You wouldn't expect another zoo post when I live in the North Pole and we had a bunch of snow this week, but you're getting one anyway.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Today was intense.
I started things off with an early morning shopping trip with a friend of mine. Our two families are helping provide Christmas gifts for a family we know in need. While it is sobering to see what some people are requesting for Christmas, it was still a Joyful Moment to serve and to know that we'll be making a happy difference for them.
Shortly after arriving home, I sent HH out the door for a fun-filled day of pheasant shooting. At least, he was excited.
And that's when the rest of us took off for the zoo. Very few of the animals were still outside, given the freezing temperatures, but they had some cute displays, music, hot cocoa, Santa, and free train rides. The kids actually opted out of seeing Santa after waiting in line for over 10 minutes and barely moving a few feet closer to the big man. Little M didn't even want to sit in his lap, or talk to him, and I was pretty sure Baby B would feel the same way, if he knew what was going to happen. I told them he will probably make an appearance at our church Christmas party next weekend, and the truth is, I don't make a big deal about Santa, so I don't think they get caught up in all the hype. I kind of have mixed feelings about the fun and magic in believing in Santa verses my guilt about basically lying to my children.
My personal solution is just to never really bring him up on my own, and when confronted with a question about him, I just turn it back around and ask the asker what he or she thinks the answer is. And then I leave it at that.
But I digress. I did consent to wait in the crazy long line for the train ride. I knew they would really enjoy that, so it was worth our while.
It was a long, cold wait and you can kind of see the stress on my face here (we were getting waaaaay past Baby B's nap time and I still had a million things to do that day). But, all in all, we really enjoyed ourselves. The kids always get a kick out of the train. It was a great way to end our fun little zoo outing. And definitely a Joyful Moment shared by us all.
Then I took the kids out to a restaurant. My Joyful Moment was that Baby B fell asleep on the way and also that we had coupons, so their food was practically free.
After a couple busy hours at home (and a nice, long nap for Baby B), we picked up a baby sitter and I headed out for a monstrous errand trip.
I hate how busy everything gets the last couple weeks leading up to Christmas, so I compiled a list of every errand I needed to do between now and the end of the year (besides grocery shopping), made lists of every thing I needed to buy, gathered coupons, and mapped it all out. And then I set off.
I picked up a couple things I needed, money from some items sold at a consignment shop, gifts for the kids' teachers, a couple stocking stuffers for the kids, a little something for HH, did a return, and stocked up on some household items, bought all of Sweet P's birthday presents (did I mention that I had a special all-day 5% savings pass at Target--in addition to the 5% I save on every purchase with my Target card?! That was a Joyful Moment for me because I started and finished my day at Target.)
The amazing thing was, all along the way, both while getting ready, and then while I was out, I kept being reminded of other things I needed to do, or add to my list, or of an applicable coupon I'd forgotten about, or a dozen other little things. And then, I kept lucking out and finding the last available parking spot just as I pulled up. And other things like that. And I knew that, for whatever reason, today I was being blessed and seriously helped from on high. And there is deep gratitude in that and a Joyful Moment, to boot.
And in the middle of all that, I dropped off dinner at a friend's home. I don't know that I can call this part of the day a Joyful Moment because her husband was given two weeks to live nearly two weeks ago. I haven't seen her since before Thanksgiving, so it was a Joyful Moment to give her a hug, but mostly, it was just painful because I want so much to be able to do more than just give her and her family some food. I bawled all the way from her home to my next stop. There is so much I could share about her and recent experiences, but they are lengthy and kind of personal, so I'll just leave it at that.
After concluding this long, eventful trip, I made a brief stop at the house to say hi to HH and the kids (HH had returned home from his hunting trip with I think 20 pheasants and just one of the happiest days ever, from what I can tell. He had an absolute blast and so, I am happy for him. But I had to let him down gently when he excitedly proclaimed that he couldn't wait to take me along next time. No thanks, my love). I ate a quick bite of dinner and then headed off to an Ethanol party with some girlfriends.
Yeah, you read that right. One of my friends has recently become an avid supporter of ethanol. I like it. I use it. But I kind of leave it at that. There's a documentary about it, though. She got a copy of it and shared it with us all. It was interesting. Made more so by the fact that I have funny friends and we had some good commentary all along the way. And a night with my girlfriends is always a Joyful Moment.
And then I came home and played Skip-Bo with HH while we each told each other all about our long day apart.
And it was another Joyful Moment.
But mostly, as I reflect back and think about the fact that I only have to brave the grocery store between now and Sweet P's birthday, I. Am. Ecstatic.
Wishing you all Joyful Moments with a really long story to go with!