Saturday, November 14, 2015

Little Family Getaway

Every year (usually on my birthday) Ben has a work conference down in Milwaukee. The agency allows everyone the opportunity to pay extra for a private room, so we took them up on that and headed down for a little mini vacation. I've been wanting to take the kids to some Museums down there and I thought a night in the big city might be fun for them. I have fond memories of staying in a hotel in downtown SLC every few years with my own family (between Thanksgiving and Christmas and always directly across from Temple Square).

Ben headed down Wednesday afternoon and enjoyed a night to himself before we crashed his party. Seriously, having us tag a long must have been such a headache. I'm so grateful he let us. We met him and a couple of his coworkers at a restaurant Thursday evening. We arrived about a half hour before they did, but luckily the city library was just a block away. The kids and I had a great time exploring a different library's children's area.

The restaurant we went to was a renovated train station. They even had a couple of old train cars you could dine in, so we did. The kids thought that was so fun (after Reid got over the initial fright of the bullet ridden, 60 year-old train cars ... and we convinced him it would not drive off with us inside).

That night was a little rough. Coraline fell asleep on the drive from the restaurant to our hotel, and that little cat nap was enough to keep her up until midnight. We eventually just put Reid and Nell on the floor so I could wrestle Coraline to sleep in my own bed, and Ben had a bed to himself. Reid and Nell were so enamored by the hotel they didn't even mind the floor. In fact, the next day when we went back for naps they asked to sleep on the floor so I made them a little fort and they passed out in a hurry.

They loved their first hotel experience (technically Reid has slept in two as a baby, but we haven't been in a hotel since we added Nell to our family -- a tent, yes; but not a hotel). What's not to love about watching cartoons in bed?

The two museums we visited were Milwaukee Public Museum and Betty Brin Children's museum. Our ASTC membership got us into the first for free and our ACM got us into the second at half price. Nell really wanted to go to the public museum to see the dinosaurs, which is ironic because they horrified her. I told Ben we'll have to go back in a couple years when the kids are a little older.

Reid really appreciated some of the displays. He ran from exhibit to exhibit shouting out the animals he saw. "Nell, Nell, look at this ..." He really wanted her to be excited, but seeing a T-rex feast on a Triceratops just did her over and the rest of the museum was kind of a bust for her. Of all the different floors and themes Reid's favorite was probably the Crossroads of Civilization. He really liked the mummies and the map of ancient Jerusalem. He was asking lots of great questions about how they built the pyramids and what they did with the chariots.

We saved the best part of the museum for last, the live bug and butterfly exhibit. This was pretty much the only time Nell wasn't crying for me to carry her or let her ride in the stroller.

After our nap we drove over to Betty Brin and caught a quick glimpse of the Lake. I loved seeing it smashed up right against the city. Big cities just have a way of feeling so alive and it lifts my soul! I really am a big city or tiny town sort of girl. Anyway, the children's museum was little kid zoo heaven. There were a dozen or so different dramatic play areas and once I got a fill for the flow of the area we enjoyed a good two hours running from station to station. The first 30 minutes was totally chaotic, as I didn't know my way around and there were so many large school groups that I was absolutely convinced I'd loose one of my children. Reid insisted on building a house while Nell went grocery shopping, and I was a mess trying to keep a balance between the two of them. After a few of the bigger groups left they were more inclined to stick together, but something about those first few minutes just felt like I was locked inside a kid zoo!

My favorite part was watching Reid pretend to be a newscaster. He picked up the mic and just started telling the most detailed history of the extinct African hippopotamus. He was so in character and I was so in heaven. The set up was pretty cool. There was a green screen that projected a different scene, working camera crew equipment, and a head anchor desk. He loved working the green screen.

His favorite spot was the auto shop. We spent a lot of time going back to this little play area. Nell loved taking on the roll of boss and continually handed us each a work order form while answering new customer calls. Reid was busy changing mufflers and tires. He occasionally asked for a wrench and I was happy to assist.

My favorite moment of watching them play together came at the end as I heard them shoving all their groceries into the getaway car. It was clear they were robbing the store and trying to make a quick getaway before being caught. Oh, thank you Lego city and your focus on police/criminals. It was hilarious to listen to their dialogue as they ran from the police with a car full of bread and bouquets. "We don't have time to get anymore. We have to go before they catch us. Come on, hurry up Nell. Do you have your seat belt on?"

Other fun areas included the vet clinic, the bus stop, and the post office -- which had packages marked for each of the different play areas; Reid had a blast delivering them all. All this was only half the museum. After about two hours pretending they headed over to the building/gross motor area where they could race golf balls down different obstacles, put on puppet shows, and dance their little hearts out on a light up floor.

I tried to limit my photo shots, as I realized how angry my snapping pictures made Reid while he was heavily immersed in dramatic play. Something about mom capturing the moment reminded him that it was all just pretend, and he wasn't down with that. Plus it was really hard to sneak a few good shots when they were constantly moving! Seriously, my fitbit counted some 7,000 steps during our three hour visit. And it doesn't even track the moments I'm pushing the stroller! Speaking of which, Coraline was a trooper!

Such a chill little baby. 

Reid giving us a ride on the city bus. 

Nell told Ben her favorite part was the "real pretend grocery store." I really can't get over how well done this museum was. Everything was so realistic and hands on. The kids could have played even longer than the three hours we were there. 

The entire weekend was a lovely little getaway. Pushing three kids, up hill, on a cold Milwaukee street can feel like a lot of work, but the joy on their faces is totally worth it. There's something about a break in the routine that really cheers all our spirits. 

But I was really glad to share a room with just one person last night!


Pa said...

Loved Coralines's cute smile. Love Nell's haircut. Loved that Reid was afraid of the train car -- he's grandpa's boy! BTW, didn't we all stay in a hotel in Heber City a couple of years ago? Wasn't Nell there, or was it before she was born -- time flies...

Claudia said...

I love the photo of Reid working on the car. How cute is that?!!!! What a fabulous place to visit with the kids. Perfect play areas!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...