"Free" in the title above has two meanings, I guess. Last Friday was my only free day to take off work and spend Spring Break time with the kids. And we spent that day enjoying free (or kind of free) activities on the west side of Fort Worth.
We started the day (well, after Mom telecommuted for a couple of hours - bad, BAD workaholic Mom!) in the museum district. Where Mom got kind of cranky, because: (1) she forgot that you now have to PAY to park in the museum district; (2) she discovered that the five-dollar bill - and, in fact, all of her cash but two singles - had grown legs and walked away from her wallet; and (3) she discovered that she was bereft of cash AFTER she got stuck in the queue to pass through the "pay only" guard gate by Will Rogers Coliseum. There was no way to get out of said queue, so we waited our turn, apologized to the guard, made a U turn and backtracked to the new parking garage by the science and history museum. Garage takes credit cards, but garage is also a good bit away from the Kimbell Museum, which was our intended destination. That was okay, though, because the long walk afforded us an opportunity to view the ongoing construction of the second phase of the Kimbell. Specifically, we got to observe one of the big cranes ACTUALLY MOVING AND DOING STUFF. This was a big deal, because we almost never pass by the big cranes when they are in operation. This time, one of them picked up a load, we got to watch the conveyor wheels turn and move the load from the back of the crane to the front of the crane, and we also got to watch the crane swivel towards the other crane. The latter was quite suspenseful:
"Mom, the cranes are going to hit each other!"
"No, they are at two different heights - they just look like they are the same height from this perspective."
"But the other crane is moving!"
"Another optical illusion."
"But the cranes are too close together! If the one that is moving swings all of the way around, it will clip the other one!"
"Connor, you'd think that they would have enough sense to place them far enough apart to - HUH. They ARE too close together. But it seems that the crane operator knew that, because he stopped short. Almost like he knew what he was doing."
Note to file: construction workers who know what they are doing are kind of boring. My guys were really gunning for a construction accident on a major scale.
So we walked past the Amon Carter and on to the Kimbell, observing the construction as we went. We lamented the fact that the really cool front (or is it the back?) entrance to the Kimbell currently is cordoned off. We really like watching the big water feature that spills off of the porch and running through the mazelike side yard.
But the interior of the Kimbell is cool, too - literally and figuratively. Friday got kind of hot for winter - in the eighties - so A/C was appreciated. Also appreciated: Friday AM's family fun day activities, which centered on Ancient Greece. Ancient Greece is HUGE at our house. So huge that there was some early AM drama over the fact that Mom packed away Connor's Greek flag t-shirt. (Reason: it is an adult small. The Montgomery Plaza Super Target doesn't sell Greek flag t-shirts in kid sizes - not that one would expect it to sell Greek flag t-shirts AT ALL, given that this is the MONTGOMERY PLAZA Super Target, not the ACROPOLIS Super Target. He should be happy that I scored one for him that he can wear in a year or so. Until then, it's down to his knees and, therefore, in storage.)
Activity #1: Making our own Attic Red and Attic Black designs. Mom couldn't remember which was which: is it Attic Red if the figure is red or if the background is red? Our very patient, "looked-like-a-retiree-at-first-glance-but-I-recognized-his-name-from-his-badge-as-a-quite-prominent-orthopedic-surgeon-presumedly-on-his-day-off" docent actually went and asked someone for me. (Answer: the figure.)
The boys were somewhat offended by the family next to us. Said family had two small girls, who answered their docent's question, "Do you know what a myth is?" in the negative. "Well, do you know what a fairy tale is?" Affirmative. Both were big fans of Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel. Neither were familiar with Medusa. Who, if you ask my boys, had way cooler hair than Rapunzel. While the girls next door were receiving their instruction on Greek myths, Connor was hard at work drawing a depiction of Medusa turning various warriors into stone, with one of the warriors (Hercules?) fleeing up some steps. Like all Connor drawings, it was very precise and neat, and all of the ink stayed on the paper. Here's the result:
The A D Pi shout-out was not his idea. He drew the Delta, and the Pi next to it, and asked what other letter he should draw (he wasn't trying to spell things, just make the wall behind the action appear "more Greek"). Mom then appropriated the pen, put an Alpha in front of the Delta and thereby "hijacked his drawing," resulting in a little bit of wailing and teeth-gnashing.
Meanwhile, Parker had completed a drawing on one side of his page, filled half of the back side and started work on an alternative version of Medusa's demise, whereby she sees a reflection of herself and turns herself to stone. (This is the Percy Jackson version, the real version being that Perseus done cut the witch's head off. Mom likes the Percy version, because it's a little less violent and certainly more creative, and she was gratified that hyper-literal big brother did not correct little brother's historical inaccuracy.)
The first drawing (with the owls) he titled "Wisdom." Actually, he titled it "Wis [hard return], dom [very large period]." The second drawing is of Poseidon (who, Parker would like to point out, has the same kind of trident that Aquaman has), yelling, "Attack them" (again with the hard return thing). Next to Poseidon: the aforementioned non-historically-accurate Medusa.
Parker employed both Attic Red and Attic Black techniques. And, being Parker, and a member of the "it ain't art if you don't get messy" school, he turned himself Attic Black as well. Wait - if the background is black, then it's Attic Red. Whatever. He made a huge mess of himself. (This was a recurring theme for the day. Ink mess actually was mess #2. First mess occurred in the car on the way over, when big brother insisted on smacking mint-flavored gum in little brother's face. Little brother sneezed repeatedly as a result, which in turn led to much snot-bubble-age. Which the kids found hilarious, and which sent Mom scrambling for wet wipes. Oh, I should mention that the kids have inherited their mother's exceedingly odd, sort-of-peppermint allergy. I'm not actually allergic to peppermint, but if you give me one of those red-and-white mints, I will start to serially sneeze. I thought that this was a weird personal quirk, until I discovered that both boys have the same problem - so, apparently, it's a genetic trait? In any case, they enjoy tormenting each other by breathing mint-flavored breath in the direction of the other. Add that to the "free fun" column, courtesy of Mom's weird genes.)
After the art, we watched a film about Ancient Greece, written for a kid audience. I found it to be sort of dry, but it kept the kids' attention, so what do I know? We took a quick tour through the museum proper to look at ancient artworks and then headed back towards the garage, intending to shoot past it and spend an hour or so at the Museum of Science and History. Hey, we paid to park. Mom was going to make the most of it, and since we're museum members, admission would be free - more free Friday fun. But then Parker's stomach growled, reminding us that we had blown past the lunch hour. So to Mickey D's we did go, for happy meals and Young Justice toys. The kids also indulged Mom and accompanied her on a retail errand, and then we headed to the Montgomery Plaza Dollar Tree for saltine crackers and bubble solution. Next stop: the Trinity Park Duck Pond.
Ducks weren't digging crackers at 4 pm. Judging by the quantity of bread floating in the water, completely ignored, ducks had had their fill earlier in the day. Geese, on the other hand: BIG FANS of saltine crackers. We found all but two of the geese chilling in a fenced-off area that adjoins the pond which, judging from the placement of two too-tall-for-ducks feeding troughs, is "Geeseland." A particularly aggressive goose kept sticking her bill through the fence, wanting us to hand-feed her. Connor remembered that geese bite. Parker almost indulged her, until I swatted his hand away and advised him that one animal bite-related trip to the ER was enough for this calendar quarter.
Then we blew bubbles. And climbed trees and big rocks.
And then we went to Chuy's, so Mom could have a well-deserved happy hour margarita while we waited for Dad to meet us for dinner. Dad got a morning-and-afternoon hall pass to attend to actual business and also to "guy business" (of the March Madness-watching variety). The Chuy's part of our day of jubilee was not free, but it WAS happy hour, so if not free at least it was "cheap."
After dinner, we returned to the duck pond - actually, to the hills surrounding the pond - and slid down said hills on a giant piece of cardboard. Until Parker, allegedly, caused Connor to twist his ankle, resulting in a not-so-alleged-but-rather-parent-witnessed kick (by Connor) to (Parker's) gut. That ended the hill party in pretty spectacular fashion. (Don't worry - no six year-olds were seriously hurt in the making of this drama, and the boys made up on the car ride home.)
Here's a completely gratuitous shot of Montgomery Plaza from the sliding hill. Gotta give a shout-out to my retail home-away-from-home.
All in all, a good day. Oh, and Connor scored a t-shirt to serve as a gap-filler until he grows into the Greek flag one. It's red (his favorite color), with the Chuy's logo and a taco made out of LEGOs.