I waited until the last possible day (has to be done in Nov/Dec & May/June - based on when the rings were purchased) in June to go get it taken care of. It just so happened to work out that Fort Wayne is exactly half way between my house and my sister's house, has an awesome zoo, and the mall that the Zales is located at is 5 min from the zoo! So we set up a Zoo date! Originally, I was going to go to Zales after the zoo, but knew if Bean didn't nap at all in the stroller, she'd zonk in the car and I didn't want to risk a meltdown to stop at the mall (the whole point of the trip to Ft. Wayne!). So I went there first.
We got up, packed our lunch and hit the road by 8:45am. That got us to the mall just after 10, right after it opened. We zoomed in, I got my ring cleaned, and we were out of there in 10 min, getting us to the zoo at 10:20. Amber and her girls were planning to get to the zoo earlier and we'd just join them when we got there. However, they had just gotten there and hit up the bathrooms when we pulled into the parking lot. So they waited for us. It was a rainy morning and a little on the cool side, but the radar appeared clear once the system passed - and that's exactly what happened! The rain stopped, the sun came out, and warmed us up! It was what I like to think of as perfect zoo weather. The rainy morning detracts lots of people from going, so the crowds were down.
(Rain had just stopped when we got there! Bean didn't know what was going on and confused by all the attention at first, then she went with it.)
(Allie pushing while Gabbie & Emily held Bean's hands. We finally had to set up a scheduled rotation of who was on Bean duty, who pushed the stroller, etc.)
The zoo is set up in 3 different loops Africa, Rain forest, then Australia/petting zoo. We did the Africa first because we could hear the lions roaring. A lot of the African animals (Zebras, ostriches, etc) were not out because they ground was too wet. Our zoo trip just so happened to fall the week after all the monsoon rain and flooding had been going on. After we did the first loop, we decided to go back to the cars and eat our lunch. There is a picnic area outside the entrance (you get back in just by showing receipt), but the tables were all wet. So Amber folded down the seats in her van and we ate a picnic lunch in the back! Haha
(You would think that all the older kids would be the ones looking at the camera. It was like pulling teeth to get all of them to look at once.)
(As close as it is gonna get!)
(Picnic lunch in the back of the van!)
(Usually Bean wears a smock to keep food from off her clothes, but since she was eating on the floor of the van, I had to improvise. Naked lunch and eating on the smock!)
The rest of the afternoon was spent seeing all the other animals. As a special treat, I paid for a round of rides on the carousel. It was Bean's first experience and I wasn't sure how it would go. There's a little horse ride at our grocery store that she always asks to ride, but then freaks out once I put her on it. She did the same thing with the carousel. She freaked out if I tried to put her on an animal. So my 3 nieces rode on animals, and then I held Bean and stood by an animal behind them.
(Playing in the shark outside the aquarium building. Bean loved the shark, just not trying to coordinate a picture, haha.)
(Standing on the carousel. Wheeeee!)
(Cousins helping Bean play with the goats.)
(There is a little stand where you can get brushes to brush the goats. Bean loved holding the brush and even brushed a couple goats. While I was watching her with the goats, I saw a goat poking its head out of the fence and getting something out of someone's stroller. Then I realized, it was MY stroller! The goat had my roll of crackers in its mouth trying to pull it out of my bag. I got the crackers (which were all slobbery) and pushed the stroller further away from the fence, haha!)
(Things were going great in the petting zoo until the goats started pooping. Bean has been traumatized by a couple of pooping in the bath/shower incidents and doesn't like talking about poop or witnessing it - like in dogs, thanks Tyson! and goats. So the goat would poop and Bean would start sobbing and saying, "no no no!" That's when I deemed naptime VERY important.)
(After fighting nap and being put in the stroller, she zonked out!)
(We stopped and enjoyed a nap while Bean slept. Allie and Gabbie shared a freeze and wanted to drink it "Lady & the Tramp" style. Not sure who was who!)
We finished up the zoo by walking by the sea lions again and then the gift shop, of course! Only downside of the day is that there wasn't a water play area anymore. There used to be a fountain that kids could play in, but they took it out. But the kids handled the change of their plans great! (I think the carousel made up for it, or at least I'll pretend that). At the shop, Bean got a pencil and her first ever sucker (which she loved).
(After Bean woke up we went and saw the sea lions again as we headed towards the gift shop. She really liked watching them swim past her.)
(Time to say goodbye to the animals and make our way through the gift shop!)
(First sucker ever! She loved it. I let her suck on it while the other girls finished shopping. I used it as an incentive over the next couple days, but then the top came off the stick and I had to throw it away. You would've thought the world ended! Sheesh!)
(These girls are hilarious. They wanted a picture with the Zoo sign, but each wanted to sit on the same letter. So we had to take the photo 3 times so they could all sit on the middle "o". I joked about putting the stroller in different positions, but Bean didn't care. She just enjoyed her sucker.)
We had a great day!