Thursday, November 29, 2012

On Our Way to Sesame Place: A Story of Taking Three Toddlers on Vacation

Our boys LOVE Sesame Street.  They know all the characters, the songs, the episodes.  In fact, Sesame Street is responsible for me being able to get so much done around the house since the boys were about 18 months old (i.e. laundry, cooking dinner, emptying the dishwasher). 

This year for their 3rd birthday we finally decided to take them to Sesame Place.  This would be the boys' first trip to an amusement park.  What my husband and I liked is that the boys know and love all the characters and would be able to go on 95% of the rides.  What we worried about was being outnumbered in a crowded place and keeping everyone happy and patient when waiting on lines. 

Although the car trip is only about 2 hours for us we decided to stay overnight and break up the activities into two days.  Plan for Day 1: Water rides and birthday dinner with Elmo; Plan for Day 2 dry rides. 

We arrived at Sesame Place, changed the boys into bathing suits and headed right into the giant wading pool.  Immediately we got split into two different directions because Caleb loves the water and had to check out every nook and cranny.  We finally found eachother again on a playground and then I attempted to bring Caleb onto a waterslide.  Unfortunately waiting on the line was way too much for him and we had to abort the mission.  We decided to regroup at lunch and then attempt the lazy river.  Another failure because the boys were very uncomfortable in the tubes.  Finally we wandered over to Ernie's waterworks and they loved it.  It was like they had access to a ginormous water table and the best part (for me at least) NO LINES!

After some popcorn and ice cream we checked into the hotel, bathed and rested before our big birthday dinner with Elmo and the other Sesame Street characters.  The dinner was great!!! They got to meet Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Abby, and the Count.  They each got a balloon and birthday mug and Big Bird sang Happy Birthday to them.  The funny thing was they were so distracted by birthday candles that they did not even notice Big Bird standing at our table. 

After dinner we were able to enjoy some rides and not have to wait too long in the lines.  The boys really enjoyed the carousel (Jake got to sit next to Slimey) and the balloon ride.  We even let them stay up late and watch the parade at night.  They loved it!!

We were able to get in some sleep that night.  Jake and Caleb stay in their pack and plays while on vacation but we discovered on our last vacation that Liam needs a bed because he just climbs right out of the pack and play.  They are three after all and I am always amazed that 2 out of 3 stay in the portable crib. 

The next day we retruned to the park at opening and were able to get in quite a few rides before the lines got long.  I think most people go to the wet rides first.  We lasted until just after lunch and decided that the boys had no more patience for waiting in lines and were so tired from their adventures.  All in all it was a successful vacation and I am glad we took them at age 3, while they are big enough to enjoy most of the rides but not too big to still enjoy Sesame Street.  We of course left with souveniers, Jake picked out Big Bird, Caleb picked out Cookie Monster and Liam picked out Telly Monster (his favorite character).  Little did the kids know that, with the exception of Telly since he is not a super popular character, Mommy bought Big Bird and Cookie on Amazon so I would not have to pay park prices! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Keeping the Pieces Together

Having three kids means having lots of puzzles which also means lots of puzzle pieces. One of my three year olds LOVES jig-saw puzzles.   In fact he can put together a fifty piece jig-saw puzzle all by himself.   However, my other two are still playing with their peg board puzzles. While there are not as many pieces as a jig-saw, I still found myself constantly looking for pieces.   We have an alphabet puzzle with twenty-six pieces, a numbers puzzle with ten pieces and a colors puzzles with another ten pieces, just to name a few.  A missing puzzle piece can be very disconcerting for the two to three year old set and I was finding myself (far too often) ransacking the house to find the letter R so that my boys could move on with their lives.

I didn't want to have to buy one of those wire racks for three reasons:
(1) they take up too much room
(2) they are not cheap and
(3) we had more puzzles than a wire rack could handle.

For a while I had all the puzzles in a bin and the respective pieces in ziploc bags. This was done at the suggestion of my son Jake's occupational therapist so he could work on strengthening his fingers by pulling open the individual bags to remove the puzzle pieces. However I still found myself searching through bags and bags looking for pieces to accompany the chosen puzzle of the moment.   Finally I had an epiphany.   I placed a Velcro strip on the bag of the puzzle board and a Velcro strip on the ziploc bag and eureka...each puzzle had the coordinating pieces without going on a scavenger hunt each time.

 Now when one of my sons wants to do a puzzle he simply removes the ziploc bag from the back of the puzzle and opens it up to access the multitude of pieces that were once scattered around my house!!