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I am a home schooling mom to three amazing kiddos.  We primarily use the Montessori pedagogy to guide our journey.  We also enjoy aspects of classical education and are part of Classical Conversations community. 

I write a Montessori column for Practical Homeschooling Magazine.

I am still a geek at heart and at times miss my former career as an Information Architect/SharePoint Specialist.  I don't have much free time but if I do, it is spent on comic books and video games.
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The St. Louis Zoo

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We managed to make it out the door at a reasonable time to head to the St. Louis Zoo.  We only had one minor hiccup on the way in regards to a potty emergency.

It was beautiful day to visit.  While the zoo itself is free, we opted for gateway passes that granted access to a number of the ticketed attractions at a discounted cost.  Our first stop was in the children’s area.  They had a lovely center that the kids explored for quite a while.  They were all able to pet guinea pigs.  Elora enjoyed watching the mole rats dig.  From there we watched the otters and stopped by a play area.  We ended in the goat petting area.  We rounded out that area by visiting the insectorium.

Ah yes, everyone's favorite animal at the zoo by far... the guinea pig.

William and Elora petting a guinea pig.

Even Lockelan had to get in on the guinea pig lovin'.

Getting him to willing leave the Jeep was no small feat.

Watching the meerkats.  

The otters were delightful.

And... playground!!!

What would the zoo be without the obligatory, free-wandering chicken.

Ahhh... the petting zoo.  Surprise, it's goats!

Elora and William loved brushing them.

William made sure every last goat was brushed.

Lockelan found a button in the insectoriom and  it was magical.

I enjoyed the butterfly haven.

The kids stopped to admire a butterfly.

Our next stop was a special exhibit where we got to touch stingrays.  There were also a few small sharks in the pool which made the experience even more exciting for the kids.  I was eager to see Lockelan's reaction until we noticed the sign that anyone with a shellfish allergy shouldn't touch the water.  William was enthusiastic and tried to touch each one that came by.  Elora touched a few initially but was content to watch them.

Watching the stingrays.

William was eager to touch them.

Once we were adequately decontaminated, we decided to stop and eat the lunch we packed.  William kept asking to ride the train so Matt took the boys while Elora and I visited a Build-A-Bear I had spotted nearby.  Elora decided on a hippopotamus which she named Chompy.  She dressed her in a pink dress with wings.  Instead of the usual box, we purchased a bag so she could carry Chompy on her back.  I didn't make an animal this time but I did purchase a mini stingray.

Lockelan was winding down.  You can see what remains of the head injury from earlier in the week.

The boys rode the train.

The girls went to Build a Bear.
Once we met up, we made our way back to the animals.  We saw the bears and made our way through the penguin house.  We stopped to ride the carousel, successfully finding a row of animals that everyone could agree on.  We made our way to the primates, only to discover that none of them were outside despite the fact that the sign said they were.  Matt and I were quite disappointed about this because we wanted to see the gorillas, chimpanzees and the orangutans, none of which are available at our local zoo.  We then walked to the big cat area where we saw a puma and a snow leopard.

Penguins!

The little guy was enthralled with them.

We can never pass up a carousel.

And this photo proves I was there too.

We actually saw some animals.

Our final stop was at the reptile house.  It was quite impressive and the children were amazed by the snakes, turtles and various lizards.  William couldn't stop watching a gila monster while Elora was enthralled with an active rattle snake.  We could have stayed there much longer but the zoo was closing so we had to leave.

Overall, I liked the zoo but it was quite spread out and required a lot of walking to get to each section.  I would have enjoyed it more if more animals had been out on display.  There were areas where we would encounter several empty displays in a row and it was disheartening to stand there, trying to locate something.  As I mentioned above, the entire primate exhibit was empty.  We were also bummed that we got turned around and didn't make it to see the hippopotamus.  But as Matt said, it probably wasn't out that day anyway.  I suppose that’s one of the risks of visiting on a weekday during the off-season.  The crowds are low but the incentive to keep an attraction in full working order isn't there.

The inside of the reptile house.

Nearly all of the reptiles were asleep but we still loved watching them.
  
After four solid days of adventure, the children were nearly catatonic as we left.  All three were asleep before the van left the parking lot.  The older two were not happy about being woken when we returned to our unit either.  Lockelan was his usual happy self who woke laughing as soon as the car turned off.  I made dinner and we rented a movie from the resort that we could all watch together.  After the children were in bed, Matt and I enjoyed a movie ourselves.
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