One of our favorite family outings is a day spent at the Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens. The Huntington is a historical estate with a renovated mansion, art exhibits, library and themed gardens. The Chinese Garden, called Garden of the Flowing Fragrance, opened in Feb. '08. This was our first chance to see it. Like every other garden at the Huntington, it is exquisite. The center of the Garden is a large green pond, surrounded by pagodas, bridges and walkways. There is a small tea-house on the south side of the pond where we drank Jasmine tea and ate a light lunch of spring rolls and pot-stickers. I admired the bonsai, the intricately paved walkways, the delicate trees. The boys had their own way of interacting with the garden:
That is, until I hollered at them to get down. Daddy thought this was highly amusing (he was the one snapping their picture, of course). It is a truth universally acknowledged that Daddies are more fun than Mommies. I did manage to have fun despite my usual barrage of: excuse me, pardon me, was that your toe I just ran over? and yes, these are twins--no, not identical.
Frankly, I was worrying less about the spectacle we were making and more about whether someone (JAMES! DO.NOT.LEAN OVER THE BRIDGE!) was going to fall into the pond. Jewel picked up on my paranoia and decided to freak me out for this picture:
Thankfully, no-one fell in, drowned or otherwise injured themselves--which was no small miracle considering how many arms, legs, feet and hands we take with us wherever we go. We also walked through the indoor rain forest which is housed in a giant green-house structure. The kids poked, touched and examined a myriad of tropical leaves and plants. Jude was especially enthralled by the carnivorous tropical pitcher plant which lures bugs to it's slippery lip and once the bug falls in, digests it in a stew of acidic juices. Seriously CREEPY.
The kids played in the Children's Garden while I nursed the twins. There were tunnels, winding paths, a fog garden, and babbling miniature rivers to explore.
We always love the beautiful statues scattered throughout the grounds. James got a quite an education on female anatomy from a statue of the goddess Diana:
While Jude preferred a time of quiet reflection with this old warrior:
It was an exhausting, wonderful day. I'm determined to continue these family outings. It's so important for the children to have a wide variety of experiences. I can see it changing them, impressing them, inspiring them. Yes, we have to pack, re-pack and unpack, buckle, unbuckle and re-buckle a million times. But the memories we make, the experiences we have are worth the effort. At one point, another mom approached me.
"You're doing a great job," she said. "You should get an award."
I could have hugged her. She didn't know me, she'd only observed me for a few moments while our children ate snacks near each other. And yet, her simple words meant a great deal to me. Because, as moms, isn't that all we ever want to know? We're doing a great job. And someday, by God's merciful grace, we will receive an award: our children will rise up and call us blessed.