We are getting down to the last few weekends where you can still go outside in a sweatshirt and shorts (or jeans for those cold-blooded folks), view a few remaining leaves on the trees, and feel the warmth of the sun on your face. I can’t stand to be inside on these weekends because I know in a very short period of time, I will be relegated to the house staring out the windows at the bleak, frigid, bare-treed world.
We woke up on Sunday to a balmy 59 degrees (most mornings nowadays are in the high 30s) and I over-bundled the troops for our morning stroller ride. We hit Giant Eagle for something different and its close proximity to CVS where I needed to develop pictures. Jon and I bought a picture frame collage when we bought our new furniture for the house a few months ago and the frame has a bunch of different sized frames that look really cool in the spur of the moment. However, once you get home and are forced to fill 2.5 x 3.5 and 4×4 and 3x 3.5 it is a different story. I think I have spent over 4 hours at CVS trying to correctly develop pictures to fit in the frames. It is driving me batty. And yet I won’t give up (although I did feel like throwing the collage frame out the second story window one night at 1 am). But I digress…
Mario got a chocolate muffin and Maria got a chocolate sprinkle donut at Giant Eagle (Mario said “Why do you get chocolate donuts when you don’t like chocolate?!” Maria’s response “I like chocolate donuts – who wouldn’t?!). After Giant Eagle and CVS, we headed home reading Berenstein Bears Moving Day. Yes, I stroll them and read them a book held by Maria who does a great job turning the pages and holding it just right so I can read the words. As we approached home and the sun peered through the few remaining leaves of the big oak trees, I decided that I would brave it and see if my niece and nephew wanted to head to the zoo with us. My sister-in-law agreed to let them go and Maria and Mario screamed with excitement.
We got home and packed pretzels, raisins, and fruit roll ups for the trip. We grabbed the library movies we had rented earlier in the week, and we were off to Hilliard to pick up M&M’s cousins. We packed everyone in the truck, fastened seat belts, and headed north to zoo land. I thank the heavens that I only have two kids but if I had four, I would be able to crank it out. I packed those kids in the car in less than a minute and that’s with buckling seat belts, too. I have become a pro.
We arrived at a quiet zoo with parking close to the entrance. When we entered, everyone grabbed a map and began to review as if they knew what they were reviewing. We decided to head to the Petting Zoo first. Of course, it was closed. The barn was open so you could see the goats but it’s not the same as being in the pen with them. We decided to head to the North American region and come back to the Petting Zoo.
One of the coolest sites of the day was the polar bear exhibit where you can go underground and watch the polar bears dive into the water to play or catch fish. Two polar bears jumped in while we stood underground, and the kids got to witness them playing and swimming around in the water. They were darling. We tried to hit a playground after the polar bears but it was closed, too. The kids were upset and began with the whiny complaints (“This zoo is awful…”). I explained to them how lucky they were to be able to come to the zoo and how a lot of kids don’t even get that opportunity. Maria understood it immediately but the rest of them failed to comprehend at all. Nonetheless, we continued on to the bobcats, pumas, and moose and their minds were promptly diverted to how cool those animals looked.
The metal statutes were a big hit for the kids. They loved to climb on them and swing from them. We hit one of those at almost every new geographical location. The bird sanctuary was a bigger hit than I thought it would be. They searched for birds throughout the sanctuary and when they found one they made a mad dash to the chart to see what kind of bird it was. After the bird sanctuary, we hit another playground and it was closed, too. This even pissed me off. I get that they close the playground areas at a specified time each year but really, on a day that is 60 degrees? More disappointment on their faces when I told them it was closed. I think it was disappointment and exhaustion from walking for two and a half hours. Tension began to rise in the two groups of siblings, also. Giovanni had found a feather and Mario wanted to touch it. Gio refused. Mario begged. He still refused. At that point, Maria walked up to him and pointed her finger scolding him about how selfish he was being and how he needed to learn to share. Alana hurried up to defend her brother and tell Maria to leave him alone. Maria proceeded to tell Alana that Mario would not share his toys with Gio if Gio continued to act selfish. Alana said that Gio didn’t care. And yes it kept going just like that for another minute or two before I interjected. What would spark up 4 and 6 year olds after an exhausting day at the zoo? McDonald’s Playland! Let’s go kids!
My kids are used to the Playland because of our trips to and from Cincy where the McDonald’s Playland acts as a rest stop half way in between Columbus and Cincy. Their cousins are not used to McDonald’s Playland because their parents do not frequent such establishments. Aunt Mary is a lot different from Aunt Carrie. I could care less about the dangers of such playlands – germs are good for kids in order to build up tolerance. Heck, I never worried about germs as a kid and I turned out healthy. But Aunt Carrie is polar opposite. I am sure it sickens her to think about playing at McDonald’s. I respect her for that – I sometimes I wish I had a little more of her style in me – but if the kids are with me, we will head to these types of places because they are cheap and the kids like them. Heck, they spent a half hour running around and exhausting themselves so that when 9 pm came that night, they should have been out cold (Maria was knocked out; Mario was just getting a second wind).
Finally, we ended up at Joann Fabrics to look for vases and flowers for the house. I could not believe how good the kids were at that place. They had every opportunity to run all around the store when I was looking at flowers, but they stayed by my side or within earshot of me. I was very impressed, and because I was so impressed, I let them each buy a little something. They helped me select flowers for the dining room and tried to find me some artwork for the room. Nothing would do the trick so I made an impulse last-minute buy of two flower pictures. I got them home and decided against them immediately. Oh well. I do like the flowers we bought.
We got home at 6 pm and helped Jon with the remainder of the garage cleaning. He had worked on clearing out the garage while we went to the zoo – no small task since we threw every piece of junk and unnecessary item in the garage when we moved into the house. To my surprise, after we were done, he asked if we wanted to go to Bob Evans. Heaven. I had been craving their pancakes for weeks. We loaded up and headed down to Bob’s for pancakes and dinner rolls with butter and mashed potatoes. Thanks, Mother Nature for giving us such a beautiful Autumn day.