Buffalove Challenge: Week 6, The Buffalo Zoo!

I grew up in a city with a great zoo, and I cannot visit zoos without getting their jingle stuck in my head. Just titling this post with the word “zoo” has me humming, “I love my zoo! Hey, how ’bout you? I love my zoo!” Also, the old jingle… “Everybody’s zooing it…”

Does the Buffalo Zoo have a jingle? I need to know it.

Until this year, we haven’t bought memberships to many places around town because we didn’t think Ella was old enough to really make it worth it. We’re also frequently guilty of being cheap. This year, with Ella being a little older and with a second baby making it more challenging to give Ella the stimulation she needs every day, we’re making a conscious effort to ditch our penny pinching ways and get out of the house and into our city’s offerings. Hence, the science museum membership in my last post, and now this. I am no longer that mom only tagging along to these places when a friend who has a guest pass is already going! This is a big step for me.

The morning of our latest adventure, Ella claimed she was ready to go while wearing this:

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I can’t tell if Ella actually likes the zoo yet. The awesomeness of animals still seems to be somewhat lost on her. Also, when we’re anywhere new and exciting she tends to look around with a blank stare, just taking it all in, which makes it hard to tell her opinion of things. She’ll chatter about her big adventure later (“What did you see the polar bear doing?” “No, just walk, like this.”), but in the moment it’s sometimes anybody’s guess as to whether she’s having fun.

Definite fun was had on the train and the carousel, though. IMG_0186It’s a good thing we opted for the “family plus” membership that gives us a bunch of free ride tickets for those! And luckily, she had a cheese stick to occupy her when we discovered the playground was closed, or she probably would have lost it. This near catastrophe occurred just before lunch time, which closely precedes naptime, and after an hour-and-a-half of zoo touring. You do the math. It was a near miss.

We’re applying the same strategy to the zoo as the science museum. Don’t try to see everything. Give Ella something to look forward to coming back to: “You can ride the carousel again next time.” “When we come again we’ll go see the gorillas! What does a gorilla say?” Her gorilla impression is entirely adorable.

I recently had a woe-is-me moment of complaint to my mom about how I feel like I don’t make much effort to really teach Ella. We just do everyday things together. She pointed out that Ella learns a lot through everyday life (I know this, and I knew it then. I was just having a moment), and that taking her places like the zoo and the science museum more often gives me ample opportunity to teach her all kinds of things. It was fun on this zoo trip to point out pictures of the animals in their natural environments and tell her about where they usually live and what they eat (I have major mixed feelings about zoos, to be honest. I wish the animals were in the wild instead of on display for us). I love telling Ella about things she has no concept of (“This lynx is from Eastern Europe”) just to begin to expose her to new information. Someday maybe we’ll look at a world map together and I’ll point out Eastern Europe and say, “Remember that big cat at the zoo called a lynx? This is where he’s from!” I imagine myself executing these teachable moments and making connections for my kid regularly; sometimes they actually happen 😛

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I JUST noticed the sign in the background that says not to climb on the rhino… Technically, she didn’t climb. She was put there. That’s fine, right? O:-)

Well friends, thus ends our official Buffalove Challenge. Nathanael returned to work yesterday. The zoo was our last hurrah of his parental leave. We spent the morning of his last full day on leave there. It’s been a lot of fun looking for activities that “count” for our challenge, getting out into our city more, and recording our outings here. I plan to continue to try to see more of Buffalo and be more involved in our community, but this is the end of this segment of my blog. Thanks for following along!

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