As I have written about before on my Blog, I have been teaching the boys to read. And one of my current strategies is groupings of 20 words hanging in our hallway. There are 5 groups of 20 words for a total of 100. (Actually, the boys repeatedly remind me that the last group only has 19 words so the grand total is 99.) Either way, each time the boys were able to read all 20 words in a section, they got to go on a date with an adult of their choice. Sidge is still on his last group, but Isaac completed the 5 groups. They would take that adult to the Red Café for an ice cream cone.
Upon completion of the 5 groups, we created a last "hurrah" with the words. As soon as they could read all 99 words without a single error, they would get a very special date -- a trip to the new miniature golf course on the island.
Let me digress a moment to explain something to those of you living in America ...
I am not sure I can adequately put into words the lack of opportunities for family entertainment that we faced first in Turkey and then here. That makes four years of very limited options.
Turkey, while difficult, was not nearly as lacking as this island has been. The reason is that when we were in Turkey, we were in the Middle East. Musicians (like Chris Daughtry) and Circ de Soleil were performing for the troops would therefore make stops to visit our Base as well. In addition, there were some opportunities for things to do off Base in Turkey. There were trips to make and places to go and things to see. The Outdoor Recreation group on the Base had tons of opportunities for family trips that we could take.
This island is VERY different. At 12 x 19 miles, there are only a few things outdoor-wise to do. And, the Outdoor Recreation group does not allow children under 5 to participate in these trips. The outdoor things that are here are fun and beautiful and enjoyable. But other than a movie theatre on Base, there are ZERO "family activities" to participate in. And there have not been any visiting opportunities either. It's like we are sort of forgotten about out here in the middle of the Atlantic.
In the beginning, this did not seem like a big deal to me. I didn't really think we needed family activities. You may be saying that your family doesn't do much of these types of activities either and this wouldn't bother you. But the truth is, you probably do more than you realize.
Pumpkin patches, zoos, parks, church festivals, museums. There is NONE of that on the island. There is one large park in Angra, but that is it! Don't get me wrong. The Base tries. There are a few Base-wide activities that really do help. But overall, there truly are no indoor options. And last year, when it rained for five straight months, there were just no choices.
So you can understand then why the fact that the island has a new miniature golf course is such a cool thing to us! It was something that we could do together as a family.
I cannot even put into words what a great day we had yesterday -- Dad, Mom, and four children. To be together and doing something that we all enjoyed (even if it did involve medal clubs and hard balls that could injure anyone at a moment's notice) was so incredibly fun! The picture at the top of the page was taken by the owners. I have a feeling they took it because we were Americans, and they wanted to show off the fact that English-speakers could enjoy themselves too. But either way, it was so WONDERFUL to do something outside of the house together. We had lunch, played golf, and had dessert (all for around 35 Euro or roughly 48 USD) which wasn't bad at all.
I strapped Hannah into the Bjorn, and JB helped the kids golf. It was so incredibly fun to be together doing something new.
We ended our day at home with a casual dinner and watching the first half of Despicable Me 2 together.
It's amazing what a tiny thing can do to lift your morale!