Jenntertainment's Weblog

Adventures in children's theatre.

ExZooberance July 6, 2013

     I have a bad habit of getting myself worked up about things that are exciting to me, like birthdays or new flavors of Frappuccino. I imagine my impending joy with such detail that, by the time the event (or milkshake-disguised-as-coffee) arrives, it can’t possibly live up to the wonder I’ve created in my mind.

     Which is why today, a day I have been looking forward to for no less than three months, was such an amazing triumph of anticipation.

     Working in theatre, I don’t get a lot of weekends off. However, because Independence Day fell on a Thursday this year, and because we’re in the middle of camp season,  I hit the jackpot with an entire 7 days of vacation. Woohoo! Unaccustomed to such luxury, the only thing I could think of that I really wanted to do as a family was…

     …visit The Jacksonville Zoo.

     We visited the zoo for my birthday one year, and it was phenomenal. There were giraffes, and penguins, and giant elephant statues.

Phone Pics 087

May 4, 2009

     The only way I could imagine the zoo being any better was to imagine taking our adorable 15-month-old daughter with us. Lately she’s gotten quite good at animal sounds, and I thought it was time to let her know that the creatures in her board books are real and not just pictures to which I’d assigned arbitrary noises. Except for the kangaroos, who don’t actually go “boing-boing.”

   So that’s what I’ve been doing since March; imagining what it would be like to take her to the zoo. In my idyllic world, we would get up in the morning and have coffee with buttery, homemade cinnamon rolls, followed by some superb block-stacking. We would get into the car just at nap time, when she would drift peacefully off to sleep for the two-hour drive to Jacksonville. Upon our arrival, she would awake, pleased as punch to find herself in a new place that smelled faintly of manure. We would point at the animals and she would make the right sound, squealing with delight upon the discovery that parrots actually say “caw-caw” and that I wasn’t making it up the whole time.

     In my fantasy, we would pour our happily tired selves back into the car and Jamie would watch the DVD Curious George Visits the Zoo with a new-found appreciation for the elephant who paints billboards and the cat who makes pasta. The sun would begin to set just as we pulled back into our driveway, and she would snuggle in close to my shoulder as if to say “thanks for the super fun day, Mom.”

     Again, I may have over-thought this a little.

     Except today something amazing happened.

Jamie Kate & Lexy at the Zoo

Jamie Kate & Lexy at the Zoo

     Jamie turned all of the zebras into statues.

     Not really. That’s just a zebra calliope. But wouldn’t that be funny?

     Today was just magnificent. There might not have been filtered amber light shining on every part of my day, and it might have been 94 degrees with 1,000% humidity, and Jamie might have said “rawr” in answer to every animal call after seeing the lions, but everything else? As close to perfect as a trip to the zoo with a 1-year-old and a teenager (our exceedingly fabulous babysitter who came along for the trip) could possibly be. There were stingrays to be petted, and potato wedges to be devoured, and of course, elephant statues to be photographed.

Jamie Kate Elephants

Jamie Kate, Vann, and Lexy
July 5, 2013

      Don’t panic; the elephants were already statues before Jamie arrived. Why are all of our pictures with sculptures? I am too much in awe of God’s amazing creatures to bother with taking photos of them, so my zoo souvenirs (zoovenirs?) consist only of photographs with fake animals.

     The day was a wonderful success, complete with homemade cinnamon rolls, I-95 naps, and an overwhelming amount of cuteness in the form of baby animal imitations. I don’t think Jamie or Vann could have been any sweeter, and I can’t imagine anyone being more helpful and easygoing than Lexy. I claim this day in the name of wishful thinkers everywhere. We dreamed. We zooed. We conquered.

     Next stop? Georgia Aquarium!


Still May 19, 2013

Filed under: Jenn-eral — jenntertainment @ 8:46 pm
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It’s 8:30pm on Sunday. Jamie is in her crib; not asleep, but contentedly playing with her stuffed animals and humming to herself, waiting for the Sand Man to make his nightly visit. There are dishes piled in the sink, waiting to be transported to the dishwasher. There are clothes on layover in the washing machine, awaiting their departure for the dryer, though likely anticipating further delays. There are thank-you cards on my desk hoping someday to be addressed, stamped, and mailed. The rain that has been sputtering all day has stopped. The movie we were watching, Disney’s Dumbo, is on pause. Indeed, everything is on pause.

This moment in my home isn’t spectacular because of its cleanliness or tastiness, but only because of its happiness. I just spent an entire weekend with my family, which is a rarity. On Friday I took Jamie to Soft Play at the mall, then grabbed a latte on our way home, successfully keeping her little hands from stealing my straw. Friday night Vann and I went to a wonderful performance of Zombie Prom at the children’s theatre, and capped it off with dinner at our favorite sushi spot. Saturday, for reasons unknown but perfectly splendid, Jamie slept in until about 10am, leaving me plenty of time to enjoy my new book, Marmee & Louisa. As a family, we spent an uneventful day playing outside, splashing in the sink, organizing the garage, shredding old paperwork, and tickling newly found silly spots.

Today was a glorious husband-made breakfast and a wonderful sermon at church, followed by a nap. Followed by play. Followed by dinner, laundry, Dumbo, and at last, quiet.  None of these things by themselves are extraordinary, indeed, many may consider them boring. But to me, the workaholic who hasn’t had a complete day off since Easter some eight weeks ago, not even for my birthday, not even for Mother’s Day, it was the vacation my bones have yearned for.

And so, I thought, this moment of quiet in-between ought to be documented. Attention must be paid to these rare minutes of stillness, to mark them as unique and most welcome, and to preserve them as a memory for the coming busy-ness.

The dishes, I’ll do. The laundry, I’ll get to. The thank-you notes, I’ll think about. The peacefulness, I’ll treasure.


Things I Learned at Summer Camp August 10, 2008

Filed under: Only Small Actors — jenntertainment @ 9:17 am
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Arts & Crafts class is frequently mispronounced by young children as “Carts & Afts.” Correcting them is an effort in futility.

Carts & Afts safety scissors are actually more dangerous than regular scissors because they encourage kids to try harder to cut themselves. They are amazingly successful.

Carts & Afts class seldom produces art. On rare occasions, however, the kids finish their class projects early and get to make whatever they want. Now I have an abstract pencil holder made of clay, a modernist puppy sculpture made of beads, my name written in Mandarin Chinese (though I highly doubt it) and a portrait of myself mysteriously wearing a cape with a sun on one side and a crescent moon on the other.

On the first day, everyone thinks that 10 sit-ups and push-ups are fantastically unjust. On the last day, they are so proud of themselves for reaching 100 that they hold sit-up competitions to see who is the strongest. If my one accomplishment all summer was to inspire kids to build healthier bodies, then I am satisfied.

Sometimes they hold sit-up competitions after lunch and get sick. This is not my fault.

Some of the kids actually think that I can only count up to eight.

Most boys can touch their toes more easily than most girls. I don’t know why.

Most kids think that Aerosmith is just a new version of Guitar Hero. On the flip side, they now know selections from The Rolling Stones, Kiss and Pat Benetar.

One kid thinks the lyrics to the Beatles song Saw Her Standing There says “I’d rather dance with your mother – ooh!” 

Kids that are allergic to nuts and wheat can’t eat jack.

My co-workers can get out of work for any number of fascinating problems. They have managed to get caught in a tornado, have their house struck by lightning, sit on a bee, flush their keys down the toilet and fall into a cactus patch.  

A band-aid and a Capri-Sun can heal all wounds.

Kids are like parrots; they stop talking when you turn off the lights.

According to our campers, July 18 was Act Like a Mime Day. This is the best day of the year because the children don’t talk…ON PURPOSE. They also wear striped shirts and berets and pretend to be drowning or trapped in boxes for extended periods of time. Not kidding.

Ages 6-10 get dropped off and picked up at precisely the right time, bring a homemade lunch in a High School Musical lunchbox and have great audiences of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, teachers, friends, neighbors and people they met at the park that are amazingly supportive.

Ages 11-18 straggle in about fifteen minutes after call time, buy a frozen entree from the grocery store next door for lunch and are lucky if they get both parents in the same room. The cast is family for a lot of them. This is why we exist.