We promised the kids we would go do something fun if they behaved, and they earned their treat. It’s kind of hard finding stuff to do on a budget sometimes, but we really lucked up this year. Groupon ran a deal earlier this year on a membership to the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis, the home of the infamous “real” dinosaur I blogged about previously. For $85.00 we got a deluxe family membership including unlimited passes to their planetarium and quite a few IMAX tickets. It basically paid for itself the first time we used it, but the really awesome part is that the membership gets you in free to other museums. One is the McWane Science Center in Birmingham, which is just a few blocks away from the infusion clinic Korban goes to. We took him there on his birthday, after his infusion last month and we loved it. So we knew Selah needed to see it to. It’s so awesome to be able to get in for free and not even have to pay for parking! I even packed a cooler so we wouldn’t have to worry about lunch, or snacks or drinks. It worked out really well.
So we’ve been doing this infusion thing for a year in a half now--that’s 18 times--and we feel we have it down to a science along with our team of great nurses. We even felt comfortable enough this time for Selah to stay in the main room watching TV while Korban, Brad and I went with two of the nurses to a private room to put in the IV. We go to a private room because it has a bed we can lay him on to better hold him and also because he is so loud we don't want to scare all the other little patients! Once we were all in place, with Korban sufficiently held, it only took one quick try to get the IV in his foot, which he prefers, but he still puts up a fight each time. Once the IV is in they push his Benadryl, which is required for the infusion but he refuses to take by mouth, and each time he passes out asleep almost immediately. The fighting so hard tires him out pretty good and then the Benadryl takes care of the rest. Once we get back into the main room Korban likes for his daddy to carry him and then lay with his daddy in the chair and sleep. Now there is always this lady there who helps with special projects and such to keep the kids happy. I think she is a volunteer, and she's very sweet. She goes around to all 10 stations or chairs and checks with each patient to see if they would like their faces or hand painted. Korban does not care for this but Selah takes her up on the offer each time. So as Korban was still in the midst of drifting off Selah went with the lady across the room to get her face painted. Selah requested for it to be a surprise for mom and dad. When she returned her face was painted like a beautiful little kitten. She was so happy with herself and how it turned out that it just made her morning to show it off, so she went around to the other patients and did just that. Also, she spoke to me in meows for a good portion of the morning.
Korban snoozed right up until the end of his infusion, while Selah watched Dora and bounced around some (it’s hard for a 3 year old to sit in one location for so long you know, but she was super good overall.) Once we got him unhooked and all of our stuff loaded, we piled back into the van and headed on over to McWane Science Center. Korban was very excited to be going back, and Selah was super excited too. I love taking them to places like this. I just love that it’s hands-on and they can learn new things while having fun. I prayed that it would be a good experience and we wouldn’t have any outburst of aggression or meltdowns for Korban and that Little Miss would be good too. I don’t take these family experiences lightly.
Also, it’s very good to see Korban actually interacting with the hands-on stuff and trying it out for himself. A few years ago he would only look, but we could tell he was interested so we kept trying and now he dives right in, sorta. So exciting!
Diving in has never been an issue for Selah, we just have to make sure she doesn’t dive so far in we lose track of her, as she usually hits the ground (or the giant piano) running.
So we let the kids play and run around looking at all different kinds of things. Korban’s favorite level last time was the one with the aquarium area. (Of course it was!) He kept asking me to go look at the octopus. I honestly didn’t even remember them having an octopus, but he sure did. He even remembered where the area was located and started pulling me toward the stairs as soon as we got close saying “Let’s go see the octopus.” So we went, but unfortunately the octopus wasn’t in his tank. I figured maybe they had taken him out to check him or something, so I told Korban he was taking a nap. He asked me if they folded the octopus up to take a nap, and I said no. I sincerely hope the poor octopus isn’t dead and folded up in a box somewhere, so that we can see him next time we go!
They also have a stingray and shark tank where you can reach in and pet them. They’re little hammerhead sharks (I think that’s what their called at least) and not like something from Jaws, and the stingrays have their barbs removed so no worries of any danger. Korban loves stingrays, and he will rest his hand in the water, but he won’t usually reach in far enough to actually pet one. I found out why yesterday—he doesn’t like getting that wet. I’ve known for a while that he is very uncomfortable if his clothes are wet or whatever, but I never made that connection with reaching into the stingray tank. I kept reaching in and trying to get him to, and then I would rest my hands on his shoulder or take his hand and try to show him and he kept pulling away from me. He said “Mommy’s like a stingray,” and I still didn’t understand. I finally figured it out when he pulled away from me yet again and said “Mommy’s wet like a stingray! You bothering me!” Ha! Gotta love improving verbal skills. Truly makes life so much easier! He was upset because my hands were wet and I was getting him wet. So I tried to be more mindful of that.
Selah loves the stingrays and would get in and swim with them I think. When she was younger and we were at the Tennessee Aquarium petting their stingrays she told me she wanted to get a little stingray out to hold and maybe take home with us. I had to explain to her that we only visit the stingrays, not take them home as pets.
I love touching the stingrays, but I had never gotten to pet one of the little sharks before. The staff always cautions visitors to be careful and use a two-finger touch. But yesterday a shark finally swam close enough for me to touch, and I was so excited that while I remembered to just use two fingers, I pretty much just leaned in and poked the poor shark. It actually jumped and swam away from me really quickly. I scared a shark! Oops.
Selah’s favorite exhibit involved the large soft blocks that you would build things with. (And climb on and jump off of, of course.) She stayed in that area for a long time.
She also liked digging for dinosaur bones and the water feature and the sand table.
They had a big playground type area. It was sort of like a huge tree house with lots of little tube slides and climbers. Selah loves anything like that, but Korban is usually kind of fearful of getting in them (enclosed spaces). He’s been getting better about this and more willing to try things like that as long as I go with him. So off the three of us went yesterday while Brad stayed firmly on the ground and snapped pictures. Of course he did. Once Korban found something he liked, he just stayed in it while Selah climbed all over the place. I knew Brad was watching from the ground, but it was a very large area and I didn’t want to lose track of her. So I kept calling for her and trying to look around for her while I stayed with Korban to make sure he was ok. There was another little boy playing up there—maybe around 8-9, and he was the sweetest kid. He totally helped me keep track of Selah. “She’s over here, I see her! Climbing on the rope wall,” or “She’s on this slide, if you lean out you can see her.” I really appreciated that kid. We’ve had several instances like that happen in different places and I just feel like God always sends somebody, and it's very cool. I told my aunt about this, and she said “God’s everywhere.” I said “He sure is,” and she said “You wouldn’t have thought about God being in a museum for you before you had kids, but now you know.” Which I thought was a good point.
When it was time to get down and start making preparations to leave, the problem was I couldn’t get Korban out. He did not want to leave! I was so glad he enjoyed himself but it took a while to talk both kids down out of that tree. Literally! I told Brad that he better be thankful he has a short wife who can still fit in kiddy play structures or he would’ve been paying some 12 year old to climb up there and haul the kids down.
The only issue came when we were trying to leave and Korban didn’t want to go. Both kids were tired and he was asking for a drink and a snack, but didn’t want to leave. We tried to prepare him as much as we could, and I got him to take some deep breaths and Brad offered him a sticker if he left happily. He still got upset, cried, screamed and scratched me a few times, but it didn’t kill our day. Honestly, I’ve had worse. We got out of there and he settled down really quickly. Thankfully, most of his tantrums don’t last terribly long but they are quite intense.
We loaded the kids in the van and got them settled with drinks and snacks—water, crackers, and pineapple for Korban; chocolate milk, a granola bar and pineapple for Selah. They discovered a newfound love for pineapple rings. They’ve always liked pineapple, but they like to wear the rings on their fingers and eat them. Fruit jewelry!
As we were pulling out of Birmingham, Selah sighed sleepily and said “That was the coolest place…” as she drifted off to sleep. That’s a pretty high compliment from a three-year-old! As always, I’m thankful for another chance to make happy memories.