Saturday, March 15, 2014

Zoo with friends

At least a few times each year, 4 of my dear girlfriends and I get together to celebrate birthdays, holidays, babies, usually with our families but sometimes just the girls. Today was a family gathering at the Houston Zoo. Unfortunately, Kirsten's son was sick and they couldn't make it, but 8 adults and 9 kids all converged on the zoo on a rainy morning, determined to take it all in. Turns out, a rainy day is a perfect zoo day, if you don't mind getting a little wet (and all of us have been in Houston for many years, which means we're all very comfortable with getting caught in sudden downpours). There are no crowds, and the animals love a little rain so they're out and about, frolicking on a rare mild day in Houston. I mean, it's the first day of spring break for the Houston school district and we parked in the fourth row - we had the place to ourselves!!

It's been so exciting to see the zoo through E's eyes. He's really noticing the animals now, and he races from exhibit to exhibit. He still does love the fish in the ponds, the mockingbirds in the bushes, and those amazing lightposts, but he's got a new appreciation for the elephants, giraffes, and okapi as well.

We also loved seeing him interact with the older kids. Katie was just wonderful with him, helping him up to see the animals and showing him the signs and little zoo games. At one point he reached up to hold her hand, and they walked along the chimpanzee exhibit like old friends. Love, love, love! He's got such a wonderful set of friends to grow up with. I just loved watching all the kids spend quality time together today. Of course, as always, it was also wonderful to catch up with adults I've now known more than half my life...

We took a quick spin on the carousel (Em loved it, E is so happy with the carousel that he now insists that Dad not touch his back during the ride - he can do it himself!) then had a simple lunch in one of the covered zoo pavilions as the rain picked up. I've really been so impressed by our zoo - I love that you can bring in food from outside and picnic just about anywhere. There's tons of places to sit and enjoy time with family and friends. And the bathroom facilities are clean and very kid-friendly (which is great when you bring a potty-training toddler on his first prolonged excursion - he was perfect, by the way).

Mary and Katie made birthday cookie bars which everyone enjoyed. Then the Leaven family headed back home to get the kids their much-needed afternoon nap. Thank you to all our dear friends for an absolutely lovely morning!

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