Monday, July 24, 2006

Brookfield Zoological Park

The Boy woke up this morning and asked, as he does every day, "What are we doing today, Mama?" My initial response (go to daycamp at a program in our neighborhood) elicited tears and whinging, so I gave it up (he's been protesting camp since its second week and I'm sick of convincing him that he wants to go, even if he has a good time once he gets there) and suggested that we go to the zoo instead.

"Which zoo, Mama?"
"Do you want to go to the face-painting zoo or the other one?"
"The face-painting zoo, Mama."

And, after loading the car with the double stroller and bottles of water, we went to Brookfield Zoo.

Brookfield Zoo is an amazing place. It is quite a bit larger than Lincoln Park Zoo and it's not hard to imagine ladies in white dresses and parasols walking primly around the grounds with their flannels-clad escorts admiring the center fountain and wildlife, stopping to rest on the benches under the big oak trees lining the wide sidewalks. Today's 90-degree heat made it difficult to imagine being one of those women, however. I'd have swooned in all those layers and boning. I was nearly swooning in my t-shirt and capris, huffing around with 2 heavy children in a 30-pound stroller.

Due to the fact that I never seem to have actual cash on me, we went through the North Gate, with the masses. When we got there, The Boy insisted on holding the map. We were all attracted to the newly open, but still vaguely under-construction Carousel. But, since I was still without cash, it wasn't an option. Next time.

First up, we saw a brown, hairy tarantula (not its actual name) from Costa Rica in a box with a pink lid. The docent/zookeeper kept saying that he was excited that the creature was actually awake, as tarantulas are normally nocturnal. I was skeeved out, but The Boy was vaguely interested. We agreed that it looked like the spiders in Harry Potter 2. The zookeeper asked if we had any questions about the spider, but The Boy didn't seem to have any. We walked away and the first thing he said was, "Where did the spider come from, Mama?"

Next, we walked over to the Seven Seas area, to see when the next dolphin show would be. It was at 11:30 a.m. and though it was still half an hour until it started, The Boy insisted that we go into the unairconditioned auditorium. The Girl was not happy about sitting there for so long, especially once it became crowded and I would no longer let her sit on the concrete steps instead of the plastic bleacher seats. The show started and The Boy was entranced. I thought it was better than the dolphin show at the Shedd (shorter and more splash/tricks), but The Girl was terrified at the dolphins jumping in the air. (She felt warmer than just too-hot-from-the-weather-warm while we were sitting in the auditorium and, sure enough, was running a fever when we got home, so that may explain her fear at the show.)

After the dolphins, we wandered past the bears to the Hamill Family Play Zoo, which is probably his (and mine: it's air conditioned and indoors) favorite part of Brookfield Zoo. We saw the bears on the way. The Girl was somewhat animated watching one sleeping in a corner and The Boy had a good view of one playing in a pool of water.

At the Hamill Play Zoo, The Boy waited patiently for his turn in front of the mirror and painted his face pink, green and yellow. He later told his daddy that he was a lion. We looked in on the Hissing Cockroach, gecko and snake. Painted water colors in the Activity of the Day section (The Girl painted, too, clever little monkey. I helped her for awhile and every time I put the brush down, she would pick it back up and hand it to me), and then sprayed the plants in the spray room.

I was ready to go home after that, but The Boy insisted that we have lunch there. I had been planning to go elsewhere because while there is more to do for little kids at Brookfield, the food is much better at Lincoln Park Zoo. And, for what you get, it's pretty expensive at Brookfield as well. But, to go elsewhere, I'd have to put them into and take them out of the car again and it was already past The Girl's naptime, so I decided that The Boy had a point. We went to the Safari Grill, where The Boy had an Animeal(r) of 2 mini cheeseburgers, fries and milk. The Girl and I split an organic turkey + cheese sandwich. I brought out the fries last and The Girl ate quite a few dipped in ketchup.

I got the kids loaded up into the stroller and walked back to the car. The Girl was asleep before we got to the car. The Boy fell asleep before we got home. A bit of traffic on the merge from the Ike, but not too bad otherwise.

Another day, another adventure.

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