We met up with the whole family at Denny's for Great Grandma's birthday. My family was there, as well as Grandma Melanie and Grandpa Kevin, Aunt April, Great Aunt Marnie with cousin Morgan, and cousin Blake with his girlfriend Maddie. Maddie is due with their first child in November, it was so cute to see her again and see how big she has gotten. She doesn't look like she will even make it to the end of October to me! She was too sweet though.
My children were all over the place but thankfully everyone loves them and no one seemed to mind. Anna hung out mostly with Grandma Melanie and Aunt April, while Alan bounced around all over, interacting with everyone individually at his own pace. His favorite two people were of course the expecting couple, Blake and Maddie. I joked with Alan that he better be careful and not scare them away from parenthood. He didn't get it but everyone else did! Maddie looked a little overwhelmed so I came and sat with them, making me have to eat my lunch with my plate hovering between two tables. Joy! It was still nice though to sit with them and get the chance to talk with them. It has been so long since I have really taked with my cousin, we used to be as close as siblings when we were kids. Now as adults, we are all just too busy to stay truly in touch, they way I'd like to be at least. I enjoyed talking with them about their fears and excitements and even just about the everyday stuff. I really do hope that when they have their son (I know, another boy for Alan to play with!) that they make the effort to keep in touch so that our kids can grow up together. I would love for Alan and their son to have the same relationship I have with my cousin. Because I truly do love him like a brother and I wish them nothing but happiness.
Great Grandma Marcia had a great time at her party. She enjoyed seeing all of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren that lived in town and being able to make new memories with us. She does not get to get out much anymore so this was such a fun time for her. Anna even talked with her and they held a whole baby conversation together, Great Grandma says! Oh that makes me so happy! :) Happy birthday Great Grandma Marcia, we all love you so very much.
We picked up Uncle Kalvin and headed to the zoo after brunch. It was starting to get hot and Alan had chosen to wear long sleeves and jeans so he was sweating good already. It took some convincing to change out of the hot clothes and in the end he just took off his shirt. Then we met up with Tatum, Cordelia and Mama Heather by the booths and headed off to the bear exhibit! We passed by a crepe company with the most creative name ever! Crepe Diem! I just love it! We wanted to buy some crepes after we finished with our zoo tour but never did get around to it. That just means one thing... I must find this place and schedule a playdate there asap! Must. Be. Done!
The bears were quite playful despite the heat when we arrived at their exihibit. There was also a ton of people crowded around the windows. We were still able to find a good spot to watch the bears play. Alan and Tatum were only interested in watching for so long, they soon got bored and went exploring for rocks. I swear, these two are cut from the same tree (I notice that I tend to say that alot about Alan's friends... Lucky him to have friends be so alike!) because they are both BIG on rocks, and bugs, and dirt, alot of things. They both found the same collection of big rocks and after watching Uncle Kalvin climb up and sit on top, they both felt the emmense desire to copy him. Isn't that funny how that works?
Tatum almost got up by herself but I helped her up after some time. Alan wouldn't let me at first and he struggled to pull himself up next to her. I took the cutest picture of this! It makes me think of a Hallmark card, one of those engagement/wedding/anniversary type cards with the little boy and girl doing cute couple things? Yeah one of those. I also got another of the two of them sitting up next to each other on the rock, one of the only times they actually got along too. I think these two pictures should go on a card! What do you think? I used to have a card business (I will have to write a post about that sometime, no idea why I haven't yet) and still use leftover scraps to make family members cards. It saves sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much money! But if it did and Mama Heather approved, I could use those pictures for my cousin's wedding card! Her wedding is this
Because of the heat, the majority of the animals were sleeping or hidden but the bears, tigers and wolves were thankfully up and active! After checking several other empty exihibits (Darn heat!) our next stop was the tiger exhibit. Upon first arrival, we thought the exihibit was also empty. There was another mama hanging out in the shade, nursing her baby. We decided that it would also be a good idea for everyone to rehydrate. We all sat down and several minutes later, the tiger showed up! He started walking right in front of the windows and the kids rushed up to greet him. He kept rubbing up on part of the window where the kids were standing, which I am still not sure if it was scary or cool. Really... But then the crowd came down and the tiger let the windows and started playing with a blue barrel. Alan and Tatum thought that was pretty sweet, especially when he jumped in the water with it. I loved that the tiger was showing off for our kids. Thanks tiger!
After seeing the red pandas and the deer (Deer in a Montana zoo, now that's exciting!) we headed for the wolves. The wolves were also very active despite the heat. They were running all over the hills in their exihibit, then stopping as if to pose for all the pictures. The beaver and the two river otters enjoyed their cool water, playfully swimming up against the glass and making the kids squeal with glee. Tatum and Alan watched one otter eat a whole watermelon while swimming, that was really cool. The children then were distracted from the otters by a loud goose honking. Tatum and Alan just had to have a conversation with Mister Duck, as they called him. They stood at the fence and yelled with that poor goose for like five minutes straight! Wild children!
The zoo's farm (wait, how does that work?) was bustling with life. The chickens were keeping to the shade but they looked like they were fighting for a spot. It was quite entertaining. The horses hung out in the barn and upon discovering where they were, Alan and Tatum immeadiatelty started trying to free them! That was a little crazy! Uncle Kalvin found a peacock in the barn too, stealing drinks of water from the goat. We saw the bunnies, then we took a picture in the Three Little Bears picture thing. Tatum was so excited that there were finally three kids to fill all the bears faces and we were too! We walked around the two ponds and fed the koi fish. Once Alan and Tatum had ran out of fod, they sat on the ground and started looking for more! Crazy kids!
There is alot of old prairie type stuff around the zoo. Like a big old house with a porch. The kids wanted to explore it and we let them. The inside was used for the zoo's preschool, so we were not allowed inside. But there were these cute little benches on the porch, as well as two big wagon wheels. Alan was interested in them but Tatum wanted to see the horsies again. We compromised by having them come play at the playgrounds. I found a nice hill to lean back on while I nursed Anna and I watche the children play while my mom went to find the crepes. It was late in the day and the zoo was closing, so the crepe place was no longer taking orders. Ugh! So instead of crepes, we got the kid Dippin' Dots ice cream. The three of them sat on the playground and ate their ice cream together. It was too cute!
I had a meeting for the YMCA later that night and I took Anna with me. Alan stayed with Grandma Melanie and Grandpa Kevin and was able to play outside and have a blast! Random thought: As a society, why do we make such a fuss about calling moms Mom and dads Dad, instead of by their names and yet when we graduate to grandparents our grandchildren use our name? I am guilty of this too. A while ago, Alan started consistently asking what my name was. I would always tell him, until he started calling me by it. Admittedly, this made me a little sad. But why??? Why are we conditioned that way???? Random thought done. I was glad because the meeting was long and there were a lot of people there. It would have been boring for him and I had a hard enough time with just Anna. The microphones were too loud for her liking and the gym was too echoey and the lights kept going on and off for the various videos. That poor girl was so stressed out by the end of it, she nursed almost all night! I throughly enjoyed the meeting though. We had Qdoba for dinner and even though Anna would not let me eat mine until it was cold, it was really good. I will have to go there sometime and try it warm lol.
The meeting WAS really good and I was lucky to have it the day before I started working again, because I found it very inspiring. Us employees, dealing with the daily muck and grind of running a huge gym/daycare/afterschool program/dietian/all-around-personal-health-campaigner (it really is all that... And more, plus a bag of potato chips), forget how much effect we have on each and every one of our members. Some of those people do not live in stable houses, some of those kids do not know where their next meal will be, some of those people are going through really hard times in their lives. Yes, some of those people live completely average American lives but we make the point to also help those who need it. We are not just a gym, no we are a community. I love every single one of those employees like family. I can see just about anyone from the Y outside of the Y and still be able to give them a big hug like I have known them all of my life. Half of them I have, growing up with this YMCA and literally being raised in a sense by all these people. There are some people I have known for over 20 years who go there! Their children treat me like I could be one of their aunts, not just a teacher. I am seriously personally invested in each and every one of their lives and hopes and dreams and wishes. I love all of the members like they could be family.
It is really that close.
When I was younger and went to the YMCA as a student of the afterschool program, camper and then Counselor in Training, and Swim Team member, I used to dream about working at the Y. Some of my favorite people were my counselors and I admired all of them. Now that I am an adult and have worked in various positions (ranging from art teacher to daycare employee to birthday party hostess to dance teacher) for two years, I am so happy with my life. I seriously love the community that the YMCA has here and I love that my children will grow up loving the same place that I did as a child. And they will learn to live happy, healthy lives.
Man Jillian, turn the nostalgia and love mush OFF!!! I hope no one minds, I do not know when I will stop feeling so happy and lovey dovey. If you mad it this far on my ridiculously long post, you are a true reader and true friend. Thank you, it is late (or maybe early, I'm not sure. It sure feels late to me right now) and I am running on very little sleep, with this beautiful person on my lap, sleeping and nursing and growing. So alot of this post may be very random and slightly long-winded. I apolgize and I love you all (more mush for ya, hahaha!) so sincerely. Have a great