'our' nights in Rodanthe {hang gliding ~ almost..}

Turns out sunrise didn't get old.  At  least in a week...

I didn't have much time to savor the quiet this morning though.  There was excitement in the air!  Even our typical later risers were up pretty early because finally today was the day!

When we visited Jockey's Ridge back in October several of the crew expressed their desire to, quite literally, 'spread their wings and fly.' With the amount we saved on the house for off season rates, we decided to somewhat blow their minds and reserve hang gliding lessons for all eight of us for today.

Some were a bit nervous, but there was excitement in the air as we approached.  First came basic instruction on how hang gliders work.  We completed 'ground school' and got helmeted and harnessed up.

Finally it was time to head out to the dunes.  

The weather was perfect...or so it seemed. 

But as we got closer to the top, there was a breeze...and a significant one at that.  I began to notice our actual flight instructor, whose name was Wolf and had calves nearly as big as my thighs, struggling to hold a straight line as he walked the glider up the dune.  Each time a gust hit, he tracked a few feet to his left.  This began a series of nervous visions of Nicholas catching a puff of air and ending up somewhere in the middle of the Roanoke Sound.

Thus it was not really a surprise and perhaps even a tiny bit of relief when Wolf turned to all of us and said, "Guys, I'm sorry, but I have over 100 hours of flight time recorded and not even I would attempt to glide on a day like today."  He said it so out of the blue though that for just a second I wondered if we were being punk'd.  And then there was another blast of air and I realized we were being protected. 

Thankfully, our pretty amazing kids ~ who have learned to roll with the punches over the past year ~  took the news in stride without a single incredulous sounding, "what in the world?" or "are you serious?" and simply started heading back to the ground school location to turn in their gear.  

Of course, you can't just end a day with disappointment and the hang gliding school was kind enough to offer an alternative...


'our' nights in Rodanthe {just an ordinary Thursday}

 I'm not a morning person.

But if I could have sunrise over the ocean everyday I could learn to be.

There wasn't really anything on the agenda for the day...just work

and school.

why not have meetings with teachers on the deck?

And some beach time in between of course.  The game that I still don't understand entertained the boys and Nat.

While frisbee was the entertainment of choice for Ian and the big girls.  And despite the water temperature, a quick wade in was necessary.  I'm surprised they didn't make Kylie go for it...

As the afternoon wore on, just one kiddo was done with his work so he headed down to play in the sand, tossing chunks of dried sand and making them explode by hitting them.

He was totally content, but I noticed that the sun was quickly dropping and asked if he wanted to accompany me to catch the evening sunset.  I suppose there will come a day when he isn't as agreeable, but for now I'll soak in the sweetness of my little peanut.

'our' nights in Rodanthe {exploring more of Hatteras Island}

 Our slice of sand between the house and the waves was delightful and kept beckoning for us between classes and meetings.

We obeyed well.

And while finding a shark tooth (another for Darcy and a first for Ian) was on the mind, we also wanted to do a little further exploring of the area.

So we loaded up and headed as far as you can go on Hatteras Island without actually getting on the ferry to Ocracoke ~ the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

It's not a huge museum and while it had more (super interesting) reading than artifacts there were some really cool things inside, including the original Fresnel lens from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Even cooler than that, there were two glass display boxes with items that came off the Queen Anne's Revenge (our Pirates of the Caribbean fans totally geeked out over those, but they were in a 'no photos' zone).  We spent about an hour viewing, reading and trying to locate all the items on the scavenger hunt list.  The littles even learned that there have been several modern shipwrecks that spread interesting cargo on the beaches of the Outer Banks...once a ship carrying bananas from the tropics and once a giant tanker laden with Doritos littered the shores with unopened bags of Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese Dorito bags.

Of course we had a lovely beach back up in front of our house, but we decided to check out the dangerous Diamond Shoals area.  From our vantage point on the beach where we played frisbee, tossed a football and tried to decide if we really wanted to see just how cold the water was, it looked not so intimidating.

Our eldest loves to tell us that we're not millennials and therefore shouldn't be taking selfies.  But our ability to catch quirky angles begs to differ, yes? 

After causing many groans while we took a few pictures, we all shook off the sand and began the journey back north to Bros Sandwich Shop (Kylie's choice of grub for her birthday dinner).  But along the way we told the kids to keep their eyes peeled...a UFO had been spotted in the area. 

Several responded, "Oh yeah, I saw a UFO on our way down to the museum."  Funny that not a word was spoken about it then.  Literally right on Hwy 12, you can't miss this 'must see' tourist stop while in the Frisco area on Hatteras Island.

just because we're 'cool like that' we laughed as we elicited groans while grabbing a selfie in front of the futuro house

Last stop before dinner, just because we could.  To me there is simply something nostalgic about the time of lighthouses and so we drove onto the grounds, left the kids listening to music in the van and took a quick stroll over to stand in the shadow of the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States.

Our adventures delivered us back into Avon right at 5:30, a respectable time for some delicious sandwiches for dinner...we were thankful for the warmer temperatures so we could eat at the table instead of in the van! 

Hatteras just keeps offering more cool things to explore!


'our' nights in rodanthe {Kylie is 15!}

Nationwide claims, "life comes at you fast..."  And I agree.  

Along those same lines, for our family, in March, "birthdays come at you fast..."

Ian and I barely get time to process one child being a step closer to adulthood when the very next day our eldest ups the game by one.   

The leader of the pack is now 15!

I can't really believe it, but it does soften the blow a little that she can't either.  Hearing her exclaim, "Hey, wait, am I really 15?" makes the growing up seem a little more tolerable.

And then she'll go and ruin that by saying something along the lines of, "I mean, that means in just three years I'll be finishing up my time at home and getting ready to go to college." 

Which gets me plotting on how to freeze time all over again...

She's at a fun mash up of sophisticated young woman, discussing ideas she's running with from her AP world history class, and carefree teenage girl, laughing at ridiculous memes and getting excited about fluffy cows and kwakas, right now and had two requests on how to be celebrated.  One was "a streamer curtain so I can make a dramatic entrance."  

So streamers on her bedroom doorway we did!

and yes, there are videos...slo-mo at her document her grand entrance

The weather was perfect today, so her choice for mid-afternoon 'class location' was overlooking the beach.  One could get used to the 'school-cation' situation.

Her other request was to have her birthday dinner at Bros Sandwich Shack.  We had stumbled upon this hidden gem of a restaurant back in October on our way down to Hatteras Lighthouse.  The combo of BBQ perfection on a bun with house made pickles and crispy sweet potato waffle fries had her hooked on the first bite.  She talked about that sandwich for weeks and when we had decided we'd be taking a spring 'school-cation' back at the outer banks, making it to cover the big girls' birthday week (which has the bonus of a teacher workday) seemed like a no-brainer.  All I had to do was find a rental within reasonable distance to Bros...

we spent the afternoon down in Buxton at the Graveyard museum and then tossed a frisbee and football on the beach overlooking Diamond Shoals for an hour ~ and caught sight of the local UFO ~ before heading back toward the house.  an early dinner at Bros was perfect timing and the warm weather allowed us to eat on their picnic table instead of in the car 

After about an hour of catching up on work/assignments following an afternoon of play (even the birthday girl needed a bit of time to wrap up AP world history and honors English) it was finally time for her to open her loot.  

Like her 'spirit animal' sister, the only direct requests were books.  The Maze Runner series filled one of the slots, leaving us to figure out what else would make her day super special.  A boba tea cup with boba recipes brought smiles, but not even the book series topped her stuffed avocado.  

he's been named ferdinand

And finally, time for cake.

Carrot cake with pecan studded cream cheese frosting to be exact.

And she may have thought surprises were over with the gifts, but score with an edible confetti cannon candle for the win!

i will note that we had two of these and lit one on darcy's cake last night...unfortunately because of the lighting napkins on the oven heating element to light candles situation, the fuse went off before i got the cake to the table, so no one saw the actual explosion. 

K-Boo, I look at you blowing out the candles on your 15th birthday cake and realize just how quickly it's going to be your 18th.  Time is marching on at a rate that makes my head spin, but the comforting thing is that you are blossoming into a remarkable young woman.  You are genuine and have navigated the treacherous teenage years staying true to who you are, never feeling pressure (or at least showing that you do) to 'go along with the crowd' to fit in.  I love watching your mind work as your process complex social and historical issues and have no doubt that you will leave a mark on society through the intersection of your intellect and the action you will take because of it.  I see your faith developing as you seek to truly understand the God of the universe, not just taking my word for it.  
I love you with all my heart!

[We get so worried about being pretty. 
Let's be pretty kind.
Pretty funny.
Pretty smart.
Pretty strong.] 
~ Britt Nicole

'our' nights in Rodanthe {Tuesday ~ we could get used to school days like this}

We have a giant dry erase board in our entryway and use it as a family message/discussion spot.  Just before we left for our week on the coast the question was, "What is your favorite thing in nature?"  

My response?  

Sunrise/sunset over water.

It was a glorious week to soak in those moments...

tuesday morning ~ sunrise enjoyed with ian, ky & dq

While the oldest three chose to sit on their beds or at the desks in their rooms (with an ocean view) for school, the littles were drawn to the sunlight and views provided in our living room for their classroom time.

After getting everyone settled in to their morning meets, I hit the beach to enjoy my daily quiet time walk. I'm not sure exactly what conditions shifted overnight, but the water literally changed color from the greenish-brown it was when we arrived to the most amazing shades of turquoise.  What a fun birthday surprise for our sweet DQ who admired the clear waters when we were here in October. 

As I walked I had several wonderful surprises.  First was noticing a large piece of seaglass, something I've always been intrigued by, literally at my feet as I walked.  

Second was a large piece of driftwood just begging for some pictures to be taken.  I could just hear Dad's voice in my mind saying, "Look at that piece of driftwood," as I explored the best angle.

I got back to the house at lunchtime and the wonderful thing about being oceanfront is that when the beach calls over lunch break it's easy to answer.

Catching a dose of Vitamin D, whether walking, searching for shells, jumping or just letting sand run through your hands over lunch is pretty much the best!  The break gave everyone a boost to finish up the day and as soon as they were done with assignments, back to the beach they went...

I don't really understand the rules of this game these four spent much of their downtime playing, but they did and they enjoyed it and I guess that's all that matters.

And remember my favorite thing in nature?  Since the Pamlico was literally 1/2 mile from the house, and Ian and I had scouted a good sunset viewpoint the night before, we loaded the crew into the van for a quick sunset viewing party before dinner.

oh these people...a little crazy but they're mine

my peanut is always good for a snuggle

it was windy which caused the kids to give up and seek shelter in the van, but we stuck it out until the very end...

Beachy school days.  One could get used to this...