The McArthurs, Gram, and Harps (minus CJ) made our annual pilgrimage to Orange Beach, AL last weekend for the long Labor Day weekend. Our boys (and Jim and myself, too) have been looking forward to this trip all summer! Maddox has talked about the waterslide and lazy river almost daily especially as we got closer to September 2. Cooper was looking forward to seeing the ocean and playing in the sand and building a sandcastle. All the excitement came to a screeching halt as we got closer to Orange Beach and the sky got darker, the winds started blowing extremely hard, and the rain was coming down sideways!
We checked in to our favorite home away from home, the Phoenix West, and quickly put our suitcases in the condo and put bathing suits on since the rain had stopped for the moment! We got down to the pool as quickly as the elevator would take us down the 23 floors and headed out into the hurricane winds! Maddox got a few good runs down the waterslide and Jim and I both took turns taking Cooper down (careful not to dunk him at the bottom at Cooper’s request). It was quite chilly when you got out of the water to stand in line at the slide so we decided a few laps around the lazy river would be a good idea! We made it around a couple of times before the rain started again and we had to get out. The boys were satisfied with their time in the water and were hungry enough that getting out wasn’t the worst thing in the world. We collected our towels (from our zipped up bag that was being held down by a stack of chairs so that it wouldn’t blow away) and headed back up the 23 floors to our perfect temperature and safe from the winds condo. Jim went out to pick up fried shrimp from the Shrimp Basket for us for dinner (I mean, what else would we have had) while I got the boys fed and in the bed.
The rains and high winds continued for the remainder of the trip thanks to tropical storm Lee. At every break (or what I considered to be a break) in the weather I would insist that the kids rush outside to “make some memories” and “have some FUN at the beach”. Usually these trips outside would result in rushing back in because the rain would start again almost immediately or because the high winds made it almost unbearably cold in the water for my boys who think pool water should be lukewarm. Some of the highlights of the time outside include making our way down to “the dirt” as Cooper called the beach and being pelted with sand that felt like razor blades, Cooper stepping on a jellyfish (or part of one), and being caught outside when the rain started and trying to protect Cooper’s bare skin from the rain that felt like someone was slapping you repeatedly as hard as they could. Poor Cooper was also the victim of some flying peanuts that got picked up by the wind and smacked him in the face! Poor little guy thought he had been shot and had welts on his face where he got smacked. That was the breaking point for me….I no longer had the patience for the crappy weather that we were having to endure. I had a mommy meltdown and cried and cussed (some under my breath and quite a bit to Jim who hadn’t even made it outside at the point that particular day). We decided that we would try leaving the condo and looking for other “beachy” things to do.
We took the boys to San Roc Cay Marina to check out some fishing boats, had lunch out with the whole fam, and then ventured over to Adventure Island for some go kart racing, arcade games, lazer tag, and ice cream. When we left Adventure Island that afternoon, Maddox told me that this had been his best Summer ever. That’s when it hit me the hardest….my kids didn’t care that we weren’t out building sandcastles and tanning on the beach. They were having fun just being together and doing things we don’t get to do at home. They enjoyed spending time with Alex and Naomi and watching movies in the condo or playing DSi. Maddox thought it was awesome to go “to the workout room” and workout with Jim and Cooper loved to stand in the hallway and hear his loud echo-y voice while he shouted “I’m King of the World” from the 23rd floor!! They didn’t care that we had driven 6 plus hours in scary weather. They weren’t concerned that Jim and I had been saving money to take them on this “BEACH” vacation. They were just having fun being with their family and enjoying life like kids do!
As we drove home in the terrible weather with tornado warnings all around us, Maddox and Cooper were still talking about how much fun they had. Maddox’s only concern was that we had forgotten to take our family picture in the sand….it was only after I reminded him that we hadn’t forgotten, but it was just too painful to stand on the beach, that he seemed to even think about the storm we had just been in. The storm didn’t even register to him as a bad thing. While I was stressed and worried, he was just bee-bopping along with life! We decided that a long weekend at the beach in a storm beats a long weekend at home any day!