Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Countdown to Preschool: May 27, 2014

There we are, all buckled in and ready to go somewhere.  Where, exactly?  Well, we go lots of places lately.  We're anticipating becoming a preschool family in late August, with the promise of lots of stimulation and new experiences for Number One Son.  In the meantime, giving him and his not-too-much-younger sissies enough to occupy themselves from six in the morning until eight at night is a tall order.  Yes, we're a stay-at-home family, but lately one outing a day isn't enough so many times we're contemplating two.
That isn't to say that we never stay home.  Playroom mornings are becoming increasingly fun and peaceful as the kids venture more into the age where they are all at a similar stage and able to play together.  They make food in the kitchen.  They play hide and seek.  They are even pioneering some complicated imaginary games, like one where somebody is running around and can't slow down.  The other two catch up and bear hug, causing them to slow down and resulting in much thanks. 
We try table time.  We try.  It's usually a fast ten minutes before everything is on the floor and the kids are bored and ready to move on.  I blame the pinball effect: it's really hard to engage a single child in learning a task while the other two can be up and needing attention at any moment.  Devon, especially, needs help holding a crayon or scissors, and since ne's a lefty I don't really know how to give it to him!
The main reason for the outings is to keep everyone off the couch and TV to a minimum.  My minimum is more than I ever dreamed my maximum would be.
Thankfully, the girls still nap most days for a solid two hours.  We're reluctant to mess that one up, so we try to plan a big morning, enforce quiet hours in the middle of the day, and then possibly have another outing planned to occupy them and make "THAT time of day" go more easily.
We've taken a lot of mall outings lately.  If I'm lucky enough to have a friend along, we can even take turns popping into a store for five minutes for a quick return before unloading our entourage, playing in the play place, and having lunch in the food court.  Right now the girls walk pretty well on their leashes and Devon stays close by.
Chick-fil-A is still a favorite stop.  They take such good care of parents, even high maintenance ones like us.  My routine never fails to confuse the afternoon staff, but they always handle us with such grace and patience.

1.  Order and pay in the drive thru.  Explain that I want to do Mom Valet but NOT have my order filled right away.  Take receipt to show them later.
2.  Park, walk in with three in tow.  Go potty.  Present receipt and ask for half the food on it: our ice creams and my Coke.  Sit and eat with the kids.
3.  Kids ask to play in the play place.  If they follow the rules, I watch from outside the window at Devon's request.  If not, I sit in there with them and referee.
4.  Daddy arrives from work, we sit down, claim the rest of our food, and eat.
5.  If all is still going well, we play again.
6.  Our playplace-to-car extractions are the stuff of youtube videos.  Thankfully, the last two have gone pretty well on Devon's end, with him actually putting on his shoes and walking out without needing a hand laid on him.  Amazing!  Hopefully that means it's going to get better.

Shortly after we joined the YMCA, we tried the bounce room and decided our kids couldn't handle it.  They were too young and fragile to navigate the equipment with all the rowdy older kids.  What a difference a few months makes!  Now our kids ARE the rowdy older kids.  We tried it last week and it was the best thing ever!!!  On the miracle days that Devon naps, two hours in the bounce houses are just what he needs to be in bed asleep before ten pm.
We still go to play group on Thursdays, sometimes with "Miss Karolina and her Widdle Tiny Baby" (what the kids call Baby Victoria).  It's SO nice to have a friend to come along, with the safety in numbers that it brings.  I can potty ONE child in a public restroom without having to round up the other two.  BLISS!!!!!
We're over the winter outing drought and had a wonderful trip to the Philly Zoo for Craig's birthday.  We were prepared to be impressed by the oldest zoo in America.  We found it very reasonable (membership is the same price as the much smaller Brevard Zoo in Florida and even covers parking fees) and very small kid friendly.
The kids enjoyed the replica of an ant tunnel and an insect exhibit with a clear bubble that the kids could enter to be in the middle.
By far the coolest thing was the wandering peacocks, although I think we were far more impressed by them than they were of us.  The best thing about the zoo is that we saw less than half of what they had to offer and all our visits for the rest of the year are free now!  So cool!
Ahhhhh.  This is the main reason for all the activity.  Carrie and Melina are turning into toddlers after Devon's own heart: full of energy and not very sleepy.  We try for lots of time outdoors, but with two in the wandering phase you can't just keep up by following.  We have a small but growing list of things we can do and so we do them.  Hopefully soon we'll add many more.