Practically every family outing I’ve contemplated in the last week has fallen through for one reason or another. Having spent the summer languishing in the shadow of my gut, unable or unwilling to summon the energy to do anything besides nothing, I’m bound and determined to enjoy the last few minutes of Calgarian daylight coupled with temperatures above forty degrees (Fahrenheit). It makes me a little panicky just thinking about the fact that ‘soon’ it will be cold, and I won’t have spent much time outdoors.
So today, having heard the news that it was going to be in the upper 70’s, I made yet another plea to my men to go somewhere. Anywhere. Perhaps a mini- hike somewhere scenic?
‘What about the zoo?’ Jason suggested.
We recently got annual passes to the zoo; my rationale being that it might be nice to go for an hour without feeling compelled to stay half a day in order to get my money’s worth. Also, there was the guilt trip factor. In the weeks before I committed 2009-10 as ‘the year at the zoo’, my oldest would drop heavy hints.
‘Remember when we used to go to the zoo?’
You mean 2006-07…to the zoo in Indianapolis..I replied, silently. Because we hadn’t gone to another zoo since, unless one counted the Toledo (or was it Columbus) zoo during a vicious downpour, upon returning from a trip to the Canadian border for ‘visa’ paperwork. When we were the weird people with the baby, running around in pouring rain and lightning to get to our car because we couldn’t fathom spending another minute there.
I mistook these little snippets of conversation as clues, hints that he really loved the zoo and would like nothing better than to return there. To further his knowledge of the animal kingdom, or whatever it is little people do at the zoo.
So we paid our dues and got the passes, and went. A reasonably good time was had by all, I thought. Until we were on our way out.
‘What’s that smell?’ My oldest asked.
I don’t know…animals…animal ‘matter’?
Without waiting for an answer, he concluded: ‘the zoo’s stinky. I don’t want to come back to the zoo.’
Uh, actually, 2009-10 is the ‘year at the zoo’. We are going to come back have to come back, many, many times, in fact. Because it’s fun. And you like it.
And, for the next two weeks, nearly once a day, he’d make some remark about the stinky zoo and how we can’t go back there ever again.
So when Jason broached the subject this morning, not only did it not fit in with my plans for experiencing ‘scenic Calgary’, there was also the not-so-tiny matter of having to convince his oldest to go. And his oldest already had other plans…that involved baking. He got hold of a kid’s cookbook and suggested we bake muffins together. Except the recipe he’d settled on was for corn muffins – with actual corn in them – and I could only hear the outrage as we baked what he believed would be sweet, delicious muffins…that turned into savory-ish muffins. WITH CORN IN THEM.
I explained to him about the corn, and he gave up the dream. Moved on to cookies, instead.
Specifically ‘peanut butter munches’.
I looked at the recipe and shuddered: one cup peanut butter, one cup sugar, one egg.
That’s it. It didn’t sound like anything I wanted to eat, but at least it would be fast. And required little in the way of ingredients. And, maybe, if they were as vile as they ‘sounded’…I wouldn’t actually eat any.
So I mixed up the batter and let him go wild with shaping the dough into balls. He even ad-libbed and decided to add chocolate chips, as ‘eyes’. We baked them. And put them in a ziploc bag…to take to the zoo.
It was our first proper outing as a family of five. And, there we were looking like a zoo within a zoo. A family of ducks meandering along the sidewalks. Pushing two strollers – two unoccupied strollers. Because once we got inside the zoo, the Hen decided he wanted to walk. And B3 started crying something awful and I carried him in the Baby Bjorn instead. The cookies were gone within fifteen minutes. And we left after an hour, amid complaints about legs that don’t work, hunger, thirst and fatigue.
Good times were had by all.