Thursday, August 27, 2009

Beach Trip - Part 5: Aquarium

Saturday morning checkout was by 11, but if you have young kids, you know you're up and ready to go much earlier than that. The car was packed, and we were ready to go by 9am.

So on the way out we thought we'd hit the Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. We'd been talking to the girls about going there, and they were only mildly interested as they constantly told me they were afraid of sharks. We got there a little before 10am, and I think that's a perfect time to go on a Saturday. We were able to park right up front, and it wasn't crowded at all.

As you can see they were thrilled to get there and pose for pictures. Lily is not pulling down the fence. It was like that.

Once inside, Lily wanted to head straight for the sharks. Truth be told, I wasn't even sure they had sharks and was just crossing my fingers. We kept trying to distract them with the other exhibits.

Don't worry - not a real aligator.

I like all the touch and feel exhibits they have there. You can touch rays and horseshoe crabs. They girls touched this one for just an instant.

Finally the sharks. The big tank at the end has 4 sharks. We were lucky in that we were just getting there as they sent divers in to the tank to talk about them. There were probably 50 other young kids and their families in front of the glass too, and all anyone cared about was the sharks. Did they eat the other fish? What do they eat? Why do the divers carry sticks?
The girls liked and remembered the divers best. Lily got very upset when they were gone.
Neither of them wanted to leave, but there wasn't anything else left to look at. They each got a coloring book from the gift shop. Madeleine got mermaids, and Lily wanted one with divers in it.

We left a little after 11, and the parking lot was crazy. Apparently that's when everyone else shows up to the aquarium.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beach Trip - Part 4: Golf

Since I moved to the South as a teenager, for some reason I always associate beach trips with mini golf. I suck at mini golf, but I like to do it anyway. Especially courses with water hazards. So I couldn't wait to drag the girls.

Thursday afternoon we headed out to the mini golf place, and I was happy to see that kids 4 and under were free. That was helpful when it's regularly $8.75 per person to play anyway. They had a little train you rode to the top of the course and worked your way down.

Being the excellent mom that I am, I forgot extra sunscreen for this blazing hot adventure. But I happened to have hats in the car. I think Madeleine looks very much the Southern golf lady.

Surprisingly enough, Lily decided she'd had enough of golf after the 2nd hole. Usually she's very into sport-related things. She really wanted to climb on all the rocks and got mad when I wouldn't let her. You can see her pouting in the picture below.

Lily did perk up at the end though when we told her it was the last hole. She insisted on using my club however. And I was pleased to come in first place despite having a couple of 5-par holes. Eric's not any better at mini golf than I am.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Beach Trip Part 3- The Pool

We did the majority of our swimming at the pool each day. For the most part, we were the only people in it while we were there.

We had prepped the girls for vacation by taking swimming lessons for 4 weeks at the gym. They did great but still weren't independent swimmers. While at Wings on Wednsday we bought them some floating inner tubes, and they really liked using those. The water was 3 1/2 feet deep in the shallow end, so they couldn't touch and be above water yet.

We also had some kickboards from Grandma Goodman that we used to "practice our swim lessons."

Our last day there we broke out the diver gear so they could give it a shot. Madeleine inhaled a mouthful of pool water on the first try with the snorkel, so it was pretty much Lily the rest of the time.

Overall, a relaxing event.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Beach Itself

For beach-related activities, Lily and Madeleine remembered everything they had seen in their beach-themed books (including the Berenstain Bears Go on Vacation). So, we tried to recreate as many of them as possible.

First up - sand castles. Since Lily has been a big sandbox fan since birth, she went straight to work on a castle. It took a little work to convince her she needed to use WET sand. Mommy preferred "drip castles," so by the end of the week, that's what most of our stuff was made out of.

Next up - surfing. They'd seen surfing in their 1995 Walt Disney World beach video and couldn't wait to try it. I had no intention of letting them really surf, but I thought we could try at least a Boogie Board. Unfortunately, Hurricane Bill had other ideas. The surf was really strong and breaking close to shore. We only tried Wednesday, and you can see Madeleine holding on for dear life. She kept at it though. Lily didn't like it at all. Thursday and Friday we only played in tidal pools rather than the water itself.

Next up - burying Dad in the sand. Lily and Madeleine also took turns being buried. It was tough because they kept getting sand in their mouths.

Lastly - kite flying. We bought a $5 kite at wings to give it a shot. You can see Madeleine is very proud of herself. The wind was strong enough we had to keep reminding her to use two hands. When it was Lily's turn, she kept running up the beach with it.

Tomorrow...the pool.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beach Summary

Sunscreen: $50
Miscellaneous Useless Beach Paraphenalia purchased at Wings: $42.61
2 Trips to Dairy Queen: $18.93
4 Days at the Beach with the Girls: Priceless
I'll try and post more details throughout the week as there's just too much for one day, but we had a great time. With the exception of Madeleine taking a header off the top bunk on Wednesday, the girls slept better than they do at home. We went out to the beach first thing each morning for about an hour, followed by an hour at the pool. We'd come in for lunch and attempt a nap. Then we'd do some kind of activity in the afternoon, dinner, and a movie before bed.
Hurricane Bill hovered off the coast, so we only took them in the ocean on Wednesday. Madeleine surprisingly braved the waves better than Lily. Thursday and Friday we splashed in tidal pools created by the surf and high tides.
Saturday we checked out just after 9am and went to the aquarium. We drove the length of the island home, and Madeleine just sobbed the whole time. I guess she's going to be our beach girl.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Who do you want to be?

I'm beginning to think we could throw away all the toys and we'd be fine as long as we kept the dress up clothes and a few bears.

Here's how we look on any normal day before school.

Then we come home to Daddy playing Rock Band on the Wii and have to join in (apparently all rock stars wear skirts).

Then we need to have a "super silly tea party" out on the deck.

It's not a weekend without a little cowgirl.

And how we look when talking to Grandma and Poppy on the phone.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lil Swimmers

We finished up our 8-week swim lessons last night. While I wouldn't say that the girls are anywhere near independent in the water, they certaining are much more comfortable. If I think back to the very first lesson where Madeleine almost drowned when she got trapped heading toward the deep end, they've come a long way.
They can float on their back assisted and swim with assistance. They are both more comfortable putting their face in the water, and Lily even was able to pick up the diving rings yesterday without using her feet.
But what I think the girls liked most about the lessons was the ice cream reward on Thursdays. We'd have dinner together in the cafe (they eat better there than anywhere else), and then we'd go to Maggie Moo's. Madeleine wanted to go on Tuesday, and when I said no, she refused to get out of the pool. Nothing like your preschooler having a temper tantrum in the water when you're fully clothed and can't get to her.
I'm not sure what we'll do about continuing lessons. They've changed their swim program structure to offer "continual" lessons. Where you get a time set up, and you just keep going once a week at that same time. You're billed on a monthly basis, and if you want to stop, you have to give 30 days notice.
During the week, they only have Monday and Wednesday times in the afternoons, and it's been challenging getting off work early to make sure that they have lessons and time for dinner and relaxing before bed. I don't really want to do Saturdays since that would interfere with our ability to go out of town, do birthday parties, or other activities with the girls.

So, I'm trying to figure out what activity to do next if not swim lessons. Introductory ballet classes start up on Mondays through the Town of Cary in September. They liked that but weren't crazy about the teacher from last December, but she's teaching again this year. Lily's showing an interest in soccer, but the Lil Kickers program is only on Saturday, and it lasts for 13 weeks. Lots of money and commitment if you don't know if they're going to like it or not. They have some stuff at the gym, but again, the scheduling is tough when both Mom and Dad work.