Truly Beyond my Expectations…

We spent the last two days at Kalahari Water Park and Resort, and let me tell you, when they claim things are “beyond your expectations” they do not lie. No, friends. This place is amazing. If you have never been, you need to go. It can be pricey, but I found a ridiculously good deal through http://www.travelzoo.com a while ago, and couldn’t pass it up. Anyway, I present you a laundry list.

Things That Were Beyond my Expectations

1. The facility: it was GORGEOUS. It is all African-themed and pretty much everything there comes from Africa some way, either originally or conceptually. There are hand-carved benches with animal shapes in them, masks, tapestries, rugs… everything. It is so amazing. And breath-taking. There are African animals peeking out (fake, of course) from every corner. The indoor waterpark is ridiculously awesome, but more on that in a minute. The artwork, the music, the ambiance… I dug it. Big time. I don’t care if it was all 100% authentic or not, the concept and the environment were enough to sell me on it. And the kids LOVED the animals everywhere. Caelan liked that all of the trash cans were animal print (because it takes next to nothing to excite and impress her), and Ellery said hello to and flirted with every animal and we heard, “LOOK!” about a zillion times from her. She really, really liked it.

2. The Water Park: mind you, my review of this is very limited. There were a lot of things we couldn’t do because the girls are too young/little. And a lot of things we could do, we just didn’t because the girls had no interest in them. This was definitely not a Mommy-Daddy trip. This one, we gave to the girls. The Lazy River is fabulous. We spent probably an hour and a half over two days there. It was the right speed for the girls and really thrilled them. The Wave Pool was fun. Ellery found out she can float on her own in the life jacket there. And Caelan discovered how tightly she could squeeze Shawn or me before we passed out. She was, let’s just say, less than a fan. She actually was, shockingly, less than a fan of all of the water stuff, which is odd since she loves water. But, I figured out why and will explain more on that in a bit. The Kiddie Pool area we were all big fans of. Both girls really enjoyed themselves. Caelan discovered her love for water slides that don’t involved many steps. And Ellery figured out she likes being squirted from the floor. LOL And she liked the slides, also. We spent pretty much the entire time we were there in the Kiddie area today. And I don’t care. My favorite part? Seeing them have fun.

3. The prices of food: Jeezy Chreezy, people. Take your own…everything. Next time I will also take my own food to make for meals. We didn’t eat anything but breakfast this morning on site, and thank god. Because I refuse to pay astronomical prices for things. However, I give a shout out to my Fletcher Friend for passing me the info about Danny Boys Italian Eatery, which is down the street from the Resort. Dude, GO THERE! LOVED their food, their service…everything. SO, so good. Souvenirs weren’t that expensive; they didn’t cost as much as I would have expected. However, note that we didn’t get any because on the way out of the door, I remembered we hadn’t gotten anything for the girls, but Ellery was sleeping ON Shawn’s face and I took that as a sign to save my money. 🙂 Bad Mommy? No. Caelan never once asked about getting anything. We had discussed getting souvenirs last night, but again, when the kid is sleeping, you leave. And no one argued.

4. The frustration I felt with Caelan and her ridiculousness: Caelan is a water baby. She always has been. She loves water. Pools. Tubs. Hoses. Water tables. Whatever. She loves them all. UNTIL they are immense and she has no control over what they do to her. She didn’t want to go near anything that splashed her. She didn’t want to get wet. She freaked out ALL afternoon yesterday (until I threatened to go home, Shawn reminded me *sort of kindly* that I was giving her what she wanted, so we stayed). She just..melted down. There is no other word for it. Well, I am also discovering I have little patience for the shenanigans and I was over it. There was a bit of voice-raising. There was a bit of stress. It wasn’t fun. She wanted to go back to our room; she wanted to be dry. Well, we still played in the water, and we went outside after to see the grounds and she found a playground she fell in love with. More on that in a minute. I discovered the source of the meltdowns: She wanted to be IN CONTROL of her wet. She didn’t want splashed today, but she wanted to be able to get wet by going down the slides. She didn’t want to be in the wave pool because she had no control of her surroundings. She wanted to be in the kiddie area where she could slide and exude her own control over her surroundings and her being. I don’t know where she gets it from… (you all know I am lying here; I am a HUGE control freak). This made me realize, again, she is 100% MY child and really, I only have myself to blame.

5. The amazement I felt at Caelan: Caelan has come so, so very far. Caelan a year ago wouldn’t have walked onto a playground, ran to a climber, and went down a hugely steep slide in a matter of 48 seconds. She would have made us go with her, hold her hand, and catch her at the bottom of the slide. Caelan a year ago wouldn’t have run around on her own, saying hello to another child, and playing on the jungle gym like she owned it. Hell, Caelan a year ago wouldn’t have played on anything, at all. It is incredible to me (and here is where I get a little misty, get over it) how much she has grown. And matured. And even when she is melting down over something stupid and mundane, I realize that it isn’t mundane to her. It’s huge. And when I tell you that every.single.thing matters to my daughter, I am not exaggerating. Everything counts. Everything has its place. And these past two days, she made me realize even more that she is growing up. And I need to make sure I am doing everything in my power to ensure she grows up to thrive. I have to let go of the frustrations because she does. I have to let go of the annoyances; I cannot raise my voice with her and get her in a tizzy. It does no good. I have to guide her, while letting her have a little control of her own. I need to remember that inside of her resides my spirit and spunk, and like it or not, she isn’t going to change.

My girl. All by herself on the big slide… So proud of her.

6. The pride I felt in Ellery: Ellery is just incredible. She is my fearless warrior girl. She wanted us to let her go in the water (wearing a life jacket). She floated on her back, by herself, in the wave pool. She went down the little water slides. She splashed and played… She took Kalahari by the horns. Everything was a point of wonder for her. “Look! LOOKIE! Look this!” were her phrases of the trip. She said hello to everything and everyone. She danced, laughed, flirted, giggled, talked.. the whole time. She looked out for her big sister (because she is the most empathetic person I know) when Caelan was scared. She kissed us a million times… it was her way of saying, “thank you, Mommy and Daddy. I am having the time of my life.” And you know what? She did.

This is the sign of a girl who has enjoyed herself immensely…

7. The desire I have to to embolden and strenghten my relationship with my husband: things aren’t always easy. I’m not the easiest person to be married to, I am sure. I give him a lot of shit and a lot of credit for putting up with my shit. But I realized this week that we cannot take each other for granted. We need common ground even more now with parenting, since Caelan is exercising her control abilities and I am exercising my, “Please help me Shawn because I am about to lose my shit” abilities. We need to rely on each other more, for everything. We need to talk more, react less. When Caelan acts a fool, I need to step back and see myself and the situation, and I need to recognize his place and ask him to use his strengths. When I need him to do something, I cannot anticipate he will know what I need. I need to tell him. In words. Kind ones, without sarcasm. I am very sarcastic. And snarky. And I know I can be downright mean and awful sometimes (not always, but it has happened before and I am not proud of it). And I also recognize I need to stop it. I know we will be married forever; I need to make sure it’s always because he wants to be, and not because he feels obligated to be.

8. How hard I can laugh: I laughed. For two straight days. At my girls. At myself. At Shawn. And I feel great. Laughter really is the best medicine. And time with my three favorite people was exactly what I needed before my classes start Monday.

Have you been to Kalahari? Thoughts?

This almost lasted the whole way home. Aaah… you’re welcome, girls. We love you.

 

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