We shoulda stayed to watch the cement truck

About 11 this morning, I discovered that it was a free day at the zoo. I was in my “let’s get this house cleaned and that darn playroom finally organized” clothes. But it was almost 70 degrees outside. Zoo was free. I decided to ditch all productivity plans to be a fun, spontaneous mom and head to the zoo!

Forty-five minutes later (spontaneity had to pack a lunch and rally 3 kids into shoes and potty trips and finding their sun hats), we hit the road. But not before checking with the nice men who are fixing the driveway. They dug it out yesterday and were pouring the concrete today. I kinda forgot about it, but they said they didn’t need me to be home in any case, so off we went.

We shoulda stayed home and watched the cement truck. I think it would’ve been more fun for all of us. So, here is my little list of all the reasons a fun, FREE trip to the zoo was less fun then watching cement.

1 and 2) I had been warned that the parking lot was totally packed, so we parked a bit away and walked. No problem. Except I decided that this was the outing we would ditch the stroller and put Lady Bug on her little toddler leash back-packy thing. I wasn’t planning on staying for that long, so I thought we’d be fine. Thus, I was lugging a backpack with our stuff. Not a big deal, but a little cumbersome to try to get anything out of it while holding Lady B’s strap. And she’s a toddler, so she ambles. Slowly.

3) Crowds weren’t that bad, but we seemed to be making very little progress. After nearly 2 hours, we had only seen a handful of animals and had lunch. You’d think the kids would’ve been excited at this fun, spontaneous thing we did, but not so much. Sunshine had a friend with her so this should’ve been the epitome of fun. I think the lack-of-fun factor had something to do with the increasingly cranky toddler. That and the fact that I left the map reading in the hands of 9 year-olds. This explains why we circled Bird World a few times before I finally took the map away and found our way to the bathrooms (the ones INSIDE Bird World were too smelly, apparently).

3b) Did I mention that I left the sunscreen on the front seat of the minivan? Thought it was in the loaded backpack, but somehow missed it. Girls had their hats, but I’m a little pink. Darn it.

4) I bet you’re wondering why the heck I didn’t just rent a stroller. Well, for 2 reasons. One, it would kinda defeat the purpose of the FREE day at the zoo. I’m a stickler for rules. $10 on a stroller is not FREE. Also, I kept thinking we would be done soon and really didn’t want to rent a stroller for $10 for an hour. This was, in retrospect, a bad choice.

5) I should mention here that the main reason I went to the zoo, aside from the FREE thing, was that I realized Lady B and never really been to the zoo since she was a baby, and I was having some mommy guilt that her only knowledge of animals was from looking at her little board books. I felt bad about that. I think she would’ve been just fine without today’s little educational outing.

6) Pixie had her allowance money burning a hole in her pocket. Money always burns a hole in her pocket. I believe that the Target $1 bin is designed specifically for children like her. She had $8 from allowance and some extra chores. She had it in a little denim coin purse. She was happily carrying it around, setting it down to take pictures of animals with her little camera. Yep, it got set down and not picked up (well, it was picked up by someone, just not Pixie). I had been carrying Lady B around for quite a while at this point. I was doing a major animal-seeing push. We had just seen the new baby giraffe (okay, it was really cute–nearly worth some of the day’s pain), and only had the polar bears left to see, so we pushed on before heading home (after checking with lost and found and tearfully (for Pixie) walking past the crap gift shop).

7) Zoo was not FREE because Lady B spotted the train ride thingy and I decided we should ride it, as everyone was having a fairly miserable time. The train did seem to bring some joy. $2 tickets. For about 2 minutes of ride time. It makes the fun zoo safari rental stroller look like a bargain, even if it were only for an hour. And Pixie lost the aforementioned $8.

8) Getting ice cream at McDonald’s on the way home saved the day. That and the fact that Lady B fell asleep almost immediately.

We got home to see the wet cement and our beautiful driveway (that cost as much as a family vacation to Disney, just sayin‘. We’re going to look at the driveway all summer and draw mouse ears on it with sidewalk chalk). I suddenly realized how fun it would’ve been to stay home and watch the driveway get done. And I have ice cream in the freezer. And the house would be cleaned. And I wouldn’t be (slightly) sunburned. And Target would’ve gotten Pixie’s $8, instead of some meanie who wouldn’t turn it in to lost and found.

Bum.mer.

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