Let the countdown begin...

That's right - the counting down has begun. Just 38 days to go! For what? The annual Mattingley family beach vacation!

This is... the... 26th year we've gone? We're old pros by now. A lot of people ask us how we do it (28 people in one house...) so I thought I'd make up a fun "how-to" beach guide, plus, it helps me get all excited about the upcoming trip! So, scroll through and enjoy =) Hopefully my excitement will be contagious!

Where do you rent your house? Where is it?

We rent from a company called Southern Shores Realty. It's the only rental company we've ever used. My mom loves them (obviously, she does all the renting and handles all communication) and I was very impressed with them when I had to have a camera lens delivered while I was on vacation. They took great care of it and held it for me at the office since mail isn't delivered to rental homes.

We have vacationed in Southern Shores (also a town) and Duck, which borders Corolla. We like SS and Duck because they're quiet, very family oriented, and not down the busy streets of beach road. Corolla is just too far away (you have to back track to get to Corolla). We've been in the same 3 mile radius or so for the past 20 years and it feels like a second home!

Do you rent the same house every year? 

Yes, and no. When we fall in love with a house, we rent it, and rent it, and rent it. However, with a growing family and grandkids being added almost every year, the house has had to grow with us. This could possibly be the last year in the current house we rent. We're looking for a possible upgrade!

I went to go post pictures of all the houses we've stayed out, but sadly some of them aren't renting anymore, including the very first house we ever stayed in, "The Pearl":

It was modest. 3 bedrooms, no pool, and we had to walk a ways to the beach. I remember packing up, everyone taking a chair and boogie board and starting the long walk in our flip flops. I was only 3 when we started going to this house, but I remember it very vividly. Oh, and speed (cards) competitions on the glass top table by the fireplace!

We stayed in the "Ocean Glimpse" for years. We loved the huge windows across the front of the house and in the huge great room. But alas, we outgrew it.

Ah, the "Panoramic Rendeview"... We stayed at this house for many years. The wrap around decks were great for the kids, even on rainy days. The house lived up to it's name - from the decks we had a view of the ocean and a view of the sound water. The sunsets at night were to die for. To this day I think many of us miss this house. I miss the open top floor great room and all the space there was for everyone.

That brings us to our current rental, the "Sea Glass". It's only 190 yards to the ocean. This could be our last year here.

How do you decide who gets what room? Where do the kids sleep?

We do it very diplomatically. Bed size, amount of bed, floor space, etc. We all work it out with no fuss. My parents always get the master on the top floor - that's just a given. Kids usually stay in the rooms with their parents on the floor or available beds. The house we currently stay at has 7 bedrooms, leaving one bedroom free for kids to do various sleep overs during the week.

Last year since Autumn had long outgrown a pack and play, she slept on a pool float in the closet (a traditional air mattress was too big and my dad insisted his princess not sleep on the floor). This year, Brody will get the closet/pack and play treatment and Autumn will sleep on the floor in between the beds. We have the smallest room in the house, so it will be a tight squeeze. Still, how much time does one spend in their room anyway? You're at the beach!

Who buys all the food? Who cooks all the dinners?

My mom buys the bulk of the food, but everyone contrinbutes. If there's something specific your kid likes, you bring it. We all help out with things like chips, Bisquick (pancakes are a favorite for breakfast), Kool-aid, cookies, etc.

For dinners, each family takes a night. We're in charge of dinner, drink and dessert. For the past few years I have perfected the pulled pork slow roasted in the oven, the famous Mattingley Potato salad, and beans. Last year, since I was great with child we nixed the potato salad and opted for chips and tried grilled corn on the cob. We'll be bringing it back this year, along with the potato salad!

We did hot fudge sundaes last year for the adults and floats for the kids, but this year, we're really bringing the good stuff - FUNNEL CAKES.

Lunches are a free for all, as are breakfasts. However, we all help out. Many orders are taken from the kids and many, many meals are eaten pool side!

Why do you get a pool when you're there to go to the beach?

Why WOULDN'T you? Once you get a pool, you'll never be able to go back to not having one. The beach isn't always friendly - reg flags (you can't swim) put a real damper on the beach trip for the kids. They get bored fast, and not all the kids are brave enough to venture into the waves. Sand flies can also be bad some days, and on REALLY hot days, jumping into the pool after coming home from the ocean feels amazing... The outdoor hose and shower gets a lot of use throughout the week, with everyone cleaning off from the beach!

What fun things do you do when you're down there?

Nothing. If "fun things" exist, we don't know about it. A lot of people would probably be bored to tears on our vacation because we don't go out and coordinate activities. We don't like to spend money and literally just stay at the house all day, at the ocean, in the pool, riding bikes, going for walks, catching turtles  etc. The most we've ever ventured "out" was 2 years ago at Jockey's Ridge.


It's always a great time. There are a few traditions I think we need to bring back, specifically family game night. I think it got phased out once the kids got older, but now that they can play, I think it's even more reason to bring it back! I remember the good ol days of Jason and Jared getting on all fours to get geared up for "Tribond", and who can forget Joel's love of "Guesstures?" =)

We count down every year and the 4 hour drive flies by. There's nothing better than being together with the family and seeing all the cousins reunite!


  1. We've got 60 days. We'll be at Kill Devil Hills. Jockey's Ridge is a big deal in Peter's family.