We had planned to go on a playdate to the zoo with some former coworkers and their children a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, this was the same time that our house was plagued with the stomach virus and ear infections. Jesse and I decided to take the kids to the zoo during spring break. We packed a bag full of diapers, bottles, snacks and lunch and were on the road by 9:30 this morning. Jackson was so excited. He spent the first 30 minutes of the car ride talking and making up songs at a painfully loud volume.
The zoo is divided into Africa and North America. The plan was to spend the morning in Africa, have a picnic lunch, and spend the afternoon in North America. I wanted to make a conscious effort to take the babies out of the stroller and give them individual attention. We brought the quad stroller with the assumption that Jackson would get tired and need to sit down. Jesse and I would alternate pushing the stroller. Our day went according to plan for the most part, but Jesse ended up holding Jackson most of the time while I pushed the stroller.
The first animals we saw were giraffes. I planned to take pictures and enjoy each exhibit, but Jackson was eager to race through and see every square inch of the zoo.
We admired the elephants next.
James took time to play inside the model helicopter used to track elephants.
I have no clue what this sign is in reference to, but I had to take a picture with the girls under it.
While we were watching the lions, a random employee asked if she could use my camera to take a picture of our family. She then told us that her husband was a triplet and we chatted briefly. This was one of many, many encounters from strangers. Jesse grumbled occasionally, "Why don't they just put us in a cage so people can watch us?" Everyone was especially kind and positive, so I didn't mind.
My favorite animal on the African side was the chimpanzee. Jesse just so happened to take a picture of Jackson making the same gesture as the chimp. They are surprisingly similar. (In case you're wondering, the mark on his wrist is the remains of a temporary tattoo.)
After making the rounds in Africa, we stopped by the restroom, then left that section to have a picnic lunch. I tossed out veggie straws and let the babies have a free for all while Jesse got our sandwiches and fruit.
Five minutes later Jackson stood up and declared, "I have to poop." Jesse hauled him back to the bathroom while I took care of diaper changes.
By the time we got to North America everyone was showing signs of exhaustion. Jesse had carried Jackson on his shoulders a majority of the morning. I had pushed the quad stroller up and down steep hills. The babies naps were interrupted. Jackson's surge of energy had faded. We all moved a bit slower in the afternoon. (It was never an option to leave early since we paid $30 and drove 90 minutes to get there.)
A bit of background: After reading "There's an Alligator Under My Bed" a hundred times, Jackson has a slight obsession with alligators. Before bed he'll demand to be carried upstairs because of the alligators. He's not actually afraid of these make-believe alligators. It's just become a thing.
Once we entered the swamps, we were surrounded by so many alligators. This was one of the few exhibits Jackson did not rush through. Jesse had to convince me that they were real, even though I never once saw any of them move.
The babies had their bottles while watching turtles swim around them.
Maddie was sitting in the front seat, which does not recline. It is too upright for her to feed herself, so we let her play in the boat before giving her the bottle.
Jackson found the perfect place to relax while we waited for the trio to finish eating. (They could have eaten on the blanket earlier, but then they would have been off schedule.)
By far, my favorite exhibit was watching Patches, the polar bear. This exhibit recently reopened after being closed since September. The polar bear exhibit was always my favorite as a kid because you can walk underneath through a glass tunnel and watch the polar bears swim around you. We didn't have the opportunity to do that today, but it was fun to watch Jackson's reaction as Patches pounced on her new toy (a garbage lid).
After a tiring day, the final hour of our drive home was a quiet one with four sleeping kids. Let's hope they all sleep well tonight!