Jeremy and I have really enjoyed vacationing with our extended families since Emily was born. It is a great way to spend quality time with our parents and siblings and the extra adult help when you have a child is wonderful. We have spent two vacations at Hilton Head Island with Jeremy's parents and last year we went to the Destin, FL area with my folks. This year, we had planned on going back to Hilton Head, but our usual end of September week wouldn't work since I was due to have our baby Sept. 25th! Luckily, Ed, Jen, Don, Nancy, and Jeremy and I were able to find another week that worked for all 6 of us, but we had no luck with finding a condo time share in Hilton Head for the same week. Jennifer and Ed recently moved to NC, and had heard a lot of good things about Emerald Isle, NC (Southern Outer Banks). Jeremy and I were excited to vacation in a new area and so it was agreed that we would all go to Emerald Isle. We found a lovely beach home that fit our needs--furnished home with 3 BRs, 3 baths, ocean view and easy walk to the beach. The beach home was located at The Point of the island. We were literally right at the tip of the island and the beach was very wide in this area. Our beach home had view of the ocean from the front and view of the intracoastal waterway from the back. There were two floors of balconies and every bedroom had a balcony off of it.
By AAA calculations, it was going to take about 12hrs. 30 min. to get to Emerald Isle. Usually, we can add another 1-2 hrs. on to that total because of traveling with a toddler. I was really concerned about Emily's ability to be in a car for 14 hrs. and our sanity with driving that distance. On the way down, Jeremy and I decided to leave Friday night after work. I had hoped he could get off a little early, but that didn't happen, so we weren't packed and leaving until about 9 pm. We drove from 9pm to about 2 am and stopped in Beckley, WV for the night. Emily slept almost all of that time so it was a peaceful drive. However, we had to stop at 4 hotels before we found an available room (which wasn't that big of a deal since there was like 15 hotels on the same road.) We probably didn't get to bed until about 2:30 am and then Emmy woke up raring to go just 5 hrs. later. Uggh. We were pretty groggy, but after a Starbucks fix, we were fine. We made it to Emerald Isle by about 6:30 pm and then checked into the beach house. We even managed to be on the beach by sunset Saturday night which was nice.
On our way home, we decided to do the whole trip in one day. We definitely didn't want to leave early and we really wanted the whole day on Sunday to rest and relax before we had to go back to work. We left at 10 am and got home at 12:45 am. I had hoped to leave earlier, but it all worked out OK. Emily was an AWESOME little passenger. She napped almost 2 hrs. and went to bed for the night after about 9:30. We watched two movies, read lots of books, played make believe games with her dolls and took breaks for meals. At every rest stop, we tried to find something fun for her to do--like play at Chick-Fil-A's playground, throw a frisbee back and forth at rest stops, etc. I don't think we will be able to do such a long trip with two kids next year, but it worked out well this year.
Emily LOVES playing in the sand. It was so nice that she could play happily on her own for part of the day.
Pretty Baby Blues
Emily loved the warm tidal pools. They were calm and more predictable than the ocean surf which still scares her.
26 weeks pregnant with our baby boy.
This little variation of the frisbee was awesome! Even Emily could make it fly!
Our days were spent at the beach almost every morning until 1pm or so. We packed picnic lunches or would head back to the house for lunch. Emily napped in the afternoons which was nice down time for Jeremy and me. He enjoyed doing some design work in his "office" (from our ocean view balcony). This was a personal project that Jeremy was doing for fun--not work. I read Nicolas Sparks's The Choice which I found in the beach house. It was an easy beach read and ironically, the setting took place in the same area of North Carolina where we were vacationing. The only day we didn't go to the beach, we went on a boat ride to check out the surrounding area. During our boat tour, we saw Shackleford Island and the famous wild horses, drove by Fort Macon (couldn't see much from the boat) and traveled along Beaufort and Morehead City's waterways.
We cooked dinner at home two nights, had yummy leftovers our last night and went out to eat the rest of the time. Vacationing with children changes everything. On one hand, they bring you so much joy to watch them play, but then you get much less rest! I've noticed that every year with Emily gets more fun. This year she was able to do more and be more independent than last year. I don't want to rush time, but I can look into the future and see what our family vacations may be like 5 years from now, and I like what I see!
Little Surfer Girl
Getting ready to step out for a double date night with our men!
Jeremy, Ed, Jen, and I enjoyed a yummy seafood meal at Amos Mosquito's in Atlantic Beach and then explored a little of Beaufort's waterfront for people watching and some ice cream after dinner.
Jeremy and Emmy cheesin' for the camera before our boat ride
Love this sweet photo of Poppy and Elizabeth.
The whole Reiss Family
Nancy brought these matching ballerina dresses for the girls. Emily would ask for hers almost daily and then want Elizabeth to wear hers, too!
Ed's Kite: probably the best $2 spent on the whole vacation!
Morehead City Water Front
Elizabeth and Emily's first boat ride. Emily fell asleep about 20 min. into the trip. The combination of the sun and the rocking boat proved to be too much! She rested her head on Daddy's shoulder for awhile and then we stretched her out on her stomach across our legs for the last half hour! It was very uncharacteristic of her to fall asleep like that!
Sweet granddaughters with their matching dresses!