I had a really clever title for this post…but was worried no one would get it was a joke

Good evening. How are you? I’m, well, tired.

This week began with travel. Due to no camera, I have no pictures. We traveled on Sunday up to Asheboro, NC to the North Carolina Zoological Park. Now, if you live in NC and have never been, go. Today. If you’ve been to any of the smaller “zoos” that dot the state, many with animals in cages with bars, YOU MUST GO. I had the privilege of going several times as a child but the zoo has changed quite a bit since then.

We came in around 12 pm. The weather was cool and we warned the boys we may not get to see many of the African animals as a result. All parking was in the lot for North America (the zoo is divided by continents, so far they only have African and North America…I’ve heard rumors either Australia or South America would be next), which I took to be a not so great sign for our African animal viewing, but we persevered.

After a quick picnic lunch of homemade subs in the car, we ventured to the gate. For Joseph’s birthday last year my in-laws gave us a zoo membership (which also entitles us to the aquariums locally and many other places around the country). Thanks to our membership, general admission was free and we zoomed through the line. The North America section of the zoo is divided by the many North American climates and regions. The boys wanted to see the Polar Bear in the “Rocky Coast” so we headed there first. Sadly, the polar bear was not out on display but harbor seals, a peregrine falcon and a sleeping arctic fox were. We initially by-passed the marsh and the cypress swamp as those are the habitats where we live. We went on to the Plains where we saw bison and antler-less elk. One of the bison entertained the boys by rolling on his back, legs in the air. We also saw a sleeping black bear. The grizzly bear was out, but also sleeping, in a cave in his enclosure. Many of the North American reptiles were not on display, but we did see a nasty looking rattle snake and some turtles. We also went “stream side” where we saw otter and many fish and frogs. Unfortunately, the last exhibit in North America, the Sonoran Desert exhibit, was closed for re-model. It will re-open this fall. Also because of temps, the Honey Bee Garden was not on full display.

We headed over to the Africa section with a reminder to the boys we may not see any animals. We initally passed Lemur Island with no Lemurs. Joseph thought the chimps would probably not be out so we kept on and found the lions were out! Many were napping but one lioness was wide awake and walking around. We talked about how there is one male in a pride and many lionesses. (Jeff had much confusion–yes, I said Jeff–about this, I told him it was a harem-type set-up.) William sat in front of the glass and said, “Mama, they’re all so beautiful!” From there we saw the biggest hog I’ve ever seen in person, a sleeping red-river hog (think Pumba in The Lion King). We came around to the entrance to the Africa section from the parking lot which, when I was a kid, was the only entrance. We weren’t hopeful, but hope came through, the temps had warmed up and two zebra were munching on some grass close to where we could see them and ostriches were coming up over the hill! We got to see a zoo-keeper in the enclosure tying branches to trees with leaves in anticipation of the giraffes coming out (in this part of the state, the trees are no in bloom quite yet). One of the zebra was sure he could steal them from the zoo keeper and made a valiant attempt. From there we went and saw the elephants and rhinos. The rhinos stayed a good distance away, but one elephant came very close up. On our way out we caught the giraffes on their way out which made William’s day. By this time poor Shelby’s stomach was acting up and William was getting very tired of walking. We had to skip the aviary with African birds and crocodiles and the monkey house (the gorilla exhibit was under re-model and closed). On our way back we stopped to see the chimps who were being fed and were very loud. Jeff took the boys down to see them but Shelby, between her stomach and the noise of the chimps wanted no part. From what I’m told they were as obnoxious as they sounded, but William said there was a mother and baby he thought were cute. As we passed the Lemur exhibit, a few ring tails had been let out which really excited the boys. Joseph requested to see the Cypress Swamp on our way out as it was right by the entrance. We did and in addition to many gators and turtles, we also saw a Carolina Cougar. Sadly, there are only these cougars left in captivity as they were killed for their threats to livestock and their habitat vanished in NC. Normally, in season, there is a shuttle that would have taken us back to our car so we would not have had to walk back through the zoo, but we were fine.

Joseph said his favorite things were the lions and cougars. William liked the giraffes. Shelby liked all the water in the exhibits. At the zebras, I pointed out the zebras to her, she pointed out the water to me. Sorry big girl, not a chance! Joseph really wants to be a zoologist so this was a great visit for him. He also got the bonus of seeing zoo-keepers in action at several exhibits!

After leaving the zoo we headed about an hour and a half north to Elkin, NC. Not for vacation. We were there so Jeff could have a job interview. Elkin is a small town of less than 5000 people in the foothills of NC. This region was once a source of furniture makers and textile mills but those plants are now shuttered. Instead, towns like Elkin are now tourist destinations surrounded by vineyards. Elkin is located at the bottom of Surry County where it is immediately adjacent to Wilkes County and Yadkin County. I jokingly told Jeff Elkin was like Radiator Springs in Cars but it turned out to be more truth than joke because on Main Street they have days and times when cruising actually does occur! Jeff wanted the family to come as it would be a major change for us if he were offered and accepted a job here. There are only three schools in the district, one elementary, one middle and one high school. No private, charter, parochial, Christian, options in town. Also, the one Catholic church is a mission church offering one mass a week on Sundays, in a different diocese than the one we currently reside in. While we didn’t get to visit the church, we were able to meet the principal of the elementary school and visit the self-contained special needs classroom there. I was pleasantly surprised/relieved that they could offer Shelby nearly everything she currently has here in way of services! The boys and I went to the school without Shelby and Jeff. That was a good thing as I do believe Shelby would have wanted to stay in the self-contained classroom! William wanted to stay there! We enjoyed our visit but the job offer has not yet been extended so we are not in a decision making process yet. We stayed at a very nice Fairfield Inn in a suite. They had an indoor pool which the kids made use of and loved. Monday afternoon we headed home.

Tuesday it was back to school for the kids. Jeff is on spring break this week. I went into work during the day, then came home and did homework and dinner and took a two hour nap before going back into work overnight. At 6 AM on Wednesday morning, I headed home to get everyone up and off to school…after a 20 minute nap. But there was no rest for me! Our carpet installation was happening that day, so we had to finish getting ready. While we had removed the carpet ourselves, we had to move all our living room and bed room furniture off the to be carpeted area. Which means we broke down three beds. Jeff and I did online work and ran a few errands (one at a time, of course) and I did manage another short 2-ish hour nap on the garage floor (which is concrete…I made a pallet for myself) before they were done and the kids home from school. More homework and dinner later (oh and re-assembling all the furniture) and finally it was bedtime. FINALLY.

But no rest for the weary, Thursday we took the kids to school because it was awards day and Shelby had a field trip. Oh, Shelby decided to get up at 3 AM on Thursday morning…good times, good times. Anyway, Jeff and I checked in and walked the boys to class (we sent Shelby with one of her teacher assistants who was coming down the hall with the breakfast cart). We then sat in the gym for the awards ceremony. It was just the kindergarteners and first graders. William got the Gifted Gator (honor roll), Writing Wall (his writing was chosen to be featured on a wall outside of the classroom) and Media Center awards. Joseph received the Gifted Gator, Writing Wall, and Music awards. After congratulating our boys, we headed home. Jeff went out to run errands while I cleaned up. After school we took the kids to meet up with Jeff’s Dad and Step-Mom at Bessie Burgers, a new local burger joint. We had a nice dinner and visit where the boys got to show their grandparents their awards. They also brought souvenirs for the kids from their recent visit to the US Virgin Islands and St Maarten.

After dinner we came home and William did four nights of homework because somehow, we never got the homework sheet til yesterday. He really impressed me with his knowledge of the life-cycle of the chicken which he both illustrated accurately and independently wrote sentences describing (this is huge for him). Jeff and I discussed awards day (this was Jeff’s first time going to a ceremony for it ever) and we agreed how impressed we were with the boys’ friends. They have chosen friends who not only have the same interests but the same values and core beliefs. They are kind and frienly to everyone but those they are closest to happen to be kids we would pick for them ourselves! We were so proud of both their achievements and character!

Today was a half day of school and considering Monday was missed and the plagues that descended upon our house this year, everyone went to school. Shelby did not attend awards day yesterday because of her horseback riding field trip for Special Olympics yesterday but she got the Outstanding Artist award from Art class and the “Techie” award from the computer class (boy is that ever appropriate). She had an egg hunt with her class today (the boys had egg hunts yesterday: Joseph’s involved math problems and William’s involved sight words). Right now Jeff is handing the boys off to my brother Matt in Goldsboro to head to Durham to be with my parents til Easter Sunday when we go pick them up. I had to venture out earlier today to cash a check (thanks Mom!) and pick up lunch for Jeff and I. We live right off US 17 headed to Myrtle Beach. It was sheer insanity. Jeff took the boys to visit his mom first before they spend the weekend with Gigi and Papa. We will come up Easter Sunday for dinner and to get the boys. We would have liked to go for longer but with new carpeting and Charlie…not going to happen. Plus, Jeff heads back to school on Monday and the kids are off next week. It will be nice to have a couple days of quiet days before I’m stuck at home with all 3 for five days! Prayers are appreciated for everyone’s safe travels today and for my parents who are taking the boys to their very first Easter Vigil.

Shelby and I are getting ready for dinner now and she is definitely getting a bath after her free time in the backyard this afternoon. Hope your Holy Week was full of prayer and contemplation…mine was not as much as I had hoped!