Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Thing # 24: Hamilton Children's Museum & Gage Park

Happiest Tuesday to all! Cheers to short weeks! Our weekend was busy...swimming, lots of playing in the backyard and a family BBQ at Auntie S & Uncle J's to round it all out. I am so happy that we live close to both our families because the LP get to grow up seeing their grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins on a regular basis and both Daddy and I think that is very important.

Have you ever gone for a job interview and had the "what would you describe as one of your weaknesses?" as a question? Everybody gives one of those not-really-a-weakness answers like "I'm a perfectionist", or "I'm a workaholic" because to tell the truth would make you look bad.  If you said "I have a penchant for stealing office supplies", or "sometimes I call in sick when I'm not really sick because every now and then I like to skip work and catch up on daytime tv", you probably wouldn't be deemed a desirable candidate. If I were to give an honest answer, mine would be "I tend to take on too much and while I can usually make it work, sometimes it all goes spectacularly sideways". I remember one time I joined a committee at work because I really wanted to be involved in something outside of my regular job duties and maybe meet some new people. The first year I was on it, I was able to balance my workload and the obligations of the committee. The second year I was on it, my workload had almost doubled and I just couldn't be away from my desk for all the endless meetings. And I had sort of become disenchanted with both the charity events we were organizing and the people on the committee. But instead of resigning, I would attend the odd meeting and then stay late at work to catch up. Eventually I missed too many meetings and was asked to leave. It was a relief, to be honest.

I've been finding that being home full-time brings out that take-on-too-much side of me. I think I've been approaching my mat leave as a job. I set tasks each day that must be completed. I don't necessarily think it is a bad thing; when I go back to the pressure cooker that is my paying full-time gig, at least I'll still be in the multi-tasking, prioritizing mindset. I don't know why I do it to myself, though. I have three big things I have to accomplish each day this week and I'm feeling the pressure to get them all done. And no, I can't just let it all go and relax like a normal person. I set these too-high expectations and feel like a failure if I don't meet them. At least I know the LP won't ask me to resign...although they are the first priority and I would drop everything else for them!

But enough about this! Let us talk about today...first and foremost, I forgot the camera! You'll have to just trust me that we were there and imagine what it all looks like.

Today we had planned to do something with Auntie J and Uncle M. We arranged to meet them at the Hamilton Children's Museum. Uncle M had a lovely, large cup of coffee in hand for me...bless his heart. If you have been reading this blog at all, you may remember me saying that I really should look into the operating hours of places. I REALLY should do this. We arrived at the Children's Museum only to find that it was closing in about 25 minutes. BOOO. But because we arrived so late, admission was free. YAY!

The Hamilton Children's Museum is a really cool little place, set right at the edge of Gage Park. We could easily spend an entire morning or afternoon there. Each room has different activities for children. But there are also many learning opportunities disguised as playing. I love the whole concept. LP1 was enchanted with the room that had foam blocks in different shapes and colours. She didn't want to leave this room to explore anywhere else. Uncle M and LP1 built towers together and played with the blocks. There were also tubes you could connect to make tunnels, wooden blocks you could make designs with and a huge tic-tac-toe board on the wall, but LP1 was oblivious to them all. She only had eyes for the blocks. LP2, on the other hand, was very content to play in a little alcove with Auntie J. There was a huge feltboard with little felt shapes and characters and a mirror to look in. He was also intrigued by the xylophone and cowbell in what I would call the media room, although the tambourine scared him a little. I was surprised the LP1 didn't want to play in the Doo-Wop Diner, a huge room designed to look like a restaurant, complete with play food, jukebox and dance floor, or that she didn't want to try on any of the costumes and be on tv in the media room. Both LP really enjoyed watching the turtles swim in the tank in the activity room. LP1 was just starting to make one of the crafts they had when we were advised the museum was closing. We will DEFINITELY go back. I think there are so many fun and unique things to do there. I also know that I will need at least one other person to come with us. With the LP at different levels of development, I think they each need an adult with them so they can each have a good experience.

I would like to thank whoever thought to put a playground next to the museum. This person understands children. Auntie J took LP1 and climbed on things, went down the slides and helped her get on a purple dinosaur rocking thing. Uncle M took LP2 and gave him an opportunity to explore the playground at his level. This mostly meant the LP2 held onto things and bounced up and down in delight.

We left the playground and went on an exploratory walk around Gage Park. I haven't been there since I was very young. It really is a beautiful park. We looked at squirrels, we admired flowers and we took detours off the beaten path. As we were starting to head back to the parking lot, we found a section of garden being watered by sprinklers. Do you know what sprinklers create? Mud puddles. LP1 jumped with great enthusiasm into them and convinced Auntie J and Uncle M to join her.  She made some excellent splashes, too.

As time was ticking on, it was time to go. LP1 really didn't want to leave. Fortunately, I offered to get ice cream on the way home. Sometimes a little bribery helps soothe an upset soul. We said goodbye to Auntie J and Uncle M and picked up some ice cream at a nearby drive-thru. I know both of them thoroughly enjoyed today. I can't wait to go back again...there is still much of the park to be explored, another playground to check out, a proper museum experience and maybe even a picnic to be had!

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