Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring Break 2017 - Zoo Trip!

On Tuesday of spring break, we decided to try out a new zoo (for us).  We typically head to the Smithsonian's National Zoo in DC several times per year.  It's a beautiful zoo and it's free.  The animals are usually out and about and we love seeing the pandas, lions/tigers, gorillas, etc.  However, we've heard great things about the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore lately, so we decided to check it out.   We were blown away by the place!  So impressed.

We had no idea what to expect as we pulled up, but we weren't alone because hundreds of cars were pulling in at the same time.  The day was forecast to be hot, so we sprayed on the sunscreen and headed for the LONG line.  Luckily, I noticed a line for members and online tickets, so I quickly logged onto their website and bought our tickets.  Within three minutes, they were scanning my phone and we were in and skipped the lines!

We had the option of "hiking" into the zoo or taking the shuttle.  We decided to walk and it was only a few minutes later that we spotted the first exhibit (and maybe our favorite)... the penguins!  The DC zoo doesn't have a penguin exhibit and this one was brand new to the Maryland Zoo.  It was beautiful.

We decided that we'd make our way back to the penguins in a bit and instead starting heading down to the African journey area of the zoo.  We heard a rumor about giraffe feeding and we wanted to get down there before the crowds.  

We passed quite a few other animals that we stopped to check out on our way to the giraffes, including...



Leopard feeding

The DC zoo definitely has a better lion/tiger exhibit

And then we got to the giraffe feeding station!  I think Nick and I were more excited that Georgia!!!

Meet Caesar!  He's my new BFF!!

I swear this giraffe smiled at the camera!

It was so cool to feed a giraffe!  His tongue was sooooo long.  I love Georgia's reaction at the end jumping up and down.  It was absolutely the highlight of the zoo (and maybe all of spring break).

After we fed the giraffes, we headed down to the giraffe house to meet baby Willow (just 2 months old).

We stopped by to say hello to the elephants...

The chimps were going crazy when we got to their exhibit since they were about to be fed.  One alpha male was definitely not pleased with the others and kept chasing the other chimps.  One chimp came down to pout and then had himself a little temper tantrum.  He ended up chucking a huge barrel at the window where we were all standing!  

Temper tantrum chimp!

We hiked back out of Africa and stopped by the penguin exhibit to get a closer look.

While we were inside, I spotted the sign about how you can rent out the penguin exhibit for a party.  WHAT??!!?  I'm already planning Georgia's next birthday party.  We're just going to need 100 of our closest friends and a little bit of extra cash.  But it would be amazing!

We took a quick lunch break and watched the penguins swim around before heading over to meet the bear cubs!  As we walked up to the exhibit, they were RIGHT THERE!  Nova and Nita were rescued from Montana after their mother was found shot and had to be put down.  The smaller of the two cubs had actually been shot too!  They definitely looked like they were enjoying their new home in MD!

After the bears, we climbed up to tundra buggy to view the polar bear.  Originally, he wasn't anywhere to be found, but Georgia was thrilled to pretend to drive the tundra buggy around the Arctic for a bit.  The tundra was air conditioned, so Nick and I were more than happy to take a seat and (literally) chill for a bit!

Eventually, the polar bear came out and Georgia was not thrilled to see that his preferred snack of the day was peanuts!  Yup, my kid booed the polar bear.

The tundra buggy was definitely a very different and innovative way to get to view the animals.  We could sit (in the AC!) and watch the polar bear on one side and the two cubs out the other side.  Very cool.

She was more entertained by the "driving"

If there is one thing that Georgia loves at a zoo, it's a carousel!  Of course, she had to take a spin.

The afternoon was definitely HOT - our first official hot day of spring.  Georgia was so excited that they sold ICEE, so she slurped down a strawberry lemonade to cool down before we took a short train ride (again, something not offered at the DC zoo).  The food options at the Maryland Zoo were superior to the DC zoo, which are notoriously horrible... and few and far between, so you wait in line FOREVER.  Nick was over the moon to enjoy their beer offerings on a hot afternoon too.

One cool chick

Train ride

Originally, when we arrived, Nick and I assumed we'd be done with the whole zoo fairly quickly.  The map wasn't huge and there didn't seem to be that much to see.  We were SO WRONG!  It was like the zoo never ended.  There was always something else to do or to experience.  

We thought we were headed toward the exit, but then found another whole area of the zoo filled with barn animals and woodland creatures native to Maryland!

Brushing the goats

And then, in the middle of the woods, was a giant slide... made out of a tree!  The place NEVER ENDS!!

We finally, finally, finally wrapped up the zoo (I'm 100% certain we saw every animal they had) with the birds...

I don't know how Georgia's little legs did it because my legs were worn out!  We definitely took the shuttle back to the car on the way out.

Overall, an amazing day.  It's not often that we get to hang out with just Georgia for the day, so I think it made her feel special to have us all to herself for the day too.  

And just when we thought we were done with animals.  We got home to find another baby bunny in our yard!  Meet Hoppity!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring Break 2017 - Part 1...

11 days... We've had 11 days of just rest, relaxation and GO, GO, GO.  I swear I'm going to need a vacation from our spring break.  We haven't stopped moving the entire time.  We're back to reality tomorrow, so here's a recap back to the first few days of our break.

Last Friday was the first official day of break... sort of.  It was a professional day for me and both Georgia and Grant's daycare/after care was open.  I worked on report cards in the morning and then did a mad dash around town hitting just about every store within a 50 mile radius.  I desperately needed to do all the Easter shopping and also managed to do the great majority of Georgia's upcoming birthday shopping too while the kids were entertained at their schools.

On Saturday morning, Georgia and I ran some errands while Grant took a nap and Nick worked in the yard.  When Georgia and I pulled into the driveway, we were met by Nick... and a new friend.  Meet "Hippity."  Just in time for Easter!

Nick scared this little guy (yes, guy) out of the bushes while putting down mulch.  We weren't sure if he was still with his momma, so we put him back where he came from and hoped that he'd find his way home.  Luckily, we've since spotted him (and his siblings) all week long, so we think they're doing quite fine in our yard this spring.

In the afternoon, we were off to Virginia and the circus.  Sadly, it's the final tour for Ringling Brothers, so it was Grant's 1st/last time at the circus (I posted something on Instagram referencing the 1st/last time and my mom instantly texted me asking if Grant was that horribly behaved at the circus to cause it to be his last time!).  Not quite.  Grant liked it... when he was awake!  He managed to pass out for a small chunk of the performance before waking himself right back up in time for the finale.  We had a lovely older couple sitting next to us who explained that their grandchildren were currently living in New Zealand.  The woman was more than happy to assist, including when I looked over and she was holding Georgia's water bottle for her while Georgia snacked on mozzarella sticks.  I apologized that Georgia made her an assistant, but the woman was more than happy to help.

G and I excited for the show!

He likes it!

On Sunday, Nick took advantage of the beautiful weather (it was GORGEOUS all week long) and golfed with some neighborhood buddies while the kids and I laid low at home and cleaned out some closets.  Grant was a LUNATIC in the afternoon - nothing could make him happy and we were convinced that he was going to get a tooth at any second.  He finally passed out for a late afternoon nap and we decided that it was the perfect evening for our first movie night of the season.  A couple quick texts and we had a back yard full of kids and their parents ready to watch "Moana"

Grant woke up from his nap just as the movie was starting, so he joined us on the deck and LOVED watching the kids and the movie on the big screen.  He was a big fan of the Maui character!

On Monday, we dropped Grant off at school and headed downtown for an adventure.  Georgia was OVER THE MOON about taking the metro into the city.  She was more excited about that than anything else.  Originally, I thought it was just going to be Georgia and I, but Nick surprised us by joining us for the day (and little did I know, for the week!).  

Who is that big kid in the back seat and when did she get that big?!?!?

It's so crazy that Georgia is starting to not remember certain events from earlier in her life, like riding the metro.  She's been on it a few times in her life, but she just couldn't remember it.  She also had forgotten about going to the museums downtown, so it was time to establish some new memories!  The kid typically has the memory of an elephant - she references stuff that Nick and I had completely forgotten about at times.

Ready for our metro adventure

Georgia loved learning all the fun facts about the different metro stations, including spotting Nick and I's old condo in Bethesda.

We got off the metro a few stations shy of the Smithsonian and walked into downtown.  We stopped for a quick photo opp in front of another famous house...

We walked over to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and were lucky enough to get right inside (Spring Break is crazy busy downtown, so I was fully prepped for a long line to get in).  

I'm pretty sure I could have dropped off Nick and Georgia for the week.  They were in heaven checking out all the gems and volcano information.  Georgia quickly discovered the "please touch" signs and wanted to hit every button in the museum!  We checked out the Hope Diamond with a huge crowd of people before checking out the ocean animals exhibit.

Building a volcano together

Ironically, we would see REAL penguins and giraffes the following day!

I made Georgia crawl into this next crawl space because I knew that I had another photo of her from the summer of 2013 in the same exact spot.  Just a little bit of growth since then...

With her cousins in 2013 - easily clearing that ceiling height

Not so little anymore!

We had a blast turning Daddy into a caveman...

Cavegirl Georgia

We took a lunch break in the cafeteria area and then hit up the dinosaur area and more gems before realizing that we were going to have to hit the road to get home in time to get Grant from school.

A great day in the city with my peeps!

Me and my girl

Another flashback to 2013 when we were on the metro as a family of 3 (sorry, Granty, we'll bring you on a ride sometime soon!).

Sadly, Nick and I have aged more than her!