Here is Sundance, our house we rented for the week. Wait...no, that's not right. Here is Sundance.
What a wonderful blessing it was!
Here is the view from our bedroom window. Yes, we had a sliding glass door that led out to the balcony and to this gorgeous bit of creation.
When we pulled up to the house, we still hadn't had a glimpse of the ocean. Here is the family (part of it, at least) climbing the steps to the see it for the first time.
Dan was excited, it seems!
The little ones were not too sure of this new experience. Here is Mark with Joel. I think the picture says it all.
And Claire was doing some grasping of her own. "Don't let me down, whatever you do, Mom."
Ah, safe here in Grandma's arms. Grandma surely won't get in that water.
It didn't take long for the boys to run up to get their suits on. On of my favorite things of the entire vacation was watching Jack. I cannot describe to you the joy that seemed to just overwhelm him. Many times this summer he informed us that he would not be getting in the water (you know, sharks and stuff). But it wasn't 5 minutes after our arrival, and he was LOVING the ocean. That first afternoon, he must have said to me twenty times, "This is SO cool!" as another wave came crashing in on him. He had absolutely no fear. That gave ME a little cause to fear, as I would look up and he would be a little too far from all of us than I thought he should be.He and his cousin, Jake, spent many hours together in the water and playing games in the house. It was great to watch them interact, and to enjoy one another's company.Noelani and Lydia were inseperable. What a neat relationship they have already at 5 years of age.
Joel had his share of fun in the water.
Claire sure was a lot of fun to watch. She warmed up to idea of the sand and the water.
Lydia, on the night her parents went out to celebrate their anniversary.
There was crab-hunting one night (ewww! I did not enjoy that very much, although I tried to keep my thoughts to myself as some of the kids were none too thrilled about seeing those big white creatures skuddling in front of our their bare feet)
Uncle Dan brought glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets for all the kids. What a blast they had running around shouting and waving their "fire". I don't need to tell you that we did this one night BEFORE we went crab-hunting. If this was planned this way, Ernsts, then I say good thinking!!! We never would have had the fireworks show that we had or the great pre-bedtime release of energy, if the kids had known how plentiful those crabs were.
Of course, there was a lot of eating. There was romance--couple walks on the beach (one or two of which happend at night so the details of those walks will remain unknown), and lots of public displays of affection, and Dad even wrote a special message for Mom in the sand which brought quite a favorable response. I tried to take pictures of her out on the porch reading her "love note" and then going down to meet the author, but it was dark by then so we'll only have their kiss in our memories.One day after a wonderful swim, lots of boogie boarding (I had the most fun and got the most hurt doing that!), and other water activities, Sam spotted this from our house.
That's right, a shark. And it was feet from the beach. While Rich and Aracely made supper (sorry, guys) a lot of us ran out to get a better look. We followed the guy for quite awhile, watching him swim in and out of the waves, and getting very close to us.
Here is the group coming back from the investigation. We were all a little freaked out, especially after I talked to a local fisherman the next day, and he told me he catches sharks right there all the time. And it didn't help our jumpiness when Mark found an article that night about a little girl who had been bitten by a shark right there on Topsail Beach not two weeks before.
We were just all determined not to let that ruin our vacation in paradise, telling ourselves that millions of people swim in the ocean, and in comparison, the stories of shark attacks are rare. The next day we decided getting back in was a little eerie, but hiding our fears made it easier for the little ones to get over theirs.
There was even a haircut given. Jake got a mohawk from his dad. Our kids were fascinated by this process, but no one else volunteered to get the same cut.
This was at the end of a long tiring day in the sun. The sand around the mouth just kills me, but the expressions on his face are priceless. I think we all felt like this at one point or another that week.
There were football games an baseball games. It was really heaven for the boys.
And sometimes each of us just needed a little time to ourselves. Here, Joel had just had enough of everything, so I let him sit out on the balcony and listen to my MP3 player.
Well, he wasn't alone for long, it looks like.
Mom and Dad gave the kids all a PNG cap, and we had a photo shoot with them all wearing them. What a trick that was! They were all pretty goofy that afternoon, and out of a boatload of pictures, I don't think I got one of them all doing what we wanted (notice some of the hats are on inside out here, and Claire isn't there--she wanted nothing to do with her hat), which was to sit still and smile with their hats all on their heads, preferably with the bills facing forward. I know it's too much to ask! This is more fun anyway.
We only had one day of rain. There was this weird thing happening one day. I still don't know what it was, but it was a cool photo op.
Looks like the girls had some private time to enjoy the sun a little, but this is an illusion. Kids were swarming all around us. Here's the proof.Hey, we're moms. They'll be plenty of time for peace and quiet later (much later)!
How blessed we were to have been able to take this great vacation as a family. Some wonderful memories were made that week (thanks goodness most of them were recorded in the MAD PAD!)