Saturday, October 22, 2011

BYU day

We had some errands to run in Provo today—errands that Rachel had to be there for—so the girls and I spent the day playing on campus while we waited for Daddy to finished with school and work. 

"You're going to spend all day on campus?" Andrew asked.

I told him we were. There is a ton to do on campus—we didn't even get over to the Widstoe building to check out the aquariums in the basement and we still managed to fill our whole day. 

Our first destination was the Bean Museum. We had to wait for the light at a crosswalk on our way over and before we could cross, a police officer stopped us. 

"What do we have here?" he asked. "Looks like a couple of cute little girls waiting patiently for the crosswalk light! Your mom must be teaching you to watch for the walking man to tell you when to go. Waiting for your turn helps keep you safe. Do you know what I have for you? A ticket! But this is a good ticket—it's a ticket for a free ice cream! I have enough for each of you your daddy here?"

We told him that he was but that he was working.

"Well, I have a ticket for him, too," he said, handing me a fourth ticket.

It was an awesome bit of bribery to look forward to all day. The girls quickly decided that they would both get strawberry, I would get vanilla, and Daddy would get chocolate. Then we plotted about how we'd break the news to Daddy. We decided it would be best if we told him we got a ticket from a police officer while we were crossing the street—jaywalking can carry a hefty fine. We rehearsed our story several times throughout the day so that we could say it without bursting out laughing. 

The rest of our walk to the Bean Museum was pretty ordinary but when we got to the museum we found that they had opened their Africa exhibit. We were rather excited to see this—it's been under construction for the whole time we've been back and it was well worth the wait. We love the Bean Museum even though a lot of it is rather lame. It's mostly a bunch of animal heads mounted on the wall and if the animals happen to have their bodies still they're just standing stiffly on all four legs. It's just kind of boring. 

The Africa Room, though, looks alive. It's pretty exciting. There's a mural painted on the wall, it's nice and open—some of the other display rooms in the Bean Museum feel like closets—and the animals look almost alive. Rachel was excited for this corner of the room that featured the Nile, with a "yawning" hippo and a slithering crocodile.

But what's that antelope-type creature hanging down from the sky for?

He was dragged up into a tree by a leopard. That's all. I don't think that hippo is merely yawning; I think it's waiting for the carrion to drop off the tree branch and into its mouth.

What was especially nice about this room was that they had plaques telling more information about the animal than the common name, the scientific name, and who killed the beast. Who cares about that stuff? But learning that leopards hunt alone and then drag their prey up into a tree to keep it safe from other hunters like lions and hyenas? That's interesting.

In the middle of the room was a revolving display of a lion hunting down an antelope of sorts. The girls were terrified of it. Miriam wouldn't look at the camera because she was watching to make sure the lion wouldn't get her. (Awkward photo courtesy of Rachel).

Rachel later mentioned that she kept "feeling like that lion's going to eat [her]!"

It was a fun room to explore, but we of course hit up the rest of the museum as well. Today the girls were adoring the dik-diks. They also enjoyed the pheasant and waterfowl display, which reminded them that they wanted to feed the ducks so we finished our tour of the museum and headed outside. 

We stopped by the stream on upper campus (on our way to the duck pond) and there were some ducks there so the girls tried feeding them. Apparently the ducks were there to get away from the hordes of children force feeding them bread, though, because they weren't interested in our bread at all. Mostly they were interested in sleeping and when we bothered them they would just fluff up their feathers in annoyance before trying to get comfortable again.

The girls ate a snack and tried to mimic the ducks' sleeping position before we headed to lower campus, stopping for a quick tour through the Museum of Art to look at professional art—we especially enjoyed the huge "pile" of books—and the Fine Arts Center to look at student artwork.

BYU's been doing a lot of beautification projects lately, which I think is wonderful. We almost didn't recognize the duck pond—it now has a boardwalk all around it to help preserve the pond (and keep kids from sliding off the old path and into the pond).

After feeding the ducks—and ourselves—we strolled along the new "South Campus Stream and Trail." It was just what they said it would be, "a place to experience some peaceful moments and an area ideal for 'getting away from it all' for a few minutes." Our "few minutes" turned into more like an hour—we made acorn-top boats and leaf rafts, we tossed rocks and sticks into the stream, we splashed and climbed and had a great time.

There were several waterfalls to enjoy along the path and at one point we saw a worker cleaning out the sludge from beneath the falls. He was wearing tall rubber boots. Rachel was beyond jealous.

"Why does he get to play in the water and I can't?" she asked.

"He's got rubber boots on," I pointed out. "Besides, he's not playing. He's working. That's his job. He's cleaning up the stream to help keep it looking pretty."

"Oh," she said, "I wish that was my daddy's job. That way he could play in the stream for his job instead of having to work in that building all the time!"

"Yeah, I'm not sure Daddy would want this job..." I said.

As if we hadn't seen enough ducks, we found even more ducks swimming along in the stream. We had to stop and lure them closer by throwing them bits of leaves (that the ducks likely thought were pieces of bread). 

Oh, and then the rock wall. I'm pretty sure this wall was not designed as a climbing wall but my girls certainly took to it like it was one. Rachel attempted it first but seemed unsure if it was against the rules or not (it probably is).

Miriam saw her there and decided to take it as a challenge. She unzipped her jacket and threw it to the ground as if she was walking into a street fight—she meant serious business.

I wasn't sure she'd be able to do it—after all, it seems like she just mastered the stairs yesterday...but that might have been a couple of months ago...I keep losing track of these things. Enjoy (or pardon) this series of pictures—I couldn't decide whether to keep taking pictures or rush up to spot her:

It was about at this point when I said, "Uh-uh, Miriam! Don't climb up that wall, too! You're high enough!" The wall was just about as tall as I am and I didn't want to have to climb up the wall (and another and another) to fetch her if (and when) she got stuck on her way down. She contented herself walking along the top of the wall while Rachel tried to figure out how to get all the way up—Rachel has a slight fear of heights.

It was a little nerve-wracking to have her up so high but she didn't seem nervous at all.

After much persuasion I finally tore them away from the wall. Rachel came with the persuasion. Miriam had to literally, physically be torn away...kicking and screaming. Soon we found another waterfall, though, and that made everything better.

At the top of the waterfall was a balcony, which the girls wanted to find because it looked "just like Rapunzel's balcony!" To get to the balcony we had to walk to the end of the new trail and then turn and go up the old trail to the Maeser building. 

The girls found the old trail a little spookier than the new trail. They still went on ahead of me but kept looking back to make sure I was coming.

The balcony wasn't as cool as they originally thought because there was also a set of stairs leading from the balcony to somewhere else and that was way cooler. 

We stopped by the Joseph Smith building to use the facilities and visit the "Sacred Grove." It's not the real Sacred Grove, of course, just an open-air atrium with a statue of Joseph Smith. It's so quiet in the atrium—you can hardly hear any of the city sounds, let alone campus sounds. I think if there hadn't been any construction going on around campus you wouldn't have heard a thing. It was peaceful and quiet and the girls noticed and were peaceful and quiet, too.

When there were sick of being quiet we headed over to the Eyring Science Center to play with the exhibits they have out in their atrium. Rachel was just barely tall enough to play with the exhibits without help. Miriam was barely short enough that she couldn't really play with much at all. She tried playing with a few things but eventually found them uninteresting because she couldn't see what she was doing.

I helped her with a few things but sadly had to ignore her quite often in order to give Rachel, who is old enough to be interested in science, some extra help. At one point, when we were both ignoring Miriam because we were too busy learning about light refraction, Miriam shouted, "Look at me!"

We turned our heads and saw that Miriam had taken her shirt off! 

She was so proud. I, on the other hand, wasn't really all that proud and wrestled her to the ground in order to get her clothes back on her.

Later we stuck her in the atrium to watch the pendulum while we went upstairs to do some more involved experiments. She wasn't very happy about being left behind and instead of watching the pendulum she craned her neck to watch us. Poor baby.

Our last stop before collecting Daddy was the fountain at the JFSB—that's the Joseph Fielding Smith Building, not to be confused with the Joseph Smith Building previously mentioned (don't even get me started how many of BYU-Idaho's buildings have the same names as the buildings on BYU's campus but have different purposes; it's very confusing). 

The girls enjoyed the fountain, though, and got just a little bit wet.

Fortunately it's warmed up outside again so they didn't complain about being wet and cold. Instead they just complained about being wet.

Miriam kept copying all of Rachel's moves—up, down, splash! Synchronized splashing—it's going to be the next big thing.

When I told them it was time to pick up Daddy neither of them wanted leave the fountain. Then I waved the ice cream vouchers in front of their faces. Suddenly everyone wanted to go pick up Daddy!

I've only been to the MPA lounge a handful of times and wasn't too sure I was leading the girls in the right direction but we made it without ever getting lost. Sometimes I surprise even myself.

The first thing Andrew said when he picked up Miriam was, "She's damp."

"Fountain water," I quickly explained (at this age it is important for dampness to be explained) before hinting to Rachel that we needed to tell Andrew about the ice cream. "We have some bad news," I said. "We were crossing the street and..."

"We got a ticket!" Rachel blurted out. "From a real police officer!"

"What?!" Andrew gasped. "What for!"

"Ice cream!" we said, producing the tickets to prove it.

It was a good (and somewhat relieving) surprise for Daddy.

I'm surprised he fell for it at all because I'm so bad at lying it's not even funny. But then again, Andrew is one of the most gullible people I know so it's not very easy to pull the wool over his eyes. I was even grinning when I announced the bad news. Who smiles when they tell their spouse they got a ticket? I dunno. Anyway...we were all excited to go out for ice cream at the BYU Creamery.

Andrew's been wanting to go there for a long time but I always veto his suggestion with the "there's cheaper ice cream in the freezer at home" card, or something along those lines. Today, though, we had no excuse not to get ice cream since it was free! Crossing the street legally has never tasted so good or paid so well.

We didn't go with the prearranged flavours that Rachel and Miriam had decided on in the morning because there were so many other, better flavours to chose from. Rachel and Miriam got BYU Sparkle ice cream—it was pink and tasted like lemonade. They asked for cones on top and were just about in heaven with more ice cream than they could possibly ever eat alone.

Andrew got BYU Mint Brownie ice cream. I got half lime sherbet and half raspberry.

I should have had Rachel take a picture of me and Andrew. I also should have had the girls split one ice cream so we'd still have an extra voucher because a single scoop of ice cream was way too much for either of them. Andrew and I ended up eating most of Miriam's dish and half of Rachel's. We all left stuffed and sticky, though some of us were stickier than others.

It was a good day but certainly wore everybody out. We did a ton of walking (and climbing) and Miriam didn't get a nap in at all. Everybody made it to bedtime mostly sane and the girls were asleep within five minutes of me closing their door.

Right now I can't decide which is better—ice cream or sleeping children.

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