Our schedule recently has been a little busier than I would like* (which has led me to search for the nearest cave so I can crawl into it and disappear for a while); but when we were given five free expiring-very-soon passes to our favorite waterpark, we decided that we couldn't pass that up, even if it meant cramming one more thing into our over-packed life!
* It always is, at this point in the fall semester. I know things will taper off relatively soon, and before long we'll be gliding into Christmas break.
As it turned out, Jeff and his mom stayed home, and Jeff took care of Benjamin, so I could be free to take the five older kids and focus on them. We decided to take a selfie when we got there.
Now, let me tell you the not-so-great parts.
~ For the first time in my life, I saw a deer being hit by a car. It wasn't us that hit it; but as we drove up the road into Massanutten, a deer jumped out into the road in front of us. I had enough time to slow down, but it jumped into the other lane and was hit by an oncoming medium-sized blue car who didn't seem to slow down at all. I suppose it happened so fast that the driver maybe didn't even see it until impact. The deer bounced off the car and went flying head over heels through the air, and we didn't see what happened to it after that, but when we were leaving four and a half hours later, there was no sign of it along the road. Not all of the kids saw what had happened, but the one who saw it the best happened to be Tobin, who has the softest heart toward animals. :( He got a little tearful, and so did I--I'm not one to let others cry alone when they're in my presence! ;-) I guess it was sort of silly, because we're country folk, after all. We eat venison. We understand how hunting actually benefits the herd. It's not uncommon for us to see dead deer along the road, and I've never shed a tear for that. But this time was different, and it did make me sad. (I want to add, however, that I'm very glad that the driver of the blue car seemed to be just fine, because I know sometimes crashes with deer can cause injury or loss of life to humans, and OF COURSE human life is more important.)
~ It was surprisingly crowded in the waterpark--certainly not the most crowded we've ever seen it, but more than we expected. Partially because of that, it took us a little bit (some of us, longer than others!) to "hit our stride" and sort of figure out where we were going and what we were doing and who was going to stick together and so forth. There was some lingering stress on some of us (OK, I'll admit that it was the older ones of the group!) that took a little while to shed. Once it was gone, we had a lot more fun. :)
~ At one point, I had Shav and Moriah in the warm pool, while the oldest three boys were off together; and Shav wanted to practice floating so I was holding him up as he floated on his back. Another boy, maybe around Shav's age, came into the warm pool, saw Shav floating, and exclaimed, "How is he doing that? He's a witch! HE'S A WITCH!" My first response was most definitely NOT one of kindness towards the boy, but I calmed myself and tried to speak in an even tone as I said, "Anyone can learn to float." Eventually the boy went away, and after that Shav stood up and asked, "What was he saying?" I sort of brushed off his question, and he hasn't brought it up since. My consolation is that, with his ears under water, Shav couldn't hear the unkind words the other boy was saying. My mama-bear instinct to respond forcefully made me grateful--again--that my children aren't in schools where they have to deal with bullies. Add that to my list of reasons I'm glad we homeschool! :)
~ I was SO COLD all evening long. I know that it's completely natural to feel a little chilly after coming out of the warm pool and noticing the contrast with the air (that is heated to something like 84 degrees), but I felt unnaturally cool and uncomfortable. I could hardly wait to towel off and change into dry clothes, then get in the van and crank up the heat. It wasn't until later that I realized my discomfort was likely coming from a bout with mastitis (later that night, when I was nursing Benjamin, I sat in my rocking chair, and my teeth chattered and chattered and chattered the whole time I was holding him...I COULD NOT make them stop).
Well, other than those four things, everything was wonderful! :)
~ Josiah did a great job looking out for Shav (they often rode a raft together).
~ David and Tobin hung out together a lot (and the four boys were all together a lot, too).
~ After initially being a little timid to go down the frog slide and wanting me to stand at the bottom to catch her, Moriah got used to it, and then went down the slide over and over and over again. She was so lively and animated and was just having a blast. I loved seeing her joy!
~ All six of us went around the lazy river quite a few times together, and that was great fun. Without even knowing she was doing it, Moriah did almost a perfect imitation of Shav's sit-in-the-raft-and-put-his-head-down-trustingly routine that was so meaningful to me as I prepared for Moriah's birth (written about here). And then, after she got used to it, she had a ball holding her breath as we went through the tunnel...which then became a cave...which then housed a bear that we had to escape from...and then the bear was David, and he would growl at us...and it was all very playful and joyful.
~ I appreciated the thoughtfulness of one of the lifeguards who, seeing Moriah sitting on a plastic grate that was sort of behind me as I sat in the warm pool, told us she wasn't allowed to sit there...but instead of simply giving that correction, went on to explain why. "It could break, and she could fall in," he said. Of course I was making sure that she got down right away and was obeying his instructions--I would have done that without any additional explanation from him! But it was kind of him to explain the reason behind the (mild) rebuke.
~ After we had been there a while, the crowd dwindled so much that the boys didn't have to wait at all for the big slides. They could race back up the steps and be ready to slide again in no time. (I should mention that earlier, the big inner tube slides had been closed for a little while because someone had gotten injured on one of them, and the lifeguards had put the person on a water stretcher. I didn't see it, but the boys told me about it.) There was plenty of time for the kids to do everything they wanted to do; and as we departed, we didn't feel like we had missed out on any fun.