I’ve known Lauren Bier since our undergrad days at Stanford and our membership in the philanthropic club APhiO on campus. We’ve reconnected over the past two or so years over Facebook—what a help our social media is to friendships, no? She studies law in Pennsylvania and before that was an elementary school teacher in North Carolina. We connect, obviously, through a range of interests, yet one of the parts that I love most is that we connect through a genuine love of learning and excitement about all there is in life to experience, do, understand, and teach. I think of the many, many beautiful parts about having gone to Stanford, one of the most palpable is a sort of energetic connection among so many of the alums, both old and young, our year or not our year. Stanford is a gift that keeps giving in that respect. I value that even moreso in my 30s than I did in my 20s.

It was fun catching up in person and also reminiscing about our undergrad days, the feel of the campus, people we know in common,  thinking about how exciting it is that Lauren gets to be enrolled in a very full fall term in her law school classes, and comparing notes about our teaching experiences.

Katie took to Lauren right away, holding her hand, swinging along, happy. Sometimes Katie would ask, “Where is our friend?” if she didn’t see her right away. I love watching Katie connect to others; interestingly, she is often more at ease with my friends than she is with other children. Thank you, Lauren, for being a great role model and for being so open toward my children today.

Although it turned out to be a bit of a scorcher for Safari Park today (I keep wanting to call it the Wild Animal Park, in my rebellious nature), the park had merciful moments of shade, misters, and a miniature splash park near the lions. Both the kiddos were troopers; Katie walked nearly everywhere, talking a couple of stroller breaks. Many of the animals were more restful today, but we did catch a peep of the gorillas, meerkats, and others. The best viewing, by far, was on our tram ride. I taught Eric how to say, “Hello animals” before we left this morning, and as I buckled him up in the car, he was waving both hands and trying to say it. I only heard “a-mal” once today, and “hello” sounds that were a bit iffy—but he got the point of waving to them. He liked waving to the giraffes..(I feel I need to say here that I am no longer certain this word takes the “s” for the plural—I need to research this. It seemed to me that “giraffe” was both the singular and plural noun from the tram driver today at the park).  Anyway, he liked waving to them the best.

He laughed at the meerkats.

Lauren and Katie observing the lionesses


On the tram, with a very blurry rhino in the background

Katie bought some lorikeet nectar on her own and waited for the change

Taking the nectar ticket she bought to the lady, she put it on the counter and said, “One nectar please!” with so much more self-assurance than I normally have!

Lauren helps to feed the lorikeets

The petting kraal was full of goats, one of our favorites!

Eric was pleased as punch to be with these goats. He wasn’t afraid at all to pet them; in fact, when it was time to go, he did “baby floppy arms” to escape my grasp and gave the kind of wail we almost never hear from him. I think he wanted to visit with the goats much longer!

Thank you for the fun camaraderie today, Lauren! Thank you for thinking of us on your trip west. We’d love to see you anytime!