Monthly Archives: May 2013

Ahoy, Mateys! or, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

My husband and I have taken two cruises in our lifetimes, one up the Canadian east coast out of Baltimore during fall leaf brilliance and the other sporting around the Mediterranean, starting in Italy.

You may have recently become aware of the fire on board the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas?


Yes, that was our ship. Well I’m guessing that no one will be having their hair done or be receiving a massage on deck 4 now, if I remember the ship’s plan correctly.

And the other cruise ship we’ve sailed on?


That’s right. The Costa Concordia!

We are two for two. Hmm. Anyone else have this problem?

Emily, Concerned Doer of Stuff


Okay, okay. I should be fair here. I have sailed on the Margaret Todd out of Bar Harbor, Maine:

Margaret Todd

And I’ve sailed on The Mar, out of Halifax, Nova Scotia:

the Mar

Both of these fine sailing vessels are still upright and not on fire. ūüôā


The Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science, Sioux Falls, SD

And we are off on another adventure!

This time we headed to the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Sciences in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which has been in operation since 1999 and is housed in the former Washington High School building. It was a rainy day so we headed to an indoor attraction, the Kirby Science Discovery Center, just one part of everything offered at the Washington Pavilion. My boys are total gear heads, so learning = fun, and everyone wins.


Admission prices are $7.50 for children (ages 3-12), $7.50 for seniors (ages 62+), and $9.50 for adults. We opted to purchase the Household Membership for $80 which means that we can come back whenever we want for a year. There are a bunch of other benefits to the yearly membership as well. They offer various discounts, you can find them here. Well worth the investment.


The boys immediately started having a blast in the Science Center’s Air and Space area. Thing1 flies a virtual hang glider over a gorge. He took this seriously until he realized he could bounce on the virtual water surface. Then he got all crazy with the flight simulator.


Thing1, future astronaut. The kids can climb up into a real spacesuit.


The boys really wanted to climb up on this table, but I had to convince them that they could roll marbles and this was just as cool. Mama never understands, I know.


Here the boys are trying to manipulate objects while “wearing” space gloves. I like how this area of the Science Center offers very real hands-on experiences for the kids.


And then there was an area for us grownups, the Sci-fi Theater. My husband and I enjoyed watching old sci-fi clips. Made us wonder what people were thinking when they filmed some of this stuff!


Meanwhile, Thing1 tries to land a space shuttle.


Thing2 was interested in the meteorites. Who could blame him? There were a number of samples to look at, too. The boys had a hard time believing that these rock chunks were from outer space.


Thing2 would probably play with this space set all day if he had it at home.


Meteorite up close.


This meteorite came from Flandreau, South Dakota, about 40 minutes away from the Washington Pavilion.


And here the guys move a tabletop virtual maze.


It’s hard to get a photo of this contraption, but the boys really enjoyed it. There are control sticks on the side they are on. Each stick moves one part of the contraption, which then changes the pathway that large marbles flow down. There were all kinds of shoots and jumps – the track was extensive.


Thing2 floats a ball with a concentrated stream of air.


The Room to Grow area is for kids 7 and under.

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Even the hallways to the bathrooms had learning opportunities. On this floor, there was a lesson about color. There is a button on the wall that changes the overhead lights to yellow. The colors on the wall change appropriately. This experience kind of hurt my head, but the boys were so interested that they had to be convinced to take a potty break.


The boys learned about using a fulcrum to lift a heavy weight. I didn’t get a photo of it, but there was a larger example out front of the Washington Pavilion. The boys were able to lift up a car there, which quite impressed them.


Here are the boys in the Ag Gallery.

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Here are Thing1 and Thing2 hanging with a lovely dinosaur named Stan in the Dynamic Earth section.


Thing1’s favorite area was the Light, Sound, Action area. He is a budding engineer.

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Thing2 flies down the Stairway of Sound!


And here is some magnet art that we created.


Roll it, Rev it: The Physics of Motion


We need to go back to the Washington Pavilion Kirby Science Center some time soon. There were 3 levels to the Science Center portion, and we really only explored 2-1/2 floors in the time we spent there.

The Washington Pavilion has not only the Science Center, but it also has the Husby Performing Arts Center, Visual Arts Center, Wells Fargo CineDome¬†(currently showing Tornado Alley, The Last Reef: Cities Beneath the Sea, and Oz the Great and Powerful), and a Community Learning Center. While we were visiting, there was a Dr. Suess exhibit in the art museum, and there was an orchestra playing in the Performing Arts Center. I love that all of these things are located in one space, that the building is in the center of the downtown area of Sioux Falls near all kinds of restaurants and shopping, and that there is always something great going on here at any given moment – art by Andy Warhol and Ansel Adams have both been recent exhibits here, for example.¬†The only drawback for me is that to access all of the offerings of the Washington Pavilion, a person would have to shell out a lot of money¬†throughout the year. While our yearly membership got us into the Science Center and some of the other things, the Dr. Seuss Exhibit would have made our total cost double, so we didn’t see it this day.

If you go on a Sunday, the parking lot across the street is open and free. The Science Center is closed on Mondays.

We’ll be going back.

Interesting fact! The cornerstone of the former Washington¬†High School¬†building-now-turned arts and science learning center, set in the 1930s, says this:¬†“The thing of most value and joy that takes place here is the flow of human interest.” I’m glad that the Washington Pavilion carries this message forward into the future.

Recipe Testing

One of the things that I like to “Do” is to try new recipes whenever I get the chance. I had the opportunity some time ago to sign up for the McCormick company’s Home Use Test group (sign up here to get on their database of home testers). In the past I have baked dessert products at home, then filled in an online survey and received some sort of compensation.

This go-round I tested a dinner/meal recipe. The funny thing about writing this post is the fact that I can’t actually say anything about what I made, other than that I made it, it was good, and I’d make it again. I received a padded envelope with some ingredients + a recipe. I had to use mostly my own stuff, but the recipe didn’t call for anything that wasn’t already in my kitchen.

If you live in the Maryland area, you can volunteer to test McCormick products at their testing lab. You can learn more about this process here. I would love to do this, but, alas, I life halfway across the country.


I have fond memories of McCormick’s factory in Baltimore, MD, near where I grew up. The story goes that in 1896, Mr. McCormick bought some equipment from a company in Philadelphia and had it sent to Baltimore to set up shop. His company motto was (and I’m not joking) “Make the best – someone will buy it”.¬†Everything was lost in the Great Baltimore fire of 1904, and a new¬† building was erected on the same site¬†and the company forged ahead. Another building was later erected at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in the 1920s.


This is the building that I remember from my childhood. That part of town always smelled absolutely wonderful. They added their Hunt Valley, MD facilities in the 60s. Some buildings have been built and sold in the meantime, but this is where the Testing Lab is located. Other buildings were added over the years. Eventually all of the operations moved to the Hunt Valley location and the famous McCormick spice smell could no longer be experienced in Baltimore. The building has been bought/sold/forclosed on, etc over the years. Who knows what will happen to it. As of right now, a company that is actually solvent owns the building.


Apparently they have opened up their first-ever retail space in Harborplace, in¬†Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It’s called McCormick World of Flavors. I’ve not been there but will add this to my list of things to see next time I am out that way. This is a perfect excuse to take my boys to the Baltimore Aquarium. And, being the foodie that I am, I imagine myself carrying home a ton of spices once I step food inside this store.


And did you know that there is a McCormick Science Institute? Here is the MSI Pilot Study on Red Pepper and Turmeric, the MSI Funded Study on Rosemary and Cognitive Function (September, 2011) , and the MSI Funded Paper: Potential Health Benefits of Turmeric (September, 2010).  I had no idea! As a lukewarm health nut, I think I can get into this stuff pretty easily.