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Thursday, April 26, 2012

4th Grade Goes To the Birmingham Zoo

I think my daughter has been excited about this trip since she got her permission slip about a month ago.  I have to admit I was excited too.  Her dad, brother, and I all went with the 3rd grade to the McWane Center last year, so it was only right for us to make the trip this year.  I have a wonderful career that allows me to go on the school trips, it's called being a stay at home mom.  Luckily, as long as there is enough notice, my husband is able to take off and go on these trips too, without missing pay.  In our house all we have heard is "there are x number of days until the zoo and x number of days until the circus", which we will be going to tomorrow.

The day started off very early as she had to be at school by 6:15 because the buses were leaving at 6:30.  Bus drivers back in my day didn't drive over about 45 mph, so we didn't leave until 7:15 from our house.  I got a phone call shortly after from a friend saying the buses had just come through near White Oak, which meant we were only about 15 minutes behind them.  We stopped to grab some breakfast in Moulton and then it was back on the road.  Once I made it to the interstate I thought I would see the buses at any point, but never did.  I was confused when I arrived at the zoo and had to wait another 25 - 30 minutes before the buses arrived.  I had no idea that they weren't taking the interstate and were instead going all the way down 31.  Now, I have no idea who's idea that was time wise, but safety wise it was a pretty good decision.

I was very impressed with how the "parent tickets" were done.  We paid in advance and it was half the cost of a normal ticket.  Once we arrived, we listened for our child's teacher's name and then our name and we received our bracelet.    Buses began to pull up, but they weren't ours.  Then our buses came rolling in along with other school buses that somehow ended up being in the middle of our four buses.  At this point, all I could describe it as was mass chaos.  There were way too many people right outside the zoo and no real order to it.  Our children were all grouped with each teacher, but weren't really given direction from zoo personnel.  I know the zoo is big and I know there is money to be made, but it just seemed the zoo was overbooked, the number 3,000 kids was thrown out by a few workers and not to mention adding in the parents that came.

Once our children got their bracelets it was time to divide up into groups and head off into the zoo.  We had three appointments to show up to, but other than that we had a map and it was time to go.  I'm not sure exactly how many times I counted to 5, but I know I can count to 5 now.
This was our group: Ellyssa, Lexi, Destiny, Kaylie, Shiane, and Lexi's little sister, and AJ
This is what we saw when we entered the zoo, sitting so calmly
Lexi's dad and grandpa came too

they stopped to read about the animals
I thought this roof was pretty
the bobcat sure did like my husband
Lyssa taking pictures and Lexi being silly

Ferret that didn't want to come out to play
I wanted to take him home, he's so cute
I love how fascinated my husband looks in this shot
the group fascinated 
that's what they were looking at

time to head to lunch
OK, so our instructions were to get in line a little early so we would be able to get our food and then eat with our children.  McBride ate in sets of three classes.  There were signs everywhere about eating time for all the different schools beginning at 10 am.  Our lunch time was 10:35 am, so we got to the restaruant at 10:25 so we would have plenty of time to eat with the girls.  Well, we were informed that they don't serve lunch until 11, so it was either a pretzel or nachos.  I went with neither, just got coke.  Later I would realize that was a mistake, with hypoglycemia, you don't skip a meal and drink pure sugar.  Again, bad planning on the zoo's part, I mean the zoo had the lunch schedules and you want to serve ALL the parents at 11... While the girls were eating lunch we were joined by a pretty peacock that wanted a chicken nugget that someone dropped.  We finished eating and it was off to see more.

This had to be my favorite part, petting baby goats.  I got to turn the camera over to my husband and venture in with AJ and the girls.  Instructions were no petting their faces, and in itself scared me because AJ loves animals.  He proudly strutted in and yelled, "dog!"  They were little and walking on four legs and to him that made them dogs. 
my husband said he was scratching his butt on the stump
it's not a choke hold, it's a hug

this one must hug well, he kissed her
washing the goat off of his hands
outside the butterfly area
I yelled, "it's haunted!"
Then it was now time for the educational program at 11:30.  It took us awhile to figure out how to get to the educational building.  We saw it on the map, but getting to it was another story.  We ended up at the front of the zoo and saw the girls' teacher and she told us it would be in the auditorium.  She also told us that she was making the program optional since time was running short.  I asked the girls what they wanted to do and almost in unison, "reptiles!"  So, we didn't attend the educational program, and later I talked to a parent who did and she said she wished she hadn't.
another group shot, minus AJ
cave snake
tree snake

almost in unison from the girls, "Mr. Kipling!" luckily I watch the Disney Channel all the time so I knew who they were talking about
anaconda, I told him I saw him in a movie once
not sure what they were talking about
black swan
turtles everywhere
this monkey was sunbathing
I thought of Happy Feet while looking at her, I know she's not a penguin, but just the thought of what she must be thinking with all of us looking at her
Lyssa said he ate too many Cheetos
hiding anteater
Silver back napping
look closely you can see her baby over her left shoulder
my babies
Jaquelin feeding a Lorikeet
We had to feed the lorikeets at 12:15 and had to be at the gift shop to shop before 1 pm due to long lines and having to be on the buses at 1:30.  It took so long in the gift shop that we just waited there to the teachers.

At about 1:25 we turned our crew into their teacher and checked Lyssa out.  Just like we had done at the McWane Center the prior year, we wanted to stay and see the rest there was to offer.  We rushed to the pelicans to feed them, their feeding was at 1:30, just when all schools seemed to be leaving. 
daddy even fed them

 The Seals Splash Show started at 2, so we really wanted to see that.  By this time AJ needed a nap, we were all hot and he was just being AJ.  Squirming and crying and just wouldn't sit still.  I was standing on the side with him, but they said all strollers had to be in a certain place and all people had to be seated.  Needless to say he cried through most of it, until the Sea Lion came out of the glass and played with his favorite toy, a ball.  The "dog" had a "ball."  
she waved
and said hello
and bent her neck all the way back
gave kisses
and hugs
yes, way too much sun in the picture, but I had to include it, it was the only one I took of just her

Now it was time to go, AJ had finally fallen asleep and we were all getting a little sunburned.  But, our family doesn't go to Birmingham without eating at Johnny Rockets.  However, we really didn't want to deal with the wrath of Alex if we woke him up, so Benji ran inside and ordered and we ate in the car.  I have to admit, it tastes a lot better in the restaurant, but it was still delicious.  Lyssa ate and then passed out.  We had a great time at the Birmingham Zoo.

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