Sunday, January 29, 2012

Natural History

"The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything  always stayed right where it was. Nobody’d move. . . . Nobody’d be different. The only thing that would be different would be you."
From Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

This was a Saturday like so many Saturdays.  We attempted (and failed) to sleep in by bringing two bright-eyed toddlers into our bed at 5 a.m. Mike and I spent much of the day plugging through our weekly to-do list (groceries, laundry...) while playing with, feeding, and generally caring for Michael and Sophie.  And like too many times before, as we rushed to get the kids ready for an adventure squeezed in between nap and bed time, I grumped about never really having enough time for fun stuff.

Fast forward to buckling back into the minivan after our outing and I'm admitting to having been a grump earlier who needed to lighten up.  Mike didn't disagree. 

Our trip was a typically fantastic outing with my typically fantastic family.  The two-hour window between nap and dinner was--as it has been for countless visits to local parks, museums, stores, restaurants, and so on--the perfect toddler-sized portion of time.  I savored our drive home filled with nostalgia, amusement, and a gourmet sandwich.

The outing we chose for this week was a visit to the U of M Museum of Natural History.  Memories of my own elementary school field trips there and teenage shenanigans later on were met by new ones: Michael resistant to let me put him down, initially intimidated by the dinos; Sophie fearlessly toddling off from display to display saying "woooowww" everytime. 

Michael eventually let me set him down...and let go of my legs...then scooted off as well. 

Even without trunks between their tusks, he was able to point out the mastadons towering above us as "elluhs" (meaning elephants).  Sophie enjoyed holding my hand as she climbed a whole flight of stairs to the Michigan wildlife exhibit.  Both kids agreed we should do this again someday as we got them back into their coats and headed off to dinner. 

Having just read about Zingerman's delivering sandwiches and pecan pie to Air Force One when President Obama was in town this week, I had a hankering myself.  As always, the bill for our dinner there struck me as hefty ($40 for two sandwiches, a side of pasta salad, and two drinks), and the seating was cramped (envision me carrying a wooden high-chair through a crowd with Michael on my hip and then heading back for another).  But my craving was met, and the kids hammed it up for diners at nearby tables, making this expensive and claustrophobic yet tastey meal a pleasantly memorable one as well.

So, self, no more stomping around like a giant toddler when the pressure of sqeezing in some extra fun stuff gets to you.  The next version of mastadons and bobcats will surely be worth it, and grumping just slows us down.

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