Friday, April 29, 2016

April Birthdays

April has been packed with birthday celebrations. In addition to Jackson's 5th birthday festivities, we've attended a party for Jackson's classmate, two nieces, Jesse's mom, and my brother-in-law. We've had plenty of excuses to enjoy food and fellowship with family and friends.

Jackson was invited to attend a classmate's party at Romp-n-Roll earlier in the month. Jackson took him while I stayed home with the trio. Jesse was impressed with the music selections and Jackson was impressed with the gym. I'm sure it was fun for Jackson to be able to play with his classmates outside of school. 

Family birthday parties are more often than not opportunities for me to bake or decorate a fun cake. My 7 year old niece made an unusual request for a "duck rock climbing cake". After a bit of clarification, I came up with a plan to make realistic looking ducks in a pond climbing a rock. Jackson helped me make the fondant ducks.

The rock was a big rice krispy treat covered in gray fondant. Everything was simple, and low stress. I love making and decorating cakes where I have a little freedom with the design.

Birthday parties with big families are loud and busy. I love watching older cousins take care of younger cousins!

Next up was my niece's 13th birthday. I wasn't asked to make her cake but I did make rice krispy treats because they're a family favorite. My niece's and I had already celebrated their 13th birthdays with our sleepover, but the party was another fun chance for kids to play. They spent half their time jumping on the trampoline.

Our next celebration was for my mother-in-law's birthday, held at my brother and sister-in-law's house. She requested a lemon pound cake. The recipe called for a glaze, but I decided to change it up a bit with a lemon cream cheese frosting. It was so pretty and tasty that I made another one the next night for book club.

While Jesse's side of the family is much smaller, it is no less fun. The kids are spoiled by their family and adore their cousins.

The final birthday party was for my brother-in-law, who requested a carrot cake. 

With all those birthday parties, I don't think I took any photos of the people we celebrated. While I may slack on photographing the birthday boy or girl, I hope they each felt special and loved!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Triplets Take Over McDowell Park

On Wednesday we met a fellow triplet mom friend for a play date at the park. There are four nature centers/museums in Charlotte that I know about. We frequent Reedy Creek and Latta, and have been to the Nature Museum a few times. I've been wanting to check out the McDowell Nature Center for a while now, but it's on the opposite side of town in an area I rarely visit, My triplet friend (who was also my roommate and carpool buddy for our Nashville trip last summer) lives in that direction. We were excited to get together and check out the park.

Both of our newly turned 5 year olds and almost 3 year old triplets were born within a few months of each other. Therefore, we have eight preschool aged children between the two of us. We were asked more than once if we had an in-home daycare or preschool. 

We met at the playground, then decided to drive to the nature center after the kids began to wander from the traditional playground.

There are several hikes of varying lengths within the park. We glanced at the map and decided to go on an easy quarter mile hike.

Unfortunately, we turned the wrong way at a fork in the trail and ended up going on a longer walk than any of our kids could handle. There were a few steep spots and lots of exposed roots. James and Amelia held hands to keep each other steady.

There were some unusual natural sightings, including a bat box and this tree below.

The indoor part of the nature center was cozy and full of character. There were plenty of secret compartments in the walls that you could lift to see what would grow or live under the soil. The nature center also had the usual tanks with snakes, turtles, frogs, and lizards.

Our final stop was to drive to the lake (all within the same park) for a picnic lunch. I have an exceptional group of mom friends, but it's nice to have another triplet mom in which I can relate. We both stood while eating lunch, laughing that this was the norm for picnics.

Unlike Lake Norman, Lake Wylie doesn't have any beach access or place to put your feet in the water. Still, it was a lovely view. We listened to the gentle waves crash against the rocks as boats drove past.

It was an exciting, eventful day at the park. There wasn't anything special or unique at McDowell Park to make it worth the drive, but I look forward to future play dates with our triplet family friends.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Aviation Museum

I decided to keep Jackson from school on Tuesday because I had an interview at 9:30. I couldn't arrange childcare, drop him off, and make it to my interview on time. Plus, he was able to play with his friend while his mom watched them and the trio. I had hoped to drop him off later, but I didn't get back home until nearly 11. 

I chose to use our unexpected time together as a bonus adventure for the week. Jackson randomly said, "Remember that plane that crashed from the duck? We should go there." I knew he was referring to the Miracle on the Hudson, which is on display at the Aviation Museum just 20 minutes from our house. We had only visited the Aviation Museum once before in 2014, but the Miracle on the Hudson left such an impression on him.

Though I hadn't mentioned the museum to Jackson, I had been wanting to go as well. Their annual community day was the same day as Jackson's birthday party, so we missed the free admission. I was relieved to discover it was only $12 for all of us because kids under six are free. 

The only other time we went to the museum was in August. There's no air conditioning and it was so crowded and hot. We had a great time, though our experience on Tuesday was even better. We were the only people in the museum for the majority of the time and it wasn't too hot. The kids had plenty of space to walk around and explore at their own pace. The admission lady gave Jackson a scavenger hunt on a clipboard where he had to match the names of the planes with their picture. (I obviously helped.) Jackson was dedicated to successfully completing his scavenger hunt. 

Jackson was once again mesmerized by the Miracle on the Hudson. He watched an entire 25 minute video with Captain Sully landing the plane in the river, passengers evacuating, and flight simulations of the geese flying into the plane.

The damage is truly mesmerizing to assess.

In addition to viewing famous planes and helicopters, there are a few interactive exhibits. The kids fought over taking turns in the captain's chairs of the cockpit.

There was also a fighter plane the kids could sit inside and pretend to fly.

After completing our indoor scavenger hunt, we watched a few of the planes taking off by the nearby international airport.

James was most excited to see the planes being pulled out of the hangars.

My favorite thing to see was the radar with all of the planes in flight around the region. It was updated every minute. It's incredible to think about how many people were currently in the sky above us, and what they might be doing (business travels, vacations, family emergencies, etc).

After leaving the museum we headed to a nearby park to run around some more and eat our picnic lunch.This is not a good picture of the trio, but as I was sitting across from them, it was one of those moments where I was just awe-struck that we have triplets. Those moments don't occur as often anymore, but when they do, I just stop what I'm doing and think, "Those are really mine? We really had three babies at once!"

We had such a great afternoon together walking right up to mammoth planes, pretending to be pilots, and sitting inside aircraft. It was well worth the $12 and I don't feel bad for Jackson missing school.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Easy Art Project

I'm going through photos on my phone and came across this cute art project I meant to post a few weeks ago. The arts and craft room is always one of the girls' favorite areas at Discovery Place Kids. The other week they had a simple tree project using plates of paint and toilet paper roll tubes. I just wanted to share this easy, adorable form of toddler art. I will likely recreate this at home in the fall.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Girls' First Haircuts (As Told by Jesse)

Amelia had been acting big and bad about wanting a haircut for a couple of weeks. Maddie is more of a follower so she wanted a haircut, too. I took them after the Earth Day festival. I wasn't planning on taking Maddie, but she asked to go and I didn't want to exclude her.

Maddie wanted to go first, but as soon as we walked back to the big chair she was not okay with the situation. She put her head on my shoulder. I had to prop her up for the haircut. Amelia stood behind the chair the whole time. Maddie was upset and cried, even though she didn't get anymore than a quarter inch cut off. Then she got a lollipop so she was okay after that.

Then we switched. Amelia was very hesitant after watching Maddie. I told her it wasn't going to hurt. I had to hold her head straight so the hairdresser could cut. Amelia was okay after the initial cuts. Maddie stood behind us and ate her sucker.

All of the hairdressers paid attention to the girls. Our hairdresser found a special envelope to put their hair in since it was their first haircut. She put a snippet of hair for each girl and a card to fill out.

Both girls were happy when we were leaving to check out. Amelia ended up getting two suckers because she dropped her first sucker in hair. As soon as they got in the car they were excited to come home and show Bonnie their haircuts. They never admitted how scared they were.

Here are their before and after glamor shots:

Earth Day Festival

On Saturday we headed to an outdoor children's festival that some of my mom friends recommended. It was at a lovely way to celebrate Earth Day. The location was at Woodland Discovery, a local organization that runs a preschool, summer camp, and other outdoor activities. The event included painting, fishing, a guided hike, and more. For a random free event at a place we had never visited, our expectations were low. I think Jesse and I were both surprised at how much fun everyone had.

The first thing that caught the kids' interest was painting. Bowls of paint and easels with paper were easily accessible. It was a small miracle that none of the toddlers dumped bowls of paint over or covered themselves in paint.

You know Maddie is having fun when a light wind doesn't stop her from painting.

As we moved across the field to another activity, we heard a woman shout quite fearfully, "There's a snake!" It was a harmless black snake, but very long. A crowd grew to watch the snake move from the creek, across the entire field.

There were guided tours, but we chose to go on our own because we weren't sure how far we could get with the wagon.

Throughout the event we referenced the scavenger hunt we were given. The organizers gave each family a list at registration. Once completed we could turn it in for a prize. The list gave us purpose and excitement at discovering acorns, dandelions, etc.

The trio had a spontaneous snack at one of the stations. I'm not sure how threading cheerios on pipe cleaners relates to nature, but this was a favorite activity, especially for James.

Jackson was more excited in making paint by mixing wood ashes and dye.

There were huge furniture and refrigerator boxes set up as playhouses that the kids could crawl inside or paint the exterior.

One of the stranger activities was a bird watch. We all climbed the treehouse, looked through binoculars, and spotted birds. The strange part was the bird sights were various stuffed animal birds scattered among the trees.

The trio were content, but the event certainly had more activities for older kids. Thankfully the hike was wagon friendly. There was only one spot where we had to lift the wagon over a fallen tree. The toddlers walked most of the time but sat in the wagon when they were tired.

Jackson balanced on ropes courses, 

and even ziplined.

The most interesting part of our hike was seeing this deer carcass. We overheard one of the guides explaining that the dead deer was spotted three weeks ago. Funny note about this picture: Jackson asked me to take a picture. He was smiling really big and I told him it was a bit odd that he was so happy beside a dead deer. He said, "Okay. How about I look scared?"

We spent so long hiking and exploring the woods that we didn't get a chance to go fishing. There were poles, bait, and whatever else you need to go fishing set up until noon. Jackson was a little disappointed that he didn't get to fish, but we had plenty of other fun things to make up for it.

Jackson turned in his scavenger hunt. He received a key chain, fake tattoo, and wildlife poster.