We left Destin and drove about 4 hours to Fort Morgan, AL. We go with the same group of friends every year- we were all friends in Birmingham when our husbands did residency together. Now, we live in 6 different states (none of which is Alabama), but we all meet together once a year in this house at the beach! It is really one of our favorite weeks all year.
12 adults and 16 kids!
We actually started going before any of us even had kids, but a few people had to miss for various reasons in the past. But, this is our 4th consecutive year going to the exact same house.
The picture makes it look overwhelming and chaotic. But, it is really much more intimate and relaxing in real life. It never actually feels like that many people.
2013 and 2014.
Note for next year: do not try to do pictures at 6pm. It was so hot and sunny, but the kids were such troopers.
This was my timehop one of the days we were there- 6 years ago! All of our now 6 year olds were just tiny babies.
The guys got matching NEON shirts with the UAB dragon embroidered on it. Oh, and also "Fort Morgan Sand Bar Patrol." I cannot even make this up. And, at one point, they were apparently all piled on the golf cart, and someone stopped them to ask them for help. I just can't.
And, we had matching tank tops!
I know some people will think we look ridiculous and like we are 15, but...haters gonna hate. We loved them, we rocked them, AND, we actually managed to ALL be at the beach at the SAME moment with no children attached to our legs or boobs. #winning
The ice cream man is a genius and came veerrrryy slooooowllly through our neighborhood twice a day. It was a definite hit with the kids. It was also a hit with the dads, and more than once I saw Hughes sprinting up the sand trying to catch him before his jingling music passed us.
Reese now randomly requests, "Ice cream truck?" as if I can just magically make one appear.
This guy. Going to a beach (twice) with a two/three month old isn't what I would call relaxing. But, he is a really good baby. I definitely missed out on quite a bit of beach time and hang out time in the evenings (he still doesn't have a bedtime, and he STILL wakes up at least twice at night). He is so smiley and snuggly and perfect, though, so he makes up for it.
So much food. All junk. And, all right at the kids' level. They were living in paradise.
We had the 3rd floor, because it is 2 rooms and perfect for our age of kids. There was an elevator that mostly worked, which is the ONLY way I was able to get to our floor, because I usually had both Reese and Levi with me.
The balcony view is gorgeous, so the kids ate snacks out there a few times.
My two shadows for the entire trip. I barely saw Lily, because she was swimming, having a dance party, getting herself dressed, getting her own snack, not breastfeeding, etc... #itdefinitelygetseasier
It was HOT, so the frozen otter pops tasted more delicious than they probably would have in any other situation. I ate quite a few myself.
Reese didn't want to nap, and since I needed the room for Levi anyway, I just set her on the back porch and went to get her a popsicle. She fell asleep by the time I got back, rubber ducky in hand.
I spent a LOT of time with this guy.
The other kids were sooo sweet to him. I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to set him down, but they were all very careful.
One day, we got babysitters to come and sit in the house with the older kids while the younger ones napped. It was the best part of the trip! Obviously. I still had to leave to go nurse Levi, but I got to actually SIT DOWN with a DRINK and just enjoy being on the beach for that little bit. It was one of the few times all 12 of the adults were together, so I asked someone else on the beach to take our picture. It is so crazy that we don't see these people more than once a year, but it is completely normal when we are back together. It's like we all still live in the same city.
Water Balloons were a HUGE hit this year. Lily can tie them, but they just resorted to filling them up and then throwing them, untied, at each other. Each year just gets better and better as our kids get older and entertain themselves more.
This is Hughes in the hot tub, probably imparting his wisdom to these poor souls. I am not sure how he ended up as the lone adult in the hot tub, but it is pretty funny.
There are two pools, about 10 feet from each other, but this one was ALWAYS packed, and the other one would just have a random float drifting all alone, like a tumbleweed. Now that many of the kids can swim, it is a game changer.
Connor was the second youngest, and Reese LOVED him. "There's Connor!," she would proclaim, as if he was lost and she found him. Multiple times a day. Jess has 2 boys and they spent almost all day, every day on the beach.
Rubber Ducky and Tiny Bear.
If you are thinking, "what would be really fun to keep up with on the sandy beach?" these two tiny objects are NOT the answer. Tiny Bear became a casualty, but we came home with Rubber Ducky! There were a few close calls, but we ultimately prevailed.
I can't decide if I should be proud of us...or sort of appalled that we spent so much time making sure the tiny objects were safe.
At one point, Jess told me, in complete seriousness, "Oh, I don't know if you saw, but Marshmallow is outside." I ran outside and grabbed it immediately, relishing a little in the knowledge that it was saved for one more day. I love that our friends were helping us keep up with them. (Marshmallow is a tiny white wooden cube- the size of rubber ducky. She also had purple marshmallow, which completed the quartet of tiny lovies).
Eric was so sweet to Reese and had serious conversations with her about her tiny objects. She even let him hold them a few times.
Reese and Ella Kate, Maggie's sister. It was like a little deja vu moment for us to watch them, because they both look so similar to their older sisters. It was like watching Lily and Maggie in the baby pool 4 years ago.
Ross brought water balloons and a slingshot. And, they attempted to shoot the other guys on the beach. They never grow up, apparently.
Little bit of Daddy time.
(He despises all things social media/blog related / and proof that he has feelings. So, please never mention any pictures like this to him.
This was definitely the longest stretch Reese spent on the beach.
Reese hates the beach as much as Lily does. Reese has a very different personality, and is significantly less intense/angry/persistent as Lily was at this age. Reese definitely has an opinion, but she is usually pretty tolerant and go-with-the-flow. She is approximately 263 times easier to parent than Lily. So, she would cry a little and repeat every few seconds, "Go inside. Les go inside, Mama. Bye bye beach." But, she would usually just sit there and say that. She didn't tantrum about it, even though she wasn't happy. We did give in and let her watch Max and Ruby on our phones (don't judge- it's her vacation, too). A few times, she did take matters into her own hands (feet?) and just get up and start walking toward the house.
I found this on a blog post from 3 years ago. Lily has never liked the beach. it's really pretty funny how much she hates it, like maybe in some former life she was attacked by a shark or something.
Ross had to chase the ice cream truck down one time on the golf cart, because he passed us.
Worth the chase!
Since I see Lily every day, she doesn't look older to me. But, seeing Maggie only once (or twice) a year makes me realize how big our babies are getting!
Jack and Ella Kate sharing Lucky Charms. They are precious- these two little blonde haired twins. I loved watching them and seeing their bond but also their differences. It makes me sad that we don't live in the same city, but I am so grateful that Emily and I have stayed so close.
Lots of crafting on our side of the house.
Marshmallow and Rubber Ducky.
Emma and Cole, the 4 year olds. They are so precious, and it was so much fun watching them be a year older and hang with the 6 year olds.
The Sheltons, about to embark on a golf cart ride.
Mack, the youngest Bowers (brother of Ellie and Emma)
Max. He was not at the beach, but Melissa sent me this picture of him, and it was on my camera roll. He is too cute not to include.
SO. MANY. DANCE. PARTIES.
Hughes got Lily a little disco ball type Bluetooth speaker. It plays songs from her iPod through it, and the lights sync to the music's beat.
I DO realize how ridiculous I sound, referring to a 6 year old's "toy."
It was a HUGE hit, and the kids had dance almost every night. Many of the kids are old enough that we can just let them go upstairs and do it without us even having to check in. I still had Reese and Levi who had to stay downstairs (I didn't trust Reese on the bunk bed ladders), but this gives me SO MUCH HOPE for the next few years as my kids get older.
As far as I could tell (I tried to avoid it as much as possible for fear of getting asked to bring a snack or to stay and help), they alternated who were the judges and who were the dancers.
A video Caroline took of Lily dancing to "Bad Blood":Lily Dance Party
A glimpse into the madness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbIfW61cazk (at the end, Lily is yelling at me to leave).
Lily, Ellie, Caroline, Maggie, Emma.
Until next year...