Yesterday's shark trip was a success. We ended up buying the annual membership, and I think that's a good idea - Miss M was so enthralled.
Parts I liked best: Watching Mr B take Miss M by the hand and run with her to the next thing, shouting, "M, come look, MORE SHARKS!" with absolute glee, knowing that she would light up in response, liking knowing that he helped make her happy. Mr G often had Miss R by the hand, as well, which was really lovely to watch.
The two-week break (Mr G at camp) didn't solve every problem between Mr G and Mr B, but it did encourage more connection from Mr B down to his sisters - and that paid off in this trip. He was more able to notice what they were doing, more watchful, more aware of what would be just right.
We got lots of great pictures (including the hippo came right up in front of my kids, sat on a rock under the water and took a nap). While the shark tube was great, Miss M particularly liked the hammerhead sharks, which were in a different tank. They're fast, and she wanted so much to go swim with them... uh, maybe when you're grown?
We had reasonable food options, and while ep and I wiped out before the kids did, we didn't wipe out hard enough to make it a total crisis.
We had a couple of minor incidents, like when Miss M slipped and put both hands in a display (for which I extracted her from the display, explained why we have to be careful and not climb on the displays, and that the oils and germs on her hands can make the fish sick - she started to cry, and cry, and cry... turned out that a) it had been totally an accident, and b) she was REALLY worried that the fish would get sick from her mistake), and when we left without going back to do another try at petting the sharks (Miss M didn't like where she was on the tank edge for that, and Mr B didn't want to try again right away either - but then we wiped out, and headed out, and only then realized that we hadn't done that repeat attempt... Mr B in particular was upset about that error... uh, hey, guess what? We have a membership now, so, we can come back without it being a big deal!).
Overall, though, success.
One of the successes was that it was sharks.
One was that even though Mr B was not functioning at 100% (too much fruit the last few days, messed with his brain function), he did things like helping out with lunch, and helping us find our way on the map, and when I explained that we were going to decide on gift shop activity based on each person's behavior, he looked thoughtful rather than trying to argue a case for everyone going in no matter what.... and then at the end of the day, he came up and asked me if he had behaved well enough to go into the gift shop. Actually, he has been doing well on that in general. The other day, Miss M didn't want to finish her cake for dessert (yeah, my kids are weird), which they were eating in front of Arthur (tivo rocks), and he came down and asked if he could have the rest of hers. He could have snuck it and I might not have found out, but he didn't. He asked. I thanked him for asking, and said yes.
There are days I despair that the grace and courtesy rules will be absorbed and stick (especially at certain ages), but... well, Mr B is headed into 8 years old, when manners start to really make sense. He actually looks sheepish if we notice he's using bad manners at the table, where a year ago he'd look at us like, 'What?'
Next adventure, train robbery. And dressing up for that. My dance-hall girl dress has gone bye-bye, but Goodwill was 50% off so I picked up some items to make myself into a western something or other - black lace and cotton tiered skirt, floral shirt (antique roses and black) and a brown vest, brown granny boots (already have those), and I picked up a garter at the dollar store so I can pack some plastic capgun heat.
My Indian friend and coworker is going to laugh, I'm sure. But hey, what's a little dignity between friends (he has way too much, but then he doesn't have kids yet, either - he'll learn, I suppose...). I'll have to get pics from his wife (she's the one with the camera).