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Journal Key:

Green = Steve | George = navy | Janet = Purple | Evelyn = Black

8/7/14 (Thursday)

Owen woke up this morning and went into our room to cuddle. No one was there, so he sort of cuddled the bed. I joined him.

Owen: I have a plan for the day. . . . Is it a staying-home day?

Me: No, not today.

Owen: Well, my plan for the day is: have a quick breakfast, get dressed, go to school, have fun, come home, have dinner, and have some time to play before I get ready for bed!

I was deeply relieved.

It is pet week at YBR. On Monday, Owen told me and Cara that a gecko would be coming the next day. A real one? Yes. On Tuesday, when we asked him about it, there had been no gecko. He claimed that he had just been kidding. Today, however, the gecko arrived! It was in a little cage. It looked at them all, except Owen. They fed it crickets, but it didn't eat them.

8/8/14 (Friday)

Miss Sandi and I agree that perhaps it was just as well that the gecko did not eat the crickets, though her son, who had brought in his gecko and wanted to put on a show, had been disappointed.

Miss Sandi says that she is always disappointed when I come to pick Owen up, because he's not a child she's eager to get rid of. He's her boyfriend, in fact. Her husband doesn't mind.

Today, I picked Owen up early because we were (finally) going to pick up both Cara and Camilla for a sleepover. Owen had been asking all week when Camilla was coming. The girls were very happy and full of plans, and poor Owen kept interjecting ot try to tell Camilla things. He asked me where Camilla was going to sleep. He'd been hoping she could sleep on the floor in his room. The three kids ended up spending most of the evening playing in the playroom. Owen was mainly happy on his own, but sometimes he got to participate in their game. We all had pizza and watched Howl's Moving Castle, and then it was time for Owen to go to bed. Thank goodness he's good about that routine!

We'd been planning on having cupcakes (the girls had cupcake camp together this week) after that, but Cara decided it was too late; the sugar might keep them up too late. Okay. We set them up in Cara's room, on the floor, with Netflix on the laptop. They were asleep by about eleven.

8/10/14 (Sunday)

Today we got into the car and drove down to Baltimore, where we met Grandmama and Grandpapa at our hotel. Our first order of business, of course, was to get into the hotel pool! The pool was outdoors, on a roof. It was very pretty, with comfy couches, and well-supplied with towels and water in the adjacent fitness room. There was a lifeguard, but she was the kind who guarded people's lives, not the kind who yelled at people for running. The only problem: the water was really, really, really cold! This did not bother the children. It bothered me, though!

The hotel was a few blocks from the Inner Harbor, so we walked down there for dinner. The adults were very happy (far happier than the poor, suffering children) that we went to the tapas restaurant in the Harborplace. Their meals did come with ice cream, which Owen finished and Cara, not surprisingly, decided she didn't like. Fortunately, downstairs was It'Sugar, a giant candy store. We all went and looked around. We did not buy a five-pound gummy bear. We did buy a box of giant pocky. Owen was happy about getting a box of teh chocolate-filled panda cookies he likes. He also picked out, as a special treat, a Yoda Pez dispenser. I wish I had managed to talk him out of it. He'd just had ice cream, so I told him the candy was for tomorrow. He was willing to accept that.

8/11/14 (Monday)

Well, now that it was tomorrow, Owen was ready for his candy. We tried to explain that really candy was an afternoon type of thing, but we ended up letting him have a couple of pieces of Pez.

This morning was our big trip to the aquarium! One thing that aquarium has plenty of is escalators. Boy, does Owen like escalators! I liked seeing bats, archer fish who would spit water to knock crickets off of a stick a guy was holding over them, and some really weird jellyfish. Cara proved that she was able, thanks to the nonfiction she's been reading, to tell an alligator skull from a crocodile one. Owen enjoyed moving through things very fast. We soon outpaced the rest of the group.

We entered the rainforest while they were on the previous floor. We left the rainforest before they entered it. We got to the giant ramp that goes spiralling down, down, down through the big shark tank. Down we went! Partway down, he paused briefly and then made a wrong turn: we went back up for a while. "How do we get down?" he finally cried. Turn around, I told him. Down we went. At the bottom, instead of sitting to look at more sharks, we found a computer display that would let us watch little videos of a variety of fish. We would see a picture of one with some explanation, and then we'd see a little movie clip. Sometimes, in the clip, there was a school of fish. "Which one is he?" Owen would ask. Eventually, I'd just point and say, "that one!"

By this time, everyone else had gotten out of the rainforest. We went back up the ramp to meet them! We enjoyed the rest of the aquarium together. There was a long hallway that bridged the gap between the two piers the aquarium is built on. The hilarous game we played every time we walked this hallway was based on the idea that the adults expected each window to show a completely different scene, but Owen knew it would be the same one. That never got old.

At the other end, there was the dolphin tanks. I believe that the aquarium is planning to move their dolphins outside at some point, but for now they are in tanks in an auditorium. They don't really put on shows any more; they have open viewing and keepers interact with the dolphins at intervals throughout the day. It was actually really interesting to just see what the dolphins were up to!

As we entered the aquarium gift shop, Owen saw a boy with a spinning light-up toy. "I want what that boy has!" he cried. I was not a huge fan, but I figured it was okay. I did force him to carry it around and look at lots of other things. Eventually, he put it down because he'd found something else he wanted. It was a light-up toy gun. I nixed it. Fortunately, soon he discovered tubes of little plastic animals, which are really much better than light-up things.

After the aquarium, we went to visit the Constellation, the Civil War-era ship in the harbor. Owen and Cara got to help the sailor at the desk stamp the tickets (just Cara) and push the button on the counter (both). On board, Owen and I had to sit down on a hatch and play with his new animals. That same sailor came along and identified a few for us. The leopard seals, for instance, would eat the penguins. He also recited a poem for Owen, who liked it but then turned shy.

It turns out that Owen's leopard seals do not eat penguins; they are all friends.

Owen and Cara and I eventually went down to explore all of the lower decks. Cara made sure she went first down the steep stairs. "I just don't want you to fall and get hurt," she told him. We looked at all of the hammocks, the cannon, the ropes and bunks and walkways. Owen went down a set of stairs ahead of Cara. "I just don't want you to fall and get hurt," he told her.

By this time, Owen, who had been fascinated by the dragon boats but too frightened to go on one, was ready. Grandmama and I took the two kids out on one. The kids took turns steering. Things went better on Cara's turns, but she also helped to teach him, so that he was kind of able to rationally direct our motion. Kind of.

We went back to the hotel for another quick dip in the pool before dinner. Still cold! After dinner, Grandpapa and Steve and I went to see the Orioles while Grandmama took the kids back to the hotel. Owen was asleep by the time we got back. He had had such an exciting bath that it was the first thing he told me about when he got up in the morning.

8/12/14 (Tuesday)

One of the great things about our hotel was the breakfast buffet. I made waffles for Cara and myself every day, but Owen didn't like them. Fortunately, someone thought to get him some yogurt. Every day, he ate a few cups of raspberry yogurt.

Today, it was raining. It was really, really raining. Fortunately, we'd bought a few ponchos at the ballgame last night, and Grandmama and Grandpapa had some rain gear. (I had indulged in some magical thinking; I knew it was supposed to rain, but I chose to think the forecast would change.) After breakfast, we went down to the lobby and got ready to go out. Cara got one of our bright orange Orioles ponchos. I pulled the neck hole of mine a little wider and picked Owen up under the poncho, so his head would stick out. It was, I'm sure, ridiculous looking. It was warm, though, and he stayed dry!

Carrying him all the way to the inner harbor was a challenge.

Partway there, we had the following conversation.

Owen: I want to be in one of those like Cara is.

Me: Well, you and I are together in this one. We don't have another.

Owen: . . . are we sharing?

We cut through one of the malls, where it was dry and I could put Owen down, and then continued along the harbor to the science museum. Once we'd stashed our ponchos in the coat room, we followed Owen into a room full of dinosaurs. We didn't have to argue with him about whether they were real or not this time! He did ask whether dinosaurs were all extinct.

It was a great room. Owen got to use a paintbrush to uncover a fossil from sand, stand in a dinosaur footprint, and make dinosaur prints in some dirt. There was also a table with the outline of a skeleton, which could be formed from the bones on the table. It was very challenging. Personally, I gave up. Owen had no problem: he formed his own skeleton by laying the bones out along the edge of the table. His favorite part, though, was probably the computer that let you invent your own mixed-up dinosaur by switching among about ten different head, bodies, and tails. He spent a LONG time on that, but at least he operated it himself, moving the pointer with the trackball and pushing the button.

Upstairs, we went to a show in the planetarium. It turned out to be a show for children; Big Bird, Elmo, and puppet from China talked and sang songs about the stars. Owen was astonished. He asked whether the chairs were moving. He also asked why Big Bird was big. I had thought that was sort of obvious. Anyway, Owen really liked his first planetarium show!

After lunch, we saw an IMAX movie about penguins. In it, two Emperor penguins got married (penguin-style) and raised a baby. Owen sat on my lap and stared. I simplified the plot a little for him, and occasionally I had to make up an answer when he asked which penguin was the one we cared about. "I have never seen baby penguins before in my life!" he told me towards the end. It was a really great movie. It also confirmed that, as we had been told yesterday, leopard seals eat penguins.

There was a lot more to see and do in the museum, but Owen was getting pretty tired. After a while, we went to have a rest and a snack in the cafe; it was temporarily closed, though, so we went to the gift shop. Owen selected some large toy sets, which I promised we'd come back to if he didn't find something better. Grandmama had found the perfect something better: a dinosaur sticker book! As he has taken to doing, Owen followed me around with it, begging me to buy it now. In the now-open cafe, he ignored the snack and worked on his new book.

Having been somewhat disappointed in the scientific content in the Big Bird planetarium show, we went back for another. This one was much more grown-up. Owen sat on my lap and fell asleep.

After that, he felt much better! We explored a little, but what he really wanted was to go back to the dinosaur room and make more mixed-up dinosaurs. When we had had enough of that, it was time to tear ourselves away from the museum and go on with our day.

One important step we had taken was to buy a poncho for Owen. We'd seen, all day, how the rain was beating against the windows, so we wanted to be ready. I borrowed scissors from the front desk to cut the bottom couple of feet off of it, and he was all set. He was very pleased with himself for having it and loved swishing his arms around. Outside, we found that there was a very deep, very wide channel that we had to wade through to get back to the sidewalk. Owen, lifted over it, was the only one of us who did not spend the rest of the day squishing along in sopping wet shoes. He gleefully ran along the inner harbor, keeping up with Grandmama and Cara, who had gotten ahead.

Later, while Cara and Steve went through Ripley's Odditorium, it stopped raining. Grandmama, Grandpapa, Owen, and I went to explore outside. We walked through the big fountain and found that the water was actually coming up onto the sidewalk at its base.

8/13/14 (Wednesday)

Fortunately, this was a beautiful day. We put our things into the car and walked east to Port Discovery, the children's museum. This was a perfect place for the kids; there were lots of things to play with, and we were among the first people there, so most things were in perfect shape. In the diner, Owen was the first kid to get to take anything out to serve Steve and me. He got us some chicken, some spaghetti, some eggs, some bread, and, eventually, some plates to put them on.

Curious George's Crazy Golf was a lot of fun. The most interesting hole was the one where there were a lot of foam blocks to use to create walls to bank the ball off of. Steve and I both liked experimenting, but then Owen took over. Soon, we had a haystack of blocks covering the hole. Hit it in, Mommy!!

After a long morning in which both kids ended up climbing around in "three-story urban treehouse" in the center of the museum, we walked out to a nearby beer garden for lunch. It was actually my favorite meal of the trip! We ate outside in a very pretty courtyard, and Owen got a cup of ice cubes that he could throw on the ground. That kept him busy. He was a little upset when I told him that the rule was the he couldn't scuff big holes in the pebbles covering the ground, but he soon recovered and spent the rest of the time pointing out to me the places where I had failed to adequately repair the holes he had made.

We walked back west and got into our cars. It was a great end to a great trip!

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