The kids have been asking to go to the zoo since the first day of summer vacation. I kind of hate our zoo. I've been there what feels like hundreds but is probably actually a dozen and a half times, and it's just kind of boring. And it doesn't have any of my favorite animals - elephants, giraffes, koalas, kangaroos. So i wasn't expecting much. But our school (i'm guessing all of the city's schools) gave us free passes to the zoo, so i had no good excuse not to go. I asked Juanito, my mom, and my sister all if they wanted to come - for free! - and none of them wanted to join us.
Turns out, a few of the animals conspired to make this trip more fun than usual. Yay!
We walked in, and the first animal we came to was a pelican. Houston was all, "That's a weird chicken!" And he continued to be highly amusing and really pleasant company for the entire trip. I really like him.
So the first place we stopped was the penguin house. Way in the back of the penguin enclosure, i noticed what looked like a penguin lying on its back, not moving. I was standing there, staring at it, trying to decide if there was, in fact, a dead penguin in there, when Zane sidled up to me and said, "I think that that's a dead penguin. I don't think we should tell all of these little kids, though...." So considerate. We did tell a random worker outside, though, because they were scheduled to feed the penguins in 15 minutes, and removing a dead penguin with dozens of little kids watching would probably not be ideal. Poor little penguin. (That was not one of the fun things. For the record.)
The tigers were new to the zoo in the last 2-3 years, so we've only seen them once, and that time one of them was hiding and the other was lying waaaaaaay far back from the fence. This time, we started walking up the path, and the tigers showed up walking along their parallel path. My kids freaked out and started pointing them out to everyone, including a group of teenagers with headphones on. The teens all glanced up, saw the tigers, and then sat on a bench with their backs to the tigers and continued listening to their headphones. Houston turned to me and said, "If i ever act like that, please kick me and tell me to stop being stupid. There's a TIGER, and they're doing what they could do in their backyards!"
We were pretty sure that that was going to be the highlight of the tigers, but we were super wrong. As soon as we got to the top of the hill, where the large tiger enclosure was, one of the tigers saw my kids and came over to the glass and walked back and forth in front of it, looking straight at us, for about 15 minutes. It was beautiful and huge and i would love to cuddle it. Y'know, if it wouldn't immediately kill and eat me. Eventually he lost interest in us and wandered off, and all three kids were like, "We have the most amazing luck sometimes!!!!!" (This is the second time we've had a big cat do this. Once, years ago, a few lions did the same thing.)
One other thing that i've never seen before: There was a giant snake - long and skinny - and as we stood at his window, he slithered across a branch, looked around for a bit, and then curled himself around and around and around and around until his whole body was a coil up in the corner on a branch. I had just been wondering how snakes make themselves into a coil, and it was super cool to see him do it! (Also, i can't get over how snakes move without looking like they're moving a single thing on their body. They just...glide.)
Houston was inexplicably tremendously excited about the wallabies. They were all sleeping when we were there - or hiding from the millions of little kids - but he did get to reach over a fence and pet one.
Katrina once again showed herself to be the animal whisperer. Animals are just drawn to her. It's like they know that she loves them. She took pictures and videos of everything.
Zane bounce back and forth between boundless energy, dashing from animal to animal in joy, and being unreasonably sad about everything possible. We were pointing out the animals, and he wanted to be able to find them himself. The stingrays were all dead and he wanted to see the stingrays. The baby goats aren't there anymore, and he wanted to pet the baby goats. There were a billion little kids there today filling the petting zoo and the playground-y things. He was too short to touch the wallaby. (You had to be able to reach over a fence while keeping both feet on the ground, and he was JUST too short.) Just before we left, right after the wallaby letdown, we were standing on the edge of the path, looking at the map to make sure we'd seen everything. Zane was being all sad, and i asked him if he had had any fun at all. He sadly shook his head no. Just then, i saw the bald eagles right behind us, closer than we ever get to see them, and i pointed them out. He was all, "HI EAGLES!!!" and was instantly happy again. We left right away, so i think he now remembers it as being fun.
Anyhow. That was the zoo.
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Houston's school is doing Grease for the fall musical, and Houston wants to be in the stage crew for it. I'm totally encouraging him, because this is almost the first time he's wanted to do anything extracurricular. He's hoping to do lights or sound or maybe be one of the people who run onstage to move things around between scenes.
For years, i've thought, "Could we show our kids Grease?" and then remember all of the messages like, "If you are trying to be nice and good, that is lame, and you should totally change yourself to be cool and sexy so that the boy you like will like you too," and then i think, "No. Probably not. Sigh." But now! It's Houston's school's musical! He has to see it!
So we totally watched Grease for pizza-movie night tonight, and i sang along with most of the songs because how can i not?! and we giggled a lot and dude... I know that movie is kind of silly, and the actors all look like they're in their 30's (because they are), and the morals are absolutely terrible, but i love it!