Monday, June 23, 2008

Landon's birthday, Bice reunion and the zoo.

It’s been a big few days. Saturday was Landon’s Birthday and the Bice family reunion. Sunday was a special day at the zoo with J.P. and Rosie, the elephants.

My Aunt Sandy gave me a ride to Landon’s party. It was amazing to see that in the brief time since Jack’s party, Landon had gone from an interesting crawl (front leg bent, dragging back leg behind) to walking! He’s quite a charmer…friendly and willing to let anyone carry him around. I repeatedly threatened to steal him. His big brother Logan is frightfully cute, too. I told Megan she should book them as models. That’s how chubby-cute they are. They and their cousin Jack are just too adorable.

Landon opened his presents and munched on his birthday cupcake. Before long, Grandma, Grandpa, Sandy and I had to take off for the reunion in Woodward. Grandpa had to stop on the way to the car to breathe. Grandma decided to get the car and drive over to meet us half way. Sandy jokingly helped Grandpa to hike up his pant leg and expose a lovely shin to attract Grandma’s attention. She giggled and played along with our hitchhiking game.

By the time Sandy and I got to the reunion, most people had cleared out. Oops. Well, I had fun (and lots of desert) anyway.

Then yesterday was the zoo. Dad’s (great?) uncle Richard Vicker used to own a pony farm. He sold some ponies to a man who trains animals, including the elephants currently visiting Blank Park Zoo (J.P. and Rosy). The trainer offered for Richard and his family to come see the elephant show. The Vickers always treated Dad like one of their own, so they included us in their invitation.

J.B. and Erika don’t join in for most extended family gatherings, but this was one they couldn’t pass up. I spent most of the day holding hands with or carrying Brooke. Unfortunately, that means I don’t have many pictures of her. Oops. Someone said, “You know, some day she’ll see that you don’t have as many pictures of her and accuse you of loving her less.” Yep, carrying her all day means I love her less. Hee.

We saw lots of cool animals, including otters, black swans, penguins and sea lions. Then we went to see the elephant show. Rosy and her calf J.P. were so big and smart. After the show, the trainers came over and answered all our questions.

Then I saw that they were letting visitors feed the giraffes, so Mom and I took Courtney over. They’re her favorite animals. For a couple of dollars, they gave us a biscuit. We broke it in half, and Mom held Courtney and offered a piece to the giraffe while I snapped a picture. Then she offered the other half. The giraffe’s long tongue snaked through the fence and snagged the treat. Courtney’s eyes were SO BIG! Later someone asked Courtney what her favorite part was, and she stuck her tongue out as far as she could. “Oh,” I laughed, “Feeding the giraffe! He had a long tongue.” “Giraffe,” Courtney murmured, “Long tongue giraffe.” Hee.

Then we actually got to go pet the elephants. I was afraid at first that only the children would be allowed to pet the elephants. How, I wondered, would I finagle getting to pet the elephants, too? Luckily, it wasn’t an issue, because we all got to pet the elephants. The trainers told us more about how they got into training elephants and why they came to Iowa. They use reward training, and J.P. the elephant calf kept doing little tricks in hopes of a reward. So cute! My red skirt had ribbons on it, and Rosy kept grabbing them with her trunk.

Brooke was content to keep her distance, but Courtney felt a bit more adventurous and had Mom take her closer to pet Rosy. Unfortunately, at just that moment Rosy batted her ear, whapping Courtney in the head. Courtney was shocked: “Ear. Elephant ear!” Mom took her over to pet J.P., who was more Courtney’s speed.

J.B., Erika, Courtney, Brooke, Mom, Dad and I broke off from the group and walked around looking at animals. Brooke wanted to go see the jellyfish, but once we got there, she was scared. We ended up in the visitor’s center. Courtney was tuckered out, but Brooke was still full of energy, so she and I did some calisthenics. My parents were baffled that she was so bouncy, but J.B. assured them that she needs a lot of activity to wear her out so she’ll sleep at night.

Eventually, they took off to visit Erika’s brother and sister. Mom, Dad and I met back up with the Vickers for a little picnic. It was nice to get to chat with them, and I think we all went home exhausted.

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