A nice project

A conversation can be life changing

Husbands can say the darnedest things.

School has started and events have started to slow down as we catch our breath and start the next season and next museum plans.  My oldest daughter Riley diligently worked on a life map of all the important life moments in her 10 years last night.

There are so many moments in a life that are life changing.  Some are obvious; others not so much.  Moving to Des Moines would seem an obvious life changing moment for me, but really an innocent car conversation had way more impact and later an impromptu pizza date as I tried to make friends and find good pizza.


My husband casually stated, “That would be a nice project for you” in response to my comment that “If I knew Des Moines didn’t have a children’s museum, I might not have agreed to move to Des Moines.”  I was cranky, pregnant, and we had just looked at 13 houses in 2 days with 3 kids, and now had a 5 hour drive to get back in time for bedtime and a full week of work before spring break in a junior high.

That little comment marked the end of the life I had in Illinois and all the possibilities in Des Moines.  I was a teacher, but the impossibility of transferring my license fast enough to apply for jobs and interview while I was largely pregnant, working on my library science endorsement, and doing everything else I had to do was what made that comment a seed that was planted in fertile ground.  That five hour trip went a little faster since I was busy typing up a list of all the exhibits I would want included in a children’s museum, and we talked about all the best components in children’s museums we had seen.

It all started when a week prior Brad casually said, “Bill (Big Boss) asked me to move to Des Moines.”

“And you said?”

“I would need to talk to you”

Silence.  We were in our semi-finished basement.  We had started finishing the basement in January.  It was the last week of February.  Brad had been traveling and working in Des Moines and it looked like it was never going to get done.  Most the time Brad only worked on it the weekends after driving home from Des Moines Friday nights.  He came home early for parent teacher conferences and had decided to get a bunch of work done which really meant checking how the plumbing in the bathroom and wet bar was.  Not good-water kept spraying everywhere and we kept testing it.

The silence continued.  My husband isn’t always the greatest talker.

“Is this us talking about it?” I asked.

“What do you think?” That question could be answered so many different ways. 

“I’m not really positive I know where Des Moines is,” I admitted.  This wasn’t surprising.  I’m notoriously bad with maps and geography.  This lack of knowledge has nothing against Des Moines.  I can’t name all the state capital.  I know for a fact that I can’t write all the states into a blank map correctly.  I’m always frustrated when highways say a whole state as a reference point.  The list could go on.  Too many of my friends could tell you ridiculous stories about my ineptitude with maps.


“I think this conversation stresses me out, but this has been what you’ve been working towards for years and it was always in the plans, so I guess we’re moving to Des Moines.  Uhm…What are we doing about this basement?”

Those last few months before moving were all about surviving.  I was 6 1/2th months pregnant with my 4th child and too many doctor’s appointments, working full time as an 8th grade LA teacher in a school that had just adopted radically new curriculum which meant all veteran teachers felt like green teachers, a basement project that had made our house a mess everywhere, a house to get ready to sell and pack up, and I needed to find us a new house in a city I knew nothing about, oh and have a baby.

That casual comment that a children’s museum would be a nice project for me sounded so condescending.  I know he didn’t mean it that way, but really? A project?  Painting a table is a project.  Starting a children’s museum is much more than a project.  Yet, that seed was planted.

seed heart

It niggled and jiggled in my head.  It worked its way into something that I thought about.  But I was a transplant, I needed to try to make friends, help my kids survive a summer without friends.  I needed to unpack, help my 4th born colicky baby not cry all the time, and force us to go out and explore our new home.  I needed to make sure we weren’t just surviving, but thriving.

Then one day when I ate pizza with Laura,  children’s museum came up it was like those movie moments where all of a sudden it’s so clear that these two are meant to be together (insert sappy music and some sort of amazing flash forward montage).  The unreal feeling stuck around for those first few months with us meeting with our 7 girls all over as we had business play dates walking a tight rope of excitement and fear and continuously asking each other and ourselves, “Are we really going to do this?”  When the answer “Yes” was louder than our fears we moved forward.

tight rope

If you find that the idea of a children’s museum in the Des Moines area is a seed that has been planted in your thoughts, that you want to have it as a “project” in your life, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  This isn’t our baby.  This isn’t our brainchild or any of those other things people might say.  It’s a passion for the community we live in.  It’s something way bigger than us.  The families of Des Moines deserve a world class children’s museum.  And I want to buy a membership and hang out there with my kids.


One thought on “A nice project

  1. It’s a great idea and needed in such a great city as DSM. I want to help, but don’t know how. I have 10 years teaching experience and 12 years Children’s Museum experience, but live in Houston.

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