First and foremost! D. Jain is the winner of the Contest of Favorite Things in Celebration of Paper (and 5 Years of Blogging!) Congratulations, my fellow gal pal in the Sisterhood of the Masala Marriage. Thank you to everyone who shared his/her favorite things. Your comments made my week and it was all I could do to stop blogging about even more of my favorite things when all of you kept spurring more memories for me. It has been such an incredible 5 years of blogging - THANK YOU for celebrating it with me. I love you, man. And now? I will stop with The Weepy.
Last week, I took Team Chaos to the Henry Doorly zoo in Omaha, Nebraska yesterday. The zoo, in a word? Under-appreciated. Awesome. Affordable. Okay, that was more than a word. No worries, I will not charge you for the bonus words.
Over the years, as a nature buff, I have done my fair share of zoos, nature centers, natural history museums, fancy botanical gardens, aquariums and insect/butterfly pavilions across the USA, coast to coast. I was absolutely impressed with the Omaha Zoo and we will definitely be making a yearly appearance from now on. It was well worth the drive (6 hours round trip) and expense, which I was able to get down to about $200:
Meals - packed crackers, sandwiches and protein-rich snacks such as peanuts and Horizon individual milks, which do not need to be refrigerated. Ultimately, I had to purchase very few meals.
Tickets - we have a zoo membership in Kansas City which made our entrance fee into the Omaha zoo a measly $9. A bargain.
Hotel - I used Priceline and found a clean, safe spot in Council Bluffs Iowa for $50. It was less than 10 minutes from the hotel.
While some of the exhibits were not impressive (the bear and cat enclosures were pretty dated and I am spoiled with Kansas City's commitment to "natural environments") the sheer breadth and variety of their collections was amazing. And the cave and swamp exhibits were absolutely stunning. Hundreds of fruit bats flying around, separated from you only by some netting? Walking across a complex network of bridges in a humid, dark swamp with loads of crocs and alligators lurking? Incredible. Additionally, the Desert Dome, penguin exhibit, the aquarium and Insect/Butterfly pavilion did not disappoint. It was well worth the trip for all of it.
I also had a Parenting Moment while at the Omaha zoo.
First, I should explain, I have some issues surrounding heights. I do not like things that hang by cables or leave my feet dangling. I do not like ladders, elevators, sky lifts, Ferris Wheels and the St. Louis Arch. My recurring nightmare that I have had regularly for over 20 years is one that involves renegade elevators. However! I enjoy heights themselves and I like flying. For example, I loved, loved being at the top of the Empire State Building but the elevator ride completely terrified me. And yes, flying itself does make me nervous, but I chalk it up to the price I need to pay for being so deliciously high up in the sky.
The Omaha zoo has this thing called a Skyfari which is essentially a chairlift across the damned zoo and offers spectacular views, for which, as noted, I am a complete chump. And I knew my kids would think it was fun - again, insert "chump".
We started off on that thing and I immediately felt a rising dough of panic in my stomach. Ugh. I contemplated getting off at the halfway point and hoofing it back to the starting point to retrieve the stroller. I simply could not imagine surviving the entire ride.
But Team Chaos? They were so quiet. Enthralled. And every time they moved or wiggled for a better view, I wanted to screech at them "Stop moving! I am scared!"
But, I did not shriek. I knew that telling them I was distressed would make them frightened. So I swallowed my angst and we kept going....... going....... going. As we neared the end of the ride, I was doing a little better. The glow in their faces, the exhilaration in their eyes, the animated chatter about all the things they were seeing?? It was totally worth suppressing my own fears for that.
I see all too often parents who instill their own fears into their children, ultimately stunting their child's personal growth and preventing them from having a complete set of life experiences.
I do not want to be that parent.