This past weekend we headed up north to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and my nephew. We (or at least I) used to go up to their place a lot, but with the addition of Drew and Anders, it seems like everybody is busier and traveling just isn't as easy as it used to be. The last time we were up there was when my Grandpa died in October, so Drew and Anders have both changed a lot in that time. It was so good to see Anders and how he's changed, even since I saw him a month ago (or whenever that was). He's just as cute as ever!
We got there around 9:00 on Friday night. The drive up wasn't as bad as I expected, though we did hit a little road construction which slowed us down somewhat and raised my blood pressure a bit. Overall, though, the boys did really well in the car. Installing that DVD player a year and a half ago was probably one of the smarter things we've ever done. Though Drew is still small and not too interested in TV, it did help him stay entertained some. The boys and I also went to a fun store here on Friday morning and picked up a car bingo game for Zach and a small bead-toy for Drew that I thought would provide at least a little entertainment. They helped, too, along with some delicious animal crackers that Zach picked out.
Drew really didn't have any trouble going to sleep that first night- it was way past his bedtime and he was pretty tired. We considered having Zach and Drew share a room, but since we knew they'd be going to bed at the same time the first night and possibly the second night, we weren't sure how they'd do with that. I was afraid they would just try to play or something and struggle to go to sleep. Plus, at home Zach gets up every night to go potty, and we were worried about him sleeping upstairs in Sandy and Will's house and needing to potty, and then having to navigate the hallway and stairs in the dark by himself to get to the bathroom downstairs. So instead we decided to just put Zach on his little blow-up bed in our room. It was a tight squeeze, but we made it. I was definitely regretting this decision when Zach awoke at about 5:30/5:40 on Saturday morning. He wasn't trying to talk to us or anything, but he was doing a lot of loud whispering to himself and moving around, and the blow-up bed rubbing on the wood floor and our bed created a lot of squeaking, so I never really got back to sleep. At about 5:50 Mike told him he had to put the clock back (apparently he had gotten it off a shelf) and go back to sleep. Then a bit later he got up to tell me we forgot to name our butterflies. At 6:45 I decided I should get up to see if Drew was awake yet, and Zach started complaining about being hungry. I was less than sympathetic and told him he was only hungry because he'd been awake so long and that he needed to just go back to sleep.
Even with the early morning, we all had a great time when we went to the zoo. I was glad that I packed warm clothes for us all, because it never got past the low to mid-60's the whole day, and at times it felt rather chilly. I think we were lucky, though, because a typical July day in MN would probably be too hot and humid for the animals to be doing much other than sleeping. We actually got to see quite a bit of activity from many animals.
Here's the moose that was right by us. She had 2 babies in May and they were sort of hiding out up on the hill.
Zach and Uncle Will were checking out the animals together and trying to not let the rest of us catch up to them. Zach sure was having a lot of fun.
This is usually how we found them- with Will helping Zach see the animals better and probably telling Zach interesting facts about all the animals. I think this is a really neat picture.
Drew absolutely loves giraffes. I'm not sure why, but he does. This was Drew's third time at a zoo this summer, and each time he's gotten a close-up view of the giraffes, so maybe that's it. Just a week ago I took the boys to our hometown zoo and we got to feed the giraffes crackers- $1 per cracker. Things are a little more expensive in the Twin Cities, though, where it was $5 for 2 crackers! Oh well, I still forked over the cash for it.
Then we got a nice view of the prairie-dogs.
I love the big cats. They are my favorite part of the zoo. This tiger has a neat habitat in which to live, and he/she was roaming around right where we could see her. Zach started roaring and soon after the tiger did, too, which Zach thought was very cool.
The bears were a little to sleepy to do anything. I suppose the cold temps made them think it was time to hibernate.
The otters were one of Zach's favorite things to watch. They were getting clams from their trainers while we were watching, and it was so neat to see them get a clam, go into the water, bang the clam against the glass to break it open, and then swim on and eat it. We also got to see a close-up of one of the otters pooping in the water, which wasn't so cool, but I guess that's nature, right?
The otters were also having fun playing in this big crate.
The gibbons are fun animals, too. We have them at our zoo, and they make such great noises. Unfortunately, they weren't being too noisy on Saturday. I actually stopped to read the sign by the gibbons, though, and I learned a few things. First of all, I learned the difference between monkeys and apes. Monkeys have tails, and apes don't. I'll be honest- I sort of just thought the terms monkey and ape were interchangeable- guess I've never really taken a zoology class or anything.
I also learned that female gibbons are white, like the picture above, and male gibbons are black, like below. When they're born, they're all white, so that they blend in with their moms. At about 6 months of age, they turn all black, and when females reach maturity, they turn back to white. Interesting, huh?
This puma/cougar was in the Minnesota section of the zoo, which kind of surprised me. I wouldn't have thought that cougars lived in Minnesota. However, the sign said that they live anywhere that deer roam, as deer are their main source of food.
The lynx was one of the last animals we saw. This one has some crazy eyes on it!
After exhausting ourselves at the zoo, we all headed home and the kids and Sandy took much needed naps. Once they got up, Anders resumed his terrorizing of Drew.
I'm not sure what Drew's deal was. He is not used to being around kids smaller than him, and with our playgroup friends, the kids generally leave Drew alone because they're mostly all so much bigger than he is. So Drew was just really unsure of how to handle Anders trying to take his toys or touch him. There was one time where Anders was sort of poking Drew in the face, and Zach reached up to make Anders stop. It was sweet to see the protective big brother side of Zach, as opposed to the antagonizing big brother I usually see. Then Anders reached for the tractor Drew was playing with, and Drew, instead of letting Anders take it and crying about it like he had been doing, sort of moved it away from Anders. Zach said, "Good job, Drew!" which also made me laugh. Anders took it all in stride, though, and mostly thought Drew's crying was a little comical. This reminded me of how Drew used to laugh at Zach when Zach cried. Must be something all babies do.
Anders took a short nap that day, so he headed to bed early, and Drew finally relaxed and had fun with Zach. Drew is suddenly definitely aware of cameras and does his best silly face/cheesy grin when I ask him to smile for me.
Zach and Drew figured out that Drew could fit in the wagon, but Zach pretty quickly realized it wasn't that easy to push Drew in it, so he quit pushing. Drew kept climbing in, though, even if nobody was going to push him.
In Zach's mind there are a few things that no weekend at Aunt Sandy and Uncle Will's is complete without, like feeding the fish, playing pinball, and playing with the pinballs and magnets.
Sunday morning Drew finally seemed a little more comfortable with Anders, and he even let Anders sit by him and touch him some.
Zach quickly found the pinball machines and got to work. He played down there by himself for an hour, probably. Before our delicious homemade waffle breakfast (thanks, Will!), I played with Zach, and he was so funny, talking smack to the game and all. And, once, when one of my balls went straight down the middle where I couldn't stop it with the flippers, Zach said, "Good job, Mom. See, even though you did a bad job, I still said good job to make you feel better." We might need to work on his pep talks a little bit.
While Zach played pinball, we watched the Tour de France and played with the little boys.
After the bike race was done, we quickly made a picnic and loaded up the bikes and went out for a bike ride to the mighty Mississippi. Zach had a blast honking Uncle Will's horn at all the people we passed along the way. I, being a nervous bike-rider as it is (lots of crashes as a kid- gravel particularly makes me nervous), was on a very old Schwinn 3-speed that seemed like it just didn't have a great turning radius. I thought for sure I was going to eat it at some point, but thankfully, I didn't.
We ate lunch and the boys got a little playing in before we had to head back so we could leave for home.
Though Zach and Drew were in the same Burley on the way there, we decided to put Drew and Anders together on the way home. They seemed to do really great together; Anders was totally out of it by the time we all got home.
We got the boys unloaded and packed the car up, and we headed out. Zach was very sad to leave. He said his favorite parts were feeding the fish (his usual answer when we go up there), playing with the claw (see Sandy's blog for an explanation on this), and seeing Sandy, Will, and Anders. He continued to talk about the claw a lot, asking if we could get one. He said once we were home that he was really sad to leave Anders, because "Anders laughs and thinks I'm funny and likes to play with me," which made me a little sad for him because I think he feels like Drew doesn't feel the same way about him.
Zach was exhausted from the excitement of the weekend, so he crashed pretty easily in the car once we got on the road, but not until after he almost tearfully told me, "But it's just so hard to fall asleep without a story!" Thankfully I had his backpack with us, and I was able to grab a few books out of there to read to the boys to help them get into nap mode.
Drew finally helped himself get to sleep by sucking on his arm, which seems to be his new thing. I wonder what he'll do when winter comes and he doesn't have access to his actual arm because of longer sleeves...
Unfortunately Drew's nap didn't last long, but overall, the ride home wasn't too bad. Once the boys were both awake, we put in a DVD for them to watch, and that helped them be content. We made it home safely by about 6:00 p.m., and had a good night. What a fun weekend! Thanks, Sandy, Will, and Anders, for sharing it with us!
You can see Sandy and Will's blog for some other pictures from the weekend.