I thought about titling this “Gulf Shores Vacation” but remembered when you go places with little children, you aren’t actually on vacation. You’re just on a trip.
Vacations imply relaxation and a chance to soak up some fun.
Trips are when you leave one place and go to another.
That’s what we did… left our house, drove 3 hours away, and unpacked SO MUCH STUFF in another place.
I’ve gotten really good at only packing the essentials, but essentials for 6 people ends up being a crap load of stuff. I had to keep telling myself “This will not fit in the Expedition!” since it currently houses 4 carseats. The cargo space is minimal. And when a newborn is apart of the pack, you figure out real quick like you can do without the play mat and rocker for a few days. I did manage to squeeze in the travel swing and Dock-a-Tot, but it was pretty hairy in the back seat.
Marnana had to prop her arm on a TV. The apartment we stayed in doesn’t have one or wireless internet. We knew we couldn’t rough it for 4 days with nothing to watch and only 4g access. Hank got to rest his head on the bag of pillows we’d packed, because again, the apartment had a bed and couch, and nothing else. The space under Amos’ feet was packed with groceries, and Porter had to keep watch of 2 boxes of diapers under his carseat base.
We started out 5 points in the negative column of “Vacation Fun” just by having to pack. I garnered another 50 points right on my own for having scheduled my 6 week follow up appointment 2 hours before we were supposed to leave. That fun is a whole other post, but the short version is I had to wait 2 hours to be seen, another hour in the exam room for a 2 minute once over, get scolded for not choosing what form of birth control the nurse was recommending, and make a 45 minute drive home.
OH MY NERVES!!! We managed to set out by 3:30. Tensions were high and Margaret Hannah’s bladder seemed to fill up ever half hour.
We needed to break up that big of a car ride for all these chilruns, so we ventured off into Pensacola to find Olive Garden. Our sweet waiter, Dillon, was a trooper. We moved closer to the even column of Vacation Fun because we paid with 2 gift cards, and Pat had a coupon for a free dessert. Nothing like being THOSE people. We literally split one chocolate lasagna five ways. We tipped Dillon well, though.
Like clockwork, everybody had to poop as soon as the food was put out on the table. Thanks, kids.
Some silver lining and the chance to move up a few more notches on Vacation Fun was being able to go to a place we weren’t paying for. Pat’s company rented a place for the year for a job they have going on in Gulf Shores right now, but you can’t do construction during the summer months due to some city ordinances. That meant the place was empty during peak season. Yes, please! Plus there was a pull out couch.The kids had no idea such things even existed, and Pat told them there was a magic couch that could turn into a bed at where we were staying. This was the only logical explanation for a BED coming out of a COUCH. Magic. Moving closer to even on the scale.
First order of most any vacation business is to check out the pool. We did that several times while we were there, and my biggest takeaway from it was “I’ll never want to be in anything but a zero entry pool ever again.” Such a mom thing to get excited over.
There was also a good bit of lizard chasing going on. You could tell who missed the chickens because I kept hearing things like “Look at all those worms! The hens would LOVE THIS!” and “This is a good lizard for Charming! He could rip it up real easy!” Good night was it country come to town with a few of my people!
Pat also figured out a way to make the little sprayer go up and down. Whenever the kids were near it, he’d make it go up as long as they pointed their fingers up or when Amos screamed “Ready, ESSS, Go!!!” A solid 15 minutes of entertainment.Going way up on the Vacation Fun scale, now.
Don’t worry, we got knocked back down just a bit when Porter woke up from his cozy spot with fan and music covered from mid chest to near neck in poop. You usually hear those disasters, but I had no idea. He even woke up fairly pleasantly. Like not crying, just an “I’m awake now guys,” kind of noise.
He just looked so pleasant.
When we weren’t at the pool, we were eating. My college roommate, Erin, lives in Foley, so of course spending time with her was on the agenda. We met her and her sweet mama, Lana, at The Gulf for overpriced chicken sandwiches and the best view around! Why wouldn’t you want to have your meal right on the sand if you could? We went with a table, but as soon as dinner was finished, in the sand this bunch went! We watched the boats coming in and monitored a sand throwing situation between a little girl who went rogue and Amos.
Amos came out on top only because we kept yelling at him to move away from her, not because he took charge of the situation. It took 3 rounds of shampoo to get it all out of his hair.
PS Don’t tell on me, but I smuggled that bottle of water in because eating out with all these people ain’t no joke on the bank account.
We wrapped up the night with some expensive Dippin’ Dots at the wharf, and a pair of size 100 PFGs. Totally in the positives by now.
I mean, we did lose a few fun points when Amos gave up walking. He whined a lot about how much moving his little body was having to do, and Pat was whining because I only packed one stroller for Porter. Amos giving up on his legs definitely got us a few ticks on the negative side.
Sunday Morning, we got up to go have a little breakfast with Nanny Peeps (Erin) and some pirates and princesses at The Hangout. Totally worth it if you ever visit with kids. Also, you don’t have to reserve a seat ahead of time like their website claims. They looked at me like I had a third eye when I mentioned our reservation time.
There was a little skit, a lot of music from Jake and The Neverland Pirates, and a treasure hunt. They came around to our table with magic wands, eye patches, and bandannas. Hank immediately wanted his on his head, but Amos took a little convincing/holding down. Marnana told her princess representative thanks but no thanks to the wand and got a bandanna to match the boys.
Most of the children went up to the group of Pirates and Princesses unattended when it was time for the treasure hunt. Our three was apart of that unattended group, but a few moms and dads went with them. It looked like they had everything under control. It wasn’t like all the parents were rushing out to go with them. Pat finished his food and went out with them (they were just in the area right in front of the dining area) just in time to find Amos off wondering by himself, Hank at the front of the line digging for extra gold coins, and Margaret Hannah handing out the stink eye to the princess who kept trying to get her to dig up a toy diamond.
Also on the agenda for this trip was a stop by the Tanger Outlets for a backpack for Hank for kindergarten (I CANNOT DEAL WITH THIS) and a pair of flip flops for Pat. We made it long enough to catch a deal at Eddie Bauer, grab a ride on the carousal, and get creepy with a manikin wearing a fanny pack. Hank kept asking if we could get it because it would help Pat keep his phone right by his belly.
As well mannered and seemingly cooperative my children pretend to be most of the time, there are instances where ish hits the fan and everyone just can’t anymore. That happened to us in CiCis Pizza after our short adbenture with shopping.
Hank kept drinking his entire 6 ounce cup as soon as it got refilled, Margaret Hannah decided she needed to speak with the cook over a little burnt spot on her pretzel crust cheese pizza, Amos kept saying “Need somepin else to eat, but just cinmon rolls, yeah?” and Porter held his end of the booth down with a little crying. I had no more nerves left to handle all the noise, so we left the second everyone ate enough to make it worth the $26 it cost.
We called it an early night with a few episodes of Cops and Porter practicing his Ferrell stink eye.The trip was meant to last until Tuesday, but sometimes, too much of a good thing is just that: too much. We packed up, cleaned what we could, tossed out our plans to go to the zoo (stroller situation, remember?), and hit the pool one last time before coming home early.
Cracker Barrel seemed like the best place for our departure meal because who doesn’t like that? and Erin was able to meet us one last time.
Hank ate pancakes that made him have to poop 45 minutes after we got on the road, Margaret Hannah tried to smuggle out the little peg game, and Amos refused to eat anything but his 1 pouch of orange smoothie stuff and a yellow crayon.
Vacation Fun chart out the window.
GPS said we should be home in 2 hours 36 minutes, but that got stretched out to more like 3 hours 52 minutes with stops, a detour through Seminole Alabama, and just driving with 4 humans 5 and under in general.
Once we did make it back home, I only wanted to unpack one of those items on the table. Hint- His name is Porter. But we managed to get everything put back up so we could enjoy a Tuesday filled with doing nothing.
We’ve got to recover from this trip before we get brave enough (or forget how chaotic this one was) to attempt another. And I’m hoping real bad we’ll be recovered enough to shoot for October. We miss Holiday Isle something crazy!!!
Got any tips for making it easier to travel with children? I’m listening!!!