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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why We Can't Go Back To The Zoo

*tap tap*

Ahem.

Mic check 1,2,3...anybody out there?

Hi, I'm that cliche mommy-blogger who fell off the Internets?


Okay, so maybe having some newbie cringe-worthy money troubles and then a busy Christmas and then moving to Texas and loving it kind of distracted me from writing like anything. My bad, y'all. Forgive me? Because I have a story for you. I didn't even think to write a post about it until the other day when I was telling one of my new neighbor friends about it and had so much fun I thought y'all would like to hear it too. And can I just say, having neighbors with kids who get the whole "my life revolves around naptime and bedtime" thing is just wonderful! Baby P is loving it. Although she's going through a bit of a pushing phase right now because she's used to having my full attention and acting out and such. And here I thought the rebellious behavior wouldn't start until the teen years. Lord help me, she's already a little firecracker. MEAN, you guys. But we're working on it and my new friends are pretty understanding.

Tangent, sorry.



ANYWAY.

There's a drive-through zoo about 30 minutes away. Nice drive through the countryside, Josh kept whining that I made him drive us instead of letting him ride his motorcycle. Okay, sorry, you were right, honey. Really, though, the surroundings were what you might think of when you hear someone's living in Texas. Nice open spaces, grazing cows and horses, rolling hills. The whole amber waves of grain thing.

We get to the zoo and there's a little shed with a very disgruntled teenager sitting there with a fan blowing straight into her face. She rolls her eyes when I dare to ask for our "tickets" (there were none) and pay my $22. She asks how many bags of feed we want and I say 2 because I have never been to a drive-through zoo and didn't realize all the animals would actually approach the car wanting the food. Big mistake.

We bump along onto our little safari adventure.

Goats. Lots of them. And some deer, I think. And possibly gazelle and antelope. But definitely lots of goats. And you know, they just looked so goaty and sad that we gave them all the feed. Baby P didn't exactly understand the concept of specifically feeding the animals, so she was just chucking pellets out the window randomly.



We were maybe 1/4 of the way through before we realized we were down to just half a bag of feed. Hello, we're fresh-faced tourist-types here, ya think the teenager could've warned us we'd need more feed?

 It occurred to us then what a fantastic system the zoo had set up for themselves. We paid them $11 per adult plus a dollar a bag for food to feed their animals FOR them. Man, we're suckers. But oooh, llamas!

So we tried to ration our feed a bit but it was still all gone by the time we were halfway through the track. And then we realized the goats must have this all figured out because the majority of them were at the beginning and the animals like bison, water buffalo and zebra were at the end because they didn't care about the treats as much. I'm assuming there are many first-time drive-through zoobies like ourselves who run out halfway through or even sooner, so the goats position themselves to get the goodies. Pretty smart.



When we were almost to the end, a very large, imposing water buffalo (oxen? bull? I don't know, just huge, hooved and horned) stood right in the middle of the track and stared our car down. I started getting nervous because it was bigger than the car and could possibly eat us. Or impale us and toss us around like toys. HUGE. And we were out of treats. HELP.

The beast meandered its way to the driver's side window and I was suddenly flooded with relief that Josh wouldn't let me drive. Josh handed Baby P back to me and forgot that in my car the window controls are on the dashboard. So he was pressing the door lock button back and forth, locking and unlocking the car frantically and cursing because he was obviously about to be lunch. That huge thing poked it's head in, looked Josh straight in the eye and huffed. The car instantly smelled like chewed grass and I might have peed a little. Just a little.



Then he walked away. Like, whatever, you puny humans bore me. The zebra decided to follow his lead after licking my arm and finding no feed there. Lots of attitude in those animals, I tell ya.

After that encounter we decided to take Baby P into the "Petting Zoo" part. We bought five bags of feed this time. Mostly because you had to spend $5 or more to use their credit/debit machine, but also because we are fast learners. Most of the time, anyway.

The Petting Zoo is just goats. Lots and lots of goats. But we already had all this new feed so duh, we had to feed more goats. Their enclosure had two gates so you could close one, walk through and open the other without letting all the goats out. How quaint. And utterly useless for people like us, apparently. Josh went through the second gate just as I set Baby P down to close the first one.

                                             

Suddenly I'm surrounding by goats and they have ripped the bags of feed out of my hand and are tackling each other to get to the feed. They're also forcing themselves through the first gate and out into the little picnic area. I was goatrushed; those little cloven-hooved devils are strong! One trampled one of my toes. There was blood. Baby P was sitting in between the two gates shouting "No! No! Go away! No!" and smacking the goats with attitude. Josh scooped her up and jumped over the fence to get them both away from the gates.

Meanwhile, I'm still stupidly trying to hold the gate closed (why? I don't know.) and yelling at the goats to stop being so pushy. Other people began wandering into the picnic area and were immediately accosted by the stray goats. Finally I gave up and let go of the gate and Baby P and I went stumbling back to the shed to hang our heads in shame and admit what we had done. The disgruntled teenager shrugged and said it happens a lot.

A quiet cowboy was sent out of the little gift shop and he locked us all in with a third gate around the picnic area that we hadn't even noticed. One of the other patrons was tall, blonde and gorgeous and appeared to be attempting to lure the goats into their enclosure via the swivel of her hips. Bless her heart, she tried. But goats care more about little pellets than pre-baby hips in tiny shorts.

So the cowboy yanks a corn stalk out of the ground and starts slapping it at the goats to herd them. The more stubborn goats got a switch on the butt. It was a bit like what I imagine halftime at the rodeo is like. I apologized over and over and he just said it happens twelve times a day. But still, I felt like a dummy. We scooted out of there as soon as the goats were penned again.

So between being the jerks who ran out of food to feed the actual zoo animals and the crazy people who got trampled by goats, I'd say we need to wait a good six months before we can show our faces there again.

Maybe a year.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dave Ramsey Would Be Very Upset With Me

I feel like a huge weight has lifted off my mind lately. Ever since Baby P came barreling into the world I've had this nagging guilt that something I was doing was making her so sensitive, so restless.
After a week of caring for Little E, I've put that guilt to rest. I do the exact same things with him that I did when Peyton was an infant (except nursing, because that would be a little weird) and he's still her total opposite. He's cried twice. That's it. And not even with an insistent AID ME NOW cry, more like a Hey, if you're not busy could you attend to me? cry.

At one point Little E went to sleep sitting in the baby rocker holding onto my finger. That's it. That's all he needed. My brain exploded. I didn't know babies could do that!

Peyton likes having Little E around. She brings his bottle and pacifier to him all the time and rocks the baby rocker for him. She's sometimes a little too enthusiastic in her rocking but we're working on it. She's taken to carrying around her dolls and caring for them. It melts my heart.

I thought I would begin to resent how different my own experience was when Baby P was an infant but so far I just feel like it's not a big deal. It may be that I've finally come to terms while the fact that my little girl's babyhood was nothing like I pictured or I may be in denial about it. I can't tell.

As for how I ended up needing to take on an entire other kid in the first place, well that's a bit embarrassing. Actually, it's really embarrassing. I didn't even want to write about it until it was mostly fixed, so I've been pretty quiet here lately.

It started with Josh's chair. I wanted to re-stuff it so I got some supplies from Amazon. About $50 worth. When I went to checkout I got one of those store card offers, which I usually ignore. Except this time it was for a free $50 gift card and all I had to do was sign up for a credit card. So my supplies would be free. Whoopee!

As you can probably imagine, it went downhill from there. We had pretty amazing credit because we didn't have credit cards, Josh had paid off a car loan crazy early and all our bills were paid on time every month. We were a credit company's dream team. So the Amazon card came with a relatively high limit.

We reached that limit within 60 days.

At first it was a Do Not Use card. Then it was a This Is An Emergency card. Then it was a We Deserve A Treat card. And on and on, justifying purchases that I honestly couldn't even list you now, six months later. So they obviously weren't needs.

We got a bad case of the Gimmes. Gimme a new video game. Gimme a new nursing tank top that looks exactly like the two I already own. Gimme a helium tank for birthday balloons. Gimme expensive Disney balloons for a first birthday party. Gimme a second car payment. Gimme, gimme, gimme.

It got pretty bad this summer. When we went to North Carolina the engine fan in my car (that we just got 30 days before!) went out. Suddenly we had a  huge bill and no money to pay for it because we just emptied our savings into the vacation. And we had to drive home in three days. Oh but, lo and behold, Firestone has a credit card! Yup, we got a second card.

With all the new payments added to our already strained budget, it was getting hard to breathe. There was more month than money. The fact that Josh's pay wasn't properly increased this year to keep up with inflation doesn't help. Our groceries are more expensive despite the fact that I buy about half of what I used to. Our utility bills have been cringe-worthy. Little surprise expenses for Josh's job keep coming up and since he can't just tell the Army no, we have to cut back somewhere else.

It's just a lot of no good circumstances all coming around at once. Most of it is my fault. I shouldn't have fallen for that first card offer. I don't really know what happened to my resolve. I think it may have been because I was lonely and exhausted. Josh was in a different state for three weeks for training and I was holed up at home, bored, frustrated, in need of adult conversation. So I went and became a shopaholic. I'm not very good at being a grown-up these days. 

I tried working from home as a call representative but with how high maintenance Peyton is it didn't work. So I put an ad on craigslist figuring there must be someone like me in need of affordable, quality childcare. And now we have Little E five days a week. It took a few days to adjust but we seem to have settled into a nice routine. It helps that Little E is super easy going. He doesn't yell at me unless I'm too slow making a bottle. I think we're going to be good friends.

Slowly but surely, we're working to fill the debt hole back in. I'm lucky that our marriage hasn't gotten shredded by our money troubles. It hasn't been perfect but we've teamed up rather nicely against the odds. Now excuse me while I post some more things for sale on craigslist, gotta get my hustle on.