Sunday, February 19, 2012

An Afternoon at Como Park and Zoo

This past Friday, I decided to take advantage of the balmy 40-degree February weather by visiting Como Park and Zoo in St. Paul.  After picking Allie up from kindergarten, I took the kids to McDonald's for Happy Meals.  Since I'm not a huge fan of McD's, we don't go there very often...so, needless to say, the kids were ecstatic to discover that was our lunchtime destination.  After devouring their cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, fries, apples, and chocolate milk, they were thrilled to receive their Happy Meal Toys...build-a-bear minis for the girls and an R2D2 spinner top for the boy.   

I was anticipating a big crowd at the Zoo, but was surprised to find an up-close parking spot and more people leaving than staying. Because it was so sunny and beautiful when we arrived, we decided to walk the outside portion of the zoo first...which was a great decision because by the time we were done seeing everything outside and devouring our Teddy Graham and apple juice snack inside, the clouds and cooler temperatures were rolling in.




The animals were as active as I have ever seen them, which made it extra fun for the kids.  The monkeys were swinging around like crazy, the tiger was roaring, the lions were pacing, the puffins were enjoying their fishy lunch, the bears were up and on the move, the sea lions were swimming all around, and Sparky the seal was putting on his own show by tossing a frisbee, throwing around a football, and leaping up and jumping on his little rock. 


While we were looking at the fish in the rainforest exhibit, Zach asked one of the volunteers if any fish could get out of the tank.  Chuckling to myself, I anticipated the obvious answer only to be completely surprised when the volunteer responded that there had indeed been two fish that had died because they jumped out of the tank one evening and were not found until the next morning!  Apparently, this particular type of fish is carnivorous and it is believed the pair were probably trying to "chase" a mouse and ended up not able to get back into the water.  Crazy....but, educational, nonetheless. 

After seeing all the animals, we had a fun time perusing through the greenhouses.  I'm always shocked at how much the kids love looking at all the plants and flowers.  We made sure to take a few pictures of all the beautiful stargazer lilies, my favorite flower.



We were looking for the pineapple plants, but didn't see any.  However, we did see a couple banana trees loaded with TONS of green bananas.   Allie also spotted a tree full of small oranges just beginning to ripen. 

Since Allie has started kindergarten and Zach has started preschool, we definitely have not had the opportunity to do as many of these outings as we used to.  I think we all enjoyed the break from the everyday routine with some time spent outside and a chance to see some pretty neat things together. 

I am especially thankful for Olivia's easy-going nature.  Although the only afternoon nap she got was a measly 15 minutes in the car, she was completely enamored the entire time and there wasn't any complaints from her at all! 

Actually, I was proud of all three kids, because unlike some of our more "challenging" days, everyone was extremely well-behaved, respectful, and actually listened like they had functioning ears.  Days like last Friday don't happen all the time, far from it, but on the particularly rough days, I'm thankful I have fond memories like these to recall. 

In fact, I have a feeling that as the kids grow, it will be these memories that I most want to hold onto.  Not that I won't remember when Allie slammed her bedroom door on Zach's hand or when Zach pushed Olivia into the side of the coffee table or how Olivia pulled out a rather decent-sized chunk of Allie's hair or how in a moment of complete frustration and impatience, I yelled something in anger that I later regretted...believe me, I have PLENTY of those memories to go around...and then some. 

But, there are just some of those moments, however few and far in between they occur, that seem as close to perfect as life can get...as corny as it seems...a little reflection of heaven right here on earth.  And, if just the mere reflection is so wonderful, I can hardly begin to imagine the magnificence of the real thing. 




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