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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Organizing Fun

I don't just organize at home, its a trait I carry along with me like some women carry small dogs in hand bags. So when a table/desk went wanting in the hall at work, I eyed it and went that'll fit in my office, over my lateral file and I could really use the work space. My office is 8 foot by 8 1/2 foot.

Some strong muscled men and a little work later and while it "fit" in my office, I now couldn't open my door all the way and regularly started the day banging the door square into the table.

The organizing part of brain screamed at me to fix it every day. So on a day devoted to cleaning the office for an important upcoming visit, I got out a borrowed measuring tape and started working on how to rearrange my office to make everything fit.  
Measurements + Microsoft Paint = rough way to lay out a room
I came up with two actually workable layouts and one dream layout - which for some reason I didn't take a picture of  - I guess because deep down I knew that 1/4 inch made it a pointless effort.
Workable 1

Workable 2
In the end, I ended up scrapping the printer cart and adding another vertical file cabinet - of course not using any of the layouts I drew out.

My extra table became the catch all during the furniture shifting.

Desk shifted with the two tall filing cabinets.
I got 4 drawers more than before, and now I have to be a giant to read the screen of my printer (or climb on my desk), but there are pros and cons of every space - especially small ones.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fabulously Free - Saint Louis Science Center

Saint Louis is home to many free and cheap attractions and we're all about making sure the tourists aren't the only visitors by making sure to have discounts for our residents.  This is a series that will last as long as I can find cool free stuff to do in the STL area.  Recommendations are welcome!

Today's post is about our fabulously free Science Center.  Here's a little history from their website:

The Academy of Science of Saint Louis was founded in 1856, as the first scientific organization west of the Mississippi River. The Academy founded the Museum of Science and Natural History in 1959 and moved to Clayton's Oak Knoll Park. When the Metropolitan Zoological Park & Museum District (ZMD) was formed in 1971, the Museum of Science and Natural History became a member of the ZMD, independent from the Academy, which continues to operate as a separate entity to this day.
copy right Ben_Tate
In 1984, the museum acquired the James S. McDonnell Planetarium from the City of St. Louis. After a renovation, the building reopened in1985, as the Saint Louis Science Center. The current main building of the Science Center opened in 1991. On February 8, 1997, the Science Center added the EXPLORADOME, an air-supported building just west of the Oakland Avenue building, in order to provide additional space for large traveling exhibitions. In July 2010, the Science Center broke ground on the addition of a new exhibition hall. With 13,000 square feet of additional space, the new Boeing Hall features a rooftop terrace and provides 12,000 square feet of permanent public exhibit space –- a long term replacement for the air-supported EXPLORADOME. Boeing Hall opened to the public on October 28th, 2011, with the Star Trek Exhibition as its inaugural traveling exhibition. 
Our trip to the Science Center was a last minute idea. School had been canceled because of the Ferguson riots and protests, and we were trying to find an idea to kill time (about 90 minutes) before going and picking up daddy from an appointment. Our first inclination was to take advantage of a week day morning and check out the zoo, but it started to rain. Luckily for us the Science Center and the Zoo are both in Forest Park and the switch of destinations was easy.
Liam playing with his sunglasses.
If you park at the Planetarium, you get close parking for free, it's a quick easy trip back out to Forest Park and all it's amenities, and there are fun outside activities that we didn't do because of the rain.
Also, they have a cool Blue Angels jet!
Inside the planetarium it's completely spaced focused. For those kids who can't get enough of spaceships, astronauts, planet knowledge, it's the place to go. For my 3 year old, it was wander through, touch what can be touched, absorb 1/80 of what he sees and move on to the bridge to the main building. I think he enjoyed 2 specific things: 1 the lobby floor has a model of the solar system embedded in the marble.  We started at the sun and walked our way around the solar system, naming the planets and jumping on them. 2. Is the giant model of Mars right before the bridge to the main building.  We touched volcanoes, valleys, and mountains.

The bridge itself is full of activities and can take time to traverse.  There are cut-outs to watch the traffic zoom below, radar guns, and binoculars. We identified the shapes of the cutouts on floor and talked about the cars driving fast and slow, and the colors of the cars.
Liam learning how roller coasters work.
The rest of the trip was spent in the main building, where you can build, create, interact with a computers for many programs, and probably Liam's favorite was the animatronic dinosaurs and dig pit. (of course I didn't get a picture of that).

Leaving the Science Center.
We had a good trip and we didn't spend a cent.  You can pay to watch a planetarium show. You can check out the feature in the omnimax. You can visit a special exhibit. You could also become a member and get all kinds of free opportunities.

Where taking advantage of the FREE or spending a little or a lot along the way, the Science Center is great fun for the family!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Loss and Near loss

On Monday night, I checked social media and found the news that Robin Williams, great actor and comedian, had commit suicide after a battle with depression, drugs, and alcohol. I had to stop reading all the wonderful words written about his life because I couldn't stop crying.

I was not privileged to know him personally, however, after becoming more raw emotionally due to the events of the past few days (see previous post), it was no surprise I reacted strongly. Very recently someone I love who is battling mental illness and addiction attempted suicide. Luckily he was able to get help and is still making me laugh every day.

Mental illness and addiction are are hard roads for those walking them. They are hard roads for those loving those who walk them. Reach out to those you love, love them where they are and for who they are.

If you suffer from addiction or mental illness, try to cut through all the disease is saying to you long enough to remember and see that you are loved, even if it's just for one single moment each day. While it may be too hard to ask for help, especially with the disease screaming in your head, maybe that one moment of acceptance of love can bring you a little peace. If you do get a moment of clarity, try to remember to use it to ask for help.  All those people who love you are just waiting for you to ask.

*Thoughts on suffering from depression from a friend that is closer to all this than even I am:

1) You rationalize that love away. You tell yourself, “That person only loves me because they have to. They’re my parent/sibling/second cousin once removed. If they really knew me, the real me, the deep dark parts of me, they wouldn’t love me.” Or you tell yourself, “Yes, I know that person loves me. But I suffer from depression, and I don’t deserve that love.” You are afraid, terribly afraid, of dragging that person down with you, and you think they would be better off without you.

Or 2) You don’t lose the knowledge, but you can’t hear it. You’ve been suffering from chronic depression, on and on, all your life. Or most of your life. Or some of your life. But you’ve had at least one clinical depression. With each episode of serious depression, your chance of experiencing another episode of depression increases by 16%. (I don’t know how to add a footnote, but I can provide a citation for this if necessary.) As Winston Churchill famously described it, it’s a black dog that follows you. For life. And every time you manage to crawl out of a deep dark depression hole, it’s with the knowledge that there’s a big chance you’ll end up there again at some point in your life.

Much love from me to you - all of you - no matter who you are or if you think you deserve it.

*added August 14, 2014 because I thought it was important to share.

Unexpected Violence

Two posts today (second is coming) and both ironically stem from loss and how a person deals with it.

I woke up Monday morning after a lovely and relaxed weekend. Turned on the news to catch the weather (mostly what I use the morning news for) and was faced with stories of death, rioting, and vandalism only 5 miles from me. While I was living my individual life, a nearby town was starting to self-destruct.

Green star is our house, red star is center of rioting.
My first reactions were incredulity and disgust. How could people (a huge crowd of people) make such angry and destructive decisions to hurt the very community on which they and so many others rely. Throughout the day my disbelief mounted at hearing that news of the riots had traveled around the world, having discussion with co-workers of varying points of view, and eventually at actually considering whether it would be safer for my family to pack up some stuff and find shelter with friends further away from the violence.

We chose to lock down our house and make it as secure as possible, but with 9 windows that can be reached from the ground at our house, we knew that no matter how much we locked up, we would have to leave our fate in higher hands that night.

My disgust and sadness has continued to grow each morning that I turn on the tv and find that the rioting has continued through the previous night. Destruction is not any way to gain justice or mourn unexpected loss. Saying it is is just an excuse for bad behavior.

I refuse to speak to the catalyst of all this because I do not know enough about the situation to speak about it without throwing in miles of speculation, assumption, and personal bias. I do however wish the best for the families damaged by all of this, innocent victims and perpetrators alike. Maybe we will all learn our respective lessons and become better people.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Big Step

Today was Liam's first day of pre-school.

copyright Lauren Clancy 2014
He was so excited and enthusiastic to start. He raced through breakfast and I barely got him to stop long enough to take a couple pictures to commemorate this new big step for him.

Our little man is growing up! (cue the heart palpitations and the welling of tears)

He's just so darn lovable and adorable. One more picture for no good reason except he is so cute.
copyright Lauren Clancy 2014