Anyone who knows me really well, knows that I am a huge procrastinator. Why do today, what you can easily put off until tomorrow. I apply this theory to almost every aspect of my life. Very often it has come back to bite me in the donkey (that's what we're calling the word for backside at our house. The kids think it's hilarious). I don't learn, I always vow that I will do differently, but I don't. Funny that I mention "vow". I vowed to make this a fun summer. Here's the other thing about me, I don't break a promise, if I do it's a life or death situation that has caused me to break it. I promised the kids a great summer, and by golly, that's what I will give them!(I just didn't give them a time line for it... see the procrastination).
Today was the day that we were meeting up with my cousin Heather in Peterborough to collect Gracie. Gracie spent almost a week at my cousins Heather and Ray's house in Sudbury, being spoiled beyond belief.
If we were already using gas to get to Peterborough, why not make it a fun trip?
Peterborough is about a one hour drive from us. It boasts an amazing park (among other things), The Riverview Park and Zoo. This wonderful park is funded by The Peterborough Utilities Commission, as well as patron donations. There are beautiful mature trees that shade the paved walkways. There are times when you can meet the zoo keeper. If that were not enough there is a huge playground, and splash pad. This should all cost a pretty penny, but it is free. Admission to this wonderful park is free!
When we arrived at the park/ zoo it was early evening. There were hardly any other people there (usually there are lots of people at the park/ zoo). For my kids this meant freedom. We allowed them to enjoy themselves, without the worry of them disturbing others or being lost (aka abducted... I have issues o.k.)
The four kids ran from pen to pen squealing with delight. "Look at these" was heard very frequently. They could barely contain their excitement. Every animal was more intriguing to them than the last. They revelled in the freedom to run. We only would see peeks at their excited little faces, as they nearly pressed their faces up against the enclosures.
The otter exhibit was hands down their favourite, followed by the squirrel monkeys (who doesn't love squirrel monkeys, I mean really). They loved the way you could see the otters under the water. The loved looking for the otters, it was like a game of "Where's Waldo", but with adorable little otters. They ran back and forth in front of the tank, squealing with delight when they would catch site of one of the otters.
The kids stood fascinated watching wild turkeys in the reindeer pen. This struck me as funny, because you don't have to travel too far in our area to see fields full of wild turkeys, but today, these not so majestic birds were fascinating. I harassed the kids by telling them that if the reindeer were missing, maybe Santa planned to saddle up the wild turkeys. My hilarity was met with rolled eyes. I walked across the paved path to take a peek at the donor wall, when I had three children nearly tackle me. "MOM, MOM, the reindeer are out, come quick!" I followed them across the road, to be rewarded with their excitement. From their reaction you might of thought it was Santa himself.
I was across the path looking at the donor board to see if I could see Gabe's name. This year for Christmas, Christopher's sisters and Mom had made a donation in Gabe's name to the Riverview Park and Zoo. Every year they make a donation to something in Gabe's name. Every year, their kindness touches us very greatly. I was telling one of his sister's how much it meant to us that they remember Gabe at Christmas. She told me "Oh coarse we remember Gabe, we love him. If he was still here, we would be buying him gifts, so why wouldn't we now?" (I am tearing up as I write this, like you didn't already guess.) Gabe's name was not on the board, but it meant a lot to us that a donation to this wonder park / zoo had been made in his name. A donation to a place that Gabe's brother and sisters derive a great amount of joy from, as did he.
The Riverview Park and Zoo is one more thing around us that we are very lucky to have. It is a place that our schools take the kids to on class trips. It is a place that our family visits at least twice a year. We derive a lot of pleasure from that place. Where else can your children play at a splash pad, play on nearly brand new playground equipment, and visit exotic creatures all for the low price of free?
I am making good on my promise to make this summer fun, buy I am not mortgaging our budget to do so.