Summer Vacay: Oak Island Beach!

It was looking for a while like a beach vacation wouldn't happen this year. We had two babies arriving in the spring, my parents' home was up for sale and they are building a home, and our home was up for sale and we were looking for a new home. Just lots going on and the vacation was taking a backburner. My husband and brother-in-law got on the phone together though and found a great ocean-front home for us and made it happen. Love it.

Here are some photos from our trip as well as some things I learned about beach travel with two little ones. And of course, fun things to do at the beach!

my coverup is from Old Navy (similar style, different print here) - Camille's coverup, on major sale now $6.99 and use code COZY for 40% off online - Camille's gingham bathing suit (and then I had it monogrammed locally) - Charlotte's "ensemble" is Pottery Barn Kids bought secondhand

First of all, to paint you a little picture:

Oak Island is 3.5 hours from our Charlotte home. Not a bad trip with two kids. We left in the morning (9/10ish) to head that way and also return home. Both times Camille ended up dozing a little in the car in the morning and not really taking an afternoon nap. It's okay ... vacation, right? Charlotte slept almost the entire time she was in the car -- #angelbaby. 

We stopped on the way to the beach at Cookout for lunch. Camille had chicken nuggets and fries (my OCD tendencies about her eating healthy have slightly relaxed, would you say?). On the way to the beach and back I hopped in the backseat and gave Charlotte a bottle of pumped milk and THIS is where I can't sing the praises enough of my manual pump (this one) which needs no electricity. It's the best and I've only used my electric pump once in five months ... the manual one always wins out for simplicity. If you're nursing, these are awesome, awesome, awesome for car trips. I also used it a lot back when I was working if I needed to pump during the day and wasn't sure if I'd have a power source. Like, in a client's restroom. Fannnncy.

Anyway, enough about that. Ha :)

So, babies on the beach. The idea is adorable but the truth is that you've got to get a bomb umbrella for shade. Charlotte and my nephew Thompson aren't old enough for sunscreen, so we'd take them down to the beach and immediately put them under shade. 

Laura brought her bouncer (like this one) which was so smart to have under the tent. She and I used different tents, and I don't think she'd recommend hers ... it broke! The one that we used was so awesome and easy to put up and take down. One morning I took both Camille and Charlotte down to the beach all by myself (Ian had to drive back that day for work) and put the tent up solo -- if that tells you how fast and easy it goes up. I was using the Shade Shack which is on Amazon here. Highly recommend. You also use sand to weigh it down so it's just one piece to put up, and it collapses like those pop-out sun deflectors for your front windshield.

Other than that, we had some good late-afternoon beach trips when the sun wasn't out so that we could have the babies out safely.

For meals we aimed to be at a restaurant by 6/6:30. Not the easiest when your family is more of an 8/8:30 dinner family on vacation, but everyone understood. We drove into Southport (about 25 minutes) for dinner at Provision Company one night. This was a highlight. You stand in line to place your order, grab your bevvie of choice from a refrigerator, then go sit at a table on a covered area outdoors. At the end of the meal you walk up to the counter and tell them what you ate and how many beverages you consumed and pay. Honor code style, love it. I had the dozen steamed clams and crabcake. Oh ... and a much-appreciated glass of pinot grigio!

matching outfits and palm print romper from Old Navy - previous seasons

We also had two good meals at Pirates Deck, a great lunch at Shagger Jacks, and wonderful donuts for breakfast one day at Ahoy Donuts. All of these spots are on Oak Island.

Toy-wise, I tried to streamline what we brought since our car was SO packed. Charlotte and Thompson are only 6 weeks apart so they shared a lot of toys and gear. Camille's shade chair was a good item to bring (like this one). We packed a portable DVD player and movies and ended up not needing them for either car ride. I had a coloring book, construction paper and crayons (and some of those printed-out coloring pages I blogged about recently), some dolls, really just the basics. When Camille wasn't at the beach, she was always trying to get to someone's iPad to watch Frozen songs on YouTube (eyeroll). At the beach, a bucket that my sister Laura gave her was a huge hit for "making big big sandcastles" :)

Relaxing on the beach wasn't exactly in the cards this year, but it will get easier. I did read about half of The Good Girl by Mary Kubica and am really enjoying it.

my HR Ditty was the perfect beach bag - my colorful bathing suit is TT from Amazon like these
fedora is from Nordstrom (similar)

We brought board games and didn't really play them -- but two nights we did play Left Right Center which is an awesome beach game. Takes up no space in your bag, and all you need is three dollar bills to play!

Charlotte slept in a rock and play in the closet in our room. She's just getting to that point where it won't be safe for her to sleep in it much longer, so this was the last hurrah. Camille slept in her OWN bedroom in a twin bed which was wild ... Ian brought his big foam roller along and we put it under the fitted sheet so she wouldn't roll out. It worked!

We split up the cooking so that each couple planned out a dinner one night. For our night, we did enchiladas with yellow rice and baked avocado halves. Mom and Dad's night -- crockpot chicken thighs with roasted okra and green beans. Laura and T's night -- meatball subs, yum! We did a few grocery store visits, but prior to the trip Laura emailed out a list for each of us of items to bring (paper plates, cleaning products, condiments, food staples, you get the drift) so that we didn't have to do a ton of shopping on the island.

So there's our trip in a nutshell! We had an awesome time and came back maybe one slight shade darker and a smidge more relaxed. Next year, I can't believe that I will be chasing TWO little girls around on the beach!


  1. We used to have a house at Ocean Isle and one of my favorite things to do was to take the boat to Holden or Southport and eat at Provision!! Seriously so good. Glad ya'll had a great vacation!

  2. Sounds like such a wonderful week at the beach with your family! All the effort it takes to get there as always so worth it!! :)

  3. It sounds like the perfect week away! Jess at Just Jess

  4. What a fun week! That's awesome that with everything going on this year yall were still able to pull it off. Way to go boys! I love Southport, haven't done OKI though. Love all of you and the girls' suits. And the ON matching outfits- too, too cute! I just finished the good girl and just picked up the new Liane Moriarty for which I've been on the wait list!

  5. It looks like you had a great time! And I'll definitely remember that tent!

  6. So much fun and what amazing memories! I can only imagine how much fun it is having a baby the same time as your sister. My niece and nephew are 4 and 1.5 and I'm trying to convince my sister to hurry up and have a third :) can I convince you to do a blogpost for first time nursing moms on what you need/what you don't need? There are sooo many creams/pads/etc it so overwhelming!

  7. This sounds so much like our annual river trip. Everyone does a dinner &/or breakfast, only need minimal toys & good luck on relaxing! Lol! But, all in fun & certainly some great memories are made! So glad y'all were able to get away!

  8. The Good Girl, that was referred to me after I finished The Girl on the Train. Is it worth the read?

    I love your matching dresses - do that now cuz in a couple of years, you won't be able to do that anymore! Tee hee!

  9. April - I feel so strange asking this, but I have tried and tried to use my Medela harmony pump (and have also scavenged the interwebs too) but I simply cannot get this thing to work like my electric!!! The handle comes off a lot while I'm trying to pump with it and it also loses suction too. Do you have any tips? I'm wondering if my pump is maybe a lemon???? You don't have to blog about it - but maybe email me? I would LOVE for it to work for me!!! I seriously would love to use it more and have tried more than 20 times!!! You are like the only person I know (in real life and interwebs) who has success with it! Teach me your ways! I almost want to erase this comment after I post it lol.

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