Sunday, December 30, 2007

woohoo, I made it!

My fifth and final Christmas celebration was Thursday night at my Grandma's common room in the basement of her Eureka condos. I took off work an hour early in order to get there at a reasonable time. When I got home to shower and change, Logan had a fever and was very lethargic. We quickly decided Gene would stay home with him and I'd take Kaylin. Kaylin was excited to see 2nd cousin Lana so there was no skipping out.

Kaylin disappeared with Lana and I sat down to eat with some cousins, my dad and my sis-in-law. We talked and had a good time and suddenly everyone was leaving. The evening flew by and Christmas was over for another year! I think it was my least stressful Christmas ever. Hopefully I can look back on this blog entry next year and spare myself some of my usual holiday dread.

Turns out Logan has an ear infection and a virus that is making his tonsils HUGE. The poor kid literally didn't say ONE WORD the entire day Friday. He's still pretty hoarse, but at least can speak :) Kaylin and I both have nasty colds, but so far have avoided fever and sore throats. I'm just glad it's my weekend.

I bought a video camera today so (assuming I use it) I can scratch off another of my 40 Before 40 goals. I finally located a free feather pillow so I'm looking forward to taping the tigers tearing apart lawn bags full of feathers. Meanwhile, I'm taking plenty of video of the kids dancing around the playroom.

My boss called earlier today to let me know we're coming in to work at 7am New Year's Day. Wow. Seriously? We only work two hours, but I'm AMAZED my coworkers agreed to such an early time. I don't have to work the dreaded Day After the two two-hour days because I have (sob) Jury Duty. Since it's a holiday week I don't have to go in for jury duty until Wednesday and if I'm not picked I don't have to call or return or do anything. Cross your fingers for me that I don't get picked...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

almost there

We had a great 3 day weekend. The kids had tons of time to play with their new toys and Gene and I had plenty of time to relax and do minor projects around the house. I was kind of dreading Christmas Day because we had so much to do. I worked from 6:30-8:30am, rushed home to shower and dress, rushed to church and then calmed down and had a great day.

We went to my parents' house after church and stayed until about 5pm. The kids had a blast playing with their cousins and the adults had a nice, relaxing afternoon, playing with baby Mollie and letting our parents deal with our other kids :)

We then went to Gene's family Christmas at his cousin's house. Again, the kids had a blast playing with their (2nd?) cousins (I "think" your kids and your cousins' kids are 2nd cousins?) Gene and I had a great time with his cousins and aunt we usually only see at Christmas. His family doesn't do a formal gift exchange, but Gene always takes everyone a gift bag with a few trinkets. This year he gave everyone a travel mug, some candy and a couple of instant lottery tickets. His cousin's wife won $200!!!!! That was pretty cool.

The kids went strong all day until we left Gene's cousin's around 9pm. Logan was asleep within seconds of buckling his seatbelt. Even Kaylin went to bed right after we got home. It was rough to drag myself to work this morning when Gene and the kids were snuggled up together in bed. They're off until next Wednesday when Gene returns to work, Logan returns to school and Kaylin has to endure three days of fun at the Y. I still have the least seniority of the keepers so I can't get any time off around the holidays :(

One more family Christmas tomorrow after work...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

here comes santa claus

We got home late (gasp! after TEN pm!) from the Kaiser family Christmas last night. Logan was in bed and asleep within minutes, but Kaylin was excited and overstimulated and NOT going to sleep. This was unfortunate because I could have been in bed asleep within minutes too. Instead, I dozed in the living room while Kaylin tortured me by staying awake.

When she FINALLY fell asleep, Gene and I got to work on the Santa stuff, retrieving presents from hiding places and filling stockings. Kaylin used her allowance money to buy a "beautiful" light tree from Big Lots that she's been using as a night light. A very, very bright night light. I looked in on her one last time and noticed a wrapped present under her tree. Aaahhhhhh! I completely forgot she wrapped a box of crayons for Santa to give to the elves. I snuck into her room to get it. I was trying to be very quiet, but I couldn't possibly have made more noise. Paper rustling, crashing about as I got the package unstuck from the tree stand. I somehow managed to remove the package without waking her, quickly scrawled a thank you note from Santa and fell into my lovely, warm bed.

Kaylin was up at 6:20 (I was reading the paper) so I sent her back to get Gene. I went myself and gave fair warning that he better get up. Yeah, yeah, he was getting up. Logan was up by 6:30. We brushed Kaylin's hair for pictures and called and called for Gene. He was doing his usual morning ritual of slowly dressing in his 14 winter layers and couldn't be bothered to come out to open presents until his shirt was buttoned and his shoes were tied. The kids were getting so impatient they had their first presents unwrapped before he completely entered the living room. Kaylin ripped her paper to bits and threw it wherever it landed. Logan carefully removed his paper and pitched it into the garbage bag before opening his next present.

For the first year since kids we had absolutely NOTHING Fisher-Price so unpackaging the toys was a snap! I used a scissors a couple of times to slit packing tape, but didn't need a wire cutter or screwdriver once! Woooohoooooooo! One definite benefit of being out of the toddler toy stage. The living room was a wreck, with paper, packages and toys covering the entire floor.

Gene and I got straight to work on assembly. I put together Logan's wooden parking garage, Playmobil plane and boat while Gene worked on Kaylin's Playmobil princess castle. Logan's stuff was easy, but the castle took FOREVER to assemble. Gene and I tag-teamed it and worked almost continuously from about 8:30am until 3pm. It's almost 8pm and Gene's putting together a princess carriage and I'm getting ready to assemble the castle kitchen accessory set. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm sick to death of assembling Playmobil!!!!

It was a fun, relaxing day! I stayed in my pajamas until 3:30 when the neighbor girl came over to play and I figured I'd better shower and dress before her mom came to get her. The kids played and played and had a wonderful time with their new toys. By 5 I had most everything cleaned up and was itching to leave the house. I couldn't think of anywhere I actually wanted to go, but I lost my car keys at Evergreen Square the other night (fortunately Gene and the kids were at karate 1/2 mile away so I walked over there and got Gene's spare key to my car...) so I thought I'd try the stores to see if anyone turned them in.

We ate at CiCi's Disgusting Pizza Buffet with Pizza Worse than Chuck E. Cheese. While Gene and the kids were finishing eating, I started trekking around to the different stores to ask if anyone turned in my keys. I tried Dollar Tree, Factory Card Outlet, Steve and Barry's and Kmart with no luck. I had only actually been inside Dollar Tree and Kmart the other night, but walked across the huge parking lot so had no idea where my keys could be. I went into Marshall's and asked some harried clerk who was counting out a money drawer. She dug through about five drawers and called her manager. I was just apologizing for taking her time when she looked at one more spot on the counter. Voila! My keys! I was completely shocked! Totally worth eating at CiCi's!!!! Merry Christmas to me :)

Oh, that reminds me, Gene got me a cell phone for Christmas. That moves me into the late 20th Century with everyone else. Gene liked his beautifully wrapped giant fork and spoon and hung them in the GARAGE!!! What a GREAT day!

I forgot to mention how much Kaylin LOVED the letter from Santa. She totally bought it :) And I keep forgetting to correct my Terrible Error from two weeks ago when I (gasp, gasp) called a Kitchen Aid mixer a MixMaster. Silly me. At this rate I'll NEVER be a baker!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas stress?

Christmas has always stressed me out. Even as a kid I couldn't stand going from one family celebration to the next, hurry, hurry, hurry, open your presents so we can get to church on time and fly home to grab our stuff and hurry to Grandma's. It's never been fun, just work, work, work so we can accomplish a zillion things by X time and breathe a huge sigh of relief when it's done.

Having kids made it worse for a few years- more people to drag around quickly from place to place while toting babies and all their stuff... But, the past couple of years I've been coming around and getting into the Christmas hype. It seems the extended families have caught on to how many celebrations the younger generation are required to attend and have moved away from Christmas Eve and Day. This year we have five Christmases (including our own.) We only have multiple celebrations on Christmas Day, and then only two. Gene and I have done as many as four plus church on Christmas Day. That is too much!!!! Add the fact that I almost always have to work at least a couple of hours early Christmas morning and that makes a looooooong day!

Anyway, back to the point. I'm really excited about Christmas this year! Our five celebrations are spread out over nearly a week. I took Saturday off work so I'll have Sat, Sun, Mon and most of Tues off :) I told the kids that I emailed Santa to see if he could come early this year and he said YES!!!!!! Santa's coming Friday night so we'll open all our presents Saturday!!! We have Sat, Sun and Mon without family celebrations (other than our own) so the kids will have TONS of time to play with their new toys and I'll have tons of time to put together the jillion pieces of Kaylin's Playmobil princess castle. I'm even excited about giving Gene his giant wooden spoon and fork set :) (I hope we don't actually have to hang it...)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Should I have his hearing tested?

Kaylin learned the song "Feliz Navidad" at school and has been singing it nonstop this weekend. I understand that these words make no sense to Logan, but this morning he was singing "police lollipop." Poor kid had no clue why I was laughing so hard...

Saturday, December 15, 2007


We had one of those crazy holiday weeks of parties and programs. Mix that with all the snow and ice storms and I was either too busy or too tired to blog.

Logan's school had an open house with a progressive dinner. You took a map around to all the different rooms, many of which had food, drinks or crafts, got a stamp for each room and turned your completed map in for a chance to win a free week of daycare. It was actually fun and the kids loved it! They each made three Christmas-themed crafts and got to visit with Santa. Logan was proud to show off all his art projects hanging in his classroom.

I had my work Christmas party at Old Chicago (pizza.) It was a good time. I wrote my annual Christmas spoof song and Roz, Colleen and I sang it. The past two years we've had our party at a restaurant with a private room. This year we were among many other diners so we decided we had to sing LOUD so everyone from the zoo could hear. Apparently we attracted a lot of attention... At least we didn't get kicked out :) We always have a white elephant gift exchange and it's a competition who can bring the dumbest thing. I brought home the most amazingly wrapped giant fork and spoon set- each tine of the giant fork is wrapped with different ribbon! For some strange reason Gene absolutely LOVES giant wooden fork and spoon sets so I hid it for part of his Christmas present. My coworker Jill crocheted EVERYONE an afghan. Mine has lions on it!

Otherwise, I spent my week chipping ice and blowing into frozen padlocks, freezing my butt off and coming home to snuggle with the kids under my lion afghan.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

cookie baking machine

I was "forced" to take a day off work due to too much e-time. I took Saturday so I could go to my friend Jenny's Christmas cookie baking party. Jenny lives an hour and a half away (near Springfield) and though we talk on the phone and email regularly, we have different work schedules and rarely get together. I wasn't overly excited about spending my day baking cookies- I don't think I've EVER made cookies from scratch, or if I did I helped Grandma 30 years ago. I WAS excited about having a day with a bunch of women and no children. It turned out to be a strange but fun experience.

Jenny was already making dough when I arrived at 10am. I jumped right in and started measuring flour and sugar. Three of her friends showed up between noon and one and I don't think the two big MixMasters (or whatever those gigantic mixers are called) were ever idle between that time and the time I left! I left the dough mixing to the experts and did easier jobs that didn't involve mixers and ovens. My two successes were peanut butter buckeyes and almond bark pretzels. I know this isn't that impressive, but I made both of those totally on my own :) My giant failure (and the joke of the day) was my fudge. Jenny mixed the original ingredients and then put me in charge. I put in a candy thermometer, put it on the stove, and followed the directions EXACTLY. I have absolutely NO IDEA where I went wrong, but my final product resembled caramelized dog poop. It took about five minutes for me to chip the "fudge" out of the pan. At that point it was more like a partially melted Tootsie Roll. I joked that we should try pulling it like taffy. I then tried to fix it with the mixer and the end product resembled brown concrete. I think it took ten minutes to coax it out of the mixing bowl at which point it lay in a disgusting pile on a plate for the rest of the day, perfectly placed for everyone to laugh at. One girl even took a picture with her phone and sent it to her husband to show him what he had to look forward to. The fudge was hard and dry rather than smooth and creamy, but still tasted good in its own special way :)

An ice storm forced me to leave earlier than I would have liked (6:30pm), but I got home early enough for the kids to enjoy some cookies before bed. As mentioned before, I don't EVER bake so their eyes about popped out of their heads when they saw me carry in three heaping plates of cookies. I was very happy that Logan's favorites were almond bark pretzels and buckeyes :) Kaylin had a bit better taste!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas show

Sunday evening we went to the Caterpillar Children's Holiday Show at the Civic Center theater. We had been out doing other errands and got there early. We got a great parking spot on the road, right in front of the entrance. They were already admitting people so we headed in and up to the balcony level. The usher asked if there was anywhere we wanted to sit? I jokingly said "How about a box?" and she said "Sure, c'mon!" and led us to our lovely, private box with plenty of room for the kids to run around and play before the show started. It was really fun to have the box and an added benefit was that after the show ended we had NO crowds to fight- we walked right out of the balcony and down the stairs, collected the kids' "presents" and were among the first in line to see Santa Claus :) (Avoiding/beating crowds is my passion.)

The show itself was pretty good. It was a laser light show set to Christmas music. Santa came onstage in the middle of the show and led a singalong. The kids loved it. It was like a fireworks show without all the terrifying bangs. Santa ruled! This was no 24-yr-old kid dressed in a suit. We're talking real snowy white beard and a short, chubby Mrs. Claus. Perfect! I got a great photo and now we can avoid the horrible mall crowds.

On Tuesday I spent seven hours raking the tiger yard. I begged my boss to give me a project day to get it done before it snowed. The grass was really tall so it was almost impossible to actually rake. I ended up using a high powered path blower to move the bulk of the leaves and then using a gas handheld blower to blow the leaves out of the clumps of grass. It was a horrible job and took forever, but I got it done. (Fortunately, we have a large leaf vacuum so I just had to blow the leaves out of the yard and the maintenance guy sucked them up into the truck.)

I went home exhausted and was asleep by 8pm. At that time there was no rain or snow. I woke at 2:30am to a winter wonderland. I was so excited about beating the snow and being done with the tiger yard leaves I could hardly fall back asleep!

We like to keep the grass tall because it helps the tigers keep away from the flies. I told my boss that next year as soon as the flies die down but before the leaves fall, I'm cutting the tiger grass short like a golf course! If the grass would have been short I probably could have finished in 3 hours instead of 7.

Ooooh, ooooh! Logan's starting to get into action figures! This makes me happy because up to this point in his little life he's ONLY cared about vehicles. If something's not a plane, train, car or truck he pretends it is. Even most of his food is turned into some sort of vehicle. I love action figures :)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

ice storm

We had an ice storm yesterday. Roads were ok, power is still on- just the annoying kind of ice storm where you walk very carefully and spend 15 minutes scraping car windows. The storm happened to fall on Critter Christmas at the zoo. This is an event where we give Christmas trees and gift wrapped packages containing treats to the zoo animals. It's fun to watch the spider monkeys tear gift wrap off their bars and the tigers tear into huge wrapped boxes. The camel devoured a fruit covered wreath in under a minute :)

Anyway, the keepers are in charge of putting all the treats into the exhibits while the education staff talks to the zoo visitors. I was rushing around all morning, trying to get animals on exhibit as well as delivering many huge boxes and Christmas trees before my animal programs started at 10am. (Not a big deal, just had to meet the ten o'clock deadline.) The camel was my last program at 10:15. As soon as the visitors left for their next program, I cleaned the camel yard. It was a giant ice rink. I figured the zebras were probably in the most danger from the ice so I quickly cleaned their barn and put them away for the day. I then put all the other animals in their barns except for the Aussie animals. The emus and black swans were enjoying the icy rain and the wallaby was happily eating leaves, sheltered under his favorite bush. I gave them access to their barns but let them stay outside. Whoops.

Every night we lock most of the outside animals into their barns for their safety and/or the public's safety. I went around to check all the animals and put away the Aussie animals at about 4pm. The icy rain had turned to regular rain so the frozen Aussie yard was extra slippery. Black swans have very short legs with big "duck feet." They were sliding all over the place, but at least they're low to the ground. I actually had to lift them into their barn because it was so slick they kept sliding backwards. I went to get the wallaby from his bush and he took one hop and slipped over. After that he was VERY careful. I never knew a wallaby could hop so slowly. It was hilarious. He was hopping in "super slo-mo." Fortunately, he was pretty close to his barn and was very happy to get inside (though he could have gone in at any time on his own.) It took me forever to check on the rest of the animals because I had to move so slowly. I never did fall!

It took a while to chip the ice off my car after work, but the drive home was easy. The only slick spot I encountered was when I turned into our driveway I slid a few feet. Amazing I didn't take out the new mailbox Gene installed last week :)

New topic- baby toys. I've gone Christmas shopping at several educational toy stores and visited several more online in the past few weeks. I've been checking the baby toys and have been shocked to find most of the high end toys are now made of wood. I know there is major controversy about all the chemicals in plastics, blah, blah, blah, but WOOD??? We all know that babies put EVERYTHING in their mouths, do we want them chewing up wood? Perhaps I'm the crazy one, but this is totally unappealing to me! (Can you sanitize wooden toys in the dishwasher?)

It made me think back to the Little House books where Laura and Mary made a button necklace for baby Carrie's Christmas present. Gasp! What a choking hazard!!! Did the pioneers whittle their babies chew toys out of sticks? How about rocks? They'd make good teethers until the teeth erupt!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I finally got around to taking the kids' Christmas card picture! I also put up the tree and the kids decorated it. Gene put out The Decoration- a filthy, terribly painted wooden Santa that came with the house and we've put out the past 8 years. I spent hours on Monday assembling a Playmobil Advent calendar. Other than a few things still coming by UPS I have all the kids' presents wrapped and other than some stocking candy (which I WILL eat if I buy now) I'm done shopping :)

I kind of freaked out this year when it came to buying for the kids... Logan's 5th birthday made me realize I'm almost DONE with preschool toys! Also, if Kaylin hadn't asked for the Playmobil princess castle, her main present would have been a digital camera. This will very likely be my last mostly toy Christmas :(

Ugh. I wonder when Kaylin will start wanting CLOTHES? I HATED getting clothes for Christmas! One grandma had a rule toys for birthdays, clothes for Christmas. She always picked the clothes and I was forced to wear them to church where my friends would tease me endlessly. The kitten sweater with pom poms was bad, but the all-time worst was the tan corduroy blazer! I was probably in 8th or 9th grade when I received that gem. I HATED that blazer! My friends compared it to some of our worst dressed teachers and made so much fun of it that I finally took a permanent black marker and scribbled all over it to destroy it. Strangely, I don't remember my mom being too upset. Or possibly destroying The Worst Christmas Present Ever was worth any consequence!

Hmmmmm. Now I'm thinking about awful clothes I wore to church. I wonder if they still make wrap-around skirts? Dumbest. Idea. Ever. Thanks Mom! I owned not just one, but two! That meant almost every week for an entire winter I was subjected to friends untying the skirt and the skirt falling off. Once it blew off in the parking lot and I had to chase it and another time a friend untied it and it nearly dropped off at the Christmas program. I had to stand there and hold it up. Oh, and if I was wearing flowered underwear it was ten times more hilarious. I learned to pick my underwear carefully on Sundays :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

black friday wimp

Yesterday I was up early anyway so I decided to hit a couple of Black Friday sales before work. My plan was to go to Menard's to get a power washer for Gene and a boot dryer for me and then go to Michaels for 25% off your entire purchase, mainly for stocking stuffers for the kids. I set out for Menard's at 5:50am. They opened at 6. At 5:55 there was a crowd of people lined up from the door all the way back to the road. It was worse than any crowd I've seen at Disney World! Needless to say, I skipped Menard's.

I got to Michaels right at 6 and they were already open and out of carts. I grabbed one of the last baskets and puttered around the store for a while. I then waited nearly an hour in line! At Michaels! I was behind two women who had been out since 2:30am and had already hit JC Penney, Bergner's and Kohls and were heading to Target next. NO THANKS!

I drove through McDonald's and took my breakfast to the zoo. I'd rather eat with monkeys than stand in line with humans!

I was planning (for about the fourth time) to take the kids' Christmas card pictures last night but we went out to eat with my family instead. I'm surprised we weren't kicked out and forever banished from the East Peoria Culver's. The kids were crazy. We were there for two hours so I can't blame them for getting a bit rowdy, but Kaylin, Logan and Abbey were running around playing musical chairs (actually just running around chairs) and grabbing mini Christmas trees off of all the tables and playing with them at our table. Tommy sat nicely, but tore apart several of those flippy dessert table advertisements. We left such a mess of food on the floor, scattered table decorations, etc. I kind of felt like we should have left a tip. Oh well, payback for all the brats I cleaned up after during my Pizza Hut years :) At least Mollie was really good!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I fully intended to spend last evening taking pictures of my kids for this year's Christmas card, but instead spent hours doing a jigsaw puzzle. My mom did many puzzles when I was a kid but I've never been into them. I think Logan's 5th birthday made me realize my kids are actually old enough for me to be able to do something like a puzzle with hundreds of pieces and leave it out on the table. They won't mess with it, carry off pieces or eat pieces! (I'll have to watch the neighbor boy.) Doing the puzzle is really fun! However, sitting hunched over it made my back hurt. I spent Thursday through Saturday raking TONS of leaves at work and my back didn't hurt at all, but sitting and doing a puzzle I could hardly stand up. Huh.

I returned to the Playmobil store to buy the princess sets I passed on last time. There was another woman who apparently just found out about the sale making a large stack of sets for her little boy. She grabbed the skateboard park set I was hoping to buy for Logan. Oh well, I got him a fire boat and a motorcycle instead :) I think I'm finally done. They still had a lot of stuff left, but most of it doesn't go with the themes we have. I came home and wrapped presents so I can stack them in the closet and it won't really matter if the kids see. My only dilemma is Santa. I really thought Kaylin (and therefore Logan) would have found out there's no Santa by now! I never believed in Santa, but I remember a classmate blabbing her awesome knowledge to everyone who did by second grade. Guess I'll have to hide a few things and wrap them in Santa paper at the zoo again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

vacation over :(

Well, tomorrow I go back to work. It's been a lovely seven days. I intentionally took my vacation time over only one weekend (Thursday through Wednesday) so I'd have a two day week and then a three day week. I could use one more day at home without kids, but I'm also ready to see the zoo animals.

I thought I'd have Tuesday and Wednesday without kids, but Tuesday Logan woke up vomiting and had to stay home from school. He was mostly better by noon, but I didn't get to leave the house. Today I had to pick up Kaylin at 1:45 for a dentist appointment so I only had the morning. It turned out to be a great morning!

I got a haircut and then stopped at the vet's office for some heartworm pills for Brady. I spent an enjoyable hour visiting with my former coworkers. I then went shopping for a parking garage toy for Logan's Christmas present. I saw an ad on Channel 5 for a new toy and hobby store in town. I pulled into the parking lot and a sign above the door advertised "Games, Hobbies, Armor." Ooooooh, another nerdy gamer store! I was really hungry and came very close to skipping it, but decided to give it a shot. Soooooooooo glad I did!!!!

It turns out that the owner of this store bought out the Hobbytown USA store that suddenly and mysteriously closed in September. He had all the former Hobbytown stuff for sale! The best part was a large stock of Playmobil on "Grand Opening Sale" for FIFTY PERCENT OFF!!! Kaylin wants the Playmobil princess castle (basically a castle doll house) and the accompanying room sets for Christmas. I was planning to order directly from Playmobil, but had put off my order while I decided what sets to get and whether I was getting anything Playmobil for Logan. Thank goodness I didn't place that order! I got the $130 castle for $65, a kitchen addition and a treasure room addition for $16.50 apiece and a jet for Logan for $20. All this stuff for less than I would have paid for only the castle!!! YEEEEEHAW!!!!

Oh, and after Kaylin's dentist appointment we went to the mall and found Crocs (real ones) on sale for $10. I bought each kid two pairs! It was only the no holes "winter" style and only in kid sizes. Logan's thrilled because I bought him BROWN ones!

I spent a lot of money, but I saved sooooo much. It just warms my cheap, cheap heart :)

Monday, November 12, 2007


For Logan's birthday weekend we basically repeated Kaylin's birthday weekend in Indianapolis. We went to the Indy Zoo on Saturday. Though some of the animals weren't out and Logan was a bit disappointed the roller coaster was closed (hooray!) the zoo was awesome! In the summer, we had to wait in a long line just to get inside the new Oceans exhibit with the shark touch pool. The crowds around the pool were HUGE and the competition to touch sharks was fierce. In November, we walked right into the building. There was plenty of room for everyone around the pool. The kids (and I) touched lots of sharks. We went first thing after we arrived at the zoo and then again right before we left. It was great! We also went to the dolphin show which was very fun. Most of the big animals were on exhibit and we saw two baby elephants.

We stayed at the same hotel as in July. They have a great pool as well as a play area with a ball pit. The pool is nicer than the usual cheap hotel pool and ball pits are few and far between ANYWHERE, but otherwise this is your run of the mill Comfort Inn. Kaylin thinks it's the fanciest hotel ever! She just kept talking about how FANCY the hotel was. Ummmm, ok.

Sunday we went to the children's museum. We split up most of the time. Gene took Logan to play with all the construction stuff and the boat table and I took Kaylin to play at the Chihuly Fireworks of Glass exhibit. I can't believe how much she likes this glass sculpture! We walked around all four stories of the sculpture and read every sign along the way about everything from how it was designed and built, to how it is cleaned. I let the kids get a souvie from the gift shop and Kaylin chose a postcard and magnet of the sculpture.

It was a good weekend. Both kids were exhausted and slept from Indy past Champaign! By the time they woke up we were nearly to Bloomington. We got home about 6:30 so everyone had time to relax and unwind before bed. We're all off school/work today and then I still have two more days off work!

Friday, November 9, 2007

licked by an anteater

My boss set my coworker Colleen and me up with some behind the scenes tours at St. Louis Zoo. We had an AWESOME day!!! We first met with the penguin keeper. He took us on a tour of the penguin house and then took us into the keeper areas. We got to see the nest areas, the kitchen and the huge water filtration room. At the end of our tour he took us upstairs, had us sit on the floor and brought out two friendly Humboldt penguins. They waddled right up and let us pet them and then played around for about 10 minutes. It was a blast!

We then met with the head carnivore keeper. She happens to be the person in charge of the giant anteaters! Anteaters are one of my favorite animals I've always wanted to get a close look at. She took us into the anteater barn and introduced us to Willy and Wendy. (Their daughter was on exhibit. They take turns on exhibit because they are solitary animals and could fight if together.) Anyway, I didn't just get close to anteaters, I got to touch them through metal mesh. I didn't just get to touch them, I got LICKED by them! Their tongues are super long and they whipped them out to lick us. It was the coolest thing ever!

After about 15 minutes of watching anteaters close up, the keeper took us to Big Cat Country. We got very close (separated by chain link fence close) to a pair of tigers and a pair of adorable young lions. The male lion was just getting his mane. The big cats were fun, but since I already work/have worked with tigers and lions it wasn't quite on the same excitement level as anteaters and penguins :)

We spent the rest of the day touring the other areas of the zoo and having a wonderful time. When we got back to my car, the rear driver side "hatchback" window was broken. Just shattered safety glass, not actually broken out. Somebody actually left a note. If the number is good, I can't wait to hear what stupid thing their kid did to bust my window. I hope their 11-yr-old boy bought an animal head hiking stick at the gift shop and was swinging it around when he accidentally bashed my window. It held the entire drive home and just has a tiny hole. It's too late to call tonight and we're leaving early tomorrow morning for "Dindywynnafolis" so hopefully the window will hold over the weekend (taking other car) and I can call the window breakers on Monday.

I must comment on the Friday rush hour traffic in St. Louis! Wow! I was completely bummed that we happened to be leaving the city at 4:45pm on a Friday. I thought it would cost us tons of time. Nope. We slowed down to a crawl right in front of Busch Stadium and slowly made our way to the bridge over the Mississippi. Smooth sailing from there! We might possibly have lost ten minutes. I LOVE St. Louis! Nothing at all like dreadful Chicago traffic!!!

Yeah! Another big zoo tomorrow! Logan will get to touch sharks again :)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Happy Birthday Logan!

Today's Logan's 5th birthday. He's very confused since he's already been FIVE for two weeks now. I had the day off work and kept him home with me. We went out to breakfast and then drove out to the airport. We saw several planes take off and land and saw a big military helicopter. Logan had a good time.

After some lunch and relaxation at home, we went back out to do some car maintenance. It was a shocking experience. I hate going to the oil change and tire places because they always try to sell me extra stuff because I'm female. My alltime favorite was the guy who tried to sell me a new air filter when I had installed one literally minutes before. Today was weird. The guy at the oil change place came in to cash me out. I asked him about a fuel system cleaning they do for $69.99. I told him about the problems I was having and he recommended I try some $6 fuel additive before bothering to spend the extra money. Huh? Then I went to Wal-Mart for a new tire. I explained my rear passenger tire has had a slow leak for a while now. The guy figured I could save a lot of money if I just had the hole patched. Seriously??? I ended up spending $9.50 instead of $60! Crazy man, crazy.

Well, better collect the boy from the neighbor's so we can pick up Kaylin and go to karate. Yippee skippy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

gripe, grumble, grumble

I calmed down and talked to Kaylin rationally about the conference. I complimented her good grades and briefly discussed the doodling and following directions. We discussed how different people like and dislike different things and how this teacher dislikes doodling on school papers. Kaylin really likes this teacher so hopefully she'll stop doodling (so much) to make her happy.

It was hard for me to take the teacher too seriously when she was lecturing me with wide eyes and lots of drama about what will be expected in THIRD GRADE. Lecturing about how regardless of Kaylin's knowledge of material, her grades will start to suffer if she writes her name on the side of the paper. What will she possibly amount to in life???? OH NO!!!!!! What if Kaylin gets B's or (gasp) C's in THIRD GRADE????????

Sorry Teacher, I've been through school. I know the Permanent Record is a crock. I also know that if getting into a certain school is unimportant to you, grades don't matter until college. ANYBODY can get into community college and most state universities! Oh, and college grades only really matter if you want to go on to grad school or whatever. Nobody has EVER asked my GPA from high school or college! Nobody has ever cared a hoot what school I attended- just that I had my piece of paper that said I graduated! Of my friends I grew up with, some with the best grades through high school have the least college education and some with the worst grades have Master's degrees! If Kaylin is driven enough to want to be a doctor or a lawyer she will be driven enough to get good grades. The valedictorian isn't necessarily the smartest person in the class, but a smart kid who is also very competetive.

My point? I'd much rather Kaylin holds on to her creativity until (and throughout) adulthood than get straight A's in grade school. I maintain that "thinking differently from others" is a good thing!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

parent teacher conference

On Friday I had my first parent teacher conference with Kaylin's 2nd grade teacher. I arrived at 7:55am, hoping I'd make it to work on time (8:30.) I left the classroom at 8:35. Forty minutes! That's twenty minutes longer than my previous longest ptc.

We started off with the report card. All A's except a B in effort. Then the state pretest. The hope was that the students would score in the 60s. Kaylin's scores were in the 90s. Kaylin's doing well, understands the material, is good at writing and is very creative, BUT...

Kaylin spends too much time daydreaming. She DOODLES on her papers and doesn't follow instructions. (At this point the teacher pulled out a paper where Kaylin wrote her name huge on the side rather than in the upper righthand corner. The look of disbelief on her face at this crazy act was priceless.) Then the teacher went on and on about how Kaylin does not "conform to the normal behavior of a 2nd grader." An example she gave was that one time Kaylin came in from recess soaking wet. Kaylin admitted she knew she'd get wet and have to sit in wet clothes, but jumping in the puddle was too much fun not to do. The teacher looked at me with such exasperation and went on and on and on about how "normal" 2nd graders don't do this!

Yeah. I'm guessing that when Teacher was 35, she didn't jump around in leaf piles at work. She didn't come in from a rain storm soaking wet and covered in mud and laughing her head off. She probably never even hosed a coworker as they walked by! Probably I'm the wrong parent to appeal to sooooo earnestly about conformity and normalcy! I have absolutely NO desire for my kids to be anything but who they are! Why on earth would I care if my kid plays in a puddle??? Most importantly, how can I teach my kids to respect authority when authority is an idiot???

Maybe Logan will have this teacher. His organizational skills and cleanliness will be a joy for her to behold :)

I haven't mentioned anything about the conference to Kaylin because I want to be positive. I'll play up the good grades and good behavior and discuss the importance of organization. I'll then try to convince her to stop doodling as this is what seems to annoy her teacher the most. However, I strongly suspect Kaylin already knows... Sound familiar?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

looong weekend

I took yesterday off because I have too much "E-time" and will be accumulating more during the upcoming holidays. I had nothing special planned for my extra day off so I apparently forgot to tell Logan about it. Whoops. He kind of NEEDS to know about "major" changes to his schedule!

Logan woke up early (as usual) Saturday morning and (as usual) found me in the living room reading the paper. He climbed into the chair with me and we cuddled and talked and enjoyed each other's company for a while. He then noticed the time and said "Mom, it's 6:30, you better get ready for work!" (He's very into time and schedule.) I explained that I wasn't working and that I was going to stay home! Yeah!!! Logan got a shocked look on his face, leaped out of the chair and yelled "It's Saturday! You work on Saturday! You're not my friend!!!!" He stormed off for a few minutes to mull over this shocking news. When he returned, he was very happy and excited and climbed back into the chair for more cuddling and talk. Note to self: Start warning Logan several days in advance of our "beecation to Dindywynnafolis!"

Our beloved goldfish "Beth" died this week. I can't remember if we got her when Kaylin was a newborn or when she was one, but we've had her at least six or seven years. She was a really cool goldfish- every time I walked into the room she'd swim around and beg for food. I'll miss her... Logan wants to replace her with a "big tank full of sharks." Hmmmmm. No. I'm thinking there can be no replacement for Beth :)

My running improved slightly this week. I had one day where I ran two (separate) quarter mile stretches without walking. I also had a neat experience running with a deer. I won't pretend to be a deer expert, but I think it was a young buck because he had weenie antlers. There's an empty lot two yards up from us and deer often graze there. Anyway, he was standing at the edge of the lot and when I jogged by he joined me to the end of the street and then turned around with me and joined me back to the lot. He waited and did it again on my next lap. It was awesome! It was also a bit terrifying because I didn't want to be attacked by a deer. We have an ongoing joke at the zoo that if any of us are killed by something embarrassing (emu, cow, monkey) the other keepers will move the body to the tigers so our death will at least appear cool. I guess if I'm killed by a deer while running, throw me under a bus!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

five, not four

We've spent the past year building up "age 5" as the ultimate age to be. Five-year-olds are big kids who sleep in their own beds, brush their own teeth and throw all their sippy cups into the recycling bin. Logan has taken this very seriously. He doesn't have a real concept of time, but in June or July he started prepping for his "change to adulthood" by sleeping in his own bed after sleeping on Kaylin's floor for nearly a year. Logan then started brushing his own teeth after insisting Gene or I do it. (I never understood that one since he insists on doing EVERYTHING else for himself.) Finally, he gave up his beloved sippy cup that I will admit he still occasionally used like a bottle while curled up with his blanket. (We still haven't recycled the sippy cups because the cabinet they're in IS five feet away from the recycling bin!) Anyway, my point is that Logan actually believed all the crap we were spewing about age 5 and made all the changes himself to prepare for his big day.

Logan's big day is actually November 8th, but his birthday party was October 21st. The birthday party where he had a cake with FIVE candles and opened lots of presents to celebrate turning FIVE. Kaylin enjoys tormenting Logan anytime, but the "you're not five yet" button is sure to give her endless pleasure for the next 12 days. Logan asks several times a day "How old am I?" and before I can answer he says "I'm FIVE." I've given up on any contradiction or explanation. Sure thing kiddo, you're as old as you feel :)

Hmmmmm, this whole thing has me thinking... What do SIX-year-olds do? Their own laundry? Gas up the car for mom? Bwa ha ha ha! The possibilities are endless!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

party time

My emu costume was a hit among my coworkers, but I don't think one other person had a clue what I was supposed to be. One woman actually asked if I was a snake. Huh? I didn't look ANYTHING like a snake! Overall, Howl-Zoo-Ween was a good time. I mostly hung out in the gift shop and took change to the people working the front gate when they needed it. I also worked the costume contest, ushering the contestants off stage. Gene took the kids and they had a good time. Each of them brought home at least 3 pounds of candy.

Today was Logan's pirate birthday party. We had it a couple weeks early so his cousins could be there. All the kids had pirate hats, eye patches and hooks. Gene made a treasure map and took the kids hunting for treasure. Logan got lots and lots of airplane toys- exactly what he wanted. My mom made an awesome treasure chest cake and I got to eat cheesy Pringles. I don't go as all-out crazy decorating as I did before I worked fulltime, but I put up plenty of pirate stuff. My favorite addition to this year's party was finding an online pirate name generator. I typed in each person's name and it spit out their pirate name. I found some of those "Hello, my name is" stickers at the dollar store so I made a sticker for each person. The names were pretty funny. My three-year-old niece was "No-Eyes Doris" and my brother was "Seal Breath Wade." We all had a good time teasing each other about our pirate names. Logan had a great time, LOVED all his presents and is already talking about what to do for his birthday next year.

On the way home Gene stopped at the gas station for a soda. He came back out to the car laughing his head off. Gene completely forgot he was still wearing his "Hello, my name is Scurvy Gums Syd" sticker. The cashier got quite a laugh from his very strange name tag. He just left her guessing as to why he was sporting such an, uh, interesting name :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007


After deciding I'd work Howl-Zoo-Ween dressed as a zookeeper (y'know, in my regular work uniform) I suddenly got the brilliant idea to make an emu costume. Specifically, Pearl the emu. My coworkers occasionally tease me that I look like Pearl because I have curly hair and Pearl has a similar mass of curly feathers on top of her head. Emus aren't terribly intelligent birds to begin with, but Pearl looks dumber than the average emu because she always carries a leaf in her mouth. The bigger the leaf the better. I call it her security leaf.

Anyway, Aunt Sharon happened to be here Sunday night and I asked her if she had any ideas for an emu costume. She apparently had something she wanted to procrastinate so she offered to help make the costume. We met at Hobby Lobby Monday at 10am and started wandering the aisles, with no definite ideas of what we wanted. We gathered a bunch of stuff and left at 11:30! We ate lunch and then went to WalMart, Salvation Army and Kmart before FINALLY getting home a little after 2:30pm. I was convinced we'd NEVER get the costume finished, but we got workin'.

We sewed the top hoop of a round laundry basket into a big old Salvation Army sweater. (I will always be a little sad that I never got to WASH the sweater...) I then hot glued long strands of raffia (grass skirt stuff) all around the hoop of the sweater while Sharon worked on the emu head. I didn't want ANYTHING covering my face so we put the emu face on a brown ski headband. She attached a beak and eyes. I spray painted my raffia "feathers" (and the sweater) brown, black and gray. We finished right at 5:30 when Gene walked in with the kids. Oh, I forgot... I drilled a tiny hole in the beak and inserted a leaf. Anyway, I couldn't try on the feathery body because it was wet with paint, but the emu head headband is hilarious. I works perfectly with my hair so my curls stick up on top like Pearl's curly head feathers. I love this costume!

Hopefully the Friday forecast will change and it will NOT pour rain and ruin all our hard work!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

ugly furniture

Whew! This week flew by. Despite being together nearly every non-school moment, the kids didn't get pinkeye from the neighbor boy. His sister didn't get it either so maybe it really WAS an "eye allergy." The neighbor kids are mostly over here, but all the kids do go back and forth to both houses regularly. Plus, Gene dumped our kids on the neighbors while he made two trips to take our old chairs to Goodwill yesterday. I was SHOCKED that Goodwill accepted the chairs!

The new furniture came yesterday and it is HUGE. I guess it looked normal in the store next to all the other HUGE furniture. The sofa especially looks gigantic. It looks a zillion times nicer than the old stuff, though! I had to yell at all the kids (ours and neighbor) about climbing/jumping on it. (Sheesh! We put Grandma's hideous davenport in the playroom for that purpose... Leave the new couch alone!!!!!) Oh, and then Gene complained because the new couch is too high for him to comfortably sit on the arm while he eats. WHAT? I don't even think he was kidding. Men!

Gene has been wanting a headboard for our bed for a long time. He likes to sit up in bed with his laptop while he watches tv, but the wall is cold and hard and the bed pushes away from the wall. Fine, whatever, go buy a headboard. I suggested he try a used furniture store near our house. He went- and came home with not only a headboard, but a "new" lamp table and lamp for the living room as well.

As everyone who knows me knows, I am prone to laughing at inappropriate times. I burst into laughter and then had fits of giggles every time I saw the table and lamp for the next several days. The table is a giant cube of ugly, dark wood. The table is also a cabinet (!) and the cabinet doors are (um) priceless. The doors have four cathedral type "windows" that are backed with wicker. Then, right in the middle of each window is a faux brass flower with a faux brass loop pull in front of it. The table is ugly. And then there's the lamp... The lamp has a round brass-colored base and stem. The stem is surrounded by four intertwined oak pieces. Totally 80s. For some reason the lamp reminds me of the "lovers" statue my brother Ben and I stole out of some neighbor's garbage when we were kids. Anyway, the lamp also had it's original GIGANTIC shade. I replaced the shade and it looks slightly better. Since I'm not prone to furniture shopping, the table and lamp will probably be around for a while. After that, feel free to claim them for your half-finished basement or your child's first apartment.

New subject. I am TERRIBLE at running! I've done four 1 1/2-2 mile run/walks each week for the past two weeks and am barely increasing the time I spend running. It probably doesn't help that I keep trying to run on my street that is all up or downhill. (Our house is in the middle and kind of at the peak.) I'm not going to quit, but it's a good thing I started training a YEAR before the next Zoo Run Run because I'm going to need it! At this point actually running a 5K seems impossible. Oh well, at least I'm getting some exercise.

Well, I better go work on Halloween costumes. With 50 billion pirate costumes priced under $20 I decided to MAKE Logan's. I also need to come up with something for ME to wear to work Howl-Zoo-Ween this weekend. Ugh. I'm totally uninspired! I panicked at my lack of time and gave in and bought Kaylin a "beautiful" purple witch costume last night. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

Monday, October 8, 2007


We took the kids to Tanner's Orchard yesterday. They spent ages playing in (and on) the straw bale maze and in the rest of the playground. They went on pony rides and rode the barrel train. We checked out the farm animals and the pumpkins. We drank cider and ate apple donuts. I bought my annual turtle brownie (mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.)

It was the usual Tanner's experience with one fabulous new addition... Make your own snow cones!!!!!! This was my childhood dream- getting a large cup of shaved ice and adding as much syrup as I wanted! They had 8 or 10 flavors of syrup. It was awesome! Kaylin tried a little bit (actually a lot) of each flavor but I couldn't bring myself to combine sour apple, grape and rootbeer. Yuck. I started out with cherry and when I sucked all the syrup out of the ice I refilled with root beer. Delicious! And perfect for an insanely hot (90+) October day.

The neighbors finally moved in yesterday. I have a bad feeling about how much time our kids will spend together :) There was no school today and the kids were running around playing at 8am. Little Boy showed up this morning with pinkeye so I have no doubt my kids will get it. They ALWAYS get pinkeye! Otherwise, everyone played well and nobody made any major messes. Not a bad day off.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Coolest thing ever

My mom's complaining that I'm not posting enough, but I've had a really good (and thus boring) week. Work was great, the kids were great, the neighbor kids didn't poop on our new carpet... A good week! One of my favorite zoo animals, a very old binturong named Yoda, is doing well after minor surgery. We got new floors and drains in the emu and swan houses that should make cleaning much easier. The kids played well together and didn't wake me up ONE TIME this week. I started run/walking 2 miles every other day, doing a core strengthening DVD on the off days. Are you asleep yet?

If not, I'll tell you about the coolest thing I've ever seen. Today I was heading to the Aussie exhibit after my morning break when I spotted a ~3 inch praying mantis on a trellis. A female cardinal swooped down and knocked it to the ground. The mantis started madly waving its arms, trying to scare off the bird. I never realized that cardinals have facial expressions, but the bird tilted its head and looked at the mantis with an "Are you serious?" expression before plucking it into its beak and flying off. It totally made my day! Cardinals are my new favorite birds.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

terrible boo boo

Logan had a hangnail this morning. It looked pretty minor- no blood or even redness- but he was complaining about it. Gene got him a band-aid and we thought we would move on with our lives. Nope. By lunchtime he was BAWLING and begging to go to the hospital. I thought maybe the band-aid was rubbing it wrong so I convinced him to let me change it. Instead of a band-aid I wrapped his entire finger in a large gauze pad and then wrapped that with bandage tape. I doubt his finger would have been wrapped so majorly had it been severed and reattached! Anyway, he liked it and calmed down quickly. He actually left the gigantic thing on until his shower tonight. Whatever...

We got our new carpet this week and I absolutely love it. It's nice to have fresh, clean carpet. It's so much more pleasant to walk on than the hideous old berber. Hopefully it will still look nice when the new furniture arrives in a month and a half :)

Well, gotta go pull a splinter out of Kaylin's toe. Maybe if I wrap it in a yard of gauze she'll stop bawling before 11pm.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

boring update

My life's been too dull and boring the past week to bother writing about.

The only interesting thing was the kids' first karate class. It's a class for 4-7 year olds so both kids are in the same class. The teacher had the ~15 kids line up in two lines. That took about ten minutes. It took another 5 minutes to get them to shut up. They stretched for a while and then started practicing punches, kicks and blocks for the remainder of the FORTY-FIVE minute class. It was hilarious to watch. The teacher was trying to be all tough and in charge but the kids were all spinning and jumping around and talking and singing. He was explaining to the kids that when he gave an order they were to say "Yes, Sir!" and do what he asked. One little boy answered "Yes, Ma'am!" (way too young to do it intentionally) and the teacher had to turn away to suppress laughter before he sternly shouted "Sir, NOT ma'am!" I'm not exactly sure why, but both kids loved the class and can't wait to go again this Thursday.

The neighbor kids have been driving me INSANE!!!!!! They were here all day Saturday and all day Sunday. Monday night the kids went on a picnic with Sharon, so Neighbor Mom pretty much took off for home the moment she found out we wouldn't be babysitting. Tonight the kids were standing at the front door waiting for us when Kaylin and I pulled into the driveway. They were in the house before I was. Grrrrr. They whined while my kids were eating because we didn't feed them. In their defense, they brought their supper over when they came. They each had a blueberry Pop Tart.

I'm about ready to snap on the Little Boy! In the ten minutes it took me to make pork chops and mashed potatoes he threw guinea pig hay around the room. While I was cleaning that up he pushed the button on the water cooler in the kitchen and spilled water all over the floor. While I was cleaning that up he took the zillion cds off the computer desk and scattered them around the room. I then screamed at him not to make any more messes or he was going home. He's behaved for the past hour.

Yeah, why am I putting up with this? I'm not really sure. I do feel really sorry for the parents because the dad has been working on this house every night for months, leaving the mom with the 4 yr old, 2 yr old and a few month old baby. Every time they think they're finally going to be able to move, something else major comes up and they have to fix it. I can't even imagine how stressed the mom must be. Still, I'm beyond sick of our lives being ruled by the neighbor kids! We've already made several rules. Once they move we'll make MANY more, including NO KIDS OVER UNTIL WE'RE DONE EATING!!!!!!!!! Meanwhile, I keep putting up with the crap because I think they're going to move "this weekend."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

yippee weekend

The neighbor kids were over for about 10 minutes last night but that was the only time we saw them this week! It's 3:30pm Sunday and they haven't been over all day. It's a lovely break. Meanwhile, I'm trying to think of ANYTHING to write to procrastinate packing/moving around all the books/toys/junk in our living room and playroom. We don't have a definite date, but the new carpet could be installed as early as this week and I DO NOT want to try to move everything the night before! I'm amazed at how many toys we have. Hopefully I can get rid of a bunch while I go through them to move them around.

Kaylin and I went to six different stores looking for the Lil'Kinz Googles (duck.) None of the stores had it. I was very proud that she saved her money for when they do rather than just buy whatever Webkinz was available. We then went to Target to buy some long pants. The temperatures were very cool this week and I realized Kaylin had only two pairs of long pants that still fit- and both are gray leggings. They survived from last year because she hated them so much she never wore them :) Kaylin refuses to wear jeans so we bought several pairs of leggings and one nice sweatsuit. That should be ok for a while...

Speaking of long clothes, Logan transitioned VERY easily from shorts to pants and short sleeves to long sleeves. That was a relief after how difficult it was to switch him from long to short. This week the temps are supposed to be in the upper 80s and I'm terrified he'll refuse to wear anything short. It's 75 degrees today and Kaylin and I are in shorts and Gene and Logan are in jeans and layers of long sleeves. I don't get it.

I've got more misunderstood song lyrics from Logan. We have a train video (I Love Toy Trains) with a song Logan enjoys singing. It goes "Daddy, what's a train? Is it something I can ride?" and then later "Is it bigger than our house?" Logan sings "Daddy was a train" and "There's a finger in our house." It's become a major family joke and even though Logan doesn't get why it's funny, when he wants us to laugh he sings "There's a finger in our house..." Today he was watching the video and listened hard during that line and realized he had the lyrics wrong. Oh. It's actually "There's a Tigger in our house!" Sigh.

We went to the Pumpkin Festival this week. Same old, same old. The kids are getting a bit old for most of the kiddie rides but Logan's still too little for the octopus and the scrambler. It was a good time. We got pumpkin cookies and the kids got to play inside a real fire engine and ambulance. Oh, and Gene got tons of free junk in the tent. I couldn't get Saturday off work to go to the parade but Gene took the kids. They got TONS of candy and had a great time playing with their cousins.

Well, this is getting long and boring so I best get packin' toys!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bwa ha ha ha

The moment we finished eating Monday night the neighbor kids came running over. (At least we got to eat first...) They had only been over about a half hour when the mom showed up at the door and said "We found poop on the floor so I came to check (Little Boy's) diaper." How I kept from guffawing in her face I will never know! Anyway, I invited her in and we walked to the playroom where Little Boy happened to be playing in the guinea pig food. He had two giant fists full of food he was getting ready to throw into the air to fall all over the floor with the rest of the food he'd already thrown. Logan was innocently playing at the train table and the girls were back in Kaylin's room so it was completely obvious who made this mess.

I ran over and emptied Little Boy's hands and then noticed he had filled the guinea pig's cage with large tunnels and bridges from the train set. At this point I lost it and started laughing. The whole situation was overwhelmingly funny. I mean, Neighbor Mom shows up with the poop story, sees her kid throwing food all over the room and then sees that her kid filled the cage with toys. I couldn't keep it inside!

I quickly rescued the wooden train toys from the rodent- who was fortunately still too scared to have started chewing them up- oh, they probably would have killed him from all the lead paint, LOL. Meanwhile, Neighbor Mom was hurrying to get her kids' shoes on. She was mortified by Little Boy's behavior :) They left for the night and didn't come back last night. Tonight and tomorrow night we'll be gone. Ahhhh, a lovely little break. Definitely worth two minutes of vacuuming!

New subject. Sunday at the shooting range I had the luckiest shot of my life. I was there with an equally inexperienced coworker. We each shot five rounds from 15 yards. I hit the target paper every time, but no spectacular grouping or anything. We were then asked to move to the 25 yard line. I went first. The cop training us told me to aim for the (target outline's) belt. I loaded up five rounds, aimed for the belt and BAM!, hit right in the middle of the belt buckle on my first shot! The cop was thrilled. He walked me down to the target yakking about my placement and then LET ME SIT OUT THE REST OF THE SESSION!!!!!!!!!!!! This was sooooo great! We use buckshot and the shotgun kicks HARD. It hurts to shoot and I hate doing it. Getting away with shooting only 6 rounds (last time I did 15) rocked my little world!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Strike 3

The neighbor kids spent the ENTIRE day playing at our house today while I was at work. And guess what??? The little boy pooped on our floor AGAIN!!! At least Gene had to clean it up this time, lol. (Yes, that's the THIRD time for those keeping track.) Poor Gene-Gene. Little Boy got into the cat food, dug around in the kitty litter box and dumped a box of screws in the garage. Plus, Gene gave our kids showers this morning and now they are filthy and sweaty and disgusting.

I, on the other hand, had a nice and easy day at work. I worked the sea lion string the two days I had to work this week. I doubled my diets yesterday (we usually make a set of diets every day to be fed to the animals the following day) so I'd have extra time to work on the sea lion pool today, but the sea lions didn't come inside last night so I couldn't do anything. That gave me a LOT of extra time today :) No vacuuming the pool and no making diets. Plus, the sea lions behaved well at both shows and came right inside tonight. Also, the tamarins shifted quickly (usually take forever to move to their holding area so I can clean their exhibit) and the macaws didn't attack me. AND, I only had to work 2 days and now I have 2 days off. If only I didn't have to go back to the shooting range tomorrow...

Thursday, September 6, 2007


This morning I was feeling sorry for myself because it's the last day of my long weekend and I needed to call the heath department about getting a tetanus shot and the vet about getting the cat's annual vaccinations. I was hoping to accomplish at least one of those things this "weekend" but put off calling :) Turns out I need an appointment for the shot and they can't get me in until the 24th and the vet's office is unusually busy today so I have to wait until Monday. Yes! Now the only obligation I have for today is to be home at 11:30 for the carpet measurer guy. I think I can handle that! Oh, and tonight I have to go to the meet the teacher night at Kaylin's school. Definitely not a big deal.

I went to my favorite Bloomington party store yesterday (Party City) and found the perfect pirate themed stuff for Logan's party. It's not at all scary and it cost WAY less $$$ than I was planning to spend at the online store. It's even kind of cute. I also went to the toy store but they didn't have any airport toys :( I did find a cool set of airport vehicles that came with a jet and a fun looking pirate game so it wasn't a wasted trip. (Not that it EVER would be- the store's so fun.) I normally hate shopping for anything, but yesterday's trip was fun. I came home and tried my luck online again and found a suitable toy airport through Amazon. It's cheap-looking and I'm sure it won't last, but it fits his Matchbox-size planes and I'm sure he'll love it. Plus, it was only $20. I guess I'm NOT procrastinating on Logan's November birthday.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

shopping torture

So I'm in the middle of a mostly enjoyable 5-day weekend. It would be VERY enjoyable except that I had to shop for new living room furniture and new carpet, which although it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be- still pretty much sucked. We took the kids with us to a furniture store Monday for their Labor Day sale. We ended up buying two chairs and (gasp-yes I AM replacing Grandma's 20+-yr-old "davenport" LOL) a sofa! I felt REALLY sorry for the poor salesman. Though he was in his 50s, he was obviously new at the store. Between the meany salesladies with seniority treating him like crap and his idiot customers who had no clue what they wanted (us), he was running all over the place. As were our kids... We were at the store nearly two hours! (Actually, the kids were REALLY good. They didn't break anything and only whined when we left because they wanted to stay longer!)

Then Gene took off Tuesday to shop for carpet. I don't know (or care) how others shop for furniture and carpet, but we go to ONE store. We do NOT shop around for deals because it is TOTALLY worth it to us to pay whatever the Chosen Store asks so we don't have to go to multiple stores. We went to the carpet store within walking distance of our house and the very helpful saleslady got us in and out in about a half hour. We are definitely going with a Stainmaster carpet in a much darker shade of beige or brown. And it is NOT berber!!! Our only dilemma is we can't remember what color of brown the new sofa is so we have to decide whether to chance that it will coordinate or actually (double gasp) go back to the furniture store. Hmmmmm. I'm inclined to take the chance...

We had some major family excitement this weekend when Logan- after many months of sleeping under Kaylin's desk- decided to sleep in his own bed in his own room all by himself! I removed all the furniture from Kaylin's room last weekend when I cleaned her carpet and then we used that opportunity to fill some cracks in her wall and touch up paint and get everything really clean. She spent several days sleeping on her mattress on Logan's floor with Logan in his bed. I guess Logan finally realized how much more comfortable his bed is than Kaylin's floor because when we moved her back to her room, Logan stayed in his! He's slept in his own bed two nights with no problems so hopefully he'll stay there.

Today I'm going to Bloomington to their educational toy store to shop for Logan's birthday. I'm trying to find him an airport toy that's not made for a 2-yr-old. I'd like something that would accomodate his Matchbox planes but it doesn't seem to exist. I've done extensive online searches and only come up with toddler toys or wooden sets that only work with their own line of planes. I'm considering Playmobil, but he's too old for Duplo and too young for Lego. Argghh. Two years from now there'll be dozens of airport toys!!! If anyone knows of one let me know. I've got until November 8th!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

zoo visit

Two of my coworkers and I drove an hour and a half to another small zoo for the opportunity to go in an exhibit with-and pet- cheetahs. It was awesome!!! We were pleasantly surprised when we not only got the cheetah experience, but a guided tour of the whole zoo including behind the scenes areas. It was a really fun day!

The two cheetahs came right to the gate as we entered, purring loudly in anticipation of getting attention. They laid down and allowed us to pet them and pose for pictures. We spent about 15 minutes playing with the cheetahs while the keepers told us all about them. They came from a litter where the mother rejected the cubs so they were hand raised from the time they were born so are not only used to people, but actually enjoy their company. We really didn't want to leave.

We then drove back to Peoria and out to Grand Prairie where they had a display of several tigers, a lion, two leopards, and a cougar. I'm not crazy about traveling big cat exhibits, but I have to admit it's pretty cool to see so many big cats (and especially so many baby cats) in one place. We also got ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery- a good end to a good day!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Well, the Rug Doctor did help a little... However, the carpet still looks disgusting. I finally convinced Gene that I AM The. Most. Low-Maintenance. Woman. he ever could have married when it comes to material possessions, so when "I" want to spend money on new carpet and living room furniture IT MUST BE TIME to get new stuff! Now the problem is actually shopping for anything that's not sold at WalMart or Target. There just isn't time! Ok, there just isn't desire! I have a 5-day weekend coming up so I will FORCE myself to go to the carpet and furniture stores.

As stated many times before, I am NOT ready for cold weather! I AM ready for a break from all the zillions of spider webs! It seems I can't do ANYTHING at work without walking into webs everywhere I go. I don't mean the occasional sticky strand across my face, I am walking into the huge orbs and spending minutes pulling the stuff out of my hair. And then the next exhibit I go to I do the same thing! I back into webs and walk face-first into them. They are EVERYWHERE! I normally dust the webs in my barns once a week or maybe every few days but for the past two weeks I've had to do them every day. Seriously, what is the deal with these spiders?

Now it's time for an Official Webkinz Update. Webkinz are taking over the Turner household. Kaylin has eight and Logan has five. The mania for the website has died down and Kaylin is spending little time there. She usually logs on once a day to do the gem and charm hunts and play a few short games. It's somewhat educational so I'm definitely not opposed. I spend a few minutes a day playing the daily games with Logan but I'm no longer obsessed and rarely spend much time there. The kids have been playing together with their "real" Webkinz toys so that's a good thing! It's nice to see Logan playing with something other than vehicles or balls. I'm sure they'll come out with new "must-haves" but for now everyone's content with what they have. Oh, and I found a few charms and I think that will be all we need :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Help me, doctor!

Rug Doctor, that is. I finally came out of my denial and realized that 1. My carpets are NOT going to clean themselves and 2. I am NEVER going to call Stanley Steamer no matter how many coupons I hoard! So yesterday I FINALLY rented a Rug Doctor.

I first went to Kroger. I should have just turned around and left the moment I saw a packed parking lot, four bouncy castle things and Mickey Mouse waving from the entrance, but I was determined to clean my carpet, dagnabit! I hiked 15 miles into the store and nearly bumped into Snow White. I went to the service desk but despite the OPEN sign nobody was there. I waited a few minutes but nobody came. They were probably wandering around the store in a Tigger costume. I scouted around the front of the store and didn't see any Rug Doctor machines anyway, so I left and went home.

I called Menard's to see if they rented carpet cleaning machines. After spending five minutes navigating their automated store directory I talked to a very helpful young man who told me they did NOT rent floor cleaners but he DID list off EVERYTHING Menard's does rent thankyouverymuch! (Ok, maybe I'll SAND my floors rather than shampoo them???)Hmmmmmm... How about the Rug Dr website? Yes, much better! I spent MUCH less time finding out I needed to go to Home Depot. So I went to Home Depot and rented the machine. I also bought the cleaning solution and two bottles of stain remover.

The step-by-step instructions were simple enough and soon I was doctoring my living room rug. My goal was to clean the living room Sunday night, let it dry and then do it again on Monday along with the rest of the house. The floor seemed so wet after I finished I went back to the website for help. Huh. Turns out they have an entire section dedicated to berber (sp?) carpets and how difficult they are to clean and how you CAN'T go over them more than one time or overwetting will occur and old stains trapped in the padding will wick up and the carpet will stink and blah blah blah. Crap! I went over the worst spots about six times and the rest of the floor at least two to three times. Now I learn that I probably released "forgotten stains" and that my carpet may actually look and smell worse than before I started! Soooo, I went back over the carpet for about a half hour using only the suction and then got out a second fan. This morning it's not TOO wet- just a tiny bit damp. I'm honestly considering NOT cleaning the rest of the berber because ONE PASS isn't going to help!!! (Kaylin's room is getting a scrubbing, though!)

I guess it's time for new carpet. I hate to do it while the kids are still so young but I imagine they're not going to get any cleaner as they age. Ugh. I will NEVER buy berber again!!!!!!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

What the yo?

Yesterday was really hot and humid. I worked outside all day and was filthy and hot and desperately needed a shower. However, Thursday is Gene's night out so I had to pick up both kids and make them supper and then the neighbor kids came over the moment we pulled into the driveway. I normally would have waited to shower until the neighbor kids went home (or just sent them home) but last night I was too hot to care. I told Kaylin she was in charge (she digs being in charge) and then told Kaylin and Logan they'd be showering as soon as I finished.

I quickly showered and dressed. When I left the bathroom to get Kaylin I got quite a surprise... All four kids were running around the living room naked. I was just shocked. All I could think about was their mom coming to get them right at that moment and finding her kids naked. (How weird would that be?) What possible explanation could I give? I quickly shooed my kids off to the shower and hunted down the neighbor kids' clothes and dressed them while lecturing about how they couldn't get naked at my house because their mom might not like it. LOL. That was seriously the only excuse I could think of! Anyway, I got them dressed moments before their mom came to collect them. Phew!

Oh, did I forget to mention the little boy is still in pull-ups? And that I found a big turd in the middle of my living room floor? Yep, I did. And for those keeping track, yes, that IS the second time he's pooped on my carpet! Good thing my carpet's so crappy (pun intended.)

New subject. Logan LOVES sharks. I was really sick of reading him the same shark book over and over so last time I was at Barnes and Noble I found a "coffee table book" about sharks in the bargain section. I flipped through and it had lots of great pictures. Great, right? Wrong. The first time we read it I discovered a chapter I missed in the store. Shark bite victims. Shark bite victims with disgusting, bloody wounds and missing limbs. What do you think Logan's favorite part of the book is? Yup. He has to point to each victim and announce "He had to go to the hospital." and I HAVE to answer "Yes he did." The other night we drove past Proctor Hospital and Logan said "That's the shark bite hospital." His tone made it perfectly clear that disagreeing or arguing would NOT be tolerated. Anyway, I imagine Proctor treats just as many shark bite wounds as the two bigger hospitals in town!

Kaylin had a great first week of school and loves her new teacher. Her best friend from last year is in her class again and she goes to latchkey with her other best friend. Logan is staying in his same room with his same room teachers. I have no idea how his school determines what room the kids go into but some of his friends moved to different rooms but they all have the same preschool teacher. Logan's happy to still be in Mr. Joe's room.

Monday, August 20, 2007

first day of school

Today is Kaylin's first day of 2nd grade. She was soooooo excited I don't know how she got through the early morning. It was great watching her put on new clothes and lovingly grab her new backpack full of new school supplies. She babbled incessantly about different friends, the bus, recess and lunchtime.

Kaylin's school has two separate buildings and this will be her first year in the "big kid" building. The big kid building has a MUCH better playground and a nicer cafeteria. She will no longer need to cross the street for gym, library or computers. A terribly exciting step up...

Meanwhile, Logan was cuddling with me in the chair, talking about how NEXT YEAR he'll get to go with Kaylin on the bus and go to kindergarten! (His new year of preschool doesn't start until next week when he'll move to a new room and have new room teachers. I'm pretty sure his preschool teacher will be the same as last year.) I'm ready to stop paying for daycare, but I'm not ready for my baby to be a big schoolage kid who likely won't want to cuddle with Mom anymore :(

After Kaylin got on the bus, I went to the grocery store. In the checkout line I ran into a former coworker from the vet's office. I was shocked that she just took her only child to his first year of college and she was shocked that the baby I "just had" while we were working together is now in 2nd grade! Sigh. Time flies!

We went to Chicagoland for the last weekend before school started. I had to work a half day on Saturday so we drove to Schaumburg to spend the night and then went to Brookfield Zoo to touch stingrays on Sunday. The big plan was for Gene to take the kids swimming at the hotel while I shopped at the Lands' End outlet store and went to IKEA for Logan's new bed. I had good luck at Lands' End, but IKEA stopped carrying the bed we wanted! AAAHHHHHHHHH! This was the PERFECT size low loft bed! It was also $400 less than other similar beds we've looked at. Bummer.

It poured rain and was pretty chilly on Sunday. We all had umbrellas, but Logan HATED when the rain was heavy and whined a lot about being cold. (I thought the weather was GREAT after working in the blazing hot sun for the past few weeks.) We did get to touch the stingrays and see all the indoor exhibits. We saw a cute baby polar bear and got to see how much the baby giraffe has grown since our last visit. Logan loved the gorillas this trip. He usually only cares about the sea creatures. It turned out to be an ok trip despite the weather. It wasn't an "awesome weekend" but I don't regret going.

Monday, August 13, 2007

rainbow bend

So the dreaded day finally arrived and I took the kids to the public pool. I flashed my park district ID and we got special PD employee wristbands and free admission. The kids headed immediately to the shallow stairs area of the regular pool where they jumped off the side about 12 zillion times before I even had a chance to get into the pool. We'd been there all of 15 minutes when Logan pulled himself over the side and puked massively all over the pool deck. The manager came running up and was VERY happy it was not IN the pool and immediately hosed and sanitized the area with TWO GALLONS of bleach.

I KNEW Logan wasn't actually sick-just drank too much pool water- so we kind of hid out for a couple of minutes and then went to play in the kiddie waterpark pool for a while. Then the kids were ready for the big slides. This was Logan's first time on the big slides. This was my first time on the big slides since high school. I remember when these slides opened and it was a HUGE deal! I remember getting a wristband that was good for X number of slides and they'd punch your band every time you went down. The lines were huge and the slides were soooo fast and fun. Were these REALLY the same slides??? I mean, yeah, I weigh a LOT more than back in the day, but even the kids weren't going that fast! It was just a cool, pleasant ride down a long sliding board on a hot day. After the fifth time I was sooooo bored I insisted we go play in the sand area for a while. Logan was bummed because he LOVED the slides! (I did let him go again later.) Kaylin went off the diving board several times until that pool was closed for an hour because somebody puked IN it. Fortunately NOT one of MY kids!!!

We spent almost 3 hours at the pool and left exhausted and starving. It turned out to be a really good time. Not something I'd want to do every weekend, but next summer I'll consider going more often. Hopefully by next year Logan will be old enough to NOT drink the water!

Friday, August 10, 2007


I was flipping through my alumni magazine last night and skimmed through the "alumni news" to see if my niece's birth was listed. I then realized that duh, she was only born a couple weeks ago and the deadline for this issue was probably May. Anyway, I guess I was thinking about getting to see her next week when they're home visiting because I had one crazy dream...

I walked into my parents' house and was extremely impressed that Mollie was on the floor holding her own bottle. Then she started rolling over and over around the room and got up on her hands and knees and crawled toward me. I was already shocked that this tiny baby was so mobile, but then she started speaking to me, using phrases like "quality establishment" and other huge words (at least for a newborn.) When I expressed my surprise to my sister-in-law she casually said "Oh yeah, she never stops moving and never shuts up." My amazement woke me up :)

Today is Kaylin's last day of Camp Zone. Next week she'll go to the Y daycamp and then school starts! Seriously, HOW can summer be almost over??? I'm getting a little tired of working in the extreme heat but I'll gladly take it over the cold. I also prefer pulling weeds to raking leaves. (Except this week I spent an entire day pulling weeds behind the tiger exhibit and ended up with poison ivy all over my arms and legs despite repeated scrubbings.) I don't want to trade in my shorts for Carhartt's and multiple pairs of socks! Ok, enough whining for today.

Monday, August 6, 2007

mini road trip

Kaylin begged all week to go to the pool this Sunday because her daycamp counsellor refused to let her go off the diving boards during their weekly pool trip. The thought of battling the throngs of people at the public pool on a very hot Sunday afternoon was less than appealing. I would rather have worked. I quickly devised an alternate plan...

I ran my plan by Gene about 8:30am and we were on the road by 9. We drove 1 1/2 hours to the zoo in the Quad Cities. They have an amazing pond exhibit with zillions of koi fish, as well as ducks, geese and swans. The kids and I spent ages feeding them pellets. The fish were so thick it looked like you could walk across the water on them. The geese and swans ate out of our hands. As a zookeeper I normally don't get much of a thrill out of feeding zoo animals, but this pond area was a blast! We then headed to the lorikeet exhibit where I paid a buck for a cup of food. We must have been some of the first visitors of the day because I immediately had at least a dozen birds perched all over my arms, shoulders and backpack. Kaylin and Logan got a huge kick out of seeing Mom covered with birds. It was really hot and all the big cats had access to their buildings and would only come outside for a few seconds at a time. I was a little bummed because the big cats (lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars and cougars) were the main reason I wanted to go to this zoo and I only got to see them because I spent so much time waiting. The kids enjoyed the train ride and the carousel but were pooped out from the heat and ready to leave after a couple of hours. It's a fairly small zoo so we had seen everything in that time anyway.

We then headed to downtown Moline to the John Deere Pavillion. Logan was in heaven climbing all over several huge tractors and pretending to drive them. They have a large store with play tables with all kinds of toy tractors and construction vehicles. The kids (especially Logan) could have played for hours. We bought Logan a small set of construction vehicles (that included a Gator like I drive at work!) and moved on.

Kaylin wanted to go to Iowa so we hopped on the highway and drove two minutes across the Mississippi and stopped to shop and eat in Bettendorf. Kaylin's on a major search for Webkinz Charms so we went to a Hallmark. No charms, but she got a Lil'kinz hippo and was very happy. We ate at (ooooh) Taco Bell and headed home. It turned out to be a really fun day. I usually plan everything to the extreme so I was surprised how well my spur of the moment plan turned out. Now I have a full week before I have to take the kids to the pool on the last weekend it's open and the weekend before school starts. I'm sure it won't be crowded at all, lol.

Friday, August 3, 2007


Yesterday was the kids' last swimming lesson of the summer. On the last day they get to play on the slides and in the kiddie waterpark area. Kaylin actually jumped off the diving board three times and swam to the side by herself. Logan went down the "scary" long enclosed tube slide he claimed he would NEVER go on. I'm bummed that just as they are both really catching on in their age groups lessons are over until next summer. I'm still in shock that summer's winding down so quickly. School starts in 17 days!

Flipping the calendar to August must automatically turn on the walkingstick phobia switch in my brain. Wooooooooooo. I know they're out there. I've been perfectly fine all summer, pulling zillions of weed and vines, working outside without a care. Now that it's August I'm getting jumpy and starting to look for them. Yesterday at work I went to plug in a light in the tortoise barn. A stray piece of hay behind the outlet box made me jump back and whack my head on a ceiling crossbar. Later in the day a small twig in the zebra stall drain made me jump. I pretty much think EVERYTHING that's twig size is a walkingstick! I MUST get over this!

Webkinz is an evil addiction. Do NOT buy them for your children or YOU WILL get hooked! They just upgraded their website and added a new charm hunt game. You now can buy Webkinz charm bracelets in real stores. The charms include a code that can be entered at the website. One code will get you into the new game. EIGHT codes will give you full game privileges. If you collect ALL the charms (probably 17,000 or so...) you win Kinzcash and other virtual prizes. Do you know how badly "I" want to buy these stupid charms???? You might be thinking "Well, at least Kaylin will love the charm bracelet so not a complete waste." True. BUT the codes can only be used once. Therefore I will need to buy enough charms to power both Kaylin's and my (uh, I mean Logan's) accounts! Hopefully the charms will be ridiculously expensive since my cheapness WILL override my Webkinz addiction :)

Monday, July 30, 2007


My sister-in-law emailed me pics of my new niece probably within minutes of walking in the door from getting home from the hospital. (At least HER priorities are in the right place, lol.) Mollie's absolutely adorable and I can't wait to meet her! If my car had air conditioning I would have driven up to see her today.

The kids had their first water balloon fight yesterday. I filled about a dozen balloons and they took turns throwing them at each other. The thrower would lob a balloon in the general direction of the target while the target squinted their eyes shut, covered their ears and cringed in anticipation of being hit. Back and forth until the balloons were gone. When I refused to fill more balloons, Gene suggested they fill cups of water and throw them at each other. They LOVED that idea but it didn't play out the way we thought it would... They sat cross-legged in the lawn with the hose between them and took turns filling a cup and dumping it on the other person, laughing their heads off for at least 15 minutes. At least they're easily entertained!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

grumpy hamburger head

Ok, my new baby niece is 48 hours old and my brother still hasn't emailed a picture! C'mon! It's not 1987! (Yeah, I'm sure he has nothing better to do...)

I just realized it's July 26th. I'm thoroughly disgusted with myself for going a second summer in a row without using any of my work perks. I can get my family into most of the park district facilities for free, but other than swimming lessons I haven't taken advantage. I figured I'd at least take the kids to the pool with the water park. Nope. Bad Susy.

Kaylin's been having a blast this summer. She's in a park district day camp that meets right in front of the zoo (soooooo convenient.) They have a special activity nearly every day and go swimming and to a movie at least once a week. She's been fishing, canoeing, to children's museums, ice skating, roller skating, to a baseball game and bowling. They make crafts and play games and play in the sand a LOT. She comes home filthy and happy and tired and spends the weekends wishing she was at camp having fun. She's torn about going back to school because she loves camp so much.

Logan's daycare isn't quite as exciting but they have a lighter academic curriculum in the summer and get to play outside and in the water a lot more. He's learning useful things like name-calling and how much it annoys his sister. The other day Logan called Kaylin a hamburger head and she started bawling and screaming for me to punish him. Seriously? I DON'T CARE. There, I said it. Toughen up, buttercup. Call him a french fry head and move on with your life! Dunno, perhaps I shoulda made the boy eat soap?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

hp and mental illness part 2

I've just got to throw in how much I loooooooooved the new Harry Potter book! If I could make a row of pukey cartoon hearts I would. JK Rowling deserves to be the richest woman in Great Britain! I don't think she could have written a better ending!

When Gene picked up Logan from daycare the other day, one of his teachers expressed concern that he's been picking at a hangnail on his thumb or messing with his feet constantly. WHAT??? Are you trying to say MY SON is obsessive-compulsive??? Oh wait... Yep, he is.

A friend emailed that upon inspecting her 11-yr-old daughter's room she found four large loads of laundry crammed under her bed. (She loves to write me about all the "things I have to look forward to" when my kids are older.) Yikes! Poor Kaylin probably won't own four loads worth of clothes until she's long out on her own!

I really had fun with the sea lions at work again this week. They're doing much better for me at the daily programs now. I'm not a big "animal show" kind of person so I'm shocked with myself at how much I enjoy doing them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Usually, going to the fair triggers thoughts of sticky, sweaty kids with feet black from all the dust and dirt. Crowds of hot, grumpy people making (gasp) skin-to-skin contact while waiting for their kids to get off the BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP motorcycle ride. The smell of manure from 1000 farm animals baking in the sun. I put my family through this torture year after year and Gene rolls his eyes ("You sure?") and drags himself along.

Yesterday was different. It rained just enough in the afternoon to knock down the dust but not make any mud. It was just cloudy enough that the sun wasn't blazing and the temperature and breeze were perfect! I think the earlier rain kept the crowd away because I could have spread my arms and flapped and twirled and would never have touched another human. It was the ideal evening to go to the fair!

I love the animals, the kids love the rides and Gene likes to pick up all the free stuff. Unfortunately, this particular fair has none of the free stuff... We got the kids ride armbands and I left them with Gene while I went to the animal shows. There was a tiger and an elephant show, as well as an exotic animal petting zoo, a reptile show and the usual farm animals. I watched all the shows (a painting elephant!) and checked out a gazillion pigs. The tiger show was kind of lame but I'm always amazed at how tame the show tigers seem. The tigers I work with would kill me instantly if I went inside their cage to play with them! I LOVE working with tigers, but have NO need or desire to make physical contact with them!

The kids went on endless rides and because the crowds were so low they got longer than usual rides and were allowed to stay on for the next ride if they wanted. Kaylin loves running through the Fun House over and over and Logan likes the giant slide and the kiddie coaster. A new favorite for both this year was a kiddie version of the swing ride. They went on at least 15 different rides and most of them over and over and over. We definitely got our $$$'s worth out of the ride armbands. It was a good time and I think Gene even had fun despite the fact that we brought NOTHING home with us.

Subject change: Kaylin used her birthday money to buy yet another Webkinz. (Three now for those keeping track.) This one's a duck named Nicole (after her first grade teacher.) EEEEK!!! I feel a collection coming on!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

zoo doo

I was just sitting down to write about my week training with sea lions when the neighbor kid had diarrhea all over my floor. Why? Seriously, why?

Well, yippee for pet stain stuff. It worked really well. I spent my day scrubbing animal poop, why not spend my evening scrubbing the NEIGHBOR's diarrhea out of my carpet? Hope that's not an indication of how my weekend's going to be!

I had a great week at work! I trained on the sea lion string so I can help fill in while the main keeper's on a long vacation. (Lucky her.) I had really been dreading it because there are two daily sea lion shows AND the pool filtration system is complicated and scary. We do many water tests twice daily that determine meter settings and chemical addition. Just the water tests themselves took me forever to learn. I still need work on learning to properly set all the pumps and filters, but I know enough to get by in a pinch.

I never had any real desire to work with the sea lions so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them. Training them is REALLY fun. It's pretty intimidating when a 680# sea lion puts his head in your hand, but it's also pretty cool. It's fun to give a string of commands that are accurately performed. I did my first mini programs today and they went pretty well. The main sea lion keeper's been with me all week but next weekend I'm on my own. Hopefully they'll perform for just me.

The one bad thing about working with sea lions is they eat fish. Lots and lots of nasty, slimy, smelly fish. Fish that must be cut in thirds and stuffed with vitamins and salt tablets. Fish that must be thrown as a reward for a correct behavior. Nasty, nasty fish. I keep finding fish scales stuck to my arms and legs. Yesterday I had one in my ear. Yuck.

Subject change: Kaylin and I adopted a new Webkinz. This one's a tiger named Anya. Now I have to spend twice as long playing games to earn KinzCash so Anya and Poofy (the monkey) can eat. We also added a bathroom to our "house" and both pets were quite happy about the addition of a toilet. Well, I better go to Quizzy's so I can earn enough for a bathtub! Gene's been teasing me that Webkinz is more addictive than World of Warcraft. As if I'd be dorky enough to play THAT, lol. (ooooh, I wonder if there's a Webkinz sea lion?)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

webkinz, ahhhhh!

We got Kaylin a monkey Webkinz for her birthday. Then we went away for a few days and found ourselves busy doing other things and blah blah blah so Kaylin completely forgot about the special code and the Webkinz Website. She remembered it a few days ago so I helped her sign up and figure out the basics BUT I made her PROMISE that SHE would figure out the games, etc. and not bug ME to help her because I was NOT going to do it!

Um, yeah. Turns out "I'm" totally addicted. Every morning before we leave for camp/work we MUST play "Wheel of WOW." We also must check the daily "hourly specials" so the moment we walk in the door we can log on and claim our 20% off coupon from the W Store! I used to spend my free time reading blogs or perusing the DISboards but now I play Quizzy's to earn KinzCash so Poofy the monkey can have a $1000 cherry blossom tree in her yard.

For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, the Webkinz site allows you to adopt a virtual pet and set up a room for them. You can furnish the room with everything from beds to couches to toys. You can also buy extra rooms and outdoor yards that can be furnished with everything from toilets to trees to trampolines and swimming pools. You also have to buy food for your pet and keep them healthy with exercise. You have to buy everything from the W store and must earn money by playing games. Oh, and everything costs a LOT so you have to play a lot to earn a lot of $$$.

Now I'm considering buying Webkinz trading cards because you get codes to buy special "trading cards only" merchandise! Ooooh, it's 6:04am and Kaylin just woke up and said "Let's play Wheel of WOW! Gotta go!