Our niece, Gavriella, is just too young to do summer camp. That means that when her sisters and brother visit for a week later this summer, she'll be stuck at home. To remedy this injustice, we had her (and her wonderful nanny!) down for the weekend. We may have only had a couple of days to work with, but we packed in a whole lot of fun and adventure.
Friday we hit the National Zoo. Highlights included seeing the lions, riding the merry-go-round, and taking in the reptile house. Gavriella displayed wonderful patience as she went from window sill to window sill in the reptile house, and spotted the snake, turtle or other creature lurking within. She had an absolute blast at a misting station where she alternated between running into, and quickly retreating from the spray of water. So precious. The path to the elephant overlook has a series of red painted tracks. Gavriella carefully "hopped" from footprint to footprint. She'd crouch low; hop with all her might; and then quickly step over to the next footprint. What she lacks in long jumping skills, she makes up for in heart. Again, she was incredibly patient, insisting that we slowly plod our way to elephant over look, regardless of how long it took.
We visited the pandas, and found one of them eating bamboo. When asked about what she saw the next day, Gavriella explained that they were noshing on bamboo. She's definitely at the age where everything you say gets parroted back at you. It's both cute and a bit scary.
For Shabbat, Gavriella and I walked to shul. She was my little assistant, helping me fulfill my gabbai responsibilities.
On Sunday, we hit Butler's Orchard for some blueberry picking. I was surprised at how precise she was at picking berries: she was excellent about just picking the ripe ones, and on more than one occasion she picked a green one out of her bucket. She did have me dive for her bucket, when at the end of our time picking she announced that she was going to dump out her berries and start over. After picking berries, we hit the playground and looked at animals. Definitely fun times.
By Sunday afternoon it was already time to think about dropping Gavriella and her nanny back at the airport, but we had time for one last mini-adventure. We hit Lady Bird Johnson Memorial Grove, and from there, we walked to the Navy Merchant-Marine Memorial. While I'm not entirely sure how kosher it is to do so; it's one of my favorite memorials to have kids climb up and play on. I explained to Gavriella before we arrived that were going to see the sea monster, and once we got there, and climbed inside the monument, she explained to me that the sea monster gobbled us up. So precious.
And just like that, it was time to drop off our visitors at the airport and for Shira and I go to back home and crash in a pile of kid-induced exhaustion. Man, did I ever need the 4th of July off to recover.