Friday, July 14, 2023

BYU Museums (June 12)

It's possible that my sister Kelline was the most excited person to have our family visit Utah. She must have driven down from Layton a handful of times! She came to Zoë's baptism, she came for "museum day," she came to the Heiss gathering, she drove Benjamin and Zoë back after their post-zoo excursion, she drove down to deliver birthday cupcakes and say goodbye—by my calculations, that's a handful of times! It's at least an hour one way, so that was quite a lot of driving that she did for us, not to mention all the fun things she planned for us to do!

On Monday she ended up having a couple of her grandkids for the day (long story*), so she invited us to visit some of BYU's museums with them. We ended up being late (which is quite the feat considering we were staying only 15–20 minutes away and my sister had to drive an hour), so they already enjoyed the Museum of Peoples and Cultures without us. We met them at the Museum of Paleontology. 

Here are pictures of my four youngest kids:

Rachel and Miriam were there as well, but they kind of went through the museum at their own pace...while Kelline and I raced after the littler kids and reminded them not to touch anything that they weren't supposed to touch! 

Poor Kelline had just finished lecturing Mercedes and Bentley about not touching things when I was like, "Hey! Come touch this..." whatever it was that had a "TOUCH ME" sign on it. Some...fossilized wood...or something. So Kelli had to revise her lecture to be that the kids could touch anything that said, "TOUCH ME!" but to otherwise keep their hands in their pockets.

A lot of the exhibits at the Paleontology Museum were familiar to me. Not very much seems to have changed at the museum since I was a kid (for example, I distinctly remember standing in front of that same dimetrodon-type creature Phoebe is in front of in the picture above, and I know I was a little terrified to stick my head in the jaws the Zoë's head is in). But there were also a few new things that we hadn't seen yet. 

For example, the skull of a "new flying reptile" discovered in 2018 by BYU paleontologists. I can't quite read the sign here but I seem to remember something about it being extremely delicate (it is, after all a pterosaur, so its bones are less...robust...than land lizards). 

Well, my dear sister, who had so passionately lectured the children on not touching anything backed into the display case and...the skull display skittered and clattered to a heap at the bottom of the display case. 

We panicked for a minute before my sister bravely (and with great embarrassment) went to find an employee to tell them what had happened. 

They brushed it off as no big deal. The skull in the case is only a 3-D printed replica of the actual skull (which is too delicate and valuable to be on display, so nothing to worry about). They sent out a team of workers armed with large suction cups that they used to lift and hold the display case while one of them set the skull back the way it was supposed to be. Phew! No harm, no foul!

Having done enough damage at the dinosaur museum, we decided to head up to the Bean Museum. I walked with Phoebe and my older girls. Everyone else rode with Auntie K. (Andrew had some work to do on campus, so he'd dropped us off at the dinosaur museum and headed elsewhere to park and do his business). My mom had finished up her work meeting by this time and she joined us at the museum as well.

I didn't take many pictures at the museum. Honestly, I thought Phoebe would love the museum because she tends to really like animals. But the minute she learned that the animals were not for touching...and that they didn't move or anything...well...she was like, "Boring!"

But I think the rest of the kids had fun!

Benjamin wanted a picture by this bison:

And here's a picture of all the kids (minus Phoebe, Rachel, and Miriam) trying to save the environment by selecting all the kinds of possible conservation efforts at once:

Lastly, here's a picture of Mercedes and Alexander on a wolf statue outside of the museum:

We walked down to the Carillon Bell Tower for a picnic that Kelli had packed. She has celiac disease so can't have gluten, but she packed those pre-packaged peanut butter and jam sandwiches (by Smuckers), which I thought was a genius idea on her part! There's nothing easier than a PB&J...except when you can't touch the bread to put the PB&J on (and don't want to "waste" fancy gluten-free bread on picky children). She also got special juice bottles for all of the kids. It was a lovely picnic—Daddy even joined us! We saw the van in the visitor parking lot (which is just across from the bell tower) and texted him, so he came to find us.

Here are the kids hopping around all the rocks near this water feature (which is relatively new on campus, as wasn't really a thing yet when I was a student, but it maybe was by the time Andrew was doing his MPA, and definitely was by the time he was a visiting professor):

Hopping around on all the rocks didn't really feel like the kind of thing that BYU would actually want us to be doing, so we decided to move our party to a park—North Park, to be precise. This park was a lot different from the last time we were there (it wasn't this time in 2012, was it?!).

Here are the kids playing on a giant slide:

And here's Phoebe being so brave and allowing Auntie K to push her on the swing: 

Here are Alexander, Bentley, Zoë, Benjamin, and Mercedes swinging around a pole:

More accurately, they had been swinging around this pole...before I made them stop to smile for the camera.

It was really quite chilly this particular day. I had to borrow Miriam's sweater because I forgot mine in the car. How the children didn't need sweaters, I can't imagine (except I know the answer is that they were all running around playing while I was sitting around chatting with my mom and sister). 

Here are some lovely pictures of me with Kelli and Naanii:

It was a lovely low-key day (which was a nice thing to have after so many days of hustle and bustle). I'm so grateful to Kelli for planning our itinerary and packing the food and driving down to see us. Planning takes a lot of work (I know!) and it was lovely to just get to follow someone else's plan for the day. What's even better is that Kelli gifted us with more than one day like this while we were in Utah—stay tuned for zoo day!!

* Mercedes and Bentley are children of Christina née Haggard. My sister was married to Christina's father for a brief time in 2008. I don't recall how long the marriage lasted, but it was not long at all. I made their wedding cake's possible they hadn't even made it through the leftover cake before the marriage was over. Addiction can really complicate matters and in this case that is what caused this relationship to crumble. However, Kelline has remained friends with Christina's father and despite no longer being married to Christna's father was determined to fill the role of mother for Christina, who was estranged from her own mother. To that end, Kelline considers Christina her child. My interactions with Christina have been few and far between, but I think she's wonderful and appreciate that she and Kelline are important to each other and thus was more than happy to spend the day with Christina's children. As for Christina's whereabouts, well...she also has a special needs child—Maya—who had had a series of seizures and was in the hospital. So Christina was with Maya and we were with Mercedes and Bentley. Families are nothing if not complicated. Our job is just to love each other through all those complications (whether self-created complications or no-fault-of-their-own complications). Kelli is such a wonderful example to me of just loving people through things.

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