This is going to be dull for those who don't dote on my kids, and hard on those with touchy gag reflexes.

When your kid is in the thick of an intensive ABA therapy program, your time is fairly well scheduled for you. Since August, Leelo's been booked solid, every weekday. My previous daytime parenting lifestyle of "Hey, we've got a few free hours, let's go to the museum or maybe the tide pools!" has been replaced with "well, we've got an hour between Therapist L leaving and Daddy getting home, let's go grab some groceries!"

So when an afternoon appointment cancelled on us yesterday, I looked at the resulting five hour blank spot on the schedule, blinked a few times--then grabbed Leelo, ran over to Iz's school, yanked her out, and sprinted for the zoo.

It was a glorious, gleeful trip.

On the way there, we saw some hangliders! "No, mommy, that's a paraglider. Hangliders look like arrows..." (said with enthusiasm rather than scorn).

Leelo was a ball of happiness. The petting zoo was a revelation to him: real goats ("Hi goat!" pat pat pat), real ducks ("quack quack"), turkeys, etc., plus mini tractors to play on and lots of stuff to climb. He also couldn't get enough of the carousel, or the giant rope spiderweb. ("I want to go on the carousel! I want to go on the spiderweb!"). That place really motivated him to communicate. I think he'll be going back soon.

Here's the spiderweb. Check out Leelo's adorable five-day-old beige t-strap shoes (his only non-bargain bin pair)--he was having such a great time that at some point he kicked one off into the ether, or possibly the flamingo pool. Who knows. We never found it.

Iz used to see the zoo more as a play space than a place to learn about animals. This time, though, she was completely engaged with all the critters, plants, diets, habitats, was bugging the docents with questions ("Why is that owl awake when it's daytime?"), and was pointing things out for anyone who would listen. She was in heaven! She even saw an Anaconda! "Well, you know that the Green Anaconda is also known as the Common Anaconda, right Mommy?" She told me that of course I didn't see the salamanders at first, they were "perfectly camouflaged."

Her very favorite part was the insect zoo. We spent much time scrutinizing the honeybee hive, and were very excited to find a drone because then we got to quote Clan Apis ("Hello, it is I! Zambur! Your brother!"). She was thrilled to see the bees in action ("They're capping the cells!").

I couldn't get over how much fun she was having, and how exciting all the learning was for her. I couldn't get over Leelo acting like a typical over-excited three-year-old zoo-visiting boy. We must go on a weekend and drag Seymour with us.

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