Top 10 Things I'm Looking Forward to at the Beach

Our beach vacation is less than 2 weeks away! The whole year revolves around this vacation and getting to spend a week with the entire Mattingley crew. I've got beach on the brain, so I thought it'd be fun to throw together a top 10 list of all the things I'm looking forward to!

10. Duck Donuts

Adam and I were taking a walk with the kids and we started talking about the things we're looking forward to. Well, I did anyway. One of those things were Duck Donuts. Adam began chiming in with his usual "I mean, they're okay... I don't get" and I immediately cut him off. He misses the whole point of Duck Donuts! Are they the most amazing donuts in the world of all donuts ever? Probably not, but I think they're pretty darn good. Did I mentioned they're made FRESH for you? Like, they dip it in the sprinkles and peanut butter (bless their hearts, they're soooo good) because I, little old me, ordered it that way? Oh, not to mention the whole experience and fun of waking up, walking down or riding our bikes to the store and picking up a dozen donuts. It's the experience that's fun, not to mention they are delicious. Take MY word for it.

9. Annual Lunch Date

Every year Adam and I take an opportunity to go on a date and get some seafood, naturally. It is the beach afterall. Now, we love us some Red Lobster, but the best crab legs I've ever had have been at this tiny little bar just down the street from our house. They're always delicious and the cheapest in the area. While Adam may not be crazy about Duck Donuts, we never go wrong with our crab legs!

8. We shall eat, LIKE KINGS!

You know, with as many of us as there are, you'd think the food was be assembly line product or very short and simple meals. Not the case at the beach. From gourmet nachos, paninis, pulled pork, hand made hamburgers, kabobs, fresh garlic bread pizza, to steamed and spiced shrimp on seafood night we eat very well. Each family chooses a night to cook, so only one night we're stuck in the kitchen. We've ventured away from our staple in the past, but we just love our pulled pork spread each year!

7. Family Picture

When we first started coming to the beach with grandkids, we began a tradition of taking pictures of all the grandkids. Eventually I talked everyone into a family portrait. Then we took a few years off, then we did a few more portraits, and then last year was an epic fail. At least for me, being the perfectionist I am (ahem the photographer). It was wildly humid outside, we did it out on the grass instead of the beach, and it was so humid outside that my lenses kept fogging up. Not to mention we're all in our post pool clothes.


Nope, after photographing perfectly coordinated beautiful families week after week, I am demanding this year a return to the beach for our family photo and coordinated colors! We've never had a proper large family portrait and so this year I hope that I can pull it off. I'd be like a photographer Jedi Master to be able to lay claim to coordinating a session for 27 people AND be in the photo myself.

6. The Ocean. Duh. 

I am not a pool kind of gal. I get in, I get out, I get in, I get out. The ocean however - there are sandcastles, boogie boarding, kayaking, walks along the beach, kites... I mean, the list goes on. The ocean is so much more interactive. I love just floating in the waves with all of my nieces and nephews who are so much more daring than I am in my old age. Last year Brody wasn't a huge fan of the ocean, whether it be the texture of the sand or the sound of the waves but I have high hopes he'll start to take after his momma this year.

5. Shopping!

This might seem unusual, but every year my sisters and I make a trip to the local thrift store. More than likely filled with items beach goers have left behind at all the rental homes, we find lots of goodies for ourselves and also for the kids. One year, Monique scored some pretty sweet sleds for the winter. I doubt they'd get much use in the Outer Banks... But it's always a fun trip, even if it does get kind of long and we end up getting punchy, picking out hideous clothes we think the other should at the very least try on. Fur leopard coat anyone?

4. A Good 'ol Fashioned Thunderstorm

There's something about beach thunderstorms. I grew up watching my Dad sit outside in the screened porch during thunderstorms, reading his books. He has always liked the noise and while this house does lack the screened porch, he loves sitting outside on the covered deck. It can thunderstorm and five minutes later be a gorgeous day.

3. Bike Rides

The beach just wouldn't be the beach without bike rides. We're so lucky to be just 3 houses back from the ocean, that we can usually walk. However, why walk when you can ride? It's fun to see this barrage of bikes parked at the bike rack at the beach path. After dinner it's not unusual to find someone has disappeared on a ride, or that the kids have biked down to the shops to get some ice cream.

2. Crossing Over the Bridge

The caravan down to the beach is always fun (it's about 4 hours away) as is meeting up with the Charlotte Mattingleys at the house. However, there's a rush and excitement about the familiar cross over the bridge onto the Outer Banks. It says "we're here!" and feels like coming home. For 26 years we've been making this drive. It truly is a second home.

1. Family time. Awwwww.

This is the only time each year that the whole Mattingley crew is together. As I've grown older I've noticed more and more we're not like other families. We're best friends and love to laugh together. It's a blast and the week always goes by far too quickly.

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