Today we scored a pass to the museum of science and industry and i took the boys on the first ever big outing solo, with no stroller! All was amazing. Some shenanigans getting out the door but nothing major, two boys that did awesome in a very over-stimulating museum, just enough to see and do, and then lunch in the car ride home. Awesome. And naps which went smoothly for the first time in a few days. I didn't bring the camera, but thought i'd share a write-up of the outing so it was fixed in my minds eye.

After some web research and recommendations from friends, we decided to focus on seeing the full-size Sub, the Zephyr train you can walk around and go on, the enormous model train area and the airplane area above the trains. We had some incidental contact with other exhibits, but we focused on those. We probably could have skipped the airplane one because by then Silas was getting a tad overwhelmed, but really i couldn't have asked for a more fun outing.

We started by exploring the outside of the Zephyr train and found out they offered free tours inside the train every 15 minutes. I told Henry we could do it on the way out and we all agreed we go off in search of the submarine. It's a pretty meandering path through some other exhibits, but we made our way to the Sub are. Silas says "submarine" but it sounds just like "halloween" and i kept getting confused when he'd talk about the big halloween.

There are all these movies and mini exhibits about the war on the way to the submarine. Henry wanted to stay put and watch each old black and white newsreel but a) i'm not sure wartime newsreels are the best "screen time" for him and b) Silas was not interested and a little scared. But we finally made it down to the enormous room where the full-size submarine is kept. You walk down and around and get to see and do lots of little exhibits along the way. Henry found some more videos and Silas found buttons (which come to think of it is exactly how we spent our museum day a year ago). Henry and I started having a pretty big conversation about war at the tail end of the exhibit and he revisited the topic as i was tucking the boys into bed. I answered a few questions and told him we could talk more today. But his brains all stirred up and hopefully won't beset by too many bad dreams.

Next up was the enormous model train exhibit. We spent a long time there, checking out all the different aspects of the model train country. Silas finding all the buttons, Henry scanning for the built-in steps to stand on for a better view. Silas' favorite part of the museum was here, where you could push a button near the Sawmill vignette and listen to "TIMBER" and the crack of a loud tree falling. We did that many, many times.

Upstairs for a quick poke through a big airliner, a bit of getting lost trying to get back down, and then the promised tour through the Zephyr train. Seems it was the fastest train in 1930 and was able to travel 120 miles an hour. It made a special trip between Denver and Chicago for the World's Fair, and a donkey was picked up in Denver, brought on the train, and presented to the train president (i think) once they arrived in Chicago.

All of this to explain why a portion of the tour was led by an animatronic donkey. When the boys were questioning the donkey on the tour i explained it was a robot. But then later i said maybe it was magic donkey. On the way home we debated which was probably right (Henry-- robot, Silas- magic donkey) and Henry told me we'd have to go back and be scientists to figure it out.

Then pb&J in the car, a little belly-aching and some good rest for all our sore legs. Plus we cleaned the house, which i will write about (scintillating cliff hanger) in my next post.


End of Year Festivities

Many of my readers were lucky enough to share either Christmas or New Years with us. We hosted our third year of both families visiting us in Chicago. The boys did awesome and had a ball at Christmas. As per usual they loved having all the family around to play with, read stories with, and generally supplement their already well-loved little lives. Silas has sometimes been overwhelmed with visitors so i was a little apprehensive about the number of visitors.

But actually he did great. Dinners at home were a bit touch and go but blessedly the night out everyone did great. And of course the highlight was Christmas Eve with new Christmas pajamas and Christmas morning with a huge abundance of gifts. We actually got everything opened in one day-- and for the first year ever, before naptime! I think a few highlights of the morning were Silas' new Dora DVD, the dollhouse Silas got and the trucks that you take apart and put back together with tools.

In addition to all the Christmas loot, JT's parents brought with them some toys my parents had saved for me that i thought the boys would appreciate. We've put together the doll bunkbeds and the highchair and along with the new kitchen, these implements seem to have helped the boys imagination take off. I'm trying to stoke the development however i can-- of course without seeming to. Last night they were pretending to go on a trip to see Africa and feeding their baby on the plane.

After we bid adieu to our family we headed out to Michigan City for a New Year's week with 4 other couples and families. The house was absolutely beautiful and the weather was warm enough we pretty easily got the boys out of the house for some gorgeous walks every day but the last day. We also planned art activities each day. This combined with the kids being a year older and generally able to play with each other for at least a bit on their own contributed to a fun and less exhausting trip this year.

As soon as we got to the Michigan house Silas started asking when we were going home. But as opposed to the trauma a trip seemed to stoke in Silas this summer, this time when i just answered "We'll go home on Saturday" he accepted it and seemed satisfied. Now he's been asking about when we'll go back. I bet by next year he'll be a real veteran!