around the world

no explanation needed here…. i think the title says it all!


while vacationing at the outer banks in north carolina, we visited several of the area’s lighthouses.  i had looked forward to this for months, because lighthouses fascinate me.  they are hauntingly romantic.  they invoke thoughts of hope and guidance, but also danger and death.  i would love to live in one!  i was inspired to photograph their beauty, despite – or maybe due to – the simplicity of their architecture.

our first lighthouse trek was mentioned in my last post:  my mom, elise, arden, dede and i squeezed into a car and headed north.  we only visited one lighthouse that day, but it was a nice intro.  (then we proceeded to get ice cream and go shopping!)  when we pulled into the parking lot, we all had a good giggle when the greeter said, “just follow this road around to the right, SHOOG.”  as in SUGAR.  love it!  (this inside joke is still going strong in our family, and ‘shoog’ has become one of my favorite terms of endearment.) 

the currituck beach lighthouse stands 158 feet tall, and although we didn’t climb it, its height and bare brick were stunning.  the small, wood buildings scattered around, the sand dunes and some strange ‘dune trees’ (as i like to call them) added an especially haunted feel to the grounds. 

fun fact:  this lighthouse was built to fill the last remaining 80-mile ‘dark spot’ of the outer banks coast where, prior, many ships foundered in the night.  SHOOG.

our next trek was a couple of days later, and this time i left arden back with jason, and my mom, sisters and i drove south.  just a few miles from our beach house in nag’s head was the 150 foot high bodie island lighthouse.  even though this lighthouse is not open for climbing, we were still disappointed to find that it was under construction.  it reminded me of my summer in italy long ago and how, despite chronic fatigue due to a fun, international case of mono, i dragged myself to vatican city one hot morning to see st. peter’s basilica….and it was covered in scaffolding.  BOOOO.  the closed lighthouse wasn’t quite as tragic, but we still hopped out of the car to take a sad ‘fail’ photo of elise before moving on.

fun facts:  the currituck beach lighthouse is considered this one’s architectural twin, and the black and white horizontal stripes were partly built of materials leftover from the construction of the newest cape hatteras lighthouse.  i love how they are all connected…. it’s the ciiiirrrcle of liiiiight….

finally, we drove and drove through the marshes to the cape hatteras lighthouse, also known as ‘america’s lighthouse.’  it’s the tallest brick beacon in the country standing 208 feet.  this was the real winner of our lighthouse quest, and elise and i had fun climbing it while preggers and mommers checked out the keeper’s quarters. 

fun facts:  the first cape hatteras lighthouse was built in 1803.  after a rich history that includes civil war drama, stolen fresnal lenses, washed-away ruins and multiple re-buildings, the lighthouse you see today was hydraulically moved 1/2 mile inland in 1999 to save it from the encroaching atlantic. 

elise was dying to have a photograph of herself doing a cartwheel in front of the lighthouse.  i was happy to oblige!

i hope you enjoyed your virtual lighthouse tour today!  you can learn more about these and other outer banks/north carolina lighthouses at and

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!

i knew i was getting way, WAY behind in blogging about our fun summer and trips we’ve taken, but it took seeing al roker getting blown around the beach by hurricane earl’s heavy winds the other day to realize that it has been 4 MONTHS since we took our trip to the outer banks!  i kept telling myself that i had lots of editing to do to the OBX photos, but this level of procrastination is just ridiculous, so i’m moving on!  actually, i am saving the ‘artsy-fartsy’ photos for a separate post, because i just can’t help but cozy up with my digital software and mess with those images for several hours first….in my spare time, ya know.  but there’s just too much cuteness in these family snapshots to wait any longer to share.  so enjoy these raw, unedited, uncropped images of our time spent in the lovely city of chapel hill for elise’s graduation.

the above photos were taken in front of a lucky tree at UNC.  supposedly, if you kiss underneath this tree, you will stay together forever.  awwww….

i love this classic family portrait with all the carolina sky blue, even though arden wouldn’t cooperate.  the photo below was taken during the main graduation ceremony in the football stadium.  lee entertained himself by feeding his daddy some snacks.  (arden entertained herself by sleeping in the warmth of the student union.)

these sister photos are from a brunch at the tri delta house, where elise lived during her senior year.  i had to share the ‘fails’ as well as the good one.  nice faces, elise!

and finally, some sweet portraits of the wee ones:

soon to follow (very soon, i promise!) are photos from our first family beach trip together in years, which was also arden’s first beach trip ever.

my sister elise, to whom i sometimes refer as ‘smarty-pants-renaissance-woman elise,’ graduated from UNC at chapel hill on may 8, which was also mother’s day.  i am still preparing a post with fun family photos, but i wanted to go ahead and share some artsy-fartsy shots.  elise asked me to bring my ‘nice’ camera and take photos around campus and during the ceremony.  actually, there were 3 separate graduation-related ceremonies that weekend!  but the main one, which included all graduates, took place at kenan stadium (the football stadium) on a beautiful sunday, and these are some of my favorite shots from that day.  i love how ‘carolina blue’ pervades each photo!

elise, we are all SOOOOOOO proud of you!!!

i can’t contain my excitement to share photos from our family vacation to the outer banks in north carolina!  but i promised myself i would blog about big events in chronological order, so i must wait.  after all, i still owe an easter post and one about my sister’s graduation from UNC!  so, for now, i will only share this one of our little family’s feet at the shoreline.  photos of feet make me really happy…. perhaps i have a foot-photo-fetish?  ha!  seriously, i am always drawn to taking pictures of feet, especially those of children.  they are just too cute, barefoot or with their teeny little shoes on!  i’ve already decided that my photography business’ website (should i ever find the time to launch it!) will feature a section called something like ‘happy feet.’

what else am i gonna do with all the foot photos clogging up my computer’s memory?!

this is arden on her first hike (okay, so she rode and slept while jason hiked her up the trail) in the appalachian mountains last october.  it’s an oldie but goodie.  i came across it while combing through my autumn nature shots, and it made me laugh out loud, just like it did when i first snapped it and unintentionally caught her cousin lee in the background peeking over arden’s shoulder!

while i’m at it, i might as well post the cheesy family shot too.

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