Wednesday, November 28, 2007 ;
8:45 AM
Nov 25

Went to church in the morning.
We had searched online for a Church of Christ in Chicago. Found one with a detailed website. Copied the address, entered into the GPS and drove there.

That's the building. The services and sermon were roughly similar to the one in Utah as well as back home. It is a black congregation. All black. I didn't see any whites around, so I guess it is the neighborhood that is predominantly black? They were all very friendly.

Their singing is very different though. They sing a capella, but the style is very "gospel" like. We thought that movies like Sister Act are stereotypes of how blacks sing, but turns out, it is really in that style. So they have a lot of rubato, a lot of the song leader singing on his own, with different words, and sometimes going at very high octaves. They also like to do vibrato kind of effect, or is it glissando, don't know how to describe the style, sliding up and down the notes while vibrating the vocal cords? If you know what I mean. The song leader also sways and taps his feet quite a lot. So do the rest. Exactly same hymn books as Utah and Spore, but sound very different. New experience.

After church, we drove to Forest Preserve Drive to get some Eli's Cheesecake (store above). My student highly recommended it. The cheesecakes are supposedly slow-baked the old fashioned way to bring out the best flavors of the ingredients, which includes slow-cultured cream, sour cream, Madagascar vanilla beans and whole eggs. It is then baked on high quality crisp all-butter shortbread cookie crust.

Best of all, they have so many different yummy flavors and combinations! We were only able to buy one cake, so we chose the mixture kind. One cake having 4 different flavors. We brought them to Shawn's house in the evening as he was hosting dinner. We left the cheesecake in the car boot all the while, and the temperature of the surroundings were cold enough to act as a fridge. :-)

After that, we used our GPS to get to a steakhouse to have lunch.

Then we drove to Navy Pier.

Have I mentioned that I got into all the museums in Chicago for free? I have this Discovery Center membership that my mom bought for the boys in Jan. It lasts for a year. Only around $100. Just by visiting the Discovery Center in SLC, I had long already made the fees worth it. We went countless times. Then, they are in the scheme where science centers and museums around the world join. Even the Singapore Science Center is in the list. It works like this: whenever you visit a museum on the list that is at least 90 miles away from the one you are a member of, you get free admission for the whole family.

It's supposed to benefit the tourist. Since they assume 90 miles means you are vacationing away from home.

When I knew that, and saw that the SSC is also on the list, I was kicking myself. Cos if I had joined as a Friend of SSC in Spore, then came here, it'd be even better. I'd also gain free admission to all the museums in Utah!!!!! From the SSC webpage, family membership (up to 2 adults, 3 kids) is S$50!!!!

Ok lah, nevermind, I already made it really a good deal. So the Field Museum cost so much already, and this Chicago Children Museum too. And besides getting free admission, it felt so good to bypass the super long queues, esp at the Field Museum. There were snaking queues and we were able to go right up to the "For Members" booth and then gain admission right away.

For those back home: go get your SSC membership if you plan to visit museums anywhere around the world. This link shows you that SSC is part of the ASTC passport program. There are many museums on the list, including Canada, Australia, Malaysia etc. Definitely will get your money's worth, what with all the interesting Science magazines you receive as a member.

First thing at Navy Pier, we visited the Chicago Children's Museum, cos they close at 4.30pm, and they had a Curious George Exhibition right then. ds2 loves Curious George a lot.

Above left: ds1 in uniform, operating a pulley lift?
Above right: ds2 running around the Curious George exhibits, mostly to discover different scientific principles, although it seems mostly physics than anything else. Light, sound, forces, magnets, electricity...

The museum is also huge, several storeys. So we didn't do everything. The kids spent a lot of time in some of the halls, like this water-play area below.

Above left: ds1 is in the foreground, hooded up, cannot see his face. ds2 is behind him, without hood, but also wearing that raincoat thing to keep their clothes dry. Both are connecting pipes and tubes to a forceful water source, to see how water flows. Some of the tubes had tiny holes at the side, and they could see that water flows out at right angles. Ok, there are various other tubes with different features too, I dare not elaborate more, cos I don't know what principles are behind using them, and I don't want to make a fool of myself. hehe. First one to laugh loudly at me would be law, then teck, then chowcw.

Above right: another area of the water play hall. This area has buckets, pulleys, boats, blocks and things that float or sink in water. ds1 was just playing around.

Above: the center of the museum has this long vertical rope tunnel that stretches up and spans maybe 1.5 storeys or 2? It then leads to a treehouse or ship thing. Can't remember what's the aim, but ds1 saw that and rushed ahead to climb. I only saw the sign that says : only children 5 years and above are allowed to enter/ climb. Oops! I was with ds2, dh was still parking the car then. It was too late to stop him. He had already started climbing and there were kids below him, climbing up too. I just prayed he will not lose his grip and fall.

Good thing he reached the end. He almost fell once or twice, and I can only stand by helplessly. His arms and legs weren't long enough for climbing certain sections yet, that's why. He even shouted down from the top to me, and waved. He doesn't know my heart was beating so quickly all the time he was climbing up. Sigh.

Above left: this inventions and discovery area had Lego, construction material and these foam parts. The foam pieces had velcro on them, and there were propeller and other shapes. Aim is to construct a flying machine (most pple did planes). You could then test it by hoisting it onto a step conveyor belt thingy, turn a handle to move your plane right up to the top and then release it. When it comes flying down, there's a timer to time the flight too. It was hoisted up real high, so it's really fun cos the plane can fly for quite a while.

Above right: ds1 has a trait I hope he will grow out of, or change. We are working hard on that. He doesn't like to lose or admit defeat. Playing games with him, if I win, he will get very upset. Not normal upset, but sometimes really angry. He outgrew that phase, and now if he sees I am going to win, then he'll change the rules, to suit himself of course. Or change the goal of the game. He hasn't learnt to cheat yet, but I must really make sure I teach him well that cheating to win is not right.
A simple eg: when we play chess together, the moment I start "eating up" more of his pieces cos he was careless, he'll then say "Oh, mummy, this time, we are playing who-has-less-pieces-left-wins". I'll refuse of course, then he'll not want to play anymore. Arrrrgggh.
Ok, so that day, he saw this rope with knots. He hopped onto it. But, he wasn't strong enough to pull himself up to the top. Only managed 2 knots up? His arms are so thin, of course, right? He refused to come down, despite dh and I kept on persuading him. He said he must get to the top. We spent a really long time there trying to tell him it's ok, that as he grows older, he'll be able to tackle it. He insisted he must reach the top. We wanted to help him (carry a bit lor), he flatly refused. "That's cheating!".
Museum was going to close, they started announcing over the PA system that we have 15min more. He finally jumped off very angrily, and then started crying. Like really loudly. Everyone was looking at us already. Sigh.

I know he was frustrated, but I guess he just needs to learn on his own, that everyone has limits and we cannot do everything we want to, all the time.

Oh, I forgot to mention, sometimes when that sort of thing happens, he'll scold the thing. Like "lousy rope, so lousy that's why cannot work". Whenever he acts like that, the saying "a poor workman blames his tools" comes to my mind. One day, I have to get that across to him.

Above left: after he has calmed down a lot of course. ds1 playing with the sculptured stone seats. Xmas decor in background.

Above right: he saw Santa and Mrs Santa, so he said he wanted to sit on Santa's lap. there was no one in the queue, so I let him. he talked with Santa for a long time. Most of which was out of my earshot. I was waiting with ds2 in the stroller. dh was not with us. Suddenly, Santa raised his voice and said, "Oh, so you want CANDY for Xmas, ho ho ho.". I got the cue, smiled at Santa and nodded my head, acknowledging the message. haha. Just candy? That's easy.

We walked the whole of the pier, and viewed the other museums there too. There's a stained glass museum, very pretty. I took many pics too, but it's just not possible to post every pic. Here're 2. On the left, you can see dh's silhouette.

Something scary happened after that. Dh went to get the car which was parked really far away. It would take at least 20 min. So I went upstairs to the Crystal Gardens. I wanted to take the skyline at night, and also the lights along the Pier. But the angle and view from the inside of the Crystal Gardens was not good enough, so I tried to get out. Most of the glass doors were locked. I went to a far corner where in the daytime it was supposed to be a bar counter selling some drinks. Behind the counter was a door.

Ok, let's try that. I tried it, and hey, it was unlocked, so I pushed the stroller through the dingy dark space behind the bar counter, guided ds1 through also, and we went out. The wind was chilly, but I told the kids, just 1 min, let me take some pics. Wow, nice view. But it was just a barricaded part that I was on.

Ok, got the pics. Turned back. Tried to open the door. Oh no!!! The door was a one-way door! You know, those at the ground floor of Golden Village Cinemas? Where, after the movie you walk downstairs, you can get out but cannot go back in, cos the doorknob wouldn't turn?

I panicked for awhile. The 2 boys were still oblivious. They were playing and talking to each other. I tried the door a few more times, looked inside, and there was no one else inside who could help me. I tried banging the door awhile. No use. No one there anyway.

I turned to look at the barricades. They were those metal kinds, with vertical poles in between and tiny gaps. They were all chained together, cordoning off the bar store area. I was already thinking, what to do?!? Are the kids and I going to be stuck up here. Should I call dh already and describe it to him? So he can come save us?

I went over, as a last resort, shook and tried to move all the barricades. Wah... so fortunate. One of the chains was loose and not locked! It fell off when I shook the barricade. Still, it took all of my strength to lift the barricade and shift it to the side so the stroller, boys and me passed through. Phew!

Maneuvered ourselves all the way to the other side of the building and got into Crystal Gardens through another glass door, got into the elevator down to the main hall again. Heaved a big sigh of relief.

Didn't tell dh about it, kids didn't know too, so everything's fine. I am recording it down so I will remember to be more careful next time!

When dh came, we got into the car and went to Shawn's house for the wonderful dinner.

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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