Sunday, August 25, 2013

Emerald Isle

We just got back from a week-long stay in a beach house in Emerald Isle, NC.  We had such a great time.  In almost every way it was perfect, and exactly what I hoped that this summer's last hurrah would be.  Being the addict that I am, I must have checked the forecast for that week at least 25 times, and every time it looked like crap, thunderstorms every day.  We hoped for at least an hour or two of sun here and there, but instead we were gifted with six gorgeous blue sky days in a row.  Tim and I were both a little leery of what kind of house we were getting into, after what happened at Topsail.  But the house was clean and comfortable, and decorated with bright colors and happy fishies and flipflops.  No nasty surprises after dark.  As always, the best thing of all was that view and the smell of that salty air.  It is my dream to live on the beach some day.  Tim is in the throes of midlife crisis right now (but he's not even 39, isn't that a little young?), and he's always talking about a new car, truck or boat.  I said to him, "How about we have a midlife crisis together and get a beach house?"  Beachfront houses too expensive?  We can trade in my nice car for a beater and get rid of cable.  Or live in a big van down by the beach.  It is fun to dream.
Delaney lost her first tooth on Sunday morning.  She was very proud and kept wanting to hold it and look at it.  She smiles for pictures in such a way as to make sure that gap shows.  Love this kid.
We went out for dinner three times.  Two of those times were to nice seafood restaurants, and one was just a burger joint.  Going out so many times in one week made me giddy.  I think the last time we'd gone out to eat before this vacation must have been when Grace was visiting.  We go out to eat only on vacations and when relatives visit.  It is true that Tim cooks as good and usually better meals at home, and I am happy to not have the hassle of hiring a babysitter.  But sometimes I love to put on something nice and have a change of scenery.  I called one of the places to verify that we should bring the kids, since the website looked kind of fancy.  They told me it was fine to bring kids, so no problem there.  However, the food was mediocre and that was disappointing since it had been highly recommended to us.  I blame Tim for making me into a food snob, particularly when it comes to seafood.  I can't stand an overcooked frozen scallop at the restaurant that boasts of being a premiere waterfront dining experience.  It's his fault, he made me this way.  Before I met him I was content with cheeseburgers at Ruby Tuesday.  Also, the view was not great.  Even still, I liked being out.  And we went for ice cream afterward.

But the restaurant we went to on night two was so nice.  I loved the food, loved the view, loved the wine.  And the kids were very good.  Come to think of it, I can't remember the last time one of our kids was disruptive in a restaurant.  Even Timmy is at his best when we're out to eat, especially if there's a window he can look out or something else interesting to watch.   Maybe we should do this more often, like once a month.
I said that we had six sunny days in a row, but now that I look at the pictures I remember that's not completely true.  The morning of day three was rainy.  The girls and I sat at the table and we played Disney Princess Uno, which is almost exactly like regular Uno, with only a few variations.  It's a lot of fun, and it even holds Annie's interest for a good half hour or so.  The only problem is that when it doesn't go her way she loses her temper.  We refuse to let her win.  She is capable of winning fair and square, and she did at least a couple times.  The other times she was not a graceful loser.  Still it was a nice way to make some time go by on a rainy morning.  Then it cleared up and we were back to beach activities (thank goodness because that was the only game I'd brought -- not very well prepared, was I, in light of the bad weather forecast?).  
These next few pictures took place after dinner that day, I believe.  We'd gone outside only to fly kites, and for awhile that was what everybody did.  But the tide was in and there were these long shallow pools that proved too enticing for the kiddos.  At first they contented themselves with running and stomping and splashing.
But the splashes got bigger and their clothes got wetter until Delaney decided to completely submerge herself.  Once she did that and they all saw that we weren't going to stop them, the other two abandoned any remaining pretense of trying to stay dry, since that was a lost cause anyway.
Dried off and ready for bed
Day 4 began with Tim taking the girls on a walk at sunrise while Timmy and I slept.  That boy makes up for being such a handful by being a solid sleeper, even on vacation.  
Then we spent a few hours on the beach.  Throughout this whole day I noticed a curious phenomenon, where it was sunny on the side of the sky that the ocean was on, but if I looked behind me there were lots of dark gray clouds.  I kept thinking that those clouds were going to roll over and there would be a storm, but it's like they knew to stay back.   Good clouds!
Later on, Tim made us a yummy dinner of burgers, pasta salad (from the grocery store deli), and corn on the cob.  He makes my life easier in so many ways when he's around.
Delaney liked not having to make any effort to keep her kite aloft.  Here she is digging in the sand, not having to think about her kite flying high above.
This was the night of the Blue Moon and Tim and I were obsessed with trying to get a good picture of it.  But our camera has its limitations (or maybe just we do) and a picture can't do it justice anyway.  We had a spectacular view of the moon every night of the week.  I can't remember paying so much attention to the moon at any other time in my life.  I left the curtains open over the sliding glass doors in our bedroom and looked at it every night before I went to sleep.
On Wednesday, day 5, we took our scheduled dolphin hunt boat tour.  Tim amused himself by asking Delaney, "So, what do we use to catch the dolphins?"  "What are we going to do with the dolphins when we bring them home?"  Delaney would tell him in exasperation, "No, Daddy, that's not what dolphin hunt means.  It just means we look at them!"  The boat ride was about an hour and 15 minutes long.  It was hot.  There were red, shiny faces all around.  It was the only time during this vacation that I wished for clouds.  I told Tim later that I know for sure now that we are not boat people.  I have more appreciation than ever for being on shore.  Tim argued that having your own boat is a way different experience than being stuck on someone else's boat.  Perhaps he's right, but I am still have no wish to get a boat.
The boat we rode on was in the same port in Morehead City where Tim got on a ship two and a half years ago.  The ship he was on was much bigger, though.  The one pictured above that we saw as we left the port is an LPD, the USS New York -- an amphibious transport dock ship.  

We did see dolphins.  But we also saw dolphins just standing on the beach at our house.  We also saw the Spanish Mustangs on Shackleford Island too, but they were very far away and .. meh.  The captain would stop the boat so we could look, but there was no breeze and we sat there baking.  We had to keep passing Timmy back and forth and make sure he didn't climb up and over the side.  I was relieved when it was over. This tour would probably be lovely on a cooler, breezier, or and/or cloudier day.  And without a two-year-old.
The next two days passed in a blur.  Beach, naps, dinners, ice cream, kites, walks, a game of Princess Uno once or twice .. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from Thursday and Friday:
OK, this isn't actually from Thursday or Friday, but it could have been.  We went to The Sweet Spot three nights in a row.  After one time we were hooked.  They have a gazillion flavors of ice cream and a toy corner in the back, with toys that are actually for sale, but the kids knew they got to just play with them and put them back.  They forgot all about the ice cream when they saw the toys.

Delaney had some money to spend, from the Tooth Fairy and from doing chores.  She spent all her money on a stuffed crab mama with baby that she found at The Sweet Spot.  But it wasn't an easy decision.  Tim took her to three different stores, and she told me that she hadn't found anything she liked.  Instead she wanted to buy a stuffed German Shepherd puppy on Toys 'R Us online.  I looked back and forth between the two of them and said, "You are clearly your father's daughter."  I know that at the age of 6 I could have (and did) walked into Wings or any other souvenir place and found all kinds of things to waste money on happily.  A young Tim, on the other hand, would have just kept shopping around, finding fault with everything, and saving his money for something he really liked.  Not that there's anything wrong with that -- just that being such a discerning shopper was not something I had learned as a small child.  In the end, she found "Crabsy" and "Snapper" and really liked them, so that's what she got.
We were watching the moon rise.  Timmy was saying, "Moon."
3 + hour naps every afternoon.  I took this picture when I had to wake him up to get ready for dinner.
This skinny little man is still wearing his trunks from last summer that are size 12 months and 12-18 respectively.  And the 12-18 month ones are too big!  It's not unheard of, though.  A friend of mine once told me her four-year-old son is on his third year in the same swim trunks.
Timmy was really being the Turd on Friday morning and I was getting fed up.  He wouldn't leave me alone.  He would take my hand and say, "Come on," indicating the water, but then would want to be picked up because he was suddenly "scared."  Even though he hasn't been scared of the ocean at any other time this whole summer.  He would say, "Up, up," and cry when I sat in the chair with him instead of standing while holding him.  Then Tim, after reminding me for the umpteenth time about how I had made Timmy this way, decided to take all the kids on a walk and give me a break.  I was never so happy to see their retreating figures.  I watched them walk away for awhile until I was sure that Timmy wouldn't turn around and freak out when he saw me going in the water.
On an unrelated note, another thing Tim and I liked about our location was that at any given time we were out there, we had our stretch of beach almost all to ourselves.  We would see clusters of people up and down the beach, but our area for whatever reason, was not very populated.  We liked having space.
I really wish I'd have gotten a picture of Tim holding his Princess Uno cards, or one of he and Annie staring each other down after he won.  Best of all would have been a video of he and Delaney doing their victory dance after we played as teams and they beat Annie and me.
Looking for seashells on our last night
We were talking today about the things that made this vacation so wonderful and what makes us miss it so much.  For me it was how relaxing it was and how even the mundane (like bathing kids or cleaning the kitchen) felt special with that view out the window.  I was in a different mindset.  I laughed more, I had more patience, and didn't worry about anything.  Tim mentioned that he liked being away from "our stuff."  When he's here he feels like there are so many things that need to be taken care of, cleaned, fixed, or maintained in some other way.  That's what vacation is supposed to be, a break from the everyday and all the "stuff" that weighs us down, and a chance to just enjoy each other's company.  That's not to say the kids never got on each other's nerves or our nerves, and needed to be disciplined at times.  But it was all somehow easier to deal with in this setting.  It was only 40 minutes away but it was a world away.

We spent the rest of the this weekend in a post-vacation funk.  It was inevitable.  We did some last-minute shopping for school supplies in the picked-over aisles of Target and Walmart.  Delaney moped all day today and told us many times that she does not want to go back to school.  I feel like the biggest slacker mom ever because she has nothing new to wear to school.  I took the only two things that weren't stained out of her closet, and that's what she's wearing tomorrow.  

And with that, our summer's over.  It was a great one.


  1. That sounds like such a nice family trip.

    And color me very impressed with your well-behaved children at the restaurant - especially Timmy! I think my kids would appear well behaved at restaurants since we are very on top of them and will take one away if they are not behaving. However, the amount of work & stress for me makes the expense not worth it at all. We will try again in November when we are in Florida - hopefully it will be a different story then!

    1. The only downside to eating out, and the reason we still stay in most of the time, is that we waste money buying them food. They don't eat much of anything. It sucks to look at a bill and know that about 40% of it was spent on food that didn't get eaten. After our last experience at the overrated seafood restaurant, we've sworn off kids' menus forever. Maybe we'll just do a third entree or appetizer, and get three extra plates. No more crappy corndogs and nuggets, especially if nobody's eating them! We might even get away with just ordering two entrees, and getting three extra plates, but that would of course be the day they all decide to eat!

      Long story short, they might behave, but most of the time it's still not worth the expense to take us all out to eat!