Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reality vs. plan, March 15: Academy and Dumbo

Reality vs. plan report for March 15 (see the plan in earlier post).

When we woke up, my husband told me he has a cold and doesn't feel up to the trip, so off we went, just three of us. I get really tired during such outings, the stress of trying not to lose the kids in the crowd, not preferring one child's desired path over another, making sure they stay together, and answering all questions and pointing out things. With another adult person, you at least get an occasional respite.

Because the crowds at the California Academy of Sciences are not letting up, even though it's been open for 6 months now, we bought the membership and have been coming there an hour before the member hours start. What do we do for an hour? Well, if my husband was with me, we'd let them just run around in the beautiful park-like area between the Academy and DeYoung Museum. Since he wasn't, I took my laptop with me, which is filled with all sorts of digital books for the kids, and we just sat on my sweater on the ground and read. The kids were so engrossed that we didn't even notice the time. This time, we ran straight to the restaurant to make reservation for lunch and straight to planetarium to get the passes. They were for 10:30, so that's what we saw first (right after the short stroll through "Africa"). The show placard warns that it's not advisable for kids under 6, but we decided to wing it anyway, since how can one know if it's true for your kids unless you experience it? Well, if you read the post from yesterday, you can imagine how A. behaved (wiggly and talkative), but L. (more than 2 years below the guideline) of course liked it - it was about space, after all. He knows all the planets, and sometimes remembers other things we talked about (the orbits, lack of water and air on other planets, various spacecrafts, how you get there, etc). He recognized the satellite immediately. Some of the topics were pretty complex, but the show is only 30 minutes, and is certainly enjoyable on various levels of your understanding of the subject. The verdict: know thy child.

Then we skipped the butterfly exhibit, because the lines were huge (and I'm not a big fan anyway), and went down to the Aquarium where we did the usual route (tropical fish, jellyfish, all sorts of weird fish, touched the sea star, admired the alligator and turtle, etc). There were other parts of the museum left, such as the whole "fragile planet"-type exhibits, but we've seen them before, and I thought it was more important to give them time to just run around in the outside courtyard of the museum for 20 minutes until our lunch reservations. Impressively, the host recognized us from last time. Unfortunately, they phased out the incredible mushroom ravioli we all loved last time; so we ordered the new ricotta(?) ravioli (ouch, spicy), tagliatelle with meat, the very enjoyable duck confit salad, and chocolate mousse bombe. Solid 3.5-4 stars out of 5. Then it was time to drive home and nap. Of course, A. fell asleep in the car.

I must say, this is our fourth time to the museum, and it really does not compare favorably with the Field, Smithsonian or NY Museum of Natural History. You'd think there'd be at least one museum of such stature on the West Coast. The Academy, however, is pretty small; the biggest part is the Aquarium, the Natural History part is very bare, and Planetarium with a short show and no related exhibits - hmmm... Of course, since it's the only such museum in the area, we have no choice.

Once we got home and L. got his nap, I didn't feel like going to the mall without my husband even though we really need to buy those spring-weather shoes. So we watched Dumbo (which was scheduled for yesterday). A pretty sweet movie, with none of the stupid contemporary references permeating recent Disney movies, such as Aladdin etc; at one hour long, shorter than most Disney flicks; the end is a bit too capitalistic for my end (so he got rich and that's why no one mistreats him or his mom? feh).

After dinner, we played some hilarious games, such as throwing a pillow to knock A. off his feet (he asked me to do it again and again, for almost 30 minutes), and dropping little people into a chute ("slide", made out of hollow fence post with one side cut out - for a different former project).

Good, albeit more tiring than usual, day.

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