Sunday, August 31, 2014

Baby Book Completed!

I have thousands of pictures from the past year. Now that the triplets are over a year old, I've been feeling overwhelmed about making a baby book for them. I knew the more time that passed, the less likely I would be to actually make a baby book. (I never made one for Jackson. His first three months are documented, but then I went back to work.) I couldn't find a traditional book that I loved, which led to my decision to make a digital photo book. I researched various photo book companies and watched reviews. I decided to go with Mixbook. (Shameless plug, if any of you decide to make a photobook using Mixbook, let me "refer" you first so I can get $20 off my next purchase.)

I debated about making three individual books or one book to print three times. Since I knew I would be repeating so much of the information in individual books, I decided to make one that included details about each baby. I couldn't find a template that would work so I started with a blank book and custom made everything. I pulled all of my information from blog posts throughout the past year. It took me about 12 hours over the course of three days, but it is finished!

If you have an interest and spare time on your hands, you're more than welcome to browse through it here. And if you actually want to read it, you can adjust the size display underneath the book on the right side.

Next project: Jackson's baby book.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

August Outtakes

I've consistently recorded our daily outings and adventures, but there are plenty of silly, bizarre occurrences that get lost in between all of the events. Here are some of the everyday happenings at home that didn't make the blog this month.

Jackson is obsessed with hiding under laundry baskets. I was amused when the babies began climbing on top of the basket while he was underneath.

For two days straight, Amelia suddenly stopped what she was doing and assumed the downward dog position.

Of course, that was practice for her to get comfortable standing on her own.

Anytime I open the back door, all three kids rush to get in and out of the house. All three cannot fit, but that doesn't stop them from wrestling one another.

Thanks to an unfortunate diaper change gone wrong, James and Maddie both required an impromptu bath in the sink.

Jackson likes to open the dryer and let the babies crawl in it. At least Jackson can't reach the top to turn it on.

James cut four top teeth this month, which caused several days of grumpiness. I guess Jesse commiserated with him.

Amelia, Maddie, and James have mastered climbing the stairs. I open the gate when it's time to go upstairs, and they all ascend the staircase. As I was taking a picture, Maddie slipped on her dress and tumbled down two steps.

If the bathroom door isn't closed completely, James WILL play in the toilet. Along with wires and cords, he has a sixth sense for when the bathroom door is ajar.

All three of the trio love "helping" load and unload dishes.

James' hair is getting so long I like to play with different hairstyles in the bath.

While I love the Little Tikes Playsets we purchased, my blood pressure rises every time the trio play on them now. Maddie can climb the slide by herself. Amelia taught herself to swing by climbing inside and standing on the swing. James can climb the tiny rock wall on the other side. It won't be so hazardous once they learn how to slide and climb down, but for now, it can get chaotic. 

I found Amelia like this yesterday morning.

And my favorite outtake...
I wish there was a story or explanation behind this last one, but I was simply an observer.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fire Station Part Two

Our last fire station visit ended abruptly with not one, but two emergency calls that sent multiple fire engines roaring off. A friend arranged today's visit several weeks ago, and Jackson has been very eager. He asked about it all morning. This is what he chose to wear.

While his outfit was adorable, I had my doubts that he would actually wear it. Clothing like that creates attention, and that is not something my shy boy wants in public. In fact, he wouldn't even hand the firefighter the plate of cookies we baked for them until we were alone.

In an effort to avoid a repeat of last time, we requested to see the firetrucks first. One was a vintage firetruck that is only used for parades.

The trio were busy looking around, taking in their surroundings.

A particularly attractive firefighter modeled his clothing. (One of Jack's friends brought his fire fighter jacket, too!)

All but one kid cooperated for a group photo, hence the gap in the front where he should be sitting.

After touring the inside of the station and reconvening outside, Jackson decided to put on his jacket. It always takes him some time to warm up to people. As we were leaving, he wanted to know where the firemen's badges were and if they could turn on the lights on the truck.

After the tour we headed to a nearby park to play on the playground. Jack and a friend were more interested in the beach volleyball court.

The babies played. And by played, I mean rearranged pine needles and put mulch in their mouths.

Our park adventures ended when some of the moms with older children left for school pick-up. My four were all in good moods still so we headed to the library to return some very overdue books. All summer we've gone to the library in the mornings when it is overflowing with summer programs and children waiting for story time. Apparently 3:30 pm is the prime time to go to the library. We had the entire kids' area all to ourselves. Jackson put on a puppet show for his siblings. James made it his mission to pull every magnetic letter off of the board. The girls were preoccupied with grabbing books off of the shelves.

Our last week of summer has been full of adventure. Preschool starts next Tuesday, so we'll have new routines to learn. I'm not sure how much I want to go out with the babies vs. with Jackson and the babies. I'm still adjusting the trio's nap time and Maddie just started therapy twice a week. I also don't know how tired Jackson will be after preschool and how much down time he'll require. Next week will be a lot of trial and error. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sprayground Season Subsides

Like most public pools, the local spray grounds are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. That means this is the final week for us to enjoy free water fun. I suggested a playdate to Nevin Park, which continues to be my favorite sprayground. Unlike the last time we went, we were the only people there for the first fifteen minutes. The large canopy provided such generous shade that it was actually pretty cold.

Jackson was initially enthusiastic and headed straight for the fountains. He was immediately blasted with cold water. It took him over an hour to recover. He wrapped himself up in a towel, sat in the sun, ignored his friends, and ate graham crackers. Amelia and Maddie refused to touch a drop of water. In fact, she preferred to seclude herself behind the stroller. The trio played with one of Jack's playmates, who is a little mother's helper in training. Contrary to the girls, James frequently crawled full force directly into the water. I don't know when children begin to understand cause and effect, but James certainly has not. Each time he'd go into the water, he appeared genuinely shocked that he became soaked. I took better pictures of Jackson's friends, who were actually playing in the water, than I did of my own kids.

The spray grounds are completely separate from the playgrounds. Today was the first time we checked out the playground. It was a huge hit. The entire playground was car themed. There was a track, car equipment, a wall of carved out tools, etc. Jackson had a smile on his face the entire time!

Since I hadn't planned on going to the playground, I didn't bring shoes for the trio to wear. They still pulled up, crawled, and climbed. The toddler playground is completely covered in rubber surfacing, which makes it so much easier for the babies to get around. Today was probably the first time James, Amelia, and Maddie actually played independently on playground equipment. One area had shallow, winding stairs that the trio loved. There weren't any drop offs so they could never have fallen more than one step. (For the record, I knew they were fine because each of them can go up and down the single stair of our landing at home). I just had to stand guard at the slide to make sure they didn't tumble down. It was a lot of fun!

This park is definitely on my list of places to take the trio after I drop Jackson off at preschool. This is the first playground I've found that can safely accommodate multiple toddlers without requiring multiple adults.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Freedom Park with Friends

Conversation with Jackson and I in the van:
J: Are we going on an adventure?
Me: Yes, we're going to the park.
J: What park are we going to?
Me: Your favorite park!
J: Tell me.
Me: It has an obstacle course.
J: We're going to the obstacle course park! Will my friends be there?
Me: Yes
J: Yay! I love my friends.

It literally took all summer, but Jackson finally considers his regular playmates his friends. As much as we love Freedom Park, we had even more fun with friends. Jackson immediately ran to the obstacle course upon arrival. It's impossible to capture it in one photo, but I found an aerial diagram of the NFL course.

The trio were hesitant to explore their surroundings.

They warmed up to the only girl of the preschool group who happily played peekaboo with them.

It's hard to get the boys to pose, so I was elated to get a semi-decent shot at the end of the course.

After running, climbing, and spinning at the obstacle course, we walked around the lake. We planned ahead for a picnic lunch.

The boys fed the ducks and looked for turtles.

Our next stop was a more traditional playground. Jackson recharged after a bit of quiet solace in a tunnel.

Finally, the kids played in the train. It was endearing for me to watch Jackson actually initiate play.

James reclaimed his title as resident wagon napper. At one point he swayed to the other side. Maddie kept poking him and laughing.

It was another gorgeous day with great weather and company. I'm curious to see if Jackson will continue to strengthen his friendships once our playdates become less frequent. Preschool resumes next week and the babies need their afternoon naps. I'm not sure that we can maintain our social calendar. Either way, I'm enjoying our time together this week!

Monday, August 25, 2014

First Day of School

As a stay-at-home mom, the first day of school simply means we can enjoy our favorite kid-friendly spots without the crowds. I didn't have any emotional breakdowns or jealousy about not being in the classroom. We stayed busy with Maddie's PT this morning and a playdate at the park. I recently blogged about how challenging this park is with the babies. I am so happy to share that the wagon tackles the gravels trails far better than any stroller. We had a much more positive experience.

The weather couldn't have been more pleasant, with temperatures in the 70's and relaxing breezes. I still got a workout in by pulling over 50 pounds of children up and down hills, but I wasn't drenched in sweat from heat.

We met at a smaller park that I didn't know about. It was between the lake and a parking lot. There were covered picnic benches away from the aggressive geese, which meant the kids could actually sit down and eat their snacks. 

Most of the kids are preschoolers like Jackson, but there is another sweet girl close to the trio's age.

My mom friends and I chatted while the kids played on the playground. After a while we walked around the lake, skipping rocks and looking for turtles and tadpoles underwater. Jack and his friends played on the rocks. We took bets on who would have a meltdown before we left based on how hard they were running and climbing.

We utilized our bread stash we keep in the van. (You never know when you might come across some hungry ducks and geese.) Jackson and I passed out slices to his friends so they could all feed the geese.

By this point we had been at the park for two hours. Poor Maddie is always exhausted after PT anyway. She could not keep her eyes open.

I walked back to the van, pulling all four children. Jack and I had a low key afternoon playing in his room while the trio napped.

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Jesse's First Day (dictated by Jesse)

Each class has 30-34 students
My first day was alright. It was a lot different from high school, much more different than I thought it would be. The kids are given a lot less responsibility, but they probably can't handle it yet. I don't think I've ever eaten in the cafeteria before. I've certainly never been on the bus lot before. I've never had to deal with lockers. It's unfortunate that I have to do that.

I liked meeting the kids. They're talkative. I really like my colleagues. My team has been very supportive and helpful. As far as materials, there's nothing I could want that I don't have. It should be a good year once I get used to things.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Carolinas Aviation Museum

A friend texted me first thing this morning to let me know that a local aviation museum was offering free admission for the day. I was excited to take advantage of a free event that I knew would offer lots of interesting subject matter for us to see. Jesse did not share my enthusiasm, but he agreed to join us. There were commercial and military planes and helicopters on exhibit. Some were more interactive than others, but all were interesting.

The picture below is of a helicopter used during the Vietnam War. As I've gotten older I find myself blindsided by moments where I am flooded with thoughts of my father. It's almost an out of body experience where I think, "Oh, I wonder if Dad took helicopters into Vietnam. I'll have to ask him about it later."  I haven't had that luxury for sixteen years, which makes me mourn the fact that I will never have a relationship with him as an adult.

Back to reality...
Jackson was able to sit in the pilot's seat of two different planes. This 2-passenger plane was used to train future pilots. The museum staff member was quick to provide information about the plane.

The other interactive exhibit was actually just the cockpit of a plane. Another boy smaller than Jackson sat on the right side. It reminded me of driver's ed because both of the steering wheels moved together. We unfortunately figured this out when Jackson moved his controls and the other controls kept hitting the little boy in the face.  Oops! Jackson would have happily spent more time in the pilot's seat if there wasn't a growing line behind us.

The biggest claim to fame of this museum is that it houses the "Miracle on the Hudson" where Captain Sully was able to safely land the plane in the Hudson River. (You can watch a flight simulation of Flight 1549 here.)

The only time we let James, Amelia, and Maddie out of the stroller is when they were allowed to play in the emergency inflatable slide that served as a life raft for the passengers. 

Here's a picture of the damaged tail of the plane. I wish I had taken a picture of the placard because I really don't know what exactly this is, but I know it should be connected to the rest of the plane!

Because the museum lacked air conditioning, the outdoor exhibits felt quite pleasant in comparison thanks to the occasional breeze. The big boys walked up the stairs as if they were about to board the plane. Jackson wanted to open the door, which was inaccessible. I'm sure he'll have the opportunity to do so one day.

After learning about Flight 1549, Jack was quite concerned about dead geese and kept inquiring about the geese with every plane we saw.

I've taken the kids to an airport overlook park to watch planes land and take-off a few times. However, the museum parking lot provides a much better view with much less volume than the overlook park. You can't see the runway or the planes taxiing, but there are perfectly clear shots of the massive planes taking off.

The best part is that there are huge open fields. The triplets were getting antsy from being confined in their strollers for so long. We let them eat their lunch in the grass. (Random fact: At 13 months old, the trio had their first peanut butter and jelly sandwich today.)

Since there wasn't any shade in the grass Jackson found a secluded concrete tunnel to rest inside.

My happy boy...

We had a really fun morning. Events like this make me especially grateful that we live in a large city that has a variety of fun, free activities for us to do together as a family!