The Invisible Woman

29 Jul

My family spent last weekend in Portland, visiting Madhousewife’s family and checking out their zoo and science center (OMSI).  I was born in OR and spent the first 8 years or so of my life there, so I had been to both of these places before, but not for many years.  OMSI has changed locations since I was a child—they have a new fancy shmancy building, but at least one of the exhibits was the same, and it happened to be the exhibit that I had told my family about before our trip.  It was…

The Invisible Woman!  Duhn, duhn, duhn!

Check her out.


As a child, I always thought she was incredibly creepy.  I still do.  But my kids thought she was cool because she has a panel in front of her with buttons corresponding to her different parts and when you push the button that part of her body lights up.

Like this:



My kids especially enjoyed flashing the “headlights” on and off.  Being from out of town, I didn’t bother to get embarrassed.  Madhousewife wasn’t around at the time, so she didn’t have the opportunity to get embarrassed.  Would you have found that embarrassing, Mad?

Before heading up to the Life Science floor, Mad’s husband had warned us about the “how fetuses grow” exhibit.  It featured fetuses from week 1 to week 32 in their in utero development, and he wasn’t sure whether or not our children would find it disturbing.   I found it pretty interesting until I realized that these were actual fetuses, not just models.  That was disturbing and heartbreaking to me.  There was a sign stating that all of the fetuses used were spontaneously aborted, but still.  I’m all for education and scientific study—these are important and valuable things we need to do.  But these were somebody’s babies.  My kids were creeped out and intrigued.  I didn’t tell them they were real babies. 

After finishing up with that exhibit, which included carefully studying the diagrams of how babies are born, Goose said to my husband, “I don’t want to have babies.  I’m scared.”  As far as I’m concerned, that’s a healthy attitude for the time being.

The Washington Park Zoo is a lovely zoo.  If you’re ever in Portland, I can recommend it.  They have a great variety of animals in lovely living environments (well, the primate houses leave something to be desired, but they’re apparently remodeling those) and there’s plenty of shade and easy walking trails.

Here’s my favorite pic from our time at the zoo:


And on an unrelated note, here’s proof that Madhousewife is raising her kids right.  When I asked my 5 year old nephew if I could look at his hot dogs, he gave me the most bewildered look and then ran away in the opposite direction.  Perfect response.


15 Responses to “The Invisible Woman”

  1. cheryl July 29, 2008 at 11:53 am #

    So much to say, so little time…

    Props to madhousewife and teaching her kids to stay away from predators! And even possible family predators! That rocks.

    The invisible woman makes me like my body more. Or maybe just my clothed body more. I would not have been embarrassed, btw, about the kids turning the “headlights” on and off. Because they were your kids. Not mine. 😉

    The fetuses make me very sad. If it had been my baby (or babies) I think I’d rather of had a burial. I mean, if those women were doing it out of respect and love, I’m not gonna judge them, but man. That just seems odd. And slightly wrong. Can you imagine? Going to the Science exhibit and saying “hey, there’s my baby?”

    I like zoos. Until I see the animals in their cages or “habitat-environment” and then I remember I hate zoos. Yes, there’s a very large love-hate relationship I have with zoos.

  2. Mother of the Wild Boys July 29, 2008 at 12:10 pm #

    I went to OMSI as a teen whenever I’d go to visit my grandparents in Vancouver Washington (just over the river and through the woods from Portland). And I can totally see my Wild Boys (and probably Wild DH) flashing the headlights too…luckily I’m too socially lazy to care enough to be embarrassed about that. 😉

  3. madhousewife July 29, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    That hot dog remark is even creepier out of context.

    My embarrassment threshold has gotten so high over the years, I don’t think the “headlight” incident would have registered at all on my humiliation-o-meter. I probably might have died laughing. Yes, even if it were my kids. That’s just how I roll. Laughing so I may not cry.

    The fetuses are sad and somewhat creepy–but not quite as creepy as the Body Worlds exhibit that was there last year. That was a bunch of plastinated (? plasticized?) cadavers (actual cadavers, body fluids removed and replaced with plastic compound) of various ages with the skin flayed open and posed in various positions. That one was just in bad taste, I thought. I didn’t go see it because the thought of it made me sick.

    On a happier note, it was awesome having you all over last weekend! Now my kids are using the word “hobo” a lot.

  4. bythelbs July 29, 2008 at 12:38 pm #

    OK, so just in case anyone needs the hot dog comment in context:

    Mr. Madhousewife was grilling for dinner and had planned on hot dogs for the kids. With my children’s food allergies I always check labels, even on meat products, which for some reason often include milk. My nephew was holding the package of hot dogs at the time, so that’s why I asked if I could see his hot dogs.

    I’m so glad the plastinaticized cadavers were not there. EEEEEEWWW!

  5. bythelbs July 29, 2008 at 12:40 pm #

    Oh, and I have no idea why my kids are on this hobo kick. It’s their favorite word. Just today Mr. T sent me some hobo-related flair.

  6. flip flop mama July 29, 2008 at 2:16 pm #

    That woman is cool! And I totally wanted to see the bodies exhibit when it was here but it was dang expensive. But that’s just me with my weird fetish of how the body works and seeing all the parts. I still have my anatomy book from college. DH is super creeped out by it, but I love it! The baby one though…that’s a little rough. I don’t think I could have seen that knowing they were real babies. And I love the rhino butt picture.

  7. Susan M July 29, 2008 at 4:18 pm #

    I wanted to see the bodies exhibit, too, but I’m not sure how I’d actually react to seeing it in person. Didn’t make it.

    For the record, I’d be the one flashing the headlights and embarrassing my kids.

  8. bythelbs July 29, 2008 at 4:22 pm #

    Flip—They’re actually hippo bums, but I can see how they could be mistaken for rhinos, what with the hugeness and the grayness and the being out of the waterness.

    Susan M—We’re going to have to get together one of these days just so I can see if you can embarrass me in public!

  9. Amanda D July 29, 2008 at 4:36 pm #

    We’ve been in the Portland area for a year now, but we haven’t been to OMSI yet. I think my kids are still too little but maybe not. We love the OR zoo though. Glad that you had a great trip!

  10. Amanda D July 29, 2008 at 4:36 pm #

    BTW, I clicked over from Cheryl. 🙂

  11. bythelbs July 29, 2008 at 4:47 pm #

    Amanda—I bet there are parts of OMSI that they would really enjoy and parts they’re not old enough to appreciate. They do have a really cool “ball” room. We spent ages in there with our kids 2-11. And the OR zoo is nice. I knew you were from Cheryl’s–I think I hopped over to “The little things” a time or two. Welcome!

  12. Susan M July 29, 2008 at 5:07 pm #

    And what’s the deal? No invisible man?

  13. bythelbs July 29, 2008 at 7:27 pm #

    Frankly, I can do without the invisible man. My dad did use to have an invisible man head—a lifesize model head just like this invisible woman with the eyeballs and muscles and brain and teeth. That was really creepy to see in my parents’ bedroom, especially in the dark!

  14. Alison Wonderland July 30, 2008 at 1:51 am #

    I would totally go to the plasticized people show. And it’s my understanding that there’s a huge waiting list to get your body into it. How weird is that? I’m with you on the fetuses but I’m a big proponent of organ donation and I would absolutely donate my kids if it came to that. So I guess that isn’t too far off that.

  15. bythelbs July 30, 2008 at 9:19 am #

    I’m all for organ donation—whatever helps save a life. And I don’t think I’d have any trouble donating my child’s organs either. I just don’t know about the display thing.

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