I may have mentioned this before, but this is our year of “switching things up.”

This next school year is the last we have before high school graduations start rolling in.  The last with everyone under one roof.  
Which I really am abnormally freakish about and Dave keeps telling me I need to calm down.
And he’s right.
But I do love that it has jump-started us to soak in time together more than ever and do some deliberate things together.
When Dave and I were first married and living in D.C. we used to go with a big group to Duck Beach in North Carolina every Memorial Day.  We loved the East coast beaches.  The warm water, all those cool reeds growing up above the beach, swaying in the breeze.  We loved the wooden walkways with stairs leading down to the long, un-crowded beaches and we loved the big houses you could rent.
We have such great memories there and have always wanted to take our kids back.
And since two of our favorite families have been going over to those East Coast beaches for the last few years for the 4th of July, we decided this year that we should join them.
Instead of North Carolina, we met them in South Carolina which, to a non-expert of judging beaches, was kind of the same deal.  
And man oh man, we all fell in love with the South.
…and loved being with these great friends again:

Elle joined us directly from her church legacy trip and was so excited to be with her big brother again.

And I came directly from Iowa where I had been at the BBS Conference (back HERE) so it was so great to be back together as a family.
We didn’t waste any time getting to the beach that evening.

…exploring the gorgeous marshes:

Driving around the golf cart:

And skateboarding in the golden light.  Christian, our friends’ oldest son, is kind of a big deal on a skateboard 😉

It was great to have Max with us for a few days.  He was supposed to be practicing for Nationals but Dave made sure he could get there for at least a few days.

It was kind of funny watching our kids get reacquainted (we haven’t seen these guys in a few years).

At first they were quite quiet.  But that didn’t last for long.

These two were born on the exact same day.  When Dave and the other Claire’s dad called each other all those years ago to make their happy announcements, they realized that not only had we had our baby girls on the same day, but that we had named them the same name.

Now THAT is a big coincidence!

We found all kinds of washed up sea-life:

…and lots of live stuff too:

Trying to “listen to the ocean.”

Our rental house:

My friend Marlowe is into photography and writes a beautiful blog HERE.

I learned so much from these two incredible mothers.
So grateful for their friendship and wisdom.

I can’t help but envision that maybe these three will be doing the same thing one day.  So grateful for good friends.

Of course we had to do a little photo shoot.

 These pictures are obviously not in any particular order.  If I tried that I would be here for hours on end.  So bear with me…

We played LOTS of Bananagrams at night (HERE).

And explored during the day.

…of course, a little coloring went on too…

It was clear we weren’t in the desert any more.

We watched the World Cup and Wimbledon.

And went out to dinner.

Our kite got lost down the beach.
Waaaayyy down the beach.  
And these guys saved it.

Watching late-night “Jaws:”

We had a little dock in back that led down to a little boat.

“The Captains” took us over to “Grant’s Island” behind the house (proclaimed “Grant” by Grant himself…our friend’s cute little boy). 
These big boys seriously cracked us all up the whole time.  They got these captain’s hats and stayed in character.  They didn’t come up with the captain plan until after Max left, darn it!

Shell-seeking on Grant’s Island:

These girls came home and cooked that clam shell they found.

Gross but funny.

Hurricane Arthur came through while we were there.  It just passed through in route to North Carolina (but I think it petered out before it got there).

That day, full of thunderstorms and humongous waves was one of my favorites.

I think we can say it was one of the kids’ favorites too.

All of us adults went and swam in the rain in the huge swells.

Wish I had a picture.

It was amazing.

More Bananagrams:

A very authentic Southern experience I tell you.

Congratulations for getting through those massive amounts of pictures.  I can’t stop taking them when I’m in a place like that!

More on the 4th tomorrow.  


  1. Great photography! The synchronicity of your daughters born the same day…and name..wowie…those always feel like Universe "Mile Markers"…as if the course our Soul laid out…pops up in meaningful moments like that. I've started documenting these events in my own life…and they happen with wondrous frequency.

  2. So beautiful!~ We live in Georgia and would love to know which beach you went too also, and maybe any info on that beautiful rental house. After living here for 11 years we still have yet to make it over to South Carolina (the Gulf of Mexico also seems to suck us in instead)-this looks like the perfect little family trip. I am feeling crazy about my kids growing up on me and leaving too-my oldest in Elle age-wow does the time go fast! Thanks for sharing all the beautiful pictures!

  3. LOVE seeing your most adorable family in South Carolina! I found your blog through another follower and LOVE all of your posts and insights about life, family and focus! I love your new home blog and all the stories there too! You truly are an amazing woman and absolutely the Mother of the Year (every year) in my book. I grew up in SC and now live in Charlotte, NC, and these beach pictures appear to be in the beautiful Pawley's Island, SC. Please consider doing a seminar in the South as I'd love to attend! Keep on keeping on, Shawni! You inspire me daily! Rock on!

  4. Love your beach pics, Shawni. We were just up the coast in Emerald Isle, NC. Got there Friday morning after Arthur had left. My parents have a house on the beach and I LOVE this place. I can smell the salt air right now. It was a beautiful weekend to be at the coast.

  5. So glad you enjoyed your vacation in SC! We do have beautiful beaches here in NC; thank you for the nod! My family loves spending time at our house on the coast here.

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