Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gulf Shores, Alabama!

Within 15 minutes of pulling into Gulf Shores, Madeline peeled off all her clothes and ripped off her diaper, then rolled around in the soft sand and splashed in the warm waves. It was one of the greatest moments of my life -- watching her pure, uninhibited joy as she experienced the beach for the first time.

We had a wonderful vacation. Something really amazing happened over the course of nine days: Our little family of four knitted together even closer. We started an annual tradition. Rob put it best the last night of our stay during grace when he gave thanks for the chance to fall in love with his family all over again.

Our condo wasn't fancy or stylish (sponge paint and light-up dolphin "art") but it was clean and only a staircase away from the beach. Madeline spent most of her time happily swimming and kicking in the pool, wearing hand-me-down water wings from the dollar store (so much for the $40 life vest I ordered). Charlie loved the water in his floating lady bug.

Any trip with two kids under two-and-a-half is a working vacation. Rob and I took turns going to the beach when the little ones were napping. It took us a few days to adjust to our first beach vacation where "relaxing" still involved night-wakings, diaper changes and nap schedules. But after the first few days, we fell into a routine; we let a new definition of vacation -- family vacation -- wash over us. That's when the real fun began! We ate fresh seafood daily, walked on the beach, flew a kite, played cards, read books and sunbathed.

I should have tried on my bikinis before packing. They pre-date babies, but get so little use that I couldn't bear to buy new ones. When I'm not nursing, I'm about as voluptuous as Madeline. Squeezing into my honeymoon triangle tops was a little ridiculous; I felt like a freckly X-rated Pam Anderson at the family pool.

Here are some of my favorite moments from our trip:
  • On the drive there and back, Madeline excitedly squealed, "Look, it's the Eiffel Tower!" every time we passed a cell or municipal water tower
  • During a heated Crazy Eights game, my (normally) super cool husband, who was losing badly, muttered, "Arf" under his breath. I waited a good 10 seconds before I asked him, "Did you really just say "Arf"? We laughed until we were crying and it became an ongoing joke. He's still living it down in my book
  • Madeline, who's in the midst of toilet training, kept requesting Carrie Underwear (Underwood) for dance parties
  • Eating Royal Reds -- giant lobster-tasting shrimp pulled out of the Gulf, tossed onto our table and served with melted butter -- at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant two minutes from our condo that Coastal Living ranked one of the 10 best seafood joints
  • The sofas in our condo were marine-themed (I know. Yikes). Madeline got excited when she saw starfish and counted, "Look Mom! One, two, three rockstars!" (a term of endearment in our family).
  • At the grocery store, I asked Rob, sounding a little worried, if we had enough grits at home or if we needed more. He said you know you live in the south when grits become a food staple.
Now that we're home again, Rob's a little sad he has to wear shoes (and misses having a cold beer with lunch). We're already planning our next Vlach Family Vacation in Fall 2010!


Nicki Vlach said...

What a magical vacation! So glad you all could get away together and relax at the beach.

Chelsea said...

What a fabulous family vacation. Darling pics. Love the one of the boys lounging together in their chair. Madeline has already had her first skinny dipping experience at the ripe old age of two. She can cross that one off her list for future spring breaks! :o)

The Brown Family said...

I love beach pictures! It's so fun to start new traditions. I bet it took a few baths to get all that sand of Madeline - adorable!!!

Jamie said...

Great reading all about your wonderful trip! Sounds like it was a blast!! The pics are great and you look fantastic too Meg! The beach is so my favorite vacation spot... glad Mads loved it too!

The Stucks said...

Lauren has the same swimming suit as Madeline! So cute! Beach vacations are the glad you had such a wonderful time!

The Simple Life ~ The Stokes Family said...

Sounds like you guys had a wonderful time...Great pictures. Hope all is well and congrats on Charlie sleeping...Yeah!!!!