The family gathered their luggage and went outside to wait for the airport shuttle.
Once at their destination, tropical Twikkii Island,
Kennedy checked the family into the Potterhouse Bungalows.
The family took two bungalows right on the beach, one for Yulia and Yuri,
and one for Kennedy and Yelena.
Yuri immediately started working on his tan.
Yulia changed into a sundress and ran into her parents' bungalow. "Oh, Mother," she squealed, "This was such a good idea! Thank you soooo much!"
"You're good girl, Yulia," Yelena said, hugging her daughter. "So, you hungry? You want room service?"
"Oh, no," Yulia replied. "Let's eat out. I want to go somewhere and do something."
So (after prying Yuri off his towel) the family headed for South End Beach to see the Pirate Ship. They had a quick bite at the food stand, and then Yulia made the most of the excursion.
She met the Pirate Captain's ghost, and tried to learn the sea chantey.
Kennedy asked a local to take a photo of the whole family:
Yulia dug for treasure,
and found a sea glass necklace, which she promptly put on.
"Can you believe it, Daddy? The locals think, if you wear this, you don't have to go to the bathroom as often."
"Sounds worth it to me," replied Kennedy.
Yelena bought several pairs of earrings,
and Yulia bought a miniature pirate's chest to commemorate the occasion.
The family went to Seawater Beach Paradise to watch a fire dancer and, fascinated, Yulia wanted to learn how to perform the dance.
It took her a while,
but she finally got the hang of it.
"I don't know where this came from," Kennedy said to his wife, shaking his head. "She used to be so shy."
"I think the 'travel bug' has bitten her," laughed Yelena.
The family went to dinner at the Twikkii Beach Hotel,
which Yelena immediately pronounced far superior to the Potterhouse Bungalows ("Our hotel is sheethole compared to this!"), and she made Kennedy change lodgings immediately.
He booked two adjacent suites, one for the kids, and one for himself and Yelena.
During dinner, the family had a discussion about college.
"Oh, Mother," said Yelena. "Why do we have to go to college? We're learning so much in private school. Can't we just go straight into running businesses? Neither you nor Daddy went to college, and look how well you've both done."
Yelena looked at Kennedy, and whispered softly. "She speak so good it make me cry," she said. "Could be lawyer."
She straightened, and faced her daughter. "Not going to college okay if you off-the-boat like me. And you father come from family with no resources. But no reason for kids like you not to get college education. End of discussion." And Yulia and Yuri knew it was.
The next morning, Yulia found a tour guide who recommended a glass-bottom boat tour.
The excursion didn't go well, though--everyone was bitten by sea lice and itched terribly.
They all decided just to hang out at the hotel beach for the rest of the afternoon.
Yuri continued to take tanning very seriously,
and Kennedy and Yelena relaxed while Yulia built a sandcastle.
"This very nice, Kenny," said Yelena. "Good idea you have."
That evening, they decided to go to the boardwalk for dinner. Yulia kidded her parents to stop being romantic and get in the taxi.
Dinner was delicious. "Where is you brother?" Yelena inquired of her daughter.
Yulia rolled her eyes. "He's down at the swingset, trying to impress some girl with his tan."
Yuri was at the stage when he was just beginning to be interested in girls. He had lots of girlfriends--well, "girls who are friends"--back at home, but he relished the opportunity to flirt with someone he'd never met before. "Oh, sure, I run an art gallery for my family," he bragged. "My folks have regular jobs, so they're out a lot. And my sister's a drip--she's hardly any help at all."
When Yuri finally came up to dinner, Yulia teased, "So, how did your date go?"
"You just wish any guy would pay attention to you," Yuri retorted. He turned his back on her and dug into his dinner.
With her parents dancing under the stars and her brother ignoring her, Yulia went down to the beach to dig for treasure. She unfortunately hit a water main.
Kennedy had to pay a big fine to a local official to get the water main repaired.
Back at the hotel, Yulia happened upon a group trying to learn the hula and, though she had been headed for bed, she enthusiastically joined in.
It proved much easier to learn than the fire dance.
Out in the hotel foyer, Yuri was ecstatic about meeting a new girl. "I'm such a stud!" he exulted.
The concierge eventually came over and asked him to cease jumping on the furniture.
Out on the beach, Kennedy and Yelena snuggled together on the sand.
"We got nice family, Kenny," said Yelena. "Thank you for insisting all those years ago that we should have kids."
"You're welcome," Kennedy smiled. "They're good kids. Of course, Yulia got a little expensive today," he laughed.
"Oh, the water main thing," said Yelena. She raised herself up on her elbow. "You should tell Yulia she have to reimburse you from her sales commissions--is only right."
"Oh, I thought I'd let it go," responded Kennedy. "It was an accident."
"Yeah, but she digging in place she don't own. She need to take responsibility for consequences."
Yelena could tell by Kennedy's face that he was loathe to discipline Yulia in any way. "Look, honey, I know she your princess. But you doing her no favors by not make her be grown up."
Kennedy reluctantly admitted that Yelena was right. "How did you learn all this stuff about parenting?" he teased. "Certainly not from those business books you're always reading."
"Same like employees," Yelena answered matter-of-factly. "If employee make mistake, and you keep cover for him, he never become great at job."
Kennedy smiled. "You're one of a kind, Yelena. Come on, babe--let's dance."
Wrapped in her husband's arms and gazing up into the moonlight, Yelena was very happy that they had come on this vacation.
The next day, Yulia's attempt to emulate her twin's tan resulted in a sunburn. "Hahaha!" laughed Yuri. "You look like a carrot!!" And he kept poking her arm to make little white spots on her skin.
"Stop teasing your sister," said Kennedy. "She's suffering enough."
After dinner, the family went to the Majestic Ruins of Jumbok IV, where Yulia made an offering at the Monkey Shrines
("Bet she's asking the monkey Sun God to go easy on her next time!" needled Yuri), and everyone relaxed in the hot springs.
The next morning, the family sunbathed again. Yulia put on a lot of sunscreen this time. Unfortunately, her father didn't.
In the afternoon, they went to the Double Palm Hotel,
where Kennedy and the kids used the sauna,
while Yelena got a hot stone massage.
"I would pay real money for this," Yelena said afterwards.
Kennedy's sunburn was pretty painful, so he couldn't take much of the sauna. He and the kids went to eat lunch at the hotel's food stand. When Yelena was done with her massage, she had to wait for a seat at the lunch bar to open up,
so she tried out the hotel's pool
and relaxed in a hammock that had been set up near the food stand.
"This very nice," she thought, "but hammock should be near pool." She thought for a second, had another brainstorm, and quickly placed a call on her cellphone.
"What was that about?" Kennedy asked her later.
"You'll see," Yelena answered cagily. "Big surprise for family."
After a short rest at their hotel, the family went to the Ancient Ruins of Numchuck,
where Yulia bought more souvenirs,
and a teenaged tourist kid made a pass at Yelena. She slapped him and told him off.
She turned to her husband and said, "Oh, Kenny, I assure you I do nothing to encourage this!" Kennedy was understanding. He dropped to one knee and serenaded her with an impromptu song about how no man could resist anyone as magnificent as Yelena.
Yulia thought this was cute, but Yuri was mortified, walked away, and pretended he wasn't related to any of them.
He sat down at the food counter next to a pretty local girl, and was midway through telling her his now-practiced story of how he ran the family's art gallery, when he heard a chair creak to his left. His mother had sat down to order and had overheard his fib, but she said nothing, at least not to him.
"Where I go wrong with this kid?" she asked herself.
After dinner, Kennedy got another tourist to take a photo of the family but, just as the picture was snapped, Yulia said to Yuri: "You didn't really expect a native girl to be impressed by your tan, did you?"
He shot daggers at her.
"Oooh, the 'Mother look'--I'm so scared!" giggled Yulia softly.
As Yuri would undoubtedly find out, the investment gains the family made while on vacation paid for the excursion a hundred times over.
Their last day on the island, they relaxed on the beach, having run out of energy to do anything else. Yelena wanted to get a tan, but tried to be sensible about sunscreen given her pale, Eastern European complexion.
On their last evening, Yuri and Yulia (who weren't squabbling at the moment) played red hands while their parents got mushy. "As usual," Yuri thought, rolling his eyes.
They had dinner at their hotel.
Yelena had managed only a sunburn from her day at the beach, but still looked just beautiful, her husband thought.
After dinner, Yulia dug for treasure in the front lawn of the hotel.
Kennedy gave one of the groundskeepers a huge tip to restore the landscaping.
Yulia got up early on the last morning of the vacation. "I want to live on the beach forever!" she said to her brother.
"Then you're going to have to make a ton of money," Yuri said, as the family got into the shuttle and headed for the airport. "'Cause the 'rents aren't going to give it to you" (though he wondered if this was true).
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Join us next week for Kennedy's birthday and the week leading up to college!