Monday, July 26, 2010

Our trip to the Explorium

This summer has been so hot that just walking to the car draws out buckets of sweat. Staying inside all day, however, makes me want to pluck out my eyes. I have been trying to find new ways to entertain the kids and get out of the house. Trips to the grocery store were a novelty at first, but they are hit or miss with the double child seats. The best are at Kroger where the kids can ride in a car with real horns and steer the cart themselves. We spent way too long at Kroger getting compliments on behavior and “aren’t they just the cutest” from middle-aged women.
I thought a trip to Toys-R-Us would be fun. I needed to get some child safety latches for the cabinets, and I figured they must have really cool carts for kids. Wrong. They had regular old shopping carts. I didn’t bring the stroller, so I carried the kids around the store—well, just to the safety aisle (we didn’t stay long). Like a cartoon cat eating a fish, Emaline had the shelves picked clean in seconds. When the cashier asked if we found everything we were looking for, I told her, as only my mother would, that I was looking for a store catering to parents and children to have proper accommodations, and that I was sorely disappointed.

Later that day, Aimee said that the Best Buy next door had shopping carts with Geek Squad cars attached to them. Yea, Best Buy. Boo, Toys-R-Us.

Having stocked up on groceries, I made the decision to take the kids to downtown Lexington to the children’s museum, the Explorium. I had been to the museum about eight years ago with the PLBKs from the Manchester Center. They loved it. They, however, were elementary school kids.

We had discussed going to the Explorium several times already. We had gone to the website to check it out. We made ill-fated plans with the Webbs. We just never actually took the kids. First, the price is $7 for everyone one year of age and up. Second, most of the exhibits were designed for older kids. Third, with nap times, meal times, and cranky times, we have a limited window of opportunity.

Last week, the temperature reached 150 degrees. The heat index was 3,000 degrees. Our weatherman, Bill Meck, looked more like a lobster than ever. We needed a diversion, or as Jason Stackhouse would say, “a divergence.”

I made sure the diaper bag was well-stocked with fruit, milk, Cheerios, animal crackers and goldfish, and we were off. One of them slept on the way there. I don’t remember which one—they are twins after all.

One parking deck, one pedway, and two elevator trips later, we were at the Explorium. The tween at the counter asked “How many?”

I said just me and the babies.

She asked how old they were.

I said, “One,” knowing their policy.

She said, “It’s $7 for kids one and up.”

I said, “They’re eleven months and 29 days old.” I’m going to be lying about my kids’ ages for years to come, but I hope that I will remember the first time I lied to save $14. I then added, “We may not be here very long. This is an experiment.”

Knowing I was full of diaper fruit, she charged me $7.

Kids in the stroller, we made a quick tour of the main floor of the museum. I then parked the stroller next to the infant to three-year-old gulag, released the beasts, and commenced playing. This tiny corner of the Explorium was a wonderland for the twins: new toys, a three-tier water table, a train table, steps that weren’t cordoned off, and other kids.

Emaline ran around like a squirrel. Keillor found another boy with his mom, and promptly made his way between them.

Bumble Keillor conquers Mount Carpet
After our probationary stage in the kiddie corner, we went out into the great museum. Released from bondage, Emaline looked like a pinball bouncing from exhibit to exhibit. Not as sure on his feet, Keillor moved more slowly, still wide-eyed.

Kid Commandment #1: Thou shalt splash
Emaline meets herself in a giant mouth
They visited a giant mouth, rode a tractor, picked vegetables (Keillor tried to eat plastic corn), jumped on a Big piano, played with bubbles, visited an adobe house, walked on the moon, smelled perfume-scented flowers and much, much more. I had little heart attacks as I imagined them falling down stairs, being abducted, or pooping.
Keillor finds a new virus

Nearing lunch time, I had to make a decision: take them to Cosi and let them come back to the museum later or take them home. While we were having a swell time, I’m glad we went home. They were pooped (figuratively).
This one doesn't have a horn like the last one

On our way out, I planned to go back to the ticket counter and give Miley Cyrus the other $14 I owed her, but she wasn’t there, and it would have been weird trying to explain to someone else how I had cheated the system but wanted to make amends. Next time.
Emaline tries to make one small step out of the crater

Speaking of next time, the Explorium is definitely a two-parent job. Mommy will be invited in the future.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Letter to Meijer

Having children seems to have made me a more concerned citizen.

I sent this letter to the corporate offices of the Meijer grocery store:

This morning I brought my twin toddlers out on a grocery shopping trip. We headed straight for Meijer (Lexington, KY - # 184). Upon arrival, I spotted three carts with seats for two children. However, upon closer inspection, I saw that all three of the carts posed serious safety hazards for children. Two of the carts were missing part of the seat belts, rendering them useless. The third cart had two seatbelts, but they were knotted and missing the device for tightening them. There I was with two children and no way to safely shop with them. I had no choice and went to Kroger.

If I were a litigious man, I would have forgone this letter in favor of a more drastic route, but I like Meijer and want to continue shopping there.

I therefore request that this dangerous problem be remedied immediately.

Please let me know when the carts have been repaired and are once again safe for children so that I will know when I can return to Meijer.

More from Daddy Daycare

The following is a letter I sent recently to the Cracker Barrel corporate office:

On a recent trip from Wilmore, KY to Alexander City, AL, my wife, our one-year-old twins and I stopped at a Cracker Barrel outside of Nashville. We knew the restaurant was equipped with baby changing tables, and that the store was kid-friendly. What we didn’t know was how much everyone in our family would enjoy the stop.
In order to understand how exceptional our meal was, you need to know that our daughter is the pickiest eater I have ever encountered. She eats so little, and has such a limited palate that some days she will only eat oatmeal and Cheerios. Our son would eat a tire if seasoned properly, so we knew he’d enjoy it.

We ordered a veggie plate for them to split. They like to eat with their hands. Not only did they polish off the veggies, but they also ate from our plates as well: carrots, corn, apples, chicken, peas, macaroni and cheese, and, of course, biscuits and cornbread. They devoured the food. A lot of it ended up on the floor, but, like I said, they’re only one.

A dozen wet wipes later, we took them into the country store to check out the toys, apologizing to the waitress for the mess. They really got a kick out of the little dogs that walk on their own.

After the meal, they slept like champs.

On the trip home a week later, we stopped the Barrel again with similar results.

Thank you for making a 400 mile road trip with twin toddlers not only bearable, but fun.
Who knows? Maybe I'll get a coupon or something. We used to get to Aimee's mom's house in about seven hours. Our first trip with the babies took 10 hours. This last one was somewhere in between. The stop at the Barrel was good for everyone, though.

The 'bama trip was fun, with relatively little screaming in the car. The worst part was Central Standard Time. The time change had us up anywhere from 4 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. every day.

Keillor lounges with his mommy

In Alex City, the kids went swimming every day. Keillor even tried to actually swim, but like a Mau, he sunk. One afternoon, Keillor snuggled up to his mommy in a pool lounger. I think that was Aimee's best hour of the whole trip. They also got to wander around Grammy and PawPaw Dee's big yard. Keillor got a scrape on his knee when he fell. We rubbed some dirt in it and told him to shake it off.
In an attempt to win her brother's vacated senate seat, Emaline poses with the American flag.
In a trip within a trip, the twins got to see their great grandparents in Alabaster (the city, not the rock).
They also got to visit with GaGa, GeGe, Cousin Seth, Aunt Rita, and Uncle Joseph--we sure sound Jewish, don't we? Is that rude? Emaline played with GeGe's antique toy piano, which apparently is no longer a toy. Oops.

Emaline at a seafood restaurant on Lake Martin

Playing in the pool with their cousin Seth requires no water.
Keillor goes grocery shopping in Grammy's giant yard, while Emaline cares for her empty stroller

Summer with Daddy continues with many food experiments. Today they ate an entire plum. Yesterday they had Lima beans for the first time. They also had Muenster cheese and spicy black bean burgers. Still, for some reason, their favorite food lately has been infant oatmeal. Go figure.
Today we made a trip to Wal-Mart. I wasn't sure how I was going to cart them around, but we found a cart that holds two kids. It kind of looks like a love toilet from SNL painted blue and attached to the cart. It is also for children ages 2-6. Since it was the only thing available, and even though one of the straps was broken, I told the kids to tell anyone who asked that they were two. They had a ton of fun. One lady said, "It's so nice to see a man taking care of the kids." I told her, "That's what my husband says." OK, so I didn't say that, but I should have.

They are learning all kinds of tricks. Some of them I may have already shared.
Trick # 26: Slamming fingers in cabinets with a child lock.
Trick # 27: Pulling the drain out of the tub
Trick # 28: Stealing food from each others mouths (that one just happened when Emaline put her hand in Keillor's mouth, removed an animal cracker that he had shoved in there, and ate it herself).
Trick # 29: (also today) Stepping off the lower deck and experiencing a greater appreciation for gravity.
Trick # 16: Eating dirt.

Emaline is mastering "bye bye." Keillor has learned "nana." He kept yelling it at me and pointing to the banana on the counter. We'll see if it sticks.
They are also becoming little acrobats. Emaline has pulled herself off the floor by grabbing onto the table. She is also quite the tumbler. As I type this, she is behind me with her head on the ground and her butt in the air. A few minutes ago, Keillor was doing the same thing and the kitchen was filled with a sour outhouse smell.

Shoes have also been an adventure lately. It's no secret that Keillor is the bastard son of Barney Rubble. This has made finding shoes that fit him nearly impossible. When your feet are as wide as they are long, maybe slipper socks are the best bet.

Still no consistent walking from Keillor, but the other day when I dropped him off at daycare, he walked back to me--at least six steps. When he realized what he was doing, he fell. Now that Emaline is faster than he is, he may have to figure this walking thing out once and for all.

Keillor takes a break from singing in the tub to pose for the camera.

Finally, while playing in the tub, Keillor launched a depth charge--three, actually--that necessitated the immediate evacuation of all toys. We should have seen it coming when he earlier sounded his underwater air horn with great vigor.

People ask me how I find time to blog when I am home with the kids three days a week. I have two words for you: benign neglect.