Happy Monday, friends! Can’t believe our vacation adventures are over and we are finally back home. I also can’t believe I took such a long break from writing here! I didn’t really plan to be away so long, but with a huge family reunion going on, I was all caught up in visiting and soaking up tons of family time. It was wonderful!
So let’s catch up quickly. Last Saturday, after the baby shower we drove from Atlanta to Hilton Head, South Carolina. We got in late that night – too late to grasp the amazing villa we’d be spending our week in, and the gorgeous views in front of us. When we booked our trip, we were originally staying in a 2-bedroom lagoon villa in the same complex as the rest of my family. It was still very nice, but pretty basic.
A few weeks before our trip, the rental agency called to tell us there was an issue with our property and they’d have to bump us elsewhere. The good news? We got a ridiculous upgrade! We ended up in a 4th floor oceanfront 4-bedroom luxury condo, complete with all bells and whistles, and the most incredible view you can imagine. Here is our oceanfront balcony, complete with glass doors off the master bedroom.
And the view from the breakfast table. Not too shabby.
I’ve done a lot of beach trips in my life, and while I know it’s a lot more expensive, staying oceanfront makes a whole world of difference. Especially with little kids! Nap times and early bedtimes were no big thing since we could just relax in the sun and watch the ocean right before us. We got so lucky!
I only had my close-up camera lens, so my pictures didn’t capture our place well at all. But here’s a shot of the balcony and view from our gigantic living room.
And another floor to ceiling view from the eat-in kitchen. It was so nice that even when we were inside, you really felt like you were at the beach no matter where you looked.
Our kitchen was top of the line, and gorgeous. Casey and I actually did all our grocery shopping in Atlanta, in order to save time and money on the island. Island grocery stores tend to be overpriced and not have a great selection, so it was much easier for us to do a big TJ’s run in Atlanta and just haul it all with us. It was so nice to not have to worry about it once we got there!
And definitely not a bad place to do some vacation cooking.
I’d been obsessively checking the weather forecast in the weeks leading up to our trip. Just as we got ready to leave, the temperatures dropped to unseasonably low levels for the south this time of year. We knew that Sunday was probably going to be our warmest day of the whole trip, so we aimed to make the best of it and maximize our beach time!
I seriously could not wait to get Cullen’s little feet into the sand.
We took him to Hawaii when he was 3.5 months old, but it’s not like he could really do (or even remember!) anything. So I considered this to be his first real beach trip. Based on his personality and age, I knew he would love it just like his mama.
But I didn’t not realize how much absolute joy I would feel at watching my son enjoy something that has been such a big part of my life.
I know I’ve talked about this before, but to quickly recap – growing up, I spent every summer at the beach. As soon as school ended in May, we packed up the car and headed to Stone Harbor, New Jersey to stay with my great grandmother until August. At that point, we hit the road and headed south to Hilton Head, where we spent two weeks with my dad’s whole side of the family – a yearly reunion. The beach was a huge part of my childhood, and I feel so connected to those two places.
So it was an unbelievable thrill to see Cullen’s face as soon as the chilly Atlantic water washed over his tiny toes. As expected, he turned out to be a total fish.
It was 70 degrees and sunny but the water was COLD! I didn’t dress him for swimming since I didn’t think he’d want to be in the water. Foolish mom.
Once he discovered the thrill of the ocean, we had a hard time keeping him out. He was on all fours splashing and crawling around, falling backward when (small) waves came in, and tossing water everywhere with his little shovel.
At one point he got knocked down and went totally under just as Casey grabbed him. I thought he’d freak out, but he bounced back and was back to digging seconds later. He looked so ridiculous in his sopping wet clothes!
We also got to spend the afternoon with my half-sister, Elizabeth, who is eight. I don’t see her nearly enough, so it was a special treat. She was so great with the little boys!
Monday morning was much cooler, so we were up early for non-beach adventures. Casey and I rented bikes, and discovered that Cullen totally LOVED his bike seat! I am going to look into getting one for the back of our bikes here in Seattle . What fun to bike around all summer!
Since we knew a lot of family had arrived by then, we spent the morning walking around to various houses where relatives were staying, and searching for gators along the way.
And running into family wherever we looked! This trip was actually a big family reunion and memorial celebration for my grandparents, who used to take all of us to Hilton Head each summer. Now that they have both passed , they asked for us to all gather together once again to remember them and spread their ashes.
So last week, we did just that! There were FORTY FIVE of us in total, and it was so wonderful to run into family all over town. Despite being a very large family, we’re all still surprisingly close ( Facebook certainly helps).
Cullen got to meet a lot of his older second cousins, which was really fun to watch. It was really cool to see the next generation of our family in the same spot where we all grew up together.
Monday night, Casey and I biked over to South Beach Marina for some evening adventures. My sister and her family drove and met us there.
Our first stop was Salty Dog for some new beach gear. I always wore a Salty Dog shirt growing up, and since the temps were cooler than expected, I needed some extra layers!
Checking out the boats at the marina.
And rocking my new Hilton Head gear. Of course, Cullen and Casey got them too.
Sister with babies. So much fun to have a whole week to spend together!
We decided to stick around and have dinner, and while we waited the boys entertained themselves out on the pier. I swear they can make fun out of anything when they are together!
When our table was finally ready, we all sat down to a table of delicious black bean burgers – one of the best I’ve had to date! Served next to a heaping pile of piping hot French fries – perfection.
Cullen had a side of steamed vegetables, along with many bites of our burgers and fries. This was actually his first time trying regular fries (he’s had sweet potato before) and as expected, he loved them.
We finished up a fun day by biking home just as the sun was setting. Our little traveling champ was out until 8pm and crashed hard as soon as we got home. He’s such a good sport when we travel , and is really adaptable to new environments and schedules. The rest of our beach adventures continue tomorrow!