Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day 14: Making lemonade at Sea World


I know, I know.  What does lemonade have to do with Sea World?  Well wait just a minute and I will tell you.


We arrived at our little guesthouse apartment in San Diego late and went straight to bed in preparation for our big day ahead.  During the week right now Sea World is only open from 10-6, but on the weekend it was open from 9AM to 10PM.  And we planned to be there for most of that.

We first went to Sea World in 2002 when we took the big kids to Disney.  I didn’t know what to expect and it was all a delight to me.  The animals were beautiful, the shows were amazing, and the highlight of the trip was that I got to feed dolphins.  You could buy little fish, 3 for $5, and then hold them up in the air and the dolphins would jump up and take them from you.  The best part was that you were encouraged to pet the dolphins while feeding them.  It was one of the most satisfying experiences in my life.  In the intervening years Russ & I have done several different dolphin “interactions,” but truthfully the most satisfying interaction I’ve ever had was feeding the dolphins that day.  And that is what I planned to do every day at Sea World. 

Imagine our shock and surprise when we got to the dolphin area at Sea World on Saturday and found that you can no longer feed the dolphins there.  It was NOT a happy moment—right up there with that Monday morning in San Antonio when I realized that Sea World was closed.  [just a note: Sea World San Diego and Sea World Orlando NEVER close.  They are open even on holidays.  I don’t know what’s up with San Antonio…] 

The dolphin feeding enclosure has been replaced by a place where you can come and watch the trainers interact with dolphins.  We were lucky enough to each be given a fish by the trainer to feed the dolphin, but it was a “throw the fish into the dolphin’s mouth” rather than the “pet the dolphin up one side and down the other while getting ready to give it the fish” encounter that I’d been so looking forward to. 


We stood there and watched for almost an hour and the whole time I just felt choked with disappointment.  Sure, we saw some beautiful dolphins, but it wasn’t the experience I wanted. 


After we were done watching the dolphins we walked over to see the baby otters.  A trainer saw the kids looking through the window and invited us to come by ourselves into the baby otter nursery to see the two 6 month old otters that were rescued this winter and have been raised by the Sea World staff. 


They were just darling and we got to watch them cavort and play for almost a half hour.   They never stopped moving the whole time—swimming around, jumping and diving, it was so much fun.  After we’d been in there a while another family was brought in and one of the women kept saying “it has been my dream to see this.”  It made me think that we were really fortunate to have been invited in to see the little otters, and that I needed to focus on whatever experiences we had on this day at Sea World, rather than wishing they were different.


After we were done with the baby otters we went to ride Atlantis.  Our other sadness about Sea World was that they don’t have a roller coaster yet, though we were never able to forget that they have one that is opening in just a few days.

Called the Manta Ray.


So Atlantis had to be enough roller coaster for us.  Fortunately there was not much of a line, so we were able to ride it over and over again without stopping for a couple of hours.  We loved the water splashing on us and Jared had a great time practicing all of his screams.  (My favorite was when he did the Geico piggy “wheee-wheee-wheeeeee” one.) 

Then we went to some of the shows.  The kids were sad to leave the ride, but I promised them that we would come back lots and lots before we were done.  We went and saw the Shamu show, the dolphin show, and the Sea Lion show.  What can we say—these shows are absolutely amazing.  I could (and did) sit through them more than once in a day, but more about that later.

First, the Shamu show.  It was definitely a different show now that the trainers no longer get in the water with the orcas, but still just amazing.  The special effects & music were also terrific.  IMG_3229

Next, the dolphin show.  We actually saw this show in Florida when we were on Cindy Lynn’s make a wish trip in 2005.  It wasn’t officially opened yet because it was a brand new show, but we walked by the stadium one day and there was a sign inviting people to come and see the still imperfect show.  We loved it so much then and I was excited to see that the same (essentially) show was still playing.  It was even better than I’d remember—beautiful music, exciting diving, and up to 10 dolphins leaping and jumping around the tank. 


It was magnificent.

The kids’ favorite show was the sea lion show.  It definitely had the best pre-show entertainment—a dance parody of 80ish music that had me laughing like crazy.  I videotaped it another day so hopefully at some point I’ll have time to post it. 


We rode the other ride, Shipwreck Rapids, after all of the shows, but decided that we weren’t willing to stand in line for 30 minutes again so we went on to other things. 

Other things including this chocolate funnel cake topped with ice cream, whipped cream, and hot fudge.  Amazing!


Our last two activities of the day were the two night shows.  First, the the sea lion’s night show.  This was hilarious.  Right now their daytime show is a parody of different tv shows, but their night time show parodies the different Sea World shows.  Which meant that they had all of the right music and costumes, and they mocked the other shows mercilessly.  I laughed until my throat hurt.

The last show of the night was Shamu Rocks.  The huge stadium was FILLED with people.  For the last few minutes before the show started they got everyone revved up with the music they played.  First they played “I Love Rock & Roll” and everyone was singing along with the choruses.  Then they played “We Will Rock You.”  Everyone was clapping and stomping and singing—it was amazing energy.  And then they brought out the orcas. 

Here are a couple of video clips from the show.  I didn’t have time to make the video nice, so it’s choppy and you can hear all of the oohs & aahhs, but it’s still pretty cool.

That was the end of our 12.5 hour day at Sea World.  By the end we were wet, tired, sunburned, and footsore.  But oh, so very happy!!!


The other “making lemonade” moment came at the end of Shamu Rocks.  When we’d seen the nighttime Shamu show in Florida there had been fireworks, so I assumed that we would see fireworks this time too.  We sat through this amazing show, the music and lights and special effects were spectacular and then Shamu leaping and jumping and splashing all over the place.  But—no fireworks.

So what is the first thing Rachel said, and the only thing she said for the rest of the night?

I can’t believe there were no fireworks!


I thought about this for the rest of the night and all day on Sunday.  The whole day Saturday had been an exercise in adjusting my expectations and finding happiness in what was available.  Now admittedly, there was a LOT that was available to be happy about.  But the fact was, the one moment that I have dreamed of and fantasized about for the last 3 months was not available.  I could have spent all of the day at Sea World slightly frustrated, or I could do what I eventually did, shrug it off, and enjoy what was there.  I saw that again as Rachel complained and complained about the lack of fireworks.

I realized on Sunday that we are in a making lemonade moment of our lives right now in another way.  I am really really stressed about my house not selling.  I thought I’d made a deal with the Lord that I would work my hardest for months on end, be a good single mother to my kids, and then He would make my house sell right away.  Or at least soon enough that we didn’t have to pay for temporary housing and our mortgage at the same time.  Or at least…

Apparently this is not His plan, and it is so frustrating.  After 3 months of unemployment and 6 months of fixing up our house and a new job that is a paycut our budget isn’t in good enough shape to sustain many months of rent + mortgage.  And yet that is what is happening.  I am filled with fear about what it means for our future.

I realized on Sunday that our day at Sea World was a perfect metaphor.  I thought I was going to get to pet the dolphins.  But I didn’t.  Where was I going to go from there?

I thought the house would sell quickly.  But it hasn’t.  Where am I going to go from here?  So here is my new goal.  First, to (as much as possible) stop worrying about it.  I have fixed everything that we can afford to fix.  I have prayed like crazy.  I have to let it go a little.  Second, I’m going to find what I can to enjoy about living in the apartment for the time being.  No yardwork for the summer—yay!  A pool—yay!  Not having to worry so much about things while we’re gone later in the summer—yay! 

I have no idea how this will all end up.  I have no idea where we will end up.  (Ok, the pacific northwest…but you know what I mean.)  I have no idea how we will afford everything.  (Ok, I have some ideas, but they aren’t very palatable.)  But I am going to try to let go of my worry about what the future will bring, and focus on enjoying the baby otter moments that come my way in this moment, and then the next, and then the next. 

Wish me luck…


  1. I loved, loved, loved this. I agree with all your insights and am just trying to let them sink into my own head as I feel similar fears about our future (esp. since hearing that the stupid gov. of CA wants to cut all state employees' salaries by 5%!). At the same time I've seen that lesson play out in my life here- the things I thought I needed to be happy sometimes haven't happened, but there have been compensating blessings on every side. Things I never would have thought to ask for or imagined needing. So in a way, I'm excited to see what crazy, wacky, unexpected good things the Lord has in store for us...are you feeling any of that curiosity?

  2. So Cindy we came to seaworld this weekend and asked them why they were closed. They were JUST opening their expansion park that coming weekend so they shut down the park to make sure everything was working smoothly for that. (It is huge by the way, It's own little water park.) The lady said a couple of other things but that was the main reason.

    But I am so happy you guys were able to have such a fabulous time! Be safe on the rest of your journey.