09 June 2016

Pax has a Visa! and How to Build the Perfect Children's Museum

We got word this morning that Pax's visa has been approved!

Benjamin quickly called his folks, and his dad drove into DC for the second time in a week to pick it up and overnight mail it to us (thank you, Howard!).  So tomorrow, we should have Pax's passport and visa.  This is good news, since she and I fly out the day after tomorrow!

We still have no information about when Benjamin and Bear will get their visas.  It could be tomorrow, it could be up to two MONTHS.  Obviously, I am hoping that it's closer to tomorrow.  But again, it is out of our hands.  And a small part of me is a little excited to get to figure out this thing on my own.

Benjamin and I have pretty thoroughly discarded traditional gender roles, but that doesn't mean we don't get a little rigid in our individualized roles within our relationship.  We're pretty flexible on most things relating to the kids, and we do switch it up on grocery shopping.  But I do pretty much all heavy cleaning (to the extent that it gets done), and Benjamin does the cooking (with the exception of my specialties: pancakes and quesadillas). Benjamin also handles all household logistics like bill paying, paperwork, fighting with insurance companies, etc.  In other words, I make the money and he manages it.  He also does all the driving when we go anywhere together.

I realized some of these unused skills were atrophying a bit at Magic Mountain.  Benjamin went off to ride a coaster and I was supposed to meet him at the exit.  Despite holding a map, I seriously could not get myself to where I was supposed to be to meet him.  I used to pride myself on having good map skills - no sense of direction mind you, but good map skills.  But the more I stared at this thing, the less it seemed to match up with the actual space I was occupying.  Plus we were at a steep hill and I was carrying one child and pushing another in 95 degree heat so I didn't want to waste a lot of effort wandering about.  It was super frustrating and a bit embarrassing as well.

So silver lining to the family being separated: I get to practice my navigation and logistics (and driving on the wrong side of the road), I get some time away from Bear, and, um, distance makes the heart grow fonder or whatever.  Yeah, this may suck.

Anyway, today the kids and I set out to explore ... yet another Children's Museum.  This one was called Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert, and it is a medium-sized museum.  Not so large and overwhelming as the big ones, but but not small enough that I could just stay in one spot and supervise.  All three of us had a great time and as usual we left when we all reached critically low blood sugar.

I was thinking about our survey of children's museums and I thought I would compile a list of features you should definitely include or not include if you are ever making your own children's museum in the future.

Must-Have Features for Kids:

  • Some sort of assemble yourself tubes and balls activity.  Whether this is air-powered or just gravity, stand-alone or attached to a magnet wall, this is always a hit with a variety of ages.
  • Water play. I was mixed on including this one, because sometimes it's a pain and your children end up completely soaked, but especially in the hotter climates, this is crucial.  As an added bonus, this is an activity that is often too messy for parents to want to set up at home, so having it at the museum is cool.
  • Duplo table.  Yes, we have these at home, but for some reason Duplos anywhere but home are way more interesting, even for kids who are old enough to build the DeathStar with regular Legos.  
  • Dinosaur Dig.  The best example of this was probably at Indianapolis, but I have seen simpler versions that are also compelling.  Anyway, kids love digging for dinosaurs.
  • Flying scarves/butterflies.  Have you seen these things? It's just a tube with a fan that blows either light fabric butterflies or scarves into the air.  Weirdly, everyone loves these.  
  • Big blocks.  Like crazy big ones so kids can build actual habitable spaces.  The best ones I've seen were light weight foam.  Always a hit.
  • Climbing structures.  Rock walls are popular but a bit inaccessible for the younger kids.  Sometimes this is just a simple set of platforms or a slide.  If I were doing my own, I would bring in a real boulder and put in a padded floor.  

Must-Have Features for Adults:

  • Free parking.  This is my biggest gripe with Port Discovery in Baltimore - parking costs about a million dollars and is not that close.  The smaller museums all provide ample free parking and it is welcome.  
  • Family rest rooms with changing tables.  Duh.
  • Seats for tired parents.  Bonus points if those seats are cushy chairs with arms for comfortable nursing.  
  • Cafeteria.  Nothing works up my child's appetite like building a roller coaster, playing in an artificial stream, making musical instruments, and then pretend shopping in your tiny model grocery store.  Save us from the low blood sugar meltdown and sell food.  

Features to Avoid:

  • "Kid Music" playing in the background.  Just. Stop.  I do not want to hear any more Raffi than I am contractually obligated to hear.
  • High, echo-y ceilings.  You know your space is going to be packed with screaming children, right? Maybe design it to absorb sound, not amplify it.
  • Story Time.  Look, no one is going to stop playing to read this book with you or sit quietly in a circle learning the finger movements to accompany "Mary Had a Little Lamb." You have made a space way too interesting for sitting still.  When you announce your story time over the loudspeaker and no one goes you just make your 19 year old volunteer sad and activate 20 mothers' social anxiety - but no one learns to read.  
  • Gift shop.  Why set everyone up to conclude their visit with a temper tantrum? I promise to spend just as much money in the cafeteria. 

So there you go, now you can build your own perfect Children's Museum.  You're welcome.  

And he's off!


"Mom, it won't start!"

Bear and I built this super marble run that was the envy of every sever year old boy in the place.  Here Bear finishes up the Marble Garage at the end of it.

Pax wants to make sure I'm not going to get away.  

A young scientist at work.

The joy of discovery


Dad, this is for you.

Practicing for crawling. 

So happy!

Swim time! 

Tuckered out

No comments:

Post a Comment