Friday, August 30, 2013

One Trip to Mystic Aquarium-- Multiple Subjects Covered!

We headed out for a day at Mystic Aquarium and listened to a bit more of Treasure Island on the car ride there.

I'll be honest and admit that I don't really like this book.  It's boring (to me) and I'm constantly getting confused because I'm not always listening as well as I should.  The boys, however, seem to enjoy it, Ian especially.  He quickly summarizes the story for me when I turn it off to ask a quick question so I know he's following along.  I dread listening to the whole thing but I can't bear to tell them they can't listen to it!

We did take breaks from the story and use our Brain Quest packets for some fun trivia time and we sang along with some songs on the radio.

We arrived just before lunch and we were all amazed at how packed it was.  All the parking lots were full and there was a huge line to get in the gate!
Luckily, we're members and members have their own gate so we didn't have to wait in line.  I sat back and let the boys set the pace and the layout of our day.

They wanted to start by heading to all the touch tanks.  We pet sharks and alligators.  We saw baby rays and stopped to read all about the relationship between clown fish and sea anemones.  We went through the Amazon rainforest exhibit reading and answering all the questions on  the interactive boards.

Petting a baby alligator
We headed outside to find that the sun came out!  We went into the Australian bird exhibit and fed parakeets.  We learned how to get the birds to "step up" onto our stick and even how to encourage them to switch from stick to stick.  We looked for frogs, turtles and fish in the ponds and marshes.  We checked out the penguins, seals and sea lions.  We stopped to see the beluga whales and finally had a nice late lunch.

Looking at Skate eggs and urchins

loggerhead sea turtle exhibit
A new castle! 
watching anemones and clown fish
Matching animals to their sounds in the amazon exhibit
Heading into the "outback"
Evan loves the birds
Alec most fed the birds but I did get him to hold one on his stick
Ian's bird
"a woman kindly hands her parakeet over to Evan"
"I got one!"
another bird for Ian
Ian's third or fourth bird of the day
After lunch we headed in to see the sea lion show.  Typically, when we're there in the off season we just go in through the exit and so we've never walked through the main entrance to the theater.

There were interactive displays about local sights to see, ocean and marine life, and a whole hallway dedicated to beluga whales.

There were full color photographs, maps of all the provinces of Canada (that we just had to stop and look at!).  I told the boys we should walk up there next time we come just to read and see it all, even if it doesn't lead to the show.

The show started and we were thrilled to find that it was a totally different show than usual.  It was so fun and playful and it even required audience participation!

The sea lion can blow on a whistle for a VERY long time!
Map of Canada; the boys were eager to study! 
After the show the boys wanted to head into the Titanic exhibit.  Ian was very interested in the control room display and we started talking about Morse code-- what it is, how it works, etc.  We could listen to actual Morse code messages sent back and forth from the Titanic to nearby ships.

There was a map that would light up with the location of all the ships so we could see how far away they were.  They even had a message written in Morse code so we could see the dots and dashes.  It was very interesting!  From there they played around the exhibit checking out the lights and buttons, the mini sub, and the interactive computer tables showing pictures of sea life, Titanic wreckage and things.
They announced a Nautilus live tele-chat that Ian really wanted to sit in on and we convinced the other two boys to come along with us since it was only 20 minutes.  We all LOVED it!  The kids even got free activity books to bring home.

The boys had me take their card so we could check out their website later on too.  We can't wait to play around on

 Alec was a bit nervous at first because he though they were still excavating the Titanic site and that tends to upset him.  He was relieved to hear that the Nautilus was working in the Caribbean sea.  We learned about sea floor mapping, sonar, satellites, ocean depths, plant and animal life, etc.  I was impressed that a few times, when other adults in the audience were asking what type of animal we were seeing, Alec was able to tell me the answer before the scientists!

We learned about underwater volcanoes, heating ducts/ vents and the sea life that has formed around them.  We talked about hurricane season (since this was the last chat with the Nautilus for the time being.  They pull into port for the September in hopes of missing the worst of hurricane season in the Caribbean.  They were eager to look at and dive into their activity books right away!

We went to take one last look at the penguins and then we headed home.

tiny sun turtles
Huge bull frogs
The biggest water lilies we've ever seen! 

We love the belugas! 
The ships control room
Interactive computer where we listened to all the Morse
Code messages
Just hanging out with the penguins
Ian dives into his booklet before we even get to the car
our free booklets
A sea lion
"pet" the penguin!
On our way out the boys all started playing around on the giant world map made out of concrete at the entrance/exit.

I asked them if they could find the great lakes, and Alec went on to tell me all sorts of things like Central America, South America, we found Florida, Ct, Alaska, and so much more.

World Map
Between reading all the signs, looking at all the maps, learning about the various animals, and exploring the Titanic we managed to cover reading, science, history and geography all in one trip!

 It was great!!

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rocks, Bounce Pillows, and Ice Cream; Visiting Purgatory Chasm and West End Creamery

We had plans to visit Purgatory Chasm, have some lunch, and wait for West End Creamery to open.  These two places are only about 5 minutes away from each other and my boys LOVE the chasm.  I have been wanting to visit West End Creamery for a while since I have heard such wonderful things about them and their delicious ice cream.

We arrived at the Chasm around noon and had some lunch.  On the way to the picnic area near the playground the boys climbed a few rocks and slid down one really large one.  They happily played and ate and we never even made it into the chasm.

sliding down the big hill

They met some kids on the playground and had so much fun playing they didn't want to stop.  Not having any real agenda for our day, other than getting back to our fun family outings, I let them play.

They had so much fun spinning in circles

It was hot and sunny and all the boys were getting pretty sweaty.  One by one all the kids we met left and so we decided to head to the creamery.

On the way to our car we stopped in the building and looked around at all the nature displays they have set up.  We looked at the Luna moths and read about them.  We looked at a giant bulletin board about the boring beetles and learned which ones to report and which ones are native to our area.

We bought an all day pass for mini golf and the bounce pillow for $11 each.  We started to play mini golf and I'll be honest and say it was an hour or so of torture.  The boys seemed to enjoy it, but I couldn't relax and have fun.

It was crowded and my boys don't really know how to golf.  We were holding people up behind us and had to stop and allow them to play through.  They all lost their balls a few times, in the water, in the bushes, in the grass-- we could not keep them on the green.

At least one time I thought they were going to hit something with a ball.

They yelled at one another as they each kept touching one another's ball or got in the way of someone's shot.

I was looking so forward to hole #18 and wishing we had only paid for the bounce pillow!

Amazingly enough though they seemed to enjoy golfing and would like to play again another day when it's not so hot.  

Looking back I wished I could have joked, laughed and gone with the flow instead of getting all uptight and upset with them.  I was sighing, rushing them along and kind of killing the fun.  I don't know why, but I know I was.

Fishing the ball out of the water-- again!

waiting for a turn

Fishing another ball out of the water
We moved onto bouncing and that was a lot of fun.  I even joined in and we worked up a great appetite for some nice cool treats.

Jumping and bouncing! 

They made some new friends and after playing a few bouncing games like popcorn and tag, and seeing who could bounce the highest and the farthest we took a break to try out some of their ice cream, sherbet and Del's Lemonade.

Best part of the day!! 
The boys have fun playing with a new toy
while waiting to order their treats
We jumped a bit more and then decided to head home and cool off in the lake.

As I write this I'm reminded about how annoyed my boys made me today.

  • It was torture to get them out of the house.  
  • They complain when we're home and they complain when I plan trips.  
  • I have offered to take them to the aquarium, the zoo or even the science museum and I'm getting shrugs, "whatever," or my personal favorite "I'll only go if you buy me something at the gift shop" as a response.  Seriously?!?! 
 I feel like my husband and I spend all of our time trying to teach the kids to be grateful for what they have, yet we are failing miserably.  I hope it's just the age, but I can't help wondering what we could and should be doing differently.

I have tried making them save up money and pay for their own things.

I have tried pointing out the things we get to do that many of their friends never have, I have tried everything I can think of, but it all seems to go in one ear and out the other.

 Maybe I'm making to much of it, but I am so sick of my kids taking everything for granted and always wanting more.

If anyone has a suggestion or a solution, please feel free to share!!

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