As you may have gathered by my Wordless Wednesday post, we've been at the beach this week! Friends invited us to join them for a week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and the girls and I have had a blast (unfortunately, Rodney couldn't take the time off work after being gone so long with his surgery earlier this year).
We left first thing Sunday morning and headed down. It's the first long trip I've taken alone with the kids, and honestly, the last trip we took, the big girls did a lot more fighting and bickering and less helping than they used to, so I was apprehensive, but it went really well. I'd gotten a few little toys for Little Bit, as well as some "treat" snacks (like organic fruit snacks) for everyone and some library books about the beach, so we figured out that, not counting any time for stops, she could have one of each, each hour, which spread out to be SOMETHING every 20 minutes. That made the time fly. We made the 7-8 hr trip with only 2 stops (one for bathroom, one for gas and bathroom), so not too shabby! The highlight of the trip down for all of us was crossing the Chesapeake Bay bridge/tunnel at Virginia Beach! Such a cool, LONG bridge over the ocean!
Once we got to the beach house and got unloaded, all the kids congregated around the foosball table. The girls had never played before, but they soon learned.
I was really nervous the last few days before the trip, because the weather report was NOT looking good. Rain predicted most of the week, ick! But we were sooo blessed! The ONLY rain was on Saturday and, at least where we were, it was only a few sprinkles. The kids had so much fun on the beach!
Little Bit liked building sand castles!
More Boogie Boarding!
And when the pool water plus sea breezes got too cold, the hot tub was a great place to chatter at each other while they warmed back up.
One day we went down to a pier to do some sea fishing. Another first for the girls!
Every so often pelicans would fly over, I was fascinated! I also saw them floating on the waves, but couldn't get a decent picture of it.
The kids had cut up some fish to use as bait, but the sea gulls were trying to steal the extras so Little Bit did her part by being the bait guard!
Miss Monica did let Little Bit hold her fishing pole for awhile, but Little Bit wasn't patient enough to hold it long enough to actually catch anything.
Lexie wasn't at all squeamish about getting in there and cutting up the fish, in this picture she was cutting up the "scraps" to throw to the sea gulls after Miss Monica filleted the fish, shudder!
A couple of evenings the entertainment was "crabbing" on the bay side of the island. None of us eat crabs, but the kids thought it was fun to catch them, just to look at them and then let them go.
Even Little Bit could hold the string and wait for a crab to go in after the bait, though the older kids had to bring the traps up.
Lexie was the crab whisperer (I teased her that it's because she's so "crabby"), she caught several crabs, and when just using bait tied to a string another night, even had an aligator gar on the line a couple times, though it, of course let go before she could pull it up. She also had no qualms about holding the crabs she caught :)
This is just a bonus picture. She was in the background of a different picture, not sure what she was doing, but it made me smile to see her braids flying :)
Ashlyn was happy to hold the crab too.
Another bonus picture of Little Bit just because she's so darn cute!
While the big kids were "crabbing" Little Bit noticed this tree and wanted to go "limbo" under it :)
And that was pretty much our week. Fishing, swimming, playing in the sand. When the kids were in the house the played fooseball, pool, and monopoly.
Saturday was our only rain day and for the girls, and their friend, M, it became Junior Ranger day. We had all planned to go do the Wright Brother's Junior Ranger the same day we fished off the pier, but spent too long fishing and ran out of time. So we just stopped by the park and got the books for them to work on at the beach house. Saturday morning the finished up all of the Junior Ranger stuff the could do off-site and then we headed to the Wright Brother's Memorial. M's brother, N, opted to go with another group, so it was just the 4 kids and me.
We attended a ranger program that explained how the Wright Brothers' plane worked, and how similar the basics are to modern planes (amazing!), and then we hiked out to the memorial where it, inconveniently, started to rain. As we hurried back through the rain, Little Bit declared that "God must be sneezing" which cracked us all up. We spent some more time in the visitor center and then the kids all got their Junior Ranger badges.
After lunch, we decided to head on down the road another half hour or so, and also visit Raleigh Fort on Roanoke Island. The website had only mentioned a web ranger, so we weren't sure if there would be a junior ranger to earn on-site, but the kids figured it would be fun to explore regardless, and Lexie and Ashlyn are "purists" and only want Junior Rangers for places they've been, so even if they had to earn the badge online, they wanted to be able to say they'd been there. Once we got there, there WAS a junior ranger book to do on site, and a rather involved one for the big kids, a large crossword puzzle AND a page-long "fill in the blanks" activity, both of which had them scouring the visitor center pretty thoroughly. I had to smile, earlier in the week I'd noticed, and the kids had also noticed, that Lexie and M are extroverts and Ashlyn and N are introverts. So, true to form, Lexie and M happily worked together on their junior ranger books the entire time, while Ashlyn did her book in a different order to make sure she was doing hers on her own. Little Bit quickly finished her (much less involved, naturally, since she's 5 and they're 11) requirements and she and I watched the squirrels and she played on my phone, and scouted out the whole visitor center for buttons to push. Once we were done, they were all sworn in as Junior Rangers for the second time that day, and then we hiked out to the earthworks before heading back.
We got back just in time to eat supper and the kids all played for a little bit longer, until sundown, when it was time for everyone to start working to pack up and sort out who's stuff is whose. By the time I tucked them in, we were as packed as we could be, and the car was partially loaded, ready to eat breakfast, finish loading the car, and head out.