(And please excuse the relatively messy look of the photos and text together. I'm still not very good at manipulating things onto the page in a pretty way.)
Without further ado, here are some photos from our Sea Life Center outing (click on them to see them a little larger).
As soon as you enter the center, there is this cute little boat that allows you to play captain with some buttons and a wheel. Abigail is holding a plastic crab that freaked her out a little at first.
Next came some 'buttons' that let you hear
all kinds of animal sounds. Bethany was absolutely tickled by each noise heard, clapping her hands to her mouth and giggling. As you can see, she was barely tall enough to reach about half of them and needed a smidge of help for the other half.
There is a definite conservation/'green' aspect to the Center, and the first little room we came to has all sorts of information on declining numbers of fish and increasing numbers of jellyfish, among other things. The little girls listened intently to a radio interview via phone and then Abigail enjoyed petting the fur of a harbor seal and a sea otter.
The big girls finally convinced the little girls that it was okay to touch the glass of the fish exhibits and they got a kick out of looking at all the creatures swimming and floating and undulating and crawling around.
We ventured into the 'Touch and Feel' part, and I don't think any of us expected the two smallest Doepkens to touch any of the creatures. But Bethany surprised us all, including herself, by boldly sticking her finger into the water.
Just look at her excitement and glee!
Abigail hovered around, watching Bethany get more brave and eventually touch something. Not to be outdone, she walked right up and stuck her finger in the water as well.
Oh yeah? I can touch an anemone too!
The anemones looked prickly but were kinda soft (and they 'hugged' your finger too!). The sea star that both babes touched felt like a rock and Bethany even touched another type of anemone that was sticky--the very end of each long 'arm' stuck to your finger. (no, Mommy didn't touch anything)
We watched 'Woody', a huge Stellar sea lion for a little bit. He would swim by, his eyes sort of bulging and following us. He'd come way up out of the water, then swim around, then pass by or little group as if to say "what are you doing?"
The birds were next and Abigail wasn't sure she liked them too well. Lots of noise and motion and shaking of feathers to rid them of water. I especially liked the male King Eider, although the photo doesn't do it justice. I'll post it anyway.
We headed downstairs, visited the Giant octopus that was moving all over the place in the tank, watched Woody and the harbor seals swimming in their respective tanks, had the kids get on the big scale and see how close they could come to Woody's weight (barely a fourth, I believe) and found the jellies tank. By this time all five kids were rather hungry so we raided the vending machines and my snack stash before hitting the gift shop.
Going into a gift shop with toddlers/almost pre-schoolers is an adventure, as any parent can probably tell you. I was okay with the kids getting a small memento of our Thanksgiving 'vacation'.
The big girls each found a cool necklace within their price range.
Samuel wasn't that interested, as was expected.
Jim had fun playing with the stuff he saw (and getting Moriah to, too).
The little girls wandered around. They looked at the stuffed animals. They looked at the hard plastic animals (almost had them convinced to get a "Nemo" clown fish). They found 'baby cups' and wanted those. ?? Abigail narrowed it down somewhat to a stuffed animal. But! kept choosing big ones (I think she was teasing me because she'd hold up a sort of large one and say "a little one?"). Bethany got bored and left the store (in the company of Samuel). Part of me totally rejoiced in that, but then I redoubled my efforts to find her something she'd like. I know, I know. Not a shining Mommy moment, encouraging my child to spend money when she wasn't really interested. But I was doing some pre-self-preservation, thinking of that potential meltdown that could come when she realized Abigail had something and she didn't.
In the end, Abigail settled on a little black bear (BB for short) and Bethany chose a stuffed jelly fish (whose name is...Jelly). They seemed very happy with their purchases and have been playing with them. I find some solace in that.
We got home, ate a quick lunch and the little girls headed to their naps. It was a lovely late morning/early afternoon spent together (although you should ask Jim about taking advice from his wife about appropriate footwear).