We've been studying Ancient Egypt in school this year, so when I heard that the King Tut exhibit was going to be in Dallas, I decided we just had to go. We made a mini vacation out of it.
We got up very early last Thursday morning and drove the five hours to Dallas. We got there just after noon, and Megan and I headed to the American Girl store and bistro in the Galleria Mall. I have never seen so many moms and daughters in one place before in my life. Megan had her American girls- Nelly and Samantha- in tow. Bryan took the boys to the food court and play area in the mall while we were there. Apparently, when one goes to the American Girl Bistro, one makes reservations. Hmmm, that's okay, we'll wait an hour while we shop. Megan had gotten money for her birthday, and she was excited about spending it. We finally sat down to eat, and they put the dolls up at the table with us in their own little seats. This gesture was designed to distract from the sub-par food sold for exorbitant prices. It worked. Then, after lunch, Megan made her final selections. Since the store had a million (not an exaggeration) options all geared toward little girls, I really thought there would be a lot of soul-searching and hand-wringing over the decision on how to spend the money. There wasn't. Megan knew exactly what she wanted from the minute we walked in and she never changed her mind. She bought a Bitty Baby with blue eyes and a little cat with a carrier. The Bitty Baby- named Mary- became our 6th child on the rest of the trip.
After that, it was late enought to check into our hotel, so we headed that way. The kids, of course, were thrilled with the entire experience. AND- the hotel had swans, real live swans, in the lobby. It doesn't get any better than that.
Later, we tried to head to CiCis pizza for something inexpensive to eat, but, after driving around for way too long, we realized the hotel had given us directions to ChuckECheese. Not exactly an ideal place for five tired children and two even more tired parents. We finally, after a few missteps (too expensive, no seating, no one else in here with children), stumbled upon a Schlotzky's. We got back to the hotel, figuring that, after a few moments tussle, our exhausted children would drop off to sleep. Not so much. We finally rearranged everyone and went to bed ourselves and THEN everyone went to sleep.
The next day was our big KING TUT DAY! After breakfast in the hotel, we set off on time, arrived there in high spirits, ready to enter the exhibit at 9:30, just like our tickets said. Whoa- wait right there- apparently, we were under the illusion that the time on our tickets had something to do with when we would actually enter. Very wrong. That's the time at which we were allowed to get in line, after the guards at the front had made us throw away our snacks (and with them all hope of keeping the baby happy and quiet.) We were sternly warned to use the bathroom before we went in because there was no turning back once you stepped through the entrance.
The exhibit was great. But packed. We moved through like a herd of cattle, trying to get the kids close enough to the displays (but not too close so as to set off the alarms) so that they could see. Half of the exhibit was dark, and Carsten was having absolutely none of that. I took him through very quickly, trying to catch as much of it as I could, thinking that I would watch the National Geographic special when I got home. Bryan took the other kids through at a somewhat more leisurely pace.
The redeeming element of the museum visit ended up being the 3D movie that I had bought tickets for at the end. All the kids, with the exception of Evan (I stood outside with him and Carsten), just loved the movie- even the snake that looked like it was "coming right at you!"
There was no photography allowed, so you'll have to take my word for it that we went. Before I go on, though, I have to say one thing in hindsight: Even though the morning seemed like a waste of $100, hearing the kids tell other people about going since we've gotten home has changed my mind. They really thought it was neat and, on their level, they thought they got something out of it.
That afternoon, we went swimming at the hotel and let the kids soak their feet in the hot tub. That was a big hit! Then, that night, we decided that some room service was in order. The kids got a pizza and watched a movie in one room, while Bryan and I ate a decent meal in relative quiet. This was the most relaxing couple of hours on the trip, and I'm so glad that we did it.
On Saturday, we packed up to go after breakfast, and headed to Baruch Hashem, a Messianic congregation in Dallas, for service. The service lasted a full 2 hours and 25 minutes. Not for the faint of heart (or the parents of five). At one point, Justin said, "This is not church. This is Hannukah." :-) We were happy that it worked out to visit, though, because Bryan had never been and was really looking forward to it.
On the way back, we decided, on a whim, to stop in Glen Rose. This was the best decision we made on the whole trip. We went to the outdoor dinosaur museum and then to the Dinosaur Valley State Park to see the dinosaur footprints. All the kids loved it, and Evan- our dinosaur lover- was just enraptured with the entire experience. The kids got to dig for fossils- they mainly found sharks' teeth and amber- and run around on the trails to their hearts' content.
We got home about 10:30 that night, and were reminded of a very important truth: The best part of vacation is coming home!
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Justin turned 3 on March 15th, and, of course, he had to have a "cow and horse" party. We sort of combined his favorite cowboy and farm themes. We had "Mean Cow Chili" and cornbread for dinner.
(Quick background on Mean Cow Chili: Justin loves cows. A couple of months ago, we passed a steakhouse that has big Longhorns on its property. Nathan said, "Hey, I bet those are the cows they use for steaks!" Justin said, "No, we don't eat cows. I would be really mad!!" So, Megan, ever the peacemaker, told him we only eat the "mean cows." That made him happy. Hence, any beef must come only from the meanest of bad-guy cows.)
Justin had a great time. The third birthday is always fun because it's the first one where they really understand the whole birthday celebration. His Oma and Opa bought him a full cowboy set up, complete with guns and hobby horse, and he couldn't have been happier.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Megan turned 6! She loves American Girl, especially Samantha, so we modeled her party after Samantha's. That was quite an undertaking, but well worth it in the end. Each of the girls brought an American Girl or some other favorite doll, and they all had a tea party. I made Petit Fours- crazy, but quite tasty, and Megan wanted them so badly. And we even shaped the peppermint ice cream in a mold, just like Samantha's butler did for her. There was a reason Samantha needed a butler...and a cook...and a maid. Megan, on the other hand, only has a Mommy.
I found little white doll t-shirts online, so we decorated those with fabric markers. Then, I had some cute material, so I made simple little skirts for the dolls. And, of course, Hobby Lobby would have ribbon on sale, so I did matching bows for the girls and their dolls. All of this, of course, seemed like a brilliant idea at the time. I mean, it was so budget-savvy and fun. And it probably wouldn't have been such a big deal if I hadn't procrastinated everything until the last week, but I digress...
The boys, of course, were not at all interested in the fancy, shmancy stuff. They painted little wooden cars and raced them around. The dads manned their table handsomely, and even managed to clean up all of the paint. My hat is off to Bryan for that feat. The boys were at the kitchen table and the girls were in the dining room. The difference in noise level was comical. Even though there were 13 girls and ten boys, the boys were about five times louder than the girls. The dining room was quiet and calm- the kitchen was just rowdy.
Megan had a fantastic time- she said it was her "best birthday ever." Of course, the most telling part of the evening was something we unfortunately didn't get a picture of. Megan was in all her tea party finery- pink frilly dress and all- streaking around on her brother's scooter with the boys, while the girls inside wandered around looking for her.