All homework and housework makes Mama a dull lady. The other day I decided to take a break from the broom, and the brooding over assignments undone. I took the girls to a couple of farms in the area. It was a lot more fun than folding laundry!
Zoo Day August 29, 2012
It was tradition to take Amara to the zoo on every one of her birthdays thus far because she adores animals, but this year, as her main interest is learning everything possible about the human body, she chose to go to the Museum of Science instead. We aren’t used to living so close to a zoo, so our yearly trip would usually be the most we could do, but now it’s only a reasonable drive away. Last week we were given the opportunity to visit the zoo with a friend who has an annual pass. This means that we saved nearly $50 on what would’ve been admission, and another $12 on the Zoorassic Park exhibit (which my dinosaur lovers were dying to explore). You could say it was like having Christmas in August. We were so grateful for her generosity and had an amazing time!
We absolutely love being surrounded by animals, especially when they seem happy in their natural habitats. Visiting the zoo gave us the chance to learn new facts about various furry friends; I didn’t know that a kangaroo can jump farther than 20 feet, which is the same length as a tall giraffe’s neck! We always get a big kick out of the gorillas, staring into their eyes is eerie and spiritual; I cannot help but to imagine humans living in glass cages someday, staring out at the evolved versions of ourselves. Amara nearly cried when we had to leave the flight cage. I thought $2 was a bit expensive for the little wooden stick with seeds stuck to it, but since we hadn’t paid for anything else all day I decided to get one. I’m very happy that I did; I’d have paid the fee a million times more to see the smile on her face.
The zoo had the largest playground I have ever seen! It was a wonderful break from the monotony of walking and reading the signs, a good break for a tired and pregnant mommy, but also an amazing change of pace for two young girls exploding with energy. The playground was not devoid of animal references; from the top of a climbing tower you could see the giraffes at eye level, the stairs to different platforms were shaped like fish scales, and every aspect was animalesque. What fun it must have been to be a zoo playground architect!
Going to the zoo was one of the greatest days we’ve had in a long time. It was wonderful to have the chance to teach the girls outside of our typical environment, they had so much fun that they forget they were learning and I enjoyed it so much that I was able to think about something other than our problems for a while.
Close to Nature July 18, 2012
One of my biggest fears about moving to New England from southern Illinois was that we wouldn’t be close enough to nature. Back home, I was used to seeing deer on the lawn, bonding with the bunnies that’d stop by to steal from our garden, enjoying the long stretch of yard between our house and our neighbors’ (but also enjoying and knowing our neighbors), and the short, scenic drives to wilderness trails, sandstone bluffs, fishing, hunting, and camping spots.
Since the entire move was based upon my attending graduate school in Boston, I wanted my commute to be reasonably short. I wound up sacrificing close proximity for trees, a peaceful neighborhood, and backyard buddies.
We are awakened by the quacking of the ducks; when the blinds go up they waddle over to the window expectantly, awaiting their pieces of wheat. A decent amount of our day is spent feeding the flock, the squirrels, the groundhogs, and the chipmunks, looking for new bird species, and curiously witnessing the animals’ interactions.
Our bird watching, animal feeding, and constant observation make exciting nature lessons for the girls. They are eager to learn more about each of our furry and feathered friends and I have a fun time teaching them. The carrot-loving groundhogs had babies recently, and one of the female ducks (the only duck successful at keeping her eggs safe from the opossum) had 11 ducklings! This has given me another convenient opportunity to explain the difference between birds laying eggs and mammals giving birth to live babies.
We discuss migration, the birds of prey, the differences between the red and gray squirrels, the way to behave around the animal babies, the way to avoid getting sprayed by the skunks, the reason why the blue jays scare the sparrows away, the purpose of the red-bellied woodpecker’s pecking, and many other teachings. It’s like having a nature show out our back window!
It takes me over an hour to get to school, and thus far I have only seen one lonely deer, but my daughters get to run free in the grass behind our condo, there’s a patch of woods that conceals us from neighboring streets, I am enjoying the various hiking trails, there are plenty of places for fishing, and the scenery in this area is amazing. In fact, it’s a lot like home!