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Harry Potter, Floods, and Sippy Cups

It was a busy weekend for us. Keep in mind, of course, that for me at the moment a “busy weekend” involves doing something on Saturday and then requiring all day on Sunday to recuperate. This flu thing really rots. Going from the flu straight into a cold rots harder. I’d like to be healthy for a couple of consecutive days please…

Saturday we went to the Museum of Science in Boston with [info]vynehorn and her friend Gaile (whom we don’t see very often) for the exhibit of costumes and props from the Harry Potter movies. The logistics ended up being more complicated than originally planned, but worked out just fine. Saturday morning we arose a touch earlier than our usual time, got the girl fed, dressed, and in the car, and headed down to Brookfield. Yes, I know that’s almost an hour in the wrong direction, but Mom and Dad were willing to take Charlotte for the day. She’s still too little for this sort of trip – she would have to be strapped into the stroller the whole time, and that would drive her right up a tree. It will actually be a bit easier in some ways when she can toddle around a bit, because then she can be moving. Toddlers underfoot are slightly safer than crawlers underfoot. Of course, then different things will be difficult. But I digress. We dropped off herself and visited for about half an hour, and got back on the road going back the way we came. [info]vynehorn and I had talked it over Friday night, and we decided that it made the most sense for us to head straight to Boston and meet them there.

It was a moderately miserable drive. The rain was coming down heavily, and of course everyone was driving stupidly. That’s a given in Massachusetts, but they were driving more stupidly than they do when the sun is out. When we got to Boston, I decided to ignore Cassandra (my Garmin – I call her that because she’s usually right, and I often ignore her) and follow the directions from the museum website. I’ve followed their directions up Storrow Drive in the past, and they’re very straightforward. Why mess with success?

I should have listened to Cassandra.

The deep lake just as you turned onto Storrow should have clued us in to the “Danger, Will Robinson” experience that was about to occur, but I assumed that it was an isolated low spot, probably with a clogged storm drain. I don’t know what Bob assumed – he was dutifully driving where I told him to go. Storrow Drive was a nightmare of flooding. Eastbound we were able to change lanes to avoid the worst of the deep water (note that I did not say that we avoided the water – just the deep pools,) but westbound was completely flooded in several areas. In one spot that we went past there appeared to be at least one car stalled out or stuck in the middle of a smallish lake. That’s when I started trying to get [info]vynehorn on the phone – I didn’t know if they were ahead of us or behind us, but on the off chance they were behind us I thought I could warn them away. I got voicemail, but Gaile called me back just as we got to the traffic light in sight of the museum. When I asked where they were, she said “Boston – just in sight of the museum.” Hmmm. We were too. Turns out we were sitting at the same traffic light – they must have been a couple of cars behind us, and we ended up parked next to each other.

The museum was a madhouse – I think every parent in the greater Boston area packed up the kids and headed to the Museum of Science because the weather was so awful. Nonetheless, we had a great time. The exhibit was outstanding. I think there had probably been more stuff in the “Lord of the Rings” exhibit, but that one was set up as “here’s a bunch of stuff.” This exhibit was set up to set a scene. It started with a staff member in robes welcoming the crowd to the exhibit and calling a selection of the kids up to sit and have the sorting hat sort them into houses. Then they opened up a set of decorative doors to a room with a replica of the train, and there was another staff member in costume welcoming us to Hogwarts. The next room had all the portraits, with some of them set up with video to provide the moving portraits. It really set the stage, and the exhibits were set up as vignettes rather than just cases with items on display. I sprang for the audio tour, and while it wasn’t as informative as some that I’ve gotten in the past I definitely think it was worth the money. I was surprised at how ornate the wands were – they’re all quite decorative, but you can’t really see most of that in the movies because the actors’ hands cover the most ornate parts. According to the audio tour, they made six wands for each of the actors – three wooden and three “rubberized” for action scenes. There was a ton of detail in things that you generally just wouldn’t notice in passing, like Ron’s robes being more worn and threadbare than Harry’s, or the bed frames being worn and knocked about, or the lifts built into Hagrid’s shoes to make him that much more huge. The audio tour talked about the broomsticks being built out of aircraft titanium and thoroughly engineered so that they could look slender and delicate but still stand up to what the stunt team was going to put them through. At one point as you were going down a hallway from one part of the exhibit to another they had pages of the newspaper (whose masthead title I have forgotten) framed on the walls. Those were neat to look at: all the headlines were legible, but the articles themselves were mostly greeked. There were occasional words scattered throughout – so your eye would catch “Ministry of Magic,” and that convinces you that the rest of it is also real words. But it’s not – it’s just random letters and squiggles. The show was interesting and a lot of fun. They also had the obligatory gift shop at the end set up to look more like a shop from the movies than a museum gift store.

Gaile and [info]vynehorn went through the exhibit faster than we did – partly because 1) they move fast, I linger, and Bob plods, and 2) the audio tour does tend to slow you down. Despite the vast disparity in our speeds, we still caught up with them in the cafeteria. After lunch we decided to go our separate ways – they wanted to get an earlier start because of the weather, and Bob and I decided that we wanted to see some more of the museum and catch the 4:00 lightening show. I got to spend some quality time with the audio-kinetic sculpture www.georgerhoads.com/monumental.html – I swear, I can stand and watch that thing for hours if you let me. No, I never did grow up. Why do you ask? :-) We got to the Theater of Electricity just in time to get some of the last seats available, and that was fun as always. Then we bailed out a little ahead of closing. As we walked down the corridor towards the parking garage, I commented that it looked like it had stopped raining. That’s good, because in an excess of optimism I had chosen to leave my umbrella in the car. But when we climbed the stairs to the fifth (and top) level of the parking garage, the rain was coming down in sheets on the glass roof. It looked like someone had turned a fire hose on the glass. So we ran for it. In the interest of full disclosure, Bob did offer to bring the car to the door. We got very, very wet. Not soaked. Not quite. But very wet. Then after we got in the car and got the seat belts on… wait for it… the rain stopped. Mother Nature is a bit of a bitch sometimes, you know?

We certainly weren’t going to try to head back out on Storrow Drive – that would have been madness. Do you know what the only thing is worse than a flooded roadway? A flooded roadway in the dark. After consulting the map, we decided to hop onto I-93 to the end of I-90. There was some bickering about how to get to 93 from the parking garage (I was right,) but we picked up the ramp with no problem. I had forgotten that was going to take us into part of the Big Dig. I have to tell you – in my opinion the signage down there is clear as mud. No one on that highway knew what lane they needed to be in for their intended route, no one was ever in their correct lane, and there were a lot of abrupt course corrections and evasive maneuvers. But it all ended with us westbound on the Mass Turnpike, and the rain falling gently on the traffic.

We got down to my parents’ house, and Charlotte was in a good mood so we were able to stay and visit for a while. They had a good day, and she had a couple of HUGE naps – one was four hours long. I think she’s just not getting enough sleep during the week because she is refusing to take an afternoon nap. We’re going to try putting her down for a short nap in the evenings as soon as we get her home, and then we’ll get her up for dinner with us. Maybe that will help.

On Sunday Bob was productive, and I wasn’t as I recovered from Saturday. I have to say that I’m not taking a month-long recovery graciously. He moved a bunch of wood to the back of the house and stacked it, and I did manage to get the living room cleaned up and a few things organized.

On the baby front, we appear to have had another automatic update install, and she figured out how to use a straw. This is huge, because it means that there is now a style of sippy cup that we can send in to day care with milk in it. That means that in a couple of weeks when we have exhausted the last of what I pumped from the freezer, we can get rid of the bottles! I’m going to continue to give her a regular cup at home to keep in practice for getting rid of the sippy cups, but this is a good thing all around. We also got a list from day care of the kinds of foods that they can handle for lunches. So I’m making up a shopping list of things that we need to start keeping in the house, and as the last of the jar food runs out we’ll start sending in real food. She’s currently having oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, and we’re working on her having whatever we are for dinner. We realized that part of the dinner issue is that without that afternoon nap she’s so tired, and cranky about it, that she refuses to eat. We’ll try for that nap during dinner prep and see if it helps at all. I hope so. We’ll figure it out.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
golden_meliades
Nov. 16th, 2009 10:58 pm (UTC)
I think that's the first time a museum has ever sounded interesting (to me). Ottawa has about 13 (or more) of them, but the only one I've ever been in of my own volition was the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and that was a snooze.
kls_eloise
Nov. 17th, 2009 05:24 pm (UTC)
It's a fun museum. We generally only go for special exhibitions - this one and two similar exhibits of props and costumes - one for "Lord of the Rings" and one for the "Star Wars" movies. Once Charlotte is old enough to play with the exhibits I'll want to take her. A lot of them are interactive - so for example, instead of just looking at the cutaway of a differential gear, you can push the button and make it go. And a lightening show created by the world's largest air-cooled Van der Graff generator is just cool. I have to admit that I revert to being about nine when we walk in there.

I love the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York also, but I found the Museum of Fine Art in Boston to be a bit of a snooze. Later in the year there's a special exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in NY that Vynehorn and I want to go to. I haven't been there since middle school, so I'll be interested to see what I think of it.
kebbykate
Nov. 17th, 2009 05:30 am (UTC)
Toddler food!
At the earliest stage you want soft, diced foods that can be eaten cold. These are things that worked well for my girls.

There are some teensy dried raviolis on the market--cook 'em up and send 'em cold.
Baked seasoned tofu (White Wave is the brand we used)--diced up. The Italian style was popular with the girls. We'd send along half a brick at a time.
Dice up some regular sharp cheddar. (Don't go for mild or American unless that's you as a family buy exclusively.)
Mac and cheese works well--I thought the shell type was easiest for the little fingers.
Cooked peas and/or diced carrots.
Steamed broccoli florets.
Diced ham, chicken, or turkey.
Puffins cereal.
Graham crackers.
Scrambled or diced hardboiled eggs.
Virtually any real people food she's had for dinner at home will play well as leftovers, particularly if it's been reduced in size.
Okay, and about the hotdogs: score along four sides, then cut into discs like flowers, or for the earliest stages, cut through along four sides, then across to make hot dog dice. (A cousin of a friend lost a two-year-old to choking on a hotdog, so I was extra vigilant on that one.)

My kids ate all this stuff cooked, but cold at daycare. I think the tofu was the most inherently messy thing I sent in.

She'll actually be a pretty adventurous eater for the next one to two years--then around age 3 to 4 most kids become picky eaters and reject quite a few foods they thought were wonderful just a few months earlier. It's adaptive behavior, so don't freak out when it happens.
kls_eloise
Nov. 17th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Toddler food!
I've been warned about the abrupt change in eating habits, so I won't flip. Probably be really annoyed, though.

I'll have to look for the raviolis - that sounds great, and I never even thought of hardboiled eggs. We're kind of easing into this - I have a tendency to settle in comfortably at whatever stage she's at and then forget to progress. Then she tells me about it in no uncertain terms!
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