Charleigh turned four over six months ago. I wrote her birthday post but didn't share photos of her birthday weekend, which we celebrated at Jellystone in Natural Bridge. I like to use my blog as a kind of scrapbook and print and bind every so often, but I'm way behind; I'm going to try and catch up.
Charleigh's is our only summer birthday, so we make the most of it. This was our third birthday celebration at Jellystone in Natural Bridge. (We didn't go in 2012, when I was pregnant with Chip.) The first time had been a little rough because Charleigh didn't particularly care for Yogi Bear and his friends (also because 2.5-year-old Clementine had released the parking brake on a golf cart, sending it crashing into a fire pit, but we don't have to talk about that). The second time had been close to perfect, so we tried in many respects to replicate the experience.
Cade's our friend Sam, who always takes the seventh seat in our minivan without complaint and makes sure everyone's buckled up for safety, back there. We love him so much.
If I'm being honest, the thirteen-year age span between our oldest and youngest children can make it challenging to entertain them simultaneously. We've found that one easy solution is to include one of Cade's friends as often as possible; they're all such great kids. And certain places--Jellystone, Chuck E. Cheese's, Busch Gardens--are fun for everyone.
My parents have driven from East Tennessee up to Natural Bridge every time we've camped at Jellystone. I'm so thankful for all the memories we've made with them, there.
What with arts n crafts and events in the rec center; the pool, splash park, lake, and river; miniature golf, the arcade, and the jumping pillow, there's plenty to do without ever leaving Jellystone. We're talking about me, though, so in 2011 we visited Natural Bridge, also a toy museum and butterfly exhibit (included, at the time, for the price of admission), and in 2013 we visited Natural Bridge Zoo. In 2014, we decided to visit Virginia Safari Park, where...
...Charleigh lost it. I've been her mother for 4.5 years, now, and I've never seen her so completely and utterly freaked out. Those big animals started sticking their heads into our minivan for food, and she melted down. All the way down. We're talking hyperventilation. ("I was a little freaked out myself," Sam said, "by the emu." Jim--concerned about the paint on the minivan--would've preferred a bit more distance from the elk.) Charleigh survived the drive-thru experience by climbing into Cade's lap in the back seat and smashing her face into his armpit until it was over.
She's still talking about how we tortured her on her birthday. Oh, and I forgot candles for the ice cream cake that Yogi delivered. She's still talking about that, too.
The great news is that Virginia Safari Park includes a walk-thru village, which was much more Charleigh's speed (even if she would take no part in petting the giant snake or feeding a budgie).
Overall, Charleigh's birthday weekend was a fun time. Sam's mama came and picked up the big kids early (Sam had to play soccer; Cade had to march his bass clarinet; and both had to start high school.), but Jim, the little kids, and I were able to watch Mark Cline perform a magic show before heading home. (I didn't take photos.) Oh, and I paid twenty-five cents, that same day, for an old book of children's Bible stories that I love far beyond any other homeschooling resource we have.
I wonder what Charleigh will remember, years from now. Love, I hope.