Saturday, March 25, 2006

Dozin' With The Dinos

Good Morning All! We've spent the whole night locked inside a building, in the company of mummies, jewels, shoes, statues, birds, man-eating lions, beaches, shoes, volcanoes, apes, and dinosaurs. Not much sleeping done by PC or by me, it was too difficult to get comfortable on the floor, but SmallBoy crashed out. We spent the night in The Field Museum on an outing with SmallBoys Scout Pack, and, as this adventure was open to the public, many others.

We missed the orientation at the beginning by delaying our departure from home so that we would miss rush hour traffic - going into Chicago on a Friday night is almost as bad as traffic leaving Chicago on a Friday. After we arrived at the museum, we plopped our sleeping bags and pillows down in the Bird exhibit (next to ducks, falcons, eagles, etc), and joined a group with familiar faces. The children were doing an activity in preparation for the Ancient Egypt exhibit. The leader was teaching them how mummies are made. Yep. He went easy on them because most of them were under the age of 10, but they got the idea. He taught them about the jars that the organs are kept in and they did an activity centered around that. After that, we walked through an exhibit set up to be like a tomb. There were real mummies in there. Some were still in the sarcophogus, while others were partially exposed (behind air locked glass, of course), some were adults, others were infants and children. One particular mummy, though, they had started to unwrap. As scary as you'd think this might be, it wasn't. It was actually very interesting. The cartilage on the nose was still intact, the eyelids were still there. It was very very interesting. After that exhibit, we headed over to listen to a story teller. SmallBoy and his best friend P got chosen to go up on the stage and participate in one of the stories. He LOVED it. He's got that same bug for the stage that I do!

After a snack, we headed off to do some of our own exploration. Exploring a museum, I discovered much to my surprise (and I shouldn't have been surprised), with a child on the spectrum is a bit difficult. We had fun, but it was hard to spend too much time looking at one thing (say, more than about 30seconds), because something else would catch SmallBoy's attention. Here he is with the head of Sue. You'll notice Sue is not just your ordinary girl. She is the 2nd complete T.Rex in the U.S., I believe, and she's housed at OUR museum. Her head weighs 200 pounds alone, so the weight imbalance made it impossible for her real head to be attached to the rest of her body. Instead, they have a plastic mold roaring at observers from the front of her gargantuan skeleton. It was truly incredible to see her together. The last time I was at this museum was shortly after Sue arrived, in pieces, still being cleaned. We were with my mother, and I only had Girl and LargeBoy with me - SmallBoy was still a baby, or toddler. The Bulls' 6 championship trophies were the big display inside, while the outside contained a butterfly exhibit. LargeBoy had the pleasure of becoming part of that exhibit when one of the butterflies took a liking to his butt and landed there for a few moments. Needless to say, this was the first time I had the opportunity to observe this giant in her fully assembled glory. This picture was taken this morning at about 6:45. Isn't she just incredible? It's much more daunting when you're standing on the ground looking up at her. I tried to get a picture of SmallBoy standing in front of her for perspective, but he wasn't quite conscious enough for it at6:45. Last night, though, the museum turned out the main lights and had bedtime stories around Sue. THAT put it into perspective - just how incredibly enormous she is. If you look through her ribs and off to the left between the columns, you'll get a general idea of where we spent the night. The bird exhibit is just pas those two columns. Sue's head, in the previous picture with SmallBoy, was just above her, where you see the light shining from above. This was truly incredible. It put our existence here into perspective. We are just a speck on the timeline of this planet.

The top picture is in the Evolution of the Planet exhibit. PC and I couldn't help but comment on the fact that the troop was being allowed to visit since we attend a Catholic school - and the "E" word is considered a sin. The exhibit began with the theories on how the planet was formed and life began, but EVERYONE seemed to pass that by in the hopes of arriving quickly at the DINOSAUR exhibit!!!!! In the top picture, SmallBoy is standing in front of a dino that is a cousin of a T.Rex. This beast was not nearly as large as Sue, but, personally, I wouldn't want to find it when it's out looking for food! The bottom picture is of SmallBoy and me (glasses on...eeeeeuuwwww) standing inside the footprint of a brontosaurus. We both fit in there with plenty of room to spare. We probably could have fit PC in also, but someone had to take the picture.

The city in the morning. This view is at about 7:00 this morning looking north and west on the city. I didn't load the picture with the Sears Tower, but at this point, about the upper 1/3 of it was still in the clouds. I've lived here my entire life and that one thing never ceases to amaze me - how part of a building seems to just disappear into the sky, like Jack's magical beanstalk. The dinosaur here is the same one from the previous pair of pictures, the T.Rex cousin in front of which SmallBoy was posing. This time, though, the lights were off in the exhibit, and NO ONE else was in there. We went up there this morning, walking backwards through the exhibit (cuz it was faster than starting at the beginning) and took in the room and the skeletons lit only by the natural light entering through the windows. Breathtaking. The rest of the evolution exhibit was truly marvelous too. There was this one skeleton, probably a story or two high, set to look like it was trying to climb a tree. We were terribly curious, as it didn't look menacing, and it was from just before or just after the ice age (I can't remember), but it was a giant ground sloth. You'd have to see it to believe it, and I neglected to take a photo of it. There was a tar exhibit to help people to gain a better understanding of the impossibility of escaping from the tar pits.

I could go on and on and on. I must close soon, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I saw many children there, probably on the spectrum themselves. Most did brilliantly. Some would get bored or over stimulated and go off and do their thing to calm themselves or would be stimming in a corner, but no one there seemed to mind or take offense or stare or anything. SmallBoy was phenomenal. Except for his need to flit from one thing to another or to head off with his friends without telling us he was leaving (we were smart enough to make sure that one of us had an eye on him at all times and to pause him and let him know that we needed to know if he was going somewhere, which he never ended up doing without us), he was excellent. I was so proud. He started to melt at one point, but he was exhausted, and he's nursing a cold. So, we tucked him into his sleeping bag and he was out cold within about 5 minutes. I think he's upstairs now taking a nap.

As for the grown ups in this house, well, neither of us slept well last night. Almost as soon as we arrived back home this morning, PC and I went upstairs and attempted to sneak in a nap. I think we managed about 45 minutes before we decided to just suck it up, make some coffee and get on with our day. SmallBoy took this picture. He would have been a bit disappointed had I not included it in the post. I was supposed to be posing as though I was trying to push over or against the post, while PC looked on. Oh well. We had a ball! DEFINITELY will do it again! Next time, though, we bring an air mattress!


Wade Rankin said...

Recently, our little one has developed the -- dare I say "typical" -- fascination most boys have for dinos. We've promised him a trip to see the bones at the Field when we go up for Autism One in May.

kyra said...

i ABSOLUTELY love that post and that adventure! what fun! and SmallBoy is a STAR! i'm so proud of him! that is a huge thing to do--so much uncertainty! he amazes me! i love the pics and your description of the whole evening. i went to The Tield once about 6 years ago on our way across country. beautiful museum. i remember those dinasaur bones and skulls. they do capture the imagination!

Laura said...

Hey you! Cute picture of you and PC. Nice to hear from you again!

Mom to Mr. Handsome said...

That sounded like so much fun. Sue is pretty daunting! Wow! What an awesome exhibit. I wish we had something like that here.


kr said...

Ah! I am so jealous...spent the night in the Field Museum? FUN! Let's see if we can start thinking about the summer...I know you've got to work, but I'll bum around with SmallBoy and whoever else is at home.
I switched blogs incase I haven't told you. ;-) Miss you and can't wait till summer.
Oh! By the way, I'm wearing the navy attire from your wedding to prom on the 29th! Whoo!