Friday, June 17, 2016

Life and Science Museum with Naanii and Bumpa

"Do you girls want to do the lab today?" I asked.

"Uhhh...sure," they answered hesitantly.

 "Then go ahead and line up here," I instructed.

 "I don't think I want to, actually," Rachel said, squirming away from the line-up area with Miriam tailing close behind.

I herded them back into place. "Sure you do," I said. "You're the only ones here. It'll be interesting and fun. You'll learn something new!"

"Fine," they grumbled.

They ended up having a fine time and are excited to go back (lab attendance has been incentivized this summer). Today we learned about climate. Benjamin joined us when we were watching a demonstration involving dry ice to help us learn about carbon dioxide. My favourite part was when the kids were testing the level of acidity in their ice core samples (I guess years that saw a lot of volcanic activity means a layer of ice with a higher acidity (or something like that (obviously I was totes paying attention))).

Here they are examining their ice cores:

The woman leading our lab said, "Can any of you tell me what a pH level is?"

The children stared at her blankly.

"Have any of you heard of pH?" she asked.

"Well," said Rachel, "I've heard of PhD."

Well, they know what a pH level is now! They enjoyed using the litmus strips.

It was rather nice to go to the museum with two other adults to help chase the kids around. They don't always want to go to the same exhibits so it was nice to be able to split up sometimes. Here's a rare shot of all four kids playing at the same exhibit (dental hygiene):

I thought this shot of Miriam playing with the mirrors was too good to pass up. She is a child who loves her own reflection. And who can blame her? She's super cute!

Rachel somehow convinced my mom to try the twirly chair:

It was a little twirlier than she was expecting:

We had to spend some time in Hideaway Woods because all the kids love it so much. The little ones spent a lot of time in the "6 and younger" area. Zoë is finally big enough to explore on her own...

...though she was also happy to have some company.

Naanii wanted to climb to the highest part of the treehouse—I haven't even been up there yet!—and only Rachel was brave enough to go with her. I'm not sure if it's the height that intimidates Miriam and Benjamin or if it's all the bigger kid traffic. Either way, it was Rachel who wanted to go. I guess I could have gone, too, but I didn't want to abandon my poor dad with three of my four kids!

Miriam and I took a few pictures of them though. Here they are in the highest tower:

Here's Rachel crossing one of the high bridges:

And here's Naanii taking her turn:

Meanwhile, back in the smaller kid area Benjamin and Zoë found some tree cookies to play with:

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, by Benjamin

(I have a hunch that if Zoë's cheeks weren't so chubby she'd have made a complete fishy face here):

Here's Miriam joining in the fun:

Next we headed to the farm where all the animals were trying to keep cool. Auggie the pot-bellied pig, however, decided he needed a little TLC and when we stopped by his pen he wandered over to us, grunted a few times, and then plopped down right at our feet, earning himself a little backscratch:

Here are a few more pictures of us enjoying the farmyard:

Naanii treated us to lunch at the cafe in the museum. It was good to refuel before heading off for more exploring. We went to the butterfly house, which everyone seemed to enjoy.

Except Naanii, who was a little skittish around the butterflies. She's in good company, though, because Benjamin used to cry in the butterfly house when those unpredictable creatures would flitter around him and Rachel reminded us of that one time some butterflies "attacked" her while we were hiking Y Mountain.

I was trying to remember who else recently told me that butterflies legitimately made them nervous, and then I realized it wasn't anyone I knew at all! It was Detective William Murdoch: "[Butterflies] make me uneasy, is all. Have you ever watched them? They're completely unpredictable. First they fly left, then they fly right, then straight at you. They defy logic."

In the "emerging" exhibit we got to see an atlas moth, one of the contestants for the title of largest moth in the world (the other being the hercules moth). It was ginormous.

"I wouldn't want that thing to fly at me," said a woman standing at the window with us.

"No kidding!" I said. "You'd think it was a bat or something!"

It was seriously so huge.

Here's Zoë sticking her head through the railing to look at the fish. She had trouble getting it back out again, but we figured it out. I'm really not sure this railing is to code...

Rachel announced at the butterfly house that she wasn't feeling well. I had wondered when she hardly touched her lunch. She has a case of the runs but otherwise feels okay. She both wanted to go home and also stay for the butterfly release at 3:00 and decided that if she stayed in the butterfly house, which was air conditioned and had a bathroom close by, that she'd be fine.

We stayed and played in one of the rooms for a while until Benjamin got too restless (he gets restless quite regularly). We built a little butterfly puzzle...

Which got disassembled before we could even take a step back to admire it:

Miriam, Benjamin and Zoë played pirates, using the antennae and body as their swords (why, yes, my 12-month-old does know how to pretend to sword fight, though she's dropped her sword in this picture).

When little people were getting too wild to remain indoors any longer, my mom and I took them on the Dinosaur Trail while Bumpa and Rachel rested on the comfy chairs in the lobby of the butterfly house.

We had fun climbing on the parasaurolophus, of course:

And posing in front of the Albertosaurus:

By the time we finished walking along the trail and had played in the dig site for five minutes or so, it was time to head back to the butterfly house for the butterfly release. Unfortunately, the person doing the release didn't give much instruction beforehand, so some of the butterflies were mishandled and kids kept snatching them from other people. It was a bit of frenzy.

Ordinarily, the rules are something like, "only let the butterfly perch on your finger," and "don't touch their wings," and "if the butterfly chooses to land on another person then your turn is over" because these are living creatures and they deserve respect.

But we weren't told any of that and it showed in the crowd. We ended up with a poor butterfly whose wings got mangled in the flurry of eager hands (worst case scenario; best case scenario would be that it simply hadn't finished unfurling its wings quite yet). And a newly emerged blue morpho butterfly landed right on my face while I was kneeling down helping Benjamin take his turn with a butterfly and a little girl snatched it right off my cheek...which was a little awkward (and sad because I wanted a picture, of course)!

Anyway, here's Rachel with a butterfly:

(Bumpa was on the phone with Uncle Patrick)

Here's Miriam taking a turn (did I mention she lost a tooth on Monday—because she did):

And here's Benjamin, so thrilled to be holding a butterfly:

Here's Zoë taking a look:

And here's my dad taking a turn:

On our way out of the museum Rachel asked if we could go swimming when we got home and was a little crushed when I told her that we could not (or at least that she could not) because of her diarrhea. Swimming with diarrhea is a huge no-no. But Rachel's been feeling like we've been telling her no a lot lately. We told her we couldn't go on a tour of the library at Duke yesterday. Then on the way home from Duke she asked if we could watch Into the Woods and I told her we didn't have time for a show that long. And then today I told her that she wasn't allowed to go swimming.

Moms have to say no a lot.

I don't think it's that we enjoy saying no, necessarily. It's just in the job description.

That being said, I try to say yes whenever possible. Our family scripture/theme/motto for several years now has been D&C 123:17Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power—so if something is possible then we can/should cheerfully do it. And so I try to say yes often. But as a mom I often have to say no a lot anyway because sometimes things aren't possible.

So although an afternoon swim was out of the picture, we decided that we could watch Into the Woods, which we did cheerfully. I think it's a good show and I can't ever get through the last few songs without crying. It's a good thing for me that I was helping prepare dinner and a good thing for my mom that she was distracted trying to keep Zoë out of trouble or we both would have been ugly crying, I'm sure of it.

Sometimes people leave you
Halfway through the wood
Do not let it grieve you
No one leaves for good
You are not alone
No one is alone
Hold him to the light now
Let him see the glow
Things will be all right now
Tell him what you know
Guide them along the way
Children will glisten
Children will look to you
For which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say
"Listen to me"
Children will listen
Careful the wish you make
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take

Wishes come true

I can hardly read the words without feeling all emotional. I really hope that I'm doing an okay job at this mothering business, but—boy!—parenting is hard work and sometimes I'm not sure if I'm doing anything right! My only consolation is that my children have never been children before either so we're all bumbling along, making mistakes and learning together (while hopefully making many happy memories along the way).


  1. I love butterflies, but dragon flies, dragon flies give me the creeps!!! We've still never seen into the woods...maybe someday.

  2. I'm jealous of all the fun you're having, but not so envious of the heat and humidity!

  3. I love reading about your time with your parents, and it's so nice to see pictures of them here. Looks like some fun times.

    I think you are a great mother! I wish more children in this world were blessed to have a mom like you.