Sunday, January 17, 2010

These Are Days

Recently, a high school friend wrote that the best songs are the ones that you continue to listen to in the car after arriving at your destination (instead of turning the engine off and getting out immediately when you arrive). I had one of those moments this afternoon on my way to Lowe's to pick up polycrylic gloss and a new toilet. 10,000 Maniacs' These Are Days was playing on XRT; I cranked up the volume, sang at the top of my lungs, and simply, enjoyed it. It was the song that played at my wedding. And it's the song that sums up my life now: content with my children, my husband, my friends, my job, my house, my neighborhood. Things are good for me right now and I don't recognize or verbalize it often enough.

This morning, Grandma and Grandpa Naperville took The Boy to Legoland in honor of his birthday next week.  And I took The Girl and The Tot on an outing to the Shedd Aquarium.  (The Dad slept in and watched football.) I hadn't been to the Aquarium since they updated the Oceanarium, although the kids have been a few times with Natty.

Note to self: do not go to the Shedd during a cold winter weekend. Our visit today was kind of a mixed-bag. I have been very spoiled by years of going to museums on weekdays, so the crowds there really threw me. At 9:45 a.m., I was able to park along Solidarity Drive at a LAZ meter, which broke after I dumped about $4 worth of quarters in it. But even at 9:45 a.m., the line was out-the-door to buy tickets at the accessible-stroller entrance, and we had to wait in line even to get our member wristbands.

We headed pretty much immediately to the Oceanarium to catch the 10:30 Fantasea show. Wow! That is really a show. No cute dolphin tricks to an Enya soundtrack. This show is a production. Imaginary characters, lights, an Oceanarium-wide roller screen - wow! I can't want to see it. They had technical difficulties about 1/3 of the way into the show, so they rolled back to a showcase of the animals talents with the trainers. Afterward, we went down to the new underwater play area, where The Tot happily moved rubber shells from one freezing-cold "tide pool" to another for about 20 minutes.

Although I had brought snacks with us, it was now after 11 a.m. and The Girl was cranky, so I gave it up and got lunch at the new-and-improved Bubblenet food court (smaller food area, larger and airier eating area): kids' mac & cheese plate for The Tot and kids' chicken fingers plate for The Girl, a hummus-and-veggie wrap (and coffee!) for me, and chocolate-milk for both kids. Total with our membership discount: $21.

After lunch, The Tot was not to be deterred: he wanted to see the sharks! So we headed back over to the aquarium to the Underwater Reef, the exhibit that features coral, stingray, and sharks. We spent a good bit of time sitting on the floor in front of the tank glass, watching the fish and again watching the sharks. We also oogled the garden eels for awhile. The Tot was scared of the faux tides in the entrance.

The Girl complained all the way back to the car that she was too hot (earlier, it had been too cold). Our trip back home was just short enough that she didn't fall asleep, but she really needed to do so.

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