Well, I'm at the halfway point of my vacation and so far it has been excellent! Last night was Kaylin's middle school orientation. She got to go around and find her new classrooms, meet most of her teachers and see some of her friends. Her main homeroom teacher was not there because she was becoming a grandma, but she got to go into the classroom anyway and then ate ice cream and ran around the gym with Zoe. I was hoping they'd get their locker assignments so I know what to send with her next Tuesday, but that didn't happen. She had a great time and the evening eased some of her nerves about starting a new school, so it was worth putting off leaving for Omaha until today.
I am so glad we're leaving today! Yesterday was just a revolving door of neighbor kids in and out, in and out, making huge messes in the house and yard, taking apart the Lego garbage truck I slaved over on Monday, eating my food and making smart alecky comments about my hair. I wish they would go back to Poland for a few more months.
On Tuesday and Wednesday my friend Meghan and I went to Cincinnati. We had been talking about visiting the zoo for months. Then we both read a book that mentioned something called the Creation Museum. We checked out their website and knew immediately we wanted to go there. Millions and millions of dollars were spent to build this museum dedicated to Creationism and we were terribly curious what it could possibly contain. We left very early Tuesday morning so we could arrive in time to attend a lecture on "The Importance of Genesis." The lecture was given by a molecular biology professor and the theme was that our children are leaving church in droves because they are not getting answers to their questions about earth age, dinosaurs, etc. Rather than answers, they're hearing "Nice children don't ask those questions" or "Just believe in Jesus, that doesn't matter." This group did an extensive study with 1000 young adults who had been brought up regularly attending church and asked many questions regarding why they stopped attending, etc. Their conclusion was that the frustration with having so many unanswered questions snowballed from questioning belief in 6 day creation or Noah's flood, to questioning belief in the entire Bible. Their answer to this problem was to educate the parents/pastors/Sunday School teachers in Genesis and Creationism so they could give valid answers to kids' questions. The museum was basically built as a tool to aid the adults (as well as older kids) in learning the history found in Genesis and therefore having answers to questions posed.
The museum was amazingly well done. The exhibits were beautiful and the grounds were even more beautiful. The book I read compared the animated robot dinosaurs to Disney quality and I would have to agree. The beginning galleries were filled with signs and graphics showing Biblical interpretation vs. Man's (scientific) interpretation of everything from 6 Day Creation vs. Big Bang Theory to how the Grand Canyon was formed. Then there were scenes of Adam and Eve in the Garden with all kinds of animals including dinosaurs. Before Adam's sin, man and all animals were herbivores and all got along, after, food became scarce and animals were forced to eat each other and man was forced to use animal skins as clothing. This entire area was very heavy on dinosaurs and man living harmoniously. The next area dealt with Noah's flood and had many ark scenes with dinosaurs being loaded on the ramp up to the ark or on the ground. Finally, there was a large display of dinosaurs with "Young Earth" explanations of extinction and fossils.
Outside, the grounds were a beautiful bot garden with lots of water features and a trail that led to an odd petting zoo filled with hybrid animals to show that God created "kinds" of animals. The zorse and zonkey (horse/zebra and donkey/zebra) were proof that horses, donkeys and zebras were all of the horse "kind" as they can all interbreed. My conclusion of the museum as a whole was that they started with the question "Why are our children leaving church?" and used the answers they were given to work all of the "problem areas" into following the book of Genesis. (Oh, and the founder and CEO Ken Ham really loves dinosaurs.) The whole thing (museum, their version of Creation, dinosaur and man coexisting happily) seemed contrived to provide a generic answer to important questions. It seemed more like they forced their ideas to fit Biblically than that their ideas were actually taken from the Bible. They took a very important and valid issue and drove it straight into Wack-a-Doo Land. The "evidence" in this museum will never turn any atheists! I won't even get into the gross inaccuracies on many of their signs... Overall, I'm glad I went once. It was incredibly interesting and made me think of things I've never considered before. However, I won't go back.
Our second day was spent at Cincinnati Zoo and was one of the best zoo days ever! We started out with a behind the scenes tour of black and Indian rhinos, okapi and zebras. We then moved on to a tour of the small cat house. Meghan's very interested in small cats and if she could have her pick of any keeper job in the country it would be this building. It was incredibly cool to get to see ALL of the cats. We also got to see 3 of the 4 tiger cubs (now a year old) in their quarantine area waiting to be sent out to other zoos. Our final behind the scenes tour was of the Sumatran rhinos. Cincinnati is the only zoo in the USA exhibiting these rhinos so it was amazing for two rhino keepers to get up close to these guys! We had plenty of time to tour the rest of the zoo on our own and got to see some amazing stuff. That was the third time in 6 months I went to the Cincinnati Zoo and I could go back again tomorrow. I think it's my favorite zoo I've visited. I will see if Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo lives up to Cincinnati!
Meghan and I literally bounced with excitement the whole way home. It was a fantastic "weekend" and I doubt we could have had a better time.