Our favorite place in the world, that we’ve visited at least twice a week for the last year, is Explorations V Children’s museum in downtown Lakeland. Although we might be coming out of that season of attending so frequently (now that Micah needs a consistent morning nap), we still try to visit our friends when we can.
Yesterday I enjoyed watching Adon put on a puppet show, while Tristan explored the instruments. Then Adon spontaneously created his own piano piece, while Tristan repeated the sound effects of fog horn and mooing cows. It was lovely.
One of the reason we love the museum so much is because we get to see our favorite museum staff, Miss Tia. She puts on the daily events and Tuesdays is our favorite, “Curious Kids” where we get to learn science and perform experiments.
Today we made snowflakes and watched how the water can cause the ink to spread. Tristan enjoyed learning what happens to ice when you add salt.
The Museum Director recently asked me to write up a blurb about how the museum has been such a gift to our family. Here’s what I sent her:
“I’m a mom of three boys and Exploration V Children’s Museum in Lakeland, Florida might be our favorite place on earth. The activities not only capture my boy’s attention every single time we go, but we know we’re entering a safe, warm environment where the workers greet us by name. On just a regular Tuesday in July, we were greeted by the staff running to open the door to get us out of the rain, snuggles were given to one child showing subtle signs of needing affection (while I was baby-wearing), the toddler that’s running away is quickly scooped up to safety, and even sweet tears are shed by staff when they meet my newborn for the first time. Yes, all this in just one visit! And so many other interactions like this on a regular basis that make it genuinely feel like our second home.
My husband first purchased a family membership because he thought it would be a fun, cool place for me to take the kids to avoid the Florida summer heat. I just never knew how life-saving it would end up to be! My youngest at the time had just started crawling and the new Tot Spot was absolutely perfect for him to play while my older son explored the first floor. When I became pregnant with our third child, three days a week I would endure wrestling matches to get diapers quickly changed, shoes on, and kids strapped in the car because I knew once we arrived at ECM my boys would be content playing for the next few hours and I could sit and relax my swollen feet. Once my third son arrived, I had planned on barricading myself at home for several weeks, as I usually did with a newborn, but it wasn’t long before we were back playing at the museum. The benefits of seeing the staff’s smiling faces, interacting with other moms, and seeing my boys thrive and learn through the activities and relationships they had built made my typical baby blues non-existent. It wasn’t just the happy ambiance of the museum that helped my mental state during newborn fog, but the people. Having a fun, safe environment to play where we were known was worth getting two busy boys and a newborn buckled into car seats three times a week… and I’m a natural home-body!
My youngest son is now six months old and at least once a week my two year old yells from his crib, “Miss Tia!” when he wakes up because he can’t wait to see his favorite friend. We take our usual stroll to get mom a coffee at Black and Brew (where I get to say, “I’ll have the usual”) and then we head over to our favorite place on earth. I’ve been to lots of really fun, entertaining, social, and stimulating places in Lakeland for my kids to enjoy, but none compare to the constant learning and genuine warmth found at Exploration V Children’s Museum.”
…I meant every word. What a gift they have been!