Tag Archives: zoo

Family Vacation: What I learned

We recently got back from a trip to Florida. The purpose was to give my dad a sort of birthday present (he turns 70 this month) of having all 4 of the grandchildren on a trip together. So my wife and I went with the girls and Pam, my sister, went with our niece & nephew. My brother-in-law was unable to make it due to work. The third sibling, my brother, was also not there but he likely didn’t want to go. So we had a total of 5 adults with my parents, sister, Lisa and myself. The 4 kids are between the ages of 3 and 7. So obviously, they had the advantage over the adults.

Did we have fun? Sure, there was fun. The kids seemed to enjoy playing together, though there was a large amount of whining. I’m also sure I speak for many when I say putting extended family together for a long time is not without stress. But this whole thing was a learning experience, so I will now share the knowledge that has been bestowed upon my squishy brain matter.

FLYING WITH KIDS IS A PAIN- We had a 2 hour delay for our flight to Florida. This pretty much killed the excitement of 5-year-old Phoebe, who now panicked that the trip was ruined. By the time we got on the plane and took off, she hadn’t fully recovered. Zoe, the cranky pants toddler, was tired but did not manage to fall asleep until about 20 minutes before landing. However, we also had a yappy dog on the plane that barked the whole time. The flight home was very early and Phoebe spent most of it being difficult. Zoe was pretty good, only fussing once which was cancelled by the presence of apple juice. This was the opposite of what we expected, having thought Phoebe would be excited by the plane and entertained and Zoe would get cranky. So maybe next time, which may very well be in a few years, we’ll just drive.

LET THE GRANDPARENTS TAKE THE KIDS- If my mom or dad wanted to go somewhere with the kids, they pretty much got it. Lisa and I were able to get a few moments of quiet and even got to go out after the kids went to bed. Once just the two of us and once with Pam, who by that point needed the break as well. Plus, we all got to take a nap at least once! How awesome is that? How sad is it that I get excited about naps?

BE BETTER AT PLANNING OUTINGS- Somehow we ended up going to the Naples Zoo on one of the hottest days of the week. Needless to say, everyone was cranky about halfway into the time there. Also, the animals as a whole were smarter than us and mostly laid around in whatever shade was present. Good for you, striped hyena and honey badger. Bad for the tourists, us included. Zoe also clarified that every big cat she saw apparently goes “meow, meow”. I’m sure the 3-year-old has conducted scientific research so pass this on to the tigers and leopards. No roaring for you. It’s “meow, meow” or nothing. So sayeth the toddler.

We’ve taken short little weekend trips with the kids in the past, but this was our first big family trip. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for vacations with Phoebe and Zoe. People keep asking us if we’ll do a Disney trip with them, which I think is possible but certainly not until they are old enough to remember it better. This is the question about the trip we just took. Will they remember much of it? A little, I think, but it will probably be more along the lines of how they had fun with their grandparents and cousins. So I think vacations like trips to Disney World and things like that can wait until Lisa and I don’t have to change diapers at the airport.




The Zoo

We have a little additional room to our home that, I believe, the original owner used as a sewing room. It’s connected to our kitchen and drops down a few steps lower. We knew instantly that we’d use this as a playroom for the girls. This has proven to be a good decision. Small children are not easy to contain for a long period and having a centralized location for the chaos helps. However, the space ends up having a life all its own. I have come to think of this room as the Zoo. Let me explain the source of the name.

1) The view from the outside

There is a small railing along the lip of the room and the small stairs. We also installed a baby gate, primarily for Zoe containment since Phoebe is able open the door. So when I am sitting at the kitchen table looking in on them, it kind of seems like bars are holding them in. A giant baby cage, if you will.

2) Crazy monkeys 

Small children have many things in common with monkeys that got into the jar of sugar someone inexplicably left alone. They all make a lot of noise. They are constantly demanding food. Objects will often get thrown about. Anything that can end up in their mouths, WILL end up in their mouths. There is occasionally poop. To give my children credit, I am pretty sure they smell better (usually) and are easier to ultimately calm down than the monkeys would be. This is an assumption. I don’t hang out with many monkeys in my day-to-day, so I can’t test the hypothesis.

3) Visiting the exhibit

My girls are quite fortunate to have a few people, particularly grandparents, who really love them. We also have some friends who pop in for the occasional visit. When these various people come by, it really does feel a bit like a few tourists came in to the zoo. Specifically, it becomes a kind of petting zoo. People will go in the playroom to hang out with the girls. They will play with Phoebe and Zoe. Sometimes it is at their own risk. My kids may have been eating something sticky. You also have to be mindful of the aforementioned baby gate, lest Zoe run off and try to drop things in the toilet. We have one friend, whom I absolutely adore, that consistently struggles with anything child-proof despite the fact that she’s one of the smartest people I know. So the baby gate can trip up even the most intrepid house guest/tourist.

4) David Attenborough

This doesn’t quite fit the whole “playroom as a zoo” thing I’ve got going. However, I’d be lying if I said watching my kids just interact with their environment didn’t make me feel like David Attenborough narrating The Life of Mammals. Even though I’m not British.

So the children spend a good part of their day in the Zoo. And so does daddy. I guess at the end of the day, that makes me less of a zookeeper and more part their society. Or maybe part of the habitat. Usually the climbing portion. I can live with that.