Saturday, September 10, 2011


I'm giving you fair warning (as if the post title wasn't enough of one) that this is a long one with lots of pictures. I've tried to sit down and post about each beach trip individually, but life happens. We've been busy getting back into the swing of things with school (for the kids), taxes (for me), routines, schedules, baseball, etc. I love it all. Yes, even bookkeeping-type spreadsheets to help our accountant with our taxes (and to help our wallet where our accountant is concerned). For us routine is good. But after living up the summer with the kids - which I'm so blessed to be able to do - it's nice to now be able to put a coherent thought together. Because let's face it:  summer + kids at home all day + no schedule or routine = zero coherent thoughts. This stage in life does, however, leave little time to sit at the computer to blog. Or do anything else for that matter, like... oh I don't know, get a pedicure. THAT would be lovely. If you could see how jacked up my feet are you'd probably insist I MAKE time.

Back to the beach. We went from not going for two years to going three times this year - twice over the summer and again for Labor Day weekend. And if all goes as we hope, Chris and I will be going back for bike week in a few weeks. It will afford us some much-needed couple time as well as a little break from the kiddos. Every momma needs one now and then.  

Chris and I knew when the camper made it's way out of a four-year hibernation this year that the beach is one place we would be hauling it. It didn't make sense not to. Neither of us have ever camped at the beach so we were starting from scratch as to where to camp. After consulting the google, we narrowed our choices to Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores or Emerald Coast RV Beach Resort in Panama City Beach. 

Both, for the most part, received great reviews. There was just something about Emerald Coast, though. Maybe it was that it's in PCB. Gulf Shores will always hold a special place for us because it's where we were married, but we love PCB. It's the only beach the boys know. Some of our favorite restaurants are there. It's easy to get around - there are so many different ways to get to different parts of the beach. The beach/water is usually beautiful. We're partial to it for some reason. 

However I must admit I was a bit anxious to get there and see if it measured up. I was the one who ultimately decided on Emerald Coast which meant if it was crap, it was all my fault. ;) As we know from the blogosphere, pictures can do anything justice and can easily create a false reality.  

I could not have been more pleasantly surprised when I pulled into the park. It is like a well-kept secret. The park is beautifully landscaped and is very well maintained. They have concrete pull-through lots. Should you need them, their private bathrooms are not only spotless but air conditioned. For me to think of a bathroom as spotless is impressive. There were two pools, one of them brand new, sparkling, with a game room. Most of the people who work there also live there. Everyone is so very friendly and very accommodating. On Saturdays and Sundays they offer a hot buffet-style breakfast in the Clubhouse. It is convenient to everything, situated right off Front Beach Road. A little added bonus (to us at least) is that ZooWorld is situated behind it so in the evenings or mornings you can enjoy the sounds of the tropical birds. So in other words, the park is grand. Just grand. But probably the best thing of all about having our camper at the beach is just that:  It's OURS. We're the only ones who sleep in the beds. The sheets are ours and they're soft. We're the the only ones who shower in the shower. And our butts are the only ones who sit on the toilet. HA!

Our first trip included all 6 of us. Bethany was already down there, so we picked her up when we got there. One of the first things on the agenda was Bethany and a new piercing she's been wanting. This chick continues to surprise me. I never would have thought this is something she would want. If you know me I'm all about it, so I was excited when she told me she wanted to do it. Only the closer we got to having it done, the more nervous she grew.  

  So Chris tried a little comic relief to lighten things up a bit.
And of course her brothers were there for her to squeeze their hand until the blood supply was cut off support. She was a big girl, though, and despite saying at this point,
"Mom, I don't think I can do this. MOM, I really don't think I can do this. MOM, I CANNOT DO THIS."
She did it. And it didn't really even hurt. And it looks really cute. She rocks it. :)

It's been so long since Reid has been to the beach he kept saying this was his first time ever, so I couldn't wait to get him on the beach. Bethany said the beach the day or two before was absolutely beautiful, clear and turquoise. What a difference a day makes because it was pretty from a distance, but there was a good bit of seaweed which I can do without. The boys didn't seem to mind it too much and couldn't wait to get out in the water.

When they had their fill of swimming in what felt like was a giant pool of orange juice with a lot of pulp floating around it was time to enjoy the sand.

I could stay there all day, but my family doesn't share my love for sand and sun, so after a few hours we called it a day. We headed back to the camper to check out the park's new pool. 

And what's a trip to the beach without some fun on go-carts. This particular place had kids go-carts. I think Grant and Mac could have stayed there all night.  

Only Reid wasn't quite tall enough to drive himself, so Sissy said she would take him on the bigger track. While they were waiting in line for their turn, Chris was watching the go-carts on the bigger track and said, "Hurry, go get us two more doubles - you can take Grant and I'll take Mac and we can all be out there together."

In other words he took what was going to be a fun little drive on the track for B and Turbo and turned it into a competition. Oh it was ON then. 
BEFORE the race - so sweet
AFTER the race and the WIN
Do you see that face? Do you see it? That's sheer excitement that she and Reid totally smoked all of us. In fact, with the exception of two single carts, they beat everyone out there. To say she was excited about her win was a big understatement. It was more like, "OOOOOOH IN YOUR FACE. WE SOOOOO SMOKED Y'ALL!" :)
When you're with Chris there is no agenda. It's surely not my nature but after 8+ years it's something I've gotten used to. I actually kind of like it when we're somewhere like the beach. After all, we don't take a beach vacation to feel like we have to be certain places at certain times. While on our way to Boatyard one day, we passed by a marina where you could see all the charter fishing boats lined up. I knew exactly what he was doing when he whipped in the parking lot. I was ecstatic. I love to deep sea fish but haven't had the opportunity to go many times. Chris found one he liked so we all got out to meet Captain Chris of Killen Time. We found out the boat holds 6 plus the captain and deckhand so it would only be us on the trip. The cabin is air conditioned and has a bathroom. It sounded perfect. We were sold. We ultimately decided on an 8-hour trip although I was a bit skeptical of such a long day with four children who had never been deep sea fishing. After lots of prayers for seasickness to be kept at bay, Sunday morning came. A few doses of Dramamine/Bonine later and we were on our way. 

Heading out.
The Dramamine got the best of all of them for a bit.

But I would much rather have sleepy babies than sick babies. After a little nap on the ride out they were great! Plus, there's nothing like seeing this
to get the adrenaline pumping and wake you up. It was impressive. At one point there were two of them, and the deckhand was constantly keeping watch to make sure one wasn't forming on top of us. Needless to say the weather could have been better, but at least it wasn't miserably hot. 
I'm sad to report my baby girl does not share my love for fishing in the deep blue sea. This was one of the few times she was out there catching fish. I doubt she will go back. :( But she sure did look fabulous in her big floppy hat for which we had to make a special trip to Pier Park. :) 

The boys are still a bit young/small to fully enjoy it. The rods and reels just with the weight and bait are very heavy for them, so as long as they had a rod in their hand, someone had to be assisting them. Every time we dropped the line we would catch fish, so we all had our work cut out for us which means my hands were full which resulted in no pictures of the boys catching a fish. Boo. After a while they decided they would stay inside the cabin to help Capt. Chris.

This was a very kid-friendly charter, and they were great with our kids. The boys had the best time feeling like they were really "driving" the boat. It also allowed Chris and me time to try our hand at catching bigger fish. Or shall I say it allowed ME time to catch bigger fish.
Do you see those three big grouper hanging up? Yeah, that's right. Those are mine. Chris tried to blame the deckhand for giving me bigger and better bait. HAHA! It was pure luck and sure was fun!! We could have doubled the number of fish we caught had everyone been fishing on their own, but it wasn't about that. We got cleaned up and headed back to Boatyard with our catch of the day where they fixed us up a feast. Despite some rain, a water spout, and the fact that I was worried B's pouty face was going to stick (heehee - kidding, B), it was a great day. AND no sick tummies! PTL! Next I want to go back sans kids for a two-day trip.

Another stop was what the kids call "the upside down house," Wonder Works.
Architecturally it blows my mind. I just like to stare at it.

Chris on a bed of nails. I did it too & don't let them fool you. It hurts like hell

I could see Professor as an astronaut

Sissy liked reading all the different interesting facts.
There were a ton of them and some would blow your mind.

After a busy, fun-filled few days it was time to pack up and go home. We were sad to leave but Bethany had cheer obligations. Much to my delight we decided to leave the camper. We went home for a couple of days to regroup, wash laundry and handle some things, then it was back to PCB and Emerald Coast to soak up what was left of our summer.

We took a trip to ZooWorld to see what it was we were hearing from the camper. This isn't a fancy zoo like a big city zoo. It was a very up close and personal type zoo which we loved even more than a bigger zoo. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. 

This guy had the right idea... it was H-O-T!
I've always said they were monkeys. :)
This guy "talked." The boys were mesmerized. 

We finally made it around to the petting zoo - our favorite part

Look at Reid's face. How can that not make you smile!
Grant feeding the giraffe. That's one big nasty tongue. 
A quick shower rolled in one afternoon. What better to do after that than jump in the puddles!

We had a wonderful few days there. But school was starting in a few short days so we had to get back. We were excited about the beginning of a new year of school, but it's the beach. Who wants to leave!?!

Leaving was a little easier knowing we would be back the next month for Labor Day weekend. Our friends, Scott and Wendy and their two girls, Madison and McKenna decided they would join us. 

We made it down a day earlier than the Privett's, so we knew the boys would be anxious for them to get there. And since Friday was likely to be the only dry day thanks to tropical storm Lee, we decided on Gulf World to keep the boys busy. It was the perfect day to go as it was mostly overcast with a slight breeze. Just perfect! I've always loved places like this and have secretly always wanted to be a trainer. Wouldn't it be fun to go to work every day and swim with dolphins?
Notice Professor is not participating and was a nervous wreck we were. ;)
But he'll hold a snake. ???
Bueller was called on stage to assist during a magic show

Mac and 'Kenna have been buddies since they were both in diapers with pacis. We joke they're the future Mr. and Mrs. though they could pass for brother and sister. They went to the same preschool but now go to different schools. We don't see them as often anymore. When we first started camping Scott and Wendy were always our Wind Creek "neighbors." We have many, many memories together. It was fun being neighbors again. They're sweet friends with two sweet girls with whom we always enjoy spending time, not to mention most of what comes out of Scott's mouth is hilarious - even when he's not trying to be. Laughter is so good. You never would have known it had been quite a while since we were all together. 

Somehow Kenna talked Bueller into each wearing one of the other's shoes.
I wanted a picture of it. He didn't want to give me one.
This is her trying to pull him back. HA!
My hot husband.
Chris isn't a fan of pictures. This is proof he was there. ;)
Getting ready for laser tag
All geared up 
The results...
Grant was #27 - General
It was a room full of kids AND adults. I warned all the others going in with Professor that he is a marksman. Both times he's played he's won. Which is why I don't play.

Sore loser, you ask? Why yes, yes I am.

We had a really, really good time, but by Monday Lee had gotten the best of all of us.
We made one more stop on our way out to see how Lee churned up the Gulf. It was crazy. This iPhone pic does it no justice. I have never seen waves like that before, and the wind blowing the sand felt like tiny little needles. It was incredible.
This is where I apologize for any and all errors in the above post. I usually proof before I publish but goodness gracious I just don't have it in me. I have a date with B and her friend, Ellie. Chris, Mondo and the boys have headed to the hunting land to check deer cameras, etc., so we have a girls day planned which will include, but will not be limited to, Panera Bread and The Help

Happy weekend! 


Ford Family said...

Fun! Fun! and MORE FUN!!!!
It looks like yall had a blast and it was slam packed with lots of fun things!
Hope you have a great weekend!
Oh..and how could I forget?? How about those Tigers! WDE!!!!

Mary Carter said...

A) B is rocking that cartiledge! And if she's anything like me, she won't stop there. I mean, I'm pretty sure I don't have any more room for any more holes in my ears. Ha!

B) It looks like ya'll had a great summer! Super jealous of all the beach outings!

C) I have SO much to tell you! Including alot of Sweet Precious talk.:)

MIss ya'll and love ya'll very, very much and I hope to see you very soon!

Angie said...

Good looking family!! We LOVE PCB, it really is the most kid friendly beach and is so :) Glad everyone is back to a routine, we are still trying to find ours ;)

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