The Daughter Chronicles

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A long overdue story about our field trips to the zoo and the ol' fishin' hole

Three weeks ago (on the 17th of February) we all went to the Phoenix Zoo. It had been a while since we had been there (a little over two years), and we knew the kids would enjoy it. We're trying to take advantage of the small window of really nice weather we have in Phoenix - after Christmas and before April it's not too hot and not too cold - by doing things outside, so we headed off to the zoo! I'm not a huge fan of zoos, but I like hanging out with the family!

The first stop we made was the manta ray tank. The zoo has a big swimming pool with rays and a few small sharks in it, and you can stick your hand in the water and pet them ... if you dare! Norah put her hand in the water a bit, but I'm not sure if she actually touched any. I thought of helping Mia put her hand in the water, but it's very difficult to hold her in such a way that she can, so I just held her where she could see into the water and check out the rays. It's one of the problems with Mia - her attention span is so short that we're never sure if she's actually seeing what she's supposed to be seeing or just ignoring it. All day at the zoo I kept asking her if she saw the animals, and very often she wouldn't even answer, and even when she did, I wasn't sure if she really did see them or was just answering "yes" for the fun of it. Oh well - she enjoys getting out and about, and that's what counts.

We moved on to the giraffes, which were right by the fence and easy to spot. Norah and Krys climbed into a wooden enclosure high off the ground to see them more closely, and Norah, rather predictably, freaked out whenever she saw a new animal. She has that little kid fascination/fear thing with new stuff, so she wanted to see the giraffes but screamed if she thought they were coming too close. I wanted to carry Mia up to the bird's nest, but the stairs were very narrow and there were many people rushing up and down them, and I figured it wouldn't be the safest thing to do. She hung out on the ground, and I kept pointing out the giraffes to her. She was more interested in grabbing the metal fence that ran around the compound. See what I mean about a short attention span?

The giraffe experience established a pattern for the day. Norah would shriek a bit when she got too "close" to the animals, but was still fascinated by them, while Mia would look around at everything else but the animals, and when I told her to check them out, she would look briefly and then look away again. The big cats, naturally, were sleeping, so I don't know if Mia even saw the lions. The rhinoceros was also sleeping, but we think the kids got a good look at it. The mandrills were out and about, looking typically freaky, and Norah liked looking at them. At one point we went inside the monkey jungle, where you can walk along a path with nothing between you and the little buggers. Mia and Norah enjoyed that, although Norah, of course, kept crying because the monkeys were at least 20 feet away, and that's too close! Mia enjoyed the monkeys because they were so animated - again, it's the short attention span thing: if something is moving quickly around, she keeps watching it, but if it stops, she has no patience to keep her eyes on it!

At that point, we had been walking around for about an hour, and we had to make a decision about which way to go, as we had reached a crossroads. We decided to head toward the main pavilion/entrance area, get some lunch, and maybe double back and check out the kids' area. We walked along a path that had many exotic birds, something Mia again enjoyed, as the birds are nice and flashy and tend to make odd noises at the proper times. Mia also saw a gorilla, which she enjoyed. Norah did not see the gorilla, because she decided to have a meltdown.

I do not believe in strollers for kids who can walk. I never take a stroller when I take Norah to the mall, mainly because I hardly ever stay long enough for her to get worn out. I understand why parents take strollers, but I want Norah to 1) be a healthy and active child, which means walking a lot, and 2) get used to walking a lot, because we do want to travel with the kids when they're older, and she's going to have to walk. So I haven't put her in a stroller for well over a year. Krys still takes it places occasionally, and we had it with us at the zoo. Norah, however, does not like to get in the stroller! She began to get a little tired about this time, but refused to get in the stroller. So she didn't want to walk and didn't want to ride. What did she want? She wanted Mommy to pick her up, of course! Krys wasn't about to do that, so Norah had a meltdown. While I showed Mia the gorilla, Krys tried to calm Norah down. We were on our way to eat lunch anyway, so we figured we'd see what time it was when we finished and if we would head back out to the kids' area.

After lunch, it was almost one in the afternoon, so we decided to leave. Krys, having planned ahead, got a zoo membership, so we can go back anytime we want. That's my wife - always thinking! So we didn't feel bad about leaving. The kids had a nice day out, and we knew they were tired. We haven't been back yet, but we'll probably go back in a few weeks. The weather is getting hot around here, so we need to go soon!

A few days later, on the 21st, Mia went on a field trip with her class. They headed over to Red Mountain Park in Mesa to go fishing. Yes, fishing. I foolishly said I would go along with Norah! I write "foolishly" because Norah wasn't feeling very well that day, but of course I couldn't have known that she wouldn't be in tip-top shape when I said I would go. But I was foolish for other reasons, as well!

We arrived at 9 o'clock in the morning, as instructed. Mia's teacher told us that we should get there about that time, because the Fish & Wildlife people put fish into the lake at that time. Yes, they have to add fish to the lake! So we got there and set up shop. The people running the event were nice enough to give us a fishing pole to keep (it's in the garage now), because she'll be back next year to fish again! Unfortunately, her class didn't get there until about 10, and they didn't put fish in the lake until about 10.15. So we were quite bored for an hour, and Norah does not like to be bored! She was pretty good, mainly because she liked the fishing pole.

Mia, unfortunately, couldn't hold the pole all that well, what with her one hand and all. She tried a little, but wasn't all that interested. Norah, however, dug the pole. She liked to dangle it in the water and wave it around. She was not interested in trying to actually fish, although we did put bait on the hook. She also got a hook in her hand! I was casting the line and the hook got stuck in the side of her hand, just by her wrist. She didn't seem to feel it until I pointed it out to her, and then she cried. Once I got it out, she recovered nicely. We hung out for a while and had a pretty nice time. Only two fish were caught, but I think Mia enjoyed herself. Her teachers talked to her a lot, and she always likes checking things out wherever she happens to be. It's frustrating that she couldn't participate more, but she always seems to have a nice time doing what she can. We ate lunch, but then I decided to take the kids home, because Norah was getting a bit cranky. But we still had a good time, all in all. It was a beautiful day, and it's always nice to get out into the sunshine before the temperature starts spiking.

Mia loves getting out and about, and I hope we can do it more often. We're going back to the zoo pretty soon, and we've found some trails that are wheelchair-friendly, so that should be fun. I don't like living in Phoenix, but we have to take advantage of what good things it does have!


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