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Happy Not Back to School Traditions

August 23, 2011

Today, there was a great collective sigh of relief in North Texas ( and over much of the rest of the state), as the kiddos all went back to school. Except at our house. We don’t go to school on the first day the Public Schools are back in session. It’s our Happy Not Back to School Day! We celebrate, normally, with donuts and park visits, but today…we gave it a bit of a twist (and I actually snuck something educational in..shh..don’t tell the boys – I don’t think they noticed!) Here’s us fueling up for our day with our traditional pre-game donuts.

Then we made a trek out to Irving to see the Genghis Khan exhibit – he was really just a misunderstood diplomat, really.

This is what the boys were like before going into the exhibit

This is what they were like when they came out of the exhibit! The Khaaaaaaaan experience got to them (and if any of you Star Trek geeks got that – give yourself a pat on the back.)

This is a traveling exhibit through Sept. 30th, locally. It almost seems like a Tourism Board of Mongolia take on the Khan experience at first. We, in the west, have always been taught that he was a ruthless conqueror, pillaging and (all that other bad stuff) his way across Asia and Asia Minor on his way to Europe. Well, he was, really, but in that goal to take over the world at that time, he is credited with a few cool things like Diplomatic immunity (safe passage for envoys), the Pony Express, the postal system, passports, modern borders of China, blah..blah..blah..and pants!

For a small exhibit, it was pretty cool. Typical bits of badly done introductory movies you can’t hear above the noise in the gallery ( and we were practically the only people there), and the picture quality was bad for the room they had it set up in. They kept warning that it was going to be so cold there, and even had a collection of  blankets and hoodies you could borrow if you so boldly ignored their suggestions to bring something with you. But it’s 108F in the Texas  heat – you know we’d WELCOME being chilly for a bit. But oh..no..it’s more than chilly – you’re going to freeze!

After passing turning into the first gallery – there was a display of a Shaman which spooked Aiden, and then a Ger (yurt), which had a small collection of more modernesque firearms inside (totally confused by that, and when asked why they were there..um..um…it’s a really OLD gun.) The boys ‘loved’ playing with the sheep knuckles dice game. My favorite part of this little area was when they had a few tiles explaining the work of the women in the era. Not only did they cook and clean and birth babies and keep the animals, they followed along after the men in battle and finished off what they didn’t get right the first time (finishing off the wounded enemies). All in a woman’s work !

After another gallery or two of cool stuff to look at, then comes the Princess Giant – a mummy from the era that was found in the mountain caves, mummified. She was as about my height, which would’ve been huge for a woman in that culture at the time. It was behind a private wall in case you turning a corner and being presented by her would freak you out. The boys were a little hesitant, and equally fascinated and grossed out at the same time. But the best part of all was Aiden’s declaration, “She’s not a REAL mummy – there’s no toilet paper on her!) BUWAHAHAHAHAHA – shows you what he remembers from his 1st grade year of Egyptian studies and us wrapping them up in TP to mimic being mummified! I’m such a great teacher!

Then we moved into the cold room. It felt grand! It really wasn’t colder than about 65 in the room, but I guess the docents were cold because they were bundled! This was the coolest room as it had weaponry and seize-equipment and a model trebuchet to play with. Since we were the only ones here, the docents took time to talk to us and educate us and let us play with the trebuchet to our heart’s content. I won’t say that someone in our group, to remain unnamed, pulled down the trebuchet arm a little too much and sent the ping-pong flying into the next  gallery where it hit an unsuspecting docent. We spent most of our time in this room with the boys and whistling arrow heads and touching the displays (and let me tell you – when you touch a display that has a clearly stated DO NOT TOUCH THE DISPLAY sign..those gallery cops WILL come and take you down.

Actually, he was quite nice and just said, “Mrs. Baldwin, please keep your hands off our 13th Century artifacts.” yes, it was me. We had been manhandling some displays of amour at the “it’s okay to touch this table’, and when I was trying to show Aiden the difference in the warrior armor of the time, and didn’t see (notice/ignored) the polite sign that said do not touch. But it was right there..in the open..not behind glass..and not on a wall. Doesn’t that mean it’s a hands-on display? Apparently not.

Thankfully they didn’t kick us out and let us finish the tour on our own..but there was this guy in a suit following us the whole rest of the way through the gallery. I never could figure out why. In the end the boys got to play in the kiddie archeological sand pit, make some Burger King-esque Mongolian hats, and browsed through the gift shoppe area.

We really did enjoy the display. Connor especially liked the weapon area. Aiden loved being able to make a bunch of noise with his shoes on the floor (he’s not really into non-interactive museum displays).  I found that Connor is truly like me in a museum…flitting around to things to get a quick peek…then coming back to the one thing that caught his eye.

And as a note, as we were told quite a few times before we ever stepped inside, and then once when we asked for one little, itty bitty cellphone photo of the trebuchet so we could do it at home, NO PHOTOS. And if you are appreciative of our current outdoor temps here in North Texas, you might want to bring a hoodie or sweater or parka because once you get past the Princess Giant, it gets a bit chilly, though I was enjoying it and never felt uncomfortable. The boys did complain when they stood close to the walls where the AC was coming up, but otherwise, they were not uncomfortable at all.

Then we were off to explore the Gaylord Texan – a large hotel nearby that has a River walk through the middle of it. But when we saw the $12 parking lot for 0-3 hrs. of visiting time, we thought not. Then it was off to downtown Grapevine

In the heat of lunchtime Texas, this wasn’t the most fun part, but we were trying. The hourly town clock went off and the boys were intrigued. We visited the teasing cabin – from a far it looks like you will get to go in to explore..but no…there’s an entrance that’s blocked off once you step in with plexiglass, and covered in sticky fingerprints that didn’t look to have been cleaned since 1969. So there actually wasn’t a lot you COULD see LOL. We hit up the town sidewalk judge, who didn’t offer a lot of help, visited the Tourist Bureau that really wasn’t for tourists but for those companies coming in to bring tourism to Grapevine, and then home.

I love homeschooling!

What was your first day back  to school like?

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