Marbles Kids Museum (8/4/2012)

I would be surprised if anyone reading the Daddy Weekly hasn’t yet been to Marbles. So this is not to ‘present something new’, but to talk a little bit about Marbles and perhaps mention some of the lesser known corners of this large building.

First off, Marbles is changing from time to time. A relatively new exhibit is the corner one level above the gift shop, with a focus on health and sports; a similar topic was there before, but it was all redone a few months ago and is called Power2Play. The newest exhibit to open is “BB&T Toddlers Hollow“, a forest-themes exhibit for kids under 3. (We’ll check that out soon.)

Have you found the pirate ship? It is one of my favorite exhibits, and tucked away in the very back of the ground floor.
How about the garden? Exit behind the pirate ship to find nature and fresh air.

Did you know about First Friday Kids Camp? Drop off your pre-registered, potty-trained, well-behaved preschool or elementary school kid, and enjoy First Friday or just a night off. (Although I have to say, my son enjoys tagging along to various galleries just as much.) $20 for 3 hours is good deal; both for the parents and for Marbles.

Are you a member? For families visiting frequently, it does pay. A family of four (4x$5) will have paid for the annual membership ($100) after just five visits.

So what’s not to like about Marbles? It can get crowded. And while exhibits change, it is largely static. The corporate sponsorships are a tad too dominant, in my view. But these are details, given that Marbles is an excellent indoors playground.

Pirate Ship by chrisdaniel, used under the CC BY-NC-SA license.

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Traveling with little children

“Traveling with little children”. You don’t need an article on this, just Google that sentence and you’ll find a ton of resources. But nevertheless, I have to add my two cents, especially about traveling alone with a lap child (under 2).

  • Google “Traveling with little children” or similar phrases, and just surf for a few minutes. If it doesn’t keep you from going, at least you learn something.
  • Find out the specific policy of the airline in mind before you book. Some won’t let you book a lap child online, some will charge for a checked stroller while others won’t, there may be weight limits on the stroller and all these things change constantly.
  • Similarly, some airports have playgrounds after security. Check ahead of time. PHL, BWI and ORD are good.
  • Since everything is a tad harder, ‘make the easy things easy’. Arrive early. Be prepared. Pack lightly. Make a list of what to pack. Preventing preventable issues will let you focus on the unpreventable ones.
  • For two parents, one lap child is manageable. If you’re alone, a short domestic flight with a lap child is feasible even if the seat next to you is booked. On the other hand, I gambled on having a free seat next to me on a red-eye to Europe. I am really, really glad it actually was free, and I would not take that gamble again. (Although whenever I had someone next to me even on a short flight, they asked on their own to “sit somewhere away from the baby”, more or less diplomatically.)
  • Bring entertainment and food. iPad, books, chewy granola bars, milk/juice.
  • Use the bathroom before the flight, or you have to be really creative where to put the baby when you have to go. And by the way, small planes don’t have changing tables at all.

The upside, you ask? A really close bonding experience, for one thing. All the short flight I took so far were enjoyable, and the money on a separate seat would’ve been wasted.