Gilbert House Children’s Museum

Last week, on their way home from their annual California adventure, my parents stopped by to hang with us for a few days. And by us, I mean Emmett. Because make no mistake, in Grammy and Pop’s book, that little guy has top billing. They brought him a few new toys (spoiled!) and let him open one each day they were here. Not only was he thrilled with a few new toys, but he just soaked up every minute of their love and attention. When they pulled into the driveway, his little arms were flapping one hundred miles per hour and he started growling like a mad man; his version of the engine on Pop’s car. The minute my Mom walked through the door he jumped into her arms, and as soon as he saw my Dad, he whispered, “Pop,” in a super serious tone. Like, “I can’t believe you’re really here.” It was so sweet.

I have to share what they brought because my Mom always does the best job trying to find simple, open-ended, high-quality toys for him and I just love the things she found in an educational toy store in Napa Valley. This PLAN Excavator has been a major hit, these Tallest Tree Stacking Blocks tell the coolest story and are a perfect addition to Emmett’s work shelves in the living room, and we are loving our ABC color-in placemat (similar to this one) that goes perfectly with our monthly theme, Language Arts.

We also decided to take advantage of Grammy’s presence, and an extra pair of hands, and hit the local children’s museum. Emmett and I took a trip up to the Portland Children’s Museum a couple months ago, but he was still a bit young for it, so I was super curious to see what our local one would be like. It’s always fun for me to observe Emmett in new environments, see what he’s drawn to, what makes him feel timid and even how he interacts with other kiddos.

We started out in the toddler room which had a big slide, a bunch of large foam blocks, and small basket of puppets and a light table. I’ve been thinking about borrowing a slide for Emmett to explore since he’s in such a gross motor development stage right now, but he was not super enthusiastic about it, so I think I’ll hold off on that for now. I’ve also considered snagging a bunch of these large foam blocks off Craiglist but hated the idea of having to store them, so it was also nice to see his interest level wasn’t all that high. The thing he was drawn to the very most in the toddler room was the basket of puppets, particularly the fox. He grabbed that thing right away, snuggled him up in a big hug and drug him around the room the whole time we were in there. He’s pretty tight with his moose, Marcell, and his stuffed Bambi at home, so this didn’t surprise me all too much.

One of his two favorite spots in the museum was, unsurprisingly, the farm room. There was a chicken coop, a garden with velcro fruits and veggies for picking, a cow that you could practice milking, two little tractors for driving, some wheelbarrows and a farmer’s market area where you could sell the produce you “picked” from the gardens. It was a pretty popular room, so we waited for a while for all the older kids to clear out- they were a bit wild for Emmett’s taste- and then he was thrilled to explore everything at his own pace in the peace and quiet.

It was so fun to see how interested he was in both the garden and the chicken area. I’m getting so excited about working in the yard together this spring and though it’ll probably have to wait until next year, eventually getting some chickens. Though he’s pretty stingy with his animal sounds, you can tell that Emmett is starting to know who’s who, and was super pumped about the milking cow. We could see him through the glass in the other room and it was all mooing, all the time. Taylor has the black and white photo of him mid-moo set as his phone background and it just kills me everytime I see it. That kid is the tiny little farmer boy of my dreams.

The airplane room had two giant wind tunnels and a whole mess of foam pieces that you placed in the bottom and watched fly all over the room. Given that Emmett loses his mind anytime we turn on the vacuum, mixer, or hair dryer, he was pretty pumped about these. You could just see the wheels turning as he tried to figure out how all those little foam pieces he put in the bottom were somehow falling on his head a few seconds later. I swear he still talks about the wind tunnels, standing up on his knees, making a wind noise and waving his hands in the air. I love the photo of him with his hand on the glass, staring up into the tube in wonder.

And finally, Emmett’s very favorite room of the day…the train room. Between the life-like model train that ran at the push of a button, the giant wall of rail cars for him to inspect and the wooden train table in the corner, I didn’t think we’d ever get him out of there. All he wanted to do was hear that train go “choo-choo” and watch it circle the tracks. We had to drag him out in the end, as it was our last stop, and you can see from the photos he’s asking Grammy to take him back in. This was a pretty cool spot, lots of light and endless trains. Pretty much heaven if you ask this little guy.

I’m not going to lie to you, sometimes places like children’s museums, the zoo or other such kid-centric activities leave me feeling a little overwhelmed. There’s crazy kiddos running around all over the place, it’s loud, it’s messy and you have to navigate interactions between tiny people whose parents you don’t know. My mom was making fun of me because I cleaned every room we went into, saying the museum was going to offer me a job, but I just don’t enjoy sitting in a room full of chaos! And I can’t control the people chaos, so at least I can clean up the toy mess. I also don’t feel like the kids get to enjoy the exhibits as much if everything is on the floor. So, I cleaned. And I took photos. And chased a curious little guy around, room to room, house to house. I can’t tell you that I’ll go on a regular basis, it’s just not my jam, but as a whole we enjoyed our afternoon at the museum.

Thanks for the visit Grammy and Pop! And for enjoying our little guy as much as we do.

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