Vacation to Gulf Shores 2011

We had such an amazing trip to Gulf Shores last year, that we decided to do the exact same thing again this year.  We were not disappointed.  We had so much fun that we decided to book the SAME THING for next year 🙂  We highly recommend Gulf Shores for a family vacation.  We stay in a condo in Crystal Towers complex.  The condo has all the amenities of home which makes it perfect for traveling with young children.  We always leave feeling very relaxed and refreshed.  Nothing compares to an entire week of quality time with your family!

So sit back, relax, and enjoy a TON of pictures.

Reuben woke up Monday morning and headed straight to the balcony to admire the “big wa wa.”

We got dressed and headed straight to the beach to play.  Reuben wasn’t all that interested in the sand so after about 10 minutes, we packed up and went to the pool.

My sweet boy enjoying vacation 🙂

Relaxing in his floatie while Daddy takes him for a ride.

Family pic in the pool.  You do the best you can when you don’t have someone to take your pictures!

This pool has a lazy river that is lined with water fountains.  Reuben loved to walk along and stomp on each one of the fountains to block the water.

We had to support the OKC Thunder while we were on vacation.

Reuben is taking some time to wind down with his Toy Story buddy, Woody.

There is a Tanger Outlet mall about 15 minutes from Gulf Shores.  In the center of the shopping area, there is a carousel, splash pad, and playground for kids.  Shopping with a 2 year old was much more manageable with the available play areas.

One morning, we got up and headed to the Gulf Shores Zoo.  It was SO neat!  The zoo is pretty small, but they have a great variety of animals that you can see up close and personal.  We started at the Kangaroo Encounter.  Reuben and Nick got to go in and pet, hold, and observe baby kangaroos.

See how close we were to the lion?  It was awesome!

And again…the tiger was right there!

…AND a crocodile!

We bought a cup of food so Reuben could feed the animals.  We weren’t too sure what he would think about it, but he really enjoyed it!

This guy was desperate for some food!

We were SO hot after the zoo so we went straight back to the pool.  Reuben quickly resumed his job of stomping all the water fountains.

Climbing all over Daddy was another of Reuben’s favorite pool activities.

Thumbs up!

This thumbs up is a lot less enthusiastic.

Reuben was WIPED OUT after our morning at the zoo and the pool.  He couldn’t even make it through lunch.

Mommy and Reuben went for a ride on the carousel after another successful trip to the outlet mall.

We ate breakfast in the condo everyday, but on our last day we went to the local donut shop and got a special treat.  Reuben LOVED his maple cake donut.

After breakfast, Reuben sat down to read a book.  (Please excuse the donut crumbs surrounding him on the floor!)

Nick’s mom and dad found these swim trunks that were worn by both Nick and his brother, Chris, when they were little.  We have a picture (I will post it later) of Nick wearing these trunks 20+ years ago.  Anyway, when Nick’s mom discovered them while cleaning one day, she gave them to us to see if they might fit Reuben.  At that time they were way too big so Nick’s dad thumbtacked them up on their living room wall until this summer.  We packed them in his suitcase and promised that we would take some pictures of Reuben wearing the infamous swimming trunks on the beach.

Reuben was much more interested in playing in the sand this day.  We actually spent over an hour at the beach!

Ha!  He looks like a little old man standing like that!

Actually enjoying the waves a little bit.

On our last night, we went to Lulu’s, a favorite restaurant that we discovered last year.  Going to Lulu’s is an experience.  They have a whole outdoor area set up for guests while waiting for their table (which is great because average wait time is at least an hour).

Reuben’s giving Lulu’s two thumbs up!

Instead of playing in the massive sand area for kids, Reuben opted to sit back and enjoy a snack.

We tried to encourage him to play, but he was not interested.  He wouldn’t even put his feet in the sand!

We got seated at a great table, and enjoyed a live band.  Well, Nick and I enjoyed the live band.  Reuben…not so much.

Before we left Friday morning, Reuben had to go out to the balcony, get on his tippy toes, and wave goodbye to Nemo and Dory.  He was convinced they were both right there in the ocean.

And now…our attempt at family pics.  We had to get creative this time since we didn’t have anyone to take our pictures.  We found random things to set our camera on, set the timer, and hoped for the best.  Here’s what we got…

The wind was not nice to my hair…

Goodbye Gulf Shores!  See you next year!


Family Reunion in Pennsylvania

Over the 4th of July weekend, we headed to Greensburg, Pennsylvania (approx 1 hour from Pittsburgh) for an Agimudie family reunion.  There are a TON of pictures, so I will tell the story as I go 🙂  Enjoy!

This was Reuben’s 1st time to fly and Mommy was a NERVOUS WRECK!  Our flights going to and coming from PA were at 6:00 in the morning (thanks to the limits of frequent flyer miles) so we were all VERY tired.  And by all, I mean Mommy and Daddy.  Reuben managed to find some kind of supernatural energy that fueled him through the whole first flight and a 2 hour layover in Chicago…BOTH times.  He was happy, busy, and mobile.  We survived the flights, and I must say, the people around us were very gracious.  On 2 different flights, there was a man and a woman that played peek-a-boo with Reuben when the situation was becoming desperate.  They definitely saved the day.  The next step was Mommy jumping out the nearest exit.

Here’s Reuben jamming out to some Praise Baby.

We landed in Pittsburgh, picked up our rental car, and drove downtown to meet up with Nick’s older cousin, Josiah (visiting from Brazil).  He took us for a short walk of the downtown streets of Pittsburgh.  It was a beautiful day and so nice to walk around in the fresh air!

One of our stops was a fish market.  The smell was TERRIBLE, but Reuben loved seeing all the fish swimming around in their tanks.  Poor fishies…they have no idea what’s coming.  One of the workers offered to pull out a lobster for Reuben to see.  We were all mesmerized.

After we got all settled in our hotel in Greensburg, we headed over to Uncle Ulric and Auntie Sharon’s house for dinner.  Not too long after dinner, the family “singspiration” begun, which consisted of a mix between country and gospel oldies but goodies.  Auntie Sharon is a very talented pianist, and Reuben LOVED sitting on her lap, watching her play, and occasionally striking a few notes of his own.

On the first morning, Daddy and Uncle Chris went golfing.  Reuben and I stayed back and went for a walk in a shopping area right next to our hotel.  We stopped by PetCo and Reuben was IN LOVE.  He got so excited about the fish, birds, and mice.  He could have watched them forever.

One of Reuben’s favorite parts of the whole trip was getting to see his Uncle Chris everyday.  I’m sure he felt like a human jungle gym by the end of this trip!

On the 2nd day we were there, we got to go to an outdoor arts festival.  The guy working the parking lot took his job very seriously, but did he really need that long of an antenna on his headphones?

Reuben, me, cousin Jienna (visiting from Switzerland), Auntie Sharon, Nick, Zal, Chris, and cousin Kolona all enjoying the beautiful weather at the arts festival!

The arts festival had a petting zoo.  We decided Reuben was a little young to go in (or maybe we were too scared), so we pushed his stroller right up to the gate so he could watch all the animals.  He loved it!

Family pic by the lake at the arts festival.

I absolutely LOVE watching Nick be a daddy.  It absolutely melts my heart.

On Saturday morning, we had a World Cup watch party.  Josiah made some MASSIVE omelettes that were DELICIOUS.

Josiah brought a vuvuzela from Brazil, and while I’m not sure it was intended for this purpose, it totally occupied Reuben during the game.  He had so much fun blowing the vuvuzela and waving it around, thereby threatening the lives of all those sitting with a two feet radius of him.

When he became bored with the vuvuzela, he moved on to the Brazilian maracas.  He was soooo tired, but every time he started to nod off, he would give the maracas one last shake.

The shaking of the maracas gave Reuben a miraculous second wind so we moved his busy little party to the backyard.  He loved playing catch with Daddy.  I love how proudly he’s marching through the grass 🙂

My sweet little boy.

Reuben had a hard time sleeping on this trip, so this was a very common sight in our room.  All cuddled up in his jammies with his milk and his blanket, and taking up the WHOLE bed.  Once he passed out, we moved him to the pack and play until he woke up and figured out our trick…then it was back to the bed for Reuben!

Uncle Ulric and family have recently purchased this farmhouse, acreage, and barn.  They’ve been working very hard over the past 3 years to restore it to livable condition.  Both were built in the 1840s and have incredible potential!  It is AMAZING the progress they’ve made in the past 3 years!

The House

The Barn

Reuben loved the wide open field to play ball and run around.

Ready! Set! Hut!

Uncle Dave and Uncle Chris…two of Reuben’s BEST FRIENDS after this trip.

Hitching a ride with Uncle Dave 🙂

The first night on the farm was spent cooking a traditional Trinidadian dish…curry goat, roti (like a thick flour tortilla), and channa and aloo (curried chick peas and potatoes).  This family works much better when there is loud music playing so Nick pulled up the rental car, opened all the doors, and blasted some traditional Indian music.  Ghetto?  No!  Of course not!

Uncle Ulric and Auntie Grace helping to prepare dinner.

Who needs a Calphalon turner when you have a machete??? The table in the background hand made by Sydney and Uncle Murray earlier that day.  Need a table?  No problem!  We’ll just throw together these random wood scraps!

Auntie Sharon and Zal making the best roti I’ve ever had!

The curry goat was simmering in this massive pot and stirred using a large stick.  Nick’s cousin, Shera, decided to get in on a little of the stirring action.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to stir a huge pot of curry goat with a log?

Christmas card picture???

This picture should give you a little perspective to how massively huge the pot was.

On Sunday morning, we had the honor of leading a few songs of worship at a local church.  The pastor of this church has traveled to Trinidad once before to preach a crusade, and he will be going again this summer.  We began with a family rendition of some country gospel songs and ended with Nick and I singing a few more contemporary worship songs.  When Nick and I finished the first song, the sanctuary was very quiet, and Reuben screamed, “Oh yes!”  It was soooo sweet.  I got all choked up and had to regain my composure for the next song!

Reuben’s “reading” a book (an upside down hymnal, to be exact) with Shera

Playing the drums with Uncle Chris

Sitting in the back with Daddy during the message.  Mommy gave him lots to drink and prayed he would keep quiet during the sermon.  He did great!

After the service, Reuben got to play the drums all by himself.  He was in heaven!

Here’s a video of Reuben’s dream come true…a drum set all to himself 🙂

On Sunday afternoon, we had a large gathering of our family, some of Auntie Sharon’s family, and some of their friends.  We had a few (30) chickens for the event.

And a few desserts too…  Yes, they are ALL desserts.

Reuben helped to shuck some corn.

I got in on the action too!  I’m so country in my dress and sandals.

This hammock was a favorite spot for sure because there was a cool breeze that blew through.  Reuben enjoyed relaxing with his Grandma Z.

Washing the pot in preparation for boiling corn.

The pot was big enough for Reuben to take a swim.

Josiah and Uncle Dave keeping watch over the 30 chickens.  Can we all take a moment of silence to pause and reflect on the size of Josiah’s boots?

Uncle Dave and Auntie Grace, a match made in heaven.  Look at that teamwork!  They look like they’ve done this once or twice!

Relaxing with Uncle Chris, and winding down for a nap.

July 4th is Uncle Ulric’s birthday, so a large part of this gathering was to celebrate him.  Uncle Dave got the party kicked off…AKA…let the eating begin.

Reuben is feeling much better after a nap and ready to spend some more time with his buddy, Uncle Dave.

Stop arguing and put on your happy face for a picture.  Nick listened, Chris didn’t.

Daddy and his little buddy 🙂

As the night wore on, another “singspiration” broke out.  Reuben joined in the fun by dancing around and screaming.

We felt a meltdown coming on so what does Daddy do?  Start throwing Reuben in the air!

Reuben’s favorite part of our hotel was talking on the phone.  He would take the phone off the receiver and walk around as far as the cord would reach.

On the last day, we had breakfast, just the 3 of us.  Reuben had just thrown his cheerios on the floor and he got embarrassed, and hid his face in shame.

One final picture with Grandma and Grandpa on the last night of our trip. So long, folks!

Vacation to Gulf Shores

A few weeks ago, we took our first family vacation.  Upon the recommendation of some friends, we went to Gulf Shores, Alabama.  When talking about vacationing, I decided that I wanted to go somewhere in which the objective was to rest.  Touring, sightseeing, and exploring did not appeal to me at all ESPECIALLY after the crazy year we’ve had.   We packed up our CRV and drove 12 hours to the beach.  Within minutes of being in our condo, Nick turned and asked me if I was ready to book the condo again for next year.  It was SO amazing!  Just the sound of the waves, the ocean breeze, and the beautiful blue sky was enough to put us into an instantaneous place of rest.  We were pretty nervous about Reuben being in the car for 12 hours, but he was such a trooper.  With a few stops to let him get out and run around, a DVD player, snacks, and his drumsticks, Reuben was good to go.  We are so devastated by the negative impact the oil spill is beginning to have on the area 😦  We’re praying for the families and local businesses as they weather this storm and are surely impacted by this crisis.  We’re very hopeful to return to Gulf Shores in the near future!  Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy LOTS of pictures!!! (Please excuse the random quality of pictures.  They were taken with everything from our fancy camera to our phone cameras.)

Reuben’s having a great time on the road trip, all snuggled in with his blanket and drumsticks!

Our secret weapon was the DVD player.  We tried to avoid using it except for crisis moments.  Praise Baby came to the rescue once again!

Reuben kept Mommy and Daddy entertained with several games of Peek-a-boo!

When we arrived, we unloaded our car and went straight to the beach.  This is some video of Reuben’s first reactions.

Reuben loved playing in AND eating the sand.

He loved watching the waves and the seagulls.

Getting his feet wet and hanging on to Daddy for dear life.  Totally stylin in his buddy Troyer’s swimming trunks.

Just a little sandy…

Relaxing with Daddy and watching some TV.

We ate at Lambert’s…TWICE.  Reuben loved the chaotic environment AND the mashed potatoes.

Everything at Lambert’s was huge…including this large slab of meat hung for decoration.

We got to meet the Chavez family (minus Julianna) for breakfast in Pensacola, which is only 45 minutes from Gulf Shores.  We had a great time catching up with them!  My younger sister, Shannon, also met up with us in Pensacola.  She vacationed with her friends in Destin, but they had to head back to Tulsa on Wednesday.  Shannon still had the rest of the week off of work so she joined us until Friday!

Swimming with Daddy in our favorite pool.  We could still see and hear the beach, but were able to avoid the sand!

We had dinner at Lulu’s one night and LOVED the atmosphere.  This restaurant is a MUST if you ever make the trip to Gulf Shores.  The food was great, but the atmosphere was AWESOME.

They had a HUGE sandy area for the kids  to play while waiting to be seated.

They had live music the whole night.

Each night, after Reuben’s afternoon nap, we went shopping at the outlet mall (it was so HUGE we had to break it up over 3 nights).  After a couple hours of shopping, we’d go have a nice dinner and then head back to the condo.  At the Nike outlet, Shannon bought these super cute high tops for Reuben.  Well, it took 2 of us and 20 minutes to get Reuben’s feet in the shoes.  We quickly decided that they weren’t practical and would have to be returned but we took some pictures first!

Wake up, Daddy!  I’m ready for the beach!

All dressed and ready to take family pictures on the beach.

We decided to have Shannon take pictures of our family while she was with us for 2 days.  Having never done this before, we figured the best time would be first thing in the morning.  Well, we quickly learned otherwise.  It was already hot, the lighting wasn’t right, and Reuben was grumpy.  Here are the pics that could be considered half way decent.

We gave up and decided to head back and get our swim stuff on.  When we walked into the pool area, Reuben walked over to a lounge chair and took a rest.

He looked cute, so we decided to squat down and join him for another attempt at a family picture.

Relaxing on the balcony in his swim gear 🙂

Taking a stroll with Auntie Shan.

Picture time…

SOOOO cute in the speedo on loan from his buddy, Diego 🙂

Reuben got to experience his 1st ride in the “toy that costs way too much but gives Mommy and Daddy a minute of sanity while trying to shop.”  He thoroughly enjoyed the ride and we thoroughly doused him in antibacterial soap after it was finished.

Chilling in the backseat with Auntie Shan.  Sad to be taking her to the airport 😦

Trying to get a cute pic on our last day at the beach.  After approximately 289 attempts, this was the best.

Living life on the edge 🙂

Getting swallowed up by the shark’s mouth at a local souvenir shop.

The incredible view from our balcony.

Our favorite pool.

Our condo was actually located across the street from the beach.  There was a skywalk on the 2nd floor that we could use instead of having to cross the busy street.  Reuben’s FAVORITE part of the whole trip was walking this skywalk.  There was an echo in there so he would scream the entire time.  On the last day, we let him walk the skywalk over and over again.

On our last night, we went to the beach at about 7:00 p.m.  We quickly realized that this was THE BEST TIME to take pictures.  Unfortunately, Shannon was gone, so we couldn’t redo our family pics.  SO…we started to snap as many pics as possible of our cute little boy.

All snuggled in and ready for the long trip home.  Bye bye, Gulf Shores!  We’ll be back someday!!!