FINALLY!  the outer banks beach post you’ve all been waiting for, i know!  i realize this post took me a ridiculously long time to prepare, and you may be wondering why i didn’t just forget it and move on to covering the rest of the summer fun we’ve had.  the answer is simple: scrapbooking.  this blog is serving as my temporary scrapbook for arden because, right now, i can’t begin to fathom where i would find the spare time to sit down and cut out photos and decorative papers and hand-write all the memories into a beautiful book.  so i plan to use this blog as a ‘reminder’ of all the fun times one day, when arden goes off to college or gets married, and i can make that spare time a priority.  wishful thinking?  maybe, but it’s the best plan i’ve got at the moment!

this vacation was special for so many reasons.  our family hadn’t been to the beach together in….i don’t even know how many years, but since before i started dating jason!  elise had just graduated college the weekend before.  it offered arden her first sandy toes and view of the ocean, and she swam in a pool for the first time.  amelia was pregnant with katie wilkes (coming soon!), and although lee had been to the beach before, we hadn’t yet experienced it with him.  and we had extended family members – my uncle andy and his family – join us at our marvelous 3-story beach house in nag’s head, nc.  oh, and did i mention it was a vacation?  V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N.  ’nuff said.

here is arden, sleeping but soaking in the serenity, on her first ‘walk’ along the atlantic:

and here is our little beach bum, jumping the waves with daddy for the first time.  the water was icy cold, but she was a trooper.  i think she was too stunned to cry, so she just yelled at the waves a bit and then moved on to tasting the sand.

i was excited that, for the first time in what seemed like forever, i was able to get down on the floor and truly play with the kids.  every time i had seen lee over the last year or so, i had been either hugely pregnant or still recovering from labor, so i had to ‘play’ with him from a couch or chair, and it drove me crazy.  i like to get down on their level, so i made sure to get in some good snuggle-time and tickle-time with my sweet nephew! 

this window looking out to the deck on the top level was a popular spot for playing when we needed a break from the wind and sun. 

while arden was napping, i got in some quality beach time hanging with the hardmans and watching lee throw his ball into the ocean over and over:

with any beach trip, there comes a time when you need a break from the beach.  okay, that’s a nonsensical lie in my book!  but jason tends to like the pool more than the beach, so i knew he was dying to get arden swimming as soon as possible.  the 2 best things about our pool were that it was a) private and b) HEATED.  the heat factor was especially valuable with the cool temperatures of nag’s head in may.  and it was perfect for arden’s first swim:  jason just walked her right in, and she started splashing around like she was in some enormous bathtub!

we did manage to get out of the beach house from time to time for a little activity.  and no: drooling, snoring, driving half a mile for ice cream and drinking beer do not count as vacation ‘activities.’  jason and my dad went to play golf one day, so arden and i jumped in the car with my mom, elise and our good family friend, dede, for a lovely drive up and down the sounds to see a few of the infamous outer banks lighthouses.  (more on those later….)  here we are getting ice cream (hey, we drove more than half a mile for it!) right before realizing we locked the keys in car and had to wait for AAA.  but what better place to be stranded, right?  it was gorgeous.  and arden crossed another first off of her list: ice cream from kiki.  most people would start with chocolate or vanilla, but i wanted to start her off right with my favorite flavor: coffee!

i’ll end with some of my favorite family portraits from our last night together on vacation, before the loooooooong drive home.  i am getting all misty and sentimental about it, just going through these photos….

the trip was way too short, so we’ll just have to do it again!

(that’s our fantabulous beach house behind lee in the background!)

another reason this trip was special was because we got to stop in atlanta on the way to north carolina, and again on the way home, to see the weeks family.  a bonus was that nathan was home from serving in the air force for a short break before heading off to korea.  we really enjoyed this relaxing time together since, as we all get older, it’s not often that all 4 brothers (and their ladies) are in the same room.  nathan has now gone to korea, and then to alaska for a short stint, and then back to korea.  we are so happy that he is getting to see the world in such a courageous way.  he makes us proud!