Once again, I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted! Work has been crazy the past couple of weeks with moving animals and opening the new Aussie area. Home has been crazy getting the kids ready for back to school. Aussie's open and school's back in session. No more excuses...
We took a "weekend" trip to St. Louis last Thursday and Friday to celebrate the end of summer vacation. The kids both wanted to go to City Museum and I wanted to go to the zoo. City Museum was a blast as always. I can never believe how amazing that place is! Kaylin and I went to the roof for the first time and while it was fun, I doubt I'd ever pay extra to go up there again. I got up close to the giant praying mantis statue, but otherwise it was more of the same stuff you can do everywhere else in the museum. Logan still hates elevators so he and Gene skipped the roof. The kids played everywhere, but this time their favorite area seemed to be the skateless park. They ran up and down the ramps and around the bowls so many times I'm surprised they didn't just collapse on the floor from exhaustion!
We left City Museum just before 5pm, so I thought maybe we could stop at Union Station to kill a little time and avoid some traffic before heading to our hotel. Wow. The recession has killed that place! I remember when I was a kid and every store was full and that was the most fun mall on earth! It's down to a few t-shirt shops and a food court. Man, it was lame! We were there a few years ago and while the mall was obviously dying, they still had some fun stores (toy, candy, dog breeds, etc.) and some fun activities. This time the thrill of our trip was a booth you got inside to experience hurricane force winds. It was actually really fun and totally worth the two bucks. We had eaten a late lunch so nobody was hungry. I imagine we spent maybe 15 minutes in the mall and 10 minutes feeding koi in the pond outside. It's sad that such a cool place with so much potential could just basically go out of business.
We left downtown and found a hotel close to the zoo. We ate at Steak 'n Shake and the kids went swimming. Friday morning we headed out to the zoo. Logan asked if the zoo was as big as Omaha's zoo? I told him I thought it was probably bigger. He looked at me in complete disbelief and said "Yeah, I doubt it." I laughed. We toured around the zoo and saw a lion way up in a tree, baby takin, camels and a newborn colobus monkey, hyenas fighting over bones and the beautiful, new sea lion exhibit. We pet stingrays and rode the train and carousel and even went on some 3-D motion ride that ended up being really fun. Our favorite animal encounter was in the bird house. I was talking to and playing around with a hyacinth macaw. It started reacting to me and pulled the piano wire in front of the enclosure apart, stuck almost its entire body out of the exhibit and chattered nonstop before tucking itself back inside and riding down the wire like some James Bond stunt. That bird was hilarious! I wonder if the keepers find it roaming around the building every morning? We had a great time at the zoo and Logan admitted it was fun and we should do it again sometime. I was pretty surprised because I feel like I've been to the St. Louis Zoo a zillion times and was shocked he didn't remember it. Then I realized I've been there several times with coworkers and haven't taken the kids in years. Definitely long enough that he wouldn't remember!
We headed home Friday night so I could attend a birding field trip I had signed up for on Saturday. It was my usual "south loop" of the Illinois River Road Scenic Byway, but with bird experts. We hit Spring Lake, Lake Chautauqua and Emiquon. We saw all 5 swallow species found in the area, a great horned owl, lots of black-necked stilts and a whole bunch of sandpipers and herons I was glad to have the experts identify. I added at least 5 birds to my year list and ended up seeing 54 different species. The group as a whole spotted 68, but that counted everything everyone saw from different cars and in different areas. I thought it was funny that I didn't even see one robin the entire day! Usually they're everywhere. It was a fun day!
The kids spent Saturday with my parents. I know they went fishing and possibly swimming in the lake, but I was fast asleep when they got home and didn't get all the details. I do know that Logan caught a small fish that was then grabbed by a water snake that refused to give up the fish so he had to pull the snake out of the water. How cool! Gene had a relaxing day to himself.
Monday was the kids' first day of school. It was kind of weird this year because they want everyone to pay fees online so there was no "fee day" where you pay and get schedules, fill out paperwork and get all the information for the first days of school. We went Sunday night and checked the class lists posted on the doors at the schools, but otherwise I had no details other than school times. We didn't even get bus schedules! Last night I got a mountain of paperwork. I did all of Kaylin's first, with all of the emergency cards and permission slips for this and that and all of the teacher contracts. I moved on to Logan's and at the end of a large packet of reading material found a parent quiz. I had a long, hard day at work and was already sick of filling out paperwork- now I'm expected to go through a long series of fill in the blanks about my child's personality and learning style? Pul-ease! I've already been through a year of this teacher and I KNOW she's not at all into digging deep to learn each individual's learning style or even their personality! Save a tree and don't print this crap!