Monday, January 2, 2012

12 years Later - A Day at SeaWorld Australia

Stars at SeaWorld.

If you'd have told me twelve years ago in the birthing suite of Stamford Hospital in Connecticut that I would be spending the day at SeaWorld on the Gold Coast in Australia with Damon, our newborn daughter, Ryan, and her four younger brothers - including a set of twins -  twelve years later I honestly wouldn't have cared.

Okay, I might have been a bit psyched about the whole twin thing in the future, but for the most part I wouldn't have believed that life got any better than it was at the moment my daughter was born.  (For the record, I was content when Andrew was born, elated with the twins, and frankly, just a bit pissed off and suffering from loss of blood when Ian arrived on the fast train recently.)

Peaceful moment at the shark tank.
If you'd have told me about the intervening ten years in France and Germany - well, I don't think that is something we need to talk about.  People ask me often how I did it.  Folks, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into...ignorance is bliss and all that jazz.

But I did it.  I got through the big, fat, hairy, ugly mess...climbed the mountain...met some really cool people in the crossing....and found the beach on the other side.  Literally, in my case.

I'm not saying that life is going to be all smooth sailing from here on in but, let me get away from the pithy sayings and give you the rundown of our day at SeaWorld as an example.

Birthday girl in the audience.
The bakery was closed for the holidays. (Aussies felt ripped off that New Year's occured on a Sunday and so wrote themselves an extra day onto the books on Tuesday.  Same for Christmas.  We work hard, but let's not get too crazy and work as often as the Americans have to!  After all, where has that gotten them?!)

So we had the brownies I had baked the night before for breakfast.  No worries.

A few minutes later, on M1 South from Brisbane to the Gold Coast, Matthew informed us from the back seat of the car that he had to vomit.  Maybe the brownies hadn't been such a good idea.  We pulled off onto the emergency break, had a breather, and relocated him to the middle seat next to the baby - Ryan's usual spot - with the air on full blast and a plastic bag in his lap.

Thumbs up from Matthew.  Good to go.
Half an hour later - almost to Sea World - he vomited profusely into the bag.  Twice.  I reached from the front seat of the car, handed him a napkin and a bottle of water, tied up the bag and placed it into a second scented disposable nappy bag.  While Damon kept driving.

We recollected fondly the chocolate cake vomiting incident on the highway from Stuttgart to Belgium on Andrew's second birthday.

And made it to SeaWorld in time to take in the first dolphin show.

Ryan meets Nicki and Nala.
Matthew rallied bravely, surviving on donuts, churros, coke, a snowcone and a bite of Dagwood Dog for the rest of the day.  As well as a rather nasty tumble outside the Ray Exhibit, where a nice lady from Sydney whipped out her emergency kit and gave us two band-aids to staunch the bleeding on his side and elbow.  (I have not yet mastered the knack of bringing an emergency kit, and not yet had the need, since someone else nearby has usually mastered it for me!)

Aidan confidently had popcorn for lunch while the others had their snowcones.  And also rallied from his decision to watch the Sponge Bob 3-D movie a second time while Andrew and Damon went to the pirate ship to join in the water gun battles.  He was a bit disappointed to learn, upon coming out of the theatre, that you really can't be in two places at one time, even at the very rapid and energetic age of five, but managed to forget about it fairly quickly racing up and down the penguin exhibit, torn between watching them underwater on the bottom level and seeing the baby penguin sleeping on his mother's (father's?) feet on the upper one.

A butt, but a cute butt.
Maybe if all those other people hadn't been in the way he COULD have picked up enough speed to be in both places at once.

"Nice rallies on everyone's part." I told the boys on the way to the car later.

"I didn't rally." answered Andrew.  Rather truculently, I might add.

"No.  But you didn't even have to.  Better yet, mate." 

We like this one!

If you'd have told ANYONE who knew Andrew as a baby in France that you could go a whole day - let alone an hour - without hearing him scream - they wouldn't have believed it. 

And the birthday girl.  Doesn't the photo say it all?  (We are looking into geting copies for the family from - just in case you can do it yourselves!)

We sat in the front row - almost missed having her picked by having the announcer note the baby and tell us they couldn't allow a baby into the show - and then waved and screamed loud enough to catch his attention a second time and tell him it was her birthday.

The three kids picked were from America (originally from America she said) South Africa and England.  Which we thought was kinda funny! Since Australians are even more uncomfortable with 'Ryan' as a girl's name than the  Germans were  - the announcer passed right over it after he asked - she has to explain herself.  As well as that funny accent.  We might be able to pull it off as a Brisbane accent farther afield from here - like in Darwin or Perth - but were too close to home to pull it off this time around!
Any Aussies in the audience?!  (Hey, it IS a nation of immigrants!)

Ryan spent the rest of the day being recognized as the girl who was in the dolphin show.  And, as it turned out when we went to pick up the photo at the end of the day, having her picture hanging, framed, in the photo shop out front!

Her favourite animals are the rays, gliding through the water with quiet elegance, giving off an impression of hidden, ancient wisdom and serenity.

(Shame about the whole Steve Irwin thing really.)

Ryan's favourite place to be, the Ray Tank.

Lower my expectations?  Turns out I don't have to.  My daughter - she of the Third Grade Math series - has exceeded them in every way.  Having set them high to begin with makes it even better.

And the day at SeaWorld?  I've got the vomit-in-the-car and the blood-on-the-pavement as well as the surviving-all-day-on-sugary-snacks (because the alternative is a $70.00 greasy burger and fries carbo meal) thing down pat. 

So that I am able to enjoy the sight of my daughter gently waving her hands in the water as the rays glide by.

Opening presents the night before.  Good thing too, because Meka sent the purple shirt she wore for the day from the USA!

And make it a perfect day, after all.

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