Wiggle’s First Day of Kindergarten + One of Our Biggest Challenges With Adoption

It all started last Thursday.

Last Thursday was my little man’s last day of preschool, the same preschool he’s attended for the last three years of his life.  At drop off he crawled around the play equipment, meowing and pretending to be a kitty.  But when I looked at him I didn’t see a kitty.

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I saw my baby, physically latched to my body, my milk sustaining him.  I saw my toddler, doing his shuffle walk, saying ‘one more!’ after doing something he liked.  I saw my kindergartner, waving me goodbye as he started his next chapter.  I saw my preteen, not allowing me to kiss him in front of his friends.  I saw my early driver, rolling his eyes as I reminded him about safety.  I saw my teenager, taking his first girlfriend on a date.  I saw my college student, leaving the safety of my home to study his interests.  I saw my young man, leaving me to marry the woman who would be his partner for the remainder of his life.

His whole life, or at least the first 30 years of it, flashed across my eyes that day and I couldn’t stop crying.  I’m not usually a crier, but there are two things that never fail to draw a tear:  Those military reunion videos and milestone moments.  And this was a very big milestone moment.  I cried all day long.  I drove to work and cried in my car for 10 minutes.  Luckily I had a busy day to keep me distracted, but in the car between meetings with landlords and property managers, I just couldn’t turn off the water works.

That night we had back to school night.  We met all the teachers and saw all the classrooms, but with three kids we were rushed.  We had a fun family weekend camping at Worlds/Oceans of Fun, a lazy day on Monday, and then today.  The first day of kindergarten.

Our family is unique in that our first born is not our oldest.  Diva was nearly five when she joined our family.  Last April, around Adoption Day, this hit me hard.  I looked at Wiggles- then the same age as Diva was when she came home.  I thought about how well I knew him.  I thought about how I understood why he got upset, why he said the funny things he said, what made him tick.  I thought about Diva joining our family at that same exact age and how I knew nothing about her at that time.  At that time- when I only had a newborn and a 2 year old biologically-a 5 year old seemed so capable, so mature….but when Wiggles hit that age, I still considered him very much my baby.

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When I look at her now, she looks so young…but at the time, I thought she was so old.

Adopting kids older than your biological kids is called ‘out of birth order’ adoption and it is somewhat controversial in the adoption world- we had to fight for our right to be allowed to do this.  At that time, I remember thinking it was so stupid it was controversial.  But I totally understand now.  It’s HARD, and there are countless times when I am wracked with guilt over how I handled a situation then vs. how I would handle it now, now that I have the knowledge and experience and gut instincts that come with having a biological child.   The Husband and I are learning and growing as parents every day, and we for darn sure are better parents now than we were three or five years ago.  But boy, have we made some mistakes along the way.

So, back to our firstborn not being our oldest.  This is not my first time sending a kid to kindergarten.  We did it three years ago with Diva.  Back then, Diva had only joined our family four short months prior and English was still pretty raw.  She was so fearful of everything.  I remember, through a very significant language barrier, trying to explain to my precious barely-five-year old Diva about how she was going to get on a bus and go to school.  And then on the first day, I put her on the bus and went to work.  I had called the school and asked someone to keep a special eye on her, since this was a completely new experience and she was likely to be overwhelmed.  But I didn’t go with her.  I didn’t hold her hand.  I didn’t on purpose neglect her; I just wasn’t that emotionally bonded with her yet and didn’t realize that other parents were likely making this a much bigger deal than I was.  I honestly didn’t realize that other parents would be walking their babies to class. I didn’t look at her as a five-year-old baby; I looked at her as my big five-year-old, ready to take on the world.  Now, having the experience of having a biological child go through the same experience, I cringe with regret.

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Now back to today.  Wiggles snuck into our bed in the middle of the night last night, which happens more often than I care to admit.  Last night he instructed me to pack him a PBJ in his lunch; but we were out of peanut butter.  When I woke him up this morning and informed him that I had to alter his lunch, I instantly became the worst mommy ever.  I ruined his first day.  He wasn’t going to school or even getting out of bed.  Kindergarten was not off to a good start.

Of course, he did get out of bed, and he did go to school, but he continued his peanut butter protest in the only way he knew how:  he refused to cooperate for pictures.

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Luckily Sassypants volunteered for his place, and the pictures will show a very honest depiction of our typical day.

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Today we didn’t just stick him on the bus and hope for the best- of course, we drove him to school and we walked him into his classroom.  He settled right in, eager to put his things in his locker, open his new pencil box, and meet his new friends.  We left, and I cried, but not as much as Thursday (honestly, I felt like ‘he’s your problem now!’….so his bad attitude this morning at least helped me cope through the day).

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Thankfully, he managed through the lack of PB&J and came home a happy kid.  He was in good spirits all night, and excited to tell us all about his day….but ready for bed an hour earlier than usual.  All that learning is hard work!

So, it’s a new chapter for the our family.  We have three kids in elementary school and zero kids in diapers.  It feels surreal.  I never thought we’d get here! It feels sad, but also happy. It feels like a time for reflection; a time to remind myself that no matter how ‘old’ my oldest kids seem, they’re still babies and I shouldn’t expect too much from them. In general I’m a high expectation setter, but my job as a parent, and especially as an adoptive parent, is to set my kids on a path to success by meeting them where they’re at and helping them find an appropriate path for them.  Smiles was 8 when he joined our family; he’s always been a ‘big kid’.  Next year he’ll go to middle school, which seems so old!  But I’ve learned that although it feels so old now, I know it won’t a few years later when Wiggles gets to that point.  I know I’ll still look at 12-year-old Wiggles as my baby- so I’m learning to look at Smiles and Diva that way too- because that’s exactly how they deserve to be looked at.  Every kid, no matter the age, should be someone’s baby, and I think adoptive parents (ie myself) do a disservice when they fail to do this. Adoption ain’t easy, and God is using it to teach me lessons every day.

We survived kindergarten. Wiggles is growing up, but he’s so smart and so ready for this.  He’s my little buddy and I love hanging out with him; he’s no doubt one of my favorite people to have conversations with.  At age five he’s a deeper thinker than most of the adult population.  No doubt he’s got this- now if only I do.

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Virginia Beach Day Eight- Busch Gardens

Today we headed to Busch Gardens.  I had visited this park as a young teenager and was excited to take my children!

It was a full day; we got there a little after 11 and didn’t leave til the park closed at 9 PM.  We had so much fun!  It is a very nice amusement park- beautiful landscaping, great kids areas, awesome coasters, elaborate themes that carry into the smallest details.  We lucked out and went on a day with nice weather and short lines (although the rides did shut down for 30 minutes because of a random power outage). On the way home I asked The Husband what his favorite ride was and he rattled off 3 or 4 roller coasters.  He didn’t mention the one I thought he would and when I brought it up he remembered a few others- he said “Pretty much every ride was my favorite!”

Sassypants is a brave little girl!  There was nothing she was scared to go on.  She’s so cute on rides; she gets the biggest grin and softly giggles between her “weeees’.  After one twisty ride The Husband asked if her tummy felt funny and she replied “My tummy feels FUN!”

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Wiggles is hilarious.  At 42” there are some scary big kid rides he can go on.  He’ll try everything but doesn’t like much!  He squeezes his adult companion very tightly, whimpers through the ride, and is excited when the ride is over- but then he’s ready to try another one a few minutes later!  The bumper cars were his favorite.

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Diva is my only kid that likes roller coasters, so she got a lot of 1:1 time as The Husband and My Sister broke off from the group to take her on the big rides.  She loved them!  She’s cute on rides too; she belly laughs at all the fun parts.  The woman in front of her on one ride turned around afterwards and said “Well that was the best soundtrack I’ve ever had on a ride!”

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Amusement parks are not Smiles’ thing, but he had a good time today.  He’s now too tall to go on most of the baby rides, but he got out of his comfort zone and rode a few twisty-turny rides today.  He really liked this elaborate virtual reality ride, and he won a stuffed animal from a soccer game.  The highlight of his day was when he scored a free basketball for helping out the game attendant.

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My nieces had fun too.  My Big Niece has come a long ways; she used to be scared of most rides but now she rides everything she can!  My Little Niece is only 1.5 so there’s not much she can do, but if it were up to her she’d do a lot more!  She was a trooper today (and really all week); she had very limited nap time on a hot and busy day, but had a great attitude through it all.

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Some of my favorite moments from today- when we were waiting for the train, fun music was on so I started dancing.  Diva gets embarrassed very easily and gave me her stare that lets me know she disapproves.  Then her Aunt started dancing with me, then my Big Niece started dancing with me, and that stare transformed into a smile.  I asked her why it was acceptable when they danced but not me?  She said “You’re my mom, everyone knows moms are embarrassing!”  She’s only 8, Lord have mercy on her teenage years.

At the end of the night we were playing in the splash pad by the entrance when Sassypants and her Big Cousin started fighting, for real fighting with hitting and pushing and yelling.  I went to break it up and right as I was reaching them one of those buckets spilled right on top of me!  I screamed, my sister cracked up, and the girls kept right on fighting.

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We leave tomorrow, so tonight we said good bye to my sister’s family.  There were tears.  One of the best parts of this vacation has been watching our kids interact together.  Sassypants is between my nieces age wise, so she fits right in.  She fights with my Big Niece like they’re sisters, but they can play together for hours.  At one point I lost track of them for a minute in a kids area and finally found them…on a ride.  Wiggles leads his little cousins around and takes this responsibility very seriously.  Diva is the mother hen.  It was rare to see Diva without one of my nieces attached to her.  Smiles is quite a bit older than my nieces, but he is so kind and gentle with them.

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We were so lucky to spend all week with my sister’s family!  I don’t know how my sister does it all; her girls are way off their schedule and we’ve had nothing but long days this week.  She’s been operating on little sleep but is always up for fun and is so patient with her girls.  We sure miss them in Kansas City but are so thankful for this week!

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Tomorrow we’ll hang out at the campground for awhile before starting the trek back!  We’ll definitely miss Virginia but are excited to come home!

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Virginia Beach Day Seven- Living Museum

We had a lazy morning today before heading off to the Living Museum.  My sister has a membership here and speaks very highly of it, so we were excited to try it out!

There’s an outdoor nature walk where we saw all sorts of wildlife.  All the animals in the museum are native to Virginia.  We saw otters, fox, eagles, and we even saw a lady pet an opossum!  They had a dinosaur exhibit where we saw how large TRex’s footprints were and sat on a dinosaur ribcage.

Inside the kids got to pet various kinds of crabs- except for Smiles who wussed out.

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We played in a giant turtle shell

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And watched a diver clean the shark tank!

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We also got to watch fish change their color to camouflage to different ground coverings, see lots of turtles and fish, and touch some shedded snake skin.

The museum was a lot of fun.  I made all the kids tell me something they learned before they got a snack afterwards.

We went back to the cabin to change and then met my sister’s family at Sandbridge Beach.  This is their favorite beach, and it was easy to see why!  The houses are storybook perfect, there are hammocks under the pier, and a lot less people than at Virginia Beach.  If I were to rent a house in this area, I would rent a house here. We did all the beach things…..

 

Including digging inappropriately shaped holes.

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Wiggles has a big imagination and can play for hours by himself.  Today on the beach he told me that he was a “Beethoven”, which is like a beaver but it doesn’t go in the water, it lives in the dessert and eats sand.  The Beethoven’s biggest problem is that there are dogs named Cogs that like to eat it.  He put his fingers in a certain way and pressed in the sand to show me what Beethoven’s footprints looked like.  When I told him to go in the ocean to get the sand off his chest, he said all exasperatedly, “I do not have a chest!  I am a Beethoven!”  That kid cracks me up!

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We planned to get dinner afterwards, but the place my sister recommended had a long wait.  It’s not easy finding a table for 10 with short notice!  We quickly looked up some places in the parking lot and settled on Lucky Oyster.  It was great!  The Husband and Diva tried raw oysters for the first time- The Husband thought they were “blah” and Diva thought they were “horrible”.  The Husband didn’t chew so later thought he should have tried it again.  Diva was brave enough to try a second one, this time with hot sauce, but concluded that she was “never eating that again.”

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The Husband, Diva, and Smiles all ate mussels for the first time as well.  This got thumbs up all the way around!  I may have told Smiles that eating mussels makes him grow muscles.

Time has gone by very quickly since we’ve been here; it seems like every time I look at the clock it’s a few hours later than I would have guessed.  I don’t think the kids have gone to bed before 10 PM once since we’ve been here- luckily, they’ve all slept well, probably because they’ve been so worn out!

 

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Virginia Beach Day Six- Water Country

Today we had a very busy day at Water Country!  Didn’t get to take many pictures.

Water Country is about an hour from our cabin.  On the way there we went through a long over-the-ocean bridge and through an under-the-ocean tunnel.  I’m 33 years old and still don’t understand how they build those things!

Water Country has enough thrill rides for any adventure seeker.  Our favorite was the Colossal Curl, which is a 4-person funnel shaped ride with massive drops and high lifts.  So fun and unlike most other water slides.

Water Country is also really great for little kids.  There are 3 separate play areas for the really young kids, all of which are great.

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One of them has a water slide that’s like a miniature adult water slide.  It was legitimately fun!  Sassypants and her Big Cousin went down over and over again, and each time Sassypants said “Weeeeee!  Weeeeee!  Weeeeeee!” the whole way down.

There are also a half dozen or so big kid rides that younger kids can go on, so long as they have a life vest and an adult with them.  These were really fun to do together as a family- these were not baby slides!  I was really nervous for Sassypants to go down her first big slide- it was a three person raft, with me in the back, Smiles in the front, and her in the middle- but she loved it! One of the slides that everyone went on was pretty fast, and most of it was in a dark tube with very limited visibility.  We sat in those 4 person circle tubes.  The kids did not like that one so much.  Sassypants told us it was very scary but she wanted to try it again to see if she liked it next time.  Wiggles told us “THAT WAS HORRIBLE!”

Besides that one, Wiggles loved the big kid slides.  As each one ended he jumped out of the water and said “THAT WAS THE BEST RIDE EVER!!!”  If he stands really straight and stretches out his neck he’s 42”, which allows him to ride a couple extra rides.  He just couldn’t get enough; besides the blackout one he was pretty fearless. He’s really growing up and is becoming so fun just to hang out with

Smiles had fun.  He’s not an adventure seeker and gets very scared of heights, but once he gets to the top he likes the way down.  He spent the second half of the day in the baby pool.  He was a good big brother and played a lot with Sassypants. He also really liked the wave pool.

Diva also had fun, but was in a weird mood today.  She also spent the second half of the day in the baby pool.  Her little cousins really look up to her and she loves playing with them.

It was nice having 4 adults so we could trade off little-kid-watching duties.  We all got some time with the younger kids, but also all got to ride several fun rides.  We got there shortly after the park opened and left after it closed, a 9 hour day.  We are all beat but still didn’t do nearly everything the park had to offer!  I guess, considering we had 6 young kids with us, our time was spent something like this:

  • 40% Walking around and trying to convince kids to follow you
  • 30% Waiting in line
  • 20% Drying tears, mediating fights, fixing bad attitudes
  • 5% Eating
  • 5% Riding rides

Tonight my body is exhausted and is looking forward to more relaxed day tomorrow!

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Virginia Beach Day Five- Boat Rental and Pictures

We woke up to alarms today, quickly changed into our swimsuits, and drove to the boat rental place.  We had a 14 passenger pontoon boat.  The worker guy rambled on for 30 minutes of instructions before we took off.  The kids were mostly excited about the muffins I brought for breakfast, which ended up making a huge mess all over the boat- but they really loved those muffins!  We drove around for a bit before stopping to swim.  My little niece wanted to get in and needed a grown up to go with her, but none of the grown ups were excited to go.  She looked at her dad with her pretty eyes just long enough that he was finally about ready to jump in when he saw a jellyfish!

Honestly, I kind of thought he made it up at first to have an excuse not to get in, but a little while later he caught the jellyfish in a net!  I have never seen a wild jellyfish before.  It was clear and hard to see, but definitely there.  Jellyfish are so gross.  I think it was dead, but I was a little worried that our 5 children were swimming in jellyfish infested water.  The kids talked about who would pee on who if someone got stung!  Luckily, our trip was jellyfish-sting free.

A little while later we got out the tube!  As a kid I LOVED tubing but haven’t been for a very long time.  Diva and my Big Niece went first.  We took it easy on them and they loved in!  Next up were Wiggles and Smiles.  We did not take it easy on them, and were shocked at how long they held on!  We named them the BA Brothers…none of them know what BA means. 😊  We spent the next couple of hours taking turns on the tube.  My kids surprised me!  Sassypants got pretty tired and wasn’t that into it.  Wiggles was so good at holding on; I was shocked at how long he lasted.  Diva, usually my adventurous one, didn’t love going fast.  Every time before her turn The Husband got a stern talking to about how he was only permitted to go slowly.  Smiles, usually my biggest wuss, LOVED it and couldn’t stop smiling.

My Little niece napped, and after she woke up my sister did tricks.

After boating we came back to the campground and took it easy for a few hours.  Sassypants napped, the other kids played in the pool.  At one point we were sitting outside talking.  My sister looked down, saw a snake by her feet, everyone looked, and we noticed it was eating a frog!  Yuck.

Tonight we headed back to the beach.  We usually do family pictures with a college friend, but since we were going to be in such a nice setting and with my family we hired a photographer to capture us here in Virginia.  In my head this was going to be a fun night.  We got there right before sunset, beautiful weather, kids all spruced up.  I thought we’d shoot pictures for a bit, say bye to my sister, then maybe go to a beachside restaurant for dessert.

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That’s not exactly how it went.  My sister’s poor kids are completely off their schedule, and my Little Niece decided to party from 11-4 AM last night.  So by sunset they were completely wiped out.  They wanted no part of being there.  Wiggles was completely captivated by the water and only wanted to stand in the crashing surf.  Sassypants was not interested in getting her picture taken, she preferred throwing sand and then screaming at herself when it got on her face.  Hopefully we got a few good ones, but please know in a few weeks when we post them on social media that for every good one we posted we have 100 that look like this.

After we were done I let the kids loose.  Wiggles and Diva dove in the ocean, completely soaking their nice picture clothes.  I made them ride back home in their underwear.  Before we left we saw a big ghost crab!  The kids freaked out!  Lots of wildlife today!

Poor Sassypants has been tired this trip.  Just look at how tiny and cute she is…but man, is she loud and demanding. This was how our car ride home went:

“MOMMY!  HOLD MY HAND!  NO!  HOLD MY KNEE!  NO!! NOT LIKE THAT!  SPREAD YOUR FINGERS OUT!  Good.  NO!  DON’T HOLD MY KNEE!  HOLD MY CUPHOLDER!

Then Smiles tried to be a nice big brother and calm her down by offering her the phone he was playing games on.  She responded:

“I AM MAD!  YOU ARE MAKING ME MADDER! (Throws phone)  DON’T NO ONE LOOK AT ME AND DON’T NO ONE TALK AT ME!”

Sometimes I don’t know whether to cry or laugh, you know?

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Virginia Beach Day Four- The Beach!

This morning the campground had a (free) pancake breakfast, and now my kids have discovered that some people put whipped cream on top of their pancakes, and now my pancakes will never pass muster again.

My Brother-in-law is a campus pastor at Community Church.  He doesn’t preach every Sunday, but it just happened that he was preaching the weekend we were visiting!  We’ve watched him online before but this was our first time watching him in person.  We really enjoyed the entire experience and were so proud of the great job he did!

After a quick lunch back at the cabin- and plenty of threats because my kids could not seem to get along or listen this morning- we headed back to the beach.  We had another great summer beach day.  I did about 500 60-pound curls helping Sassypants and her cousin jump over waves.  Her cousin kept pulling me saying “Further out, further out” while Sassypants said over and over “That was fun mom, that was really really fun!”

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We took turns burying everyone, but this ended badly when sand got on Wiggle’s face and he was convinced he would never be unsandy again.  (poor guy….his screaming usually drives me bonkers, but having sand in your eyes and mouth when every other square inch of your body is covered in sand really does suck).

We dug a lot of holes.

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We bought the big kids body boards, which they thought was pretty much the greatest thing ever.  They really had fun jumping on the waves and riding them in.  Wiggles tried to do this too but got pretty frustrated when he couldn’t get down the whole jumping-on-the-wave part.  Finally I helped him time it right and he said “Boy I really like these waves!”  He’s such an old man sometimes.

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When the little kids started to get cranky we showered off the sand, some more naked than others.

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Then came an adventure.  My sister and brother-in-law had driven to the beach, but we had taken the bus.  We planned to stop and get food to eat at the cabin for dinner.  We decided the boys would go get the food while the girls- along with six kids (four of the kids age 5 and under) would take the bus back.  Genius plan, right?  We stressed to the big kids that we would need some help, and Diva happily obliged.

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We made the walk to the bus stop and had to wait a few minutes for it to come.  There was a carton of, like, a dozen uneaten cupcakes sitting on top of the nearby trash can.  Did I mention we had four kids age 5 and under?  Keeping them from those cupcakes was no easy feat.  They finally got distracted by those little touristy coupon books and maps, and had pulled out about 50 of them just as the bus pulled up, so that was pretty fantastic.

We got on the bus.  Adult day passes are $4, kids 17 and under ride for free.  What I didn’t know is that there is a limit of 2 kids per adults.  We had 2 adults and 6 kids…and this particular bus driver happened to be a real rule follower.  She gave us a pretty tough time and instructed us to sit down while she waited for other passengers and called her supervisor.  She never said another word to us, but eventually closed the doors and took off.  That is, she never said another word except for yelling at the kids to sit with their bottoms on the seats, backs against the back of the chair.  Did I mention we had 6 kids with us?

Finally we got to the campground and I called The Husband to come pick us up.  Our cabin is in the very back of the campground, a long walk from the check in area and bus stop.  Totally doable, but difficult with so many young kids.  The husband texted back that he was still getting food and that I had the keys to the cabin.  I said no, the cabin keys are in the van, and he had the van keys.  My phone had 3% battery at this time.  He called and apologized for leaving me stranded.  My poor sister supervised all the kids while I went to the front desk.  I explained the situation and they very kindly took pity on us, rounded up 2 golf carts to take us all to the cabin, and used the master key to let us in.  I told the guy that he not only saved our day, he also saved my husband from a lot of trouble.  He said he’s been that husband!

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My sister and I then decided to give the three littlest kids- a 1-year-old and two 3-year-olds- a shower to get the sand off.  If you’ve never given 3 young kids a shower before, you should really try it!  She stood on the floor and scrubbed while I stood on the toilet and scrubbed.  There were only a few screams.  Wish we had gotten a picture!

I tend to find myself in these kind-of-sucky-but-also-hilarious adventures pretty often.  The Husband tolerates it and laughs with me the next day, but my sister laughs with me in the moment and for that I will be forever grateful.  There’s no one I’d rather be on an adventure with than my sissy!

Anyways, today all ended fine and the kids were glad for their golf cart adventure.  The boys got back with a giant pizza and we chowed down before her family left.  The Husband took the other kids to the campground pool- complete with water slides- but it started lightening shortly after they got there.  They got back just before the rain started and the big kids got to enjoy a short movie before bed.

Tomorrow is the only morning we have to get up early, we rented a boat and have to be there at 8:30.  (That’s early for us, okay?)

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Virginia Beach Day Three- Family, KOA Campground Lodging, and Captain Jack’s Pirate Adventure.

This morning we woke up, ate a quick breakfast, and headed over to my sister’s house!

My sister moved out here a little over a year ago and though I’m happy for her, I really miss her family and have been so excited to see them again.  My nieces are 3.5 and 1.5 and they are growing up so quickly!  We went over to her house for a couple hours this morning.  We enjoyed catching up with her and my brother-in-law while the kids all played.  She just moved last week and her house is so cute- and these little ladies sure had a fun time catching up!20170722_104740

After that we ran by Costco to stock up on groceries for the week and a quick lunch, then headed to our cabin to check in.  When booking lodging I considered lots of options before settling on the KOA Campground.

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We’re only one day in but so far it’s great!  We like it for the following reasons:

  • Outside area for hanging out after the kids go to sleep- also great for drying towels and keeping sandy clothes/toys out of the living area
  • Kitchen area for meals when it’s convenient
  • 2 Miles from the beach- and there are busses that go to the beach every 20 minutes from 9:30 AM-11:00 PM.  The bus passes are $4/adult/day- cheaper than parking, and it drops off at a convenient spot.
  • Tons of activities to occupy downtime- there’s a pool with waterslides, jumping pillow, bikes to rent, and many planned activities like movies, tie dye, water balloon fights, etc.
  • Layout, layout, layout….when we travel for longer than a night or two, this margarita drinking night owl mom really tries to find lodging that allows us to put the kids to bed and then hang out by ourselves.  This cabin is perfect!

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After checking in we used to bus to get to the beach.  The kids were SO excited!

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They couldn’t get over just how big it was.

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Unfortunately, it was a little anticlimactic as we had booked Captain Jack’s Pirate Adventure and had to head straight there before we could get in the ocean.

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I had mixed thoughts on the Pirate Adventure.  It was fun.  It was also hot, very hot.  There are two versions of the Pirate Adventure- the family adventure and the booze cruise.  Can you guess which one we did?  There were 3 pirates that had lost their treasure, and they recruited all the kids on board to help them find it.  But first the kids had to look the part, and then they had to train.  They had to learn to do pirate things, like shoot the water cannons.   At the end of the adventure a bad pirate came by and we had to scare him away before we got the treasure back!

At one point The Husband got picked to help the pirates, but since he didn’t have a peg leg or an arm hook they recruited Smiles to cut off his hand…luckily another one of the pirates stopped him before he did!

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I’m not sure if I would recommend the adventure or not.  My kids liked it, but they didn’t love it.  It would have been better if it wasn’t so hot, and if it wasn’t the very first thing we did- my kids had beach on the brain.  I would also not recommend this for younger kids- 5-year-old Wiggles was totally into it, but 3-year-old Sassypants was not at all.  11-year-old Smiles seemed to like it, so I’d say it’s an okay but not must-do activity for kids from ages 5-12.  After arriving I found a coupon book with the promotion code “HOOK” to save 10%- would have saved us $17, so I was bummed I missed it!

From there we went straight to the beach!  I love Virginia Beach- it was the first beach I ever visited at the age of 14, so showing it to my kids was a bit nostalgic. My 3 big kids took off and loved jumping over the waves- they could have stayed there for hours.  Wiggles described it as “very very very very very very very very very very very salty.”  They all loved the big waves; the more force it knocked them down with the better.  Sassypants didn’t love the waves as much but did enjoy digging in the sand.  She didn’t nap today and kept asking if it was time for bed!  We went to Neptune’s Beach, which is crowded with people and pretty touristy- which I would hate if I lived here, but it was fun for vacation. We were really enjoying ourselves when the lifeguards stared blowing their whistles and shooing us offshore as there was some lightning in the distance.  We got cleaned up and found a beachside restaurant called Mahi Mah’s- and lucked out to find patio seating at 6:30 on Saturday night.

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Food was great, kids behaved, and we all enjoyed the band that started playing as we ate.  It was a perfect summer night at the beach.

After dinner The Husband took Sassypants back to the cabin to put her to bed. I took the other kids back to the beach to play for another hour before coming back to clean up for the night.

Tomorrow we are going to my brother-in-law’s church.  We had planned to go to the Children’s Museum afterwards, but I think instead we’re just going to hang out at the beach and campground.

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