Mercer and I did something fun this month... we spent the night at the zoo!
We were supposed to do this back in December (for my birthday) but it was cancelled. The theme this month "love birds" in honor of Valentine's Day.
The instructor had a presentation about birds including information on the coloration / feather types / beak types / eggs / etc. It was interesting. The kids did a craft. Then we went to a research building to have an animal "encounter." Our guide showed the kids a hedgehog and another spiky animal that was really tiny. She brought out a boa constrictor too (we got to touch all three of these). Then she brought out a porcupine. It was ADORABLE!! (it was my favorite) We were not allowed to touch the porcupine, of course. When asking Mercer about which was his favorite, he gave his usual reply: "all of them!"
There was a small group of us -- about a dozen in total including 7 kids 12, 10, 9, and 8. Mercer was the youngest and he kept trying to talk with the group of 12 year old boys. The guide told us about having groups of "Night Crawlers" that were about 200 people & how crazy that was. (no doubt!) Our small group walked as a group through the zoo to the other side (about 15 minutes or so). We hung out in the darkened reptile house for awhile and looked in on the cages with mini flash-lights. We also visited the kitchen where all of the food is prepped for the zoo. (There were all sorts of frozen mice, rats, and rabbits that they showed us that they defrost for the carnivorous animals.) Don't look too closely at what's in the baggie in this photo if you get squeamish.
We slept on the concrete floor of an education building and bunked down for the night. The only thing I could hear was an owl hooting throughout the night (and then starting around 4 am... someones cell phone messenger. Argh!)
We woke, packed up our sleeping bags and took them back to the cars, had breakfast, then went on a 2 hour private tour of several other areas of the zoo.
Here is our early-AM "selfie" with the kangaroos. They were really active in the morning. Actually, several of the animals were more active earlier in the day that were not active later. Two hours later... these same kangaroos that were up jumping around were all laying down sunning, I guess. (Or just being lazy?) The same is true for the famed panda bears. They were up and eating bamboo... but normally when we see them, they're asleep.
Our tour did consist of the bird section of the zoo - including that loud owl that reminded us of his presence all night long. Here is a very unusual bird - a double wattled cassowary. (I really liked this fowl in the next picture with the beautiful blue feathers!)
After that, we were free to stay and play.
It was a pretty cool experience. I learned that next time, I'll bring an air mattress to sleep on, though! I've heard that from several other parents who have also gone to a Night Crawlers event. (Unfortunately I did not hear this until AFTER Mercer and I went to our adventure.) Oh well!
Here's a picture of Isabella holding the doll that Mercer gave her the first time he met her. We take her photo every three months with the doll (now missing its clothes!). She is 2 years, 3 months old here (Friday the 13th).
Valentine's Day was spread out over several days. Both of the kids had parties at their school on Friday. On Saturday, Mercer and I built a valentines foam "centerpiece" that's been on our table. Saturday we also made cookies and decorated them with a couple of girls from our church. Sunday, we made heart-shaped pancakes and exchanged cards and books. (The adults got cards... the kids got a new book each.)
On Monday, we took these cute photos to send to the grandparents. (WAYYY LATE)