Sunday, June 09, 2013

family fun day

Isaac is terrified of squirrels, so he seized the chance to snarl at a stuffed one.

On Friday, Neil came home and told me that his adviser had cancelled their weekly meeting on Monday.  Consequently, all of the hours that Neil would typically spend on Saturday prepping for the Monday meeting were now free, and he was planning to take the whole day off to have fun with the kids.  YAY!!!  This was hugely, hugely exciting.

We decided to head a few hours south to an interactive history museum that I'd read about a few years ago on Simple Kids and had wanted to check out ever since.

One of the very first exhibits that we saw was from our local zoo--they had all of the cool animals that aren't actually on display at the zoo out with them.  The armadillos were pretty cool (but not nearly as cute as the pygmy hedgehog, which I wanted to take home).

Neil got a real kick out of the fact that the boa constrictor was named Julius Squeezer.

Cute Isaac with binoculars...

The main body of the park is divided up into three sections--one is a prairie homestead, another is a prairie town in 1836, and another focuses on the way the Civil War impacted the state.  All of the different areas have actors in period clothing working in the different buildings (think carpenters, weavers, farmers, potters, blacksmiths, etc.) The Civil War area also has some really cool multimedia presentations that were quite impressive (our favorite was the cannon that "shot" through the wall of the theater).

So in the homestead area, there was a barn with lots of cute baby animals that Luke did not want to pet. At all.

 Juliet literally burst into tears when she could not pet this lamb--it was in a different area behind a closed gate and she was heartbroken that she could not enter its stall.  I have to say, I empathized with her because it was about the most darling fluffy little thing you can imagine.
 The baby calf was pretty cute too.
 Jules finally settled for the mother sheep but she wasn't very happy about it.

 We moved across the yard and went into the loom house, which was REALLY cool.  The woman weaving here showed all of the kids how to finger-spin yarn out of freshly carded wool from the sheep we'd just been petting.
 She also told us how she dyes all of the yarn.  She'd just finished dying the skein of yarn dangling over the pot in the photo below, using osage orange from a jar on the mantel (the fire was still pretty warm from boiling the dye).  All of those little jars were full of different herbs, barks, and roots and labeled with their contents and the color that it would produce.

Abigail would have been happy to stay all day watching her weave and listening to her describe what she was doing, but the boys eventually got bored and we moved on.

 One of the things I really liked about the museum was how hands-on EVERYTHING was.  The kids spent quite awhile at one homestead pumping water and carrying it over to water the garden (there were also laundry tubs with period clothing nearby if they'd wanted to scrub the clothes).  There were so many things like this all day where we could really involve ourselves with frontier life.

One of the actors was weaving chair bottoms from the inner bark of a hickory (Luke is sitting on one of the finished chairs).  She told me that the chair bottom will often outlast the chair itself.

Another thing I LOVED was the attention to creating shady zones--lots of big mature trees overhanging pathways, little canopied areas with benches, giant pump bottles of free sunscreen was great.

The kids all did really well--I was impressed with how chipper and upbeat they were, even though we were on our feet ALL day.  Nathan was a champ and nursed and slept happily all day.

 So funny story--we were walking along this street and the girls stopped to try on this yoke.  While we were explaining how they would have used it to carry water, I noticed that Isaac wasn't with us.  We quickly looked around and spotted a nearby reproduction outhouse with a door that was closed whereas it had been open when we'd walked by it.  Sure enough, we found Isaac seated inside with his pants around his ankles.  He was not happy to leave ("but I have to GO!!").

 One of the really fun parts of the day was when we stopped by the doctor's house in Prairietown just as he brought out his violin to play a reel.  The other actors gathered up enough people to form a ring and Juliet, Isaac, Luke & I joined in (Neil videoed the whole thing, so this is the only picture I have).  Afterwards the actors brought out lemonade and cookies and we enjoyed them in the shade.
 At the end of the day, we went back the welcome center so I could feed Nathan before we loaded everyone into the car.  Juliet was in HEAVEN when she found this child-sized loom and spent the whole time working away diligently.

 The other kids were thrilled to find two giant baskets of stamps.
 And as we passed by the gift shop on the way out, I spotted the rock candy I'd been searching for all day after promising Abigail we could try some.  Turns out the giant multi-colored suckers nearby ended up being more appealing to the kids.  Oh well.  They were cheaper.
 On our way home, we stopped off at a street fair in our hometown that I'd really been excited about & where we were planning to eat dinner.  Total bust--lots of crafts and interesting tattoos, but not much to eat.
 And then we went home and fell into our beds.  Great day!


Crapos said...

Was this Connor Prairie? It's not exactly south of you but it's the only place I can think of. We used to go there all the time as a kid.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a cool place! That looks like such fun! Your kids are so lucky to have all of these different experiences. Such special family memories for all of you! Some of the best times of my life were with my parents and brother traveling around the U.S. exploring historical sites. Have a great summer!
Aunt Pam

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