Monday, June 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Kaylin!

The Boss was good to me and forced everyone working Saturday to come and help with the tortoise mud pit. We removed three large loads of sludge and straw and then filled the hole with rock and sand. We'll eventually cover the sand with dirt, but the sky looked terrible so we tarped the hole just before the torrential downpour hit. What a nasty, disgusting job! The tortoise himself didn't move much on Saturday. He stayed in his nice, hot barn. Hopefully, he'll be ok.


We celebrated Kaylin's 8th birthday Saturday night at my parents' house. It was a low key affair, with just my parents, brother and us eating pizza and cupcakes. Oh, and SALAD. With RANCH dressing. Kaylin's FAVORITE. (The child seriously babbles incessantly about how much she LOVES salad with ranch dressing, lol.) I can't believe she's eight!

I love toys sooooo much. It was kind of sad shopping for Kaylin's birthday present this year. Last year she was still into Littlest Pet Shop. This year it's not that she doesn't still play with Littlest Pet Shop (and Playmobil and My Little Pony) it's just that I can't imagine adding any big pieces to the collection(s.) It was tough for me to peruse the preschool toy aisles at ToysRUs and realize BOTH kids are done with that phase :( (Preschool toys are my favorites.) Kaylin wanted science stuff, art supplies and Webkinz. Once I got over the shock of not buying toys, science stuff turned out to be pretty fun. I founds magnets and bug houses and a geyser device you set off using Mentos and diet soda (I can't wait to try that.) I found all kinds of silly little trinkets such as a pocket volcano and a roly-poly playground (kind of a tiny amusement park for pill bugs.) The coolest was this microscope thing you plug into your tv that magnifies things 200x. We've spent a lot of time looking at hair, carpet, clothing, skin. It's pretty awesome! Yeah, I guess it's not so bad, just different. At least she's not into (yawn) video games. I think Logan is entering THAT hideous phase.

I'm suffering from horrible mommy guilt because I promised Kaylin a day out with her best friend instead of a birthday party. I have yet to so much as call the friend's mother to see when she'll be available and arrange a date/time. I've been so insanely busy at work and then so exhausted when I get home for some reason calling people on the phone has become nearly impossible for me. It's as if getting out of my chair, finding the school directory, looking up the number and placing the call would be so mentally taxing I might just drop over dead from the effort. I always hate the phone but not THAT much!!! I WILL get it done but I've decided that it will HAVE to wait until the inspection's over next week.

Ugh. I had great plans to get many things accomplished today before Kaylin's 3pm dentist appointment. Then I rechecked my calendar and the appointment's at 1pm. AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! Should I even BOTHER taking her to camp today? Yes. I need that few hours to myself :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

turtle in the mud, yeah, yeah.

I spent my Friday night coaxing a giant tortoise out of a mud pit. By giant, I mean 480 pounds. By mud pit, I mean mud and water up to my knees and reaching in up to my shoulders. For nearly an hour. When it was over I looked like I had just finished playing mud volleyball and had made several dives. It was disgusting! Yet oddly fun...

My boss called a little before 8pm and said she was gathering people to get the tortoise out of his mud pit and into his house for the night. He's been acting "off"-will go several days without eating or spend days at a time in his mud. The vet can't figure out what is wrong. The bloodwork is normal and there are no obvious signs of illness. I am the primary keeper and I've been terrified and stressed-out. The unknown stinks!!!

Anyway, two of my coworkers, a couple of their family members, the boss and I all got into the mud to coax George out. George didn't want to go out! He turned in circle after circle. We had him halfway out several times but he turned around and went back to his starting spot. My job the entire time was to keep him moving by playing with the spot under his tail. (I don't know why, but tortoises seem to have a certain spot that if you mess with it they will move. The "spot" was how I began training our two much younger and smaller Galapagos tortoises to go into their barn at night a couple years ago.) I spent an hour doubled over, playing with a tortoise tail. Yes, my back is stiff today, thanks for asking :)

George FINALLY decided to get out and we used push boards to keep him in a straight line into his barn. It was a huge relief to be done. Hopefully he will snap out of whatever is wrong and be fine. He's been through similar illnesses before... I'm still worried half to death.

Most of us were COVERED in mud. I had long before ditched my boots because they kept getting bogged in the sludge. I had mud up to my upper thighs and up to my shoulders. My clothes are trash. I hosed off the best I could and put a garbage bag on my car seat. I probably clogged my shower drain with dirt and can still smell the nastiness. I seriously don't even want to think about what was in that pit besides water and mud. It's all fun and games until someone gets parasites :)

Today I have to bail the water and shovel out the sludge. My relief keeper put two bales of straw into the pit last weekend so I will have to remove that as well. (The goal of the straw was to help dry the pit, but when it pours rain every stinking day the straw does nothing.) Ugh. It's 5:30am and the ONLY thing I want to do is go check on the tortoise! I'll make myself wait until 6:30!

Monday, June 23, 2008

olde english faire

Yesterday we took the kids to the Olde English Faire, the annual renaissance festival at Jubilee College State Park. While I'm not personally into it, I LOVE to go and people watch. The fact that so many people enjoy dressing up and playing sword fight with PVC pipes and shields made from old stop signs makes me really, really happy. All of the performers speak with terrible fake accents and most of them are hilarious. My favorite thing is to get to the festival right at opening and watch the "freak parade" as all of the participants parade past, led by bagpipes and ending with the jousters on horseback.

It amazes me that certain acts (jousting and fencing come to mind) return year after year so the people are familiar and you actually miss the individuals who don't return. I once worked with a guy who's family was into renaissance festivals and they had a regular lineup they attended year after year. That was how they spent their weekends every summer and how his parents spent all their vacation time from work. Strange, but I'm glad people do this :) At lunch we sat with a couple and their two-month-old baby. They were dressed in period clothes and were tent camping with the rest of the "freaks." That's dedication!

New to us this year were the acrobat and the magician. The acrobat appeared to be this dumpy, bald guy in his late 40s. He was amazing!!! Balancing on his head on top of a board on top of five metal tubes. He juggled fire and hats and did ladder tricks. He was also really funny. The magician was also great. His performance was hilarious, leaving several kid volunteers gasping in amazement after making large, solid objects disappear from their hands.

It was a lot of fun for a $7 parking fee. We also had lunch (hot dog, chips, lemonade) for $12 total for all four of us. We each had a large ice cream cone for dessert for a total of $8 and bought a small pack of cinnamon roasted almonds for $3. I thought $30 was a really cheap day out! That's about the same as we'd spend on a trip to Chuck E. Cheese or a dinner at Cheddars! It would have been a perfect day except the (aargh) neighbors also went so we kept bumping into them during my shoulda been neighbor kid free outing. LOL!


I was sitting on a chair at the pool, waiting for Logan to come out of the men's locker room for his swimming lesson when a little boy who happens to be in both Logan's daycare and swim class came out. He noticed me and asked "Aren't you Logan's grandma?" I was all "NO!!! I'm his MOM!!!" He looked at me really funny, said "Oh." and ran off to his lesson. Later I was telling Gene the "grandma story" and his reply was "Maybe it's all your gray hair." SERIOUSLY, GENE???? Did you seriously just say that?????????

Monday, June 16, 2008

swimming lessons

The kids have swimming lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays. Today was only their third lesson, but it seems like the days they have lessons are freezing and all the rest of the days are sweltering hot. I'm rarely cold (unless it's actually cold) but tonight it was so windy and cool I was wrapped in Kaylin's towel while I watched. I don't know how the kids could stand being in the water! They both love lessons and don't care how cool it is. Kaylin's actually getting pretty good at everything that doesn't involve coordinated arm movement. She floats and kicks and swims underwater for rings pretty well. She can swim well enough to go off the diving board by herself but will probably require a few more sessions before she catches on to proper stroke technique. Logan will learn how to dogpaddle this summer or he will drown trying... The kid has no fear of the fact that he can't swim. Yikes!

It was a rough week going back to work after vacation, but I managed to make it through :) Our inspection is finally scheduled for early July so only a few more weeks of insane preparation. I can't wait until it's over. Meanwhile, I'll be working the reptile string two days a week while the new part-timer does my string. She'll only be around for a couple of months until her college starts again so on days we need her to work she'll do my string. Reptiles are kind of a nice break.

Logan had his (newly state required) pre-kindergarten eye exam today. I took him to the place at WalMart and was kinda bummed about the $50 fee. I had no idea what to expect, but I figured it would mostly be some stupid eye chart. I was wrong! (I've never been to the eye doctor before.) They did about a zillion tests and spent about 25 minutes with him. It was the most thorough medical exam I've ever witnessed. I was quite impressed. Fifty bucks was a bargain! Oh, and he doesn't need glasses. Hurrah!

Oh, in case anyone didn't know, there's a new El Sombrerito on Spring Bay Rd. in East Peoria. It's run by the daughter of the original restaurant's owners and has pretty much the same menu. We went there for my brother's birthday this weekend (good choice, Ben!) and it was fantastic!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Logan's first tee-ball practice

Gene and I aren't exactly prize athletes. After many weeks of twice-weekly step aerobics classes, I can only add arm movements about half the time. My coordination level is not high :) Gene is- well, he's hopeless at ball sports. Several years ago we were at a party where a friend's son was thrilled to have a man willing to play catch with him. The kid was happy and excited until Gene threw him the football for the first time. Kiddo's face was priceless. Not only was he disappointed, you could tell he thoroughly felt sorry for Gene and his lack of skills.

I was a bit nervous about Logan's first tee-ball practice. I was worried the other boys would be WAY better. Logan's pretty competetive so I was afraid he'd hate it if he was noticeably worse than the other boys. I needn't have worried. Logan certainly wasn't great, but he was at the same skill level as ALL the other boys. Nobody was fantastic, nobody was pitiful. Logan had a GREAT time and followed directions perfectly. They practiced catching and fielding today. Logan can't wait for Tuesday's practice so he can (dum da da dum) bat.


Our vacation is winding down :( I have two more days (my usual Sun-Mon weekend) and the kids will both start daycamp on Monday. Kaylin's going to the park district camp that meets across from the zoo entrance again this year. She loves it and can't wait to start. Logan will spend one final summer at his daycare. He's excited about finally graduating to the "schoolage" summer camp program. I've spent part of the past few days sorting through tons of toys and clothes. We took a vanload of stuff to Goodwill and have another bunch of stuff headed for my mom and sis-in-law. Bwa ha ha ha. It's totally amazing how much crap we still have.

The neighbor kids have been over nonstop. I'm taking it better than I thought I would. I think what drives me more crazy than having two extra kids over is how Kaylin goes from being calm and playing quietly to going manic crazy, getting uber-bossy and encouraging everyone to tear around screaming. The bossier Kaylin gets, the louder she speaks. Neighbor Girl is also pretty bossy so they get pretty loud trying to outdo each other. Also, Kaylin starts talking like Ruby on Max and Ruby- REALLY talking down to the younger kids. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, consider yourself VERY lucky! I enjoy the Rosemary Wells books, but the tv show is AWFUL.) Anyway, the first time a kid shrieks, they all have to go outside. That's saving my sanity a bit.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

we're baaaack

St. Louis wasn't quite the action-packed, non-stop, preferred Susy vacation. It also wasn't boring. I could have spent a lot less time swimming at the "hoeytel" and the kids could have spent at least two days doing nothing else. The kids enjoyed everything we did (well, except that one night we went to a shopping mall near our hotel- Logan was downright offended!) Gene and I also enjoyed everything.

On Tuesday night when Gene and I were deciding whether or not to book an extra night at the hotel, we decided to come on home Wednesday after we went to Grant's Farm. We had considered taking the kids to Six Flags today, but the iffy forecast mixed with the heat and the fact that Logan's too short for all but one coaster (his favorite thing in the world) helped us decide to skip it until the kids are older and taller. We also toyed around with going to the Magic House (children's museum) but I had really had enough of museum exhibits and there was no way it could come close to being as fun as City Museum. (From all the brochures and the website, Magic House looked pretty much like every other children's museum we've been to- fun, but not exactly a "don't miss.")

I still have five days off work :) Now if I can just figure out how to deal with the neighbor kids without going completely insane... I'll probably be READY to go back to work!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

City Museum !!!

If you haven't taken your kids to City Museum in St. Louis, you should seriously take the day off work/school/whatever tomorrow and go! Wow. What an incredibly cool place! It was likely the most fun place (other than Disney World of course) we've ever taken the kids. There is no way I could provide a good enough description to do the place justice, but it is three floors of tunnels and mazes and slides. There are ball pits full of playground balls, a shoes only skate park, an aquarium with sharks and stingrays and a HUGE outdoor playground that spans several floors and includes airplanes and a castle.

I was glad we waited to go until the kids were a bit older because kids younger than about 5 would be impossible to keep track of. Otherwise, it was one of those extremely rare places that would equally appeal to a 5 or a 15-year old. The kids want to go back tomorrow :) We won't be returning this trip, but we'll definitely visit again!

Yesterday we went to the zoo. It was a good time despite Big Cat Country being closed. I don't even know how many times I've been to St. Louis Zoo, but this was the first time I've been to the sea lion show. I usually avoid animal shows unless I'm at Sea World, but I was impressed. It was very entertaining. (Usually animal shows at zoos are educational and way too long and boring.) Both of my beloved anteaters were outside and active. We spent a long time watching a young orangutan somersault down a hill over and over and show off for his audience.

The kids are getting antsy and want to swim again so I better get going. Now!

Monday, June 2, 2008

swimsuit shopping

So I completely freaked out on Saturday morning because I got home from the gym at 8:08am and as I was walking out to the mailbox to get my paper I noticed the neighbor guy working in his front yard and laughed to myself that he'd probably run inside and send his kids over. I then opened my front door and found they were ALREADY at my house, sitting at the kiddie table in my living room, eating MY food and drinking MY juice boxes. I was livid. Gene was still in bed and I still needed a shower and breakfast. It was probably the only Saturday of the entire summer I'll have off with my kids and I had to share it with the neighbors once again.

I immediately stormed back to the bedroom and proclaimed that we would be leaving for St. Louis on Sunday instead of Monday because I couldn't stand one more day of the neighbor kids! We had already planned to spend part of Saturday at Wildlife Prairie State Park so I spent all the time we weren't there doing laundry and packing and cleaning. Everyone had a short list of stuff they needed for the trip so I also made a quick trip to WalMart.

Gotta love WalMart, right? They had all kinds of great "trip food." They had three extremely cheap pairs of denim shorts in Logan's size. They had dog food for Brady and underwear for Kaylin and a pair of shorts for me. What they did NOT have was a swimsuit for Kaylin!!! I first came upon a rack of "baby bikinis." I don't really find two-piece suits for little girls offensive or anything, I just thought these particular ones were on the sexy side and that's REALLY creepy. I was then relieved to find a wall of one-piece suits. However, the one-piece suits all had what I'll refer to as "breast enhancers." They also had shelf or even underwire bras. Newsflash- 7-yr-old girls DON'T HAVE BOOBS!!!! Out of curiosity I checked the x-small sizes (made to fit 4-yr-olds) and sure enough, they also had underwire bras! Whatever! I walked out of WalMart without a swimsuit for Kaylin!

Well anyway, we made it to St. Louis :) We spent Sunday at the Science Center and spent a little time at Union Station. We're staying at a Holiday Inn and our room opens right into the Holidome. The kids love it! There are several arcade games and each kid won a big stuffed animal from the Skill Crane. Logan won on his first try! (Kaylin won on her second and I blew a buck trying twice and failing, lol.) We're going to the zoo today so I'm excited! I was a little bummed to be spending our Annual Family Vacation in (yawn) St. Louis, but I think it's going to be really fun.