Monday, June 17, 2013

sleeplessness, darwin and more dinosaurs

I was concerned last night that Owen would not get enough sleep. He had been in our room several times after 11pm. He last came in at 1130, so it's anyone's guess when after then he fell asleep. I stayed up to listen to the end of the Yankees-Angels game on my iPad. The Yankees led 6-0 going into the 9th inning. The Angels batted around, hitting three bloop singles and working a walk off Mariano Rivera. With two outs, the Angles were down one run and had the mighty Albert Pujols coming to the plate. By some miracle, Rivera struck out Pujols on thee pitches. As any baseball fan would tell you, I was so worked up by the end of that inning it took me another thirty minutes to calm down enough to sleep.

Fade to the morning when, given England's northerly latitude, the sun comes up around 4 this time of year. Owen was not far behind, was up by 5 and making his way to the upper floor of our flat where he started banging around. Keri and I took turns dealing with this situation. We were both up for good by 630 and took turns on our every-other-day runs.

Lauren and Owen had been asking for several days to go to the Natural History Museum. (Please, Daddy, Charles Darwin is da bomb!) Those of you who were reading this blog last week might be saying to yourselves, did you not just go to the American Museum of Natural History last week? To that I would say yes, but my children cannot recall what happened ten minutes ago let alone last week. Further, I was told British natural history is totally different from the American version. Truth be told, the grownups wanted to check it out, too.

The day started out cloudy, but slightly warmer (upper 60's), so we decided to walk through Chelsea and South Kensington on our way to the museum. Owen, uncharacteristically, had little to say on our walk. We strode together, holding hands in supreme silence a good part of the way. Lovely. Keri was not so fortunate with her companion, who bemoaned the unfathomable 1.3 mile march to which her parents had subjected her.

We ate some sandwiches on a small street just across from the museum. In what is becoming a disturbing trend, Owen announced in the middle of his meal that he need to use the bathroom (or "toilet" as the locals call it). The Subway where we purchased the kids' lunch -- devoid of toilets. The underground stop -- nada. The public toilet/coin-a-john outside on the street -- closed for repairs. Fortunately, a Starbucks appeared across the street and we were set. (Note: This is the second time in two days Owen's bladder has been redeemed by the globo-coffee chain.) Say what you will about Starbucks, but their omnipresence and free bathrooms have made me a fan. (Pictured are Owen and I returning from our little adventure, him no worse for the wear.)

We finally made in it into the museum, which turned out to be well worth the trip. The physical building itself is a marvel -- a gem of ornate Victorian architecture. The entry hall alone is a thing to behold -- a massive diplodocus in the middle of this grand, cavernous, three-story room.

Admission is free and the exhibits are very good. We started with what I think the museum is most famous for -- its dinosaurs. The actual collection of dinosaur fossils is probably a notch or two below the AMNH, but the British version does a far better job of integrating the collection with educational material, organizing the displays by era and subject matter and presenting questions on some pretty basic, but interesting topics. Lauren and Owen were fully engaged, as we spent nearly one hour going through this section.

We then walked through the mammals section. Again, the collection is nowhere near as large or diverse as the New York museum, but what is there is presented in a way that really engaged the kids. Owen was prompted to ask a series of questions as to how we know snakes are not mammals. I'm not sure my answers were close to complete, but I thank the museum folks for giving me several scientific-sounding facts I could throw at him in quick succession.

The same is true of the last section we visited -- human biology, which was a very well-done albeit slightly dated presentation of human biology, physiology, and development that you might see in a science museum. As it was, the kids were focused -- sometimes too focused -- on various aspects of our biology. Lauren was -- understandably -- freaked out by the displays dealing with childbirth. Both kids liked the pictured display, which depicts how the human body regulates its temperature by sweating and shivering. As anyone who has seen an Eckstein exercise will tell you, we are pointing at the sweaty man for a reason.

A long afternoon over, we took the tube back to Victoria and walked back to Eccleston Square. I took Lauren out a bit later to get a replacement birthday card for to give to Keri tomorrow. Somehow, Lauren had destroyed the last one by confusing brown and black. Don't ask. In any event, new card purchased, decorated and ready for tomorrow. Crisis averted.

We ate dinner at Giraffe, of which I guess there are several in London, a no-frills but quality sandwich, burger and entree sort of place. Our dinner table had the misfortune of being placed next to a rowdy 5-year old birthday party. At some point, the girls in that party started up a derogatory chant about the boys, who were greatly outnumbered. Watching the chaos from afar made me grateful to have that part of our lives behind us.

Even Owen remarked, with equal parts irony and insight, "I am two years older than them." Sleep well, my seven-year old boy. Sleep well.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a wonderful day-especially since you made it to the Starbucks in time:-) Hoping that Owen (and parents) sleep well tonight! It is already my Keri's birthday. Wishing my wonderful first born child the happiest of birthdays. Can't wait to see you all.