A month ago, before the current deluge began, we enjoyed some nice days outside. I searched out some new destinations for us and found a small natural history museum/zoo which we haven't visited before. It features native wildlife for our state and some exhibits indoors.
There were many hands-on type exhibits so the girls were occupied with those for a long time, though when any of us tried to explain what the exhibit was really demonstrating only Erin had any interest. If there was a display to be touched, K&A hit it, if there was something to turn, they wanted it spinning of of control, if there was something to place together carefully, they slammed it or threw it. They enjoyed the hands-on activites, but for them it was more like four flying fists-on.
Outside it seemed to be nap time for most of the animals, but a very active raccoon, a few snakes, and marsh bird of some kind held our attention for quite a while, as well as a coyote and this bobcat on the right:
On the way to this museum we passed by an aviation museum which I've heard about and also never visited, so a couple of days later we headed there. Opa worked in Naval aviation for 30+ years, so I thought he'd get a kick out of it and as it turns out, we all did. The exhibits walked us through the history of aviation with life-size models and replicas of countless machines. I'm convinced that first aviation inventors were all mentally ill. That's the only explanation I can come up with for being motivated to risk one's life by leaving the ground in some contraption made of wood and cowhide, incorporating bicycle pedals and a helium balloon.
There were a few fun things to sit in or test out, like a flight simulator, helicopter, and a Blue Angles cockpit,
And airline seats to rest in, which aren't any more comfortable when you aren't in the midst of a cross-country flight, I discovered. The front section of a real 747 outside which was open for exploration was a big hit too.
Our next big outing was to the boardwalk on a sunny but cool afternoon.
It was a nice day out but not warm, though that didn't matter to the beach volleyball players, who were mostly shirtless and wearing shorts. "They're playing volleyball naked!" Allison shouted, since to her that's as naked as men ever get.
That evening, Brad and Shadzi met up with us for dinner. We went to a nice little Italian place which had something I've never seen in any other restaurant--a magician to entertain guests as we waited for a table. The kids were tired and hungry and getting restless, but the magician kept their attention. Notice he doesn't seem to have impressed Shadzi much, though. His first few tricks were a little cheesy but he quickly moved on to some really, really impressive ones and he had us all applauding. He even had the girls "help" him with a few of the tricks.
Smartly, as soon as we sat down I ordered for the girls and asked that they be served right away, and not 5 minutes later, they were. Notice in the photos none of the adults have their meals yet. So the girls ate and it got later and later and later we still didn't have our food and Kate and Allison had clearly had enough. Of everything. It was nearing their normal bedtime. They were getting more restless and loud by the minute, so before getting our dinners I packed them up and decided to leave, giving Brad, Shadzi, Oma, Opa, and the rest of the diners in the restaurant a fair chance at having a reasonably quiet meal.
The next day (mostly raining) we hit the aquarium.
Since the price of a family membership was exactly the same price as the five of us going in for a single day, we joined the aquarium. We all had a great day there, as always. It's really such an incredible place.
And for the rest of Oma and Opa's visit through a very rainy February, we hung out at home a lot--dancing, sitting, reading...
and Opa and Kate enjoyed a game of soccer in the yard when they weren't interrupted by the groundskeeper.
One day we went out for a great lunch at German bakery in the area and later that week we all went to a well-known German restaurant in the city for dinner. Of course, purely in the spirit of the place, we all had a few large drinks. Even the milk was served very generously:
And despite the decor being not really very German, the food sure was. It definitely reminded me of last year's trip to southern Germany with Oma and I think Oma found the food pretty authentic as well. After a glass of wine or two she led us in singing an old German drinking song:
And after an adventurous evening of big food, drink, and song, the girls were worn out.