The Personal Blog of Stephen Sekula

Time with family

Last Thursday, I effectively went into a communication blackout owing to the visit of many family members. Jodi’s mom and dad, her sister, and her sister’s twin sons, all visited us for four days. We rented a minivan so that we could get around, stocked up on food for the boys, as well as clearing space in the apartment for their pack-and-plays (doubling as cribs) and for their active little bodies. The boys are in the awkward first stages of walking, and can get more than a few feet on their own. They’re very curious, and like to climb on things and run from person to person. They also got the limits of their attention taxed this week as we did a variety of activities, including going to the Oakland Zoo, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Exploratorium.

The boys brought with them sniffles that blossomed into colds over the days they were here, and I managed to catch their cold. I feel like hell now, somewhere between having a bomb go off in my sinuses and having a wolverine running loose in my throat. I can only imagine how they felt, though they toughed it out pretty good. Being sick put me on the couch at home today, an unexpected day off from work. I couldn’t see myself moving or thinking, and I’m only writing this because I felt like doing something other than laying and drinking tea.

Drew, Connor and Steve at the SLAC Main GateJodi and I brought the family into our respective work places, and even snapped pictures with them in front of the main gate of SLAC. We scared up a bunch of toys from my office that the boys seemed to take to and brought them home (yes, I keep toys in the office – you never know). Later that same day, we went up to the Oakland Zoo. It came highly recommended by some friends of mine (they have elephants), and we were not disappointed. half a dozen primate species, lions, a tiger, a sun bear, elephants, alligators, fruit bats the size of small dogs, otters . . . you name it. The boys had a great time and did a lot of walking around. They even got some nice sun (although they were loaded up with long pants, sunscreen and sun hats) without getting burned.

Mom and son and jellyfishThe aquarium in Monterey was probably their favorite, since they got to see and touch a lot of stuff. They couldn’t do as much walking, but they lunged at colorful signs describing fish and other creatures, they pressed against the big tanks holding all kinds of marine life from the inner and outer Monterey Bay, and they splashed water and grabbed at sea creatures in the interactive petting displays.  A favorite toy was the periscope in the ray tank, where they could spin the periscope and zoom in and out with a big toggle switch. The boys love things with buttons and handles, and they seemed to have no end of fun using the periscopes. We even got to stand up next to a tank that contained birds and fish and sharks, and a small shark swam up to the glass, bared its teeth, and swam away.

Drew, Jackie, ConnorThe last day was the shortest outing, driven mainly by the exhaustion of my nephews, but this was the most interactive time they had. The Exploratorium in San Francisco lets kids (and adults) play with all of their exhibits. From mechanics and particle physics to life sciences and robotics, they have just about everything. We only saw about half the exhibits before taking two very worn out kids home in the van, but everybody had a good time.

They left today, leaving behind a cold for me and a dirty house for Jodi. It was worth it. We probably won’t get to see them again until after the summer, so this was time needed and well spent.