Beach Birthday #2 - Heaven in Carolina (The Surprise)

Since I last posted, I have discovered something fundamental - a bit of heaven exists here on earth on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I let you in on the secret of Molly and Katie's double birthday surprise, and none of you let the cat out of the bag. While the beach birthday was Katie's idea, it was a complete surprise for Molly, complete with her siblings from Florida and Washington DC making the trek to the Outer Banks to celebrate. With most of our children now grown, having a reason and a place to get together is a real blessing.

We started by celebrating the girls' real birthday, and Molly was so surprised when her sister from Florida came in that she squealed loud and high enough to crack glass. She was so excited that she started to cry! We had organized a series of small beach-related gifts, with each card having puzzle pieces that when put together would show the beach house where we were going. Another series of squeals resulted when the picture was put together (see her reaction upper left) and we headed to the computer to show her the house (you can see it too by going to Elan Vacations, and looking up Sea Spray).

After the celebration, Katie went to dinner with her boyfriend and Molly started packing so we could get an early start. We caravanned down to the Outer Banks, with the kids a bit ahead of us. Now at this point Molly knew where we were going but she still did not know that her brother was coming from Washington to surprise her. Since we had to stop to get the key, the other members of the caravan got there first and proceeded to look in all the windows and then call to tell us to hurry up!

Since she was the birthday girl, Molly unlocked the door leading to our piece of paradise here on earth. Pictures cannot capture how incredible this house was. It actually took my breath away when I got to the top of the stairs on the top floor and saw 180 degree view of the ocean (Colleen and Rikki with the windows behind them, right).

Sea Spray offers two master suites, each with huge Jacuzzi-style tubs, and oversized showers that your whole family could fit in. Katie and Molly decided that they would take a bubble bath to unwind from the drive while we unpacked and got everything and everyone settled in, so they put on their bathing suits and turned on the bubbles. Bridget was the photog who captured them, buried in a sea of bubbles. The rest of us went on a bike ride, since the weather that first day was gorgeous.

Unfortunately, we were hit the next night by a Nor'easter that brought rain and high winds, but it didn't inhibit our good time at all. There was a pool table that provided hours of entertainment and I found out that there are some members of my family who are pool sharks(Gavin, relaxing while cousin Ian takes a shot- is that mural incredible?)! In the evenings we enjoyed the two-sided gas fireplace that gave the family room a cozy feel even when the wind and rain lashed the outside. There were games of Spoons and of course we played "Murder" and "Sardines. Uncle John (or Aunt Susan as he is affectionately known) amazed children and adults with his latest magic tricks (Bridget and Lilly are mezmerized, left)

I did check blogs and respond to comments occasionally, but with a view like this , it was really easy to get distracted. We also spent time cooking and eating together- no surprise that, just like in our own (much more modest) home, the kitchen was the center of activity. Food was such a big part of our vacation, that I will be doing a separate post just focused on that!

The young people tried flying a "finger kite" out on the dune deck, and all the girls worked together on 2 large puzzles, something we almost never do at home (this house even had a designated puzzle room!- see Katie and Bridget concentrating below)

All in all, despite the weather it was a wonderful time for us all to celebrate, be together and enjoy each other's company. If any of you have a chance or occasion, I would highly recommend Elan Vacations and Sea Spray for a wonderful family get-together or reunion. It can accommodate tons of people without feeling cramped, it offers plenty to do for kids of all ages, with every detail has been thought of and attended to, and the view... it was absolutely amazing. Just being in the house made me feel more relaxed than I have felt in years - perfect for a vacation.

Wondering about the food? I will be covering that, and my thoughts on a well-equipped kitchen inspired by Sea Spray in future posts..


Bistro 613 said…
The picture of Molly's reaction is absolutely priceless! Can't wait to see what crossed the table in that beautiful cottage!
Cynthia said…
Glad things worked out great and that a good time was had by all.
Gavin Dowd (jr) said…
wow , thats was fun! You are lucky to have such an attractive family, especially your son (whoa hot stuff) Haha love you mom, lets do that again!!