Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Guest Post: Jackson's First Day of Kindergarten

[Today was not an accurate portrayal of kindergarten, but it was Jackson's first day and he's been looking forward to this for months. At our school, the first day is used as an assessment/screening day where students rotate in small groups to different kindergarten teachers. Jackson will attend Open House on Friday. At that time he'll be assigned a teacher and he will have a  permanent classroom next Tuesday.]

I went to school. I played in Mommy's room and read a story to all the pretend persons. Mommy did some work. I went to my hallway. After that I stepped in and said hi to my teachers. I colored.

I played some songs and watched something. One was Dracula and Ghostbusters.

Then I went into another classroom. I played with blocks in that classroom.

Then I went into another classroom. A teacher asked me a bunch of questions. They asked me my letters and to count tiny blocks. They tested our colors. And a circle test. And what number would come after that.

I went to lunch and talked to my teacher. The cafeteria was really loud. I ate my lunch.

I played outside on the playground then go inside.

Then I went to another classroom. I played with blocks in that one, too. And then the fire alarm went off. I had to go outside just like Mommy. We just went back and finished our story.

We go our lunchboxes and waited in line, then we went back to Mommy's classroom for a tiny bit. Then I went home. That's how long kindergarten is.

Monday, August 22, 2016

First Day of Preschool--In Our Words

Here's a recount of the trio's first day of school, as retold by each of us.

Mornings can be hectic. We did the best we could to ensure a smooth morning, packing backpacks and picking out clothes the night before. Thankfully we don't have to make lunches since two snacks and a hot lunch are included with tuition. Amelia was a gleeful early riser, but we had to wake everyone else up. James and Maddie weren't the least bit cooperative with their obligatory "first day of school" pictures.

All thrree teachers communicated with parents during the day. James' teacher has a parent-teacher communication app where she posted photos of the kids. Amelia's teacher emailed pictures. It was nice to see their faces during the workday, though Jesse and I were both busy.

Jesse and the kids returned home around 4:30. Everyone was talkative and eager to talk about their day. I was able to get better photos of James and Maddie, as well as a mediocre group shot.

James had homework to create a collage to hang in his room. We went to Walgreens to pick up collage prints I had ordered. James took his first homework assignment of decorating the cutout very seriously.

I think they had a great first day, but you don't have to take my word for it...

Uh, I eat lunch at school. I eat goldfish. Drink orange juice. I play pretend food. My friends are going to help cook. I pee pee in the potty. Look at my back. It has my name on it. I'm a zebra and I'm in the zebra class. I sang alligator. It say chomp chomp chomp. I sleep in the white bed. And my friend is sleeping over there in the white bed, too. And check out my paper I painted. And look what I got at school. I got that. (holds up welcome certificate) My teacher said, "Amelia Zebra go to school."

I just play at school. I play food and naked baby. I eat lunch in my classroom. I had cereal and goldfish and pretzels. And orange juice. I have teachers, an animal teacher. I paint a rainbow. I sang the monkey song. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 monkeys fell off the bed. I have a nasty nose. I sleep on the floor. And just play when I wake up. Then potty. I went outside and played but it was hot. 

I eat cereal and burgers. I just play with a friend in the classroom. I played with playground. Teacher take my shoes off and I take a nap. I pee pee on the potty. I make pictures.

Well I dropped them off. We had to sign in and wash their hands. They picked out their cubbies for before school. They picked out three cubbies beside each other. As soon as Amelia and Maddie had their name badges on they were gone. I didn't even see where they went. There were a ton of kids there. James didn't leave me. He had to be coaxed away by one of the teacher assistants. No one cried. 
I picked them up about a quarter to 4:00. We had to sign them out and I had to walk to the classroom to get them.  
James was holding a tactile object. He put it in his backpack but Ms. Barrett made him put it back. She said he did a good job. He napped for a long time and he peed in the potty all day. 
Amelia ran in the hallway as soon as she saw me. Her teacher said she did really well. Amelia said bye to all her friends.  
Maddie didn't care when we got there because she was drinking her orange juice. Her teacher asked if she had eczema. She was talking to James and Amelia while Maddie finished her juice. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Preschool Open House

Last night was Open House for James, Amelia, and Madeline. I had worked myself up into hysterics the day before when we received phone calls from each of their teachers, inviting us to attend Open House. Going back to work has been emotionally draining as is. I've spent nearly every waking hour with James, Amelia, and Maddie since their birth. I had just assumed that the triplets would be in the same class. Once I realized they were in three separate classes, I wanted nothing more than to stay home and keep my babies together. [insert ugly cry here]

Open House was a grand success that put my mind at ease. (Jesse wasn't concerned to begin with, but we're coming from different experiences.) The 3's classes are animal themed. Amelia is in the Zebra class. Maddie is a Hummingbird. James is a Lion.  

When we arrived, there was a line of assistants there to help. Once we walked in they said "These must be the triplets". Assistants escorted us to each of the kids' rooms. We had to complete the same survey and take family pictures in each room, but I guess that's to be expected. The kids were so happy in their rooms. There were so many centers and learning areas! Maddie and Amelia's rooms were the same size and set-up, and only a few doors down from one another.

James' room is further down in a separate building. I was most worried about James, but he was the most engaged with the staff. All teachers are certified birth-preK and obviously experienced working with preschoolers. They pretty much stayed on the floor, playing and interacting with the kids.

James' teacher stood out among the others. (The above picture is an assistant.) She was very calm and nurturing. Several of her former students (now 4 year olds) came in  hugging her and saying how much they loved her. She picked them up, swung them around, and embraced them in huge hugs.

The other relieving news was that James can wear pull-ups and they will work with him to potty train. Both girls used the bathroom in their classes. They were excited about having a "little potty".

One last noteworthy thing that I haven't mentioned before is the school they are attending is also where the EC preK students for the county attend. Each class has a lead teacher and 1-2 assistants, along with a plethora of specialists that come in as necessary. I love that the kids will be mixed together in the same classes.

I'm really proud of how well they acclimated, though I'm curious if they'll do as well Monday when they're being dropped off.

On the way out, they couldn't resist playing on one of the many playgrounds. Maddie scooted on her bottom most of the way. James tried walking but ended up crawling. Amelia waited until it was clear and then sprinted across. They are so different and I'm very curious to see how their personalities develop independent from one another.

Jesse will be handling all drop off and pick ups since the preschool is closer to his school. I'm very anxious to hear how their first few days go next week!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


It's not really something I'd like to share, but I know in several years Jesse and I will say, "Remember that summer we had fleas?"  I'm embarrassed to admit the flea situation has gotten so out of control that all six of us have bite marks, especially around our ankles. Zelda has alternated between indoors and outdoors for over a year but we just recently noticed a problem within the past month. Things have escalated quickly. 

Jesse has really taken the bull by the horns in the battle against fleas. His attempts have been expensive and ineffective. So far he has purchased..

  • flea shampoo, then bathed each of the cats multiple times
  • an all natural flea spray to treat the cats and bedding
  • Hot Shot to spray the edge of carpets
  • flea collars for each of the cats
  • a new vacuum since ours wasn't effective

Our new plan is $100 worth of Advantage oral drops and a professional spray through our regularly contracted pest control. The pest control was originally scheduled to come out today, but we rescheduled for Monday. We have to be out of the house for a minimum of four hours after treatment. We also need to remove all bedding and objects off the floor.

Let's hope we get the flea situation under control ASAP!

Ten Trips Update

At the beginning of the summer I made a summer bucket list with ten trips I wanted to take. Due to extreme heat, potty training, and unexpected wisdom teeth removal, we only completed eight items on my list. Here's a recap of our summer adventures:

Greensboro, NC--Greensboro Science Center, parks, splash pad ($71 value)
Visited on June 8 on June 8. 

Troutman, NC--Zootastic (only free on Teacher Appreciation Day-$67 value)
 Visited on June 16.

Norfolk, VA--Virginia Zoo, Nauticus and Wisconsin Battleship, Virginia Air and Space Museum (Hampton), Children's Museum of Virginia in Portsmouth, Virginia Living Museum (Newport News) ($331 value)
Visited on June 19-21 This was hands down the best trip of the summer!

Asheville, NC--WNC Nature Center, Arboretum, Looking Glass Falls ($61 value)
Visited June 29-30   Instead of Looking Glass Falls, we went to DuPont Forest to Hooker Falls. We also went to Mount Mitchell and some extra hiking along the Parkway.

High Country, NC--Linville Falls, Grandfather Mountain
Visited on July 29 We added a stop to Linville Caverns as well.

Raleigh, NC--Marbles Museum, NC Museum of Natural Sciences ($30 value)

Durham, NC--Museum of Life and Science ($88 value)
Combined trip on August 5

Wilmington, NC--Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach, Cape Fear Museum ($86 value)
Visited on August 12

The following two trips did not make the cut, but will hopefully become fall day trips since they are both less than two hours away.

Asheboro, NC--NC Zoo ($47 value)

Greenville/Spartanburg, SC--Roper Mountain Science Center, Greenville Zoo, Hub City Railroad Museum ($85 value)

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I included the cost of admission because I am amazed at how far we've stretched our Discovery Place membership this summer alone. We also visited the local Discovery Place museums a handful of times. Each visit would have cost our family $60-$86. Our annual family membership cost $140, though we saved over $1,000 in various museum admissions this summer. Moral of the story, take advantage of museum reciprocity!

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Here's a quick list of things our family experienced this summer:

  • Stood inches away from giraffes, tigers, panda bears, zebras, cows
  • Saw real dinosaur fossils, replicas of dinosaur skeletons, and animatronic dinosaurs that spit and roared at us.
  • Hiked multiple trails of varying difficulty
  • Swam/jumped in the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, Lake Norman, streams
  • Hiked to three different waterfalls
  • Went inside a real cave, experienced total darkness
  • Walked across the Mile High Swinging Bridge multiple times
  • Stood at the summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi
  • Toured inside a battleship
  • Visited multiple aquariums and touch tanks, pet a shark
  • Geocached at the arboretum
  • Explored excellent children's museums in multiple cities/states
  • Climbed through a maze of tree houses
  • Attended a minor league baseball game
  • Rode a train and toured NC Transportation Museum (free day!)
  • Dressed like cows for Chick-Fil-A day
  • Saw a movie at the theater
The summer went by incredibly fast, but we certainly made the most of our time! Ready or not, it's time to begin another set of adventures.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Wilmington/Beach Trip

Last summer Jesse's family rented a house at Kure Beach for the week. We made a last minute day trip to the vacation home and had a blast. We had so much fun that I made sure to include Wilmington on our summer bucket list this year. We were hoping to make this an overnight trip in a hotel, but we ended up just taking another day trip.

Even though we weren't spending the night, I still packed two bathing suits, 3 outfits, and pajamas for each child, as well as towels, blankets, sand toys, swimming floats, food, etc. We started loading everything up at 4:30 a.m. and were on the road by 5 a.m. It was an easy, quiet drive. We pulled over once we got closer to eat breakfast (yogurt, bagels, apple).

We parked in one of the many public parking areas, changed into bathing suits, and were on the beach by 10 a.m.

We were the only people on the beach for most of the morning.

There were random clouds and a dozen or so rain drops. The mild weather and secluded beach was quite pleasant.

I don't know why Maddie demanded to wear her puddle jumper. The second her toes hit the water she ran back to the sand. She did not return to the ocean once the rest of the day.

The boys, on the other hand, were impossible to keep out of the water. James was especially brave, getting knocked over by waves, then laughing.

Jackson was slightly more cautious, but still adventurous.

Amelia spent the better part of the morning sulking with Jesse. She cried, "I want to go home".

I eventually won her over by drawing a giant Amelia in the sand. After that, the kids requested pictures in the sand and drew their own scribbles and train tracks.

Then we chased birds, which seems to be a favorite pastime for children.

Finally, Amelia decided to play in the water. Once she was in the ocean, it was hard to get her out! Unfortunately, once she was happy, Maddie started crying and rolling in the sand, requesting to leave.

Our lowest point of the day was leaving the beach. It was 11:30 at this point and the beachgoers were gathering. The temperature was also rising considerably, making us hot, tired, and thirsty. We spent about 20 minutes sweating, cursing, crying, and eventually not speaking at all. Here is why:
  • Jesse had to carry a screaming Maddie to the van because she was so over the beach.
  • On the way to the van there was an enormous buried drain pipe. The tunnel was between two embankments of sand. James ran directly towards it, saying, "Look, I go in tunnel!" I had to chase after him in the thick sand and wrestle him.
  • Amelia followed us. She couldn't climb up the sand walls and was crying because she was stuck. (Of course she could have gone out and walked around.)
  • While the public beach access is convenient, it lacks hoses, showers, etc. All six of us were covered head to toe in sand. It was impossible to brush off. We had to all get dressed in the van and shake off sand everywhere. We used up all our drinking water trying to rinse off. It was miserable!

Morale was low, but we proceeded to the nearby aquarium as planned. Admission was free because of our NC Zoo membership. We were not at all impressed by the actual aquarium. In fact, the kids would have been just as entertained at Bass Pro Shop.

The touch tank was a plus.

The aquarium was dark and crowded with lots of turns. James kept running away and the kids were going in different directions, so Jesse and I were in a hurry to leave the indoor exhibits.

The reason I included the aquarium on our agenda was because they have an outdoor dinosaur walk. It featured a half dozen animatronic dinosaurs. The kids loved it!

There was an archaeology site where kids could find fossils, as well as a playground.

Adjacent to the aquarium is Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. Lo and behold, there were bathrooms, showers, beach access, shaded picnic tables, water fountains, etc. If we had just driven there first we could have avoided the storm drain and sandy situation. Sigh...

We ate our picnic lunch and began to perk up.

Next on the agenda was the Cape Fear Museum. Like every museum excursion this summer, we went because it was free with our Discovery Place membership. We knew nothing about the museum and had no clue if it was kid friendly. Thankfully, a few fun hours in air conditioning proved to be exactly what we needed!

We spent a considerable amount of time in the exploration area: playing games, putting together puzzles, dressing up, reading, building, and playing with puppets.

An unexpected bonus was an awesome exhibit that featured artifacts from various movies and television shows filmed in the area. I'm not sure if Jesse or Jackson was more excited about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I was especially excited to see Dawson's Creek memorabilia.

Maddie gravitated towards Iron Man.

Most bizarrely, James was obsessed with this disturbed doll from American Gothic. He demanded to "take picture with fire baby".

We later realized we went through the museum backwards, walking from modern to historic times. Most of the exhibits were appealing to all ages, especially this one on school segregation.

James was a bit of a loose cannon all day. We encouraged the kids to feel the raw cotton. James grabbed a handful and shrieked, "Yummy cotton candy!"

The museum receptionist told us the sloth on display was actually a replica of the real sloth fossil in Raleigh. We just saw the authentic fossil last week. All these museums are starting to blur together!

Ample time in air conditioning lifted our spirits considerably. We drove back south to return to the beach. Dinner was an overpriced, completely unhealthy McDonald's feast.

We broke the parking rules and walked three blocks from McDonalds to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk.

Jesse stayed with the trio,

while Jackson and I ran down to the ocean.

Jesse and I were not in agreement about our evening plans. He was ready to head home, though the kids and I were happily enjoying the beach. The temperature had cooled down significantly and the breeze was amazing. Jesse still advocated leaving, but there was no point stopping the kids from playing. We drove nearly four hours for the kids to play at the beach; we were going to enjoy it.

I ran back to the van to grab bathing suits and stale popcorn. One of the beach traditions is to have a "bird circus". The seagulls put on quite a show as they swooped down to devour popcorn.

The next two hours were the most enjoyable. We built sandcastles, jumped over waves, befriended another little girl, collected seashells, turned the kids into mermaids, and watched the sunset. 

Jackson was mad that we were leaving the beach. 

Best of all, the boardwalk has ample showers and restrooms. I think James had just as much fun under the showers as he did in the ocean.

We capped off our evening with a quick ice cream stop while admiring the bright lights and rides along the boardwalk.

It was a very long day, but a pretty stellar end to an adventurous summer.