Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dallas Zoo Excursion

As a teacher, my days off tend to coincide with the days off of many other districts, which in turn leads to massive crowds at family friendly places.  Like zoos, aquariums, museums, etc.  My mom and husband can attest to my complete lack of patience with the behavior of people in crowds, so in an effort to save lives, I tend to avoid places when they will be ridiculously crowded. (You know, like malls at Christmas crowded)

This means that in the 16 years I have lived in Dallas, I have never visited the zoo.  And I love animals.  So when winter graced us with mild weather and my district got a day off last week (reserved for a snow day).  My husband and I decided to take the boys to the Dallas Zoo.

If you have ever lived in Dallas, you will always hear that the Fort Worth Zoo is the better zoo and better experience-although recently Dallas has added a Wilds of the Savannah exhibit which helps it tremendously.

With 3.5 year olds, I figured an excursion around the Dallas Zoo would be plenty.  And you know what?  We LOVED it.  Several areas have lounging chairs and benches where you can relax and watch the animals do their thing.  We were tempted to relax and watch the zebras and giraffes wander about while we sat on comfy chairs.  But the dudes were way too excited for that.

I also recommend bringing your own food.  There are plenty of picnic areas and zoo food is pricey! 

It was so much fun watching the boys enjoy different areas of the park.  E-dude loved everything- he is my animal boy.  And even though feeding the giraffe was a little bit overwhelming for him, he adored the giraffes.  And the cheetah-that walked up to the glass like he was saying hi. 

Or the penguin that leaped into the water, swimming right towards them.  My little E-dude loved it all.  He got SO excited.

G-Man loved the Golden Lion Tamarins-their wild energy matched G-Man's own, and he cracked up watching them scamper about.

It was a wonderful day-and the zoo has plenty to do.  Looks like a Zoo membership for this family next year!
Hanging on the crocodile statue.

No joke, we went to look at the lion and this cheetah walked up to the glass and just sat-like he was saying "hey, come back, I am WAY cooler than that lion."

This crazy penguin jumped in the water and swam right over to the boys.  He hung out and they chattered with him. E-Dude was quite perturbed about having to leave.

An interactive area where you can feed the birds nectar.  This was slightly traumatic for me as I had flashbacks to the movie "The Birds," but as you can see, E-Dude loved it.

See?  They tried to eat me.  One of them initially landed on my head and then bit me when I was trying to get it off.

WE could have watched these guys all day.  E-Dude was excited to feed them until the big head got close.

My loves.

G-Man was not keen on pictures today.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Grace Before The Caffeine Kicks In

The dudes are not morning people.  That must come from their grumpy when deprived of sleep mother their dad. 

If you are a parent you realize there is a point that your normal morning routine becomes painfully long.  You know...when the kids won't get up, cry getting dressed, refuse to pee on the potty, scream.  Loads of fun.

This week has been particularly challenging.  Especially with the sitting on the toilet for 10 minutes before finally going.  Each day my ability to get out the door and get to work on time has been diminished.  Each day, one or both boys goes full on dramatic while still in the limbo of sleepiness and wakefulness.

Today G-Man got the joy of being first up to dress.  And he sat quietly while I tried to get his brother to follow suit.  Cue the very loud shout of "NO!"  E-dude is becoming particularly fond of getting just the right amount of sass on the word no.  He must have studied that somewhere.  Seriously.

And of course when Mommy wouldn't budge, and he had to sit on the toilet when he didn't want to, the wailing tears came out in force.  G-Man, always sensitive to the feelings of others tried to comfort him, "It's okay brother!"

To which E-Dude responded with his brilliant rendition of "NO!"

And little G-Mans face squished up in sadness, in rejection.  His brother and best friend wanted nothing to do with the soothing he was trying to give.  And in his own tired state it hurt him greatly.

So I put my hands on either side of G-Man's little face and tilted his head upward.  I whispered , "You are so sweet, and loving, and thoughtful.  You stand up for others and you care when they are hurt.  You know what?  I think you are amazing and I love you SO much.  And guess what?  God created you this way and He loves you even more.  Do you understand?"

A little nod, the hint of a smile, and a gigantic hug.  Words.  So powerful.  Even in seemingly mundane moments.  How can we use our words to build others up today?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Crazy Little Boys-When Playgrounds Have Deeper Meaning

Sometimes you have to step back and stare amazed at the little people your children are becoming.  The ways their personalities shine (or antagonize), the way they approach the world and you think,

"God, thank you for these moments.  For these tiny humans that have blessed my life."

As a family, we traveled down to our neighborhood park.  The boys ran as fast as their legs could go and rand with pure joy over the ladders, down the slides, and back again.  At one point, E-dude started climbing up one of the 'ladder' climbing devices on the side of the playground equipment.  The top point is fairly high off the ground and to get from the climb to the platform requires stretching the leg over open air.  When he and G-man attempted these feats a few weeks ago, I felt the familiar heart pound and hovered closely, hands ready to catch if they missed.

Each time they went up and screamed "I did it!"  and each successive attempt I gave them a little more room to try on their own.  Could they miss and get hurt?  Yes.  And being the rough and tumble dudes that they are, it is going to happen eventually.

But I have to let them try.  I have to give them the opportunity to take some risk, to give them some taste of independence.  And it is terrifying.

Because I look at the future.  And instead of ladders and platforms it is a culture that considers underage drinking and teenage sex rites of passage. It is a world where self gratification rules and anything else is considered archaic or abnormal.

And I don't want to respond by not giving the boys the tools they need to deal with a fallen world.  I can't hide them away and hope that someday in their adulthood they don't run towards the bad whilst yelling "oooh, pretty!."

So that means balance- teaching truth while acknowledging error.  And honesty.  And praying to God that He helps me teach them to be secure in their identity in Christ. 

But today I am content to chase them on the playground, and do flippies over the bar that will later remind me that I need to get back into shape.  To climb up the slide with they boys yelling ,"Mommy, come sliding."