in the pool doing handstands. And because they are my children and I take pictures of everything, they requested I take pictures of them doing handstands. So, here they are...
Sister also got into the pool. She has never really liked the water but tends to tolerate it and have you in a death grip if you are holding her. One day it was really hot, so I got into the pool with Grace. The shallow end of the pool was 3 1/2 feet, so I put her down and let go. Once she realized she could stand, she just hung out in the water for about a half an hour.
The next morning, as we were all having our coffee and breakfast by the pool Grace walked over to the deep end and sat with her feet in the pool. It was so cute because she sat down about 4 feet away from the side of the pool and scooted forward until her feet were hanging over the side. Dad sat down with her and they contemplated life.
We spent most of our time at the hotel going between the beach and pool. However, one day we took a trip to the Wright Brothers Museum. Mark and I have been to the Outer Banks 14 times and never gone to the museum. This summer we bought a book and read about the Wright Brothers in anticipation of our visit to the museum and monument. As with most things, it went better in my head than real life. The museum was really crowded and we got there at the wrong time for a tour. So we
One evening after dinner, we went to run on the sand dunes. I tried to get a cute picture of my three but it didn't really work. But we were able to get a picture with all the cousins. And we got ice cream afterwards, which is also a beach tradition.
Overall, it was another amazing week at the beach with Mark's family. The kids really love to spend time with their cousins and I love to see their relationships continue to grow and develop. I'm so, so thankful that all the kids get along and there is never any fighting. All the moms comment on how great that is and was a gift these bonds of extended family are. It was such a great week that we've already booked our house for next year. I can't wait to go back to the beach. It's my happy place.