Thursday, July 2, 2015

Oklahoma City Zoo

Chris and I have always enjoyed traveling together. We love to see new sites, experience different cultures, and spend relaxing time away from home and out of our every day routine. This didn't change for us when we had children. We continued to travel (it just took a bit more planning). Traveling with our children is a priority for us. We want them to learn and experience things that only traveling can provide, plus we just love it. 

We knew that after welcoming two new members to our family this year, a big vacation wouldn't really be possible. Having two babies at one time is a bit of a game changer, and it certainly makes traveling more challenging. However, we did want to do a few fun things this summer even if we weren't planning a big trip. After our successful Father's Day trip, we felt ready to take on another short excursion with the whole family. 

We love visiting our local zoo and have visited several other zoos while on vacations. It's kind of becoming a "thing" for us. We had never been to the zoo in Oklahoma City, even though we've heard great things about it and it's only about 2 1/2 hours away from where we live. So, we decided that an overnight trip to OKC and a visit to the zoo would be perfect for a little getaway for our family. 

We decided to head to OKC this past Monday (June 29) after Chris got home from work. I had the van packed and ready to go and the babies had just nursed, so we left pretty much as soon as he walked in the door. We drove for about 50 minutes, then stopped for dinner at Arby's. 

The babies sat in high chairs for the first time this night at Arby's. Brooke Ellie was excited beyond words!

So proud to be so big :-).

Brecklyn wasn't so sure about it. 

Maybe this isn't so bad?

Such big girls . . . *tear*

Our drive down to OKC was uneventful, and the babies did great. There were only a few bouts of crying, but they didn't last near as long as they had when we traveled for Father's Day. They had both taken a few ounces of a bottle while at Arby's, so we didn't have to stop for them to nurse on the way down. Once we got to our hotel in OKC, I changed the babies into their pjs and nursed them while Chris brought our stuff up from the van. He had gotten us a two bedroom suite which worked out perfectly. The Bigs stayed in one bedroom (with two double beds) while Chris and I were in the other bedroom (with a king sized bed). We brought our pack-n-play, set it up in our bedroom, and the twins slept in that. The babies did have a bit of a hard time settling down for the night, but they slept great once they were asleep.

The next morning, Chris went to get us all breakfast while I got all the kids ready to go. The babies looked adorable, and I couldn't resist a little photo shoot before leaving the hotel :-).

Brecklyn, Brooke

Brecklyn, wondering what kind of adventure she will find at the zoo. 

Brooke, impatient to get going!

We arrived at the zoo right about 9:00am. We didn't know how the babies would do - and morning is their best time of day - so we wanted to get there as early as possible to maximize their good time. We were all excited for a day of fun!

The weather was so nice that morning. Being the end of June, we knew that it could be sweltering. Thankfully, it wasn't. 

Brenson and Brianna, enjoying the rhinos

The babies were being so good. We were pleasantly surprised!

My little guy and I were really looking forward to seeing the gorillas.

They did not disappoint! I wasn't able to get a good photo of it, but we saw a Momma gorilla holding her baby. The baby was adorable!

We've discovered that each zoo we've visited has their own vibe. This zoo is very spread out (lots and lots of walking) and lush. While it was beautiful, the kids would get a little bored while walking between exhibits. Also, most of the big cats were not out this morning, so that made it even longer between seeing animals. Our kids were not impressed with exhibits where the animals were hiding, haha.

The elephant exhibit is one of this zoo's main attractions. They have quite a few elephants (compared to our home zoo where there are only three), including a baby. We actually saw several baby animals on this trip. 

I mean, seriously . . . so precious!

The elephant exhibit here is unique in that it is a trail that allows you to view the elephants at ground level, then as you follow the path you climb to view them from several stories above ground. As neat as this was, it was unfortunately tainted by Brenson's terrible behavior. Looking back, he hadn't eaten a good breakfast, so I think he was hungry (which means melt-down mode in Brenson's world). Whatever the issue, he whined and cried and threw multiple tantrums while we were trying to enjoy the elephants. He was out-of-control to the point that Chris and I seriously discussed calling off the whole day and going home! I say often that three years old is no joke, and Brenson certainly proved that to us this morning. Ugh. However, after some disciplinary action, threats of leaving the zoo (and he knows we will make good on those threats if we have to), and some lunch, Bren was like a completely different child. It was rough for a while, but I'm thankful that he decided to shape up so we could enjoy the remainder of our day.

I mentioned that we ate lunch . . . we sat at some tables under a shade tree and ate food we purchased at the zoo. While we ate, I nursed the babies. I've never been one who has been too comfortable nursing in public, but that is changing with these babies. I guess there just more of a need to do it now, especially with one who will not take a bottle.

After our lunch, we went through the nocturnal exhibit (which the kids didn't really enjoy too much because it was dark in the building), then to see the zebras.

The giraffes are always a family favorite, and we were thrilled to see that there was a baby giraffe (only 8 days old) for us to see!


By this time, it was really getting hot outside and the heat was wearing us all down. We decided that we would take a little break and ride the zoo train. At our home zoo, we love the train as it takes us around the perimeter of the entire zoo. If there are animals that we don't make it over to see during that visit, we will likely catch a glimpse of them while on the train. This train, however, was pretty lame in comparison to what we're used to. It went suuuuuuper slow, didn't go by any exhibits that were overly interesting, and took the same path to and from the depot.

Brooke didn't mind . . . she still thought it was fun!

It was certainly still nice to sit for a bit and let our feet rest. 

Even though we weren't impressed with the route the train took, it was still a cute little ride. 

We visited a few more exhibits (reptiles) after exiting the train, then headed to find some cool air. The babies needed to nurse again by this point, and we were all in need of a snack. We found a nice place to sit in the air conditioning where Brenson and Brianna shared a Coke Icee. 

I nursed the babies (individually . . . it's so much easier to do it that way in public) and enjoyed a Coke Icee of my own.

I'm not sure how many times we changed the babies' outfits this day, but you can see that those cute little polka dot bird outfits are long gone!

Brooke and Brianna

Brecklyn and Daddy

Brenson and Momma

Our goal was to be on the road and heading home by 4:00pm, so we didn't have much time left after our snack break. We wanted to experience the Stingray Bay for sure, so we headed there next.

Daddy took the Bigs in the exhibit to pet the stingrays. They were so excited!

The look on Brianna's face is priceless!

I have a great video of this experience. I'm so glad they were able to do this.

After the Stingrays, we decided to make one last stop before heading to the exit. The children were surprised and SO excited when we took them to the zoo's splash pad and told them to go for it! They looked at us like we were crazy, but quickly started getting wet before we could change our minds :-).

Along with the splash pad, there was a river to wade in. Just what we needed to cool off on a hot summer day!

I didn't get the babies wet, but they sure enjoyed watching Brianna and Brenson splash around.

After playing in the water for a bit, we headed for the van. We had a change of clothes easily accessible for Brianna and Brenson, so after getting them in dry clothing, giving them water, and *another* snack, we hit the road. All four kids were asleep within 10 minutes of leaving. The babies did wake and cry for a bit a few times, but nothing too long. All in all, it was certainly a successful, fun, and memorable trip! We're so glad that we decided to do it despite how much work it is to travel with four littles.

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