Thursday, February 25, 2010


What more is there to say?

It was a long, full day. When we got there, the first thing we did was get over to the giraffe enclosure because it was feeding time. This was such a great opportunity. Mike helped the kids hold out treats and the giraffes would lean over the fence and eat it out of their hands. It was an awesome experience for all three kids.

Hannah was startled that their tongues were purple. ("They're not even turquoise!" she later told her aunt.)

Ainsley was tickled (literally) by how long the tongues were.

Grayson seemed unsure - maybe because he realized that a giraffe kiss would cover his entire face - but couldn't stop staring. He was very unhappy to leave that area.

Once we were done with that, Ainsley took the map and started to decide where we should go.

Each girl had animals they wanted to see, and they both got to see all of them.

Hannah got to see her lions, tigers, and anteaters.

Ainsley got to see her elephants, zebras, and - her favourite animal - toucans.

Look close - they're up there.

Me? I was just happy that this zoo was obviously built with kids in mind. There were little cubbyholes everywhere holding little creatures.

Scattered throughout the zoo were animals that kids could climb on.

And in.

And on.

And explore.

There was even a 'petting zoo' that was low on variety. Only goats. My kids were so excited about that.

Can you see the excitement? Yeah. "We have deez at home." said Ainsley.

There were little playgrounds scattered everywhere which were great places to let kids run unfettered for a bit.

We even found places to sit and just be for a little bit.

Though this tranquil moment ended when Gray decided to try to jump into the pond - but that's a story for another post.

The next part of the zoo was very exciting (truly). It was a 'monkey village'. You walked into an enclosure and these little spider monkeys were everywhere. The picture below was taken without a zoom lens.

They were running and jumping and swinging all around you. It was fantastic.

By the end of the day, we'd seen more animals than I could remember and we were all completely exhausted.

Oh, I have to show you this picture because it makes me laugh. At the moment I took the picture, Hannah was pretending to be The Little Mermaid, Gray was trying to decide whether a running jump off the log was a good idea, and Ains was saying "Wook, Mommy! I Queen of all da kids in da WOOOLD!!!"

On our way out, we stopped at the carousel. Hannah and Ains each chose sea creatures the first time around - a sea horse and dolphin respectively.

Gray chose to sit on the stationary bench with me once his shark started moving.

On the second time around, Ains chose a zebra. She wanted to bring it home with her.

Today I went to IKEA for the first time with my sister and my feet hurt from all the walking I did yesterday added onto the walking we did in IKEA. That store's almost as big as the zoo (Not really. But kinda. But not even close. But it's BIG!!!).

It was a wonderful day and now my kids want to go to the zoo closer to home. It's not nearly as nice, and it's a lot colder this time of year. They'll have to wait.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Always a day behind.

And today won't be any different. I'll tell you about today's fun tomorrow, when my eyes aren't glassing over from exhaustion.

Yesterday my sister and I went to a small market in the area. The girls bought mini-cheesecakes from a sweets vendor which they thought was tons of fun (mini-cheesecakes are fancy and Hannah's still trying to teach Ains the importance of that) and Gray had several mini-meltdowns. Being away from home isn't as carefree for him as it was for his sisters at the same age.

Then, when the cousins got home, we went to a World Market. Such a fun store. Hannah and I found some ideas for lighting in the kid's flower garden this summer.

Wouldn't those be pretty? Everyone kind of gravitated to the international chocolates aisle and milled there for awhile. I got some early Easter supplies and a sweet little mini-globe that I would like to have floating around our house.

When we got home, the kids went directly to the trampoline in the back yard without passing Go or collecting $200 (not that they would have had much of a chance of that had they tried). This is where they get rid of so much of their energy. I tried to get some pictures, but they were getting rid of a lot of energy.

The girls are so good with Gray in there. All he wants to do is run in circles as fast as he can, and if he can do that while they're bouncing around him, it's all the more fun.

Let me show you one of my favorite views since I've been here. From my sister's patio, you can see an orange tree in the yard behind hers...

and a lemon tree a few doors down.

We don't have local citrus in Idaho.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day Four - Cactuses, Craft supplies, and Cuddling.

When we were within thirty minutes of Phoenix I started hearing cries of "Cactuses!!!",

and "Palm trees!"

Much more excitement from these two things than I expected.

Today the girls and I went for a long, meandering walk around the neighborhood while Gray napped. We got to see both plants up close.

There are a *lot* of different varieties.

And Arizona landscaping is very, very different than what I'm used to.

The girls enjoyed themselves so much. They discovered new flowers,

very large pineapples,

and crafting supplies. (Those are rocks and flowers in her hands. I was carrying huge dried pieces of palm bark filled with many other treasures for her.)

Some very big crafting supplies.

I'm glad we drove - we couldn't fit that on a plane.

And when we got home, there was cuddling.

Have I mentioned how much I love being here?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day three - Enjoying the sun.

A few days ago, the kids were playing in this.

Now it's sunshine and lollipops.

Playgrounds in February.

Rides on alligators.

And luckily for me, indefatigable cousins.

It was a good way to start my 33rd year.

And on the second day ...

we drove six more hours. We filled up the car at this gas station ...

which caused Ainsley to become very sad when she realized that they sold gasoline and not pegasuses. (Pegasii? What's the plural of pegasus?) She wanted one.

We got to Phoenix. The kids discovered cousins, a trampoline, a balance board, a keyboard, and dolls.

And it was good.

And I rested. I may have snored. I know Ainsley did.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

We're on the road.

So the next few days are going to have a definite keeping-Daddy-updated flavor.

We're travelling to see my sister, and the sun. I miss the sun. I've heard it lives in Arizona for the winter, so we're going to find it. Yesterday we travelled all the way across the state of Utah - that's a long trip at any age, but at five (almost six!) and 1 (almost two!) and three (nowhere near four), it's a very long trip. They did amazingly well. Gray stayed dry until we got to where he could go on the toilet. He got cranky a few times, but a steady dose of Strawberry Shortcake kept him entertained. Five hours of Strawberry Shortcake. It was ... it kept Hannah and him content and that's what matters.

Right when they had all had about as much sitting in a seat belt as they could take, we found a restaurant with a play place. Fantastic. I had planned to stay there for thirty minutes, but it stretched to an hour. I was not about to put them back in the car until they had their energy all out. I was 'the best mom ever' because I got them kiddie ice cream cones - that was easy.

And life's always better when you find a table just your size.

I also got to haul my adult-sized body through the kiddie place equipment to get Gray who had followed his sisters into the big kids section of the play place, was too scared to come out on his own, and wouldn't let his sister help him. Luckily we were the only ones there right then. Screaming really echoes in those tunnels.

The girls were beyond excited to stay at a hotel for the first time that they could remember. There's something magical about hotels when you're a kid. That's straight from Hannah's mouth. "This is so magical!" So magical that she fell asleep ten minutes before we got to the hotel and slept right through me carrying her in and her sister and brother having a hard night. Grayson cried himself to sleep in my arms after a record hour long I-am-so-tired-and-I-sat-in-the-car-for-nine-hours meltdown. Luckily there was no-one in the room next to us. Ainsley had nightmares, I couldn't figure out what they were about. I had to wake her up three times to break her out of the scary place she was in.

This morning, Hannah woke up, looked around her, and smiled really big. We had to get up earlier than Ainsley would have liked so that we could get to breakfast in time. I had to remind Hannah five times to please.get.dressed. because she kept getting distracted exploring and telling me how fantastic hotels are and we really had to get going to get to breakfast. They were thrilled with the range of choices for breakfast. Ains got a danish ("I feel like Homer!" - thanks, Matt) and a *lot* of juice - you can see how tired she is in the picture below. Gray had about five tiny muffins, Hannah had a little bit of everything in Hannah style ("I feel like a princess!" - it helped that she was wearing her cape).

Then we came back to the room so that they could watch cartoons.

Now they're all in the bathtub. I can hear them talking in there.

H: "Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could live like this all the time, Ains? We could have enough money that we could pay people to do our cleaning and fix us fancy breakfasts and make us fancy clothes..."

A: "And we could drink watuh!!"

H: "Well, yes, we could drink water, but that's not so fancy. We could drink any kind of juice any time we wanted without waiting for mom to fix it. We could go to balls and meet princes and get fancy soaps beside our bathtubs."

A: "And we could drink watuh!!"

H: "Ains, I don't think you understand the importance of fancy."

Then they'll watch some cartoons (on TV - so much fancier than on dvds like at home) while I pack up for us to do our last -shorter - stretch of the trip. Hopefully it goes as well today as it did yesterday.