by Lyn Lomasi & Richard Rowell, Write W.A.V.E. Media
It happened to be a free day at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, so we decided to take Aja and Amber there since we had the time. Amber hadn't been there in something like ten years, and it was the first field trip we have been able to take Aja to in awhile. While most of the special exhibits happened to be paid ones on this particular day, we were still able to see all of the free stuff.
To chronicle our time there, Lyn and Richard took many photos that document most of the major sections that we were able to visit.
At the beginning, there was a guy in a walking dinosaur that was out greeting people. It actually freaked out a few little kids, of which there were many on this day. Next, we visited one of the smaller first-floor exhibits which featured the life cycle of butterflies.
Then, we visited Space Odyssey at the Coors Visitor Center to the Universe. There were many interactive displays here, and we would have liked to spend more time here. However, we were trying to see everything in a limited span of time, so we only spent a few minutes here.
Outside of the Coors Hall of Gems and Minerals, there were a few service puppies on display! One of them looked a lot like our Shih-Tzu Bo-Bo! He/she did have a white patch on his head and is smaller than Bo-Bo, but the coloring was almost the same!
We decided to take the elevator to the third floor and work our way back down to the Gems and Minerals exhibit later. On the third floor, we first visited the Egyptian Mummies exhibit on the third floor, one of the older ones at the museum. Rich got a little carried away with the mummy silliness, but it’s a fun little experience.
Next, were the Wildlife Halls exhibits on both the second and the third floor. After that was the Prehistoric Journey exhibit.The large dinosaur models built to scale, which are pretty awesome to see.
The North American Indian Cultures exhibit (should be Native American Cultures, honestly) is one that we had missed on a previous trip since it’s located behind the Wildlife Halls on the second floor. It’s pretty cool. Rich learned about the Utes, and he thinks he knows how to say it properly now. Since Lyn and the kids have Native American ancestry (Rich does have a tiny bit, as well), this was a particularly interesting exhibit. We also were quite intrigued by the Navajo Hogan dwelling.
Our final stop on our tour around the museum was the Coors Hall of Gems and Minerals. It’s both dark and a bit awkward to take pictures in close quarters. So, we don't have many photos of that.
We were able to see pretty much everything in the course of about an hour and a half or so. There were a couple of exhibits that we missed, including Expedition Health which actually did not require a ticket although we thought it did. They had people waiting outside because there are certain items that they don’t want brought in there. We’ll have to check this out on a future visit.
We could have spent more time in individual exhibits, but we only had a limited amount of time to see everything, as was mentioned earlier. The other exhibits all required tickets, which would have added up quickly.
Here are some of the photos we took as well. Click the photos to see the full view, as well as to enlarge them.
(There's more to the story after the gallery)
All in all, this is one of the best museums to visit on a free day. So if you happen to be in the Denver area for whatever reason, see if they are having an SCFD free day. It’s quite conveniently located and while parking is often full, you can always park nearby at the zoo, which is right next door.
All Images © Lyn Lomasi; All Rights Reserved
All Videos © Richard Rowell; All Rights Reserved
Kids Belong At The Beach
If you've been reading my work, you'll know that there are many places I feel kids belong in, such as outdoors and in trees. Kids also belong at the beach. It's where they can immerse themselves right in nature -- you know, beach mud, water, and the like.
From building sand castles with their mommy's used Mountain Dew bottles (yeah there's unfortunately enough to go around) to collecting shells on the shore or squishing sand in their toes from the ocean floor, my kids thoroughly enjoy beach time. Being in Denver, we haven't had any of that in a while and these are older pics. But I can't wait until our next visit to New York state -- and finally our move there in the future. They'll get some much needed beach time there, for sure. There's a man-made reservoir not far from us, where ironically these photos were taken. But it's not the same and has been getting dirtier and dirtier over time so we haven't been going there anymore, unfortunately.
Back to my point, beach time is both fun and necessary. Humans have a special bond with dirt. We like to get dirty. But that's really not the whole of it. Mud and sand is actually good for our skin -- and our soul. It has important nutrients that smooth our skin. But maybe more importantly, that feeling of squishing beach sand between the toes is irreplaceable, as is sifting the dry sand through our hands. Splashing in the water, feeling the ripples of the waves, and even feeling little fish swim between your legs is all a part of the experience as well. It's sad to think that some kids will never experience these things.
Watching boats, duck families, fish, and more from the pier is also a peaceful action that satisfies the soul. Kids these days are so stressed out and I firmly believe that it's because many of them are so immersed in television, video games, and other manufactured forms of entertainment that their brains never get a rest. Kids need nature, such as the beach in order to truly be at peace. I'm not saying they can't have a little fun with those other things -- mine do. But make sure your kids to a beach or other form of nature often. Let them get right in the thick of it, get dirty in it, meditate in it, explore in it, just have fun.
As I write this, I am at a park with my kiddos and their friends and they are relaxing out in a field of sand on some large rocks but were disappointed that the water in the small creek bed has dried up. It's a natural thing for kids to do to gravitate toward sand, water, and nature in general. Kids belong at the beach and elsewhere outdoors. When we can't get to the beach, we try to create that scene in other ways by getting out in nature the way we can. Before we had an apartment, we even built a mock beach in our backyard.
Have your kids been to the beach lately? If you are like us and don't have one near you, what other things do you do to replicate it?
*I originally published this elsewhere (no longer published there).
Kids Belong in Boxes
by Lyn Lomasi, Write W.A.V.E. Media Staff
Ever bought your kid an expensive toy only to have the box be the best entertainment? Of course you have. There's a reason for that. Kids belong in boxes.
Boxes hold a treasure trove of possibilities for kids. They can use them for lemonade stands, dollhouses, playhouses, cars, circus tents, posters, and so much more. If you haven't let your kids play with boxes, they're missing out big time – and you are missing out on some long-lasting busy time for them that you can take advantage of.
About a month or so ago, a new neighbor moved into our building in the apartment complex. The kids were fascinated watching them come out with so many boxes to leave them on the patio. Since they appeared so interested, I suggested they go ask if the neighbors needed help.
Turns out they were going to take all the boxes to the dumpster. So the kids offered to do it for them. But I suggested they actually bring all of the boxes inside for some fun. Well of course they were thrilled by that and invited their friends over to build for hours on end. It was the weekend so the fun went on for a few days straight.
Even though a few rooms in our apartment were filled with cardboard box concoctions (including the living room), I let the fun go on until the boxes were pretty much unusable. Even the pets got a kick out of this and could be found lounging in a few of the playhouses.
Am I a "ghetto” mommy? Some might say so where things like this are concerned (I prefer “resourceful” or as my friends affectionately call me “Black Martha” – yes, they mean Martha Stewart). But am I a fun mommy? You bet. So give me all the labels you want. My kids (and all of the neighborhood kids) love it.
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Positive discipline consists of more than disciplining your child in a calm manner. Positive discipline for children should consist of steps that lead to the child's well-being and development, teach a lesson about the issue at hand, and not be condescending in nature. In positive discipline for children, the action taken should lead to the child understanding why his or her behavior was wrong, as well as teach that child a life lesson that will help to prevent similar incidents in the future.
First, there are a few things to remember about positive discipline for children. Every family will not follow the exact same methods, as every family is different. Also, different methods should apply to different situations. A child who has hit another child should not be getting the same form of positive discipline as a child who forgot to make his bed before breakfast.
Different misbehaviors have different consequences and the discipline should fit accordingly. Also, remember to always follow through. Any form of positive discipline for children that is discussed, yet not carried out, will be ineffective. Not following through shows a child that he or she can do certain things without consequences and that isn't a good idea because that is not how the world works.
Daily Chore Add-Ons - One good form of positive discipline for children is to add on an extra daily chore for a week. Doing this can teach a child responsibility. At the same time, it also teaches a child that there are consequences for actions.
Misbehavior Journal - Another good form of positive discipline is to have a journal for each time a child misbehaves. The child should write down what his or her feelings were during the time of the act, as well as why he or she committed the misbehavior. This should be a private journal between parent and child. None of the children should ever see each other's journals. Once the child has written down the thoughts, the parent should in turn, respond to those thoughts with understanding, as well as a way for the child to resolve that type of situation in the future.
Behavior Money Jar - I also like to keep a jar for each kid in a place easily accessible by older children, but out of reach of younger children. In each kid's jar is any money they have that isn't for savings. Each time one of the kids does something that hurts another in some way, they have to take out a pre-determined amount (depending on what they've done) and place it into the child's jar who they've hurt or offended. Each time they do something good for someone, I might place a certain amount of money into their jar, but not always. This form of positive discipline for children reflects what may happen in adult life. In adult life, if we hurt someone, we are likely going to be paying for it in the long run. Likewise, if we do good deeds, eventually they will come back around. However, it doesn't work that way every single time, which is why I only give the money sometimes.
Volunteering - Volunteer work is also a great form of positive discipline. You never want to insinuate that the volunteering is a form of punishment because that sends the wrong message. You instead want to say something like, "I noticed that you were unhappy about some of the food choices we made in the grocery store. How about we go together and donate those foods to people who don't have the same type of choices we have?” Then, go from there with the volunteer work. This will likely trigger the child's thought process and let him or her realize that they cannot always have everything they want. It hopefully will also cause them to think twice about complaining when they know there are kids out there who don't have a fraction of what they do.
Good Deeds - Similar to the volunteer work, another great method is to elect the offending child as "Favor Giver of the Day." For one day, this person has to do at least one requested good deed for each member of the household. This form of positive discipline for children is good for when the child has disrespected one or more family members. This lesson usually teaches a child that it's more fun to help others than it is to mistreat them.
Note: The author's positive parenting method has evolved into what she calls Upstream Parenting.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network