My in-laws rented half the house (there were 11 of us total, and plenty of room for everyone). Charlotte slept in our closet in a playpen, and actually seemed to sleep better there than she usually does in her crib. Maybe because she was so tired out from all our time on the beach, getting passed around from relative to relative?
|Grammy and Pops!|
Vacationing with family was awesome, because it meant we had about 6-8 built-in babysitters at any given time. Will and I were able to relax and even go on a couple dates. However, there was one particular mishap that will live on in family legend for years to come...
Several members of Will's extended family live in Gulf Shores, or in neighboring Mississippi. They all came by our first day at the beach house for an impromptu family reunion. That morning, I'd pumped some extra breastmilk so I could leave Charlotte with Will's sisters while I went to the beach. I came home and Will's sister, Laura, told me that Charlotte hadn't eaten well while I was gone. "She refused to take the bottle - I thought at first I'd heated it up too much, but then it seemed kinda clumpy. You'll probably want to feed her soon," she explained.
|There's a reason why I didn't want that bottle, Mommy!|
I thought it was odd that the breast milk got clumpy, but whatever. I fed Charlotte, and then other members of the family started to arrive for supper. My sisters-in-law went into the kitchen to prepare the meal, but suddenly there were shrieks and peals of laughter that made all the guests in the rest of the house turn their heads.
It took a while for the laughter to subside enough for someone to explain what was going on. Will's mother, Sandra, managed to say (with tears running down her cheeks): "Laura tried to feed Charlotte salad dressing this morning!!!" She waved the bottle around for emphasis, but everyone just looked confused. Why in the world would Laura have tried to feed the baby with salad dressing?
As it turned out, Laura saw me rushing around the kitchen in the morning with my breast pump, but she didn't see where I put the milk before I left. When she went to feed Charlotte, she looked all over the fridge but could find only a bowl of white liquid that she assumed was breast milk. She dumped it in the bottle, heated it up, and tried to feed it to the baby with limited success.
Hours later, Laura saw her older sister Becky grab the bowl of "breast milk" from the fridge and dump it into a big bowl of shredded cabbage (it was homemade cole slaw dressing). She shrieked: "Why are you putting breast milk in the cole slaw??!!" at which point, everyone in the kitchen gasped in disgust/horror. Laura grabbed the abandoned bottle of milk to smell it, and quickly realized her error.
Laura will probably never live this down, and we all thought it was absolutely hilarious. Charlotte probably wasn't as impressed as the rest of us were, though.
And... I couldn't help but notice most of our guests avoided the cole slaw at dinner. Just in case.
The rest of the trip was wonderful, and went by far too fast. We'd wake up early in the morning and head down to the beach, where we'd relax for a few hours before returning to the house for lunch and naps. Then we'd go back to beach, or the pool, for a second time later in the day. Sandra made wonderful dinners each evening. All in all, it was very chill - no itineraries, and everyone very flexible. There was plenty of time to be alone when you needed a break from the group, and lots of opportunities to branch off for individual interests.
|Gimme that seafood, Ma!|
Charlotte ate (and pooped) an impressive amount of sand over the last few days. She also learned to crawl, albeit backwards. It's kind of an awkward army crawl in reverse... and she's been pretty frustrated, since the object she's trying to grab only gets further away the harder she works! She'll probably figure it out in the next week or so...
|Uh, they never had fancy float contraptions like this when I was a baby!|
As previously reported, Charlotte's baby socialization skills are still somewhat lacking. She seems to be less tolerant of other babies when she's borderline tired, although she doesn't react the same way with adults in similar circumstances. Here's a sad/cute little photo sequence of her with Kinley, Will's third (fourth? second?) cousin's daughter.
|Sneak attack head rub!|
|Kinley was being SO gentle...|
|...but Charlotte did NOT appreciate the violation of her personal space.|
Am I a jerk for taking photos of my baby crying? She does it so rarely, and I think it's unbelievably cute. Oh, well.
We spent one evening crabbing, and it was nice to roam the piers as the wind picked up and a light, warm rain started to fall. The sky cleared up around sunset, and I got a great photo of Will and Charlotte just hanging out while everyone else checked the crab traps.
On our second-to-last night, Will and I went out for a great dinner at Cobalt. We gorged ourselves on fresh seafood (shrimp, oysters, red snapper, and gulf grouper) and shared a bottle of wine. After dinner, we walked along the shoreline until we came upon a massive, gated resort.
An older woman and her grandchild were using their key card to open the gate, so we slipped in behind them and explored the resort. On the roof, there was a massive pool and a lazy river that looped around the top of the building. I tried to convince Will to hop on an intertube and ride the lazy river with me, but he refused since he was sans swimsuit.
So I went without him.
No, I didn't have a swimsuit either.
I made friends with an elderly man from Tennessee who didn't seem to mind that I was floating next to him, fully clothed but soaking wet. It was extremely relaxing, and I still maintain that Will missed out on a lovely ride. We found me a dry towel in the lost and found, and then headed back down to ground level and the resort exit. It wasn't until we got back to our car that Will told me security guards had been following us around the entire time. Some followed us through the building, others followed us on the grounds in their golf carts (all wearing expressions of consternation). I don't know why Will didn't tell me this before I climbed into the lazy river fully clothed!
|All in all, it was a rather entertaining date night.|
On our last night, we played mini golf and then came home for dinner. Charlotte and I sat out on the porch, enjoying the warm breeze drifting in from the gulf. Suddenly, fireworks started exploding over the beach! Charlotte was fascinated by the fireworks, and sat in enthralled silence the entire time (occasionally making a quiet coo and reaching out as if trying to grab the air in front of her).
I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful vacation - it was much needed after the stresses of the last few months! But real life is already starting to sneak back in... apparently our AC unit back home decided to crap out. A repairman went by this morning and delivered us the bad news by phone while we were still sitting on the beach. $2500-$4000 for a new system? Can we afford that? Um.... NO.
But, not surprisingly, bad news is a lot easier to take when you're still in beach mode. Back to real life tomorrow, and back to work on Monday! Thanks to Will's parents for treating the family to a wonderful vacation!*
*I totally have the best in-laws ever. Hands down.