I introduced the animal by reading a few books and letting them color their own turtles and place them on our habitat mural. We also watched a few you tube videos about sea turtles. While Arthur colored his turtle, Lillian was learning how to draw one and Alan was completing a do-a-dot. But, Lillian got a phone call from her best friend and immediately dropped everything she was doing to chat and Arthur became very frustrated with the voracity with which Alan was banging his do-a-dot markers on the table. I fixed the problem by giving him a pair of headphones to muffle the noise. So, that is why he is wearing them the next few photos.
Then, Arthur and I did some letter and sound recognition practice with a turtle themed activity and discussed the life cycle of a turtle and read a few books about it. We finished up with a turtle themed snack.
We started zebra week like most others by learning about our animal and its habitat, coloring a picture of it and placing it on our habitat mural. Then we read a few books and watched a few videos and Lilly learned how to draw a zebra.
Then we made zebra face masks and worked on some reading and handwriting practice.
We wrapped up zebras with some black and white open painting and zebra cakes! Yum!
We started out with talking about penguins and their habitat. Then we colored a penguin and placed it on our habitat mural. We finished up our introduction by reading a few penguin books and watching a few youtube videos.
Then, Lilly worked on a reading activity while the boys did some do-a-dot penguin sheets and Lillian insisted on doing one too. After that, we conducted a science experiment to learn how penguins feathers keep them dry by coloring a penguin with crayons to create a waxy layer and then spraying it with water and analyzing how the water beaded up instead of being absorbed by the paper. Alan got pretty bored during the science experiment and enjoyed playing with his wooden train instead.
We finished up the learning about penguins by getting some cutting practice with an icicle cutting worksheet I created, trying our hand at indoor ice skating and watching Happy Feet. For the indoor ice skating, we taped some paper plates on our feet and slid around on the floor. It kinda worked. lol.
The day started with such promise. I had it all planned. We would hit my gym so I could begin the day feeling super kick-ass about myself. Then grab a smoothie and treat the kids to build-a-bears on their first ever pay your age day. I knew there would be a bit of a wait but I was prepared with some snacks, my phone for Netflixing, the double stroller and well-fed kids. It wouldn't be an easy hour+ but it would be worth it for the discounted toys and would be a nice little lesson in patience for them. If only time-travel existed. I could prevent myself from making what would be one of the worst decisions of my life.
When we arrived at 9:35 I expected a line. This line was a bit longer than I anticipated but, I could see the storefront far in the distance. "Surely it wouldn't take too much longer than originally anticipated. I could give it more than an hour, 2ish was acceptable. Plus, I knew the person behind me from work which made the wait less terrible." I thought to myself. By 10:20, I had purchased some Dip'n'Dots from a vending machine we stood next to for a bit to calm the irritation starting to show in my children's sweet, innocent faces. In addition, Netflix was entertaining the older two and my youngest was having a blast walking around in my general vicinity. At 11:30 a friend farther up the line by about 20 people shared some of her snacks with us. We had long run out of the few I had brought for my anticipated hour long wait. The kids happily scarfed down pretzels and juice boxes while finishing up their movie and the baby had a blast running around showing off his toothy grin to his new friends in line. "I got this." I thought. They're good for a bit longer with the snacks.
By 1pm I realized that I had made one of the worst mistakes of my life. At this point the storefront was still just a speck in the distance and my current position in front of the exit doors to the mall was beginning to get uncomfortably hot. I was also forming friendships with my fellow linemates. We were all regretting our day' s choices but it had gone too far now. We had to finish. Wasting the last few hours was an unacceptable alternative. "Surely it wouldn't take too much longer. The line seemed to be moving a little faster now." I thought to myself.
At 1:30, a BAB store representative came by offering us $15 vouchers if we wanted to leave and come back another day. The fine print (which the employee did not mention) stated that it was only redeemable on certain animals. My fellow line tribe and I all politely declined and upon her departure immediately began to discuss how insulting the offer was. "Does she understand how long I've been in line?! I'm going to need more than a lousy $15 voucher to leave now!" Said one of my brethren.
Around 2pm my husband showed up with reinforcements. "Thank goodness for tacos!" I thought as the new friends in line looked at me with only slight jealousy as they ate their pretzels from the mall food court. They understood my need. This was hell. Find happiness where you can. Just as I finished my tacos and the kids finished up their chicken nuggets, I saw a woman with four children, one on her chest, two trailing along behind and one flailing on the ground in a fit of tears and outrage. I felt an intense desire to help her. It was an extremely distressing scene. I dug in my bag and found three back-up bags of gummies and ran across to her. I attempted to console the raging toddler and his older siblings by offering help to the mom and asking if they could have some gummies. The toddler was reluctant but soon cheered up enough to gather himself off of the ground and walk with his mom the rest of the way to the BAB storefront to collect their $15 vouchers. The mom said she just couldn't wait any longer. Her children were losing it and she had to leave. I wished her luck and in my mind gave her the two finger salute from "The Hunger Games". "I feel ya sister." I thought as I struggled to keep my 1.5 year old from running away.
By 3pm my phone was dead. My 4 and 7 year old's were barely holding it together and the 1.5 year old was a crazy mess who kept running off and was surprisingly adept at bobbing and weaving through the now busy mall foot traffic. Luckily, my new friends in line had children that were playing with mine, and we were all helping look out for each other's kids whenever one tried to run off or we had to take a trip to the bathroom and didn't want to lose our spots. We were all in this hell together. Why make it harder than it had to be by being jerks?
By 4pm the storefront to BAB was so close we knew it couldn't be much longer. I wondered if I needed to cancel my daughter's 5pm piano lesson. "Yes.", I thought. There was no way we'd make it. Then I began to ask myself deep questions like, "Who am I? How did I become this person? What led me to be the kind of crazy person you read about on the news that waited in line for more than 6 hours simply for a deal on silly, stuff it yourself teddy bears? What happened to me?" I could sense my new, equally tortured friends asking themselves the same questions as their brows furrowed and they shifted the weight from one foot to the other in a vain attempt to ease the pain caused by holding a 30lb human for hours on end.
With my phone dead I asked one of my new friends to borrow their phone so my husband could cancel piano. "We'll probably be done at 5pm but I don't think we can make across town in time.", I naively stated.
At 5pm we finally entered the coveted entrance guarded by the giant plastic bears dressed as drummers. "We made it!", I screamed with my now best friends. We even took a celebratory photograph to document the achievement. Little did we know that the real hell had not even begun.
After being handed stickers with the ages of my children quickly scrawled with sharpie on them, we were then forced to wait another 15 minutes watching the other deranged patrons wander the store perusing the accessories, selecting their animals, stuffing them and checking out. My 1.5 year old was literally flailing in my arms screaming at the top of his lungs due to his inability to enter the stuffed animal version of Shangri-La while the BAB attendant smiled happily at us and stated it would only be a few more minutes.
At 5:20 we finally entered the store and quickly selected our new furry friends. With joy and excitement we began to walk towards the stuffing station when, to our horror, we realized that the entire interior perimeter of the store was the line for stuffing. "Holy F***", I thought (Ok, maybe I said it out loud. I mean, every one there was thinking it. Besides, we've been through things together. No one will fault me for some vulgarity at this point.) Then we began the long, horrific, tear-filled journey to the stuffing station. The baby threw multiple fits and continually ran off, my son asked me to have "a really cool" accessory for his purple unicorn every five seconds and my daughter, well, actually, she was pretty ok. She was in an outrage over the prices for the accessories, "This costs $18!", she exclaimed about a particular sparkly outfit. "That's crazy!". Mind you, she was only investigating prices of accessories because I told her she had to pay for any she decided she decided her giant pink bunny needed.
At 6:00pm we finally reached the check-out a hot pink bunny, purple rainbow unicorn and tiger had now joined our crew. Tired, broken and hungry, we left the mall in a hurry. My children toting their newest prized possessions with immense pride and gratitude. They gained a new toy and learned a valuable lesson about patience, determination and the importance of supporting those around you. I basked in the glory of victory and the joy on my son's face as he hugged his unicorn tightly against his chest and gleefully named it Candy Fain.
We did it. We survived pay your age day. There were tears, laughter, smiles, and frowns. There was even a little blood from when my 1.5 year old bumped his mouth on a counter top in the store. We all learned valuable lessons and made new friends. It was an experience that I will forever remember and will cause those new fluffy friends to always be members of this family, passed down generation to generation and their story along with them. We did it. We survived. And we will never do it again.
Rachel is a mother of three, elementary Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she's doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She's a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, "focusing her crazy", but she just calls it fun.