While my parents were visiting us in Australia, we headed up the Queensland coast to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef for 5 days. Graciously, my parents offered to watch the kids on the last day there so Troy and I could hop on the ferry for a 45 minute boat ride to Fitzroy Island. The day trip started off beautifully. We enjoyed the breeze and the sun. There were no crying kids wanting a snack or needing to go potty. Then as we approached the island we saw a whale mother and her calf playing in the bay. The island itself was picture perfect. It was a small beach island with one resort and great boulders and snorkeling right off the beach.
We got our snorkel gear and headed to the beach. Within the first 5 minutes, I saw a woman come out of the water with her foot bleeding. I mentioned it to Troy and suggested that he take it slow through the coral. Within 2 minutes of my warning he tripped in the shallow water. His flipper flipped off his foot, and he nearly fell. Instead, he stepped hard on some coral which cut his foot in 4 places. Blood was dripping off of his foot, but he still wanted to snorkel. "Great," I thought "not only is he hurt, but now we are going to attract sharks."
cAfter snorkeling for about 30 minutes, we carefully made our way back to the beach and realized that Troy's foot was still dripping blood. So, we headed to the resort in search of first aid supplies. Once he was all patched up, we grabbed lunch, and headed to the beach on the other side of the island. It was about a 20 minute walk up and down a steep, rocky path. Breath-taking views, but not nice to Troy's foot. When we arrived, I was like a school-girl, wide-eyed and smiling from ear to ear. It was a dream come true for me. Huge smooth boulders partially submerged in crystal clear water with coral mounds scattered along a sandy bottom. I was wishing we had come here first. Maybe Troy would not have gotten cut.
By this time Troy's foot was really hurting, so I went snorkeling by myself while he took pictures. I could have stayed in all day, but we had a boat to catch back to Cairns in 45 minutes. So I climbed out of the water and took a few pictures of my own. I had a perfect idea for a shot, so I asked Troy to walk out on a rock to get a picture of him with the ocean in the background. On his second step onto the rock, his feet slipped out from under him and he fell flat on his back hard on the rock. It was a full body whiplash kind of fall. I was sure he had hit his head or broken a rib. But he got up without further injuries, just piping mad.
During the fall he lost his Crocs flip flops in the ocean. They were both floating in and out with the tide while he hobbled around on a cut foot trying to catch them. He would almost get one and then the tide would pull it back out. Just as he got out there, the tide would push the shoes into the shallows again. This went on for several repetitions while I sat helpless on top of a big rock. Just when I thought his head might spin in circles and fly off in frustration, both shoes simultaneously were flung out on dry land by an incoming wave. Finally, he could get his shoes on and protect his foot. That is when he checked his pockets and noticed that his iPhone was missing. A quick sprint back over to the rock he fell on revealed his iPhone still bobbing around in the ocean beside the rock. This was quickly turning into a really bad trip.
Yes, his phone was dead. We eventually found out that he lost everything on it. The corrosion from the salt water set in almost immediately and we could not recover any of his data or pictures. Defeated, we began our walk back to the boat. As we stepped onto the trail, my sunglasses fell off my head and landed on the ground. In almost the same second I stepped on them with a crunch. So, with a cut foot, sore body, dead phone, and broken sunglasses, we headed back. The day ended with a trip to the urgent care center for good measure.
I have concluded that we only think that we are young and able to have fun. The reality is that the 'slow down' our kids demand of us has actually protected us from ourselves. Left alone for a few hours, we almost self-destructed. I'm not sure we know how to function without them anymore.
Living in Australia this past year was the first time we had lived away from family since having children. I didn't realize this lack of family support would be such a hardship. We were used to grandparents and my sister a short walk or drive away. Since we homeschool, the kids were with one of us 24/7. If we wanted a night out, we took turns and went out alone while the other one stayed home with the kids. We made it for 9 months with no support, but by the time my parents came to see us in Australia, we were ready for some adult-only time.
The kids were ready for some Grammy and Papa time, too. We held them off for one night so my parents could recover from jet lag. But the kids were dying to spend the night in my parents' apartment, so we agreed that they could sleep up in their 17th floor apartment the second night. To understand the scenario I am about to describe, it is important to know that we have key fabs that we swipe to gain entrances to all doors and elevators (or 'lifts' as the Aussies call them) in our apartment building.
At their regular bedtime of 8:30pm, we took Silas and Morgan up the elevator to the 17th floor of the building where my parents were renting an Airbnb apartment for their 2 week visit. It was so convenient for us all to have our own space, but for them to be in the same building rather than a hotel off-site. We made their pallets on the floor of my parents' living room and the kids went to sleep easily. Troy and I were downstairs in our ground floor apartment.
At about 12:30am, Troy happened to still be awake and heard a light knock on the door. He opened it to find a dazed, lethargic Silas standing there. After a few questions, it was obvious that our 8 year old son was still asleep. Silas slowly woke up and began to cry because he didn't know how he got there. He didn't remember leaving my parents' 17th floor apartment, coming down the elevator, or knocking on our door on the ground floor. Without a key fab, he was able to come down the elevator by himself in a sleep walking state. Fortunately, Troy heard him. Otherwise, he would have been trapped in the lobby with no way to go back up the elevator or come around to the patio in the back without a key fab. The thought of what could have been if Troy hadn't heard Silas knock on the door - him alone, confused, and with nowhere to go trapped in the lobby all night - scared all of us.
About the time that we discovered Silas, my dad woke up in the apartment on the 17th floor and found an empty bed where Silas had been sleeping. The panic only lasted a few minutes before we were able to let him know Silas was safe and that his homing pigeon instincts kicked in during his sleep and brought him back to us. Morgan slept through the whole thing, but rest assured, when the lights went out for the second time that night, there was a chair wedged in front of the door in case she decided to take up sleep walking, too.
I am a wife, mother, and exercise physiologist with one foot in the world of travel and one foot in the world of fitness.
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