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Warriors, Come Out And Play

15 Nov

Imagine running three and a half miles in the dust, over hills, on a trail studded with giant piles of steaming horse crap. Imagine scaling walls, swimming through mud, and leaping over open flames. Imagine enduring this ordeal with thousands of other sweating competitors, some of them dressed up as batman, ninjas, or a banana. Imagine, doing this for fun.

Welcome, athletes, to the Warrior Dash!

When Anthony first told me he wanted to run in Warrior Dash with friends, I had only a vague notion of the obstacles. I naively imagined him leaping over hurdles and high-stepping it through a checkerboard of tires. So I invited my friend Angela, who recently took up running as a hobby, to join us. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Anthony and some friends are going to run a race in October. It’s short and it’s supposed to be fun. I think it’s called the Warrior Dash. Wanna come?

Angela: Sure! Let me look it up online.

Me: Okay.

Angela: … This race involves jumping over fire.

Me: WHAT?!

Angela: Yeah. And a lot of barbed wire. And a blackout tent, and a mud pit, and two piles of fire.

Me: Oh. Well, do you want to come and watch? I’m not running, obviously.

Angela: No, I’m still interested in doing it. I’m just a little worried about the fire.

And that, folks, is why Angela is BAD. ASS.

The Warrior Dash is so popular that heats are scheduled on the hour all weekend long and each heat hosts five hundred people. They sell out fast, so while Angela registered for the noon heat, Anthony and our other friends had to sign up for the heat that started an hour later. When we arrived there were already thousands of people there, some covered in mud that was already beginning to crust and dry in the arid heat of the late summer sun. It was hot, hotter than usual for the foothills and hotter than it had been previously that week. It was only eleven in the morning and we were working up a sweat just standing there. The runners signed up for later in the day were going to have a rough time of it.

What sets the Warrior Dash apart from other obstacle course challenges is the light-hearted spirit of the event. Many runners wore elaborate costumes and everyone who participates earns themselves a t-shirt, a Viking hat, a medal and a free beer. It was a physical challenge, no doubt about it, but the emphasis was on fun. When I saw someone get stuck at the top of a 20-foot wall, the paramedics were arranging a way to get her down when she conquered her fear of heights and climbed down on her own. The crowd cheered for her ecstatically. This is what I loved about the Warrior Dash. The crowd could have looked down on her for getting scared. Instead, they cheered her victory.

After the race, mud-soaked competitors were invited to donate their shoes to a charity that would clean them up and send them to third-world countries where they were needed.

Before we even parked the car we started spotting costume after costume. Groups of people signed up to run the race a team all sporting themed costumes. Our friend Jaime, Alicia and her boyfriend all going to dressed in homemade Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes. For whatever reason their heat was filled with people dressed as TMNT, despite the fact that none of the other heats seemed to have not so much as a non-mutant turtle costume. While I waited for Anthony and Jaime to run by I kept my eyes peeled for turtles and became disappointed each time that another competitor, dressed as a turtle, ran by.

I have to admit a small amount of jealousy for the mud-soaked competitors. Not that I wanted to be soaked in mud, because, uh, no thanks. But the race, as hard as it was, looked undeniably fun. Justin and I came along for picture-taking, bag holding, and moral support, and even he talked about running it with Angela next year. Just attending the event was hard enough for me. The standing and the walking was enough to make me stiff and sore and arthritic for the next two days. No Warrior Dash is in my future.

After watching the runners start the race flanked by plumes of fire, we waited for them in the spectator area where we could watch them scale two obstacle walls before witnessing the leap through fire and the slog through the mud pit. Angela climbed the rope wall with no problem. I saw many people skip this obstacle entirely.

Then she scaled the net climb with no difficulty.

I regret to say I have no photos of her leaping fire or treading through mud. The timing of the heats meant I had to leave in order to watch Anthony’s heat, but Justin followed her and got pictures, including this one, that I shamelessly stole from her twitter stream:

Afterwards, she cleaned up with a hundred other people in the one shower provided: a fire truck’s hose. She managed to change her clothes, but look at her hair:

While waiting for Anthony’s heat to run by we spotted some amusing costumes.

The 80s Aerobic group:

Fred & Wilma Flintsone… an amazing couple in their sixties:

A lady dressed as Mario:


A ripped bunny-dude:

A bunch of bananas:

Some convicts:

Reno 911 and whatever she is:


Two Ghost Busters:

And my personal favorite, Colonel Sanders and a flock of chickens:

We kept spotting Waldos all day long, also:

Anthony’s group was at the end of line since we wanted to wait and watch Angela go by.

After seeing dozens of turtles run by (and I’m not just saying this, but their TMNT costumes were by far the best of the day), we finally saw our guys.

After they scaled the net wall Angela, Justin and I had to literally sprint all the way to the fire pits in order to watch them jump the flames. We barely made it in time for me to snap one of Jaime.

The fire truck shower kept reminding me of that Weird Al movie UHF, and the children’s show where Michael Richard’s character kept telling kids, “You get to drink from… the fire hose!” blasting the lucky kid right off the stage.

It’s a good thing that day was so hot, because the water was reportedly ice cold.

After we ate and everyone cleaned off we stopped Casa de Fruita for some pomegranate wine and miner’s hats and called it a day. The end.

Life List: Whale Watching

17 Oct

To celebrate my birthday I wanted to cross something off my Life List. This year: whale watching.

I am experiencing something of a health crisis so I’m short on words but I wanted to share the photos. I’ll write about my trip another time. I promise. Despite my current issues, it was awesome.

A sweet couple celebrating their 40th anniversary brought enough champagne for everyone on the ship.

Dramamine made us sleepy.

Scrapbook: The Fair

26 Sep

We go to the fair every year. I love the weird shit, the competitions, and the animals. When I was younger and less concerned over the safety of rides put together overnight by the obviously high, I loved the rides, too.  I really think the people you go with really affect how much fun you have. We live in a small town, where we learned from a young age you either make your own fun or you make your own meth. And the market’s kind of flooded for meth.

'Sup, tortoise.

Last year I was super excited to take Isobel to the county fair, but I knew this year would be even better:  she was old enough now to really enjoy it, we were going with her good buddy Kingston, and, to top it all off, high school slow dance favorites Boyz II Men was headlining! Actually, we were neutral about  Boyz II Men, but we did happen to go on the night they were performing. The show started just as we were leaving, and I suddenly remembered that my friend Melynda planned on going. I  turned to Anthony and said, “Hey! Maybe we’ll see Melynda!” Anthony looked over the crowd of thousands dubiously.

“There is no way we’ll find Melynda,” he said confidently.

“Oh look! There she is!” I replied. Not twenty feet from my stroller, there she was. It was a moment of total serendipity.

First stop: the heart booth. Always the heart booth. Each year our local hospital sets up a booth including a giant, anatomically correct heart that you can walk through, complete with wooshing blood-noises.  Like a snuggle nest! Anyway, it’s by far the best booth at the fair for two reasons: my bestie volunteers there, and it’s air-conditioned.

What we didn’t realize is how much the kids would love the heart booth, to the point that as soon as we exited one ventricle the kids would immediately try to to circulate back in. There were two kids and four adults yet somehow they were so crazy for the heart booth we could hardly contain them. In the photo below, for example, Kingston is being escorted out of the heart for about the seventeenth time.

It was total mayhem.

They would not be deterred, even as the heart booth filled with strangers. My normally timid child followed Kingston’s bold lead and steamrolled their way through the innocents trying to learn about anatomy. Kingston favored brute force, pushing his way in and weaving through legs, while Isobel was more sneaky. At one point she  pulled a fast one on me and ran around the back of the heart, searching in vain for a extra ventricle that she could circulate through. No such luck.

Anthony did take this picture, though, and I realized I could have won a blue ribbon for Whitest Legs in the County had I only thought to enter them in the fair.

Once we were able to pry the kids away from the heart, we visited the photo-op area, which is a yearly tradition. Seeing as how we’ve done it twice now.

(Click here to see photos of Doctor Baby Isobel and Buxom Nurse Anthony.)

Then we headed over to the rainforest area where I took my favorite photo of the night. Too bad it wasn’t of my kid!

(It was of Kingston, though, so that is totally okay:)

Last year Isobel couldn’t navigate this bridge on her own.

Taking toddlers through areas like this takes a bit longer, especially if your kid is Kingston. You have to fight his natural impulse to be set loose in the rainforest so he can Break All The Things and have a great time.

Previously the mantis was just kind of hanging out, but this year they added mangled butterflies. The carnage is a nice touch.

So here is the part where I think to myself, “Let’s take a sweet photo of the kids together, holding still and smiling and looking directly at the camera nicely, so that we can always remember all the good times we had at the fair.”


Touching, isn’t it? It came out about as well as the photo I took of Isobel and Victoria at Yo Gabba Gabba.

I did get a photo of Isobel sitting on the mushrooms to compare to last year’s, though, and that made me happy.

This year:

Last year:

"Oh hi! Just trying to cause grave bodily harm to myself or others!"

Hey Kingston! Kingston! I want to take a picture of you, dude!

That’s better.

So my favorite part, even better than all of the weird things you can see in the exhibit hall, is the animals. Specifically, the bunnies, the chickens, and my personal, all-time, most-favorite-ever: the goats.

The thing about the goats is that they are always trying to eat their own signs. Always. It’s hilarious. One time in high school I went to the fair and I was wearing a pair  jeans that were ripped in the knees an the goat tried to eat the pants clean off my body. True. Another time, back when I was a toddler, my parents were at a farm when they needed to consult their map for directions home. A goat wandered by and started eating the map. How can you not love an animal like that?

You can tell from this photo how excited I am to see bunnies. I look more enthusiastic than Isobel. But she was actually flipping out with glee. Here she is telling Anthony that she wants Dada to “put this bunny in her hand.”

That girl is like, “Hell no. Mr. Fluffernutters is MINE.”

She adored the fair. Her tiny body reverberated with excitement all night. She loved it so much we ended up going again on a free day for more pig petting and goat snuggling, and and would have gone a few more times at least (admission and all) but that was the week we went out of town to visit Jose and Lupe. She even loved the bus ride we took from our parking spot to the fair on the park and ride. She might even love the fair more than I do, if that’s possible. Her favorite part, by far, was the animals. Even now when I tell her we have to go somewhere she begs me to take to the fair to “go see the animals.” She was in heaven. All night I heard the refrain “I love amimols!”

"I love amimols!"

"I love amimols!"

When we went to the petting zoo to see the goats I realized she either picked up on my love of the creatures or inherited it, because she was terrified of all the animals in the petting zoo except the goats. In fact, she told me that this goat was hers, all hers, hinting that no one else could pet it. She spent the better part of the next 2o minutes hugging it.

"I love amimols!"

We saw the chickens, which she loved but later told me were “too loud.” Other things she said were too loud: turkeys, cows, and Kingston.

Kingston, for his part, was also having a blast. When he wasn’t initiating headbutt competitions with the goats he was playing in…

CORNS! Which I’m sure Angel found in his diaper later.

I love this photo. He’s like, “I have the power. OF CORN.”

Isobel went straight to the farm equipment, which, if she ever saw in real life would definitely be deemed, “too loud.”

She must have known this, because as she played with them she made truck noises.

After baby Kingston left we toured the exhibit hall for a while before heading out. I was looking at artwork and photography while Anthony was indulging in parkour for parents: stroller tricks.

Aaaand because I can’t write a post about the fair without including one strange thing I found in the exhibit hall, I shall leave you with this epic cat lady painting. Not pictured: her 300 other cats. Until next time, county fair.

Scrapbook: Yosemite

5 Sep

I hope you are enjoying your Labor Day weekend! Right now we are just getting back from watching one of our oldest friends marry another good friend. Recently, though, we took a trip to Yosemite. As I mentioned earlier, we’re not going to be doing this again until she’s older. We had a good time, but herding her around and making sure she wasn’t discovering creative new ways to injure herself took all of our energy. We felt like the Secret Service, clearing the perimeter, ensuring at least one of us had a visual at all times, and trying to convince our VIP that she shouldn’t wander into the bike lane. It was exhausting.

But we had fun! Our favorite parts involved water, and not just because Isobel enjoyed it so much: the temperature was in the high nineties and I wanted to keel over every time I ventured into the sun. I’m used to this baking, relentless heat in my home in the Valley as it’s a part of living here. But there’s something demoralizing about getting excited to visit a lush forest, a national treasure,  and finding you’d prefer to sit in the car with the air conditioning on full blast. Sacrilege, I know.

We found solace in the Yosemite river twice. First, before our picnic we stopped by the lower portion of Yosemite Falls. The river was so low families were climbing in to cool off their toes and wade as deeply into the frigid water as they could stand. We climbed down to the river bed and the water was as shockingly cold as the sun was scorching. Usually venturing into the water at Yosemite Falls is only for those with a death wish, but this late in summer the river is more rock than water.

After our picnic, which was punctuated with constant requests from Isobel to “go pet the squirrels,” we hiked down river and found shady little spot just right for exploring. This was the most relaxed we were the whole trip, and it was nice to sit on the cool rocks and listen to the shushsush of the water and watch Isobel contentedly pretend her stick was a fishing pole. The best part (and you can see this in some of the pictures on my flickr) is that after we got there some dude decided that this spot on the river was the perfect place to stop and meditate among the beauty of nature. Which, I’m sure it was, but nature’s splendor had to compete with the joyous cries of my daughter repeatedly saying, “HOLA! I’M ISOBEL! DO YOU WANT TO GO FISHING WITH ME? YAY, I LIKE FISHING! ME TOO!”

I mean, we were there first, so he had to know what he was getting into when he plunked down into the lotus position. If he was actually able to tune out Isobel’s voice then we may have been in the presence of a Buddha himself. Also, while she was singing and shouting and splashing she was also wading into the river up to her shins. It’s a good thing I packed extra clothes.

If you’re interested, you can see more photos from our trip to Yosemite here, including a shot of the smoke from the wildfire that detoured our route by a good forty minutes.  I hope your weekend was long and relaxing.

Scrapbook: Ramen for Lunch

4 Sep

See that little cloud bag? That’s the bag I pack Isobel’s snacks or lunch and water in when we go out on adventures. Sometimes she can’t wait and as soon as we pull away from the drive way she opens it and starts rummaging around for snacks.

Today she decided that she was going to pack her own lunch this time and started piling it full of Top Ramen packets, which she has, on more than one occasion, offered to make for me.

Isobel, will you share your ramen with me?

Summertime, and the Thriftin’s Easy

3 Aug

What do you do when some of your best friends come into town for a visit? Same thing you always did together – thrifting! Today I’m showcasing the  Thrift Store Gore but I also had some pretty sweet scores, too, including this find here.

Just to recap, this is the Little Big Thrifting Pyramid. Most of the stuff you find while thrifting is unremarkable, while a much smaller portion of that is stuff that is awesome, and an even smaller percentage of that is what I call Thrift Store Gore.

First up, our Goodwill has an agreement with our local Target to take some of their unsold merch off their hands, so there is always a small section of brand new goods in the store. Including this device which had a long and complicated name only Scott can remember, but which we referred to as “The Grab ‘n Grab.” Here’s Scott Grab ‘n Grabbing me.

I was of course saying, “Hey Scott! Stop ‘n Stop!”

As it happens often, pictures are donated to thrift stores with the original family photos still in them.  When Angela held this up Scott said, “I have been looking all over for a picture of that lady!”

We found this. I think that’s all I have to say on the matter.

We decided this shirt must be business casual for Hooters.

"Just looking for honey LOL"

I got the distinct feeling I was being watched while thrifting.

What I love about this 80s mug is that someone waited all this time, for maybe thirty years, before they decided it was time to let go. Which I can understand. This mug looks like Max Headroom himself wished you a Happy Birthday.

"I think the baby jesus is faaaaaabulous!"

This is the sassiest camel sculpture ever. I can only imagine awesome nativity scene this came from. Most fashionable holy family ever.

"That's the last time I drink Leprechaun Car Bombs."

I don’t know about you, but count me out of the sort of hangover that makes you lose an eye.

Stef found some pretty epic Jazzercise and fauxzzercise records. The 80s was a weird time. A time when you worked out to albums.

Look at this sweet dinosaur tuxedo vest. It was toddler-sized. If only I had a son!

Donated by The Most Interesting Toddler In The World.

The photo below is notable for two reasons: one, it’s like whomever made the horse decided it had two butts and attached the hair accordingly, and two, damn, that is probably the second best photobomb of all time. Good work, manic pumpkin!

(The best photobomb of all time, of course, is found here.)

"I don't have a shirt awesome enough to wear with these pants."

These pants had lobsters embroidered all over them. Lobsters. As everyone knows, lobsters never go out of style. You can wear them past labor day even though they are white because they have lobsters on them, and the Queen herself would approve. Which Queen, you ask? Any queen. Ever. Anywhere. Because, you guys, lobster pants.

Oh, I should mention that while thrifting we found this book, which pretty much proves time travel exists. It talked about how everyone rides in rockets and how we all enjoy space travel. Clearly, a time-traveling Sam Clemens was reading it when he accidentally left it on a bus somewhere. I’ve been trying to get in touch with Art Bell about this but it’s really hard to talk on the phone while wearing my tinfoil hat.

"Yay, Armegeddon!"

Stef found this book especially for Jake. I think she secretly regrets not buying it for herself.

"Just ate all the sugarplum fairies LOL"

And I’m ending this trip with something straight out of  music’s newest sensation: Tchaikovsky’s The Zombie Nutcracker Suite. Merry Early Zombie Christmas!

Scrapbook: San Jose Children’s Museum

25 Jul

During Anthony’s recent vacation we went to San Jose for two reasons: first and foremost, to visit with our friends Jose and Lupe,  to sleep on their floor and rifle through their artwork, but secondly, to take Isobel to the Children’s Discovery Museum.

The beauty of this museum is that nothing is off limits. Everything is meant to be touched, explored, and climbed upon.  The museum celebrates curiosity and imaginative play. There were kids everywhere, naturally, and children of all ages and development were engaged by the displays.

I know the photo below is really terrible, but they even had a designated area for crawlers, creepers, and scooters to explore and play in a minimally-dangerous way. I used to WISH AND HOPE AND PRAY TO SWEET BABY SIR PICARD JESUS for a place like this near my house. Not that I live anywhere near San Jose, I just imagined a place like this but thought it didn’t exist. I think someone should pass a law that there should be three of these per hundred babies throughout the nation.

Some areas of the museum were more popular than others, which was nice. Isobel liked playing with the other kids, but I liked having more individual time with her as well.

The photo below is also a totally crappy shot, but it was the only one I took of the pizza area, and that place was so cool I had to show you, crappy picture and all. They had an area set aside with plastic vegetables and plastic cheese pizzas and tables and plastic pitchers and an oven and a register and basically all the things a child needs to open up their own pizza place. That girl with the pony tail? She was the ring leader, directing all the toddlers in their pizza shop duties, clearing tables and taking orders, and generally being Miss Bossypants. This area was awesome.

You can kind of see the pizza area in the background of this shot. Also the girl in the car was mean, but I’m happy to say she was only negative kid experience of the day. Well, except for the girl that screamed in Isobel’s face, causing a Meltdown of Terror. But that girl came and apologized whereas this girl remained Car Nazi forever.

We had this rainbow hologram room all to our selves, which was nice. It reminded me of very early parts of my relationship with Anthony.

The mammoth room was another deserted area, and Isobel played in there with these animals all by herself for a really long time.

This sand table was a one of our favorites. I’d love to have something like this at home, but it would be used as a litterbox immediately, I am sure.

The kids in this area were very good at sharing. Especially because the adults were very attentive. Involved parents make for great kids. That’s just how it is.

The cafeteria had a lot of healthy options, but Anthony and I split a pizza. It wasn’t bad if you like lots of puffy bread with a little bit of cheese and sauce. I should have gone for the chicken bowl.

Isobel’s absolute most favorite thing that we had to keep going back for was driving the ambulance. She LOVES driving and now asks to drive our car at every chance she gets. There were times when I was loading her into the car for swimming lessons and she’d say, “Mama, you sit. I drive,” and then I had to convince her that as the responsible, legal, licensed adult it was my duty to drive her around, not vice versa.

My god did she love driving.

I like how she feels free to just stand up while driving. She’s all, “JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL! I’ll BRB.”

Her second favorite thing was playing in the water table room. You’ll notice from the photos that that room was almost all boys. I’d say we had a 90% testosterone level in that room. Isobel didn’t care and almost certainly didn’t notice.

She got to organize and sort balls and watch them flow through tubes and splash in pools.

Look at the pure joy in that face.

The apron was way too big for her and Anthony had to keep adjusting it and putting it back on.

She didn’t like the toddler water area as much as she liked the big kid water area. Too many threats of getting splashed in the face. DO NOT WANT.

And this is how we know that the museum was a success: before we were out of the parking lot, she was done for the day. I wish we lived closer, because I would visit the hell out of that museum if we did. It’s $30 per person to get in (including children) and worth every penny.

Flip Book: Kiss

24 Jul

Kissing Mama while driving an ambulance at the

San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum. More to come  next week.

Scrapbook: Visiting Jose & Lupe

6 Jul

Just as Isobel and I were settling in to my new job we realized that Anthony had a week’s worth of vacation coming up. Our plans consisted mostly of working on our yard and putting up a pergola, but we wanted to leave town at least once for an overnight visit to a friend who was willing to put us and our occasionally cranky toddler up for the night.

Our friends Jose and Lupe had been encouraging us to visit them for quite some time now so we decided to take them up on their generous offer and sleep on their floor.

It was such a wonderful trip all the way around: much shorter than driving to the city, San Jose is interesting and a great place to travel with a toddler, not the least reason being our visit to the Children’s Discovery Museum that I’ll be writing about later.

Jose is a good friend of ours from way back. He was in our wedding and procured two large, handmade pinatas for the reception. He is an exceptionally talented artist and funny and kind. He is engaged to the beautiful Lupe who has since become our good friend, too.

Jose and Lupe have a Chihuahua mix named Chibi who pretty much provided the entertainment. Isobel fell in deep BFF love with this dog and played with him from the moment we arrived till the moment we left. The only reason she fell asleep at night is because Jose put Chibi in his crate at bedtime. I tried to get photos of the cuteness that was them playing together, but they all turned out more or less like the photo above.

Isobel took a particular liking to Lupe who let her dig through her bracelets and jewelry like they were pieces of treasure. My kid somehow conned Lupe into giving her a bracelet covered in small jingle bells plus small zippered purse that Isobel now calls “my pocket.”

For breakfast Jose and Lupe took us to Cafe San Jose. I had the most amazing Redwood Eggs Benedict with pineapple and bacon and I kind of wanted to die all over my plate. Isobel had a minor meltdown while we waited for our food, and our friends got to see first-hand how fun parenting can be. Yay! After she calmed down, the Starfall app saved the day until her pancakes arrived.

We spent the late morning and the early afternoon walking around Willow Glen. Lupe took us to a favorite thrifting spot. It’s been my goal to hit up a thrift store in every new town we visit so I was very excited. This particular store was called The Thrift Box, which I found funny because I am twelve.

Just tell people you got it at “The Box.”

This daisy needlepoint was in the window and had I seen it while I was in the store you know I would have snapped it up immediately. I found several treasures there and now have a very good opinion of San Jose thrift stores in general.

After thrifting we went to an amazing children’s bookstore called Hicklebee’s.

Just look at the inside of this shop:

Needless to say, I now want a reading bathtub. And most of the contents of that store.

Hicklebee’s is a mecca for authors and illustrators of children’s books and sections of the store are covered in their autographs and drawings.

They also sold a small selection of fun toys. Like these nerd glasses I told Anthony he needed.

I don’t mean to turn this post into a glowing endorsement for Hicklebee’s, and it goes without saying that I’m not receiving compensation for writing about them, but they are just the kind of store I wish America had more of: a local business that fosters a joy of reading and wonder in children and adults alike.

After eating and wandering around town a bit we left for the museum and Jose and Lupe had to get back to their lives of moving and changing jobs and planning a wedding. You know, stress-free sorts of activities like that.

We had such a great time that even now Isobel comes up to me and says, “Mama, remember Lupe? Remember Chibi?”

Animal House

29 Jun

Back when I was still a working mother I had to take the occasional day off work when our babysitter for the day canceled. We were lucky enough to have family members on babysitting duty, but occasionally someone would be ill and our back ups were busy. I had to take a day off here or there when our childcare fell through, and the day I most frequently had to take was a Wednesday. Coincidentally, that is the same day my bestie Angela works from home. Which means, of course, ROAD TRIP!

(A really small road trip, but still.)

This particular day we drove to a local fruit stand that also has animals and a large park-like area. It was too early in the season for most of the animals to be out, but the place had a lot of chickens, so I snapped about 500 photos of Isobel chasing them.

Someday, Future Isobel is going to turn to me and ask, “Mom, what was I like when I was a toddler?”

And I’m going to have to say, “Well, you loved to chase chickens.” And I’ll have millions of pictures to prove it.

This meant of course she was a bad influence on Kingston, who decided to get in on this chicken-chasing game. The poor chickens were like, “Another one? Noooooooo!”

Aside from the chicken and a lone peacock (that the children also terrorized! with love!) the pens had two bored pigs and a goat that stood up when Isobel when over to him. I’m pretty sure he wanted to sell her a used car or talk to her about his cloven lord. I named him Mr. Tumnus.

After the kids decided they were done with animal pestering, we went inside the fruit stand itself to pick up some produce and munch on pumpkin rolls and apple strudel. The pumpkin roll was so killer I’m drooling now just thinking about it. It was worth all the chicken laps I had to run to get it.

They had a fake train for the kids to climb on that had a wasp on it. THOSE GODDAMN WASPS. Needless to say, it was murdered.

Yeah, Ignore Isobel’s crazy hair, please. She gets that from me.

I swear I brush it several times a day but it quickly returns to its natural state of looking like a haystack that fell into her eyes. If I ever had a concern about her being switched at birth I could just look at that hairline and be convinced she’s my daughter. I can’t wait for her pesky bangs to grow out so she’ll look less ragamuffin-y.

Since we had promised the kids animals and the fruit stand was kind of a disappointment, we drove the kids 30 miles south to a little zoo we knew about. The whole entire drive Isobel kept asking me, “Mama, see the animals? The animals?!” as if she was beginning to think I had lied and made up the whole concept of animals and that really we were driving 45 minutes to see another fake wooden train.

Eventually we arrived and I was so pleasantly surprised to see how lush and lovely the small zoo was. When I was a kid it was pretty run down and ghetto and the poor animals looked perpetually hot. I had heard it had been renovated but I didn’t realize it would be so dramatic. The animals all looked great.

This particular enclosure had all kinds of exotic deer and antelope, but Isobel and Kingston were enthralled by… the turkey. It’s hard for me to keep in mind that to a child every animal is exotic. A wrinkly old turkey is just as exotic as an antelope, a chicken is as amazing as a peacock, and a pig is as mind-blowing as a chupacabra.  (I’m pretty sure the zoo had a chupacabra. It was probably sleeping. They’re always sleeping. Lazy goatsuckers!)

I was really happy to see the mountain lion walking around. Most of the time the big cats in any zoo are sleeping, which is pretty much what their tinier, domestic versions do at my house. Isobel was not impressed by the mountain lion. I was pointing and exclaiming with glee like a Mountain Lion Fangirl and she was trying to look casual like, “I don’t know who this lady is. She’s just pushing me around in my stroller. It’s so hard to find good help these days.”

Both kids loved the monkeys, and Isobel was particularly fond of tattling on them. “Mom! Monkey is climbing!” or “No throwing, monkeys!” Kingston saw them immediately as potential climbing tutors.

We also saw a bear chilling in a hammock, and it was obvious that he was way cooler than any other animal in the zoo plus all zoo visitors. Angela immediately grabbed her phone to take a photo because she is some sort of Bear Fangirl.

Isobel told me the bear was cute, but we’re still working on the meaning of the word “cute” with her. So far the only other things she said were cute include: a garlic press at Target, a rock found in the middle of the street, a dirty sock from the hamper, and myself. She probably thinks cute means “boring.”

"Holy shit, I need to take a photo of this bear in a hammock!"

Kingston was kept busy repeatedly testing the fence for weaknesses. He’d make a wonderful velociraptor.

This raccoon looked exactly like Zorro in size and shape and body structure. He just needs to be orange and I’d have a hard time telling him apart from my cat. I guess there’s a reason they are called Maine Coons.

"Dump out the pellets, kid. Ima eat that cup."

The best part about feeding these goats pellets is that the pellets were just the appetizer. The main dish was actually the paper cup which they stole from my daughter’s hand and then fought for and ate.

"How good would that kid taste dipped in sweet and sour sauce?!"

Angela had to hold K back because those goats weren’t sated by that cup of pellets.They looked at Kingston with hunger in their eyes.

See that cracker in Isobel’s hand? Kingston is totally feeding his to the goats. I could totally see a photo like this on the front cover of our local paper. Headline would read: “CHILD FEEDS CRACKER TO BRAWLING GOATS WHILE GIRL LOOKS ON IN HORROR.”

Angela is swooping in to prevent them from gobbling him whole.

The undisputed highlight of the trip for the kids was this goat. Right as I was trying to get a feel-good twitter photo of Isobel next to some zoo animals it urinated everywhere, much to Isobel’s complete fascination. K toddled over, completely transfixed, and while the goat continued on to Act II of his performance. The captive audience watched as the goat pooped in front of them at eye-level.

We also walked by an exhibit that housed a fountain with two pigs making out. NBD.

Before we left I wanted to get the prerequisite cheesy photo of the two of them on the lion bench, smiling and looking all happy. Here’s Isobel, looking at me but not smiling, and Kingston, smiling but not looking at me.

Here’s Isobel, smiling but not looking at me, and Kingston trying to break free of photo time and climb up the lion’s head.

And finally, attempt number three. Isobel has moved on to Cheese Face and Kingston is smiling at some indiscernible spot on the ground.

I did get this adorable shot of Kingston, though.

Before we left they had fun in the little park area away from the animals. Angela and I realized this was the Children Enclosure Area. I’m not sure if we were supposed to feed those animals, but we totally did. We hit up the gift store before leaving to support the zoo and I bought a plastic pig that makes oinking noises when you push a button on its belly. While I paid for the pig Angela tried to rally the troops. Isobel was playing with a game they had set up on a low table and when Angela tried to usher her out the door Isobel sternly replied, “I’M WORKING.”

I know, kid. I didn’t want to leave, either.

Later that day, when I asked Isobel if she had fun at the zoo she said to me, voice full of awe, “Mama, goat go poo poo.” Of all the amazing things we saw that day, and all the fun we had with our friends, this single event stood out as the most pertinent and amazing.

Months later, and still to this day, she’ll occasionally come up to me and say, “Mama, goat go poo poo.”