Monthly Archives: March 2014

Sharing Birthdays

On the birthday of my oldest child, I went in to labor with another baby boy.

When I was walking the halls at midnight, it was clear they weren’t going to share a birthday, but it was going to be close.

Just four hours short. DSC01791.JPG copy

At the time, I thought it would be better they each had their own day, and every one seemed to echo those sentiments.

In the subsequent years, I think I’ve changed my mind.  For now.IMG_0485_2

click through to see why I think sharing a birthday wouldn’t be so bad after all.

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Sun Protection Strategies

We often marvel how not one of our children inherited my (nearly black) hair color.  But none of them inherited their dads nearly pigment free skin either.  We are able to keep them sun burn free nearly everywhere — except the beach.  Despite a noble effort, the first several trips ended up in some pretty sad state of affairs.  Over the years we became more serious about getting it right, and we can now spend 12 hours a day on the beach with out a burn.


1.  Layer on the sunscreen every two hours.  Kids hate it because it is gross rubbing sunscreen into your wet sandy skin. Lure them with….

2. Physical protection from the sun when possible!  Sun shirts!  Kids love them now because anywhere the shirt covers we don’t have to sunscreen.  We have bought ours at lands end and they have held up and worked very well.

3.  HATS.  And good ones.  Go for the kind with a brim all the way around that have a tightening cord around the circumference of the head.  They can wear these bogey boarding and they will (usually) stay on.  With out a hat our kids will burn. After our fourth baby, I started getting quite splotchy in the sun.  Very unattractive. No one wants a sunspot goatee.  Sunscreen doesn’t seem to protect — keeping the sun off my face does.


4.  For the extra sensitive — large sunglasses.  Our little dolly must have been rainbow looming in heaven when they were handing out cheek pigment.  No matter what we do, she burns.  A large pair of sunglasses cover this sensitive area and protect her eyes, too.

So Crabby


Crabbing is one of our all time favorite beach activities.  So fun to do as a family, and there is something so satisfying about catching a tasty dinner from the ocean.

The best places to crab are the sound side of narrow beach barrier islands such as Top Sail and the Outer Banks.  Our favorite spot ever is the public pier in Duck.

To crab effectively you will need

  • strong string about 20 feet long (to keep things fun we like to use about 6 at a time)
  • chicken necks (buy them at any grocery store near the ocean.  You may have to ask the butcher)
  • nets
  • a bucket to store the crabs you catch.


I don’t have very many quality pictures because this is a whole family affair!  As you can see it is a good activity when the weather is a little cooler since you can do it in sweatshirts.


  • Find a pier where crabbing is welcome (most public piers are perfect, or your beach accommodations may have one on site.  You want to be on the sound side, not the ocean side)
  • Tie a chicken neck at the end of each string you wish to use
  • drop the chicken necks in the water down to the ocean (sound) floor.  Since crabs can’t swim, the chicken neck needs to be on the ground where crabs can reach it, since they can’t swim.
  • After a few minutes, gently lift the strings to see if a crab has attached it self to the chicken neck.  You will be able to tell because the sting will feel heavier
  • If you think there is a crab on your neck, alert a member of your crabbing party to bring a net over
  • GENTLY lift the string.  As the neck gets closer to you, you will be able to see if there is a crab on it  If there is, have the person with the net GENTLY put the net in the water to scoop up the crab. This takes some coordination and you will inevitably loose some.


  • Turn the net over an empty bucket and gently shake until the crab falls in.  Place the crab in a bucket with NO water.  A bucket of water doesn’t have enough oxygen and the crabs will die.  They can live with out water for awhile. You can store multiple crabs in one bucket.
  • Bring them home and either cook immediately, or place in freezer until you are ready to eat.


Clean (this is gross, be warned) and then boil the crabs

WARNING: These guys mean business.  Be very careful to not get pinched.  Use tongs when dealing with crabs that are alive, and instill in kids a healthy sense of respect of their pinchers.


This guy is cooked — he’s pink.

Either serve the whole bodies up, letting the kids pick out the meat, or save the meat over several days and make crab cakes.  So good.  IMG_2763

Packing Up — Beach Week Pack List

DSC_1452 Spending a full week at the beach, to us, is one of life’s great luxuries.  So relaxing, so fun.  Getting ready? Ugh.

Packing for trips has become so.much.easier. since the little people have gotten older and are super helpful.  However, each time a beach (or really mountain — or anywhere you will be for a bit) trip would roll around I’d start making notes on old envelopes, while wondering why I couldn’t write down my pack list, once and of all, somewhere I could find it each year.  So here it is.  If you are going to a rental that provides one roll of toilet paper and a view?  Here is it.

Because packing usually takes place over a period of days or even weeks (over planners anonymous, do they exist?) I find it very helpful to print out met list and MARK IT OFF.  Inevitably I’ll forget what I’ve packed, or still need to.

(good for trips with accommodation rentals that don’t provide toiletries, linens and such)

For the people (I make a grid and we check off as we go, except the time I brought literally nothing for Chase except bathing suits? How did that happen?)

  • Shirts
  • Shorts
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • pajamas
  • Bathing suits (I like bringing at least 3 each)
  • sunshirts
  • sun hats
  • sunglasses
  • beach shoes (flip flops or crocs)
  • shoes (for outings.  bike friendly)


  • hand soap for each sink
  • dishwasher detergent
  • dish soap
  • laundry detergent
  • napkins
  • paper towels
  • toilet paper
  • bar soap for each shower
  • shampoo for each shower
  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • face care
  • deodorant
  • razors
  • sunscreen
  • medicines you MAY need. Pack a ziplock bag of any medicine you have at home you might possibly need.  Bring it on every vacation and then no one in your family will ever get sick 😉


  • hand towel for each bathroom
  • kitchen towels (more than you think)
  • sponges
  • bathroom towels
  • beach towels
  • sheets for each bed
  • pillowcases


  • games
  • puzzles
  • books
  • movies
  • kites
  • beach buckets and shovels
  • beach umbrellas
  • beach chairs
  • beach mats (we keep all our beach items in a bin and just put that in and out of the car — keeps the sand at bay and is quick)


  • bikes
  • helmet for each person
  • bike lock
  • trailerIMG_0508

So what do you think?  What have I missed? What else do you usually bring?


Off the Shore Line


We have had the coldest winter in a loong time.  While I love soups, snow days (with in reason) hot drinks, flannel sheets and the sporadic 65° days NC is so kind to throw in there, I have summer (and spring!) on my mind. And today it is supposed to sleet/freezing rain/snow?

Lets get planning. As I mentioned in my beach round up, beach vacations are one of my very favorites.

When you have more than a few children, or are traveling with extended family, a beach house can be a great way to go.  Plenty of room to spread out, excellent access to the beach, and a good deal for a 7 night stay (usually they only book a week at a time).  Staying in one location for a week truly feels like a vacation to me, so relaxing.

I have some posts about the logistics: packing, sun protections and most importantly, crabbing! But today I thought it would be fun to discuss activities that are fun to do when you want to venture from the surf and the sand.

click through to see what we do when we’re away on the North Carolina shore.

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Beach Time

IMG_2430It is officially March, bring on the beach.  In NC, I feel March is usually the time the weather turns nice enough to enjoy a nice spring break at the beach should the need arise.  And given it may snow tomorrow — geez. Let’s do this.

I have a four part beach series this week, in the bag, covering the following:

Once and For All Pack List

Crabbing How To

Beach Meals

Sun Protection Strategies

I’m sure you can barely wait.