So, yes, we decided to venture out and take all 3 boys to the Zoo for the Christmas lights. I have always heard about the display but in the 20 some years that I have lived in Portland I have never been to see them. I am looking for new holiday traditions to start with my family and this seemed like a good place to start. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have a very set schedule with my kids and thrive off of keeping to it. So stepping outside of this routine is very difficult for me. I realize that the kids will not die if they don't eat dinner at exactly at 5:15, have their milk and cartoons at 6:30 and be down for bed by 7:15. Yes, I get that. And before I bash myself too much, I would like to say that a schedule has been necessary to survive twins (one with special needs) and then a new baby as well. Although my husband sometimes gives me a bad time about my craziness of sticking with a schedule, he sure didn't complain when I had them all sleeping 12 hours at night by 3 months-old. But I digress...where was I? Oh, yes, I was explaining that it is a big thing for me to agree to throw everything off by doing an outing that I can't plan around our times.
To find parking and to even get in without waiting in line for hours, we had to get there when it was still light out, at 4:30. That means that we would need to leave our house by 4:00 which really means loading up by 3:45. (I have learned that I am always about 15 minute behind what I planned because of forgetting about the "loading time" involved with 3 little guys and all of their stuff!)
Well, we were actually driving down our road by 4:06, which is pretty darn impressive. The car ride there was fine, which is always a good sign. We found parking quickly, which had me relieved. And my parents were there at exactly the same time as us! It was going to be a good night!
Because we are zoo members we were able to skip the line and scoot right in. First things first, I have my mom take a family picture of all of us before anyone breaks down. (I know my kids.) Then I am already stressing out. Should we go into the restaurant now and feed them the food I had packed, or do we wait? It is only 4:30 and they usually don't eat until 5:15ish. Now this is where things are different for my family. If we had 3 typical kids I would not worry. They could eat after we see the lights - while we are seeing the lights - on the drive home - or when we get home late. Or if push came to shove, they could just have snacks instead of a full dinner. BUT, Parker has special needs. This fact that keeps getting thrown in my face. Eating is a big deal for him. Not only is he extremely under weight, but it is hard for him to eat even pureed foods. So, the food situation is always a challenge. He needs to eat. And he needs to eat on schedule. Because if he eats his solid dinner too late, then he won't be hungry for his bottle (formula) that comes later and that is a main source of his nutrition. And if he eats too early, he won't be hungry because he just had a bottle at 3:00. (you see why I have a schedule, right?) And he needs to have a proper chair and space to eat. You can't just hand him a cheese stick or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on the go. I decide to wait. We can always come back to the restaurant. But we should get in line for the train, which is supposed to be a big hit.
We did get in line and it wasn't too long, so I shouldn't complain. However, the boys started to lose it. I am not sure why, but Ryder, my very easy-going 6-month-old decided to start crying. I am so glad that he is normally very easy-going, because his cry is more like a very loud squeal/whine. It is very hard to describe, but it is not good. At the same time, Parker also decided he was not happy and began wailing (yes, wailing).
It was quite a scene. We are stuck in a packed line of people (picture Disneyland lines that weave back and forth) while 2 out of 3 of my kids are screaming at the top of their lungs. Brady (my typical developing 2-year-old) decides to take advantage of this and run off down the line of people. Luckily my wonderful parents were there and my mom was able to get him. As I looked around, I was sure that I would find some other kids that were fussy or crying. But no, it seemed only mine were upset. How can that be? Oh, wait! I see another little girl crying. (Why does that make me happy?) But she is quickly consoled when her mom joins her and her dad in line. Now we are for sure the only family with crying kids. Ryder, I could see him crying. He is a baby and didn't get his last nap. But Parker...why does he have to get so upset at times? Then I start thinking, maybe it won't be good for him to go on the train ride. Am I ignorant to think this event will make him happy? I started over-analyzing all of my decisions for him right there in line for the train. Am I forcing my idea of happiness on him, when really that is not what makes him happy? Is it too loud for him? Is he scared? I looked at my husband, who was also giving me that defeated look. He said that he could take Parker and we all could go on the train without them. I was about to go that route. Then my mom took Parker from my husband and said "let me talk to him." What did she say to him? I don't know. Maybe it was just her calm touch, but he quieted right away. He seemed content waiting in my mom's arms and had fun and giggles on the train! I wish I could say the same for Ryder who continued to cry throughout the whole ride. (sorry people who were around us!)
After the rather over-rated train ride, we decided to do a quick walk around of part of the zoo. Jimmy (my husband) carried Parker the whole time because he was not wanting to be in the stroller. I carried Ryder (who was still crying), my mom held on to Brady and my dad pushed the empty double stroller. We took our obligatory pictures, walked through the beautiful lights and then got the hell out of there.
As we walked quickly towards the exit I thought in my mind, Parker didn't get his dinner, we made quite a scene at the train, Ryder is clearly not happy about something, but next year will be better. Yes, it will. Next Christmas we will continue this new tradition, and it will be better...