One of the closer-to-home wonders in my life is really close to home.
As I watched her jump off the diving board into the deep end of the pool today where she wholeheartedly trusted without so much as a second glance that I would be there to catch her, I realized it. She is phenomenal. I mean that. She's a pretty cool kid. Exhausting, yes, but awesome too.
I ran through her recent accomplishments - scaling the pantry shelves, catapulting herself onto every horizontal surface in our kitchen with one reach of her incredible legs, and successfully reaching board games and footie pajamas from the upper-most reaches of her closet.
There's simply no stopping her once she's made her mind up.
Then I remembered something.
I never really blogged about our trip to Virginia back in July. Now it's September and I've forgotten most of the specifics. (Not surprisingly.)
But I did remember a pretty awesome Sarah story - and that's why I'm here after midnight. (That, and I'm waiting for freshly boiled peanuts to cool off so I can put them in the fridge.)
One of our destinations in Virginia was Busch Gardens. We went there several times over the course of the week, usually at night because it was just smokin' hot the whole time we were there and hanging out in the long lines with no chance of cooling off at the end in 100 degree temps is no fun, especially with a two year old.
Overall, the park was pretty kid-friendly. While Ben and Sam ventured off on the serious thrill rides, the girls and I took the tamer route and rode the safe-for-toddlers rides. We tried the miniature sleds that go around and around, the log flume, the swings, and the carousel. They were great, and Abby could sit by herself while I
Then there were the rides where there are no parents allowed. The first of which were the hot air balloons. Abby sat across from Sarah. The seatbelts were really snug, one per kid, and required the attendant to unlock them at the end of the ride. So basically, there was no chance of escape. As long as Sarah got on last, and didn't have to wait long for the ride to start, she was golden. But I was still a nervous wreck watching from the other side of the wrought iron fence. Lo and behold, it was a success. No permanent injuries sustained.
We moved to the next ride.
They were the gliders. You could sit next to a partner or lay on your belly. I opted to let Abby and Sarah sit in a glider next to each other. It's the kind of ride where you pull the lever to adjust how high in the air you go. The seatbelts went across both of their laps, so they had to share it. There's no getting that snug enough. I had only been shuffled out of the gate for about 10 seconds when I turned around and saw Sarah standing up, waving at the kids behind her, completely free from the seatbelt. The ride attendant didn't seem to notice. And it was only after the kind gentleman next to me shouted at the top of his lungs to let me back in, that she sauntered over to unlock the gate and let me rescue Sarah from certain death.
Let's just say Abby rode that one alone.
We moved on as a family unit of five to a playground with a ton of kiddie rides around the perimeter. You know the kind. They have the same ones at every amusement park/fair/beach I've ever been to. Cars/boats/airplanes that go around in a circle. I'll spare you most of the details, save for the boat experience.
These particular boats were two seaters. One person in the front, one in the back. The boats were enclosed by a mesh screen that snapped into place after the kids were buckled into their grocery store cart buckles inside. Between each boat was a wall of plexi-glass that prevented the kids walking along the railing from falling into the water.
Abby sat in the back and Sarah sat up front. They behaved until the ride got started. That's when Sarah unbuckled herself from the not-at-all-sophisticated seatbelt and traded seats with Abby while the boats circled the pool. I'm not sure how many people have had experiences this, but watching your young daughters play musical chairs inside of a moving carnival ride is a little unsettling to say the least. It didn't stop there. Sarah ripped the mesh snaps off and proceeded to hang her head out of the side of the boat like a dog out of a car window. Just as she approached the potentially-decapitating plexi-glass, she pulled back inside - then she repeated.
The best part? The ride attendant had NO idea this was going on.
The worst part? Every single parent watching did notice.
Even worse? I did not want to claim them as my own children. I thought about joining in the discussion. "Yeah, look at those wild and crazy girls. Their parents need to get a handle on that!"
It took the ride attendant no less than 45 minutes (okay slight exaggeration) to park those boats between the plexi-glass barriers, all the while Sam and I were trying to verbally instruct Sarah not to jump out.
She was finally allowed to get out, and, here comes the best part, she helped Ben unsnap the mesh because he couldn't get out of his boat.
Miss Independent. There is simply no stopping her when she's made up her mind to climb/jump/eject herself.
Impressive doesn't even come close.
She's a phenomenon.
Good thing she's cute.
Oh, and if you thought you couldn't hurt yourself on the carousel. Think again. Abby managed to skin two knees changing horses. After exiting the ride, a helpful member of the janitorial staff contacted a medic who came sprinting across the park Baywatch-style with a duffel bag full of bandages. After signing 10 minutes worth of paperwork promising not to sue Busch Gardens as I was (once again) wrestling Sarah, he finally applied a couple to her bloodied knees.
What's the phrase I'm looking for here? Oh yes. Never a dull moment.
Our next adventure - Destin, Florida: October 2011. The gulf might be experiencing Tropical Storm Lee right now, but they need to start getting ready for Hurricane Sarah.