Holiday Travels–Part One

Our holiday travels have begun! First stop–the great-grandparents’ house. We make the long 6 hour drive and head to Kingsport. When I was a child, I would spend a week with them every summer, and we’d go off on all sorts of adventures. Every year now when we travel in with the girls, we go off and do lots of fun activities too.

The first place we ventured off to was a bouncy house called Wallabies. It was super nice–wall to wall inflatables. In the middle was an infant/toddler area with lots of obstacle courses for crawling over and around. Would be the perfect place for a PT session–except surrounding the perimeter were tables for all the parents to sit. And watch. It was one of those awkward moments when parents playing with their 10 & 11 month old babies who were standing, cruising & walking were giving me odd looks because my obviously older child was army crawling over the blocks. I typically have no problem explaining about Zoe’s spina bifida to anyone, but one thing I hate are looks of pity, and the “bless her heart” comments that make me cringe. I feel like I always end up consoling the other parent, explaining that no, you don’t need to feel sorry for her, and yes, she’s awesome and spina bifida isn’t the end of the world. Even though I try to appear as though I am 100% okay with my child’s delays, situations and play-places like that sometimes feel like a punch in the gut when I see another kid going from low kneel to tall kneel, then hiking a leg and pulling to stand–something we have been working super hard at.

But regardless of me, the girls (& the grandma!) had a great time and everyone took a nice long nap after that trip 🙂

Today–day 2…we headed to my favorite place. The Hands-On Museum. This place has been around for 25 years, and my grandparents used to take me & my brother, along with our cousins there to kill time play. It is an awesome children’s museum that has lots of fun & educational activities. We took the girls the last time we came to visit in the spring, but Zoe really wasn’t able to participate in many of the activities yet because she was still so young. This year–both girls could play and I think Zoe might have had a better time than Faith actually (Faith was convinced this place would have butterflies–getting it mixed up with the butterfly exhibit at the zoo I suppose!).

There are indoor play gyms for the kiddos…

One for infants and young toddlers…this one was much more private and I didn’t feel as much like a spectacle letting Zoe play in here.

There were lots of aquariums with giant fish…Zoe wanted to touch them as they swam by…

The museum has a really neat area with tons of black lights down a long hall which leads into a big craft area for the kiddos…here’s Faith–glowing!

One thing I really like about the Hands-On Museum is how it encourages development in so many areas–learning, motor skills, sensory integration, fine motor skills (can you tell I’ve been in involved in pediatric therapies for far too long 😉 )

This area is the bubble table. Probably Zoe’s favorite area. She wanted to stand at the table and smear her hands all up in the bubble mixture & watch Daddy blow the bubbles. We have been focusing a lot on her speech lately, and one thing her speech therapist has encouraged us to do is to try to get her to say a word to elicit a specific action. In regard to bubbles, if I ask her “what’s the magic word?” she gets so excited and says “pop!” And then of course we blow bubbles. Everytime we stop she will say “pop” again or sign “more”. So cute and definitely some good speech progress there…

It makes me so excited to see her want & actually be able to stand at activities like this. Six months ago, she could not have stood by herself with buckling knees long enough for me to take a picture. Progress is slow, but it sure as heck still counts!

I love that this museum is still around after so many years–and that I can bring my kiddos to something I enjoyed so much as a child. Their one main downfall in my opinion, would be this…

Yep–that’s the door to get downstairs at the museum. The way it is laid out, half of the exhibits are upstairs, and the other half (including the restrooms!) are downstairs. And guess what? NO elevator. We had to pack Zoe’s stroller up and down the stairs, which for now is not a big deal. The issue comes once she is older, if she needs a chair for long-distances (which we anticipate). I’m not sure where this fits into ADA compliance but it sure doesn’t fit mommy compliance 😉

We had a great visit, and the girls got lots of grandparent time. Last night I snapped this sweet shot of the girls coloring and playing Tic-Tac-Toe. Faith cheated. Zoe drew the “straight lines” to mark off when someone got three in a row…

One of our favorite evenings involved the great-grandparents (plus Papaw’s headphones to make the tv louder!), popcorn, drinks & a Veggie Tales Thanksgiving movie. I think Grandma laughed harder than anyone. For real.

That’s a typical Papaw pose right there–headphones on, diet pepsi in hand. I love that my girls have great-grandparents who are still able to get around and even get down in the floor to do fun things. We played with bubbles, had play-dough night, ate lots of sweets (goodbye Weight Watchers points!), and made up games with Grandma.

Tonight, we packed up & tomorrow it’s part two of the journey–Mamaw’s house 🙂


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