This morning we bid adieu to Mom and Tom, Dave's Michigan folks, who were here with us for a long weekend. We always love spending time with these two dear people--and it only happens about twice a year, so we have to make the most of it!
In addition to meeting Matthew (their fourth grandchild) for the first time and getting caught up on all of Meg's capabilities and capers, they shared a very special (extended) family day with us yesterday. Originally we had planned to go to the National Zoo, but the forecast called for rain. Instead, we decided to head for the American Museum of Natural History, which is a lot like a zoo in some ways, only the animals are dead.
I haven't spent much time there since I was small, so it was really wonderful to get to enjoy it with Meg and see it through her eyes as if for the first time. When you enter the main hall, called "The Rotunda," the first thing you behold is a positively gigantic preserved elephant on a high platform. It's a pretty awesome sight even to an adult; to a child it must be absolutely astonishing. We wheeled Meg in her stroller into this great hall and turned her toward the elephant. I saw her little eyes widen as they traveled up, up, up to take in the fullness of this massive animal. "Meg," I said, crouching down by her side, "what is that?" "Eh-wuh," she replied in a hushed tone. Then, using her arm as a trunk: "Errrrrrrrrrr."
We proceeded into the mammal halls, where the feats of scientific taxidermy are second only to the feats of God's creation. If you haven't been there, you've really got to go. They have this scene of two female lions attacking a buffalo--one lion is on the buffalo's back and the other is trying to get out from under it as it begins to fall. All three of these huge, powerful animals are frozen in midair. It's an action photograph brought to life--it's amazing. They have a giraffe bending down to drink water, front legs spread wide apart. They have a leopard lying complacently on a tree branch with its recent prey--a dead antelope--slung over the bough in front of it, while a hyena lurks below, waiting for scraps to fall from the treetop feast. (Leopards really do drag their food up into trees to protect it from other predators! Who knew?)
We're talking about real animals here, people! They were once alive and filled with guts, and now they're hanging out in a museum for all to see and learn about! It's really cool! (Sorry if you're a big PETA type--well, never mind. You're not reading this any more anyway--you're leaning over the toilet bowl by now.)
Meg was in awe. She just wandered around dazedly for the first ten minutes or so, repeating the sign for "more" and emphasizing her request vocally. "Mo-mo? Mo-mo?"
"Look, Meg--there's a lion, and there's a monkey, and there's a bunny."
"There's a hippo, and there's a bushbaby."
"There's an anteater, and there's a... hm, what is that?"
Okay, well, you get the idea. Mom and Tom trooped all over with us taking pictures and smiling at Meg. Matthew slept and ate, as usual. In short, we had a great day at the museum, and I'm really excited that we went. (What can I say--I had a baby five weeks ago and haven't been out much!)
Here are a couple of pictures of Mom and Tom lovin' on lil' Matthew...
Thanks for coming to stay with us, Mom and Tom! We love you!