I had heard from a few friends that the zoo has a fun “Boo at the Zoo” event in honor of the Halloween season. I thought Maria and Mario would enjoy it since we had not been to the zoo for a year and they would be able to not only see the animals but gather treats at all of the treat stations. I was right.
We got to the zoo at 10:30 in the morning thinking that we would leave by 1 or so in order to get a nap later in the afternoon. We left at 5:30 pm. The kids had a blast in their costumes (especially Mario who strutted up to anyone who glanced at him and shouted “Spiderman!”). The weather could not have been nicer. We got the treat of seeing a polar bear dive into the water right in front of us. A mama and baby elephant fed on hay together. A huge rhino walked by us. The kids petted a snake (they could not wait to come home and describe the event to dad who is not fond of snakes)! We even found the barn and petting zoo. The petting zoo had a score of baby goats for the kids to pet and comb. Maria loved combing and brushing the babes. She has got the most gentle demeanor around babies – human or animal. Mario liked their tiny poop pebbles thinking they “looked cool.”
We watched the bats being fed in the bat cage (bananas and apples) and my observant Maria noticed three little white bats at the corner of the room that looked like newborn babies (or it could have been a different species of bat). Nonetheless, Maria again proves that she is like her father – able to see the tiniest of things that most people overlook in their hurried lives. She makes me breathe and slow down. Unfortunately, we went to the reptile house next so I slowed down to see the snakes and lizards.
We ate a healthy lunch of zoo pizza, hot dog and french fries at the Zoo Eatery. While we were eating, they played a clip about Africa and Mario perked up “That is where mom wants to go, Ria!” I have dreamed of Africa since seeing “Out of Africa” with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford years ago. The land reeks of beauty and depth and richness. I love Alexandra Fuller’s books of her childhood in Africa. Something about that country penetrates me.
After filling ourselves to the brim with grease, we headed off to the zoo playland, which both kids surprisingly enjoyed (usually one of them gets bored quickly). Maria played mother hen to Mario watching his every step and guiding him in the correct direction when he veered awry. At one point, some older boy began to push his way by Mario to get through a tunnel, and I saw Maria take the boy’s arm and thrust him back. Little does Mario know how his sister protects him and has his back. I have a feeling this protective sister will remain throughout his life (watch out girls).
We ended our visit by petting a rat and hugging Biscuit and Gravy from Bob Evans (yes, the kids knew who they were – that is a bad sign!). I allowed each of them to get something little from the gift shop – Maria got a stuffed animal penguin that we named Pipi and Mario got two plastic cheetahs. On the drive home, Maria wrapped Pipi up in her Super Girl cape and told Pipi how happy she would be at her new home. Mario smashed his new cheetahs together and made them kill each other the entire way home.
I got home and sat on the couch. M&M soon huddled over to me wanting to continue to play. As I tickled their feet and smothered them with kisses, I thought to myself “this is a perfect day.” I wish I could bottle that feeling up and open it up when I need it (like tonight when I am fighting a bunch of deadlines and trying to get everything together). I am working hard on changing my thinking when I start to go down this path of worry and anxiousness. This weekend, I could have been in a worried, anxious, irritable state based on some situations at work. But I knew I needed to change my thinking from worried/anxious to grateful in order to keep me up on the mood elevator, and keep me enjoying the weekend with my family.
There were times I slipped and started down the worrisome path, but each time I caught myself and guided my thinking back to grateful (look at these awesome kids of mine, look at my kind hubby, look at my great family and network of friends…). When I can find grateful, I can find stability and peace. And I can go to bed at night just a little more uplifted and hopeful of what is to come (which tomorrow is more Halloween candy so yippee!!!).