We got home late last night from our glorious beach vacation. It really was perfect - one evening, just to PROVE to me that it was perfect, God arranged for pink sunset waves, a full rainbow, and jumping dolphins as Amelia and I swam in the ocean. I felt like I was in a poster or dream!
My obsessive planning worked out perfectly, and I'll be posting about our road trip strategies and condo crock pot meals and things... BUT I did not properly research or think about the use of my expensive camera on the beach. For one thing, I was a nervous wreck with all the sand and water, having it on the beach. I refused to change lenses for fear of sand getting down into the camera. And because of the insane humidity, whenever I took the camera out of the cold condo, it would fog up horribly. Add to that the bright sun, which made it impossible for me to see the screen to check my settings, I totally gave up trying to take fancy pictures at the beach. I regret that a little, and I'll post the few pictures I did take later... but mostly I just enjoyed a break from the camera, from my computer, from blogs, and Facebook, and just carried my phone and took Instagram pictures. It ended up being the perfect, low key way of documenting our vacation.
So here it is :)
(oh my gosh, this is SO many pictures!!)
We headed out at 4 a.m. with all the kids still sleeping
And at sunrise we were already almost out of the state
and the kids were still asleep
Our first stop was at McDonald's somewhere out in the middle of nowhere for some coffee and a potty break ~ the kids were SO happy that we were headed to the beach!
Henry saw a train in Vicksburg and talked about it for the next hour
Perfectly on-schedule, we stopped in Hattiesburg for lunch at Baker's Burgers ~ SO, so yummy and cheap!
We stayed on schedule until Mobile, when we hit some horrible traffic. All the way from Mobile to our condo in Orange Beach, we averaged about 5 mph. Thank goodness for the iPod Touch! At this point we had been in the car for about 11 hours, with only one major stop, and the kids were still doing great.
Because of the awful traffic, we didn't get to our condo until almost 7 pm. I needed to order dinner (Lillian's Pizza ~ super yum!) and get things unpacked and ready for bed, so I stayed in the condo with Wyatt while Davis took the big kids to the beach. Poor Wyatt!
I made myself unpack everything and put things away and then go grocery shopping for the full week that night, even though I was exhausted. I'm SO glad I did, because the next morning we woke up to perfect weather and all headed straight to the beach!
Oh happy, happy day!
Sophia ~ always doing cartwheels!
The kids had so much fun catching those tiny silver fish
My friend Gretchan gave me the great idea to bring a little baby pool, which ended up being perfect for Wyatt! The big kids brought buckets of ocean water and some sand to fill it up, and most of the week, Wyatt was perfectly happy just sitting and splashing in the pool.
The outdoor showers at the condo were a lifesaver ~ we were covered in sand!
We also had a great pool at the condo, which had COLD water ~ it felt SO great on days that it was a little hot!
One of my absolutely favorite things about vacation are lazy mornings. I would wake up and kids would come crawling into bed with me, and none of us were in any hurry to get up.
One day I even laid in bed and read my Southern Living magazine ~ in bed! In the morning!
Probably my very favorite thing about this week, was that I got to spend some really special one-on-one time with each of the kids. That is one thing that is hard to come by with me working, the big kids in school and different activities, and just having four kids. The times we spent together this week will be special memories we can hang onto when things get hectic.
Amelia and I went on a walk at sunset one night ~ it was magical!
I LOVED having a washer and dryer in the condo. I didn't feel the need to bring a million clothes, we were able to cloth diaper, and I also didn't come home with a ton of dirty laundry. Here are all the swimsuits hanging up to dry!
Ah beach reading ~ I had a lot to catch up on! One night after the kids went to bed, I laid in the jacuzzi tub and read a book cover to cover. Wow!
We met some very special friends for breakfast one morning, and they were sweet enough to get a family picture of us ~ that is a rare thing!
And then we headed up to Foley to see the trains. Henry was in Heaven!
I said, "Henry are you happy?" And as I took this picture, he was saying "YES! I'm ridin' the train!"
The model train exhibit was amazing!! That's a drive in movie theater in the back, which actually played a movie!
I'm framing this picture and hanging it in Henry's room. That boy loves trains!
One night I made milkshakes. They made Amelia so happy, she took a picture (that is an old camera of mine, and I let the girls use it on the trip ~ I can't wait to download their vacation pictures and look at them!)
It stormed on night, and Davis and I sat on the balcony and watched the thunderstorm over the ocean. I love watching storms!
We loaded the kids up with hearty breakfasts every morning, and then usually ate a pretty light lunch. Bacon and eggs!
I love this picture ~ it looks posed, but it's totally not. I just looked up and the girls were tossing a beach ball.
It was raining one afternoon, so we loaded the kids up and drove over to Pensacola to the Naval Aviation Museum ~ Henry loved it, of course (the rest of us were pretty impressed too!)
Pilot and copilot :)
Babies are fun to pose ha!
Here are the kids in President Nixon's Marine One helicopter
This was Henry's face almost the whole time
More lazy mornings
The kids eating ice cream and watching dolphins from our balcony
Group pictures ~ SO hard with four!!
It rained for an hour or so another day, and the girls played Chutes and Ladders
Headed to the pool!
Another special moment ~ going on a beach walk with Henry. We actually went on a walk one morning at 6 a.m. while everyone else slept in, and then again another day to collect "treasures"
What a view from my bed!
With a cute baby
who just so happens to be the. happiest. baby. ever.
Amelia the fish ~ that girl sure loved the water! She let waves crash down on her and just laughed to do it again, and she could have spent every waking minute at the pool.
Our last evening, we got a bunch of different seafood ~ different kinds of shrimp, crab legs, etc. ~ so yummy!
And then the girls and I went on one last beach walk
Davis had taken Sophia on a late night walk to look for crabs another night, and just as I suspected, they freaked Amelia out
She said, "they freak me out, but I like those crab legs we had for dinner tonight!" Ha!!
And all snuggled up ~ everyone slept GREAT at the beach!
It was truly a dreamy, relaxing, wonderful week. I loved that it was just our family and that we had no obligations or plans. Our condo was right on the beach, so it was easy to go back and forth ~ I could even call down to let them know dinner was ready and they could hear me on the beach, and Sophia could go back and forth alone. It was also REALLY nice to have enough room for the girls to have their own room, Henry had a room, and our master closet was so big that we set up a little nursery in there for Wyatt. The master bathroom was as big as our bedroom at home! Having enough space was nice, because often traveling with four kids no one sleeps well when we are all on top of each other.
I wouldn't change a thing!