Monday, July 23, 2012

Rule #1: don't murder

One of the most popular posts ever on this blog was Best Poster Ever. It has had 271 views since I posted it in June 2011.

Over the last few days, a lot has been said and written about the recent shooting in Aurora, CO. On one side there are folks calling for more gun control. On the other side are folks who spout the 2nd Amendment while proclaiming that criminals don't follow laws.

There are a lot of people who have written some very smart things about all this. But there's one thought that keeps going through my mind.

Just like with rape, we talk about how we can protect ourselves from being victims of violent crimes. Take self-defense classes. Don't go out at night. Be aware of your surroundings. No costumes at theaters. Metal detectors at every door. Etc, etc, etc.

Some of these things are surely not a bad thing (being aware of our surroundings). Some may very well stop some crimes (metal detectors). Some are just ridiculous (no costumes).

The one thing we don't talk about is how to actually prevent crime: Don't commit it.

Just as that sexual assault prevention poster ultimately comes down to #10: Don't assault people, I would say the list of how to prevent murder comes down to this:

Don't murder.

If you practice a Judeo-Christian religion, you should remember that as 5th or 6th Commandment (depending on which sect you subscribe to).

Even non-Christians pretty much subscribe to this philosophy.

Let's ascribe responsibility for heinous acts where it belongs: with the perpetrators, not the victims.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A mini-vacation

We haven't had a real vacation in years. This summer has been crazy, with Chris gone for two weeks for work, but we decided we really needed to take the boys somewhere, even if it was only for a couple of days.

Cue a whirlwind tour of Chicago.

The view from our hotel.
We started Monday with a trip to a water park with Lisa and her boys. Chris and I even went on the water slides (I haven't done that in... I don't remember when). A few hours playing in the water wore Wil and Sam out; Sam slept on the trip downtown.

After checking in at the hotel (the Hyatt Regency on Wacker Drive, which we would definitely go back to), we took a taxi ride to the tower formerly known as Sears. The boys wanted to see a skyscraper. Seeing the view from the top of one was beyond exciting for them.  

The view from 103 stories up, through the floor.

Tuesday morning we were treated to a view of window washers. They were on a building across the river. Between the window washers and the spiders outside the Willis Tower windows, the boys were in awe of things up high. 

Window washers, as seen from our hotel room.
Highlights of the hotel, since the boys had such fun feedback: Wil loved the bathroom. They both loved the view. Sam really liked the escalator, although Wil preferred the elevator.

So how many museums can we go to in one day? 

We started with the Field Museum of Natural History.
All three of my boys in front of Sue.
The boys were really only interested in the dinosaurs there, so we moved on to the Shedd Aquarium. It was incredibly busy, with a line out the door and down the stairs. Luckily, we had purchased CityPasses the previous night, which offered admission to 5 attractions, including express entry. We got to go right in, skipping ahead of the hundreds of people lined up baking in the heat.

Next up was the Museum of Science and Industry, a big part of why we chose to go to Chicago.

Watching a 1/3 scale Mars Rover model.
 The Henry Crown Space Center was very popular with our space loving boys.

They also enjoyed the Farm Tech exhibit.

Sitting in the cab of a combine.
 After watching the model train from every possible angle and a brief stop at the Science Storms exhibit, it was on to the reason Chris and I wanted to go - Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition.
Sitting on a swing supported by interleaved phone books.
 Wil's favorite was building a house to see if it could withstand wind. (Three Little Pigs - straw vs. wood vs. brick)
Wil building his 3rd design. 
  Then he had to test it:

Chris and Sam each tried pulling a table cloth without knocking over dishes.

There were many other myths to test, along with props and items from the show. 

Our last stop was the 727. Sam was thrilled to see the cockpit and sit in the seats. But by this point, we were all tired and ready to head home. 

If you were keeping track, we stopped at 3 museums in one day. Buying the CityPass was a great idea. We had planned to stop at 3 of the attractions (Willis Tower, Field Museum and Museum of Science & Industry). Without it, we wouldn't have stopped at the Shedd Aquarium (between expense and the long line). We saved money by using it, and would have saved more if we had spent more time and taken advantage of all the options. We skipped the Adler Planetarium, which would have been our 5th attraction. 

We'll definitely look into CityPass if we go to one of the other cities that offers one and next time we plan a museum tour of Chicago. And we'll definitely go back to Chicago to spend more time at the museums, but not until the boys are a little older and can appreciate more of the exhibits.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Those tiny moments of heartbreak

Chris has been in DC for a business trip. Today is day 13 of 15. Two weeks is a long time for us. It's an eternity for the boys.

For the first several days, the boys didn't seem to notice he wasn't here. Given that he's at work all day during the week and sometimes works late (such as when he's teaching or in the lead-up to this trip) or otherwise doesn't come home until late (weekly bagpipe practice), there are days when they don't see him until bedtime or the next morning. But usually he is around.

On day 5, the boys and I left for a mini-vacation of our own, visiting my parents. There was enough out of the usual, and enough going on, that it wasn't until several days into the visit that Wil suddenly noticed Daddy wasn't there too.

And then the tiny moments of heartbreak began.

"Daddy's missing all the fun."

"Is Daddy coming home today?"

"I miss Daddy." (Followed by him bursting into tears.)

And last night's gem, the one that almost made me cry: "Sam says Daddy is finding a new home."

Sam misses Daddy too. And I'm sure his taunt is partly due to fear that Daddy will never get home (2 weeks is a long time!) mixed with being mean to his brother. But that sure hurt.

I got out the calendar and counted the last few days: "Today is Friday. Tomorrow is Saturday. The next day is Sunday. Daddy will be home Monday." 3 more sleeps (that's how they keep track of days). I told them they could stay up Monday until Chris gets home (it'll probably be around bedtime).

Then I called Chris and let him count the days with them. By bedtime, they seemed to understand, although they asked again this morning if Daddy was coming home today. Only 2 more sleeps.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A comedy of missteps

We tried to go to Allerton Park today. We didn't make it.

We made it to Monticello, IL. But then things went wrong.

While streets had local names, they weren't well-labeled for the tourist. We ended up on 105 (not labeled as such!) rather than Allerton Rd. And that's when the fun began.

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By the time we realized our error, we were almost to County Road 1300 North. Which looked like it would take us to the south edge of Allerton Park. Only 1300 N was a grass path through a corn field.

So we went on toward 1200 North, thinking we could take that across and then head north on 500 East to the southern edge. 1200 N was at least paved, although it, too, was a narrow road between corn fields.

And then there was a sign on 1200 N at 700 East that the road was closed ahead. So we drove north on 700 E, hoping we'd find 1300 N.

We did. It was a gravel road. After a few yards of rattling (my mom joking that she could picture a cartoon car with bolts falling off), we turned back to 700 E.

And eventually found Allerton Road. And the entrance to Allerton Park. Where there was a sign that the bridge was out and to go to the County Farm Road entrance.

Not sure where that was, we went a bit further south to our old friend, 500 E at 1300 N. The Potawatomi Trail of Death marker seemed an ill omen. It was around this time that we all began laughing, cracking jokes (you had to be there to really get it), and ended up laughing so hard we were crying. And yes, I snorted. Several times. Chris would be proud.

After a few more wrong turns, we realized the County Farm Road entrance was at the north end of the park - and would involve going back to Monticello to get on County Farm Road, which runs somewhat parallel to Allerton Road.

We had lunch instead. At the Brown Bag, a pie and sandwich place my parents had heard about. I have to admit the sandwiches were good. Instead of pie, I had a pumpkin bar. But the selection of pies and other baked goodies was fantastic. And yummy. The place was hopping, with a constant line of customers.

Monticello was a cute little town. We've seen several nice little towns this week. Sunday we drove down to Arcola to see the Walldogs murals. If there are Walldogs murals near you, go check them out.

Yesterday we explored the Boneyard Creek Second Street Basins. What a neat little park and walking path. There were several waterfalls, including a spiral fall. Lots of ducks, geese and other water fowl were happily swimming in the pond. The park is a watershed and designed as a flood plain in that area.

We also stopped at the prairie farm the Champaign Park District has each summer. It is a replica of a turn of the century farm. The kids got to pet some animals, although we were there at feeding time, so many were too busy eating. They liked seeing the turkey all puffed up and petting a pig. They were disappointed the peacock wouldn't show his lovely plume and the sheep wanted food more than attention.

All in all, I think they've had a lovely mini-vacation at grandma and grandpa's house.