Jesse and I have felt confident for a few years now that our family is complete. However, we both felt like we should wait until our 30's to make any permanent decisions. Jesse turned 30 in late August. Two and a half months later, he scheduled a consultation with a urologist. They originally scheduled his vasectomy for December 16. However, Jesse and I had both wanted to go to the Biltmore that weekend. Jesse called back a week later to reschedule. To his surprise, they informed him that there was a cancellation and they would schedule the vasectomy for the following week on Black Friday. I was disappointed about this date as well since that is usually when we decorate and shop for Christmas. I got over myself quickly.
Jesse's post-procedure restrictions included lifting anything heavy, walking around a lot, and having anything in his lap. We thought the best thing I could do was take the kids for the day so he could rest in peace without worrying about a 30 lb child jumping on his lap. The kids and I dropped him off for the quick procedure. We entertained ourselves at the library across the street until he texted to say he was finished. In less than 45 minutes, we were back at the office to pick him up.
I picked up his medicine and a sub sandwich, made sure he was comfortable at home, then took the kids to Winston Salem. I love day trips and have taken the kids to so many museums that it's rare to go somewhere new. I've exhausted all our free resources within a 2 hours radius. Now I'm exploring all the 50% off admission places. With our NC Zoo membership, we can get in free at the Children's Museum of Winston Salem. Even better, teachers receive free admission with a valid school ID. That meant we only had to pay $14! As if that wasn't enough of a bargain, I found out at the front desk that we could get in free at SciWorks, a children's museum 15 minutes away, using our receipt. It's only good for same day admission, but that was a $47 value! We will definitely be returning to Winston Salem with Jesse.
All children's museums blur together, but this particular one had several distinct features. The kids loved the climbing structure, felt snowmen, and sock-skating area.
They built igloos and had snowball fights.
The weather was pleasantly warm, so we were able to enjoy the unique outdoor climbing area that was entirely crocheted.
Back inside the museum, we became part of fairy tales and classic stories such as Three Billy Goats Gruff and Godlilocks and the Three Bears.
Another unique exhibit was the Krispy Kreme doughnut factory. We aren't lucky enough to have a Krispy Kreme nearby, but the kids experience the mouth watering treats at the beach and on Pirate Day each year. They loved pulling stuffed doughnuts off the conveyor belt and placing them in boxes.
Grocery shopping is a fun staple at most children's museums,
...as is the arts and crafts area.
We did not see all there is to see because I wanted to take advantage of the same day admission to SciWorks. With only an hour left before closing, we rushed through SciWorks as well. We spent most of the time in the biology exhibit. I tried to teach Amelia how to play this life size game of Operation.
The kids thought it was hilarious to climb inside the giant mouth.
There was another area that had a track with some kind of vehicle kids could sit down and drive around the track. The cars were tricky to maneuver, though Maddie and Jackson were determined to figure it out.
James and Amelia were more interested in dropping action figures with parachutes from a vertical conveyor belt.
We rushed through an area for younger children, which proved to be highly entertaining. The kids could have spent an hour just in this one large room.
The whole museum was grossly outdated, with low ceilings and exhibits in a basement. With that said, there were so many treasures and impressive displays. An entire wall was covered floor to ceiling with taxidermied animals.
There was a cute little fishing area that attracted the kids. The museum was literally closing so I had to take the fishing poles out of their hands and promise that we would come back another day.
We called to check on Jesse in the parking lot. His mom was bringing him dinner and he had just watched movies all day. I think he had a pretty easy recovery.
We continued on for dinner at our favorite K&W. Jackson became animated and ran to this sign and said, "Look. This says 'To Go'!"
All but Amelia ate their dinner, then we drove to Tanglewood, an area famous for Christmas lights. At $15 per car, I was skeptical on if the lights would be worth the price. (We enjoy walking through the city of McAdenville for free each year, so it seems odd to have to pay to see lights.) I had inquired about it on Facebook and many of my friends came to the rescue with advice. We arrived early and avoided any major traffic.
Cars park 1/2 a mile around a loop before entering the actual gated community.I asked the people around me who had young kids if they were going to keep their kids in their carseats or let them sit in their laps. One man with a heavy Southern accent said, "You'll see a bunch of kids hanging out the windows and standing through the roofs. It's fine." I let the kids outside at this part, waiting for the lights to begin, then let them sit upfront with me.
We spent the rest of our experience in the van. We could have opted to stop at the barn and pay to roast s'mores and a visit with Santa. Knowing that the girls hate Santa and I didn't want to manage four young kids around a fire, it was an easy decision to keep driving. The lights were fantastic. The kids had the best reactions! Here are a few of my favorites.
Full disclosure, I had a major parenting fail when I had to suddenly slam on my brakes and both boys hit their heads on the dash. We were going a steady 5-10 mph when the car in front of me stopped completely to take a picture. It was hard to tell since none of the cars had headlights on. Oops.
My other parenting fail was that I just assumed there would be somewhere to stop to buckle the kids back in their seats. Nope, that was not the case. Suddenly cars just exited onto a main road with no warning. I had to pull off the shoulder and climb in the back to buckle everyone.
I didn't let the kids get dessert at K&W because I thought I would stop for s'mores at Tanglewood. I told them they would have a special treat with the lights. When I realized Santa and S'mores were part of an overcrowded money trap with open flames, I kept on driving. Unfortunately, Jackson kept asking for our treat. We stopped at a Bojangles for a final snack (BoBerry biscuits and water). I changed the kids into pajamas and drove home.
It was a pretty smooth trip with lots of fun memories. The kids enthusiasm over the museum exhibits and lights made me excited about Christmas break so we could celebrate and spend more time together.