Thursday, November 7, 2013

Outer Banks, Large Family Style

Well hello there, Much Neglected Blog. You and Laundry Room should talk! (I guess Front Porch, too, but as it's not the main entrance it's easiest to just pretend it isn't least, that's what I do.)


We did get a vacation this year. We decided to spend a full two weeks but not travel as far as we have in the past to get to our vacation destination. So to the Outer Banks we went, and it was a breeze of a trip (only 5 hours, which is totally doable without meltdowns!), the weather was delightful (I may be sold on late September vacations now!), and I have decided the beach is GREAT to visit but boy, am I glad I live in the mountains.

And isn't that the perfect vacation? You have fun but are rarin' and ready to be HOME, possibly even before the vacation has officially ended.

Which brings me to another point. Or maybe just "a" point, since I'm not quite sure I could detect a first point.

This. Vacationing as a large family, and a large family with one newborn and one ornery 18-mo. old, requires a bit of strategy.

We have the unique distinction of being the largest number of passengers that Charlie the Ox has ever pulled. Also, here I learn that "ox" just means "cow bull (sheesh, Ben!) that has been taught to work." How did we just finish all of the Little House books and still I totally missed this?
 And mostly, the strategy is this: Let's talk about what we expect from our vacation, and then let's cut those expectations by about a third.

When you tell someone, "We are going to the beach for a vacation," they picture beach chairs and boogie boards and magazines and margaritas and lounging.

Perhaps we should qualify: "We are going to the beach for a vacation. But we are still taking the children, so you know, there's THAT."

What WE expect from a vacation:

1) Papa will not be officially working. Oh, he might be gathering information for future sermons/Sunday Schools/other occasions, but he won't be leaving to go into church every day. He will be with us. So TOGETHERNESS.

2) People will still need to eat and still need clean clothes. So meals and laundry will still need to get done. It's best to just acknowledge that and deal with it head-on in an efficient, cheerful manner instead of pretending we're on a honeymoon with ten stowaways.

It would be a bummer honeymoon, anyway.

3) While we are going to "the beach," very little of our time will actually be spent at "the beach." Most of our children are not yet strong swimmers. It is impossible for two adults to rescue nine drowning children, especially if one of them has a three-month old attached to her.

4) There will be splurges. Coffee is one of them. Daily. And not the brewed-from-the-pot kind. We had to decide between risking damage to our espresso machine or leaving it at home and being OK with splurging.

We were OK with splurging.

5) We're making memories. No one wants a memory of us sitting around the beach house quietly while babies nap. (Oh, all right, so I can't get anyone else to want that memory...) So while there will be some of that, there will be times when it's just Mama doing that, and there will be times when we are not doing that; but Papa and Mama will be considerably more tired after outings that took the place of naptime. Your naptime is for our rejuvenation! And while coffee is a great balm, it is not a cure-all.

We need to be armed and ready for when naps must be missed. How to be ready: snacks, snacks, snacks, and snacks. Good music in the van. Coffee for Papa and Mama!

6) We will explore. Oddly enough, some of our best family memories are of driving around, finding new spots. Case in point: Manteo. Oh, Manteo, Manteo, wherefore art thou Manteo? Why did no one tell us about Manteo? Ocracoke can ocrachoke and Nagshead can go to bed, but Manteo was a delight! Oh, the cute downtown, the Bluegrass Festival, the ice cream by the library, the Island Farm, the aquarium, Festival Park, the old homes, the pumpkin spice lattes...

7) If you are a large family, and we are, expect to be gawked at like you're part of the exhibit. We even had a man take a picture of all of us just so he could show his friends a family with ten kids. (I guess he doesn't watch the Duggars.)

This also means we should make sure faces are relatively clean, diapers are not sagging, and your head and a hairbrush have tangoed (tangled?) in the last day or so. You know, since we can be SURE we will be watched. Let's pretend we're one of those respectable large families and not one of the messy ones.

But I don't care if your crocs are on the wrong feet. Kudos for finding two of them, even if they are different sizes!

And for my own memory's sake, here's what we did:

Beach in Waves
Sound in Waves
Fishing at Rodanthe Pier (Ethan, Ben, Abe)
Boogie boarding at Jeannette's Pier (Ethan, Ben, Lily, Abe, Mimi)
Jeannette's Pier
Festival Park
Roanoke Museum
Island Farm
North Carolina Aquarium
Pea Island Wildlife Refuge
Jockey's Ridge State Park
Kitty Hawk Kites
Thrifting in Nagshead

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