Laura de Medici-Bentley: Building memories during a week at beach

Laura de Medici-Bentley

Every summer, my family spends time at our beach house in the Outer Banks. Most of my favorite memories have taken place in that house. This is where my sister and I celebrated several birthdays, learned to ride a bike and where my dad taught us how to swim. I even met one of my oldest childhood friends there.

There was always something new to do. I will never forget taking a ferry to Ocracoke and learning about Blackbeard, visiting, seeing the Lost Colony play, and going crabbing.

When we were members at the pool club, we knew all of the lifeguards by name. On “pool days,” we would swim all day, eat lunch from the club house and get our favorite candy ring pops. Every Wednesday, there was a huge weekly barbecue with music, great food and lots of dancing. Even rainy days brought something new — my sister and I discovered our favorite cartoon, Scooby Doo, at our beach house. One day, a Scooby Doo marathon came on. My sister and I felt like we had hit the jackpot — we couldn’t believe our luck!

This week, Livia and I joined my parents for a week at the beach house. She has been here several times already — she came here for the first time when she was 3 months old, but now that she’s 2, there is more for her to experience. The forecast for the week was mostly rainy, so I turned to Google to find some indoor activities for kids.

One of the reasons I really love the Outer Banks is because there is always something new to experience. On the first day, my dad took Livia and me to the aquarium — a place I had never visited. Livia loved looking at the turtles, crocodiles and different fish. I don’t think she understood that there was a glass separating her from them, because she would run away when they would swim up close. There was also an animatronic dinosaur display. My dad found it and suggested we look at it. It was almost better than the actual aquarium. The dinosaurs looked very realistic — a little too realistic for Livia. As my dad and I stopped to look at the different “dinosaurs,” Livia buried her face in my shoulders and said, “no thanks!!”

Our second adventure happened by accident. As we left the aquarium, I noticed that Livia’s car seat was a little wobbly. I decided to call the Outer Banks Fire Department to ask if they could re-install it properly. They were more than happy to help, so the next day, Livia and I went to the Outer Banks Fire Station.

It was a rainy day, so I figured I would kill some time by taking Livia to look at some firetrucks (she is fascinated by them). I wasn’t expecting to be there for long, but when Captain Wayne Kidd opened the car door and saw Livia’s huge smile, I knew we were in for a treat. Soon after reinstalling the car seat, Captain Kidd found a child-sized firefighter hat for Livia. She was given the chance to “drive” a firetruck.

Captain Kidd laughed as Livia enthusiastically pressed buttons, honked the horn and rang the bell. She learned how to drain the hose from the side of the truck. Livia even got to sit on an Ocean Rescue jet ski! The way Livia’s eyes lit up the whole time was priceless. In addition to fighting fires and saving lives, Captain Kidd also is naturally gifted with 2 year olds!

We were able to take advantage of two sunny days. On one of those days, I met up with Shante, my childhood friend, for a wonderful day at the beach. We have known each other for 20 years, and now we are both married and have a child of our own. I spent the other sunny day on the sound side with my parents. My dad found this beach last time I came down with Livia — another place I had never visited before. It is shallow for miles, and the water is calm — the perfect place to bring a toddler.

Livia is already very confident in her swimming abilities. Watching her tread through the water ahead of me made me feel extremely anxious, but my parents assured me she’d be fine. Sure enough, they were right. Our week at the beach flew by, and I already can’t wait to see what our next visit brings.

Laura de Medici-Bentley, of Winchester Virginia, is a former early childhood educator who currently enjoys staying home with her 2-year-old daughter. She is an author of a personal blog, She can be reached at