9:15 PM

Last night, on a spur-of-the-moment decision, we headed to the zoo.

As in, at 3:47 pm the decision was made, and by 4:07 pm I had both kiddos loaded in the car and we were pulling out of our apartment complex parking lot to pick up Stephen. THIS IS MONUMENTAL. I don't think I've ever gotten the kids out the door and in the car that quickly AND at least seven of those minutes were spent TRYING TO FOLD UP THE DANG STROLLER. 🙈  I didn't realize that I had the seats on backwards, and needless to say, I'm 100% certain any passerby would have gotten a good laugh watching me wrestle that badboy into the back of the car. (Although I wouldn't have taken it very well because I was both mentally and physically heated by the end 😅 but I am CLEARLY getting off topic.)

For Stephen's birthday Mom and Dad Olson gifted him (aka us) passes to the Zoo, and we hadn't been back since the day before Elliott was born. And since Stephen was having a slow day at work (which rarely happens!), we decided to take full advantage and head to the zoo.

Stephen LOVES the zoo. His family lived just a few miles away when he was little and he has lots of fond memories of going to the zoo. He wouldn't hesitate to spend all day there if he could! 

...I can't say I share the same level of excitement ;) but I love how much he loves the zoo, and the fact that Lydia is starting to catch on is, obviously, an added bonus for both of us.

We made it to the zoo about an hour before closing and it was PERFECT. Perfect because the hottest part of the day was over. Perfect because the crowds had gone home for the day (as in, we were some of the only people there!). And perfect because it was an hour. ;) If every zoo trip could be like this one - I'd go every week! 

Although it might be argued that Lydia's favorite part of the outing was running from one set of stairs to the next (that girl and her stairs obsession!) she also got a plethora of opportunities to show off her lion, elephant, owl, monkey, and cat sounds. And watching her wave to a seal while exclaiming "HI!" just about melted my heart. 

^^Lydia would also point and say "GUG!" every time we passed one of these mechanical bugs that are currently on display. (And I would still like to know - WHY?! They are both pointless and slight disturbing, IMO.)

As the zoo was nearing closing, we headed toward the exit, and Lydia spotted the carousel. She pointed at it and then ran towards it, eyes wide with excitement. I don't even know how she knew what it was or that it was something she should be excited about, but she walked right over to it and tried to get through the gate! Not wanting to pay the fee to ride it, and knowing that there was a strong possibility she wouldn't actually like it, we were about to turn her attention to something else, when the worker running the carousel invited her on board - free of charge! Much to my (happy) surprise, SHE LOVED IT. Her huge smile when she came around the bend gave me GOOSEBUMPS. Oh how I love that girl. Oh how I love my sweet little family. 
And (dare I say it?!) oh how I love the zoo. 
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  1. Lydia's expression on the carousel is priceless!

  2. Going to the zoo for one hour is the perfect amount of time! This is why zoo passes always worked so well for us when our kids were little--I hated feeling obliged to stay for hours to "get our money's worth" from an expensive single-day admission. Just show up for an hour, see a few animals, and waltz out feeling refreshed and delighted. And our favorite time of day to go was always the hour before closing. Sometimes we got to watch the animals getting their evening meal, and we loved having the zoo more to ourselves when the massive crowds thinned out for the day. Good memories.