Day 1 and 2 with the TN Fritz kids

We met Nathan and Amy just south of Atlanta yesterday afternoon and absconded with their children. We met for lunch and then they set off back home and we packed all the kids into our little Nissan, and set off for South Carolina. We stopped at a place called Noah’s Ark on the way because we all needed a little more time to get out of the car for a while.

Noah’s Ark is an animal sanctuary with a LOT of animals and it’s completely free of charge. They run on donations. I thought it was a petting zoo, but that did not turn out to be accurate. They are, however, still really awesome.

Checking out Barney the tortuous

They have tortuosus, horses, donkeys, goats, peacocks, several tigers, bears, monkeys, a lion, and a lot of birds. And possibly other animals than that, but we didn’t get to see everything.

Playground at Noah’s Ark

We didn’t see everything partially because we spent a bit of time running around on this thing playing troll-under-the-bridge and racing down slides and generally trying to burn off energy in preparation for the 3 1/2 hour drive that we still had to go after leaving here.

Tiger photo for Ethan

We did get to see a lot of the animals, though, before we left. Ethan’s camera batteries died and he asked me to make sure I got a picture of the tiger for him. So this is the picture of a tiger for Ethan.

We did make it home, though much later than we’d anticipated, and got everybody settled in. The kids got a Skype video chat with their parents to do good-night prayers and everything. And then everybody got tucked into bed. Some of us a little more exhausted than the others. Okay, so the exhausted ones were mostly just the ones older than 10-years-old. The younger ones were still pretty wound up, but they did fall asleep eventually.

Of course, around midnight, we woke up because Ethan came into the room saying, “Isaac’s throwing up.” Justin, of course, popped right out of bed and ran downstairs before I was even aware that there was a child in the room. Isaac apparently had eaten too much food and too many sweets and with too much excitement or something because he got sick all over the bed and poor Ethan. We were able to get everybody cleaned up, though, and bedding swapped out for clean sheets (thank goodness for the vinyl waterproof sheet we put down on the bed!) and everybody put back into bed without too much worry. Isaac was shaky for a while, probably just because he was freaked out by the puking more than any other reason. Ethan cheered him up by telling him stories while we sat on the floor after getting cleaned up while Justin cleaned up the bedding and pulled down more sheets from the attic.

Audrey, sleeping upstairs in the library, slept through the whole thing.

This morning, they let us sleep until at least 8:00 — we showed Ethan Saturday night how to turn on Netflix and told him he could turn it on after it was light outside in the morning. So they watched some cartoons for a little while. And then the kids and I worked on a crafty kit thing that we picked up from Michael’s while Justin slept a little longer since he’d had to be up later the night before. When he did get up, Justin made everybody French toast for breakfast. The kids played outside for a little while so I could get the kitchen dishes cleaned up and Justin hosed off the bedding from last night’s excitement before throwing them into the laundry.

And then we set off for Savannah. We had hoped to get into the butterfly exhibit in the Savannah Mall, but we mis-judged how long it takes to get everybody moving to the same location — also the butterfly place was not great about explaining how that worked and that they only took a limited number of people through every 15 minutes. So if we were to wait around for a time when we could get in, we would have been late for the thing at the beach later. So we peeked through the windows, grabbed some lunch at the cafe-court and set off for Tybee Island.

Peeking in at the butterflies

Again, we’re still learning how long it takes to do things with 5 people instead of 2 adults, so we almost missed the beach thing, too. The Tybee Marine Science Center has a scientist who takes people on walks and things and tells them about what they’re seeing at the ocean. We thought it would be a nice way to introduce the kids to the ocean and all of the things that are involved there. Of course, parking there is just miserable, so they dropped me off so I could run in and get us signed up for the event and then had to wait for everybody to show up after parking. We just barely made it, which is why the kids were still in their regular clothes when went down to the water. We did manage to get sunscreen on 2 of the 3 before heading down there, though, and the 3rd one got sunscreen shortly after that. My sunscreen was a little later than that, which is why I look like a beet.

Sift and Sieve activity at Tybee

The activity that the kids did was the Sift and Sieve and the scientist lady gave everybody a sieve and told them to fill it with sand from the beach and then take it to the water and sift out all the sand, and then dump what was left into the bucket she had on the beach and she would tell people about the things that they found in the water.

The kids had a lot of fun doing this, I think, once they figured out how to make it work. It was a little confusing at first. Plus the waves were a little surprising because they kept sneaking up on them.

Audrey sifting the sand from her sieve

After looking at what they’d gotten that way, the scientist lady got a handful of people to hold onto a net and they walked through the water to see if they could catch something that way. I stayed on the shore watching our bags because I was wearing a skirt and Audrey and Isaac lost interest and just started playing in the water, so I kept an eye on them, while Justin and Ethan went out with the net for a while. Apparently they did manage to net a fish or two!

Netting for fish

When they came back on shore, since she’d already lost interest in the science thing, Audrey and I went back up to change into our suits while Justin stayed with the boys looking at the fish thing. When we came back, Justin took Isaac up to get his suit on. Ethan already had his trunks on because he was having trouble with his pants before we left the parking lot, so he stayed at the water with me and Audrey. And we all went into the water and splashed around and had a really fun time! Justin and Isaac made it back before too long and everybody had a great time for a while. I didn’t get any good pictures of this, but they’ll be back at the ocean again and the photos that day will look pretty similar, same background and all, you know, so I’ll try to get some later this week.

Ethan went into the water just fine. He had a lot of fun trying to not let the waves move him around a lot and digging around at his feet looking for shells and things. Audrey kept trying to jump over the waves and then trying to also not let them knock her over. Isaac was a little unsure about the whole waves thing, so Justin picked him up and carried him in a little bit. He was a little bit freaked out until Justin got him to put his feet down and Isaac realized he could still touch the bottom. The ocean does not get deep very fast close to shore.

So everybody was doing great and having a lot of fun until Audrey got stung by a jellyfish. I was sitting on the shore. Ethan had come in a little bit before because something had maybe stung his food so he was rubbing sand on it and playing in the sand and I looked up and all the other three were walking in and Audrey was crying. It stung her up her leg, which Justin knows can really hurt. (Ask about our engagement sometime.) He got a little on his foot, too, but she got it more. We packed everything up and went to shore where Justin got some soapy water in a pail so she could wash off her leg a little, and then he ran and got the car while we rinsed off.

And then we all went back home for showers and dinner and the nightly call with Nathan and Amy. The kids had their lines all worked out on the drive home. Isaac’s line was, “I puked.” Ethan’s was, “I got puked on.” And Audrey’s was “I got stung by a jellyfish.” And all of them would say, “But we’re having a great time!”

They got to bed a little late tonight, but it didn’t take long for them all to be completely konked out. Justin went down to look and he said that Audrey turned off her light all on her own for the second night. Ethan was hugging his book tightly to his chest, but his pillow and blanket were on the floor. (Justin got him covered up again.) And Isaac was completely spread-eagle on the middle of his bed.

I think we wore them out a little bit today. But I’m pretty sure we’re all still having a really fun time!