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?