The Saturday of our family reunion was our big outing: the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo! We usually try to catch an Indians game when we're in town for the reunion, but this year the Indians were away all weekend so we decided on the zoo as a great alternative, especially with all the kiddos in attendance this year.
So, on Saturday we donned our official reunion t-shirts and were off to the zoo. Yes, that's right, we had matching t-shirts. Back in our earlier reunion days, we often had reunion shirts, but that tradition fell by the wayside over time. During my baby shower weekend in January, my cousin Molly and I decided that we should bring the t-shirts back this year. Molly took the lead, came up with the design and did all the research, and she did a great job. The design included all 25 of our names (plus our beloved late Nana) and other words that represent things that are important to our family.
Our t-shirt design!
My favorite part? The fact that even the babies had matching reunion t-shirt onesies!
I wish I had taken a good photo of all of them together in their reunion shirt onesies, but I didn't. So this half-shot of Ellie's onesie is the best I can do.
Personally, I think we all looked quite fetching.
Gramps, Uncle Mark and Eric in the zoo parking lot
Family gathering up, pre-zoo
Funny faces for my cousin Sarah and Eric
Aunt Rachel and Heather are hands-on-the-hips, purse-between-the-feet twinsies!
The last of our clan (my cousin Jacob, his wife Zita and their baby Zazi, from Boston) arrived late Friday and went straight to their hotel that night, so when they joined us at the zoo on Saturday it was our first time seeing all of them and the first time many of us met Zazi.
Zazi and Ellie are quite pleased to make each others' acquaintance.
And so, we were off to the zoo!
Ellie's first trip to a zoo!
I have lots of memories of the Cleveland Zoo from my childhood. My favorite part was always Monkey Island, which I remember as being just overrun with monkeys, all running and jumping and playing everywhere. This time, I was so excited about Monkey Island that it was one of the first stops on our agenda. But it was a total bust! Nary a monkey to be seen, only a couple of goats. I was quite disappointed.
No monkeys on Monkey Island! Rip-off.
But, the rest of the zoo was great. A few highlights: a giraffe up close and personal, a baby rhinoceros, a posing polar bear, a grizzly bear with a stick, and the koalas (because if you don't love koalas you probably don't have a soul).
Baby rhino, eating his food bowl!!!
Polar bear perched atop a rock
Grizzly bear proudly showing off his stick
Koalas! If you could look at both of these pictures and not say "OMG AWWWWWW" I'm not sure we can be friends anymore.
Also great? The elephants, Ellie's reaction to the shark tank, and the fact that my sister and I rode a camel for $4, thus crossing Item #9: Ride A Camel off my bucket list!
Hanging out with the elephants
Ellie checking out the sharks
Although, of course, seeing and doing all these things with family was the biggest highlight!
My mom and cousins Alex and Sarah filling in for the missing Monkey Island monkeys
With my family
A few of the clan
Post-camel ride laughs
Left: Uncle Mark and Ellie modeling the latest in zoo-appropriate headwear
Right: Ellie and her Auntie Heather in the koala exhibit
All the young families outside the zoo
(L to R: Arturo, Molly, Santiago, Zazi, jacob, Zita, Ellie, Eric, Me)
Zazi and Ellie getting to know each other!
Baby swap! Ellie is being held by her Auntie Molly, and I have sweet Santiago!
Alex, Jacob, Eric and Adam playing wiffle ball while Molly, Zita and Zazi watch
Just a few of the girls (and Arturo and Santiago crashing the party in the background)
Left: Cousin Taylor holding Ellie
Right: Eric up to bat
Left: Molly and her darling niece Zazi
Right: My mom finally got Ellie to nap! That is one challenge she will always accept (and conquer!).
We also had ourselves a delicious ice cream cake in celebration of Gramps's 90th birthday.
Happy birthday, Gramps!
And of course, we had to make time to take our group portrait, as we do every year. This time, we had to move from the living room to the porch in order to fit all of us! How cool is that?
Top Row: Aunt Rachel, Uncle Mark, Gary, Adam, Jacob, Uncle Peter, Rosemary
Second row: Heather, Alex, Aimee
Third row: Eric, my mom, Sarah, Gramps, Taylor, Uncle Nathan, Arturo
Fourth row: Zita and Zazi, Ellie and me, Molly and Santiago
And last but not least: Jackson and Henry
Duh. Of course we had to do a goofy one, too!
We had Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner that night, and the usual suspects stayed up, drank wine and watched some Olympics. Then it was off to bed to rest up for Sunday and my grandfather's big birthday celebration at our church!
Stay tuned, that's coming up next!