Thursday, July 31, 2008

Johnson County Fair

What do you think is the best part of a county fair?

It's obvious what my boys think:

This boy has a bit of learning to do yet in order to fully appreciate the joy of cotton candy:

But he'll get there, oh he'll get there.

And then there's this:

Sam got to the top and got a little bit nervous. He stood there for quite some time surveying the situation before I even turned the video on. He said but then Will talked him into it.

Tag and Release Program

Our budding nature enthusiasts have caught several caterpillars this summer. This one is Fluffy the Third. He was white until Will got ahold of him and took a marker to him. Now Fluffy is out there somewhere impressing all the girls with his colorful new look. I wonder if it will affect how fancy of a butterfly he turns into?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chicago, Day 4

Our last day in Chicago was spent at the Adler Planetarium. It sits way out at the end of a penninsula on the lake. You can look back at an amazing view of the Chicago skyline. (that's Shedd and the Sears tower to the right, behind the boys.) Max wasn't asleep, the sun was just really, really bright.Can you tell that one boy was tired of getting his picture taken by the last day?This was the kids' favorite thing to do: "jump" on the moon. They laid on the ground with a green screen behind them and slid up and down in a chair. Everyone could see the result on a large screen.

Mars robot in the background:
Lunchbreak with Mr. GQ:Lunch with a view:Telescopes:3-d movie, Max was not too sure about Dad's glasses, or his own either for that matter:
What's with these kids' smiles?! Max's glasses quickly became soggy:
Kickin' back, all tuckered out:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chicago, Day 3

Day 3 of our trip was spent at the Museum of Science and Industry. Going there is always a special treat for me because I have so many memories of going there as a kid. Unfortunately they no longer have the giant walk-though heart. It always freaked me out as a kid. A portion of the museum is under renovation and once it's done I'm sure it'll be great. But evidently the heart was one of the things to go. But they still have some of the circus stuff - like the scenes that have moving parts, a ring leader and music. They still have the cut out circles in the wall and you stick your head in and you're looking at yourself in a mirror as the strong man or the man holding the snakes. They do not have the ones that shined the colored lights on your face and made you look like a clown anymore. Those were probably a fire or burn hazzard or something!

Added to this area is the bubble shadow garden. Your shadows manipulate how the computer bubbles move. The kids could have stayed and played there for hours.

Also in this area are colored lights on the floor that make piano sounds when you move across them:

Looking down on the model trains - been around since I was a kid:Farm Area:My personal favorite, the miniature fairy castle. I got to look for a whole 30 seconds before all the boys were on to the next thing. Those 30 seconds were the best part of my day, but it was a far cry from the hour we spent in the submarine exhibit. (Which by the way I didn't get any pictures of, but you can check it out here.) I will grudgingly admit that the sub exhibit was actually pretty cool, they've totally redone that area since we'd last seen it and it's more of an experience than before. They make it very dramatic.

Something new we hadn't seen before was the "Swiss Jolly Ball" made by a jeweler and inventor to promote Swiss Tourism, it holds the Guiness Book of World Record for the world's largest pin ball machine or "flipper." It sets off really cool chain reaction events and highlights the major tourist attractions of Switzerland.
Sam and Dad being astronauts:
Another oldie but good is the chick hatchery. Will was especially intrigued by the eggs that were about ready to hatch. We had to go back and check on one particular egg before we left for the day because it had some movement inside of it and Will was sure the bird was going to pop out any minute. When I read to him that it can take up to 10 hours, he disappointedly decided it was ok to leave.Good pointing:Max found a place to play for non-walkers only:If you ask the boys, they'll tell you that the Toymaker 3000 exhibit was their favorite part of the Museum of Science and Industry. The first part takes you through being a business owner. It's hard to see, but that's Will's face projected on the mannequin.Climbing the "Ladder of Success."For $5, you can watch your toy top being made - from gathering the toy parts, to assembling them, to packaging them - start to finish - by robots in a completely automated factory. You get to choose what color you want and a laser engraves your name into the plastic.

Very proud Gravitron owners:

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chicago, Day 2

We spent Day 2 at the Shedd Aquarium and Oceanarium. Kimodo Dragon - HUGE!
Good pointing:

A "pirate ship" we saw out the window on Lake Michigan:

Really neat coral reef, holes in the ceiling and fish swimming overhead:
Beluga whales - adorable:
Mama and baby:

The baby is darker gray in the front, and very cute:

One of the most beloved creatures at Shedd is Nickel, the paralyzed sea turtle. She does not have use of her back flippers but that doesn't appear to slow her down much.

Feeding stingrays:

More stingrays:

HUGE shark with a saw nose:

After the aquarium, we took a cab to the John Hancock building:

That's the Planetarium out on the penninsula to the left:Lake Shore Drive:I think the building with the cranes on top is the new Trump building, still under construction. Sears Tower is in the distance.Navy Pier:

Putting the kids to work:

Personally, I think that the best part of the Hancock building was that there was a Cheesecake Factory in the bottom of it, and we got to eat dinner there. Even though Sam tipped his chair over on top of himself, bloodied his lip and the waiter took away our unfinished Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake in the confusion(we'd eaten 2/3 of it, but would have eaten it all!) we still had a good meal. It was definitely time to go though. Back where we parked the kids played at the Children's Garden outside the museums:

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Chicago, Day 1

We're back from our museum-filled trip to the Windy City. Here are the highlights from day 1: The Field Museum (The Museum of Natural History.)

Getting ready to go inside, notice they're not tired of getting their picture taken yet.
The Field Museum:Dinosaur Sue - the most complete T-Rex skeleton ever found:Giraffe guts and stomach - don't worry they're not real.Not too sure about that alligator:The best part of the Field Museum - The Underground Adventure. We were "shrunk" down to 1/1ooth our normal size, to see what's going on in the soil.See how big that penny is?! (It said "in soil we trust.")Worm!We've got lots of these earwig buggers coming in our house:


Laying in bed that night, Sam asked me, "How did they shrink us down like that?!" So I tried to expain how they made everything really big so we'd just look small. He seemed relieved! Will, of course had it all figured out right away.

Ancient Egypt:Here's what I'd like to think I'd look like as a mummy:Sam and Will tried to move a pyramid block but Will quickly realized it wasn't going anywhere. Sam could have stayed there all day trying to move that thing! Notice he even says to the girl, "One, two three, pull!" Sweet guy!

View of the main hall:Wooly Mammoth:Stegosaurus:Max did a lot of good pointing on this trip:Damon and I both agreed that we're not sure we'd do the Field Museum again. Lots of it wasn't interesting to the kids. Think of the U of I McBride museum times, like 1000. (And isn't that plenty big, as far as the kids - and their mom - are concerned?!) Lots of stuffed animals and birds. Lots of indian artifacts and history. We bought these City Passes which saved us nearly 50% and included four museums and one big building, otherwise we probably wouldn't have gone. It was however a good first day activity choice since we only had a half day and the kids were not yet burnt out on museums. (I think the boys will be glad if they don't see another museum for awhile!) The Underground Adventure was definitely the coolest part of the Field Museum for the kids. It was an extra fee to enter, but was included in our City Passes.

We decided to eat downtown since we didn't want to battle rush hour traffic so we hopped in a cab and told him to take us to a good pizza place. (The kids and my first cab ride!) The kids were totally quiet and sat stiff as boards the entire way there! They were a bit wide-eyed about the whole experience! We'd heard of several of the restaurants the cabbie mentioned and decided on Gino's East. I'd been there once before for a high school band trip! Excellent pizza and a fun atmosphere. Even though there's usually a line down the block to get in, we beat the crowd by arriving at 5 and got right in! The kids did not buy that it was ok to write on the walls...or the chairs...or the table. Yep, I've raised 'em right.Evidently they do think that it's ok to stick their tongues out at their mothers. Actually I think someone was tired of having their picture taken after only the first day!Will wrote this on the wall: "Smiley face=Wii. Sad face=homework." Ok, he didn't actually write it, but he could have. He agreed with the statement wholeheartedly.

Gino's East was right off of Michigan Ave, so we walked it a bit. The summer statues were decorated mannequins using recyled objects. I still say a Whimsical Herky is a much better idea.

On the cab ride back, it was a little different story: "Yeah, we're cool...we've got this whole cab thing down!"
Back at the hotel it was time for some swimming, which was all the kids really wanted to do all week anyway:

That's it for day 1! Yes, I'm my father's daughter and my sister's...well...sister. So I take a lot of pictures, so sue me.