Nothing we do ever goes to plan. I make lists weeks out and stress over said lists for days and try and make sure everything is exactly as I plan. That never happens. So, the weeks before our trip was supposed to happen, I started planning and packing. Cue Wednesday, when we planned on packing the car, and the laundry still in the wash needing to be dried and bags still sitting empty. We did manage to get the car packed and the car seats moved that night. It didn’t help that we had crying fits over cell phones and a toddler who kept insisting she be allowed to sit in her car seat while it was in the driveway, and it was dark by the time we finished, but it happened as planned. So gold star ⭐️ for us.

 And did I mention that our free upgrade on our rental got upgraded and we got to drive around in a 2017 Cadillac all week? Cause that part was pretty awesome.

On Thursday, the plan was for Josh to sleep as soon as we got home from work, and I’d take the girls with me to drop Maisy off with my aunt who watched her while we were gone. Josh had to run an errand, and I got moving later than I wanted. So, he only got 2ish hours of sleep instead of the 4 he was supposed to, but we got the girls buckled in before either fell asleep in the house. We managed to make it out of the house around 10:30, like we had wanted, with no problems. Except one, which I wouldn’t realize til we were settling in 14 hours later – my clothes were still in the dryer. Thankfully, Walmart’s are everywhere and a little shopping fixed the problem.

So, we drove through the night into Friday. We stopped in Jellico, Tennessee so Josh could sleep for a bit.

Matilda had been asleep the entire ride…until we stopped. Thankfully, Frozen was on her iPad, and she sat and watched that while the rest of us slept. We stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast once we work 2 hours later because we knew we wouldn’t have anywhere else to stop once we entered the mountains.

Outside of the McDonald’s there was a little stray cat. Josh’s crazy cat man senses started tingling, and he had no choice but to feed her. She enjoyed the pancake. I swear Josh would’ve tried to put that cat in the car with us if he could’ve.

14 hours after our trip started, we made it to the beach. The first thing we did was go down and see the water.

The girls were ecstatic. They’re reactions made the very, very long trip 150% worth it. Mattie had some hesitation on the super soft sand, but she was once she was on the wet sand.

Both girls headed straight to the water once we let them free.

My poor Matilda was so excited

-and then a wave pulled her feet out from under her. She went down, but jumped right back up.

As she was trying to run back to the safety of the sand, she was pulled down again and face planted in the water. She even lost her pacifier! Thankfully (or not),  I was filming and got it all on camera.

This was all very traumatic for her, and she was soaked. So Josh took her back to the “Myrtle Beach House” (which is what  Ellabelle named the rental). She screamed the entire way back because she didn’t to leave us.

Ellabelle was in heaven tiptoeing in the water. She squealed with laughter and jumped up and down eliciting many smiles from the elderly people who were watching the beach.

She, Oma, and I walked down towards the pier looking for Opa. Turns out, he wasn’t on the pier. He had followed Josh back to the MB House. So we went back to house, and EB and I gave ourselves mermaid hair. It didn’t show up in her hair cause her hair is too dark. Mine turned out greenish instead of turquoise. So, it wasn’t exactly successful, but you aren’t going to convince me weren’t mermaid for the week.

Somehow, I’ll never know how, we all managed to stay awake til our normal bedtimes.

On Saturday, Auntie Ang was set to arrive nice and early at the airport. Well, things never go as planned. She got stuck on her plane at her layover. She was on standby and that fight was full. She finally made it around 3:30. Once she was there, we all went down to Ocean Annie’s for drinks.

The girls wore their mermaid outfits the Easter bunny had brought them. They shared a pina colada (virgin, of course), and basically through fits about sitting where they were sitting.

So, we let them dance to the live band and took them down to the sand again.

They changed into their swimsuits and back in the water they went. Mattie barely let it touch her feet, but she still laughed and ran around.

Sunday was the traditional K&W for breakfast followed by the flea market day. We got fidget spinners and fidget cubes and only managed to make daddy slightly crazy walking around.

We planned on going to the pool that afternoon. We took our afternoon naps (mom and dad too) and Oma and Angie left without us! It was actually fine because I’m sure they needed some quiet space away from the chaos and noise that is my children. Just like the ocean, EB was all about the water.

Mattie hated it. I don’t know what her issue with water is but she officially hates the shower, the ocean, and the pool.

We went to Nacho Hippo for dinner that night. It was really good, and our kids almost actually behaved.

The whole drive down, every time we passed a Hardee’s sign, Josh would whine about how much he wanted some. So, Monday morning, Oma watched the girls so we could go and get some biscuits and gravy, and Josh could be filled with the nostalgia of his youth.

After, we went to Broadway at the Beach with Oma and Angie. The girls had spending money from Easter and Oma, and they decided to get Build a Bears. Mattie picked Marshall from Paw Patrol, and EB picked out Sonic the Hedgehog. I thought she’d want another pony or a Star Wars bear or Rocket and Groot, but nope. Sonic it was. And there was no changing her mind.

We used the girl’s money to pay for them. That meant that the cashier got $18 in quarters to count. She was very nice about it or at least pretended to be nice.

We had lunch at a restaurant where Matilda and Ellabelle both proceeded to have full on melt downs. It’s always in public, isn’t it? We barely made it through lunch, but all was well when it was time time to ride Pavilion rides. The old amusement park in Myrtle Beach had shut down years earlier, and they saved a lot of the rides and moved them to Broadway at the Beach. So, Ellabelle got to ride one of Auntie Ang’s old favorites, Frogger.

Afterwards, she’d tell us it was “a little fun” but she screamed and cried the entire ride.
She also rode the roller coaster with me.

Mattie lost it yet again because she had to wait for EB to go first on the rides and she wanted to ride too. We finally got her on the carousel. She rode that twice and loved it. Full on baby giggles the entire time.

And then, she lost it again because she wasn’t on it anymore. So Josh took her to the car while EB rode her last ride – the racecars.

We needed naps after that. Josh and I went the pier while the girls napped. I’d say it was because he wanted to spend some alone time with me, but, honestly, it was because he was trying to catch pokemon on his Pokemon Go. I know where I stand.

After naps, we headed to Toys R Us because we needed more pacifiers for Matilda (parenting fail). We also found their Target because when isn’t it a good time to go to target? The answer is never. Always go to Target.

Tuesday was our beach day. The whole morning was dedicated to just being at the beach.

Mattie spent the whole time playing in the sand because I think she’d had enough of the ocean beating up on her.

Ellabelle was in the water pretty much the entire time. She told me that she was “on a mission” while she was in the water. I never got a full explanation, but I hope she completed it.

Josh and I found a crab hanging out alone in the sand. Josh said it was dad crab trying to get some peace and quiet from his crab wife and crab kids. I think someone was projecting onto a sea critter.

We took it to show everyone, and I thought it would scare Oma, but she thought it was cool. Mattie cried the whole time.

So, for anyone keeping track, we learned that Mattie hates soft sand, the shower, the ocean, the pool, and crabs.

Ellabelle finally got to build her sandcastle

And look for sea shells too.

While we were on the beach, we had an umbrella up to keep the sun off the girls. Well, it decided to catch a breeze and fly away. Angie chased after it and almost stepped on two jellyfish. She did save it though.

And speaking of jellyfish, let me tell you about these sacks of stinging goo – they were EVERYWHERE. No joke. No exaggeration. The entire beach was covered in there. Josh calculated that we saw at least 45 of them the first 3 days we were there. We have no idea why there were so many of them, and we have no idea why on Thursday they had just completely vanished. Didn’t see a single jelly the last two days we were there. It was very strange.

Ok, so after our beach day and the traditional tuna day, we ended up at Harry the Hats for dinner. They have $.75 taco Tuesday. They had a swing on the back porch where we were sitting. The girls were immediately drawn to it.

They were fine one minute and then Mattie was face down under the swing screaming. We will never know what exactly happened because none of us were watching, but EB kept saying, “It was an accident!” Mattie scratched her face from her forehead down her nose to a bloody upper lip. She was fine though and we turned on the jukebox for the girls to dance to.

After dinner, Josh took Mattie back to the MB House to give her some special one on one time, and EB and I had a Mommy and Bee date to the putt putt right up the street. EB was actually pretty good considering she had never played before. The volcano on the course shot fire out, and she spazzed out, but it’s her favorite thing to talk about now.

Wednesday started with a trip to Urgent Care for Miss Matilda. She is my troublemaker, after all. She had had a minor cold the whole week previously, but it seemed to progress longer than it should have and her eyes were really snotty. Turns out she had pink eye and an ear infection. She made sure to share her cold with Oma who wasn’t feeling well by this point as well. So, Angie squeezed in between the car seat and booster seat and rode with us to the Boardwalk.

Ellabelle got her long anticipated (henna) tattoo.

We played at the arcade, and Mattie had a blast pulling the tickets out of the machines.

She did not like little car we put her in.

Let us check the tally: soft sand, the shower, the ocean, the pool, crabs, and quarter-powered cars.

It was a short visit because it was hot that day, and there really wasn’t a whole lot to do down there with the girls. So, I hit the Gay Dolphin which is a souvenir shop and got the girls license plates. They had Matilda, but I could only find a Belle for Ellabelle. The Ella’s were all sold out. I still did better than I expected considering my children have unusual names.

That night, Oma watched the girls so we could have a date night. We went to a hibachi cause it’s one of our favorite places. The people across the table were killing us with their special orders. They wanted barbeque steak. One – a Japanese restaurant does not have barbeque sauce to put on their Asian prepared steak. So they got a mix of teriyaki and hot sauce. Two – they ordered their steaks well done. So, painful. They’re daughter ordered double fried rice (which was a ton of rice since their portions were super large) and then exclaimed she didn’t like it and refused to eat it. She was a teenager by the way. This wasn’t a child who refused to eat the meal she ordered. Anyways, afterwards, we decided to go play putt putt. Josh tried to let me win, and I still managed to beat him anyways. I didn’t need any extra help, thank you very much.

On the way back to the MB House, we passed a TGIFridays, and I made Josh stop so we could get dessert since I love their Brownie Obsession. Poor Oma was still so sick so she went to bed and left the girls with Auntie Ang, but they were all in bed by the time we got home.  Ellabelle did get a special night walk with Auntie Ang on the beach.

Thursday morning, Ellabelle crept into our bedroom (like she does every morning) around 7:30. So, I decided we needed a Mommy-Bee beach date. With Mattie hating the water, it made taking them both to the beach a little more challenging, and this girl loves the water. So, I figured she would appreciate some extra wave time.

I borrowed Oma’s chair and let her go. Only thing was – she was not content to be out in the water alone. She kept coming back to talk to me and eventually managed to convince me to go out with her.

Watching her be out in the water was everything I had wanted for this trip – just pure joy from the very best nature has to offer. She reacted to the water the way I feel inside when I’m at the beach. That’s why it’s one of my happy places. I spent all of my summer vacations with my feet in that very same sand, loving the sea breeze and salty water (as long as it didn’t get in my eyes). I’ve wanted to provide her the same the opportunity to build those same memories. And thankfully, we were able to.

Afterwards, we planned on going to Barefoot Landing. EB decided she didn’t want to go. So, Mattie got some 1-on-1 time with mom and dad. We let her walk around which made her very happy.

She was terrified of the ducks though. Not sure why exactly. She ran and hid behind me on the water walk way when she saw them. She kept yelling, “No duck!” at them.

So, that’s soft sand, the shower, the ocean, the pool, crabs, quarter-powered cars, and ducks that Mattie hates. Josh got her a giant pacifier lollipop. She loved it.

I’m always so happy when we get the chance to have some time alone with each of our girls.

We had another short beach day. I was cranky because I couldn’t go in the water. Thankfully, Josh was willing to take Ellabelle out.

He also let the girls bury him in sand. We tried to make him a mermaid, but it didn’t quite work out.

There were seagulls flying all around. Mattie lost it. She hid with Auntie Ang. So, final tally: soft sand, the shower, the ocean, the pool, crabs, quarter-powered cars, ducks, and any non-flying birds. She’s a strange child.

We went to the Pirates Voyage dinner and show that night. It’s just like Dixie Stampede. So it was all food you eat with your hands. Ellabelle refused to touch any of it. Mattie loved it all. They both really liked the show. Ellabelle kept telling us about the mermaids she saw there.

After we got back to the MB House, Josh and I walked down to the pier one last time. I wanted to be on the water again before we left. He wanted to catch more pokemon.

Friday – it rained. That actually made it easier to leave. We were all packed and ready to go by 11:30, but we wanted to download a movie on the iPad for Mattie using the wifi. 2 hours later and there was an error with the download. 😒 We stopped at McDonalds, which took forever, and were finally headed home by 2pm. It felt like the trip home took twice as long as the trip down. We made it home around 4am. We were all so ready to sleep in our own beds.

The week was exhausting and wonderful. I hope that the memories Ellabelle made will last her forever. I know they will for me. We so desperately needed a step back from our day to day stresses so we could realign our priorities and perspectives. We are all so grateful that Oma and Opa made the whole trip possible. Ellabelle hasn’t stopped talking about it, and that is the best souvenir I could bring home.


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