In planning adventures for our family, we always tried to make the adventures age appropriate. I remember our first white water rafting experience. Our kids were probably between the ages of five and nine years old. We were on vacation in Idaho and the “white water” was more of a slow shallow river, as it was tailored to young families. But at their age it was exciting and the raft company did a great job of making it seem more wild and dangerous than it really was. They praised the kids for paddling hard over the “rapids” and let them hang in life jackets over the side of the raft, in the shallow area and take a little swim in the river. When the kids were teenagers, we were on vacation in Colorado and we actually went real white water rafting in the Royal Gorge. Now that was real excitement and because we started things like that when they were young, they were always game to go bigger. On vacations we always looked for new experiences and have done everything from snorkeling, skiing, scuba diving to train rides, hiking, camping, and kayaking, dancing and fossil hunting. When my son was a senior in High School and my daughter was a sophomore in High School and their older sister had just started college, we agreed to have a German foreign exchange student stay with us for the year. My Ben was 18, Lukas from Germany was 17 and my Jenny was 16. They got along great and the entire situation was perfect in hindsight. This was a fabulous experience for many reasons, but one of my fondest memories is when we took the three of them to the Florida Keys for Spring break. We rented a two bedroom condo on the beach at a resort. It had great sand beaches, nice pools and restaurants and a large pier for fishing. We brought the blender along for smoothies to save some cash and the condo had a kitchen so we could do some of the cooking for this crowd, because it seemed like they ate constantly. We had driven down so we had our vehicle and we had gone sailing, snorkeling and every evening we went to the Lorelei across the street to eat appetizers and have drinks at the sunset celebration. It was a good time. The kids always stayed up later than us sitting on the beach in front of the condo or playing games and talking. My husband and I were sound asleep one night in our beach condo, when all of a sudden the bedroom door burst open and almost went through the other wall. It was Ben, Jenny and Lukas all talking at the same time. They were loud and excited and their initial busting in almost caused us a heart attack. I finally realized in my sleepiness, which quickly went away with the adrenaline pumping through my veins that they were excited fun, not excited, call 911 because something bad happened. As we heard them talking all at once as excited as anyone should ever be allowed, they were all repeating “we caught a freaking shark.” Finally, it registered as they were shoving their cell phones at us showing pictures of the shark they had caught on the fishing pier at our resort. I grabbed my glasses and took Ben’s phone and sure enough there it was, Jenny holding up a small shark by the tail. As I looked at the picture closer I could see it was curling its head up towards her hands. I said, “Was it trying to bite you?” All of them answered almost in unison, “Yes, it was trying to bite us the whole time”. They said they caught it on a frozen shrimp from the freezer. I looked at the clock and it was after 2 a.m. Had they not learned anything from their favorite movie—Jaws? Who fishes from an Ocean pier at 2 in the morning? After looking at their pictures and hearing the whole story about the big scary catch and how they were using the Muskie fishing rod they had brought from Minnesota, tied to the top of the Yukon, I could not help but be proud of their craziness and a little scared about their good judgment. We heard how they each held the shark and took a picture for Facebook and to send to their friends, and how they had to hurry with the pictures so they could safely release it. None of my kids were ever in any serious trouble, but these kinds of shenanigans were commonplace and added to all of our fun and our family stories. I have never regretted the money and time we spent on doing fun things and vacations.