Before we left the house I asked each of my girls if they wanted to wear their mittens to the zoo. Outside I could see our tree branches were unable to resist the wind. When my youngest daughter wanted to wear a skirt I made her go back to her room for tights or leggings. On our way to the zoo we stopped at the grocery store and since going to the zoo with my dad and my sister was a treat I let the girls buy individually wrapped bags of mini-carrots even though normally I feel this is a waste of packaging. 

At the zoo the first thing my oldest daughter did was grab my gloves off the front seat. My youngest daughter started complaining that she was freezing. A girlfriend of mine honked at us as I was telling my children that they should have listened to me when I said it would be cold at the zoo. By the time the three of us had packed up our snacks my sister was there making fun of my youngest daughter who was wrapped up in warm wooly blanket I keep in my car.

Because my sister was paying for lunch I had left my wallet in the car figuring I wouldn't need it. Consequently I had to borrow money from my dad to pay for the new sweatshirts I bought for me and my girls to wear. By the time we made it out to see the actual animals the friend I had met earlier stopped to talk to us. While we were talking my sister told me we needed to keep moving. Throughout the day she hurried us past exhibits I would have liked to spend more time at.

Going to the zoo with my sister brought back some of the times I had taken my girls to the zoo when they were younger. Almost eight years have passed since I took my dad and my oldest daughter to the zoo together for the first time. It was one of the hottest July days on record that summer. My daughter had just enough curly blonde hair to frame her face. Looking back at pictures of her wondrous gaze makes me realize how much time has passed. Now she's reading signs and repeating facts to me instead of the other way around.

Seeing my niece and my youngest daughter walk hand in hand past the hippo house was in front of my eyes until I thought about the day I took my niece and my girls to the zoo with my mom. That particular day my youngest daughter was crying, both of the younger girls were babies on that occasion. I was pushing my niece in the stroller while my mom was trying to settle my own daughter down. We were talking as we walked, speaking of the past with me wondering how my mom had managed to take five kids to the zoo without losing any of us.

Before I could finish the thought my mom asked where my oldest daughter was. The last thing I remember seeing was the big cat exhibit constructions workers had been exiting. My mom started running back the way we had come from. It's impossible to describe the feeling you get when you realize your child is missing. Fortunately for us people started asking if we had lost a little girl. Eventually we found my oldest daughter hanging out at the wolf lodge with a woman who had two teenage girls.

When my oldest daughter went to school she wrote about being lost at the zoo. The other day I asked her if she remembered that event, she said she did, I gave her a hug and from my perspective one of the best things about the trip to the zoo is how nice my daughters were to me. After the zoo my sister and I decided to take the girls shopping for sandals. This was a mistake on our part although we didn't realize it at the time. The Stride Rite store at the mall I used to work at is closing. My youngest daughter got a pair of good supportive shoes but seeing that store go was hard on me.

For the past eight years I've counted on the experts at Stride Rite to help me find shoes that work for my girls. My own personal loss aside a lot of foot problems adults encounter could have been prevented had they been wearing properly supportive footwear as children. At work customers complain about the prices, our shoes and their foot issues. They get annoyed when I try to talk to them about what footwear that I think would be good for their feet. People who work in shoes and understand feet are becoming more and more rare. I would be out of a job if everyone wore hand made shoes but trying to fit individual feet into mass produced shoes is its own world of hurt that most people never even consider.

On an unrelated more uplifting note I've lost some weight recently. When I visited my favorite bra and panty shop the women in there worked with me and my body which is one of the reasons I go there. I spent a fair amount of money in there but I don't feel guilty about it because I have lost weight and all of the things I bought were things I actually needed. My sister had the girls while I was trying on pajamas. When I met up with them again I offered to buy my sister some tea but she decided to take my niece and my dad back home.

Dealing with my father has been difficult lately. I'm sure he has his side of the story but it seems that everything my siblings do is undermined by his stubborness and lack of cooperation. Despite my frustration with him I'm glad we were able to set that aside and have a good time at the zoo. My sister teased me the entire time which was good because it helped take my mind off my dad and his physical fraility. Today my sisters are some of the best friends I have. Hopefully my children will grow up realizing that friends come and go but your family is there to stay regardless of how you sometimes feel about them.

Spending time with my family has been higher on my priority list lately. Being sick means I've fallen behind on some of the things I should have been doing. The other day I brought a new pair of clogs home. How I got them is another story but I want to add that after the zoo I stopped at the store I used to work at. For the first time since I moved to the mall I'm at now I no longer missed working there.

I went to bed last night thinking about how today was going to be different. I have changed however I still get frustrated that I'm not where I want to be. Yesterday I spent some good quality time my children, my niece, and I have to thank my sister for helping me see the good side of my dad once again. Hopefully when I'm his age my children will remember this outing, maybe some windy March day thirty years from now they'll gather their children together and take me to the zoo.