Week 3: Ocean Isle Beach, NC

Somehow the end of our third week, spent with family at Ocean Isle, NC, has drawn to a close.  
It happens every year - we arrive at the beach with a full seven days beaming with glorious possibility.  And then, somehow, Wednesday hits with the sad reality that the week is quickly passing. We treasure the days and live them to the fullest, yet, as with every other sweet time, it ends all too soon.   
Sadly, my dad's brother and his family couldn't make the week.  We always have so much fun with their wild sense of humor and contagious zeal for life.  They were sorely missed, along with a couple of my closest friend who also tried to come for the week and couldn't.  Thankfully, however, we had quite a silver lining in a couple other newbies to the beach week, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them. 
As with nearly every other summer since the movie-making bug hit, all the cousins and a few of the adults rallied together to make a short film.  It turned out especially cute this year, and having the entire gather around the TV for the grand showing is a favorite memory of the week.  After the many hours of tedious work that goes into organizing, filming and editing it, watching the finished product and having the rest of the family enjoy it along with you always makes it worth it. 
Watching the final

Working on script-writing

A second highlight of the week was really connecting with my six-year-old cousin Carson.  Several years back, we were able to go stay with Carson's sisters while his parents and two older brothers went to bring him home from Korea.  Sadly, we had to leave before they got home with him and I was quite bummed that I didn't get to meet my new little cousin at that point.  Well, we sure made up for that this week!  Carson is simply the cutest!  We've played and interacted at other times, but this week we had an extra lot of fun together. He took quite an interest in my Bulgarian studies, and often  asked me how to say different words and phrases.  We wrote his and other names using the Bulgarian alphabet and practiced saying many different words. Carson also had quite a comical inspiration to make a video about tacos to add to our larger movie, and in the end it became a favorite in the storyline!  

A great surprise came in the week when David decided he was ready to chop off his long hair.  After a great deal of contemplation, he made the choice to bite the bullet and have Aunt Kelly give him a new do.  "Anyway," he reasoned, "I won't be seeing any of my friends for four months, so why not?" 

Carson and Gandy watched with most of the family as David's hair fell to the ground.

On our final trip to the ocean Friday evening, the girls and Kaden came across a bird they assumed had a broken wing.  Not wanting to leave it, they convinced a parent to call an animal rescue facility to come help.  Within an hour, the lady from the facility was carrying the poor bird to her "ambulance".  She explained to us that the bird's wing wasn't broken, like the girls had thought, and it wasn't even a seagull. It was a Shearwater bird that had, along with thousands others, come to the coast looking for food only to find that the plants they usually eat were gone.  The lady said that countless others, along with that one, simply collapsed from lack of food.  She is hopeful the bird will recover.  The kids were really excited to be a part of rescuing the bird, and I know the experience will stick with them for a long time. 

Along with my Bulgarian language study, I also made a Bulgarian dish for the family to try.  It is called "shopska salad" (шопска салата) and was voted quite a success by the family.

It was certainly a fun week!  Next up: Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina. 

Ocean Isle Beach: Photography

It has definitely been a week away from the camera - the sand, salt and ocean tend to be arch enemies of electronics. Even so, I did snap a few nice photos throughout the week. 
Stay turned for a more detailed report of the week.

RV Life Week Two: Washington, DC

Saturday morning found our crew hard at work preparing to leave Williamsburg, VA to head over to Washington DC.  It was our first of many departures from one campground to the next on our summer adventure, but even so the transition went fairly smoothly and uneventfully. 
The boys - after a decent amount of prompting on the front end - have fallen into a helpful routine of working with Dad outside as we prepare to leave.  Their task is to tackle the dirty work - cleaning and dumping out the tank, unplugging the power cords, filling up the water, and preparing the car to be towed behind the RV.  Somewhere in the midst of the morning chaos, we all team up to gather the outside equipment - chairs, bikes, tarps and our many odds and ends. Mom and I tagteam as we work inside.  Leaving on the week mark provides the perfect opportunity to conveniently clean the bathroom, our many sleeping areas, the kitchen and our many nooks and crannies.  They are effectively sorted, cleaned out and wiped down in a relatively short amount of time.  We joke the quick cleaning is the main perk of all seven of us living in our 36sqft house on wheels.   
After a couple hours of solid work, we were able to hit the road and began our trek to Washington. 
With traffic against us, our 2 hours trip slowly leaked into 3 hours, then 4, and finally hit the 4.5 mark before our destination came into view.  

We camped at Pohick Bay, located in town right outside the DC area.  With strategic timing, we could  bypass the worst of the traffic and make it into DC within 45-50 minutes. 
After a full first day exploring one of the Smithsonian Museums, Mom and Dad made the executive decision that, with the exception of the zoo, it was probably best the little ones explore the campground and leave the big city to the older few for this stage of life. With this new plan set into action and ready to execute, Dad, David and I set out for the city the following morning.  We spent the day riding our bikes around DC to many of the Smithsonian museums, and later to the monuments when the evening came and it cooled down a bit.  Out of all the many unique museums and exhibits, my hands-down favorite was the Museum of African Art.  Shocker, I know :)  Not that I'm very into sculptures and the meanings behind them and all, but finding a couple pieces from DRC and hearing their backgrounds gave us a deeper peek into the country of Kaden and Bethany's birth which was a definite plus. On top of that, the museum featured a series of films, the main one centered on South Africa.  The film, though it covered the sad realities of apartheid, was structured around several pairs of conversation between grandmothers and their granddaughters on how apartheid has affected their lives personally.  It was a very interesting film, and though it was centered upon a heavy topic, the simple fact that I was allowed another glimpse into the lives of people from a country that I love did me good. 
That is another example of how the Lord has been so good to me in that area, covering me in His abundant grace and giving me every opportunity to thrive in this new season.  Yes, I have missed my close friends and often long for our deep discussions and Bible studies.  But just when I was beginning to feel that loneliness, the Lord provided a friendship with the sweetest Christian family who were camping in the same area we were.  Also, one of my good South African friends and I have been catching up through a chain of text messages, and it has certain blessed my heart to hear what God is doing in her life and how she is.  I often think about how I was there this time last year and what a sweet few weeks those were.  God was so good to prompt my friend to send that first message - it
really blessed my heart. On top of that, our first sunday away from Reimage allowed us to visit Summit Church and really enjoy it. Personally, I was so blessed by a couple of girls around my age who warmly welcomed me.  I soaked up every minute of the service, and the pastor even went a little ways over his time mark, just as an extra blessing strewn my way, perhaps.  Yes, God has been good to me, meeting me where I am and reminding me that His hand and His purposes still rest on us all. 

Can I get an amen? Amen. 

We are standing in front of the building where my granddad worked for over 30 years in the FBI.

All this to say that we are doing very well.  The Gilbarte Crew has settled into a nice routine and we are thoroughly enjoying ourselves in it.  Our week in DC has been a favorite, and we have made it to day one of our next adventure - Ocean Isle, NC for a week of visiting with family.  Even only a few hours into our third week, I am so excited to watch how it will play out and the memories that will be made. On top of that, we get the extra bonus of living in a house and sleeping on real beds for the week!  We will leave quite spoiled, I do believe :). 

Week three of our Summer 2017 adventure, here we come!