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Adam’s 5th birthday and a museum rainforest

We concluded 2023 in Philadelphia and got back to California late on January 5th so we could celebrate Adam’s birthday over the weekend.

On Saturday we decorated and settled back into our usual routine, with an added bonus of a trip to Adam’s favorite restaurant to enjoy his favorite food and then some birthday ice cream.

On Sunday we held a little family party with our former au pairs. As requested by him, it was Paw Patrol themed. This was the first year he could clearly articulate what he wanted theme-wise, instead of me just following what I knew his interests was. I even made a Paw Patrol tower for his cake, even if he was disappointed that the cake itself wasn’t a tower – hah!

The following weekend we took the boys out to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Aaron had been asking to see more dinosaurs, and Adam kept asking to go to the jungle to try out his “jungle hat” which is actually and old hat from the Philadelphia Zoo, the provenance of which is unknown to me, but I’m pretty certain it is from when MJ was a kid and it happened to surface while we were going through some stuff in storage and now Adam has claimed it. Since the academy had a temporary dinosaur exhibit AND a rainforest, it was a perfect fit! Plus, the weekend of Adam’s birthday was pretty low-key due to everyone being tired from the trip, so I’m glad we got to go out on an adventure.

Our first stop was the The World’s Largest Dinosaurs temporary exhibit, there were a lot of sauropod fossils! And some partial re-creations of the Argentinosaurus and Mamenchisaurus. It wasn’t as exciting for them as the dinosaur hall we saw a few weeks ago in Philadelphia, but it’s as close as we were going to get to satisfying Aaron’s desire to see dinosaurs for now and he seemed happy with it.

From there we went to the rainforest exhibit, where Adam was very excited to wear his hat. The rainforest globe is filled with butterflies, which the boys have been talking about ever since, and we were all delighted when one of them landed on Adam’s hat!

Seeing Claude was definitely a highlight. We have Claude: The True Story of a White Alligator by Emma Bland Smith, a children’s book about him, but this was the first time the boys saw him in real life! Aaron told us he was scary but didn’t actually seem very afraid, Adam said he thought he’d be bigger.

We then went to get lunch, a little late, but we were right on track to finish making our way through the cafeteria line when the museum fire alarm sounded. It took a few minutes, but it was soon clear that the alarm was real and wasn’t going to stop, and we had to evacuate, without our food! What followed was about 30 minutes of standing outdoors waiting to hear if we’d be let back in. A single fire truck pulled up to the front of the museum which the boys enjoyed, what they did not enjoy was being hungry, so I had to pull out the snacks. Fortunately that didn’t seem to dampen their appetite for lunch, once we were able to return to the museum they both ate well.

Once we were happily fed, it was downstairs to the aquarium! Aaron loves aquariums, and I’ve been wanting to go to this one since I made this discovery about him. Unfortunately putting it at the end of the day meant that everyone was getting tired, and I suddenly wasn’t feeling well. Still, we got to enjoy the rays swimming beneath our feet, and the boys got to see a lot of fish, and the downstairs view of Claude.

Our last stop in the aquarium was to visit 93 year old Methuselah, an Australian lungfish that’s been with the aquarium for most of her very long life. They discovered for sure how old she was last year via some new DNA tests and shared it during their 100th anniversary celebrations. Cool.

It’s surprising to me how many new things we’ve been bringing the boys to. It is very unusual that we have a three year old and a five year old who haven’t seen so many traditional childhood things! And then I remember the pandemic. We would have been able to introduce them to all these places and things much earlier if we hadn’t been sequestered for two and a half years! So while it’s unusual, it is our reality. I’m very happy that we’re at least healthy and able to do it now.

That weekend we also went to a farmers’ market in Oakland after meeting with someone who had a non-functional Oliver 9 typewriter for sale. I’ve been on the lookout for an Oliver 9 since I got to use one at the type-in in Philadelphia in November, but I wasn’t going to move forward with this one since it wasn’t working. MJ encouraged me to check it out anyway to see if it could be repaired. I watched some YouTube videos before we left, and through a basic inspection in the lobby I discovered that it was in really solid shape with all the important parts intact. So MJ bought it for me! Along with some flowers at the market. I’ve been pretty overwhelmed with things lately, and he knows that, so it was really thoughtful and sweet.

One of the things that has added to feeling overwhelmed is our four year old refrigerator. It stopped keeping things frozen in the freezer back in September and we’ve gone through a half dozen visits from repair and warranty folks over the intervening months. The timeline has definitely been lengthened by all our travel over the holidays, but it’s still a ridiculous situation. We’ve been effectively living out of my beer fridge, a large mini-fridge that we brought up from the garage, and only keeping a few semi-perishable things in the larger refrigerator, which was barely managing to keep a temperature below 50F. After our latest repair visit it didn’t even manage that, and the temperature rose to be in the high 50s, making it useless even for semi-perishable food. It’s now just a monolith that dispenses purified water. After discovering one evening that a bunch of recently purchased fruit had gotten moldy and feeling absolutely defeated as the kids clamored for fruit, MJ rushed to Lowe’s and picked up another large mini-fridge. Sigh. I really hope the compressor replacement solves the problem, living out of two mini-fridges isn’t very fun either.