Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sea Life Aquarium

Since sickness prevented me from being able to take the kids on any adventures last week, I wanted to double up on our weekly "field trip". Yesterday I took advantage of the local aquarium's Toddler Tuesday program. Children under three get in free every day. On Tuesdays, children ages 3-12 get in free with the purchase on one paying adult. I went back and forth on whether or not I should just take the trio or all four. My only hesitation in taking everyone was knowing what a long day it would make for the trio without a nap. Since Jackson would only be free on Tuesdays, I chose to wait and take everyone after school pick up.

It was almost two o'clock by the time we arrived at the aquarium. (The trio nap around 2.) I changed the trio's diapers in the van, then walked through the parking lot. I haven't been using the stroller much anymore, but since it was so close to naptime, I used a double stroller. I did not bring the Ergo, which I would later regret!

The daily feeding time is at 2 pm, so we rushed through the first exhibits so we could watch the employees feed the sharks, eels, and sting rays. The kids were enamored by the sea creatures.

James was especially interested in the feeding.

Amelia could not contain her excitement and was just bursting with energy. It was like she was tapdancing in place. Eventually, she began to wander off, so we followed her lead. Everyone took turns at the touch tank. James, our water boy, peeled a starfish off the glass and made enormous waves in the tank. 

I've grown to appreciate the aquarium more as the kids have matured. It is really well designed and has so many secret areas where kids can get a unique view of the sea life. Jackson enjoyed standing under this tank, watching the fish swim around his head.

The most intriguing part of our day was watching the octopus eat. Apparently an octopus likes to hunt it's prey, so the staff  hide the food in puzzles, jars, and other contraptions for the octopus to eat. The octopus has the intelligence and curiosity of a toddler and is a very smart animal.  A staff member dropped a Mr. Potato Head full of food into the aquarium. Sure enough, Mr. Potato Head's ears and hands started drifting down to the bottom of the tank as the octopus retrieved it's dinner.

Jackson befriended the exceptionally helpful staff member. The two sat together on the floor and watched the octopus at work. I tried to keep the trio engaged as long as I could for Jackson's sake, but we had to move on sooner than I would have liked.

This is when things started to go downhill. Jackson was in a sour mood because I made him leave the octopus. I was enthusiastic and trying to get him excited about the next room. He looked with disgust and said, "It's just a giant crab."

We then walked through the very cool tunnel of fish. The sheer awesomeness of this display lifted Jackson's mood. I held the trio up so they could see the fish surrounding them in every direction.

Unfortunately it was at this time that I realized Amelia had completely soaked through her diaper. A few of our cloth diapers have begun leaking lately. We've more than gotten our money worth out of them, but I still need the diapers to last a few more months. Since I had just changed all three in the van, I didn't bring any diapers or change of clothes with me. The poor girl was drenched, so I buckled her in the stroller and sped through the final exhibits.

Amelia was furious that she couldn't get out of the stroller. Maddie and James were fighting over who could sit in the other seat vs who would walk. It was 3 pm and everyone was exhausted. As previously mentioned, the last few minutes would have been much easier had I brought the Ergo. The double umbrella is tough to steer with one hand while carrying another child.

Thankfully we were near the end of the aquarium. We stopped briefly to admire the jelly fish. This exhibit is visually stimulating because you can adjust the lighting by turning the dial any shade of the rainbow. Since jellyfish are translucent, they appear whatever color you select. 

The self tour ends at the play area and gift shop. I let Jackson climb to the top once before forcing him to leave.

I pushed the stroller up against a table so Maddie and Amelia could color. Maddie left sobbing because I wouldn't let her take the bowls full of crayons with her.

After all was said and done, I'm still happy that we went. I feel really bad about not bringing the diaper bag or Ergo with me, but I'm confident that the kids enjoyed the exhibits and had a fun experience.  If I had gone earlier in the day, we would have missed out on all of the feedings and Jackson would not have been with us. Jack's still talking about the octopus eating Mr. Potato Head and the trio get excited every time they see pictures of fish. That proves that it was a meaningful experience where they're able to make associations to what they saw at the aquarium. I consider that a success!

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