Day Two: Settling in

After leaving the “cottage” at our 11:00 check-out, we still had a few hours to kill before we could check into the house where we all would be staying for the next week. Todd made plans before we left to try and make a few day trips during our stay, so we spent some time driving around Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and all points inbetween. We drove to the aquarium, where we found out that it’s cheaper for us to get a year-long membership than to pay for our family of eight to go through. We drove by the Zoo and found out how much it costs to go there, hoping that Todd’s friend’s assurance that although it may not look like much from the outside, it really was a good place to visit. (It really doesn’t look like much from the outside….it doesn’t even really look like a zoo, to be honest…) We actually drove the kids crazy driving around because basically all they wanted to do was eat some lunch and get to the beach house.

When the appointed time finally arrived, we picked up the keys and pulled up to our house. Since it’s our first year here, the kids were excited to explore the place and check out all the new rooms and views of the beach. It didn’t take too long for us to unload the van and get everyone’s stuff into their respective rooms. I like to unpack as quickly as possible once we arrive just to cut down on the confusion of “Where are my clothes, Mom!?!” and other questions like that. Once that was done, we were able to hang out for a bit before dinner. By the time dinner was served (courtesy of Ralph and Laura), everyone had arrived and the house was a bustling center for eight adults and 11 very excited children. The topic of dinner that night (for the adults) was “the shopping trip” we needed to make for the groceries. As you can imagine, getting enough food to feed us all takes quite a bit of planning and quite a bit of time. The girls usually take care of this job, but in years past we lose the entire first morning tackling the food issue. This year, however, we decided to try and go in the evening and just get it done. It turned out to be a wise choice.

As soon as we finished eating, we left the rest of the crew to clean up and began our quest to Walmart to procure food for the group. Our meal planning has evolved from a mish-mash and fly by the seat of our pants to a very organized and planned system. The more planning we do ahead of time, the less we have to do while on vacation (theoretically, anyway….). Each family was responsible for planning three meals this year and will cook each of those three meals for the family. We sent our ingredient list to Laura this year (Anna has been in charge of it in the past), who then made the master list and split it into three groups (good thinking, huh?). We each took a list and split up, hoping to collect all of our groceries as quickly as possible. When you are cooking and buying for 19, you have to have a system, and although it’s not perfect, it works well for us.

It didn’t take as long as we thought it would, and except for a couple things that Walmart was either out of or had less than ideal stock in, we headed to the check out. Here’s what my cart looked like (and you can imagine that times three):

As all of you who grocery shop know, the actual shopping is only the first step. When you stop to think about the whole process, it’s ridiculously repetitive. Put items into cart, take items out of cart and place on belt. Put items in bags and return to cart. Unload items from cart and into vehicle. Unload bags from vehicle and take into house. Unload items from bags and put away. It’s exhausting simply to think about it, but somehow, with all three of us working together, it wasn’t so bad. Although they had a brief hail storm at the house, we had no rain at the store thankfully, so we had a quick time of loading the van to come home. We had a lot of help unloading the van and putting groceries away, so before 11:00pm, we had everything put in its place and the shopping (at least the “big” trip) was done. Here’s a picture of the van just after we began to unload it at the house:

It was a nice feeling to go to bed that night and know that we didn’t have the daunting task of shopping ahead of us the next morning. We could instead turn our thoughts to relaxing by the pool and soaking up the rays of the North Carolina sun….. But that’s a post for another day….

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