We made it to the beach on Friday! Carlton and Meredith's dad owns a condo in Alabama and he let us stay there. The view was nice, overlooking the ocean. We wasted no time slathering on sunblock and heading to the sand. The big kids were eager to jump into the waves. Last year, they were too timid. Elias has been irritatingly fearless, preferring to sit in the shallow water and let the waves crash into his face over and over again while refusing to stand up or jump over them. He's quite the beach baby. Leah spent her time looking for shells in the deeper water, while James dug up some small clams and Elias split his time between building a sand castle and splashing in the water. I was very drowsy from taking some Benadryl during our drive because my allergies decided to attack me all day, so I sat on a towel and watched the fam enjoy themselves.
For dinner, we tried out a restaurant called The Shrimp Basket and ordered a virgin piña colada (and so did both big kids) to go with my catfish. I was only a little disappointed that my drink tasted more like a snowball than a beverage, but our waitress was super sweet and the food was great. It was after 10pm with three very wide-awake children, so we made a quick run for groceries and supplies before calling it a night.
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Zac woke up early Saturday morning and spotted some dolphins within view, so I got up to see them, then decided to get the kids up, too. There were maybe five of them grouped up catching fish. Zac and I enjoyed our decaf coffee on the balcony before heading out to buy sandals for the kids, sunglasses and a beach chair for me to sit on, as well as some I-need-these goggles. I also found a shot glass for Emily's birthday, but didn't see a snow globe worth a purchase. Most of them were broken, loose, or had murky water. We also bought a kite, which turned out to be a good purchase. After lunch at Dairy Queen, we slathered on more sunblock (the spray this time, much easier and quicker to apply than lotion) and headed back down to the beach. I was very happy to have my chair and shady umbrella. I did get up and walk in the waves a bit, but mostly stayed under my umbrella until the sun moved behind the condo. Elias and Leah took turns flying the kite and James looked for more clams. He managed to find 40! Zac bought them a basket of beach toys, so collecting shells and clams was much easier.
After a few hours, we headed to the pool. Elias started shivering, so we switched to the indoor pool/hot tub. I've had bathwater hotter than the hot tub temperature, so I sunk right in. Even Elias warmed up and enjoyed the jets. We ate leftovers for dinner and I sent Zac on a quick run to Little New Orleans for soup and gumbo.
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I woke up at 4:15 Sunday morning. Not sure what triggered it, but I couldn't fall back asleep. Zac woke up around 5:15 and checked the time, so we ended up talking about our trip. He had even set an alarm so we could wake up early to watch the sun rise. Lucky for us, we had been awake long enough that getting out of bed was easy. Zac made coffee and we sat outside on the balcony watching a group of pelicans catch fish. It was a pretty lazy morning. I think it was a vacation crash or something. We ate cinnamon rolls and the kids relaxed on the furniture and none of us really felt like doing much for a few hours. We eventually headed out to the beach and, in spite of coating us in sunblock, all of us managed to get sunburned. Luckily, the burns aren't horrible, but mildly irritating. The kids enjoyed building sand castles and a kind stranger gave them a live hermit crab with a teeny red crab hitching a ride. They were reluctant to set it free, but said their goodbyes as it scuttled away so we could head to the pool for a little while. Elias only had one meltdown (literally, melting a laying down on the sand) because he had to wait before knocking over a sand castle.
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The dryer wasn't drying so well, so packing to head home on Monday took longer than I wanted. Most of our clothes had to lay out on the patio table to dry in the sun. Zac and I enjoyed our last morning sipping coffee and watching the waves while the kiddos slept in before we loaded up our rental and made the trip home. We stopped at a souvenir shop on our way out and I actually found Elias' and Nicolas' names on little wooden surf boards. They also had Leah's, but not James'. I asked an employee if they had any in storage, but nope. So James and Leah got some stickers of their names instead. Basically all of the James' were sold out. We bought some fudge for Mom and some saltwater taffy for Alex (a reference to a Friends episode "The One with the Birthing Video"). I'm glad we made it home, but I'll definitely miss having Zac around so much when he goes off to work this week, as well as feeling lazy about getting back to our school routine.