Thursday, November 27, 2008


Colleen and I had just finished our lunch at McDonald's and were climbing into the car to go back to work when a pickup truck with a large chest freezer in the bed pulled up next to us. We were talking and putting on our seatbelts when the driver of the truck pounded on the passenger window. Now, I'm a total wus who gets tackled to the ground by two-year-olds and Colleen's a skinny girl. (Well, a skinny girl with a black belt in Tai Kwon Do and almost a black belt in Kuk Sul Won.)

Colleen rolled down the window and was mentally preparing to kick butt when the VERY friendly man asked us if we wanted to buy some meat? Just in time for the holidays!!! He started reeling off all the MANY different kinds of meat he had in his freezer. We were stunned speechless. Do people really buy meat from some random guy in the Mickey-D's parking lot? Not us!

This guy would NOT shut up! He was determined to make a sale. I was most certainly NOT going to buy his meat, but how to get him to leave... I finally blurted out "Sorry, Dude, we're vegetarians." He was soooo disappointed. He tried to convince us that some vegetarians eat chicken or fish, but Colleen said "Yeah, nothing that's had a heartbeat." He thanked us and left us alone.

We were silent as we pulled out of the parking lot onto Prospect. We then burst into simultaneous laughter when it sunk in that some guy just tried to sell us MEAT out of a FREEZER in the back of his TRUCK in the McDonald's parking lot! Wow. Yuck.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

ah, weekend!

On Thursday, I got a nice surprise and the boss said I could have my Friday and Saturday off. Yippee!!! I went to Toys R Us and Target and got some Christmas shopping done on Friday, but otherwise sat at home in front of my computer, watching terrible daytime tv and dozing. It was so great to have a day off I could hardly believe it!

Today we went hiking at Forest Park Nature Center. For reasons I don't understand, Logan has been wanting a hiking stick and they sell kid's ones at their gift shop. I finally bought him one today. He uses it like a cane/crutch. I can't quite put it into words, but I'll just say that walking with the stick takes about three times as long and appears to require far more energy than walking without the stick. It's pretty hilarious.

We hiked a couple of the trails and saw more than 40 turkeys and two deer. It was good to get a little exercise and good to be outdoors. The nature center has a nice indoor viewing area of their many bird feeders so we watched a long time. Kaylin learned the difference between a chickadee and a nuthatch. Logan preferred looking at their small menagerie of snakes, turtles and bugs. It was a good time.

I feel somewhat rested for the first time since the new animals started to arrive. I'm definitely ready to get back to working with the rhinos. The calmer of the two rhinos is starting to warm up to the keepers. He's been allowing me to pet his face and horn and hand-feed him produce. I'm loving the rhinos but they stink like no other animal I've worked with. They like to poop out of their bars into the drains so I have to get on my hands and knees to pull 30+ pounds of feces out of the drains. I'm sure I never smell good after work, but I can't ever remember the kids complaining about how much I reek before!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Today our two rhinos arrived on a semi-truck. They were in ginormous crates that had to be lifted with a huge, special forklift. They are half-brothers. Harris just turned 3 in September and Leo will be three in December. They both came crashing into our building, charging the bars and banging into things. Harris calmed quickly, but Leo was much more wound-up. We turned off the lights and left for most of the day. When I went back to check on them late this afternoon, Harris was calm and interested in what I was doing and Leo was pacing, but not charging the bars or being aggressive. I can't wait until they calm down. The keeper who came with them said that Harris loves to roll onto his back and have his belly rubbed. Yes. I want to rub his giant rhino belly :)

I am pretty much living at work. Gene has been great about it. When I'm actually home, I'm completely exhausted and nearly useless. I mean, I can help the kids with homework or balance the checkbook or do laundry, but I really don't feel like going back out to grocery shop and I'm not going to rake leaves. Gene's been great about cooking dinner every night and dealing with the kids every morning. I'll apparently continue to work seven days a week until the new person starts (and probably is trained) sometime in early December. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Happy Birthday, Mom!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

parent-teacher conferences, birthdays, animals, voting and funerals

Man, I've been busy with work. I'm at a place right now where I'm exhausted at the end of the day, but wake up excited and eager to go back. The new animals are settling in really starting to respond to the keepers. The most exciting thing is that the giraffe boys are now eating sweet potato out of our hands. They were too nervous to approach us for several days, but they've calmed down and now come right up and use their foot-long, scratchy blue tongue to grab chunks from our hands. It is sooooooo cool!!!

All of the new animals are quarantined inside their barns for at least 30 days so I've been coming up with stuff for them to do. We play radios for most of them and the monkeys even have a television. I've been giving the lion boxes to tear apart and a bowling ball to play with. The red river hogs have a baby pool filled with mulch to root in, the zebra has a ball filled with hay and a horse apple toy that can have chunks of produce inserted. I've been emailing friends at other zoos for different enrichment ideas. Oh, and all the new animals have at least some level of training which is major enrichment in itself.

The first parent-teacher conferences of this school year were last week. I was a bit nervous about Logan's very young, fresh-out-of-school teacher, but she turned out to be pretty sensible. I liked her a lot. Her biggest concern is that Logan uses the bathroom EIGHT times a day. Seriously, Logan??? That's more than once an hour! I was kind of surprised because I don't think he does this at home! He certainly doesn't need to use every restroom at every store when we're out shopping. Eh. I had Gene talk to him about it. Otherwise, he's doing well with his schoolwork and while his behavior isn't perfect, he's no worse than any other kindergarten boy and not one of the labeled Class Troublemakers.

Kaylin's teacher is FANTASTIC!!! FINALLY, a teacher who just likes her for who she is and while she'd certainly like to see improvement in Kaylin's organizational skills, she isn't spewing dramatic warnings about FOURTH GRADE and lecturing that Kaylin doesn't CONFORM to NORMAL third grade behaviors. (Can you tell I'm still bitter about last year's teacher???) Gene and I walked into the room for the conference and the teacher just started laughing about things Kaylin says and does. We laughed the entire 15 minutes. I never thought a P-T conference could be fun! I love this woman and have a feeling she will be an all-time favorite.

Logan turned 6 on Saturday! It wasn't a "major" birthday for him like FIVE! was. He was just happy to be a year older. I think he was a bit disappointed that he didn't sprout up a foot overnight Friday night. We had a party at my parents' house Saturday night. Logan was thrilled to be with his cousins and (la la la la) Uncle Andy. He received some great presents, but his favorite of the moment was the card with MONEY from great-grandpa and grandma. It was hilarious. He opened the card and his eyes got huge and he couldn't stop smiling. He whipped out his wallet and put the money away. While the other kids were playing with his new toys, Logan and Pawpaw were counting his money over and over. I think he has something like $44 now. When asked what he's going to buy, he looks at you like you're crazy and says "I'm not going to SPEND it! I like the money!!!"

While at the party, I was talking to my dad and sis-in-law about the election. Gene chimed in that I had been disgusted with the election. I was confused for a second, because I was happy with the election results. I then remembered I was disgusted NOT with the election, but with voting. I complained that I arrived at the polls at 5:55am and was about 80th in line, with more than half of the people in front of me old people who could have voted at any time. I commented that I wished the old people would have voted before OR after their funeral so the people who had to go to work wouldn't have to wait so long! There was no reason for them to clog the early morning "working people" line. Whoops! I offended my grandma :) Her reaction?

"Soooooooze! Grandpa and I were thinking about going early, but we decided to vote AFTER our funeral and only waited five minutes!" I was like "EXACTLY." I was laughing so hard it hurt. Grandma tried to make me feel bad by saying it was Grandpa's first cousin's funeral, but she so completely proved my point that it just didn't work.

Friday, November 7, 2008

New animals. Yeah!!!

This week we received several animal shipments. Tuesday we got our female lion, two female red river hogs and four Thompson's gazelles. Wednesday the two giraffe boys arrived. Thursday our amazing, huge male zebra came. Today was FANTASTIC because we had no animal deliveries and just got to concentrate on all our new animals. Figuring out all the new locks and sliding doors and guillotine doors and gate closures has been a full-time job in itself. The week has been utterly exhausting, but soooooooo exciting and fun.

My big surprise is how much I love the red river hogs. The piggies are adorable and so fun to work with. They will do almost anything for a chunk of apple or a leaf of romaine. They snuff their piggy noses up to my hand and follow me as I walk up and down the hall. The zebra is amazing. He is actually friendly and loves attention. His previous keepers have him majorly trained and he can be hand-fed. Amazing. The lion is growly and silly. I gave her a bowling ball today and she carried it around in her mouth most of the afternoon. The gazelles are skittish. That's about all I have to say about them :) The giraffe boys are slowly adapting to their new home. They've been very nervous, but are starting to calm down. They both ate well today and one of them "almost" came up to eat a chunk of sweet potato out of my hand.

I have to wear a lovely blue jumpsuit and rubber kneeboots while working with the new quarantine animals. If I go to the other part of the zoo for lunch or break, I have to change out of the jumpsuit and boots. It's a bit of a pain, but beats the original plan which was to SHOWER and change into a fresh uniform every time I needed to go over to the other part of the zoo. That would have been awful.

Next week the male lion, gerenuk, male red river hog and rhinos are scheduled to come. WHEEEEE RHINOS!!!!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hurray, weekend.

Whew! I walked into work Saturday morning and the November schedule was posted. I was scheduled to work Sunday with Monday off and then off Saturday. I asked my boss if I'd need to come in at all on Monday and thanked her for giving me that day off. She looked at the schedule and said she hadn't meant to schedule me until NEXT Sunday and that I'd have Sunday and Monday completely off! Wooohoooooooo!!! Man, I needed this weekend!

We got our first new animals in yesterday. Five colobus monkeys, including an adorable 6-month-old baby came from New York. It was so amazing to see actual animals in the new building! It was also fantastic to see the other zoo's keepers' reactions to the monkeys' new home. They were all quite impressed.

This week the giraffes, lions, gazelles, zebra, red river hogs and some other small animals are scheduled to arrive. Within two weeks, all the major animals will be here. Incredible.

I spent most of this morning shopping for Logan's Batman birthday party. Kaylin was picking fights with him so I forced her to come along with me. We went to Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree, Michael's, Big Lots and the party store. That's WAY too much shopping for me! We got lots of good stuff, though. Logan doesn't want to see any of it. He wants everything to be a surprise :)