My kids don't go back to school until September 2. However, most of the suburban districts as well as the Roman Catholic schools are already back in session. Which made today and the next 5 days the perfect time to go to Chicago's museums and other attractions (we plan to make our annual pilgrimage to Kiddieland next week).
This afternoon, we met Allison and her kids at the Museum of Science & Industry, undoubtedly my favorite Chicago museum. In fact, I think I need to go there one day by myself so that I can actually explore the exhibits in a way that allows me to gain something from them. My big brain challenge of today was trying to remember all the element symbols on the "chem time" clock in the Idea Factory (in addition to keeping track of 6 kids all wanting to go in different directions). I really want to see the Green + Wired and Glass Experience exhibits.
Thanks to the museum's fee special right now (until September 1), I paid only $12 to enter the museum. Street parking in the neighborhood directly adjacent to the museum is pretty easy to come by, so that and my $2 coffee and chips were my only expenditures for today's outing*. Although I'd love to join MSI, I'm maxed out on museum memberships right now. My Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum membership gives us 50% off at MSI through a reciprocity agreement; in the future, entrance to MSI will be $15 for me and 2 kids (The Tot is still free).
My kids can spend hours in The Great Train Story exhibit (it and the Jollyball are must-sees for every visit), but today we spent most of our time in the Idea Factory (the Jollyball wasn't working). The Tot immediately dumped about 5 bucketfuls of water down his front, soaking his shoes, shorts, and shirt. Then he had great fun putting balls in the air tube connected to the "factory river." It was such a joy to see him work out how to reach up on his toes to put the ball in the hole. He didn't get it every time, but when the older kids (non-siblings and friends) didn't rush to grab his ball, he'd go after his ball and try again. He smiled every time he saw his ball go up and over in the tube. By 5 p.m., he was wiped from all that work and just wanted to be held.
Allison took The Girl and her girl to see Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle, which they both loved, while I stayed in the Idea Factory with the boys. We also saw Farm Tech briefly -- just long enough for The Boy, The Girl, and Enver and Peri to "drive" the ginormous John Deere tractor -- and went back up to The Great Train Story before heading out at around 5:30, closing time.
* And $11.13 for 3 McDonald's Happy Meals on the way home as it was dinnertime as we left and a week's worth of single parenthood had dwindled my supply of easy-fix meals.