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!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Shooting Spree

Today is my day off but zookeepers are lowly and can only use the shooting range on Sundays- and then only after the police are finished. Today was my first session of shotgun training. Until today, I have never fired a gun (other than my brother's BB gun) or even held one. I had heard plenty of horror stories of the shotgun kick causing all kinds of bruising and pain to my coworkers so I was DREADING this session!

Today's session included two zookeepers and one police officer acting as our trainer. My coworker is the best shot at the zoo so he was there just for practice. I, on the other hand, had to learn the names of the different parts of the gun and the kind of slugs we use. I had to learn to hold the gun, load the gun and yes, shoot the gun. I then shot 15 rounds from 15 feet. I pretty much sucked, but I DID manage to hit the posterboard-sized target every time! I didn't actually hit the outline of the man every time, but at least hit the paper. The fact that Coworker shot from 25 feet and hit not just the "man" but the rectangle of points with all his shots didn't bring me down. I was quite pleased with my success. I was also surprised at how little pain I was in. I expected to come away barely being able to move my arm. I don't think I'll even have a bruise. It's been three hours and I have no pain or stiffness. Whacking my head on the crossbar in the camel barn yesterday hurt MUCH more. So- now I've shot a gun. Whoop-dee-doo.

As soon as I got home Kaylin started begging to go shopping for school supplies. Um, it's July 8. School doesn't start until August twenty-something! Please, please, please???? Eh, why not?
WalMart has about 2/3 of their school stuff on the shelves. I only let her buy the 20 cent crayons and glue and the 10 cent notebooks. I made her wait for sales on markers and scissors. Kaylin was beyond disgusted by my cheapness but I DID allow her to choose whichever two folders she wanted. And one of them was (gasp) $1.44! Who you calling cheap?

AAAAHHHHHHHHH!!! Logan just put his HEAD in one of the pockets of the $1.44 folder! Phew! It survived, but it's going out of reach for the next month and a half. Let the crying begin...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Note to self:

Don't schedule your annual ob/gyn visit two days after wallaby physicals!

Wallabies (small kangaroos) don't especially enjoy being restrained for veterinary procedures. Wallabies are expert kickers. Before I got the wallaby properly restrained for his blood draw, he gave me a couple of good kicks to my right arm and right side of my chest. No big deal, part of the job, but I bruise easily and the bottom of my arm and my chest were black and blue.

Fast forward to gyn-y visit. I'm lying on the table with my paper sheet and it's time for the breast exam. I put my right hand up under my head, exposing my very bruised arm and chest. The nurse practioner freaked out. (Yes, I feel safe in my home...) She was VERY amused by the explanation and I think my exam was three times as long as it should have been because she kept asking zoo questions. Embarrassing, but not quite as embarrassing as Someone Else's recent appointment a few days after her drunken birthday paddling!

Then last week I went to the family doc to get some warts frozen off my knee and arm. The bruises were gone but I still had some shiny scars. He asked if I got burned and I stupidly blurted out that I got kicked by a wallaby. He also found my injury humerous and kept me longer than necessary.

Minor work injuries are such a part of my life I rarely give them a thought. It's always amazing to me that medical people (who supposedly see EVERYTHING) find them so funny. Last year I hurt my back lifting a large tortoise out of his mud hole. When I went to the prompt care and told the nurse what caused the injury she laughed and called other staff into the room. As I left several staff members called out "Don't pick up any more big turtles, hee hee hee." Uh, glad to provide your entertainment for the night!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


Kaylin's big birthday present was an iPod Shuffle. She's been begging for her own MP3 player for a long time and I'm sick of her always wanting ONE of MY earphones while I'm listening so I researched several "kiddie" models. I was not impressed so I finally decided to spend the extra bucks and go for the Shuffle. Now I can easily download her songs off of my iTunes account- I just have to be careful to keep YMCA off of MY iPod!

Kaylin absolutely loves the thing but the ear buds don't fit in her ears. Therefore she's using it with speakers and "I" have to listen to the Macarena ten times in a row before listening to Walking on Sunshine five times in a row, followed by Hannah Montana and the Cha Cha Slide. I think yesterday was the first time listening to music actually put me in a BAD mood! Of course then she listened to Bullet with Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins which significantly improved my mood due to the absurdity of that song being on HER playlist. (One of these songs does not belong here...)

We're all off of school/work/camp today so I think we'll head over to Best Buy for some good old fashion headphones! Perhaps headphones will also cut down on Logan's misunderstood lyrics! My boy is not a gifted singer to begin with, but listening to him screech "I'm markin' on a sunshine" in the car over and over and then listening to the fight when Kaylin tries to correct him, well, it's getting on my nerves!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

road trip

I requested Saturday, June 30 and Tuesday, July 3 off work back in February so we could have a 4 day weekend and go somewhere for Kaylin's birthday. My 4 day weekend eventually evolved into a 7 day vacation, from Friday through Thursday! We had originally planned to go to Indianapolis for two days- one day at the zoo and one at the children's museum. Since we had the extra time off we decided to add a day at Louisville Zoo to check out their many new babies.

I've been to both zoos before, but both were before kids. Both have made some amazing improvements.

Logan loves sharks more than any other animal. He also loves other fish and aquatic mammals and birds. The Indy Zoo just opened a new Oceans exhibit that is the coolest zoo exhibit I've seen. They have huge tanks of hammerheads, jellyfish and eels/other cool fish. They have amazing exhibits of seahorses. They have underwater viewing of penguins, seals and sea lions, walrus, polar bears and dolphins. They also have the world's largest shark touch pool. I think we spent as much time at the Oceans exhibit as we did at the rest of the zoo combined. The kids loved that touch pool! Logan hasn't stopped talking about touching sharks.

On Sunday (Kaylin's birthday) we went to the Indy Children's Museum for the first time. Wow. We've been to lots of children's museums but this one blew the others away! It was fantastic! Kaylin especially loved the Chihuly "Fireworks of Glass" exhibit and the Maze exhibit. They had a blue screen area where the kids could put on sea animal costumes and dance around while they watched themselves on a huge tv (with fish in the background.) Logan had a blast shoveling rubber rocks into a dump truck in the Construction area. Gene and I liked the dinosaur fossils and the miniature dollhouse rooms. We will definitely repeat this Indy weekend! Oh, and compared to the horrible Chicago traffic (our usual weekend destination) Indy's traffic was nonexistant.

We drove down to Louisville Sunday afternoon and spent Monday at the Louisville Zoo. The highlight of my day (and the reason I went there in the first place) was a 3 1/2 month old baby elephant. We watched for about 30 minutes while he ran around his exhibit and played in the water and with the two adult female elephants. Very cute. Louisville also had a baby hippo and maned wolf puppies. Oh, and baby emus! They have great cat exhibits that are roomy and naturalistic AND you can actually SEE the cats. We got lucky and both the Amur tiger and Sumatran tiger were very active while we were watching. The kids played in the zoo's new water park (pop jets, small slides and spray fountains) and enjoyed riding the train and carousel.

On the 5 1/2 hour drive home Kaylin claimed this weekend was more fun than Disney World and that she wanted to do it again- but next time for more days and especially more nights in hotels with pools. The kids actually did better with all the driving than I did. We didn't break out the DVD player until we passed Indianapolis on the way HOME!

Wooohooo! I had a great weekend and still have 3 days off work (including today.) Then I only have to work two days before my weekend!