The Thrifty and Sunburn Free Trip to Miramar Beach

The Thrifty and Sunburn Free Trip to Miramar Beach

The Thrifty, Sunburn-Free Trip to Miramar Beach Florida Destin area

 

Alan and I are always dreaming up fun things to do together as a family, and our efforts are often met with …….resistence.

One of these fellas actually lamented, “I don’t want to go to the beach. I just want to stay home and hang out at the house.”

Sigh. Well, perhaps we were hasty in taking a beach trip the very second that school let out, but that’s life. Children are still at the mercy of the parents’ summer schedules. We are at the mercy of their’s the rest of the year.

When I was a child, I would have never said, “I don’t want to go to the beach!” I don’t think I ever did go to the beach until I was around 13 years old, and it was something I was exceedingly grateful for.

That just goes to show that the more accustomed to wonderful things that a person is, the less we appreciate those wonderful things.

John David was not the beach-resistor. He couldn’t wait to go, but once he got there he was soon disenchanted and ready to head to the pool.

Have no fear. The moment the reluctant boy sat foot on the beach, he never complained again. In fact, Alan took all the other boys to the pool after an hour, while I stayed at the beach with Joshua until I began to worry about our sun protection.

Look closely to see a small boy in a yellow shirt, stealing a float from an older brother. He made the snatch, and he fled the scene. Joshua and I sat and laughed.

To be fair, it wasn’t stealing exactly. We share the floats. He decided it was his turn. Caleb, who was using it as a basketball net, but was pausing to fetch his ball, didn’t notice until JD was safely on the opposite side of the pool.

I was extra careful about sunscreen this year, and it paid off. I brought 0 sun-burned people home from the beach. Hallelujah! 5/6 of us are as fair as fair can be. This was an accomplishment.

My strategy was simple.

  1. Try to keep everyone indoors between 11am and 4pm.
  2. Re-apply every 1.5 hours.
  3. Wear a cover-up as much as possible.
  4. I wore a seriously ugly hat, and so did Alan.
  5. Put swim shirts on the kids.

Egypt wasn’t built in a day, so we settled for the Sphinx and a pyramid.

WWII airplanes flew over in honor of Memorial Day.

Our other big objective this year was to spend as little money as possible on the vacation.

I think that’s always been a goal for Alan, but in the past I secretly didn’t care. This year I cared just as much as Alan.

Our strategy for this was also simple.

  1. Our condo was free. Alan’s grandparents let us stay at their place, and that’s why our family has gotten to go to the beach so frequently over the years. (Gigantic thank you to Alan’s grands!!!)
  2. Only eat out once, and that will be a lunch.
  3. Buy enough groceries to have plenty of snacks and easy to assemble meals so that no one will even ask to eat out. Success!
  4. The condo has a pool. The beach is right across the street, so there is no need to pay for any other activities.
  5. Rent a Redbox movie instead of going to the theatre. (Remember, we have to hide from the sun for several hours/day.)

Joshua and Daniel were all about the net fishing. They caught quite a few tiny fish and crabs.

 

Would you like our meal ideas that made this possible? It was so simple it’s almost embarrassing to list them.

Breakfast

cereal, eggs, and Pop-tarts

Since they are normally not allowed Pop-tarts, this is a humongous treat. I was curious if pop-tarts were any better than donuts, so I looked it up……They aren’t better, just different.

By the way: 1 Krispy Kreme glazed donut = 22g carbohydrates and 11g fat

1 Blueberry Pop Tart = 38 g carbohydrates and 5g fat

Cocoa Pebbles cereal =  25g carbohydrates and 1g fat

Eggs                    = 0.6 g carbs and 5 g fat

……Sooooo that’s why we don’t normally do pop-tarts. One of my boys gets crazy hyper from all that sugar. At least with the cereal, they get the protein from the milk to help my conscience. There’s no way I’m COOKING 3 times/day. Breakfast has to be easy.

Eggs are the clear winner, but not all of us can eat the eggs. I have a son with an egg allergy. Sad, right?

This one is allergic to nothing, and he likes his eggs dyed green and served with sausage.

Lunches and Dinners

Micro-wavable hamburgers. We are sort of fanatical about these because they are delicious, they are real, and they are brain dead easy to make quickly.

We also served egg sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, and hot dogs while we there. It was only a 3 night vacation.

Next year maybe we’ll do a no-eating out at all policy because that would have saved us another $90, believe it or not. $90 was how much we spent on the groceries for the whole weekend, and yet that’s what it costs to take our family to a restaurant, other than fast food.

“I don’t want to swim with the seals and the sea lions.” I reassured them the gulf is much too hot for the seals and the sea lions. Swim away. “Are there sharks?” Well…

And by the way, it was a free of incident beach year too! There were no ER visit, no jelly fish stings, no rain days, and no sunburn. Ah, yeah. We fall more in love with Destin every year.

Caleb earned these green sunglasses as a reading prize.

our dare-devil. He will go out as far as you let him.

I’m 1/2 daredevil like Caleb.

I used to swim to the sand bar, and I CANNOT go to the beach without getting drenched from head to toe. It’s not possible. I don’t know how you do it. Moana was right. It DOES call you.

…..but I’m now 1/2 skiddish. I’ve been stung by jellyfish a few times, and y’all, that HURTS. Plus, I see fish and shadows, and I start to panic. Ah, if only I could have stayed young and dumb.

 

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

 I hope your summer is off to swimming start as well! God bless!

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Life After Home School and the Move

life after home school

 

Life after home school

Tomorrow is Daniel’s very first day of kindergarten. To me he still looks like this:

How can I send this sweet Bama boy to kindergarten??

But, believe it or not, the Dan Man is 5, and he is extremely excited about going to school with his brothers. They will all be at the same school together. I had planned it differently, but at the last minute Daniel was awarded a scholarship, so that worked out beautifully.

It’s hard to even focus on how much is happening. Our heads are still spinning. In June, we trekked across the U.S. of A. In July, we hurriedly unpacked. (So now I need to go back and re-organize everything.) Then we headed off to one vacation after another. We did Disney. We saw friends. We went to Destin. We visited family.

I feel as though all along, our life keeps improving more and more. Happy things keep happening to us, and I’ve been so much in recovery from the dismal beginning of 2016 that it’s taken me awhile for this new thing to set in to my head.

I’m not stressed anymore! Wait. I don’t have to make lesson plans? Nope.

I don’t have to do any teacher training? Nope.

I don’t have to even feed everyone lunch? Nope.

I can be at my parents’ house in two hours? Yep!

The big boys are already in school, and they LIKE it??  Yes!!!

They actually like their new school a LOT!!!

I keep thinking about those Christian song lyrics, “He set my feet upon a rock.” Of course, that is also in the Bible, but it’s so much easier to pop in my head when it’s set to music. In my head that’s me. I was sinking in my misery, and I have been lifted and set upon a rock. Amen. Amen. Amen.

I think we’re on the verge of loving it here. I made my schedule for tomorrow, and it doesn’t sound hard! I didn’t even have to color-code it!! 

Praise the Lord, y’all! I have found relief!!! Now we just need to make a friend or two, and we’ll be all set.

We aren’t off to a great start on the makin’ friends bit. First off, we’ve lived here over a month and we’ve been out of town for most of that.

Secondly, we have a son whose Southern accent impersonation is down right hilarious. I only hope the locals will think so, instead of feeling like they’re being made fun of. I haven’t heard him do it in public though, so we should be good. (Ask Joshua to talk Southern next time you see it. You will laugh!!)

Then there was the doctor’s office incident. Alan took all four boys to the doc on a Saturday by himself. (I was out of town again.) We just needed to get school and sports forms filled out. Moving is such a pain when it comes to health care!!! (That’s another reason our company should let us live places a little longer.)

Well, they were all there for HOURS, but everyone was well behaved, thankfully. But right at the end, the doctors refused to sign the sports forms for ALL the boys! Can you believe that!!??  And it was because of my heart problem! Ugh.  Way to go, Me!

Alan tried to convince them that the boys do not have it, and even I am fine. I could play sports even. (Not well, but I could do it.) He failed to convince Doc #1, so he asked to get a second opinion from one of the other docs there that day.

Doc #2 also denied us. We all have to go to a cardiologist before they will be cleared to play sports. Doctors totally freak out about the v-tach thing, but I’m telling you mine is benign. It’s monomorphic, non-sustained. I’m good.

So today we’re sitting in Sunday School, and Alan whispers, “That doctor that wouldn’t sign the boys’ sports physicals is right over there.” Yep. Doc #1 is in our Sunday School class.

No way.

Yes way.

We chatted with him after class. He didn’t budge any on the issue, but hopefully we are all on good terms. I’m sure he’s a very good doctor. It was just a little embarrassing.

Oh, yeah, that’s us. We’re just making friends all over the place.

life after home school

Won’t you be our friend??

I am seriously, for real, truly going to take a “1st day of Kindergarten” picture for Dan tomorrow. And a “3rd day” pic for J and C! I don’t know why I’ve had so much trouble remembering.

Have your kids/grandkids started back to school yet? Share with me in the comments!

Deep Thoughts from Magic Kingdom 2016

Magic Kingdom 2016

This was the best surprise I’ve ever pulled off. We are not typically adept at keeping exciting news to ourselves. We are the kind of people who announced we were pregnant the second we found out.

But this time we played it cool. We DID tell the boys we were headed to Disney World. However, we did NOT tell them that I copied my friend Amy’s Disney itinerary as closely as I could, so our Disney vacation would be shared with Xavier and Zoe. (Don’t worry. Xavier and Zoe’s parents were in on it. I wasn’t completely stalking them.)

So Alan and I rode down to Florida, enjoying our secret.

Magic Kingdom 2016

Believe it or not, JD was the MOST visibly excited one. “I’m just so excited to go to Disney World. Can I ride Dusty? I wanna ride Planes.”

Magic Kingdom 2016

Road trip discovery!!! Best coffee ever, y’all!! Raceway gas station Community Coffee. I gotta find a Raceway close to my house now. I am hooked.

Magic Kingdom 2016

scenes of happiness

Magic Kingdom 2016

By the time we arrived, JD was sound asleep.

Art of Animation Resort

Our resort was the bee’s knees, y’all. We stayed at the Art of Animation Resort at Disney World, which is actually a VALUE level resort. The family suites sleep 6 and have 2 full bathrooms. There is a cafeteria open until midnight, several swimming pools, and all the free drink refills you want, if you have the Disney Dining Plan.

Magic Kingdom 2016

Art of Animation Cars Family Suite. This room was all themed out for Sally’s Cozy Cone Motel. That couch turns into a bed.

Magic Kingdom 2016

The room has a fridge and a microwave. I don’t remember why Joshua was looking like that.

Magic Kingdom 2016

That Mater wall is a pull-down bed.

Magic Kingdom 2016

There was a life-size Lightning McQueen, Mater, Sheriff, Ramone, and many others. It really upped the excitement level of staying at Disney World.

Magic Kingdom 2016

He was a little disappointed that he couldn’t get in and drive Lightning McQueen. Bless.

 

Magic Kingdom 2016

Caleb and me on the Magic Kingdom train

Magic Kingdom

Day 1 was off to a rocky start. First, we were later than we had hoped to be because….well because we are us and we have four children.

That’s 6 people to apply sunscreen to. Six people to feed. Six people to dress. Six people to brush teeth. 6 people to use the bathroom. Six people to get on each other’s nerves. 6 people to make jokes. 6 people to keep up with. 6 people to wake up. You get the idea.

So we finally made it to the pearly Magic Kingdom gates, through the bag check line, and to the bracelet scan ….and…..

whomp whomp whomp

“We need you to go to guest services.”

Denied entry. Now that is sad.

There was a line at guest services. I guess we weren’t the only ones. Turns out that we had to prove that we were military b/c we’d gotten a sweet military discount on those tickets. Now, if our resort peeps had known, they could have validated that for us, but we didn’t think to tell them, and they didn’t ask, so this had to be done at the gate. It was a good thing Alan had his ID with him.

Phew! Finally got through that. We made our way over to the train. Poor little John David tripped as he was climbing onto the train. He cried. It was loud. After a few minutes of that, a sweet lady from behind us passed him an entire package of Starbursts to cheer him up.

We needed that. I wish I knew her name. I’d shout it from the rooftops.

We are not familiar with the parks, and pretty much everything has changed since we went 8 years ago, so it took us a while to find It’s A Small World, where we were scheduled to meet our friends at 9:30.

Magic Kingdom 2016

JD, with his consolation candy

Miraculously enough, we were only a couple minutes late when we spotted our friends! Xavier ran over to us, and Joshua…..looked confused. It was hilarious. Joshua was silent, but his face seemed to be saying, “Um, yes, hello, who are you?” to Xavier. Of course, after a few minutes, Joshua and Caleb figured out what was going on, and they were so happy. Joshua actually turned to Caleb and said, “Caleb, pinch me. I don’t think I’m awake. I must be dreaming.”

Magic Kingdom 2016

Yes, it is indeed a small world after all.

We all rode 2 rides together, and then split up for the 3rd because not all of our Fastpasses were together.

We were nervous about JD’s ability to keep his Magic Band on his arm. See, the Magic Band is of great value at Disney. All your reservations are programmed in there. It can also identify a lost child. And as an adult, you can wire your credit card info on there so you don’t even have to carry around money. Magic bands open your hotel room, know your fast pass times, and contain your park admission ticket. They are a big deal.

So you can imagine my dismay when after ride #2 of day #1, I look down and realize that I have lost MY Magic Band. Well, of course I did, really. I’ve always had trouble with bracelets. Grooooaaaaan.

The boys headed off to use their Fast Pass with Alan. I headed back to the Haunted Mansion. If a cast member (Disney employee) finds a Magic Band, it’s kept at that ride for an hour. So I figured I had one hour to get that band back. I had it when I got on the Haunted Mansion ride, and it was gone afterwards, so that had to be it.

ugh. We had walked a long way. It was sunny. I was sweating. I missed turns, I turned back, but I eventually found my way back to Haunted Mansion, using my handy-dandy Disney app.

I asked each cast member I passed, “Have you seen a pink Magic Band?”

No.

I went all the way through the suddenly very long Haunted Mansion line. No band.

I was annoyed to have to ride the ride again, by myself, but I did it.

It wasn’t scary, but creepy skulls and ghosts aren’t my thing. “Why this ride, Lord?” I thought.

Call me crazy, but he answered me. I thought about my tendency to gloss over everything bad and pretend like the gross, evil, and unfortunate things in life don’t exist. That’s apathy, really. But these things do exist, and they must be faced.

I prayed for God to just please give me my band back and get me out of there.

At the very end of the ride, as I went through the exit corridor, I asked a young lady, and she said, “Hold on.”

Then she was gone all of two minutes and came back holding my magic band.

Thank you, Lord!

I’m happy to tell you that bad things come in threes, so that’s the last one. The rest of it went well:

Magic Kingdom 2016

Jungle Cruise

Magic Kingdom 2016

So excited to find this!

Magic Kingdom 2016 IMG_4643

 

Magic Kingdom 2016

I sat with my 2 middle children, who made it spin as fast as possible. I could have hurled.

Oh, the tea cups. What adult likes this ride? This was the only ride that made JD cry. IMG_3154 IMG_3156

 

Magic Kingdom 2016

Happy People

By lunch, JD reached full melt-down level. But Caleb and Dan were dying to ride these cars, so we split up here and met back at the restaurant. Lunch made all the difference too. When in doubt, feed the children!IMG_4644

Magic Kingdom 2016

I thought Zoe’s ears were adorable.

Magic Kingdom 2016

riding the People Mover

Magic Kingdom 2016

Country Bear Jamboree

IMG_3162 IMG_3164 IMG_3167 IMG_3168

One of the best things that happened: It rained almost every day, just enough to cool things off. The heat was not nearly as bad as I feared it would be.

Magic Kingdom 2016

Dinner at Tony’s Town Square. JD slept through almost every single evening meal in his stroller.

Magic Kingdom 2016

Alan bought these ponchos for $1 a piece at Target from the camping section. We were thankful to have these!!

In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah.

Amy is the real deal New England Patriots fan. She’s even from New England.

IMG_4669 IMG_4675 IMG_3170 IMG_3171

Granted, we got off to a rough start, but by lunch I feel like we had things turned around in our favor.

It struck me during our vacation what a positive difference it made, sharing this trip with good friends. Our kids were braver about trying new things, and I think it helped Alan and me to be more relaxed and fun. People often say that Alan and I are laid back, which is a real head scratcher for me because the truth is we are tired, uptight people. We do like to have fun. It’s just that we’ve been so busy changing diapers, enforcing vegetable consumption, teaching reading skills, coaching memory work, cleaning up, and taming boys over the past 10 years that sometimes it feels like fun is a relative concept. 

Our friends, Amy and Sean, are in the parenting trenches just as we are, so they’re understanding. Plus, we have shared history. They’ve already accepted us for who we are. I’d like to put my finger on what it is that makes me like these friends so much. Because I do. I love their whole family, and Amy is one of my few closest friends. They are upbeat, and they are real at the same time. Amy is the kind of friend I can be myself with, and they are good about keeping in touch.

There is a certain quality you find in just a few friends in life, a quality that cannot be aptly described with words. All I know is to call them “kindred spirits” as Anne of Green Gables did, but it’s more than that. There are some people who can’t help but be the main characters in your life. It is a matter of both mutual respect, shared interests, and plain old convenience and timing.

But I think God’s hand is in it too. Sometimes, once I realize a friend is definitely more than a passing acquaintance, I stop and wonder, “What is it, God? What should I learn from them? What do they need that I might offer?” It’s usually both. It’s that whole iron-sharpening iron thing.

It was a refreshing visit, especially as we enter another phase of meeting new people and being “the new kids” yet again.  My heart starts to get tired of putting my best foot forward, and that is why I drag my family out on all these vacations. I have this need to remind myself where we’ve been, where we’re going, and who we are before we plunge in to building a new community for ourselves.

And I have to take a little time. I wish that it were everyday, but sometimes it isn’t. But never forget to take a little time to read God’s Word, the Holy Bible, and get down on your face, and pray for the courage and strength to tackle the next thing. It would  be beautiful for life to be like the ENDINGS of your favorite movies, full of pot-luck dinners, and breezy sun-lit paths. But instead, it’s more like an obstacle course, where your relay team keeps changing. God is the only constant.

Today I found this verse:

In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah.  Psalm 81:7

In your distress, you called and I rescued you.

Yes!!  That was exactly it. This year and many times before!

It rang so strong and true with me that I wrote it down in 4 different places, one of which was where I copied the verse on my wrist in red ink pen. Alan said it looked disturbing. Sigh. I just wanted a place I could see it that wouldn’t wash off when I washed my hands. Being disturbing was not my intention.

But y’all!!! Sometimes life IS disturbing!!!

That is why we NEED friends! And vacations! And PRAYER!! And a little silence and rest. And upbeat people.

 

 

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