Exploring Wichita

June 26, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Staying at home is not my strong suit. After cleaning the house (bloody thing takes all day, this monstrosity!), doing laundry, playing in the backyard, biking to the park, and flying kites in this crazy Kansas wind, I decided Liam and I needed to venture out…more for my own sanity, but he benefits, too.

Our first stop, Exploration Place, Wichita’s science museum. Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting much. I mean, I’m used to the Smithsonian and Disney World. But I have to say this little museum surprised me. Out front we were greeted by an animated T-Rex surrounded by a security fence, all part of the dinosaur exhibit currently on for the summer. The dinos were so realistic, Liam grabbed my hand and made me run through it, lest we get eaten. Another section featured a castle where the kids could climb around on the ramparts, shoot a catapult, prepare medieval meals in the kitchen, create their own stained glass, and ride the ponies. In yet another section devoted to air travel, Liam flew his own little Cessna in large form…

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and small…

No way I’m flying with this pilot.

In another section devoted to farming, Liam particularly loved driving the harvester. On the video screen you could move bales of hay, harvest soybeans, wheat, or cotton. No mistaking we’re in central Kansas!

By far our favorite part of the museum was the Kansas In Miniature exhibit, complete with train. They’d taken all of these historical buildings and sites all around the state and recreated them as one mini town. And if you looked closely, you could see a bunch of them moving. Kids on swings, a whole carnival, a farmer swinging an axe. And the lights would change for night and day, with a rooster announcing each sunrise. We spent a good deal of time in this dark room. Very relaxing.

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We liked this museum so much, we bought a membership. We’ve already been twice, and James promised to go with us again this weekend. We discovered a trail along the river and a bunch of playgrounds outside, which I’m sure we’ll explore more when the weather is better. It topped 100 degrees today, yikes! Our membership also included free mini golf, something else we plan to explore once the weather cooperates. My kid loves mini golf!

I was a delighted to discover that there are several museums along the river in downtown Wichita, and when you visit one, they give you a discount card to the others that you can use within the week. So Liam and I have been in museum mode. On Friday we visited the Museum of World Treasures, a kitschy little museum devoted to an eclectic array of subjects. We found dino bones, mummies, military garb, cannons, ancient Greek and Roman reliefs, and more. But the real treasure was the kids activity room. We had the place all to ourselves, and Liam spent a great deal of time playing with the puppets on this awesome stage. Though I’m not sure he understood the concept…

The most boring puppet show in the world.

Liam rushed me through most of the more boring exhibits, so I decided to spring for a year membership here, as well, so James and I can take our time perusing at our leisure. They sponsor evening events, as well, so might be a fun date night in it for us. We’re such nerds.

It’s so abysmally hot here right now, so we decided to forego the Zoo, the Botanical Garden and the Cowtown for another week. Lots to look forward to in the fall!

Yesterday Liam and I ventured to the Kansas Aviation Museum, housed with all of the other airplane manufacturing facilities in the “Aviation Capital of the US.” With all that prestige, I was expecting…more. But it was pretty underwhelming. It wasn’t nearly as neat as the Maryland Aviation Museum in College Park that we used to go to all the time when Liam was smaller. Although there were a couple of impressive exhibits. We got to sit in a few old cockpits and pretend to fly. I found it particularly hilarious when Liam asked me what the ashtrays were for.

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They also had a decommissioned FedEx plane that you could walk up into. Liam chickened out at the stairs, but I walked all the way down to the cockpit from the back. A rather dark walk, so maybe best Liam didn’t come along. But I thought it was pretty cool.

And today we visited the Wichita Art Museum, a wonderful way to spend a hot afternoon. Liam did better than I thought, and I tried my best to explain the artwork we were seeing. When his interest started to wane, he entertained himself by pushing his stroller around and pointing out the elevators and stairways. But then we discovered the a glass bridge that you could walk on, sans shoes, and see the colorful glass shapes of the sculpture we’d seen on the first floor. Liam definitely liked that best. I had to carry him away kicking and screaming when I was ready to move on.

Aside from the museums, we’ve also done a little exploring closer to home. I took Liam to Derby Bowl to partake in another of his favorite pastimes. They rented him the cutest little shoes.

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These lanes weren’t nearly as “sophisticated” as the ones in Lee’s Summit, so I was stuck bowling with the bumpers, and Liam managed to get in a few gutter balls in spite of them. His ball kept getting stuck – at one point in actually bounced off the pins and rolled away – so I had to help him give his ball a little push down the alley. There’s another bowling alley I want to try sometime that might suit us better.

I discovered the Farmer’s Market a couple of weekends back. The one in Derby was pitiful, so I drove 20 extra minutes to downtown Wichita for the bigger one. I guess I didn’t realize how good I had it in Takoma Park, MD and Overland Park, KS. Even the one in Orlando had more actual vegetables and fruits for sale. There were a lot of stands selling lots of things, but only two produce stands. Weird. I did get some tasty lemonade and an awesome breakfast burrito. Oh, and some delicious homemade cookies. Maybe later in the season I’ll see more produce. I’m particularly interested in the tomatoes and okra, which usually hit in July. So we’ll see.

One evening as I was enjoying some wine on my new porch swing, Liam and I heard a ruckus on the other side of the trees. Come to find out there was a carnival in the high school parking lot. I couldn’t convince Liam to ride anything, not even the Ferris wheel, but we did play some games and win some toys. And we left with some cotton candy to share with daddy. I made it a condition that he had to retreat from playing video games and eat it outside with us. The only time he sees the light of day, sheesh.

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Well, there was also this time that he played soccer with Liam in the backyard.

And I made him promise to come to the fireworks show in High Park on the 4th. It’s very close to our house, and I told him we didn’t have to go until 9. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Next week Liam starts swim lessons at the Y. I signed him up for private lessons with the head honcho, a swim coach veteran named Clarence who I’ve been assured is good with young kids who hate swimming. We’re going once a week instead of every morning for two weeks, which I’m hoping will help. And I set them up for later in the day because we can’t seem to get out of bed until 9 these days. Liam was impossible to rush out the door to our morning appointments last summer.

We’ve officially given Pull-ups the boot. Liam’s doing much better pooping in the potty, but after waking up with a load in his Pull-up one morning, my mom suggested I just put him in underwear and see what happens. We’ve been at this potty training thing for more than a year, so I have high hopes. So far he’s mostly just peeing in his bed and my new washer/dryer is getting a daily workout. But one morning, miraculously, the bed was dry. We’re going to keep at this, though I have a feeling we’ll keep the Pull-ups on reserve for trips to my mom’s and our upcoming trip to DC in July.

I met some more neighbors! But, of course, Liam was wailing and flailing in my arms, insisting that he wanted to go home RIGHT NOW. So it was more of a hello/goodbye/hope-to-talk-with-you-more-next-time meet and greet. And with temperatures climbing into the hundreds this week, I doubt the neighborhood kids will be playing outside much. But we’ll get there, I’m sure.

I think I found a preschool for Liam! It’s church-based, but their website didn’t seem as “churchy” as some of the others, so I’ll take that as a good sign. They don’t serve food and don’t hold classes over lunch, which is a plus for my picky eater (who I’m sick of packing lunch for), and they offer afternoon classes, which is a double plus. And, egad, is the price right! I’m waiting for them to get back to me about class sizes and availability. They also encourage parents to volunteer, and they take field trips, so that sounds like fun. Crossing my fingers this works out.

That pretty much sums up our last few weeks. Well, and this: 

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