Why the Tree of Life?


Star Wars

And now, the trip we have all been waiting for... Star Wars in Houston! Months!--- we (and when I say we here, I mean Dunagan) have been waiting months.

The Health Museum in Houston hosted an amazing exhibit, and it has been there all summer, but I waited until September for us to go. I have figured out the secret--- go to museums in September. School groups aren't yet moving through like cattle going to market. We have the place to ourselves.

Anyway, they had lots of actual artifacts, props, models and costumes from all six episodes. They also had lots of interactive spots illustrating "star wars" technology that we have today.

(Some of my pictures are a little blurry. My excuse is that is was *very* cold in there. You know... shaky camera...)

Anyway, we saw comparisons between Hoth and Antartica, and Tatooine and Tunisia. We saw how hard it is to get robots to walk on two legs in real life, and we saw some examples of current technologies in robot facial and emotional recognition.

The kids also got to experiment with maglev technology that is used in high speed trains in comparison to the landspeeder in the movie.

It was about this time that Ayla really lost it (cold, hungry, bored), and she and I abandoned ship to sit outside and start in on lunch--- and slowly thaw. All that is to say, *I* did not get to see their final cars run down the track, but I hear it was cool.

After lunch, we went into a second exhibit that was a Star Wars robot lab. I have to say, I was very impressed. One drawback to going to an exhibit that is on its way out is that most of the interactive stuff is broken and inoperable. But everything here still worked!

So, you take your little R2 unit, and you decide which style of wheels you want, and then you take it over to two more stations and program it to run through a simple little course.

True to their natures, Dunagan dove right in and figured it out as he went along. Kirven sat back and watched until he was sure he could do it perfectly, and then he knocked it out as everyone else was ready to go and move on.

Though I didn't get pictures, we got to ride in a simulation of the Millenium Falcon.

The boys loved it; wanted to do it again. Ayla was: "A little bored, a little scared."

But she did become rather attached to her R2 unit and had a hard time understanding that it was not a take-home project or our new pet.

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Mayborn Museum

We went up to the Mayborn Museum in Waco with our usual partners in crime. They had a really great exhibit on Egypt that was on the way out.

Lots of hands on things for the kids to do.

Then we went upstairs to the children's wing where we spent the rest of the afternoon. The girls are standing inside a big bubble, though it doesn't show very well.

They spent a long time in the water room. Why does Waco have a better children's museum than Austin? I just have to say...

Anyway, well worth the drive. I contemplated getting a membership, but realistically, I don't know that we'll be back that often.

The kids built nice little arch and then had more fun knocking it down.

We began running out of steam in the pioneer room. We could have probably spent another hour or two.

Of course, Big Baby (seen here in the pink doll stroller) had to go with us, but Ayla somehow talked Q into pushing the stroller for her all day.
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One day, the boys wanted to tape Dunagan's eyes shut. It quickly devolved into what you see above. And then, of course, they wanted to take pictures of it. The picture really doesn't do the creepiness justice.
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The generator at the ranch went kaput, and Evan discovered that it was cheaper to buy TWO new (and much quieter ones) than it was to have the old one fixed. Gotta love consumerism.

Well, we thought the old generator was scrap, so Evan started taking it apart with the boys. Lo and behold, he discovered what caused it to seize up, and it was simple (loose bolt flying around in the wrong places) and fixable. Very exciting!

We are now awaiting new gaskets arriving in the mail, and then I might be able to have my parking space back.

This is my favorite vantage point for these types of projects.

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Ayla's manicure

Ayla painted her fingernails with a pink highlighter this morning.