Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Sea World Adventure 2007

Our big fun was over Memorial Day weekend when we spent three nights in Orlando to go to SeaWorld! What a blast we had! We almost decided at the last minute to not go, though, because Alex was cranky and Austin was crying non-stop with a tummy ache. We actually had the reservation agent on the phone Thursday evening and were about to cancel and get a refund, but we decided to say a prayer and hope for the best, and forged ahead.

God must have a funny way of testing our resolve, however, because He really gave us one for the road. It was Friday, about 12 noon. We wanted to get on the road between 12 noon and 1PM, hoping to do most of the driving while the boys napped in the van. Pete was ready, the boys were ready, the van was completely packed, Mom had come to say good-bye to the boys, and my dad was there to say good-bye also. Pete was busy putting the final diaper bag and cooler in the van while I jumped in the shower. And it was while all this was going on, me in the shower with the water going from hot to cold, water pressure dropping down to nothing, that our hot water heater decided to spring a massive leak, and flood the laundry room, the garage and the kitchen! Luckily my dad was there to keep the boys occupied while Pete turned everything off and mopped of the watery mess! When I got out of the shower and found out what had happened, it made me very nervous to leave. But we would have had to spend the weekend in a hotel anyway, waiting on a new hot water heater to be installed, so we decided to just be brave, look upon this as an opportunity to really prove our parental mojo, and just march ahead with our vacation plans and didn't let anything get us down.

So that we did. Off to SeaWorld!Our first night was rather rough; Austin still had an upset stomach and cried and spit up a lot. Alex never did take a nap, so he was a wild child. When we got to the hotel, he went crazy over the waterfall in the lobby and wanted to jump in and get the pennies out that people had thrown in for good luck ("look, mommy, money"!). When we went upstairs to our room and took our luggage up on the trolley, Alex rode on the trolley, on top of the luggage. He had a blast, but after unloading the luggage, he wanted to keep riding it up and down the hallway. So Pete raced him on the trolley up and down the hall for a while, but we eventually had to take it back downstairs so other people could use it, and Alex threw a fit over that. So then for a while it was up and down on the elevator. And then running down the halls, tapping on the doors and asking, "Daddy? Who's in there?"

He acted up at dinner at Denny's restaurant, driving his dump truck all over his dinner plate, making a building out of pizza slices, making ambulances and fire trucks out of wadded-up napkins, telling a story about helping people get out of the "building fall down...big boom.... people get one shots" and throwing french fries everywhere. He did not want to leave the restaurant, so he wouldn't walk, and would just go limp and floppy when I tried to pick him up. So I took a deep breath, gritted my teeth and asked him if he wanted me to drag him out of the restaurant, he looked up at me, smiled sweetly, and said, "yes, mommy, peeeze?" We ended up getting Austin in his car seat, and then both of us, Pete grabbing his arms and me grabbing his legs, to carry Alex to the van, with Alex giggling and laughing the whole time, and saying "See Shamu! Go SeaWorld!" (He says SeaWorld like Sea-wo-wuld).

By 10:00 that night, we were all near tears. Alex screamed at taking a bath, was exhausted and kept saying, "Alex tired....go home." We could not get him to understand that this was home, for the next few nights. It ended up being 11:30 that night before he fell asleep, after watching Thomas the Tank Engine on DVD 3 times. He slept very well, for it being his first time ever sleeping away from home, and not being in his crib. Austin fell asleep around 10:30, and slept straight through until 5AM. Pretty good, too, for a three month old, but I think it was more pure exhaustion. Up with Austin at 5AM to give him a bottle, and Alex, afraid of missing out on any fun, woke up too.

So it's 5:00 AM, and the whole family is wide awake. Alex grabbed some juice and crackers, turns on the TV, opens the curtains, it's still pitch black outside. The day begins. At 7AM, Austin fell back asleep. Pete took Alex downstairs to have breakfast, while I took a shower. Pete and Alex came back, Alex woke Austin, Pete is trying to get Austin back to sleep, and Alex takes this chance to come into the bathroom, get Pete's shaving cream can, and sprayed shaving cream everywhere. EVERYWHERE. E V E R Y W H E R E. When I got out of the shower and saw it, I choked. I scolded Alex and told him he had made a very big mess. His reply? "Mommy vacuum!" I have no idea why he came up with that, because he sure don't see me vacuum very often at home, so why would he think I'd vacuum here on our long-awaited vacation? I asked him, and he just smiled very sweetly at me.

After cleaning up the shaving cream mess, I took Alex downstairs to breakfast with me so Pete could shower and get dressed, and Austin could sleep in peace for a short while. Downstairs is a beautiful lobby and breakfast area, just inside from the pool area beyond the french doors. Just lovely. And a delicious hot breakfast buffet. I so needed a good breakfast and some hot coffee. Alex heads straight for the waterfall again, only this time, he wants to give his dump truck a bubble bath in it. Since he had already eaten earlier with Pete, he didn't want much to eat, but I fixed him a plate just to try to keep him occupied while I eat. Eggs and sausage. I cut the sausage into little pieces for him, and he pretended they were logs for the back of his dump truck. Oh, well, at least he's quiet.That lasted long enough for me to eat one hard boiled egg and some fruit. A half cup of coffee. Alex got bored. Starts back over to the waterfall. Trying to keep him occupied, I grab him and put him on my lap and try to get him to practice saying his numbers, and telling me his body parts ("one, two: 2 eyes! one mouth! one-two: 2 ears! one, two, free, four, five, sits, seben, eight, [he always forgets 9] ten! 10 fingers! one, two: 2 hands! etc.). It's not really holding his interest, but we're trying. Remember, we are in the dining area near the pool. In from the pool walks a real hoochie-mamma: teased, bleached blonde hair, big sunglasses, long, ghetto-type fingernails, a lot of gold jewelry and a very, very low-cut two piece swim suit revealing her amply tattooed double-D cleavage. Trashy looking, as far as I was concerned, and should have been covered up while indoors, at least. Alex (along with everyone else in the dining room) took notice, stared at the woman, and my oh-so-discreet son says, out loud, at one of those rare but precise moments when the whole room is hushed: "one, two: 2 boobies! Two boobies, Mommy! Look!" At this point, I am beyond embarrassed. I figure better my 2-year-old noticing and pointing out another woman's chest, rather than my husband, right! I mean, he's two. Mostly, it was all families in the dining area, and if they didn't have toddlers right then, they all had toddlers at one point, so I've given up on being embarrassed by anything a toddler will say or do. Good thing, because the weekend had only just begun.

We eventually make it to SeaWorld. It was cloudy. We no more than made it through the ticket gates when it thundered and began pouring rain. Good thing we now have a double stroller: bigger than my first car. This thing is a monster. We almost could have driven IT to Orlando. We manage to cover Austin in the infant part, but Alex, once inside SeaWorld, is hard to contain in the toddler seat. We pull over by some boats and fake whales and a lighthouse, all sitting in a pond near the entrance, and I really am wondering what else can happen this weekend. We need to buy rain costs because I forgot to pack umbrellas. Just by the time I worked myself up into a tizzy over everything, the rain let up, the clouds drifted off, the sun came out and literally, from that point forward, both boys were pure, sugar-sweet, adorable, well-behaved, minding their manners, perfect little gentlemen. Austin's tummy ache must have cleared up. He was smiling and cooing and very content to ride in the stroller. Alex was curious and mesmerized and questioning everything, not difficult at all, just charming and adorable. It was literally like the quick rainstorm that hit, washed away all problems and irritations that were bugging any of us. Even with so little sleep, Alex was raring to go. We proceeded throughout SeaWorld, seeing ducks, flamingoes, turtles, dolphins, birds, stingrays, gators, penguins, whales, sharks, eels, you name it. Alex had his first taste of cotton candy. I was so excited for him. We waited in a long line, paid a ridiculous $2.99 for a tiny little bag of the stuff, I got ready with my camera, said, "OK, Pete, give it to him NOW!", because I so desperately wanted to catch the expression on his enchanted face of his first taste of the delicious cotton candy I remembered from my childhood. He put it in his mouth, smacked his lips, handed it back to me and said, "don't like, mommy." So much for my Kodak moment.

Alex and Pete took a paddle boat ride, in a huge pink paddle boat shaped like a flamingo. Austin and I stayed on the dock, of course, and it was so funny watching the two of them. The paddle boat seats either two adult and one child, or two children and one adult. It has a bench seat. So with just big of Pete on one side and little Alex on the other side, their pink flamingo paddled around the lake tipped almost completely to one side. It was so funny to watch. All you could see was Pete, you couldn't see Alex because of the way the boat was shaped. It looked like lonely ol' Pete was out there all by himself in the pink flamingo, tipped over to one side.

We saw Shamu, the Killer Whale, and even Austin was in a trance over the show. He would not be content in my arms or in my lap, Austin had to be held up, in the air, facing out, to see the show. Every show we went to, Austin had to see, too. Austin is not one to be happy when left alone. When he wakes up, if he hears any of the rest of us, he CRIES until someone comes to get him. We wants in on all the action, especially at SeaWorld.

Alex rode his first roller coaster at SeaWorld, too. The Shamu Express. He had been absolutely fascinated by some of the bigger, really huge roller coasters, but was too small to ride them, of course. But SeaWorld has a toddler play and pool and ride area, so we spent a lot of time there. Alex was big enough for the Shamu Express, but Austin was napping at that point, so it was just Alex and his daddy on that ride. I was waiting around front with Austin, and some woman was waiting there too, for her son and husband. She commented, "oh, are you waiting on your little one, too? I'm not so sure about it, it's his first time on a roller coaster....I'm kind of worried, I hope he'll be OK." So that, of course, sets me off. I said, "well, how old is your son?" "Five," she replied. So now I'm about to go crashing into line to grab Pete and Alex out of there, but I couldn't see them in line and couldn't leave Austin. I'm thinking "if she's worried, and her kid is 5, what the hell am I doing letting my 2 year old on this thing. I'm a horrible mother!" I was beginning to panic. So Pete and Alex come to the front of the line, and as luck would have it, they get seated in the very first seat on the ride. Right up front, where you can see everything. So I'm waving at Pete, trying to use sign language to make sure Alex is OK, but they just assume I'm waving to say hello, so they wave back at me. They take off, I try to take a picture, but it doesn't come out very well. I managed to see Alex's face as they went by me, and he has this look on his face of "what is my lunatic mom freaking out over? This ride is nothing." He actually looked puzzled. But: he had a blast. Not one tear, not one cry, not one shout or shriek. Nothing. He rode it like he was a pro. So much for all my worries. He's just one tough kid.

The manatee exhibit was another story. First, you stroll along this wooden pathway and see the manatees from up above. Then, you can go below to see them from under the water, and learn all about them and their protected status and their habitat. You can't take strollers below, so Pete stayed above ground with Austin while Alex and I went below. We walk along, seeing all the manatees and other little fish. The aquarium is rather quiet, and at the time Alex and I were in there, it was filled with adults and older children, no toddlers in there except Alex. We get near the end of the aquarium and there is this absolutely huge, gigantic manatee. We stop to see it. Alex walks right up to the glass wall of the aquarium and is looking in. The manatee floats over to the wall and looks at Alex. Kinda neat. I kneel down by Alex and tell him to say hello to the manatee. He says, "Hi, man-tee!" Cute. The manatee looks at us, then flapped it's left flipper, so I tell Alex, "oh, look, the manatee is waving to you, Alex!" Alex grins, kind of jumps in place and waves back at the manatee, and says, "look, mommy, man-tee wave! Man-tee wave! Hi, man-tee! Hi, man-tee!" Everyone around us in the theater is oohh-ing and aahh-ing, charmed by the scene of the cute little boy and the manatee communicating. The manatee floats upwards head first and is now belly up against the glass, so we can see it's tummy. OK, we can deal with that. We see a big hole in the manatee's belly, and Alex asks "what's dat, mommy?" I tell him it's the manatee's belly button. Do manatee's have belly buttons? I'm not certain that's what it was, but I didn't want to tell him the other thing I was afraid it might be. The manatee's belly ripples, gives a big gurgle. Then another big gurgle. Bubbles start coming out of the manatee. I think I know what is happening. Another gurgle. More bubbles. Uh-oh. Yup, sure thing. The manatee's belly heaves and jiggles and right out of the manatee's "belly button" comes a huge, yellow-orange colored turd. Alex and I are still crouched down, looking up at the manatee, with about a 15 or 16 other people all nearby watching the manatee wave at the cute little boy. I'm thinking to myself, "with all these people around, please don't ask me what that is, Alex, please don't." I'm trying to think of a delicate word to use for what is, in fact, manatee doodoo. Well, Alex is just way too smart and is so far beyond me. That enormous manatee turd floated towards the glass wall, hit it, and broke into dozens of tiny, little pieces. Mini manatee doo-doo's. All bright yellow-orange in color. Heaven help me. Alex takes one look, jumps in place up and down, again and again, waves and says, loudly, of course, because Alex knows no other way to speak except loudly: "Oh, look, mommy! Goldfish! Hi, goldfish! Hi there, goldfish! Mommy, look at the baby goldfish! The man-tee had baby goldfish" I laughed until I almost peed my pants. Thank goodness everyone else around us did, too.

So what's left after that performance...not much. Our SeaWorld 2007 vacation was wonderful. Full of events and surprises I could never have predicted. But who can, with a 2 year old. I think our first Family of Four vacation went very well over all. I mean, you gotta laugh, right?


Beth said...

You are one brave woman!

Deb@Mommie Mayhem said...

Looks like a blast!! Thanks for sharing the pics!

They call me Mommy said...

I don't think Goldfish crackers will ever be the same for me...