Summer Challenge – July

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Summer has finally arrived in the great PNW – Pacific Northwest. It tends to wait around until the 4th of July holiday around here. I will take what I can get, cause this girl can finally enjoy some natural light at home and in the office.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, people feel so hemmed in by the rain, cold and generally grey weather, they tend to cram everything in during the summer. I swear every weekend has had out of town visitors, weddings to attend or a church potluck. So, like the professional procrastinator I am, we did not do a traditional hike this month. We went to the Woodland Park Zoo this weekend. Last month, I managed to score a free ticket through a great Starbucks program, so we just had to pay for the littles, and the baby is still free.

Yep, I figured it was outdoors, surrounded by nature (in cages, but still) and consisted of walking around for the better part of the day. Clothing attire is comfortable with supportive shoes – so it should count. Since its my post, Im calling it.

We got to the zoo at 10am and stayed till 3, and still didn’t see everything. The baby was entranced by the monkeys and the bears. The olders loved the giraffe and the alligator/snake house.

Some things to consider if you plan on bringing your kids are:

1) Take a picture of your kids and have a pre-arranged place to meet, in case they get lost. We split up into 2 groups to find a restroom and had to use cell phones to find each other again.

2) Bring money, and lots. The only reason we went was because of the free ticket, but entrance for a family of four, plus parking, can easily run $70 alone.

3) Wear comfortable clothes. I saw people walking around in heels, and I don’t know how they did it.

4) Pack a lunch, and LOTS of healthy snacks. This zoo has food carts all over the place. My kids wanted ice cream, cotton candy, you name it. Thank goodness for goldfish crackers and craisins, and fruit snacks to appease their little selves.

5) Get a map, download it before you go or plan ahead on the iPhone app. If you aren’t into ‘experiences’ like feedings, you can miss the crowd. Also, since the layout is a little wonky with dead-ends all over the place, you can plan to see everything you want with minimal amounts of the usual backtracking.

6) When dealing with small ones, STOP AT EVERY BATHROOM YOU SEE! Was that too loud? Kids are so enthralled with the animals or complaining about the walking, they never think about bodily functions till its too late. Do them, and you, a favor but pack a change of clothes, just.in.case.

7) Plan to spend the day, unless you have a pass and live close enough to visit often. Get the most of your entrance and spend the day. If you have a young one who naps, bring a stroller in hopes they will conk out before total meltdown. It took several shady areas and exhibits for the baby to finally acquiesce, but thankfully he did and was in better spirits later than the 5yr olds. If your young one needs a particular lovey or blanket along to help that process, consider bringing it.

8) Remember when meltdowns strike or things start to go crazy, time-outs can happen in any random bench, corner or cave. My boys know, even when our and about, I will follow through.

9) You can make it a fun learning opportunity about geography, biology, science and even reading or English. Describe where the animals are from, why they have spots, or why they are only up at night. Have the kids read the signs, or look for animal symbols, it’s fun having them spot the word ‘Tiger’ on the road markers and decide to follow the arrows.

10) Don’t forget to have fun. Like many, going to the zoo is not a normal day. So if the kiddos are not on schedule or act a little crazy, then remember why you left the comfort of your neighborhood to begin with. It’s an experience and a memory in the making, and make it a good one!

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