Saturday, June 18, 2011

Family Photos...and Failures.

Of course on our trip to the zoo, I continued on my quest for a cute family photo.  

Without success, really.

Our family photo fail on the giant caterpillar.

And again in the depot.

This one isn't terrible.
Except that my smile seems to suggest that I am afraid the butterfly wings are going to close in on us like some sort of bizarre, modern iron maiden.  I think it was the shock of Vivi actually sitting still.

This was a close as we came to a successful zoo family photo, despite all the picturesque settings.
I'll take it!  Hatchlings it is.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


In order to make up for the lack of true jungle animals at the zoo (I assume), our zoo has lots of chances for interaction in various ways.

She got to sit on the giant caterpillar with Aunt Kate while Noah honed his photography skills (Vivi didn't seem to be impressed).

She got to climb up the giant rope climbing structure with DETERMINATION (and some assistance).  She honestly did not care two bits about this structure, and then Noah clamored up it like he was born doing so, and she decided she'd better have a try as well.  That skill needs some work.

There was a really cool house made of trees, just the right size for some little people.
To my credit, I only mentioned tics like two times.  

And then there was the surprise hit of the zoo...the skeleton.  When I was little, there was a giant stegosaurus skeleton/fountain at the beginning of the zoo.  He is now elevated above a sandy area where weary-looking zoo employees continuously bury "dinosaur bones" for little people to dig up and find.  There is also the skeleton of...something.  I assume maybe a cow?  At any rate, Vivi was THRILLED that there was a "Dino" present, and proceeded to feed him gravel for quite some time.  This involved removing sand from the burial pit and thrusting it into the naval cavity of the "dino."
According to Vivi, the Dino was "really hungry."  I think the zoo employee was "really happy" when we moved on.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blast from the Zoo Past

In heading to the zoo, I found much had changed.  However, much remained the same.  Some of the things I had so loved were still there, and to my delight, Vivi loved them, too.

Such as the giant brass turtle you can ride on.
This guy was actually in one of the very first areas we visited, and after leaving the area (a struggle within itself) we kept trying to distract her with all of the monkeys/birds/bats-argh!-the area had to offer while she kept trying to escape and back track to find him.  It was a bit of a relief when we left the reptile house, as I think she would have spent all day sitting on the turtle.  I blame the Wonder Pets.

Also of interest was the giant frog cut-out.
While this was not actually in the Zoo when I was little, it is the first time that Vivi has gone up and willingly put her face through one of these things, so I consider this noteworthy.  And cute.

But the ultimate blast from the past?

Leo the Paper Eating Lion.  

Viv was so excited!  And so was I.  To find Leo in all his original (if repainted) glory, still reciting his same "Hi, I'm Leo, the Paper-Eating Lion" speech made my day.  And Vivi was all too excited to feed him some paper scraps (thank heavens for all the Target receipts in my purse!).
Every time he "ate" her paper, she turned around and cackled.
It absolutely made my day.  It was worth the entry fee to watch my little lady fly around and rejoice over feeding recycling bits to a paper-eating lion.
Leo was and is one of my most favorite spots in the entire zoo, and I'm pretty sure he made quite the impression on Vivi.  It's nice to know that while so much has changed, the truly awesome things I loved are still the truly awesome things she loved.  Viva Leo!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Ottos do the Zoo

Today we took advantage of the glorious weather and went to the zoo with Noah and Aunt Kate.  Truth be told, I think I may have been more excited than Vivi.  Now, a little secret about the Lincoln Children's Zoo-it is both awesome and lame.  If you are looking for lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!), you are in the wrong place.  Go to Omaha.  But if you are looking for a cross between petting zoo and nature walk, the Lincoln Zoo is your happy place.

It's not huge.  The animals are kinda tame.  But it is walkable for a two year old, there are lots of places to interact, and I have such fond, fond memories of going there myself, I was wildly excited to take Vivi.  And she loved it (with the exception of the butterfly pavilion, which resulted in sobbing.  Vivi did NOT, apparently, want a butterfly to land on her).

They still have the goat area.  Now, back in my day, you could go into the goat area, and an ill-mannered goat attempted to eat my new purple shoe laces.  So I was partly dismayed and partly thrilled that the goats are now enclosed and you cannot get in there with them.  (I was completely thrilled about the handwashing station just beyond the goat area--well played, zoo)

She was a little taken aback by a very forward goat who wanted to share a stalk of grass.

She was mesmerized by the penguins who are, truth be told, pretty stinking cute.  Although the do not replace the animal I remember in this space, whose name was Big Ben--a giant brown bear.  MUCH COOLER.

And she was most pleased about the "big kitty," who you could see through this large glass window (a leopard, yall).
You may notice that this photo was taken from outside the little viewing area.  While leopards do not hold the same level of terror for me that a panther does, I am still not a huge fan of "big kitties."  Best to stay back.

Next up?  A trip down memory lane for me!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Family Time

But of course, the best part of hanging out in Durant was all the time we got to spend with family.

Holding hands with Daddy and Aunt Becky...

...stealing Grandma's Shrek Slippers...

...discussing other footwear options with Grandpa...

...and chatting with Great Grandma on the porch.
It was so nice to see everyone!  We cannot wait to see the gang again in July when VIVI TURNS TWO!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

At the P-A-R-K

So when Vivi wasn't begging to go and pillage the lilac bushes, she was requesting to "go au-side, go to park."  Grandma and Grandpa Otto live down the street from a great park, and even though it was rainy in the mornings, we were able to go almost every afternoon.

Much to her delight.
(Note that even while swinging with Grandma and Grandpa, she did not put down her flowers)

This park is much bigger than our normal local park, and Vivi was all over the place.  She ran across the bridge and jumped on it with Grandma...
...and shared the double slide with Daddy...
...but as usual, her heart belonged to the "Big Slide" (her words).

I know, I know.  Thus far this summer, I have posted quite a few pictures of Vivi coming off of various slides.  But seriously.
How cute is that?  And still with her flowers!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Cousin Shelby's party had balloons.  And Vivi was enthralled.

Don't let the calm picture fool you.  All she wanted to do was sit on the giant balloons...

...and then tumble off of them, cackling.