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our favorite place

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!

daily routine

Here’s a look at what we do each day to keep our kids feeling secure with a predictable schedule, as well as creating order to thrive.

*I should note that you learn very quickly with children that your schedule will be perfect one week, and the next sickness, growth spurts, holidays, and a hoist of many other circumstances will cause you to hit the reset button and go back to the drawing board. I’m not flexible by nature, but I sure do love creating plans, so there’s that. 😉

5:30am – Micah wakes for a feeding

6am – Mom gets ready for the day, has coffee and quiet time (I read our churches corporate Bible Reading plan. Check it out here: https://www.growthjournalonline.com)

7:15am – Boy’s alarm turns green and it’s okay to wake!

We eat together, read our Scheidt Family Way of the week which includes a devotional…

This book is SO GOOD for families that want a simple format for daily developing Biblical character in their children.

Next, we talk about our Habit for the week, and pray. After breakfast the boys do their chores while I clean up:

  • Take dishes to the sink
  • Boy get dressed and brush teeth together
  • Adon makes the beds
  • Tristan feeds Knox
They enjoy singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice while brushing. As you can see, sometimes Micah wakes up during chore time. 🙂

8am – Outside to play! [If we’re doing an outing, we’ll start to load the car]

9:30am – Tea time (+snacks) with poetry and/or hymn study

^^^This book is also gold! Thanks to my sis, Aunt Lee Lee, for the gift. Adon memorized this poem for the week and has said it many times throughout his day when he wants to quit on a project. Tristan has also memorized “Try, try again.” 🙂

After tea time, outside again we go! The boys can also do activities inside if they’d rather. But usually, I’m outside reading a book or nursing the baby so they choose to be where I am.

11:30am – Tidy up while mom prepares lunch

12pm – Eat lunch together. We may do another story or poem from the book if the boys ask.

12:30pm – Tristan down for a nap, usually Micah too.

During nap time, Adon and I will usually read from our current chapter book (right now it’s Laura Ingles Wilder’s, On the Banks of Plumb Creek. Then he’ll listen to the Boxcar Children audio book stories through the Hoopla library app. You’ll usually find him playing legos or drawing while he listens.

Here he’s listening to The Boxcar Children, Book #80 – ‘The Hockey Mystery’. On the edge of his seat anticipating who wins the game!

Usually during this time, mom will dinner prep, pay bills, or pick up a book if the first two needs are resolved. Sometimes, she’ll even sneak in a workout that Coach Blake has programmed :).

Although I usually dread it, my “why” for working out is the amazing mental health benefits, as well as strong arms, core, and back while I pick up toys & babies and play on the monkey bars with my monkeys.

2:30pm – Tristan wakes up and he’s usually quite grumpy (like his momma) after a nap so a snack is prepared and ready. Some sliced cucumbers and turkey jerky, coupled with fresh air is usually all it takes to lighten his mood.

3pm – Around this time we seem to need more structure so I’ve implemented afternoon chores (water plants, empty dishwasher, fold and put away clothes, pick up sticks, whatever it takes to keep them busy!).

4pm – Daddy’s home!!! Right now the boys love doing the “underdog swing” when dad gets home that was gifted from GG for Christmas. Or, of course, wrestle.

4:50pm – Pick up toys, wash up for dinner, and help set the table.

5pm – Supper time! This is a sacred time for our family. We enjoy all gathering around, no matter how chaotic it can be, to end the day together over a nutritious meal.

5:30ish – Bath time

6pm – Time for tea (CALM magnesium drink) and stories in the teepee with dad

6:30pm – Prayers and kisses, goodnight!

Blake and I are very strict about early bedtime because we know the value of sleep for their ever-developing brains, as well as mom and dad having uninterrupted alone time together before drifting off to sleep at 9pm.

Early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Benjamin Franklin

stop and smell the roses

We set out this Wednesday to the library. It’s one of our fav’s because of the activity area, the great books at our fingertips, and it’s location – stationed right at Lake Morton where the habitat for graceful birds, ducks, and swans. But the real reason mom treks here is because of the new Black & Brew coffee shop that’s now inside the library! This is my true motive for getting out the door.

Tristan is finally at the age where he’s more interested in the legos and puzzles, than he is just running around a knocking all the books off the shelves. (hallelujah)
Adon asking the librarian for books on “Authors”.
He wanted to know about the “people that write the books.”

The library wasn’t our only stop today. As we were driving to the library, passing Florida Southern College, we were quickly tantalized by the incredible campus fountain which was turned on, beckoning us to wade in it’s cool, blue water! So, we happily appeased the urge.

It occurred to me later while looking at the fountain that Frank Lloyd Wright replicated the same arches in and throughout the campus infrastructure.
Yes, it was as refreshing as it looks.

The campus landscaping is truly enchanting. Like little snippets of the Secret Garden. We enjoyed it mostly to ourselves as the students are on Winter Break. Any chance we get, we put our feet in the earth. We also enjoyed sharing an orange right off one of their many fruit trees.

“I got an idea! Let’s go sit under the tree and chat about our dreams and the future.”
Music to my ears 🙂

The rose gardens (which I forgot to snap a picture of because we were too engulfed in the moment) were by far my favorite. Hints the name of this post, stopping to smell these roses was truly intoxicating. There was a peach one with pink freckles that stole my heart. I may considering developing a green thumb just for her. We also had a good ole time watching the bee’s go around in circles collecting pollen grains for pollination.

We’ll definitely be back.

The dawning of a new decade

We haven’t stayed up late celebrating New Years since we’ve had children. It didn’t take long to realize that while we partied until midnight, the boys still woke up for their party at 6am! Yikes. But this year, Blake and I rang in the New Year the best way I could’ve imagine – waking up early, sipping coffee together, reading the scriptures, praying and reflecting on the last 10 years. I’m still smiling about it!

The boys and I celebrated by having our dear friend Miss Bri over for the whole day, enjoying our normal routines.

Tristan was glad to have someones undivided attention for a while.
The weather was glorious! We brought all sorts of activities outdoors.
Adon enjoying his daily “listen story” (aka Audiobook) of the Boxcar Children, story #79. This time drifting back and forth on the new swing we got from GG for Christmas.

We’ve noticed a trend lately with the holidays (birthdays, halloween, Christmas) that the gift-receiving can very quickly create tunnel vision and block out the joys of gift-giving or just pure contentment. This year, while of course we still enjoyed the receiving of gifts, we also made sure we sent thank you cards for all the wonderful gifts we did receive from friends and family. Here’s Adon decorating all the cards with his artistic touch.