Sunday, November 2, 2008


Our little guy has been so well-behaved lately, he filled his marble jar yet again, which meant another fun outing for the Parker Pack. This time we decided to go for something fun yet a little more educational than pizza and arcade games, so we headed out to the Heard Museum in McKinney. The Heard is a great place any time of the year--tons of walking trails, a petting zoo, and rotating exhibits on animals and wildlife--but we knew Aiden would get a kick out of the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibit, where he could walk the outdoor trails with life-sized animatronic dinosaurs.

We arrived just as they opened for the day and stopped inside to enjoy the indoor snake exhibit. Aiden loved checking out all of the snakes and spiders--we even saw a snake who had just enjoyed a meal of a mouse, and Aiden thought it was so cool to see the big lump in the snake's belly. Then we headed outside to check out the dinosaurs. We ran into some baby dinosaurs first, which we're pretty cute, but as the trail went on, the dinosaurs got bigger and scarier. Even though he knew they were "robot dinosaurs" and would encourage all the other kids around him not to be afraid, he still jumped back every time one of them leaned his direction and roared. We saw meat eaters and plant eaters, big dinos and small ones, and we even got spit at by one yucky guy! But by far, Aiden's favorite was the huge T-Rex that loomed over all of us. He was content to just stare up at the giant and admire his sharp teeth and claws.

After walking the dino trail, we headed toward the petting zoo, a.k.a. the money trap. They were charging an additional $3 per person just to walk in the pen and $1 for a tiny cup of food (after we'd already paid a hefty admission to get in the park), so we convinced Aiden to just hang out on the perimeter and check out the animals, since our experience with the petting zoo at the pumpkin patch a week ago hadn't been so positive! A baby piglet did come over to the fence where Aiden was watching, and although we couldn't convince Aiden to reach in and pet him, Brad and I both took a turn scratching the piglet, who was more than happy to flop over and expose his belly for a good rub.

Afterwards, we toured the Animals of the World exhibit and saw a mongoose, capybara, some squirrel monkeys, wallabies, and other exotic animals. We arrived at the lemur cage just as the food wagon was arriving, so we stuck around and watched as the lemurs performed for their supper. Aiden loved the lemurs and kept singing "I Like to Move It" from the movie Madagascar for them (thank you, DreamWorks, for the brainwashing). They were adorable to watch--as soon as they saw the employee pulling over the wagon of food in the distance, they began jumping around the cage, hanging off of the door, and swinging from the walls and ceiling. Once they got their meal, they happily sat in front of us and ate their apples and carrots, occasionally bickering with one another for the choicest bits. Aiden stood there, transfixed, for about 20 minutes, just enjoying the show.

By this time, we were all getting pretty exhausted, which meant Aiden was beginning to act particularly bratty, so we all headed back home for a well-deserved family nap. Aiden was content to talk about his adventure with the dinosaurs the whole ride home.

For anyone who knows a dinosaur lover and is looking for a great outdoor fall activity, head out to the Heard Museum for the Dinos Alive exhibit while it lasts--the exhibit runs through Dec. 31, $8 for adults, $5 for children over 2 and for seniors over 65.

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Check out A Belly in Bloom, a page devoted to Angela's pregnancy with Aubrey. You can see belly pics, sonograms, and learn more about how Aubrey (formerly known as "The Bean") came to be the lovely little girl she is! You can also find Angela's favorite recipes and newest food experiments at Cooking with the Parker Pack.