Sharks and Stingrays in Bora Bora

Well, it’s official.  I’m moving to the French Polynesian islands.

This is the first time I’ve traveled further west than California, and I’m loving the time change.  We’re five hours behind Kansas City time, which means we’ve been waking up around 6:00 am every day and going to bed around 10:00 pm.  I’m NOT a morning person; I would have laughed if you told me I’d be waking up at 6am on vacation.  But it’s great and makes the days seem so long!

Monday was nothing exciting.  We read, laid around, and just took it easy all day.  My (very awesome) coworker back home gifted me a massage.  I told the lady I wanted firm pressure and I think she took that as a challenge to see how much this little white girl could handle.  I took it as a challenge to not cry uncle and gritted my teeth as she dug her elbows into my back.  A little painful but felt amazing afterwards!  When she finished, she put my chair up and this is what I saw.

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Tuesday we went swimming with wild sting rays and sharks.  It was my idea to do this, but it freaked me out!  A boat picked us up from the hotel and drove around until they saw some rays.

enhance (15) The Husband was super excited; he was the first one off the boat!  The rays swarmed him immediately, a half dozen came all around him!

enhance (16)  These are WILD ANIMALS with the stingers still on…however, a lot of tours come to this area and feed them every day, so they’re friendly and used to people.  Still, they’re wild and that scared me.  I put on my big girl panties and got in and touched them a few times.  After playing with the rays for awhile I put on snorkel gear and stuck my face under- and realized I was SURROUNDED BY SHARKS!!!  These are black tip sharks, maybe 4-5 feet long, and look like they could eat us for dinner.  Nope.  Not into it.  I tried to just float without moving for awhile so they wouldn’t be interested in me.  After we finished up at that stop we headed to another one, which was much deeper.  It was so beautiful.  We saw schools of fish with thousands of brightly colored little creatures.

enhance (18) It felt so peaceful- under the water you were in your own little world.  You couldn’t hear much and were privy to this entire creation, swimming in seemingly magical choreography.  I again got back on the boat before everyone was finished, and I was so glad I did because then the group saw a LEMON SHARK!  AAAAHHHH!  Nope.

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From Wikipedia, no way I’d get that close.

We went to one more stop after that and I didn’t even get out at this one.  The group saw eels and a barracuda. Despite me being a wuss I did really enjoy the excursion, but not as much as The Husband.  He LOVED it!  He said it was the ‘best thing he’s ever done’ and that it was a spiritual experience for him.

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After the excursion we went back to the hotel and I started Wikipeding these creatures.  I was reminded that Steve Irwin died from a stingray (thankfully I read this afterwards).  They tell us sting rays are docile, but I’m no Steve Irwin!  I also read that lemon sharks- the really scary looking one- rarely bite humans.  But the black tip sharks- the ones that surrounded me on the first stop- account for 16% of human shark bites!  I think I’m all done swimming with wild sharks and sting rays.

For dinner Tuesday night a group of 20 of us headed to the main island to eat at Bloody Marys.  Bloody Marys is a big tourist destination, and there are a few signs outside documenting all the famous people who have eaten there.

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The ambiance is cool and the restaurant has sand floors.  To order they call your table up and show you the raw selections so you can select your dinner to be grilled.

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I chose mahi mahi and The Husband chose marlin.  But the food itself was just so-so. Next up; mountain hiking!

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Church in Bora Bora

Last night was a fun night.  The company sponsored a happy hour/welcome reception in a fancy room over the ocean.  Towards the end I got pulled up and the entire firm sang Happy Birthday!  Embarrassing but so fun!  Afterwards my boss and his wife took us out to dinner.  The resort has two sit down restaurants, a Chinese one and a French one.  I chose the French one.  We ordered bacon-wrapped veal to share and had a good time catching up over good wine.  We were pretty tired by the time dinner was over- we had been up since 4am, hadn’t slept that well on the plane, and even though it was only about 8PM local time, it was 1AM in Kansas City time, so we called it a night.

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We slept with the glass doors wide opened and listened to the waves, the wind, and the rain all night.  Heavenly.  We woke up at 3:30AM but managed to fall back asleep.

When we travel we like to immerse ourselves in the local culture as much as possible. This island really doesn’t have any other industries besides tourism; everything is very catered towards their visitors.  I wanted a taste of what the local life was like.  The people on the resort are so friendly and I wanted to know where they went home to at night. There aren’t really a lot of opportunities for that; we decided the best way to get that would be to attend the local church. I am a religious person, but the decision to attend today was less driven by religion and more driven by a desire to see the natives in their element.  So after breakfast we headed to the main island and burned some time walking around before the service.  As I described yesterday, the motus the resorts are on are nothing but high end luxury.  Everything is fancy.  This is not the case on the main island.  It’s like any other shanty beach town.  As we walked around we heard roosters crowing, saw dogs walking around, and tried our best to avoid the water-filled pot holes and motocycle drivers.  We went to the grocery store where a can of Sprite was $1.65 instead of $10 at the resort.  It made me wonder where that $8+ mark up is going?  Back to Hilton, who owns the hotel?  Are the workers paid well?

The main island has two churches that I’m aware of- a Catholic church and a Protestant one.  We got to the Protestant one a bit early.  I envisioned sitting in the back, but someone led us up to one of the very front rows.  Turns out that was the visitor section, as a handful of other gringos joined and were seated nearby.  They rang a bell every 15 minutes leading up to the service, and again to signal the beginning of the service.

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The church was just one big sanctuary, no fellowship hall or kitchen or classrooms.  Stained glass windows were open along each side, and dusty ceiling fans hung from the wood ceiling. Most people were dressed in head-to-toe white, and the ladies wore hats fancy enough to rival any Kentucky Derby hat!  The men seemed to sit together and the women seemed to sit together, though there were several exceptions to this.  It was a vibrant church, with maybe 250 people taking up most of the pews.  They ranged in age from young babies to elderly couples and everyone in between.

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Check out those hats

As the service started some people wearing formal clothes filed in and greeted some other people with a double cheek kiss.  The service was in French, so we didn’t understand a single word.  But after some talking, someone from behind us started singing, and then everyone joined in!  No music, just a chorus of voices praising our same Lord halfway across the world from our home.  The music was tribal and beautiful.  In surrounded us and all I could do was close my eyes and take it in. Words are inadequate.  I wanted so badly to take a video (which would still be inadequate) but felt it would be disrespectful.  The Husband did manage to discreetly get an audio file, so if you see us be sure we play it for you!

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The rest of the service continued in the same way- talking and singing, singing and talking.  There was a woman who would talk sometimes.  At one point someone, I think he was the head pastor, motioned over to the visitor section and asked in English where we were from in.  Someone said “Australia”.  Continuing in English, the pastor gave a genuine thank you for coming, told us how much the people from Bora Bora love visitors, and gave us a short summary of his message from Matthew.  He explained the phase “Iaorana”, which we’ve heard many times since we’ve been here and assumed it was a greeting like “hello”.  He told us it meant something like “We recognize the spirit within you and hope that you live forever.” He then switched back to French to give the message.

It was a really beautiful service. We were ready to go by the end- you can only listen to a service in an unfamiliar language for so long- but I’m really glad we went.

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Since it was Sunday morning all the shops were closed, but we saw this in the window of a store.  It cracked me up that he had a fidget spinner!  Also thought the reflection of the mountains was very cool.

We came back to the resort after that- thanks to The Husband, who tracked down the boat after I waited in the wrong spot- and spent the rest of the day hanging out poolside with my coworkers.  Pretty amazing day!

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Bora Bora Arrival

Seven years ago I watched as Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky fell in love in Bora Bora.  I was captivated by the overwater huts, the beauty of the island, and the deep blue water.  Even through the TV screen, I could tell it was paradise on Earth.  I put it on my bucket list, not knowing if I would ever get there.

Six years ago, the now-CEO of my company was putting together a business plan for the company he was about to launch.  He was also celebrating his ten year wedding anniversary, and his wife really wanted to go to Bora Bora, but starting a new company and taking fancy vacations didn’t go well together.  He projected some numbers and told her that when the company was worth a certain amount he’d take not just her, but the entire company to Bora Bora!  He figured it might take ten years, if it happened at all.

It happened.  But it didn’t take ten years.  The company took off- it took two.

Two years ago, approximately 30 employees and their spouses came to Bora Bora.  I hadn’t worked there long enough to qualify.

After that trip they set a new goal, again a stretch goal, thinking it would take several years to achieve.  It only took us another 18 months to reach it. There were some different ideas kicked around about where- or even if- we’d do another trip, but luckily for us it was decided to head back to Bora Bora- this time with about 60 employees and spouses!

It’s about 15 hours of travel time from KC to Bora Bora- seemed quick after our road trip to Virginia and trip a few years ago to Ethiopia!  We flew through LAX, took a redeye to Tahiti, and then took a small 60 person plane to Bora Bora.  The Bora Bora airport is very small- we landed, did a Uturn, then taxied back on the runway we had just landed on!  In both Tahiti and Bora Bora we were greeted by leis made with real, very fragrant flowers and Polynesian dancers and musicians.

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Bora Bora airport

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Bora Bora airport

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Bora Bora is one of the 118 French Polynesian islands.  All are small; 67 are inhabited. One of my coworkers ran around the main island last time and it was around 20 miles.  Approximately 10000 people live on the island. I had planned to post a map showing where it is, but it’s so small and so far away from everything else that it doesn’t even show up when I zoom out far enough to see other land masses.  It’s NorthEast of Australia and South of Hawaii.

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One of the Polynesian islands from a plane- not sure which one.

Bora Bora has a main island, sometime referred to as Vaitape as that is the main settlement.  Surrounding the main islands are several small islands- in the US we call them keys, here they are called motus.  The resorts are all on motus. The airport is on the main island, so we had to take a boat ride to get to our resort.  Most scenic boat ride of my life!  I can’t get over how blue the water is here.  The main island has an extinct volcano with two peaks.  Today the clouds danced over them.

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View from our boat ride

We’re staying at the Conrad, which was recently renovated and just reopened earlier this year.  It is LUXURY.  We were again greeted by Polynesian music on our way to breakfast.  Breakfast was amazing, a buffet full of everything from chocolate pies to cold cuts to yogurt parfaits to bacon to steamed veggies.  We were excited to hear our rooms we ready early.

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No filter.  No fancy camera.  No editing.

This hotel room- HOLY COW.  It’s huge, I think 1200 SF.  One entire side of it is glass looking out onto the ocean, and the glass slides out so that it can be completely open.  We have a covered patio with dining and lounge chairs, personal hammocks, and a dock to swim off of.  Wow.  The bed looks out over the ocean, and there’s a TV that rises out of this shelf box thing at the push of a button.  Behind the bed is a bathroom, with a circle tub and an entire shower room with a window.  We pretty much feel like movie stars!

Today also happens to be my birthday- not a bad way to spend a birthday! We live a pretty fast paced life and I’m so excited to just take it easy for a week.  There are plenty of excursion options, but we don’t have a lot of plans while we’re here.  I can’t wait to sleep, and read, and not make other people’s food.  In my normal life I really struggle with stopping to enjoy the moments; it’s just go-go-go all the time.  I don’t often get to stop and just think, to self reflect, to do all the stuff that’s good for the soul.  Outside of the excursions there’s not a lot to distract yourself with; laziness is kind of forced upon you- and that’s a good thing!

Everything here is SUPER EXPENSIVE.  The husband just ordered 6 cans of Sprite and after tip it was $60!  A bowl of soup for lunch is $22.  This island is so far away from everything that it has to cost a lot to get product here- and we don’t really have any other options.  We did bring some snacks, some duty free booze, and tomorrow we plan to go to the main island and stop by the grocery store to hopefully stock up on a few things. But even that is an ordeal; it’s about $15-$20 round trip for the shuttle per person to the main island and then of course you have to carry your finds through town and get it back here.

Random funny story- when we were packing I asked The Husband if he wanted me to pack for him.  He acted annoyed and shut me down.  When we got here he realized he did not pack a SINGLE PAIR OF SHORTS.  NOT ONE.  Except for his trunks.  No pants either. There are no shorts in the gift shop.  Amazon does not deliver here.  Luckily he wore khaki shorts for the flights so he’ll be able to go to nicer restaurants.

The weather is just so-so.  It’s upper 70s and windy with intermittent rain.  At first I was a little bummed about this- I had pictured a hot, beachy vacation- but I quickly decided that I can never leave this hut for the entire week and still have an excellent time.  Here’s my view right now as I write:

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We feel like the luckiest kids in the world; we are so thankful to be here.  I feel like I’m living in a dream. I’m so appreciative of the village who is taking care of our kids and animals this week.  We wouldn’t be able to come on such an amazing trip if we didn’t have people who could take care of our business at home. I feel so blessed to work for a company that treats its employees so well, not just by taking them on crazy exotic trips but by creating an enjoyable and rewarding work environment every day.  I’m so thankful for a husband that supported me though a risky career change, a boss that took a chance on me, a coworker who surprised me with a massage. Sometimes I get bummed about the world- about the flooding and the leadership and the refugees and all the other million bad things I read on my news stream- but there is so much good in the world.  And God’s creation is so beautiful.  And I’m so excited to let go and just enjoy it this week!

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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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