Thursday, June 30, 2011

aquarium fun

The Outer Banks has an aquarium that is just the right size for a beach location.  It is not so small that the kids can blaze through it too quickly but it is not large enough that it takes hours to get through.  This is our third, maybe fourth, year in a row going.  Not much has changed in those years but it is still something our boys request doing every year.  We typically go in the morning so we don't hit too many crowds. 

This year we went with Mark's sister Mindy, her husband Chuck, their two kids (Brooke (5) and Brandon (2)), our nephew Mitchell (11) and niece Mia (8).  So we had a good sized crew and the kids all seemed to really enjoy their visit.

Here is a picture of Mitchell, John and Luke before we entered the Aquarium.

At the beginning of the Aquarium they have a replica of a huge shark's mouth.  Every year we have gone we get a picture taken of the kids behind the mouth.  So being creatures of habit, the kids all stood behind the mouth expectantly waiting for their picture to be taken.

The kids enjoyed seeing all the creatures that live at the Aquarium...
 But the shark tank is always their favorite exhibit.  John took these pictures, which actually turned out great.  It is really dark in this room and the flash usually makes a terrible glare on the pictures.  

This guy was cleaning the tank and scared most of the little kids...

They have several interactive exhibits there.  One has shallow pools of water where the kids can touch and interact with sting rays and other sea animals.  The workers there are so great.  One of them got a spiny sea urchin out and held it out for Grace to see.  She actually reached her hand out and touched this little guy.  It always touches my heart when people go out of their way to make Grace's experience meaningful. 

One new exhibit there this year was a Sea Turtle Rescue exhibit.  It was totally interactive and really fun for the kids.  They had them put on lab coats, get a turtle from the 'sea' and then they went to a diagnostic section where they watched a short video and were able to use the same tools on their plastic turtle.  Then they moved to the treatment area and again were able to use 'tools' to help their turtle.  The final phase was putting the turtle back into the sea.  It was really fun for the kids. 

And would you look at that!  Photographic evidence that mom was on the vacation too.  I am trying to get into the pictures more so my kids have pictures of them with me from their youth.  It is difficult to do sometimes but a dear friend challenged me to change that.  She said that I needed to learn to use my camera's timer so I could take pictures of me with the kids while we were out by ourselves.  So even though I do not always like the way I look in pictures, I'm committed to appearing in more of them.

After the our trip to the Aquarium, we made our standard visit to Big Al's Soda Fountain and Grill.  It is a fun place with retro Coca-Cola memorabilia everywhere and really good dinner food.  We love going there and  the kids love their milk shakes.  It was another successful trip to the aquarium for all.

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