18th June 2010


Exploration Place has some new exhibits that are a lot of fun.

Zane has been interested in studying the human body, so this was the most perfect exhibit possible for him.  It was really well done and kept both kids, but especially Zane, really engaged.  The animatronics did elicit some nervous giggles from Zora, who was a little freaked out by giant talking creatures.

“Gas Attack” pinball, with info on what causes gas.

The Urine game:  a video game where you learn which things the body leaves in the bloodstream and what gets sent into the urine.

Foreground:  Operation game with rubbery organs; Background:  Digestive tract playground…you walk in the mouth, slide down into the stomach and then past the intestines, and exit through the, well, let’s just say you exit onto a brown mat.  :laughn1:


There was also a “More Munsch” (author Robert Munsch)  exhibit that talked about creating stories.  It had a lot of neat literacy stations.

And, of course, the familiar exhibits that they always want to see.

Zora *needed* to stop by and play Veterinarian for a while with the other kids.

And the Tornado machine.  (yeah, you can tell these kids were raised in Kansas…they get less than concerned about high winds.)

In fact, Zane is nearly blissful.  He wants to do this over and over again.

In the flight room

An EP employee actually took the time to walk Zora through an entire flight sequence.  It was really neat.

And, in the corner of the flight room, an exhibit we had never stopped at before, but this time it captured the kids attention for quite a while.  It is an active beehive, with the hives inside plexiglass (or something like it) and an exit to the outdoors for the bees.  It was a lot of fun to watch.

It was a great trip.  He has been reading a lot about the human body, especially the digestive tract, and after leaving they both have wanted to know more about bees.  It was on a Friday, when the Zoo has their “wet & wild Fridays”, so the crowd was greatly reduced.  The perfect amount of people…enough that Zora could get some interaction, but Zane wasn’t overwhelmed.

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9th January 2010

A day at Exploration Place

We had enough energy to actually go to Exploration place today.  It was really fun.  They are having their last weekend at a “Making Monster’s” traveling exhibit that demonstrates how they make monsters for movies, and lots of actual props from movies.  As usually, an interactive exhibit.  I snapped a photo and then noticed the “no photos” sign, so I sheepishly put the camera back in my bag.  Whoops!

Then we ran around the castle.  It was the first time in a long time I had the energy to deal with all the stairs everywhere.  It is a really neat play area.

This is a room we always spend time in.  It is Kansas in Miniature, with every county represented by at least one structure or landmark.  I inadvertently got the building that represents my hometown in this shot as Zora watched the trains.

What every sensory seeking kid loves

It must have been near feeding time because all the various critters were awake and active.  This bull snake kept following the kid’s movements as the watched it and made it perfectly clear why there is also a closed top on the cage.

A favorite…the water maze table (shows how hydro power works).  When we came to it, the kids before had basically built damms and the balls couldn’t move through the course.  Zane studied it for a while, then moved about 3 pieces at different points, making it work again, then smiled and walked away. Zora just kept trying to get balls.

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11th March 2009

Meeting a friend at Exploration Place

#70 Maze love

We went to meet some friends from ST at Exploration Place. When we walked into the main hall, I knew we were going to have problems getting Zane past the room into the rest of the building. The big hall was filled with mazes, Zane’s obsession for a while now. He happily traced or walked the path through every maze in the room.

Zora, my social one, made “friends” within minutes of being there.

Zane did play with Zora on the singing see-saw (it had balls in that ran through chimes as you moved the see-saw up and down)

This is a reproduction of a maze that is in his favorite book about mazes. He spent a lot of time working this one out.

Eventually Justin and Rose caught up with us. The lady in this picture (I can’t remember her name any more) was one of the counselors at Camp STARR at Heartsprings last summer and knew Zane too. Justin is about a year older than Zora and they often play together after his ST. (Zane’s session is right after Justin’s this semester)

We did make our way to a few other displays before ending up in the toddler play area.

Zane really liked the tornado booth. Figures.

I didn’t really get any photos of the play area because I was too busy keeping track of kids and talking to other parents. I did meet another mom new to the country who was wanting her son to be evaluated for autism. She was really excited to see Zane (he was looking mighty autistic that day) and quickly broached the subject, relieved to find somebody who could point her to resources. In Japan she was a SpEd teacher, but had no idea how to access resources here. Needless to say, by the time she left she had a pretty good list of resources. It made me feel like I was there for a reason.

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12th January 2009

Random Saturday

At Exploration Place, “Little Explorers Workshop” started back up. The theme was “snow” and they had instant snow they could make (you add water to white powder and it grows into snow…really freaky and neat looking), made “snow ice cream” (well, with ice instead of snow because there is no snow right now), and did a snowman craft.

Comment on Zora’s picture: I was impressed with the face. She is getting a lot better at fine motor control and keeping the face where it should be.

Comment on Zane’s picture: I love the expressiveness of the picture (although I am not sure it really translated well to film). One interesting thing was the scarf. He did the main part in red, as you can see, but his interpretation of the red over the blue paper on the scarf tails was that it was done in a brown instead of red, so he picked up the brown crayon to draw that part.

Zora loves having access to the trampoline, but instead of just jumping, she often gets undressed and then jumps. She had a dress, socks and shoes on a minute before this. I guess she is annoyed because they got in the way. lol

Being goofy, snuggled in the blanked Zach got from my Grandma.

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16th December 2008

End of last week: winter weather and crafty fun

In Speech Therapy this week he decorated cookies. He specified that he wanted the tree for himself, the reindeer for Zora, the bell for Daddy, and the snowman for me.

We had snow, but it warmed up enough that they could go stomp around in the melting snow the next day. (wouldn’t be able to do that now, way too cold)

Saturday was the last week of the semester at Exploration Place. It was a Christmas Party and the kids all added some decorations to a big gingerbread house that would be on display, made sparkly Christmas Tree crafts, Rang bells, and the story was the Nativity Story.

Zane’s tree

The last few weeks, when we go from the room to the carousel, Zora has been holding hands with the other little kids. It is really cute to see the little lines of kids holding hands.

Much anticipated carousel rides

Going home

posted in Autistic Life, Crafts, Exploration Place, ST, The Kids, Winter | Comments Off

9th December 2008

Baby, it’s cold outside

Yesterday, the kids kicked off their shoes to run around outside.

Today, it was freezing cold and snowing. In an unusual conflict, Zach and I both had to be downtown at conflicting times, and only one vehicle could be driven in this kind of weather. (I never purposefully make plans anywhere at a distance during the week in the winter, but the Saturday class for this last Saturday at Exploration Place had been full since the beginning (the first class to fill up) and we were on the waiting list. Last week we got a call that there were openings for today’s class and the weather looked like it wouldn’t be a problem. Wrong.

Anyway, we decided that Zach would work from home in the morning (he can log in remotely and work by phone as easily as going into the office) and I would take the kids, and then he would drive in after lunch. On the way there, it was snowy and a little slick, but not bad. The trip home was much more dicey and I didn’t even want to chance the interstate after almost being slid into a few times before I hit the onramp. (a fender bender seemed like a much better deal than an injury accident at higher speeds). I was almost involved in two more accidents after that too, and gave really wide girth when I saw other trucks sliding through intersections and into adjoining lanes to avoid rear ending people. This is Kansas…people are not unaccustomed to bad weather here and usually scoff at people who can’t drive in nastiness.

We got home, ate some lunch, and Zach headed out to work. It took him 20 minutes to get to the onramp area and it was like an ice skating rink out there, so he turned around and came home. We drive an all wheel drive SUV, so it was pretty nuts for it to be sliding around like that. We heard there were well over 100 accidents by noon, and even though the snow was getting better, the slush had frozen over due to the wind and it was not fun, even for people who are used to the weather. (the wind was pushing us around a lot too, and without good traction, you would change lanes whether you intended to or not)

Anyway, the morning was good. Both kids had fun and were listening well enough that I wasn’t ready to pull my hair out by the time we left. There was some whining that we had to go right away, but I knew I needed to get the vehicle back to Zach (and really glad I left when I did because the roads kept getting worse) and they both were upset, but no meltdowns or total tantrums, just complaining. That was really good. The combined temperments can be really challenging, especially when there is only one parent, so I was really pleased and proud of them today.

The theme today was “Gingerbread” and they each made a little gingerbread house, a gingerbread craft, and some gingerbread themed toys, gingerbread colored playdoh, with a gingerbread snack. Zane ADORES gingerbread houses, so this was a lot of fun for him.

Zora’s gingerbread house, with help from one of the workers there

Zane’s gingerbread house, his design, although I had to help with some of the squirt frosting because it was really hard to get it out of the can for some reason.

Zora playing with the kitchen. She wanted to take her playdoh cookies with her to the kitchen area and protested when I thwarted her plans, but had fun anyway

The white squiggly things were too long, and there were no scissors, so he carefully folded them behind and glued them down to make it look neat. He did the craft totally independently.

Every week, at the end of the session, the kids get to go to the old fashioned, hand carved carousel. Zane rides independently, and stand next to Zora for safety.

Waiting for it to start

posted in Autistic Life, Crafts, Exploration Place, The Kids | 1 Comment

8th November 2008

Exploration Place Saturday

This week’s theme was “Animals preparing for Winter”

Making a pinecone birdfeeder

Art/craft…animals and their winter homes

Then some play time. (this is a “match the sound” game, which was really challenging him until he discovered that there are colored dots on the bottom that indicates which ones match.)

There was also “nut sorting” (had a variety of nuts in the shell and you sorted them by type) and a snack. During circle time where she used one book to talk about different ways animals prepare for winter, then read “The Mitten”.

At home, hanging the birdfeeders.

Zora, not wanting to come inside.

posted in Autistic Life, Crafts, Exploration Place, The Kids | 1 Comment

4th October 2008

Exploration Place Saturday

This Saturday’s theme was “Trucks”. Both kids had fun. They painted pictures using little trucks as “paintbrushes” (the pictures were the tire marks in paint), they built little trucks, they had a snack, they played with moon sand, and there were a bunch of trucks and vehicles to play with. Zora lost it when circle time came, but Zane did well. He participated in a version of “The Wheels on the Trucks go round and round” and sat nicely while she talked about trucks and read a story.

The class ended up with the same thing they did last week, which I think might be how they always end the class…they go to another part of the building that has a historic carved carousel with all sorts of different animals to ride a round. Last week Zane wanted to be on the one unmoving animal (the Lion), but this week he ran to the horse. Zora wanted the giant turkey, and throughout the ride pet the turkey and said “nice tuw-kee”.

Here is the little trucks that they made (with Daddy’s help, one at a time). Zane’s has the windows drawn on, Zora’s had the bed colored in.

After the class, we planned on spending the afternoon in the rest of the museum messing around. It ended up only being for an hour because Zora just could not handle it. But, for a while we had a good time.

This water table shows how impediments alter water currents. Zane has liked this before, but playing with a bunch of other kids kept him far more interested in it because everybody had a hand in changing the way the balls flowed down the maze.

Zach showed Zora how to do a leaf rubbing. She didn’t really “get” it, but she had fun coloring for a minute.

They had a new exhibit on poop. It was pretty cool. Zane actually was able to match the various poop with the animals successfully.

Here he is playing the funniest educational game I think I have seen. It is a dung beetle derby. You roll the giant ball of “dung” and it moves your beetle up the hill, trying to shove the ball of dung up to the top. He was very impressed. lol.

Zora liked the frogs in the cave. As she was getting ready to leave the area, she declared the frogs “cute”, and then proceeded to kiss the window right where the frog was *shudder*

This was a part of the Jane Goodall exhibit. Zane thought the chimp nest was pretty cool.

I wish the shot I took right before this came out. Zane was riding the horse so hard I was scared he was going to knock himself out as the head of the horse came back. Zora saw him riding and ran, both arms up in the air, yelling “horsey” with glee as she clammored on her steed.

Through the entire museum, Zora had increasingly bad meltdowns at each stop. We decided to cut the trip short, skip the trip to the “Touch a Truck” kid’s event at the stadium, and just go home. It turned out to be a good thing because about 20 minutes after we got home an intestinal thing hit me full force.

I was so dissapointed. I had a wedding I really wanted to go to tonight, but there was no way I was going with Zora having such a hard time (not sure if she is getting sick, but she does sound like she has some sinus thing going on) and me not sure if I could be that far away from a bathroom. Not the way I wanted to end the day, I tell ya.

posted in Exploration Place, Homeschool, The Kids | 1 Comment

30th September 2008

Muncha Muncha Muncha Saturday

This fall we are planning on doing this with the kids:

It is at the local hands-on science museum Exploration Place. I talked to somebody in charge to make sure it was a good fit for Zane. She is a retired SpEd teacher and was positively delighted that I would be bringing Zane. What a great fit! She brought her rabbits, and she has had them at several different event for SN kids, including the repsite care group (ROCKKO) and I think she said Heartsprings. (could be wrong on that though)

The motivating factor of getting us to go from “I think this would be fun” to “we have to try this” was the fact that this week they were using one of Zane’s favorite books as the theme “Muncha Muncha Muncha“.

It is the story of a man who is trying to keep the rabbits out of his garden, and every night he erects another obstacle to keep out the rabbits, but every night the rabbits get through the obstacles (each obstacle has it’s own sound effect, so the rhythm of the journey to the vegetables builds each time). 

They had several stations set up, including a craft, playdoh, toys & books, and snack.  After they explored the stations, there was a story time and she brought out the rabbits to pet. She made sure that Zane was able to participate as much as possible, giving him a little time when he needed it, making sure instructions were clear, etc. It was a great experience for both kids.

posted in Autistic Life, Exploration Place, The Kids | 1 Comment

  • Zane's age

  • Zane is 22 years, 6 months, and 21 days old
  • Zora's age

  • Zora is 18 years, 6 months, and 25 days old
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  • Many times the only difference between having a weird kid and having a seriously expensive, heart breaking, time consuming, life altering psudo-medical problem is the word “Diagnosis”. — ShaggyDaddy (MDC)

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