Field Trip: North Carolina Zoo

As other stay-at-home parents know, sometimes you just have to get out of the house. This most recently happened a few weeks ago, when our visit with an aunt, cousin, and great-grandmother came to an end. My lovely children were bouncing off the wall. My husband had to go in to work, so while I usually reserve the zoo for a both-parent, pre-planned outing, I decided to go for it. It was a beautiful day and I was reminded once again how great the North Carolina Zoo is.





Lions lazing around.




Good giraffe photo.


Baby giraffe! (Already looking pretty big.)


Baby gorilla!!

Not all of these photos are from our most recent visit, and I realize that I don’t have any good photos of the North American animals that are kid-free, but they give you a good taste of what the NC Zoo offers. Also, the baby animals photos are from this April, so if you want to see baby animals, now is a good time to go!

The zoo is located in Asheboro, NC, and it’s a large zoo, especially in terms of area. There is a LOT of walking, and while trams are available, the waits can be long, so don’t count on using them to get around most of the time. The zoo is divided into two sections, Africa and North America. Our usual method has been to park in Africa, eat lunch before we go in (we do not generally get out of the house early enough to make the hour and a half drive before lunchtime), see African animals, see North American animals, then take the tram back to our starting point. This plan has changed somewhat as our oldest’s favorite animal has become the seal (in North America): the last time we went as a family, we parked in North America, and my (somewhat fluid) plan this past time was to see a few African animals, get to the seals in N. America as quickly as possible, then work our way back to the car and see what we had time for on the way.

Aside from the baby animals, some of the highlights from this trip included getting to play on the “Garden Friends” playground in North America (we usually make the kids skip it) and seeing the lions just before closing time, when they weren’t just lying there. We got to see the male and female lion give each other nuzzles just like in The Lion King!

Even with the workout (and with small children, sometimes because of it!), it’s a fabulous zoo and well worth the trip. While it’s not ideal to go in the middle of summer, there is a good amount of shade to help counterbalance the walking. You can bring your own stroller or rent one there. The entrance fee is quite reasonable (although the food’s pretty pricey, hence our tendency to pack a picnic), and you can also become a member, which covers your admission all year to both the zoo and the NC Aquarium. The zoo is one of our favorite  family outings here in NC.


Anna Karenina Update #1

I am making progress…a little over a quarter of the way through the book so far (finished Chapter 10 of Part 3, to be exact, and there are 8 parts total).

Current thoughts:

  • I like how Tolstoy opened the story with scenes that made the reader (well, this reader, anyway) feel sympathetic toward both Levin and Anna. It keeps me reading through some of the (admittedly slow, lengthy) sections where Levin is farming and reflecting on farming, and heightens the tension in the story about Anna (no, Anna, don’t do it! Come on now, think!)
  • I am more convinced of Anna and Vronsky being really in love than I previously was…but part of the point of the book is that their being “in love” isn’t really an excuse for their actions.
  • Some of the characters Kitty meets while abroad remind me of the little I know about Tolstoy’s philosophy/lifestyle, but the narrative critique of several of these characters (Mme. Stahl in particular) makes me want to research him a little more.

Recent quote I enjoyed:

(From Part 3, Chapter 7, talking about the character Darya Alexandrovna Oblonsky)

“…the children themselves were even now repaying her in small joys for her sufferings. Those joys were so small that they passed unnoticed, like gold in sand, and at bad moments she could see nothing but the pain, nothing but sand; but there were good moments too when she saw nothing but the joy, nothing but gold.”

Library Books Enjoyed: 5/1/13

The two themes of this particular library edition are

  1. Mo Willems is awesome and you should read everything he’s ever written, probably multiple times.
  2. Speaking of multiple times, we like to get the same favorites over and over.

A Letter to AmyA Letter to Amy by Ezra Jack Keats

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another story about Peter (of Snowy Day fame), one that I had never heard before. Peter decides to mail a letter to invite his friend Amy to his birthday party, but after a mishap in mailing it, he’s afraid she won’t come. The story is sweet, plus it’s good for spring because of the rainstorm. Mr. Keats’ well-known illustrations are of course integral.

Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know we’ve checked this out before, but I’ve never put it on Goodreads until now. The indomitable Pigeon now tries to escape bedtime, despite the bus drive enlisting the help of children reading the story. As fun as the other Pigeon books, and would be great to use in an author study of Willems, since the Pigeon’s own cuddly bunny looks a lot like someone else’s Knuffle Bunny.

Should I Share My Ice Cream?Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems (first reviewed on Goodreads 2/3/2012)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Finally got my hands on this and I love it! Gerald is not shielded from the consequences of too much ruminating, but friendship triumphs in the end! The other household grown-up was skeptical that Piggie was not in most of the book, but the imagining of possible futures put her there in abstentia, and was very true to Gerald’s character (and mine).

Let's Go for a Drive! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)Let’s Go for a Drive! by Mo Willems

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This may be my favorite Elephant and Piggie book of all time.

We first checked it out just before Christmas, and I knew it was a winner when 2 1/2 year old M. spent our 6 hour drive to Maryland reciting, “Drive, drive, drive-y drive drive!” She can now recite almost the entire book from memory. It’s also a great group book, since the refrains invite choral reading.

It doesn’t seem as deep conceptually as We are in a Book!, or , but I think it’s more delightful, both because of the original premise (who doesn’t want to go for a drive when they are kids?), and because of how the inevitable problem (neither character has a car, as it turns out) is solved. It completely deserves the Geisel Honor award it won this year.

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