My Summer Stories: A Walk on the Beach


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Growing up my parents graced me with tons of amazing summer activities, from horseback riding camp to white water rafting, I did it all. I am so appreciative for all of my great summer memories, but nothing could ever top this summer. It's funny too because in comparison to my many grand summer adventures, the things I'm grateful for now are your common every day events, but oh how they've quickly become life altering adventures that will forever be imprinted in my heart.

On June 26, 2012 my twenty-two month old daughter, Ellie, received her first pair of leg braces. We called them her "new legs." We were determined that with the continued support of weekly physical therapy, the assistance of her leg braces, and daily practice, Ellie would one day learn to walk. Along with her "new legs," we also tried out a walker to allow Ellie the freedom that she so desperately wanted.

With all of these wonderful new tools in place, my goal for the summer immediately became clear. During our annual beach trip in July, I wanted Ellie to be able to walk on the beach. I knew this goal would be a tough challenge, but I was confident that with a lot of hard work, Ellie would accomplish this. So the morning after receiving her braces, our new daily routine began. We headed to the mall to walk with all of the early morning walkers. While unloading the walker, I was so nervous and had tons of thoughts racing through my head. What if Ellie hated it? What if she pitched a fit and refused to try? No, Ellie was going to do this. She will walk and the only way for her to learn is by doing things just like this. I've got to be positive and motivating. She's so intuitive. If she knows I'm nervous, we don't have a chance. At that very moment, I swallowed my nerves, put Ellie on my hip, the walker on my shoulder and said as many prayers as I could before opening the door.

Just inside the entrance, I put the walker down and gently sat Ellie down inside it. "Ok, baby, let's go walk." I gently stretched out my hands to pull Ellie to a standing position and before I could let go of her hands, she took off. She could see the carousel in front of her and was immediately drawn to it. Since this was her first real stint at walking "independently," I was floored when she made it all the way down the long hallway, squealing and laughing with each step. As soon as she got to the end of the hallway, she flopped down to sit and gave me a huge grin. I'll never forget how proud I was of her at that very moment, but more importantly, I will never forget that smile. For the first time ever, she had done it, and she hasn't looked back since.

Over the course of the next month, we kept our morning routine of walking at the mall. Ellie became quite familiar with many of the wonderful people who would stop and say, "Hi," or who would offer kind words of encouragement. To keep Ellie motivated, we found several things at the mall that she loved to do. Ellie loved riding "Hanks Hot Dog Truck," the carousel, and the occasional ice cream cone. We got her a special ladybug change purse to hold her money and tickets for the special treats. We even ventured out to other places like Costco, the grocery store, Target, and Lowe's, just to name a few. Any chance we could get her walking we did. We were as determined as ever to meet our goal!

The weeks passed and before we knew it, we were headed to North Myrtle Beach. We got there late on a Friday night and put Ellie straight to bed. I could hardly sleep with anticipation of Ellie getting to take those first steps on the beach. The next day seemed to drag on, and even shopping couldn't keep my mind off of the evening's events. We ate an early supper and headed up to the closest public beach access points. As we pulled into the parking lot the wind picked up significantly, a misty rain began, and the clouds came rolling in making things very overcast and gray. My husband, Crosby, looked at me and said, "Do you think it's too windy? Looks like we might get wet." I didn't have to say a word, I just remember looking at him and him saying, "I'll get the walker out of the back. A little rain never hurt anybody, right?" I jumped out and went to go and get Ellie out, but before I opened the door I suddenly felt like we were back at the mall for that very first walk. Just as it had done before, my heart was racing with excitement and fear. I was praying as hard for the weather to hold out as I was for this to be a good experience. Just as I had done before, I tried to be positive and calm. With Ellie on my hip and the walker on Crosby's shoulder, we approached the beach, hand in hand, ready for Ellie's biggest adventure yet. We made it over the dunes and started approaching the shore.

Feeling her grip tighten on my shirt, I could tell that Ellie was nervous and a little overwhelmed by all of the new sights, sounds and smells. I also knew it was my job to calm her nerves and help her gain the confidence she would need for what was coming. Crosby and I made eye contact and I nodded. As he put her walker down in the sand, we shared a nervous grin. I pulled Ellie in close and pointed to her walker, "We're going to walk on the beach, in the sand." I smiled and hugged her tight, sitting her in her walker. Just like that first walk I leaned down and offered her my hands to stand. But this time, Ellie didn't reach out to grab my hands. She sat in her seat for a minute and looked around. Just as I started feeling a little anxious myself, Ellie looked up at me and I saw that familiar grin. She stood up on her own and began marching along the beach. I couldn't believe my eyes. Not only was she walking by herself, she was doing it in some pretty rough terrain without a moment's hesitation, like an old pro.

At that moment, the misty rain stopped, the clouds parted and made way for the sun to reappear. She had done it again. As I sat snapping pictures I remember being overwhelmed with the oddest feeling. Yes, I was happy, but it wasn't just because of seeing Ellie reach her goal and seeing how happy and independent she was. I was mostly happy and truly grateful for the journey we had shared in getting there.
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September 2019

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
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Celebrate Latino culture in Durham.

Cost: Free

Where:
Compare Foods Parking Lot
2000 Avondale Dr.
Durham, NC
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Enjoy sweets from over 20 vendors for humans and pets.

Cost: Free

Where:
City Market
214 E. Martin Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
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Sponsor: Jay's Italian Ice
Telephone: 919-780-4169
Contact Name: Jay Jones
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Discover Historic Yates Mill—a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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See Peppa Pig and her friends embark on a new adventure in this live stage show. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $29.50 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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See Peppa Pig and her friends embark on a new adventure in this live stage show. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $29.50 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Practice your ABCs and develop your fine motor skills through games and hands-on activities. Play a letter game and go on a scavenger hunt!  For ages 18 months–3 years (with an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
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These programs are open to students 6–12 years old. Parent/guardians are welcome to stay for the program or drop-off. Preregistration is required. Discover the amazing world of mushrooms and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Bring your own poles or borrow one of ours through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic instruction are provided. All...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Robert Gibbs discusses his latest book, "Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation." Ages 8-12. Purchase the book from Quail Ridge to reserve two seats for the event and a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209 Lassister Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Join us to make moveable miniature skating figures that light up!  Space is limited. To register, call 919-245-2532. Grades 3-5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
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We are Voted BEST consignment sale in the Triangle and TOP 10 in the NATION!! Our sale features Children's Clothing including a wonderful boutique section, costume section, and coats section,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Towne Centre
1105 Walnut St
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale
Contact Name: Gail Walker
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Enjoy a free sunset movie by the picturesque Lake Raleigh. Take a picnic blanket, lawn chairs and a non-perishable food donations (human and pet) on Fridays in September to NC State's...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Raleigh Meadows
Campus Shore Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: VisitCentennial
Telephone: 704-651-3179
Contact Name: Jude DesNoyer
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Each year more than 30,000 visitors come to BugFest to experience over 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities. This year's theme is beetles. Interact with entomologists and other scientists...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919.707.9800
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Each year more than 30,000 visitors come to BugFest to experience over 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities. This year's theme is beetles. Interact with entomologists and other...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919.707.9800
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Take part in a pop-up Stroller Barre class followed by a nature scavenger hunt for kids and socializing for moms. Suitable for pregnant mamas. Take a sturdy stroller (no jogger needed!),...

Cost: $5

Where:
Piney Wood Park
400 E. Woodcroft Pkwy
Durham, NC  27713
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM West Raleigh Durham
Telephone: 984-329-5970
Contact Name: Jenine N Pearson
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Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
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Please join us for our 27th annual Triangle Festival of Hope & Walk to De-feet Dementia at Knightdale Station Park. The 1-mile walk through the park, or 1/4 mile shorter version, will begin...

Cost: Free

Where:
Knightdale Station Park
810 N First Ave
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Family fun for all ages includes more than 100 delicious food and craft vendors, free children's activities, live demonstrations and all genres of music from local and regional bands. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Main Street Creedmoor
301 N. Main St.
Creedmoor, NC  27522
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Sponsor: City of Creedmoor
Telephone: 919-764-1013
Contact Name: Angie Perry
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We are Voted BEST consignment sale in the Triangle and TOP 10 in the NATION!! Our sale features Children's Clothing including a wonderful boutique section, costume section, and coats section,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Towne Centre
1105 Walnut St
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale
Contact Name: Gail Walker
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Visual artists from near and far will showcase their work, and 75 performing arts groups provide continuous music, dance and entertainment throughout the festival including extended Saturday...

Cost: $5 suggested donation; free for children under 12

Where:
Durham Arts Council
120 Morris Street
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2719
Contact Name: Susan Tierney
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Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Enjoy local bands, arts and crafts vendors, car show, kids' area, fun contests and games, plus a barbecue cook-off contest featuring veteran cooking teams.

Cost: Free

Where:
River Park
114 E. Margaret Ln.
Hillsborouh, NC  27278
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This family-oriented event includes corn milling demonstrations and costumed tours of Yates Mill, and other event activities including a fun children’s scavenger hunt activity, live music and...

Cost: Free, though there is a $3-5 fee for mill tours

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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Take the family for Caribbean food, live music, a Kids Zone, bounce house, face painter and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
West Point on the Eno
5101 N. Roxboro St.
Durham, NC  27704
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Website »

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Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Celebrate diversity in Wake Forest with live performances, traditional cuisine and family entertainment. 

Cost: Free

Where:
E. Carroll Joyner Park
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Website »

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Live bands showcase this event that also features a kids zone, vendor village and food trucks.

Cost: $11.25 – $20

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre's Rose Garden and Stephenson Amphitheatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Live bands showcase this event that also features a kids zone, vendor village and food trucks.

Cost: $15 advance tickets, $20 at the door. Free for ages 5 and younger

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre's Rose Garden and Stephenson Amphitheatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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The Teen Advisory Board invites you to meet up with other gamers to mingle, snack, and test your skills for prizes! Guests are welcome to bring their own controllers/fightsticks. Register by...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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East Cloud Kungfu hosts a Parent's Night Out event, featuring a safe environment for kids as they about the wide world of kungfu.   Check it out!...

Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

Where:
East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
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The Clayton Center presents country crooner Billy "Crash" Craddock in concert. Sing along with Crash as he belts out his biggest hits, including Knock Three Times, Rub It In, Ruby Baby, Broken...

Cost: $25 plus taxes & fees

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second Street
Clayton, NC  27520
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Sponsor: The Clayton Center
Telephone: 919-553-1737
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