The older kids have the week off of school for their fall break this week. Normally, we take the whole week and go camping or on some other "large" vacation, but this year it wasn't practical (see my earlier and very lengthy post on the test I was involved with last week), so we've been doing things locally that can be done as day-trips.
Yesterday, I took the day off of work and we went over to the Santa Barbara Zoo. It's a very nice little zoo over by the coast that had just enough to keep us entertained for a while, but not too much we had to make a whole day of it. The weather was perfect, the kids were well-behaved, and the animals were good to see, too. The park is small and intimate with the exhibits not too far apart. Unlike the L.A. Zoo, it also isn't built on the hilliest part of town, so there's not a lot of climbing to manage, either. We really enjoyed ourselves.
Anyway, on our way out of the zoo, we decided to stop in the gift shop. My oldest son wandered around and looked at pretty much everything, but kept his hands mostly to himself. My youngest son was happy to be handed a toy school bus to play with, which he rolled around his stroller until we left. My daughter, on the other hand, got into everything. She was asking if we could buy some of the silliest things. She'd pick armfuls of stuff up and walk over to me or her mother and ask if we would buy them for her. Of course we didn't ... on purpose.
My daughter did manage to knock a candle on the floor and break it, so we had to buy that. The guy behind the desk was very kind, and probably would've let us not pay for it, but we wanted the kids to see us taking responsibility. Instead of paying full price for it, though, the guy let us have it for half-off since it was damaged goods ... (But it wasn't damaged until ... yeah, it was a little strange.)
Anyway, my daughter felt awful about it, and owes my wife $4 for the broken candle. She's worked out a deal with my wife to sweep the kitchen every day, several times a day, and not complain about it for the next week. This is a huge deal for us, by the way, as sweeping is the chore she likes to do least. The whole experience was a good lesson for my daughter to learn.
There was one other thing I wanted to write about, too. While my daughter was wandering around grabbing everything in sight, she came across a barrel full of those colorful rocks that tourist traps offer to sell to their customers for the low, low price of $2.95 per little baggy filled. When she was insistent that we buy her some so she could start a rock collection like her older brother, I asked her how the rocks would remind her of her trip to the zoo. This is something we always ask ourselves when buying items from a place like that, which encourages us to buy appropriate keepsakes.
Well, without missing a beat, my daughter picked up a white rock with black spots and said, "This one reminds me of the sheep." She picked up an orange one and said, "This one reminds me of the giraffe." Gray: "This one reminds me of the elephant." That little girl is clever! We still didn't buy the rocks ...
But my wife did buy two colorful lollipops to keep them quiet on the hour-and-a-half drive home. It worked like a charm.