Jesse had to chaperone a Valentine's Dance yesterday, which meant we weren't going to see him until just before bedtime. Late afternoons are the most stressful time of day for me, and I wasn't looking forward to an evening alone. I decided to take the kids to the Schiele Museum immediately after preschool. I was really hoping the trio would nap on the 45 minute drive, but Jackson was the only person to sleep! Go figure.
Kids 3 and under are free, making our total admission price $13. This is a good bit cheaper than the aquarium, Monkey Joe's, Discovery Place, the zoo, etc. The first thing you see when you walk in the door is this enormous dinosaur fossil. It's quite the wow factor!
I reviewed appropriate museum behaviors before we visited any of the exhibits. I reminded them to walk, talk quietly, and stay in the same room until we were all ready to move together. For the most part, they did really well. Jackson went ahead a few times. And there were numerous times that they yelled with excitement. We were more or less the only people in the museum so I don't think we upset anyone.
The temporary exhibit is still about the solar system. James didn't care for the strange sounds coming from the speaker, but the others had fun dressing up and looking at the planet models.
James, Amelia, and Maddie are much better communicators than the last (and only other) time we went to this museum a few months ago. They immediately exclaimed, "I see bear. I take picture." I instructed them to "act like a bear". James was indifferent.
Seriously, there are bears everywhere!
As we were viewing some of taxidermied wildlife, an employee asked us if we'd like to watch live animal feedings. We were able to watch a woman feed an alligator with long tongs. I was surprised that she climbed in there completely, with her back against a wall.
We also watched her feed a snapping turtle. Both creatures eagerly pounced on the food.
We continued to the NC gallery. The displays are truly stunning. I try to encourage the kids to search for as many plants and animals as possible in each scene. They're becoming quite observant.
We spent a good bit of time in the American Indian exhibit as well.
Last time we visited the museum, it was a spur of the moment trip. We ran out of daylight and were unable to properly explore the outdoor exhibits. As long as the weather is mild, the kids are happiest outdoors. James found a large stick and dragged it around with him most of the time.
We stopped to try and figure out how the grist mill worked.
Jackson didn't understand...
...so we made our way down to the creek to get a better look. It might not look like they were having fun, but all of the kids were engrossed in their surroundings. (water, sand, wheel, bridge, rocks, etc)
Some might not think the toddlers are old enough for these adventures, but I like to test the limits. They almost always surprise me with doing better than expected. I am loving being able to go on mini hikes with them and navigate the great outdoors.
There's an impressive Stone Age exhibit, complete with a burial mound. I made Jackson guess what he thought the structure was used for and what might be inside it. When I told him it was for people who died, he was so concerned about why a person would kill someone inside a cave. I had to further explain that the person would have already died before (s)he was placed in a burial mound. Then he wanted to know why it wasn't covered like Jesus' tomb. Did they rise, too? It provoked a LOT of questions!
I know the triplets have no concept that people of the Stone Age would have actually lived in a structure like the one below. They just kept saying, "I go inside house. I sit in house." I had a hard time imagining this would be considered an actual dwelling a million years ago. Of course, I have no concept of a million years ago, either. It's all so fascinating to me!
As a random aside, Amelia's eyes always look a different color to me. She looked up at the top of the house and her eyes were the most beautiful shade of blue.
I did not bring the wagon inside the museum, but I did grab it for the nature trail in case the kids were tired. The wagon was rarely used, but it gave me peace of mind. We kept walking past the lake and discovered a children's area. The kids, especially Maddie, enjoyed the giant sand area.
There was also a tiny house for the kids to play inside.
They would have kept playing but I coaxed everyone to begin walking back towards the parking lot (which was nowhere in sight by that point). Jackson and the girls sat in the wagon. James pulled his stick and walked beside me. We stopped to see the animals in the Backcountry Farm exhibit. Amelia was standing beside her siblings in the picture below. The sheep started to "baa" so she ran to me laughing, saying, "Come on! Sheep baa!"
After three hours in and outside the museum, we returned to the van and began the drive home. Once again, no one napped, but it only took 25 minutes to get home. We had leftovers and watched TV until Jesse came home and put the kids to bed. It was another one of those days where I felt confident and overjoyed to be a stay at home mom.