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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pretend City

Today, a friend and I took a summer field trip down to the OC to see a children's museum I read about in the Westways magazine.  Very cool. This was perfect timing for both of us, since our older kids are just young enough to still really enjoy all the stuff, and our younger kids are just old enough to be able to do everything.

It was a long drive. There is just no quick way south in the mornings. But it was worth the drive, particularly since it wasn't that crowded (I imagine it is much worse on the weekends). I was really impressed with how clean it was and well staffed, and they had staff occasionally cleaning up after the kids in each area. It was worth the price, especially since we had 2-for-1 admission coupons. The kids had a blast. The place is really set up like a little city. There is a fountain and park in the center, toy vehicles to drive around the little roadways, which lead to a grocery store, a community garden, a fire station, a beach, a boat marina, a construction site, a health clinic, a Sushi restaurant, a gas station, a library, an art museum, etc.

Tiana's favorite part was the boat marina, which was basically a bunch of water fountains and toys, little foam boats, fishing poles, etc. Vinny's favorite part was the theatre (shocker). Even Tiana got in on the dress up action at the theatre though. At one point she donned a technicolor dream coat, but then swapped it out for a piece of orange tulle that she had me wrap like a dress. Logan just loves dancing and put on quite the little dance show on stage. Tyler dressed up like a police office and walked around Pretend City keeping the peace.

Logan's dance show

The kids had a great time for almost 3 hours. At that point, Tina and I decided that we should probably quit while we were ahead, and leave before the "it's naptime" meltdowns started. We found a local park (which actually proved to be more challenging than it seemed --  OC is full of private parks for the private communities) where we ate lunch. It actually worked out to be the perfect park. The playground was right near the tables, so we were able to eat and watch the kids play (after they ate). All in all, it was a perfect day. By the time we headed home, they were all completely exhausted. The little ones slept the whole way home.

Vinny and Tiana at "dispatch"

The beach

Vinny being the dentist

He self-diagnosed himself with a broken leg at the doctor's office

Getting her to keep this out of her own mouth was kind of gross.

I was pretty proud that she paid for her food at the fake market. A lot of kids just shoplifted.  Haha.

Tiana's technicolor dream coat

Watching the proof that "trash drains to the ocean"
Mom friends: if you are planning a trip there, know that they DO have a little "real" cafe, but it's basically just vending machines and some snacks and drinks. They do have a couple of areas that would be okay for infants, but it would be difficult to watch your other kids from either infant areas, so keep that in mind if you are bringing more than one kid. We pretty much trusted the big boys to be on their own while we followed around our toddlers (but they did have people at the exit keeping an eye that no kids wandered out alone. No adults are allowed in without kids, and it seems overall pretty secure). Also know that they charge for each member of your family over 12 months old, including adults. We were able to find coupons online (the ones we used were just for this week, but I gather that there are frequently coupons offered). With the coupons, it was actually a great deal for a really cute place.

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