Monday, January 30, 2006

Fish! Trains!

Yesterday afternoon, after her nap, Celeste said she wanted to go see the lobsters, but Evelin and I decided that instead of just to Giant, Celeste might like a trip to the aquarium. At first, we thought we might head up to Baltimore to the National Aquarium, but considering that Celeste would have had to deal with the drive up there (and that it would cost about $50.00), we decided to go for the less exciting, but still interesting option — the other National Aquarium, the one in the basement of the Department of Commerce building on 14th Street Northwest. It's fairly small, but apparently it's the oldest aquarium in the United States (founded in 1873 and moved to the Commerce site in 1932) and is jointly managed by the Baltimore National Aquarium.

After fumbling through a magnetometer and security screening [aside/rant: even without having to deal with the stroller, I have to say the whole increased security with everything short of a cavity search required to get into most of the museums in D.C. nowadays is just plain stupid and does absolutely nothing to keep anyone safer], we made it down to the aquarium and Celeste went wild. She ran up to a big picture of fish and started signing FISH, and then, as we moved into the aquarium proper, she kept running back and forth, pointing at things, pausing to look at alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) or the video feed of brine shrimp (Artemia) under a microscope, and then running off to look at something else. We also ran into a coworker of my mine there: Celeste almost literally ran into her.

Louisiana HeritageAtlantic Loggerhead Sea Turtle

It's hard to say what was her favorite animal. She had trouble focusing on any one exhibit for too long, but she did point to lots of different things in different tanks. It also didn't help that most of the exhibits were at the perfect height for someone 5' tall (as Evelin gleefully noted); Celeste was too short for a lot of them, and when I held her up, she was on the tall side. She did enjoy the shiny marble walls however, walking from one to the other, pointing at her reflection, and making funny faces. I think the most interesting animal on display was a rather sad looking Atlantic loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta caretta), although the leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata) who'd been attacked by her (no longer on exhibit) tankmate and thus had some stitches and bandages was interesting if for no other reason the look at aquatic veterinary techniques.

After an hour or so in the aquarium, we headed back up to street level and down to the Mall, where we decided to hit the National Museum of American History. After some back and forth in the hallway/lobby, I convinced Celeste to take a look at the (relatively) new America on the Move transportation exhibit. At first she wasn't too keen on it, but when she got an idea of how many cars, trucks, and trains were on display, she came around. Before heading into that galley, she was distracted for a few minutes by the clocks in On Time, but her favorite exhibit was the small Disneyland exhibit — she really liked tugging on the white rope that separated her from the amusement ride cars.

One reason we managed such a long afternoon out was because Celeste had only a short 45-minute nap. Her sleep for the past few days has been pretty bad. On Friday and Saturday morning (maybe Thursday morning, too, I don't remember), she awoke around 3:30 a.m. and was up for about two hours before settling down for a short early morning nap. On Sunday morning, we tried to be a bit firmer with her, comforting her but then letting her try to get back to sleep without so much sitting around holding her — I think that morning she ended up spending the two hours standing up at the end of her crib alternating between complaining/crying and sleeping ... standing up. <touch wood>Last night she made it through the night without incident</touch wood> (although getting her to sleep was rough), so hopefully it was just a leap and we're back to the normal sleep pattern ...

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