Wednesday, August 15, 2018

ORANGE BEACH, ALABAMA 2018 | PART 1


What a week!!  We are back home after our much-anticipated summer vacay to Orange Beach, Alabama and we had an absolute blast!  And unlike years past, I had no major #momfails (whoop whoop!), no one got stung by a jellyfish (or bitten by a shark--I worry about that a lot!) and I only wanted to hide in the bathroom to get away from everyone a couple of times.  It's a LOT of family togetherness and sometimes mama just needs some alone time.  Right?!

Our family typically takes one big vacation a year (although we're going to Disney in November!) and for the past 6 or 7 years, we have been dedicated beach rats.  ;)  It is our happy place.  The sand, the sea, the sun, the salty breeze, the sunsets... (We don't wake up early enough to see the sunrise or I would have included that too.  I mean, we're on vacation, people!  So maybe I should throw in one more "s" word---SLEEP!)

We've been to several different beaches over the years (Destin, Ft. Walton, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores) and we loved them all but each one has it's pros and cons.

For the past 4 years, we've been in the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area.  The boys love it there and have their favorite spots and at this point in our lives, our family vacations are all about our kids.  So even though I may wish for a quieter beach trip to somewhere like Seaside, I just can't convince my kiddos to go anywhere else.  They started crying when I suggested going anywhere else.  So that was that.  We'll have plenty of time to take more adult-friendly vacations when these kids grow up and LEAVE ME.  (Wahhhhhh!!!)

DAY 1

So last Monday, we packed up the car and headed out!



Quick sidenote:

I was pretty impressed with my packing this trip.  I ordered these awesome packing cubes and they were a GAME CHANGER!  I organized them by shorts, tees/tanks, swimsuits/coverups, undies, and bras/jammies. They all fit perfectly into my suitcase and I even had a little space where I could tuck in my dreamy blardigan.  (Even though I'm at the beach, I get cold in the A/C.)


I bought the boys a blue set and they split them since they don't have nearly as much as I do.  Unpacking was a BREEZE both at the condo and when we got back home!!

Ok, back to the roadtrip.

We always split our 11-hour drive to the beach into two days. The first leg of the trip takes us to Craig's parents' house in Alexandria, LA.  It's a five-hour drive and breaks the trip up perfectly for us.  Plus the boys LOVE going to Mimi and Paw Paw's.  We always spend the night and then head out the next day.

This year, I planned well for all those hours on the road and grabbed this 3-pack of sleep masks because every year they complain that the sun's in their eyes when they try to sleep.  I laugh every time I see them with the masks on because I think they look like little bras strapped across their faces.  They are curved so you can open your eyes in the mask and blink without your eyelashes hitting the inside.  I have one that I got a while back that I love and they are always fighting over it.  (And under $6!)


But they didn't sleep the whole way.  We are all about distraction to make the trip seem quicker so I grabbed this SUPER cute pack of car games a few days before we left and it was a major hit.  



We arrived at Mimi and Paw Paw's to some rain but that didn't stop these boys!  They immediately started throwing the football around.


Later on, they came into the kitchen and Matthew was riding his hoverboard when a tiny lizard fell from the ceiling right in front of him!!  


They were quick to capture it and went to find the little bug catcher they always use when they are there.


He was so cute!!


And he LOVED my sweet Mason!  He took it out and it crawled all over him.  Lizards don't creep me out so I thought this was pretty cute.


Even when we took it outside to let him go, he would run back up to Mason and start crawling up his leg!


They said they were naming it C. Ling.  Because it fell from the ceiling.  #getit?  ;)  Funny boys.



They reluctantly let him go in a pretty flower pot on the back deck.

DAY 2

The next morning we were finally beach bound!  I settled into my seat with my blanket, pillow, phone, and earbuds to watch...


Now don't laugh.  But I've been binge watching Twilight.  

Y'all.  I never thought I'd be a Twilight fan.  Nothing about vampires and werewolves interested me at all.  But when the second or third movie came out, my neighbors held a little viewing party at one of their houses because they were big fans.  So I went...because I rarely miss a girls night no matter what the plan is...and I absolutely LOVED it.  I went home and caught up on the previous movies and then waited so impatiently for the next ones.  I even read/listened to ALL OF THE BOOKS because I couldn't wait to see what happened.

It was all completely unlike anything I've read or cared about before but the love story and the drama...it hooked me.  If you love them too then you know.  If you haven't watched the movies, then they are on Amazon Prime Video for free if you are a member.  They just get better and better with each movie too.  Try it!  You may be as surprised as I was!

While I watched my movie, the boys played some car bingo, listened to their music (Imagine Dragons is their favorite), played their ipads and slept.


And before we knew it, we had arrived at Phoenix V in Orange Beach.

Unloading all our stuff is always a chore.  Matthew helped.  Sort of.  ;)  

For the record, I was completely against bringing that stupid hoverboard but it wasn't worth the fight.  Glad it got put to good use.  haha


When we got into the condo, we headed straight for the balcony to check out our view for the week!


Not too shabby.


Last year, I thought we'd found our "forever" condo.  It was great.  It really was.  But when I saw another great one at a different complex that had this little splash pad I thought it'd be a fun little something extra for the boys.



Here are a few pics of our condo.  I completely forgot to take any when we first got there and it was all nice and neat.  Whoops.  These were taken five minutes before we checked out on our last day which is why everything is kind of a mess.



This was the boys' room.  It really was way cuter before we tore it apart making sure we had everything.




And our room...also a mess.



Our must-haves for a condo are pretty simple.  We need a king bed in the master, two beds or a king bed in the kids' room, TVs with Bravo for Real Housewives and CBS for Big Brother (haha) and the balcony has to overlook the ocean.  No partial views for us. It's all about that view and being as close to the water as we can be.  Everything else is second.

So our first day always follows the same schedule.  Arrive, unpack, Mom heads to the grocery store and the boys head to the beach.

This year, I ordered groceries online from Walmart a few days before and chose a time slot for about an hour after we arrived.  It worked out perfectly!  I had just enough time to unpack everyone and then ran up to Walmart which was about 2 minutes from the condo.


This was my first time using Walmart pickup at the beach.  I normally have to spend an hour strolling crowded aisles during my first evening on vacation so this was such a timesaver.  

I am a bi-weekly user of this service here at home though.  Grocery pick-up is the greatest thing ever and saves me so much time each week.  I am crazy grateful for whoever came up with this.  If you've never used it before, you can use my referral link HERE to get $10 off your first order!

Once we unpacked the groceries, we headed to the beach to catch the last couple of hours of sun! 










The water was PERFECTION!  Gorgeous emerald green and navy blue with the perfect waves for boogie boarding!


And when Matthew got out of the water, he decided he was going to dig to China.  The kid had a ways to go.  ;)


We stayed out there until sunset.  This is my absolute favorite time of day to be on the beach.  Most of the other beachgoers have gone in, it's no longer crazy hot and it's so peaceful.

I sat in my little chair with my toes in the sand and my book in my hand.

(By the way, Kindle cover HERE.  Isn't it cute?!  And I was reading Big Sexy Love and it is now my favorite book of 2018!  So funny, so touching, so sweet, so EVERYTHING.  You will love it.  I've talked about it in the FB group already but I've got to mention it here too.  Plus it's free if you are a Kindle Unlimited member and under $5 on Kindle if you aren't.  Totally worth it!!)

This was my view.  #heaven


We went in a little later, ate dinner in the condo and climbed into bed with the sound of the waves outside our door.

So that was Day 1 and 2 of our vacation!  I'll be back tomorrow with Part 2 when we really dive into that #beachlife!  I'm going to try to keep this recap to 3 parts but we packed a lot into our days--beach, pool, splash pad, waterpark, crab-hunting, go-karts, putt-putt, arcades, food, and so much fun!!  

See you tomorrow, friends!

UPDATE:  Click here for Part 2 (Days 3 & 4) and here for Part 3 (Days 5, 6, & 7)


Linking up with the Welcome Wednesday girls!

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9 comments

  1. There is so much goodness in this one post...but all I keep thinking about are those packing cubes! Amazing!! Hahahaha!

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  2. Wahoo!!! So glad you’re back and cannot wait to read all your recaps!

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  3. Kristina Briggeman7:59 AM

    We were in the area last week (we stayed in Perdido Key) so I kept an eye out for you whenever we were out and about! Lol! It was our first time vacationing in the panhandle and we absolutely loved it!

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  4. We’ve never been to Orange Beach, but it’s on our list. I love that the lizard took a liking to Mason. We have those albino geckos around our house and they are always trying to make their way inside our house. My 8 year old Mason loves Imagine Dragons as well! That view is pretty impressive! I have Kindle Unlimited, so I am going to get that book!

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  5. Looks like you had a fabulous vacation! Yes to the packing cubes. They are a game changer!

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  6. Anonymous1:48 PM

    We love Orange Beach. It is truly a magical place. Enjoyed your story!

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  7. My family went to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach for Spring Break this year and my brother stayed at Phoenix V. We RV camp but it was wonderful having use of his condo and the beach. It is a great complex!

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  8. I’m so happy to see a review of Orange Beach! Pinning this for future family trip ideas! You all look so cute and happy!

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  9. That sounds like a perfect first day at the beach! We find a king sized bed a must too but with three large boys we need at least 3 other beds.. LOL. No one seems to sleep well when they have to share.

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