Even when we carve out time for a family vacation, that treat of a little rest and relaxation is hemmed in on every side with the demands of parenting. Just because we are out of town doesn't mean that we are out of our role of being the boss. We might have run away for a quick break, but we can't run away from the responsibility of continuing to train up our kids.
No matter how dearly you would like to temporarily hang up your Mom-Hat, those kids over there still belong to you. Yep ... those little crazy kids trying to bury their sister in the sand ... they are yours. We don't really get a vacation from parenting because it's a full-time job. You invest yourself into your brood 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.
But sometimes, God might surprise you with a little break ...
We took advantage of the long Labor Day weekend to take a mini-vacation over to Denver. Our principle reasons for this trip were to see Gramps & Grammy, enjoy a change of scene and take in Les Mis. All of us had been anticipating this trip for months.
We were prepared mentally to be in full-parenting-mode. When you travel as a herd, you are bound to find yourself in more than one occasion having to be the Alpha-Animal. We want to enjoy our kids and we have found that if we keep up the usual routines and expectations, everybody has more fun.
But sometimes you have to shake things up.
On Saturday, Gramps and Grammy suggested we take the pack down to the zoo. Seeing as Brett and I had envisioned staying home and staying busy, this prospect of taking a family safari trip (and really wearing out our little beasts in the process) was a fantastic idea. Little did we know what a terrific day was in store!
The weather was fantastic! After enduring the desert high 90's for most of the month, we reveled in the cool breeze with the temperature in the mid-80's. We got to be outside and not dripping with sweat. That was a win! The kids actually suffered a few bouts with goose-bumps during lunch and had to move to the sun. Poor babies!
The animals were animated! Oftentimes our experience at the zoo is walking from exhibit to exhibit, peering through the fences and trying to count how many tigers are laying in that far-off pile of striped fur. Or perhaps reading the signs on the exhibit walls which explain that due to the soaring temperatures, the polar bears/hippos/rhinos/lions/tigers/bears (oh my!) are all staying indoors where it's cool. This time, however, we watched as the snow leopards batted and battled for the plastic ball in their cage - they frolicked like any ordinary pair of house cats. We stood for 15 minutes watching spider monkeys scamper through the tree tops. We laughed at their antics as they hung from their feet and tails, peering into the food baskets and lounged on the tree limbs. We marveled at the appetite of the giant turtle as the zoo keeper skewered whole chicken breasts and fed the aquatic beast. We giggled as the baby orangutang practiced her climbing skills and her momma hid under a white sheet. (I could completely relate to that poor mommy!) It was the most interesting trip to the zoo I've ever had!
The kids had fun! We were amazed at how well our kids did. And for how long they kept having fun. We had anticipated leaving shortly after lunch, but actually found ourselves leaving closer to dinner time. We were prepared to adhere to our nap schedules, but found that we didn't want to interrupt the day's fun! This was a refreshing change for us as a family - not having to squeeze a day's events into a 4-hour time period. It also gave us a taste of what the post-nap-era might be like ... and it was good!
I do have a Time-Warp snapshot to share with you and it's not from this past weekend. It's from Christmas of 2005. In reminiscing about past zoo trips, this is one of the most memorable.
The Denver Zoo celebrates Christmas, too, by decorating the exhibits (not the animals) with twinkling lights. They extend their hours into the evening and families come out in droves to see the animals and decorations. We went that year with Aaron (age 3 1/2) and Norah (age 2) and Gramps & Grammy.
|I believe Ashley was also along for this trip |
... she's the bump under my winter coat.
This trip was a bit more work for obvious reasons (their ages) and another surprise reason (everyone looks the same in a winter hat and coat). It was fun to see the lights and decorations, but it was alarming to see so many little people wearing red or pink coats. I'm just glad that when we got back in the van, the two little kids under those winter caps were mine!
|That is not a real giraffe. :)|