Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Parenting lessons

Yesterday, I picked Kai up from her second day of kindergarten at noon (when school gets out this week... ugh) and headed to the grocery store to get some dinner fixings.  At the store, Kai asked for popsicles and a couple of fruit leathers, which I let her get.  In the car on the way home, I let her eat one of the fruit leathers.  Then, once at home, she asked for the other one, which I let her have (admittedly, I was trying to work and wasn't paying that much attention).  A bit later, she asked for a popsicles and I let her have that too.   It was early in the day still, and it's just fruit leather and popsicles.

That afternoon, as we were driving to BART to get Eric, Kai said, "I have a tummy ache."  I told her I was sorry her tummy hurt and she said, "you shouldn't have let me have so much sugar!"

I tried not to laugh and said, "so this is my fault?" 

Kai responded, "YES!  You're supposed to say NO when I asked for TWO things with sugar. And you didn't.  You said yes and now my tummy hurts." 

Whoops... next time I'll know.


Lately, Kai has been really into magic.  The last two nights, she has wanted to do magic shows with Eric (he is the other magician, I'm the audience member).  She has a box full of magic supplies (mostly just trinkets she has gathered from her room) and she likes to make them disappear and reappear. 

Of course, the way she does this is either (a) to tell us to look away while she does the magic; (b) try to distract us while she is shaking the object in her hand and then throw it out of her hand quickly when she thinks we are not looking; (c) place the object inside another container -- again, while making faces at us and telling us we aren't supposed to see that part. 

My favorite is when she throws something across the room because, after tossing the item, she does this grand display of splaying out her hands and turning them palms up and palms down with this look on her face as if to say, "wow! nothing in my hands!"  It's hilarious. 

So, yesterday, she's doing a magic show with Eric and he has gotten a couple of limes and dice that look the same and has planted things around the room in advance of the show (and without Kai noticing).  In the first trick, Eric was playing around with a lime and told Kai they had to dance around the room to make it disappear.  Of course, she's distracted dancing around and doesn't notice Eric get rid of the lime.  Then, a moment later he, pulls the lime he stashed out from under the couch.  Kai's face LIT UP.  She was so excited that the trick actually worked.  She tried to keep it together and pretend like that was what she was expecting to happen --after all, it was her magic show.  The whole thing was hilarious.

Then, this morning while we are eating breakfast, Kai turns to me and says, "where did Daddy learn REAL magic?"

I love that she still believes in real magic.

Favorite Phrases

Kai has a few funny phrases that she uses all the time:

"My heart is beeping really fast."

"We were playing bone and arrows at school."

"The cat what was sitting outside.." (the "what was" is always used in place of "that was" -- it cracks us up).

Soon she'll outgrown all these little alterations of common phrases... but, for now, we still get a kick out of them. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

1st Day of Kindergarten

Our summer came screeching to a close. Kai basically had 4 weeks of camp:  Spanish School for a week, Doug's house for a week, gymnastics camp, and then back to Spanish School.  Kai continues to be such an adaptable kid -- the varying schedule week-to-week doesn't phase her at all.  Although, the last week at Spanish School was a bit trying.  Kai was acting out quite a bit -- which, for Kailey, means being excessively hyper.  Think, "why are you hitting yourself" on constant repeat.  Or just being a general spaz.  We suspected she was amping it up in anticipation of the summer ending and school starting.  Verbally, she would say that she was excited about kindergarten.  Her actions confirmed nervous energy boiling over.

On Friday, Eric took Kai to Thornhill for the kindergarten "meet and greet" -- a chance for the kids to sit at their desks, see the classroom and meet the teacher before the big day.  Thornhill has 3 kindergarten classrooms -- and Eric and I were hoping she'd get Mr. Thompson for a couple of reasons.  First, his classroom is in the main building, and we thought that might make her feel more like part of the school (the other 2 are in portables).  Second, because Mr. Thompson is a mister... and we both thought it would be good for Kai to have a male teacher.  Just to mix things up a bit.

So, anyway, Eric took Kai over to the school on Friday morning (I had to miss it... I tried so hard to schedule things around the meet and greet, even canceling a day in Los Angeles.  But, alas, a couple of meetings I couldn't miss got set in Sacramento for that morning.  Argh). Eric told me they rolled out the big bulletin board with the teacher assignments listed.  I was sitting in my meeting in Sacramento and got the text, "Mr. Thompson!"  Woo hoo!!  They went over the the main classroom, and Kai was thrilled to find her desk with her name on it, a pencil box with her name on it full of pencils and crayons and scissors and glue -- all with her name on it!  And, she had TWO cubbies, which she was pretty excited about.  Eric sent me a picture of her getting settled in:

Kai's initial reaction, other than being thrilled about her desk, supplies and cubbies, was "I have a BOY teacher?!"  But, we reminded her that her swim teacher is a boy and that there are lots of boy teachers in the world.  And, with that, she was fine with it.

This weekend, Kai got her goldfish ribbon at swimming-- she is now a Puffer, and learning how to do the official freestyle and backstrokes.  The rest of the weekend, we just worked around the house and talked a lot about kindergarten starting on Monday.

On Sunday night, I read Kai three books about starting school.  She went right to sleep, crawling into our bed at about 6 in the morning.  It was funny because she slept through the night just fine.  I spent the night tossing and turning.  Not because I was worried about her at school -- I knew she would be just fine.  But, I think I was anxious about the change nonetheless.  I've never had Kai's propensity for adaptability.

Kai woke up at 7 AM this morning and said, "I have to go to kindergarten today."  I cuddled her and said, "you GET to go to kindergarten today!" and she giggled.  For breakfast, I let her have hot chocolate (and regular breakfast items, don't judge) which she loved.  Then she got dressed, grumbling a little about the shoe policy (you have to wear closed toe shoes if you want to play on the playground equipment... thank you, Thornhill!)  Then we took some pictures outside:

As we were taking the pictures, we saw other kids walking along the road on their way to school, realizing it was time to go!  Ahhh.. the beauty of living across the street from the school.  The sounds of the other children streaming down the public stairs and across the road is like our own personal alarm clock!  2 minutes later, we were at school!

The playground was overrun with parents and kids, getting into the line-up and taking millions of photos.  We got right in on the action:

Then, her teacher appeared (as well as the other kindergarten teachers) and they said good morning, gave a few announcements (mostly reminding us that school let out at NOON this entire week and telling us to be on time picking up our children!) and a few minutes later, the kids marched into school behind their teacher and were off for their first full day.

When we picked Kai up, she was in high spirits.  She got to eat lunch at school, take a tour of the campus, draw a picture of herself, and get acquainted with her classroom.  She spent the afternoon being a total spaz again -- but, we're assuming that will ease off in a few days.

Next week, the transition continues as Kai starts her after-school classes (hip hop, cooking, percussion, spanish, and maybe a drama class).  And, she also has the "adventure time" after school after her various classes on the days she is not at Spanish School after school -- or for the periods before she gets picked up for her Spanish School program.  I think it's going to take her a bit to get used to the new schedule.  But, luckily, the adventure time folks help get the kids to their enrichment classes and then into adventure time. So, she'll have adults helping her get from activity to activity.

It was a great first day-- and we're hoping it's the sign of a great first year.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Epic Journey Part VI: IPNC

The last part of our journey was in Portland, OR at the International Pinot Noir Celebration, to have some quality time with Leo and Soren (and, of course, Amy and Dave -- although, they are quite busy during the course of the weekend, which is why we are there!)

Getting to IPNC was no small feat.  Wednesday, July 24th was our longest travel day.  We woke up at 7:30 AM in San Juan, Puerto Rico and landed in Portland at 11 PM at night.  And, then we had to get from the airport to Amy and Dave's house, where we were crashing for the evening and getting a car to take up to IPNC the next morning.  I think we got to Amy and Dave's house at about 12:30.  So, it was a 17 hour travel day.

Kai did great the whole time.  The backpack o' fun that we bought her for the trip was really a stroke of genius on our part (if I do say so myself).  She was so excited about the various art and craft projects, and she waited SOOO many months to get to play with the little stuffed mermaid we bought her that she had hundreds of stories ready to be acted out with the doll.  Even during our 5 hour layover in Chicago, she just played games or watched shows on the iPad.  Of course there were bits of whining interspersed throughout the day, but no meltdowns (or really anything approaching a meltdown).  Maybe it's just a matter of being 5.  Such a big girl!

She did give us quite a scare getting from the airport to Amy and Dave's house. We decided to save about $30 and ride the Max to downtown and then catch a cab downtown to their home.  We boarded the train and got about 4 stops along when some guys got on the train that were pretty wasted (likely meth) and acting out.  We had quite a bit of stuff with us, each of us loaded down with 2 backpacks and then an additional carryon.  But, we decided we should probably move to the other end of the train just to get out of the way of what was likely to be trouble.  So, we told Kai we were moving down.  She misunderstood us and thought we said we were getting off.  We were passing by the doors of the train when it stopped and Kai ran off.  We were still on, since we weren't planning on exiting.  I screamed Kai's name and she jumped back on, right as the doors closed behind her, nearly giving me a heart attack.  All I could think about was Kai alone on some train platform in the middle of the night.  It was terrifying.

We finally got to Amy and Dave's house and, of course, we were all jazzed up from the day of travel.  We ended up hanging out for about an hour and finally crashing at about 2 AM (which was, remember, 5 AM where we had just come from ... Kai's first all-nighter!)

The next morning, we had nowhere to be so we were thinking that we could sleep in. When I say "we" were thinking that, I am referring to myself and Eric.  Kai had other ideas.  She was excited to be in Portland and couldn't want to see Leo and Soren.  So, she got up at 5:30 AM.  That's right.  5:30 AM.  As in 3 1/2 hours after we went to bed.  We tried to get her to go back to sleep but she kept saying, "WHEN are we going to IPNC?!  Let's GOOO!"  We got up and going by about 8 AM.  I think we were on campus before 10 AM.  Crazy kid.

But, it was great to get there.  Soren and Leo ran up to us and gave us all huge hugs.  We immediately started trying to figure out how to get into trouble (just kidding).  We went straight to crew chow (IPNC is all about the food, after all).

The next few days were great -- everything that camp IPNC has to offer.  This year, we brought a slack line and a slip n' slide... hours of fun!  We spent many, many hours trying to get across that slack line.  I think the boys were quite amazed at my balancing skills. Ultimately, it was Eric and Soren that made it all the way across.  But, I think I had the most consistency at getting pretty far.  It was fun, evidenced by the sore feet I had for the next several days.  In addition to slack lining and slip n' sliding, we played in the fountains, did some wrestling, and just had fun hanging out.


We also had an actual IPNC-sanctioned task this year.  Rather than handing out popsicles to the guests as they got off the buses from the winery tours, the kids were tasked with running Shrubs by Shrubs.  A shrub is a colonial area drink that was made from fruits preserved from the summer with the use of flavored vinegars and herbs.  Then, when you wanted a nice refreshing beverage in winter, you could pull out the syrupy vinegar and add some water and, presto, deliciousness in the dead of winter.  And, of course, Leo, Kai and Soren were the shrubs handing out the shrubs.

They had a blast making the base syrup.  They spent forever playing around with different fruit combinations (and making a disaster in the kitchen boiling the fruit in various pots).  Then they would experiment with different vinegars and herbs until they found the perfect flavor combinations.  I think they had a strawberry/blackberry concoction with lemon verbena and mint.  And then other flavors, using peaches and other yummy combinations.

Then, each afternoon, we'd load up the wagon with the cups, ice, syrup base, sparkling water and scoops and head to the buses.  The drinks were made as the buses pulled up, to prevent the ice from melting too much.  Kai loved making the drinks.  She got really into measuring out the syrup, adding some ice, and then topping it off with the sparkling water.  A lot of folks tried to get pictures of her because she was so intense and serious about the entire operation.  But, whenever she saw a camera, she'd dive under the table and hide.   I did manage to get some pictures of her, but I don't think the other guests did!

She was less thrilled with handing out the drinks. She would grab a couple and march over to the folks exiting the bus.  The guests, of course, were usually engrossed in conversations and not looking down.  That is, until they felt an icy beverage being shoved into their more sensitive regions and then they'd jump back in surprise and notice Kai staring up at them, drink extended towards them.  Many folks said "no, thank you", which made Kai hold up the cup more insistently.  She never talked to anyone.  That is, until someone handed her a dollar for the drink.  After that, she started saying "MONEY" with an outstretched hand whenever someone took a drink.  They made $50 on the drinks the second day.  Best lemonade stand ever.

The rest of our time at IPNC was great.  One of my dear friends had decided to come to the Salmon Bake many months ago, and it was nice to catch up with her (and eat the spectacular food of the Salmon Bake!)  And, the brunch on the last day was divine.  It was bittersweet to be winding down our vacation, but if it had to end, there was no better ending then crab, oysters, champagne and sabering.

It really was an epic journey.  And now, Kai gets ready to head into her next epic adventure -- Kindergarten, here she comes!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Epic Journey Part V: Puerto Rico

Ahhh... vacation feels so far away already.  As evidenced by how my posting about our trip slowed waaayyyy down.  That is because I've been consumed by work --August is supposed to be slow, but it has been insane. And, there has also been quite a bit to do to get ready for the Fall (signing Kai up for after school programs, getting all ready to be her soccer coach! and other things of that sort).   It feels like we never went on vacation.  Which is why it's all the more important to write down the memories so we can read of our adventures and look back on the pictures.

Tuesday morning we woke up a bit sad, of course. We had packing to do and the cabin to clean.  The folks at the eco resort recommended leaving the resort 4 hours before your flight back to San Juan.  I thought that seemed extreme, but also didn't want to risk another plane debacle.  But, that meant we needed to leave by 10 AM because our flight was scheduled to take off at 2 PM out of San Juan.  So, we basically woke up and spent the morning packing up and feeling glum about having to leave paradise.

The packing didn't take too long, and once we had everything to go, we headed down to the pavilion for one last breakfast, savoring the view.  We bought a few last postcards and some t-shirts and then we headed in the Jeep back to Cruz Bay.

We didn't know exactly what the ferry schedule was, but we knew they ran about once an hour.  It turned out we were going to have to wait about 30 minutes.  Kai enjoyed playing on the beach one last time while we waited for our ferry.

The ferry ride going back was more fun then the one that we took to get to St. John.  It was a much smaller boat and a longer journey (because we took the ferry out of Red Hook but returned to the Charlotte Amalie dock).  Once we got over our blues of having to leave, we enjoyed the ride back to St. Thomas (well, Eric and I did... Kai hid under her jacket most of the way).

Once back at St. Thomas, we caught a taxi to the airport.  Once we got to the ticket agent at the airport, she asked for Kai's passport.  We explained we weren't traveling with passport and that Kai didn't have anything.  I also told her I had looked up whether it was necessary before we left, and had read that passports were not needed.  She told me they weren't necessary to come to St. Thomas but you needed them to leave.  Eric called her bluff and said, "well, I guess we'll stay then."  It was irritating and she basically made us wait longer while she sighed and filled out some form.  Meanwhile Kai was dancing around behind us and saying she had to go potty.  We kept telling her to wait a minute.  But, the ticket agent was taking forever and finally Kai announced, "Uh.... Mama, I don't have to go potty anymore..."  and, sure enough, she didn't.  I think that might be Kai's first accident since she was 3!  Now I was super annoyed at the ticket agent.  I got more annoyed once we got inside the airport and saw big signs everywhere that said that passports were not required.

We had no issue at all getting through customs or getting into the airport (although, it was like 3 different lines -- one for customs, one to scan our checked bags, and then another for security!)  I guess that's why they say to leave 4 hours early.  Once we were through, we had about 50 minutes before our flight was scheduled to take off.

Kai was hungry again so I went to grab us food.  No sooner had I gotten back then they announced our flight!  I was confused -- it was still not scheduled to take off for about 40 minutes -- and these are not hard planes to board (since they only seat about 8 people).  We basically had to throw away the food and got on the plane.  I asked another passenger what time the plane had been scheduled to take off and they told me it was supposed to leave at 2, but that we were leaving early.  Seriously!  It's like a habit with this airline!  Good thing we were there early this time.  And, given that we were there, Eric and I were happy to leave early because it just meant we'd have more time in San Juan.  But, still, Seaborne Airlines is not to be trusted in the scheduling department.

It was an uneventful flight back to San Juan and a quick cab ride to our hotel (which I booked with points and was advertised as having the best pool in San Juan!)  It was a nice resort hotel, as far as big resorts go.  But, compared to the eco cabin in St. John, it was a let down.  And, it was also quite a shock to the system.  Here we had been in this idealized eco-friendly environment surrounded by nature and living in a place that tried to incorporate daily living into the environment and the natural surroundings.  And now we were at the equivalent of Disneyland.  It was extreme.  There were 4 pools, one with a swim up bar.  Tiki torches.  Beach chairs.  Plastic stuff. And gazillions of people.  We usually felt like we were alone on the island in St. John -- or, at least among the very few.  Now we were among a sea of people.

Of course, Kai got one look at the pool, and wanted to jump in right away.  We ran up to our room to change and were back at the pool in a flash.  Which also means we didn't eat anything and since Kai hadn't gotten to eat at the airport, she should have been starving.  But, she powered through (the Schwartz Wesselman power-through gene is strong and Kai has inherited it in spades).  She jumped right into the pool and swam the entire thing.  Then we found a little platform about 3 feet above the water and she started jumping in over and over.  She loved it and would have been quite content to stay at the pool for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

However, after about an hour at the pool, Eric and I couldn't take anymore.  Besides, we really wanted to show her Old San Juan and take her to the Capitol.  She was not really excited about the prospect, but I think she did realize she was hungry so she agreed to move on.  For the food.

We took a cab to the Capitol and got there moments before they closed.  Lucky!  We got inside and it was beautiful.  They had some cool exhibits set up, and Eric and I enjoyed poking around reading about the politics of the region.  Kai was bored after about 5 minutes and getting quite impatient for food.

By the time we got back outside, she was having none of the posing for pictures.  Oh well.  We walked the rest of the way into Old San Juan and found a somewhat traditional-looking Puerto Rican restaurant.  We ate chicken and pork and other yummy things.  Kai was happy to munch on chicken.  She was less happy about how the prepared the plantains.  But, it was a nice dinner, and Kai was more willing to pose for pictures knowing that there was food in her future.

After dinner we wandered around Old San Juan and bought some trinkets.  Then we headed back to the hotel, knowing we had to get up somewhat early to catch our flight back to Portland.  St. John already felt too far away -- but, we were comforted knowing that vacation was still not over and knowing we'd be seeing Soren, Leo, Dave and Amy very soon.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Epic Journey Part IV continued: Last Day in St. John

Our last full day in St. John! 

We decided to spend the morning heading to the west side again in order to go to Maho Bay, where there is a nesting ground for giant sea turtles.  Kai was not too excited about the idea of more snorkeling -- but, she was intrigued about the sea turtles.  So, we set out in the jeep. 

Although St. John is a tiny island, it is also quite hilly and there are not many roads.  So, it takes about 45 minutes to get from the eco resort where we were staying to the beaches on the west side.  Every time we piled into the jeep, Kai started chattering up a storm.  It was hilarious.  I wish I could remember more of what she would go on about -- but, she kept up a steady stream of questions and chatter the whole time, jumping from topic to topic.  So, the car rides were always entertaining -- although, sometimes a little trying since she never stopped talking while in the jeep!  

We got to Maho Bay at about 9:30 in the morning and saw another group of snorkelers in the water -- we figured that must be where the turtles were so we hurried and put on our gear.  Kai did so a bit reluctantly, but we insisted that the sea turtles would be really cool.  Once we had on our stuff, we headed out and were almost immediately rewarded with the sighting of a giant sea turtle.  Kai was duly impressed but then claimed that she was done snorkeling for the day.  We wanted to see more turtles, but Kai wanted to build castles in the sand.  We all got out and headed down to the other end of the beach, which was near the rocks and coral, thinking that Eric and I could take turns checking out more of the underwater life.  

Eric went out first and I stayed back with Kai to build sand castles and dig for treasure.  Kai decided to head back into the bush behind the beach to gather more sticks and "treasure".  Suddenly, she yelped and then went hopping on one foot to the water.  She was screaming and crying and stuck her other foot in the water.  I had no idea what was going on, and Kai wasn't communicating.  I asked her if she got stung and she just kept crying and then sat down and started examining her foot.  

Eric was still in the water, but he heard to commotion and came out to see what was happening.  Kai still hadn't calmed down and wasn't letting us get much of a look at her foot, but I could see that one of her toes was red and a little swollen.  We looked around to see if we could figure out what got her, but there were no clues.  Worried, we ran with her to the car so we could get back to our cabin and get her some Benadryl. 

It was a stressful drive back.  Kai was crying the whole time.  Her toe looked like it was getting  a bit more swollen.  I thought maybe she had stepped on a bee, but it also could have been a scorpion, a stinging cockroach, or the spine of a sea urchin.  We really didn't know.  

Once back at camp, I took Kai into the cafe to get some ice and Eric sprinted to our tent (not a small journey!) to get the Benadryl.  Kai was starting to calm down.  Some other resort guests got her some spray to take away the stinging.  We gave her Benadryl and finally got a good look at the toe.  It hadn't swelled much more, so we figured we were OK.  Kai fell asleep about 30 minutes later and slept for some time.  

When she woke up she said, "hey! My toe is all better!"  And jumped up and asked if we could go to the pool.  She wasn't limping or complaining about it at all.  So weird.  It still looked red, but Kai said it didn't hurt.  Yea! 

We spent the afternoon swimming and then decided in the late afternoon to head back to Salt Pond Bay, the beach that is closest to our resort.  It was a cloudy and drizzly day, but we still had a good time splashing around in the ocean.  

Once we got back to camp, we changed -- even getting a little dressed up -- because there was live music in the cafe that night.  We got a great table and had such fun listening to the music.  Kai befriended the daughter, Charlie, of the guitarist, and they ran up to the pavilion above the cafe to play games together.  After a bit of a stressful morning, it was a great ending to our day.  We listened to the music, watched the sunset, and took comfort in the fact that while we had to start our long journey away from paradise come morning, at least we were leaving to another part of our journey.  Vacation was not over.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Epic Journey Part IV Continued: More from St. John

On Sunday, we decided we wanted to go to Trunk Bay, which is on the west end of the island.  Trunk Bay is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  Or, maybe it's most photographed.  But, I think it would be most photographed because it is among the most beautiful... although, I guess it could also be most photographed because it is really beautiful and also pretty accessible (ie: you can drive right up to it on a nicely paved road, as opposed to some of other truly beautiful places in the world that can take quite a bit of work to get to).  Anyway, I digress. 

We never made it to Trunk Bay when we were in St. John many years ago (oh so many years ago -- I think I was 22!)  And, it has an underwater snorkel trail that was supposed to be perfect for beginner snorkelers.  We were excited to try it out.  

And by we, I mean Eric and I were excited to see it.  Kailey had decided she was done with snorkeling.  I'm not sure why.  She really enjoyed it and then she decided she didn't want to do it anymore.  We headed to Trunk Bay anyway, as Kai protested about how she wasn't going to snorkel.  We figured we could ignore her and when we got there, she'd change her mind.  It had worked before.  

However, the weather conspired against us.  It was really windy on the beach.  Beautiful, but windy.  It was actually fine when you were in the water snorkeling, because you didn't notice the wind under the water.  But, Kai was having none of it.  It was the only day that she really had a melt down.  We got her out on the snorkel trail very briefly and amid many tears and protests.  So, we gave up and each took a turn exploring the trail on our own and then decided to switch gears for the day and leave Trunk Bay.  

However, we did take a picture (most photographed, after all!):

It was probably the wind and the whiny child, but I wasn't that impressed by Trunk Bay.  I liked Little Lamasheur a lot better! 

We loaded back into the car after only about an hour at Trunk Bay and decided as long as we were on the west side, we should try to explore other beaches.  We had lunch in Cruz Bay (the main town in St. John where the Ferry Terminal is) and checked out our guidebook, realizing there was a trail that led from Cruz Bay to two beaches that got very little traffic (because you had to walk a mile to get to them!)  That sounded like our kind of beach!  And, Eric could tell that they would be wind protected.  So, after lunch, we were off. 

It was a HOT day.  Really hot.  And humid hot.  It was in the 90s and the trail was not protected by trees.  Kai did a great job on the hike, but we weren't carrying much water with us and the first time we stopped, she gulped it all down.  I've never seen her drink so much at one time!  By the time we got to the beach, we were more than ready to run into the ocean and cool off.  We raced to see who could get in the water first, laughing and splashing as we hit the (relatively) cool water.  It was an amazing beach.  There was only one other group on the beach, and they left shortly after we arrived.  So, we had the place to ourselves!  We spent a lot of time digging for treasure and Eric and I took more turns snorkeling.  

While I was poking about with my mask on, I saw the coolest yellow and black eel sticking out of the coral. I swam back to Kai and Eric and told them about it.  That was enough for Kai -- she wanted to see the eel! So, she donned her snorkel gear again and we headed out.  The great thing about eels is they don't really go anywhere -- so we were able to quickly find him again.  I think Kai was not completely impressed with the eel (I saw this because whenever we ask her what she saw snorkeling she mentions the sea turtle... more about that in the next post... or the colorful fish, but never the eel).  In any event, I was happy that she was snorkeling again and that we found the eel. 

After a good deal of time at Solomon Bay, we walked the additional quarter mile on the trail to Honeymoon Bay, which was also quite nice.  And, again, we had the place to ourselves.  Kai could just run free on the beach! 

Honeymoon Bay was a short walk from one of the biggest resorts on the island, so after playing and swimming a bit more, we walked over to the resort and caught a taxi back into Cruz Bay, where we ate dinner and met Charlie:

Charlie was the little lizard that hung out on the rum bottles at the bar.  He was so cute.  Apparently, there were three bar lizards, but we only saw Charlie.  Kai called him, "little cutie lizard."  We also spent time taking polaroids of our bartenders (which are now in Kai's scrapbook) and taking pictures of the three of us together, which was nice because we don't have many family shots:

Kai had been bothering us the entire trip to stay at the beach until the sky turned pink.  We decided this would be a good night to stay and see the sunset, and so we hung out at the bar until the sun was close to setting and then headed down to the beach.  Kai was in her clothes and we told her we wanted her to not get her clothes wet.  She did exactly the opposite, and ran right into the water and then claimed to have "tripped" in and gotten all wet.  Of course, after tripping, she proceeded to swim around.  I told her to come out and watch the sunset, since that's what she had asked us to do.  "NOOO," she corrected, "I asked you to stay to play at the beach until the sky turns pink so I can PLAY.  Not watch the sunset."   I hate when she is right! 

 (see the little head in the water?  That's Kai)

(and the pink sky!)

We finally got her out of the water, and she played a bit more at the beach in the fading light before we headed home, plotting what adventures we could have on our final day in St. John.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Epic Journey Part IV (continued): More from St. John Virgin Island

Saturday morning, we were excited to more or less stay put.  We had spent all day Wednesday and most of Thursday getting to St. John.  And on Friday, we had to take the long trip back into town to get the jeep. Saturday we wanted to stay closer to home and have a full-on beach day.

Eric and I (and, really, Eric more than me) had spent many hours studying satellite images prior to our trip, and had identified several beaches that looked ideal.  Indeed, one of the reasons we decided we had to get a jeep was to get to Little Lamasheur Bay -- a beach not too far from our eco resort, but that was only accessible either via a long hike (which we weren't sure Kai was up for) or a 4-wheel drive vehicle, because of the numerous and very deep potholes that riddled the road.  We packed our picnic lunches, grabbed breakfast at the resort's cafe, and we were off.

The road to Little Lamasheur was everything the literature promised it would be -- but, Eric has spent a good deal of time in Mexico and El Salvador, and is quite adept at navigating these sorts of roads.  So, it was uneventful getting to the beach (finally -- uneventful travel!)

And, the beach did not disappoint.  It was gorgeous.  Kai, as is her style, was stripped down to her suit and in the water before we had even found a place to sit down our stuff.  We spent the morning just swimming and building sand castles and looking for treasure (this is done by drawing an "X" in the sand when Kai isnt looking and then yelling, "hey, there's an X marks the spot" and then we dig and the first rock we find is the "treasure").  Kai started to draw the Xs all over the place and we spent quite a bit of time digging.  Eric built Kai a treasure box out of the sand, and that was a huge hit.

We also tried snorkeling again.  Kai had to be reminded again not to pop-up every time she saw a fish.  Little Lamasheur was an even better spot for snorkeling then Salt Pond.  We saw all kids of interesting and colorful fish.  Eric had purchased a snorkeling card the day before so we could try to identify the fish we were seeing... although, I'm not sure how much it helped me!  Kai loved seeing the fish, but was a little disgruntled with the water that kept seeping into her mask.  After about 15 minutes, she was ready to head in and eat.

While we ate lunch, we saw our first mongoose in the plants behind our picnic table.  Donkeys, mongoose, hermit crabs, a lizards... the animals of St. John!

After lunch, we decided to go on a hike.  There was a great trail right off the beach that went out to a point.  The terrain on the east side of St. John is beautiful but completely unlike the west side, where we had been 17 years ago.  The west side is lush and rich is foliage.  The east is much drier and there are lots of cactus and the trails are a bit dustier.  It was really beautiful -- but, we kept hollering, "look out for the cactus!"  There were little tiny cactus popping out of the ground and great big cactus trees hovering above us.  We didn't get great pictures of them, but they were pretty cool.  And the view at the end of the hike was really beautiful.

On the way back, we did a little more snorkeling.  Not too much, because Kai was starting to realize that snorkeling was a bit of work and came with it's own set of annoyances.  And, what she loved (absolutely loved) was playing in the water and building castles in the sand.  We didn't want to push her, so it was a quick snorkel and we headed back to the beach to swim and build a bit more before heading back to our resort.

Once we got back, we were all taking turns in the bathroom to get rid of the sand and take care of other basic needs.  The lock for the bathroom enabled you to lock the bathroom from the outside so that when you weren't inside the bathroom, you could lock the door and keep the trade winds from knocking the door around all day and night.  Or, of course, you could lock it from the inside was well.  So, tt was my turn in the bathroom, and Kai walked in and looked at the floor and yelled, "SCORPION!"  Indeed, she was right, there was a scorpion spinning around on the floor.  Before I had a chance to react, Kai was out of the bathroom like a flash.  She ran out, slammed the door behind her and then LOCKED IT.  Meaning, she was out and I was now locked into the bathroom.  With the scorpion.

"KAILEY!"  I yelled, "Come back! You locked me in!"

Eric appeared, saw the scorpion, and flicked it with a newspaper to the far end of the shower.  I ran into the cabin and Kai was nowhere to be seen.  I climbed up the loft and found her cowering under the covers of our bed.  "Did you see the scorpion?" she asked me. "Kailey!" I said, exasperated, "you locked me in there!"  "Well, I didn't want the scorpion to get into our cabin!" she explained.

It's funny, because we have told this story countless times over the last couple of weeks since it happened and now when we tell it Kailey corrects me and says, "well, I thought about locking you into the bathroom, but I didn't do it."  So funny -- she has reinvented history.  She wouldn't lock her poor mom into a bathroom with a scorpion.  Not her!

We did ask our resort managers about the scorpions and learned that on St. John, they are not poisonous.  The sting of the scorpion that lives on St. John is painful, but not deadly.  Good to know.