Saturday, June 30, 2012

Adventures with Erin

If anyone else in the world (ok, aside from my brother) had suggested--at this particular point in my life's journey--staying with me for over a week, I would've had a hard time saying "yes": let alone responding with utter excitement and joy.

My house is mostly a wreck. My fuse is shorter than usual (and usual is pretty durn short). I really wanted Erin and Mira to visit, anyway.

Erin is a fellow adventurer, so we did a lot of ripping and tearing while she was here. I reckon we had about as much fun as is possible with a 1yo, 2yo, and 3yo. (It helped a lot that we had the 12yo most of the time.)

We went to Bear Creek Lake State Park. I got only one decent photo all day because--shallow as the water is--Charleigh still misplaces her legs, sometimes, in Bear Creek Lake.

We went to the Science Museum of Virginia, where we watched To the Arctic on IMAX. Imagination Playground had been temporarily taken down and most of the other exhibits were a little "old" for the girls; however, Cade seemed particularly interested in Chris Jordan's art.

Don't be fooled by Charleigh's innocent look, here. Mira's expression cracks me up, too.

Erin, Mira, Clementine, and I paid a visit to Putt-Putt Fun Center for "Big Girls' Night Out":

This photo makes me cry. Literally.

We enjoyed an amazing (breezy) day at Holliday Lake State Park. Last year, I didn't fully appreciate the differences between Bear Creek Lake and Holliday Lake because Clementine was capable and comfortable in both. But Holliday Lake is significantly more shallow and clear and, therefore, much easier and safer for Charleigh (who won't be 2 until August 30th) to navigate.

Trying to Catch a Butterfly

We went to Sunday school, church, and the movies to see Happy Feet 2 through the Regal Summer Movie Express program. We also spent a great deal of time in the back yard.

Clementine: proud of herself for reaching and ringing the bell. Charleigh: hater. Classic.
And this brings me to a picture that is truly worth 1,000 words:

Look at Mira's face. Look at the pool water (YUCK). And that, my friends, is real life. In just over a week's time, Erin and I experienced many, many moments in which someone was unhappy; in fact, we experienced many moments in which more than one person was unhappy. Hell, we even experienced a few moments in which everyone was unhappy. 

And I guess I think it's important to say: if you have yourself a friend who--after twenty years--loves you enough to drive 28 hours (round trip) to enjoy summer with you; to live for over a week in your messy house; and to put up with your and your family's various strains of obnoxia, you're among the most blessed. If you have a "no matter what" friend: a person who's 100% committed to you and invested in your friendship, you've been given a priceless gift.

No matter how wild and woolly it gets, just say: I love you.

I love you, Erin. Come back soon.

Family Adventure 2012, Pt. 5

Before heading back to Virginia, we spent a few hours in the Pittsburgh Children's Museum. I told the boys: "The Carnegie Science Center was moreso about you; you might be a little bored in the Children's Museum. If that's the case, please just help the girls have fun." Happily (and unlike the Children's Museum of Richmond!), the Pittsburgh Children's Museum offers plenty for big kids; in fact, Evan told me he preferred the Children's Museum to the Science Center!

The Pittsburgh Children's Museum includes a Wizard of Oz educational exhibit through September 2nd. When I read this before our trip, I was really excited; I'm an Oz fan to the point that--when I told Jim about the exhibit--he shook his head and said: "I have to admit: that seems like a sign that we should go." And the exhibit was definitely for the little ones but very cool! Here are some photos:

Wicked Witch by Andy Warhol

I think this photo hilarious and best enjoyed while listening to the music in the video below.

The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh has Mister Rogers stuff sprinkled throughout. Sadly, because the stage was closed, we weren't able to check out King Friday's castle in the theater, but I think we saw the rest.

Back Side of X's and Henrietta's Tree

Again, Back Side of the Tree

Full-Size Replica of the Trolley

There was so much to do at the Pittsburgh Children's Museum that I told Jim: if we lived nearby, the girls and I would absolutely be members, and I would take them to play in one part at a time. We didn't even venture to Waterplay at all; I know my little Char, and I didn't want her to get soaked right before nap/travel time! Here are a few more highlights from our day, in photos:

Custom Raceway Built with Interchangeable Track Pieces

Building Vehicles with Roller Blade Wheels and Magnetic Blocks

SmartforTwo Car. Evan was great with the girls!

Jim Henson's UrSol the Chanter from The Dark Crystal


As you can see, the six of us had a great time on our family adventure: at the Pittsburgh Children's Museum and otherwise. We ate a picnic lunch at Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset, Pennsylvania on our way home. I didn't take any photos, there, but it was a lovely place, and state parks in Pennsylvania don't charge entrance fees; how nice is that?!

I'll leave you with a photo of Fredosaurus Rex, which was the last thing on my "must see" list for our trip to the Pittsburgh area. He guards WQED, the television station that produced Mister Rogers' Neighborhood for PBS.

Pt. 4, or Father's Day in Pittsburgh

Since we're members of the Science Museum of Virginia and can visit many other science centers and museums for free, we decided to travel the 50 miles from Ligonier to Pittsburgh and visit both the Carnegie Science Center and Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. We visited the first of these on Father's Day.

Overall, I thought the Carnegie Science Center better suited to the boys (including Jim!) than to Clementine, Charleigh, and me. Many of the exhibits were a little "old" for the girls and of no interest to me; I'm not at all into guitars or robots, and I wasn't impressed by SeaScape.

I did love the Miniature Railroad & Village and regret not taking any photos of it; I was too busy trying to keep the girls from climbing into the exhibit. I should add, too: Jim, the girls, and I never made it to Highmark SportsWorks or the USS Requin Submarine (not sure about the boys).

Jim and I watched the planetarium show One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure with the girls, and they loved it. In fact, when it ended, Clementine protested with such a sudden and loud wail that I assumed she'd pinched her finger. And Exploration Station, Jr. was a big hit with both girls.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the Carnegie Science Center (again, the boys were mostly separate from us and doing their own thing):

Clementine Playing the World's Largest Playable Guitar

Understatement of the century: the red-headed ninja loves water!

I was very amused by this gigantic Operation table!

Clementine (who's obsessed w/ brushing her teeth) was in heaven.

After leaving the museum, we swung by the Mister Rogers statue on Pittsburgh's North Shore, and the boys and I hopped out of the minivan. They scrambled under Mister Rogers' left arm and into his lap (Cade banging his head on the way). This may be my very favorite photo from the entire trip:

Next, we traveled to nearby Monroeville to try Primanti Bros.' famous sandwiches, each of which is "served on fresh Italian bread with fresh-cut fries, cole slaw, tomatoes and provolone cheese." The boys and I decided to go for Pitts-burger Cheese Steak sandwiches, which are touted as the most popular variety.

My sandwich looks really good, doesn't it? Yeah...I didn't really like it. I should've paid more attention to the description, which says "sirloin beef patty"; I saw "cheese steak" and thought--I don't know--Arby's roast beef? Don't ask me why. But, to me, the sirloin beef patty on this sandwich tasted like meatloaf, and I don't like meatloaf unless it's my mom's. Also, I don't like cole slaw, so I'm not sure why I thought I'd like it on a sandwich.


Our last stop for the day was the Monroeville Mall, which is well known for its Mister Rogers' Neighborhood play area. I'm so glad we fit this into our family adventure because I've never seen a nicer play area, and I love that the girls experienced it. Here are some photos:

Looking Down from Above

I've the Pittsburgh Children's Museum to share with you, yet. Next post!