Carolina on Our Minds

Now that Lillian is over one year old, we decided that we’re ready (or not!) to resume travel for pleasure. Two years ago, after Vivian turned one, we embarked on fun family vacations to Seattle and Hawaii. Admittedly, we decided that we’re not quite ready for ambitious trips like those, especially with two kids (one who still does not sleep through the night) in tow. So, for summer and Fall 2017, we’ve planned vacations that take us to new places – to visit old family or friends! These trips will allow us to have fun and experience new adventures while taking things a little easier with the help of family/friends. Our first vacation was over Memorial Day weekend to visit Matthews, North Carolina (near Charlotte)! We were very graciously hosted by Dan’s cousin and his wife and we had the best time showing the girls that part of North Carolina while visiting with family. The memories that we made will definitely stick with us for a lifetime!

Day 1: Travel to Charlotte
Uh…the first memory of our trip was Dan waking up at 4am and violently puking his guts out prior to our airport departure. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 6:45am, so there was no time for rest. He puked up everything that was in him and then powered through a cross country flight with two kids. Luckily, about halfway through our travel day, he started feeling better and he never felt sick again while we were on vacation. Whew! While Dan was trying to keep it together on our flights, I entertained the girls. Because they, too, had been sick in the week leading up to our trip, I was worried for them on our flights. But, they did great! I had downloaded a bunch of Disney movies onto my iPad and bought cute little headphones for Vivian to wear while watching them, but we didn’t end up getting the iPad out once! Vivian colored, read, played with stickers, ate, and slept. She is a pro traveler at only three years old. I admit that I was very proud that she could entertain herself sitting in an airplane seat for hours on end and didn’t need to zone out with an iPad or phone. She didn’t even know it was an entertainment option for her.

We’ve arrived in Charlotte!

We spent our first evening catching up with Dan’s cousin, Dean, and his wife, Nishaan, and their two kids, ages 5 and 6. Vivian and their girls slowly started warming up to each other (by the end of the week, they were dancing arm-in-arm with each other and making human “hug” sandwiches with each other on the floor).

Lillian loves North Carolina!

Day 2: Carowinds Amusement Park & BBQ
After a slow morning sleeping and settling in, we spent the afternoon with Dean and Nishaan and their girls at Carowinds – where the Carolinas meet (it’s literally on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina). We were planning to spend part of our time at their waterpark, but it wasn’t open for the season yet. Instead, we spent all of our time in Planet Snoopy (except for Dan, who ventured out of the kids’ area to ride the Fury 325, the world’s fastest and tallest giga coaster, by himself!). Vivian rode all of the rides (except two of the roller coasters that she wasn’t tall enough to ride) in Planet Snoopy and then walked through the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit, despite her ongoing fear of “big dinosaurs.” Lillian rode many rides, also, and had no qualms walking past roaring dinosaurs.

Carowinds Entrance Picture

Family Photo at Planet Snoopy

After leaving the park, we ate dinner (BBQ, of course!) at Mac’s Speed Shop.

Day 3: Swimming
Dean and Nishaan’s community pool hosted a summer season opening party and so we spent the afternoon there eating and swimming. The pool water was still a little cold, but, of course, that doesn’t deter kids!

Dan and Three Little Fish

Day 4: Strawberry Picking, More Family, & French Desserts
North Carolina was at the tail end of their strawberry season, but we still found enough strawberries to pick (and eat) at the Hall Family Farm.

Lillian’s First Strawberry Picking Experience

Our Biggest Strawberry Picker

We also went on a Disney music-themed wagon ride, played tetherball, let the kids run and play in the sand and around the farm’s structures, drank fresh strawberry slushies, and ate piping hot homemade blueberry donuts. It was a delicious morning outing!

Group Picture Before Our Wagon Ride

When we returned back to home base, Dan’s aunt, uncle, and other cousin from Cary had arrived to join our visit. We all ate Bojangles for lunch (again, of course!). Later in the evening, we went to Amelie’s to get French dessert pastries. We ate very well during our trip!

Eswein and Chambers Ladies at Amelie’s

Day 5: Nature Museum, More Swimming, Sparklers
Dean and Nishaan are very active with their kids and enjoy traveling with them and giving them opportunities to explore and experience new things (which is one of the big reasons we knew that this trip to visit them was going to be a lot of fun). They do not spend their weekends at home in front of the TV! Already, they had shown us so many fun things to do with kids near their home and they continued their Grand Tour of Charlotte for Kids by taking us to the Discovery Place Nature Museum. This museum is small, which is perfect for small children, and allowed the girls to run, play, touch, learn, laugh, and make music. Lillian especially loved playing at the water table and Vivian especially loved dancing on the outdoor stage. Both girls got to see their first planetarium show here, also!

Nature Museum Water Table Play

Vivian Ready for the Planetarium Show

Shakin’ It Off at the Nature Museum’s Outdoor Stage

After lunch and naps, we again went swimming.

Summertime Swimming

Since it was Memorial Day, we BBQed and then lit sparklers. This was Vivian’s first experience with sparklers and she quickly overcame her trepidation and enjoyed holding them all by herself.

Sparklers with Daddy

Happy Memorial Day from the Chambers Family!

Group Family Photo – Minus Nishaan (Photographer) and Lillian (Sleeping Baby)

Day 6: Science Museum
We had a late afternoon flight scheduled back to California, but, of course, that didn’t stop us from squeezing in one more local activity. Dean and Carmen accompanied us to the Discovery Place Science Museum in downtown Charlotte. This place is awesome for kids! Lillian loved the water tables and tot lot and Vivian loved the rainforest and small kids’ discovery zone.

Water Play at the Science Museum

Sisters Playing with Legos


Lillian Watching the Freshwater Fish

Finally, we left North Carolina and flew back to California. Once again, the girls did great on the flights. Due to the time difference, they both fell sound asleep on the second flight. The next morning, of course, they were up early, but they got back on their regular Pacific Time schedule by the end of the day.

This blog post, although it contains a lot of the details of our trip, isn’t comprehensive. There was also park play, late-night movie watching, coloring, tree climbing, bubble play, and more. Also, Lillian took her very first steps while we were there!

All of our girls played well together, our girls adjusted very well to the time change, and Lillian even slept sorta-okay. We had such a great time catching up with family and hope that we can repay Dean and Nishaan’s graciousness when they come to SoCal someday. Vacation #1 of 2017 was a success! Next up, Santa Barbara!

About Carrie

I'm a Midwest transplant in SoCal...spending my time exploring, questioning, reading, writing, baking, skiing, and running.
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