Sunday, February 22, 2009

Surprise Visitors

I ran a few errands this afternoon and came home to no kids! All of the kids were at the neighbors' house. I spent a blissful 15 minutes in silence before noticing all of the kids tromping over. I couldn't see through the slats of the blinds really well, but I told Gene "Uh oh, I think Baby Neighbor Boy (from here on out known as Littlest Boy) is coming over." Littlest Boy has been over a few times during the warm weather but he's never been inside unless possibly his mom was holding him. I've always assumed he'd be coming over with his older siblings as soon as the weather gets warm, but I thought I had a little more time. I was wrong...

Not only did Littlest Boy come over, but Neighbor Mom came along. It turns out Littlest will be TWO in a couple of weeks and at that time he will be allowed to come over without mom! Oh, duh! Who doesn't allow their freshly turned two-year-old go by himself to the neighbors??? Mom came along this time because Littlest is shy and wouldn't come on his own. I suppose she'll be over a few more times before the Birthday of Emancipation.

I have NO IDEA why this shocks me so much since Little Boy had just turned two when these people bought the house and he practically lived with us for weeks before we really even talked to the parents. I wonder how many times Littlest will poop on my floor? I wonder if Gene is ready to potty train another neighbor kid? I wonder if Littlest is as destructive as his brother? I wonder if I can scare him and he won't come over anymore? Nah, that won't work. His mom will just come with him until he's not scared anymore. Ugh.

Procrastinating the inevitable

Two things I do Every. Single. Weekend. are laundry and a grocery trip. I usually do both early Friday morning to get them out of the way (well, sort and start laundry anyway.) This weekend I also NEED a haircut. So far, I haven't been able to force myself to shop or get a haircut. The laundry is almost done (I only need to do a load of towels) but that is thanks mostly to Gene. I took today (Sunday) off this week so I will have time to do this stuff, but WHY didn't I just do it on Friday???

Kaylin FINALLY finished all of her makeup work from our vacation! Well, except for one worksheet about San Antonio (yawn) that she needs her social studies book to complete. She didn't finish until late Saturday afternoon, so I had a wonderful break from the neighbor kids who were banned from coming over until she finished :) Logan spent most of the day next door and then the second Kaylin finished she RAN over as well. I imagine they'll be over all day today.

Ok, now I'm using this extremely boring post to put off today's work. I'm gonna get that load of towels into the washer, hit the gym as soon as it opens at 7, shower and hit Wal-Mart as early as possible and then be ready to go out for my haircut when they open at noon. Yippeeeee! Ugh. I'd rather be at work!

Friday, February 20, 2009


Whee, a 3 day weekend! I have a few more days I need to take off before March 30th and this Sunday we were overstaffed so I took it off. We were considering going to Chicago this weekend, but we're supposed to get several inches of snow. Also, Logan seems to be catching the nasty cold Gene had all week and Kaylin's "finished" makeup work from our vacation turned into a huge stack of papers, etc. that showed up on Wednesday night. Brat Child apparently ignored this stuff in her desk for more than a week before realizing she acutally had to complete it! Then she didn't bring ANY of the text books she needed to complete the work on Wednesday and brought ALL the books EXCEPT the ones she needed on Thursday. AAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! Yet another sad reason we'll never again take the kids out of school for a two week family vacation. Sigh.

My goal for today was to go through toys and kids' clothes and gather stuff to donate to a huge garage sale at the kids' school. So far today I've gone to the gym and sorted the laundry. It's after 1pm. I have no motivation :) I wish we were back at Disney World. It was a really unexciting week at work. I'm pretty sure the highlight was winning a giant Hershey bar at a long and boring meeting. Well, guess I better stop procrastinating and get cleaning. Ugh.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ah, the weekend

Phew! I made it through the dreaded "just back from vacation" week at work. It was actually a pretty good week. Leo, our skittish rhino, FINALLY started really interacting with the keepers. On Sunday, I was still barely able to touch his horn. By Thursday, he was allowing me to groom every part of his body I could reach. Why the 180 attitude adjustment? No idea, but it is awesome! His progress has been so quick. On Tuesday he'd still only allow me to touch him, but by Thursday he was climbing into the tamer (a large confinement "cage") and allowing everyone including the vet to rub on him. SO WEIRD!

Kaylin's teacher sent home all her makeup work before the trip and then allowed her to make up everything else at school. Logan's teacher sent home a huge stack of worksheets Monday night. It was sooooo overwhelming for him to come home to stacks of homework every night. He did manage to finish everything by Thursday night to take back this morning, but he was NOT happy about it!

While I certainly have no regrets about pulling the kids out of school for two weeks for what was our best family vacation ever, I can't imagine that we'll do it again. Kaylin rolled with the changes, but Logan had a tough time going back to school and an even tougher time making up the missed work. I imagine it'll take him a couple more weeks to get completely back into the flow of things. The boy NEEDS his schedule.

Before our vacation, Logan failed his hearing test at school. He also failed his hearing test at preschool last year so I was concerned enough to make him an appointment with the district's audiologist. Logan's appointment was Wednesday afternoon and it involved several "more advanced" tests. His hearing is within the normal range, but he does have higher than normal pressure behind both eardrums, which probably contributed to failing the school test. The audiologist didn't act too concerned, but did schedule him another appointment in October.

The morning of the appointment I told my coworker Roz that I wanted to avoid cleaning rhinos until after I got back. Then one thing led to another and I spent a good two hours in the rhino barn that morning. I was reeking of rhino :) I caught the audiologist looking at my zoo sweatshirt and could tell he wanted to know what was stinking up his office so on our way out I said "I hope the rhino stink doesn't linger too long." He laughed and admitted he was very curious to know what the smell was but wasn't going to ask. He then said in all his years this was the first time his office stunk like rhinos. (I had noticed a huge can of Oust on his filing cabinet so I was pretty sure I wasn't the first person ever to stink up his office! Yuck.)

On a related note, the other morning before work I came in from running and washed my hair. I noticed that after the previous night's shower and then washing my hair again, I could still smell rhino. I walked into the bedroom and said "Gene, I can take the truth. Do I ALWAYS smell like rhino?" His answer? "Yes."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Back to work

In a couple hours I'll be back at work. I figured that after two weeks I'd be dying to get back but I could actually use another week off. Oh, well.

The trip home was smooth. The kids were getting wiggly after a few hours of driving so we stopped at Nashville Zoo and visited my friend Julie. She was surprised to see us, but had time to show us around the zoo and join us for lunch before we left. It was a good time and a great way for the kids to burn off some energy before driving another 8 hours.

We are happy to be home. The cat was THRILLED to see us! She waited about 10 minutes after we got home to be sure it was really us and then came out and greeted us with 45 minutes of non-stop meowing. My friend who came to take care of the pets said she never once saw the cat in the twelve days she came! I guess poor Tess was ready for some human contact.

I was really glad I didn't board Brady-dog. He's 12 1/2 now and was having some knee issues right before we left. I don't know if his knee is healing or if the arthritis meds are working or what, but he was limping badly when we left and now has only a slight, almost unnoticable limp. He was very glad to see us, but I could tell he received plenty of attention from Meghan :)

Well, I better wrap the bee-you-tee-ful doll made of shells we brought back for Kaylin's teacher and check over Kaylin's homework. I'm dreading the fight tomorrow night when both kids bring home stacks and stacks of make-up work! Logan is going to be SHOCKED!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Homeward bound

We spent the night in some northern suburb of Atlanta. MapQuest says we have a ten hour and nine minute drive ahead of us. Ugh. I'm ready to get home! We have no planned activities today- just drive, drive, drive. We're all so exhausted that not having any fun stops is just fine with everyone :)

Our last few days at Disney were great. I finally got to check out Animal Kingdom Lodge. It's cool and beautiful, but I can honestly say that with kids I'd rather stay at Pop Century. I was actually shushing my kids outside because we were surrounded by so many older, childless people! I'm very glad we went to check it out because I no longer feel like I'm missing out on ANYTHING by not "getting" to stay there. It's way too high class for us!!! Whooo, value resorts!

Our Epcot World Showcase day was a blast! It was my favorite day of the trip. We spent nearly seven hours wandering the countries, trying different candy (the Flake bar from UK was to die for...) and window shopping. We finally went to the Canada, France and China movies. Now the only movie/ride we haven't done is the America one. Next time! The kids got to meet some fun charaters (Beast and Genie) and I got a final helping of my beloved rice cream from the Norway bakery. Gene and Kaylin stayed for fireworks, Logan and I went back to pack. (There was NO WAY we could stay up until TEN O'CLOCK!)

Monday, our final Disney day, was spent at Magic Kingdom. We somehow managed to get the car packed up, eat breakfast and check out of our room, wait and wait for a MK bus and then wait some more for a scooter to be loaded and we still made it "just" in time for the opening ceremony show I love so much! My favorite Main Street personality, Scoop Sanderson, was the emcee! It was another slightly rainy day and the Magic Kingdom was a ghost town. We walked onto ride after ride and found enough characters to finish Kaylin's autograph book. We waited in the fairy line one last time (this time for less than 15 minutes) to find the same three fairies we already saw. Kaylin was pretty disappointed she didn't get to see Fawn, but a really nice character attendant person took her name and address and promised to send her an autographed picture of Fawn! That cheered Kaylin considerably :)

We left Magic Kingdom about 3pm, took the bus back to Pop Century to our car and one last Mickey ice cream bar. We then drove five minutes to the Nickelodeon Hotel. The kids were in LOVE with that place! We had a kid suite with separate bedrooms. The kids' bedroom had bunkbeds and a Jimmy Neutron theme. It was "maybe" 60 degrees outside, but the pool with several water slides was heated like bath water. They swam forever! They also got slimed. There was a mushroom-shaped thing all the kids sat around while slime poured all over them. They then just jumped back into the pool to wash off. They LOVED getting slimed! The hotel gift shop was full of SpongeBob stuff. I love SpongeBob about a thousand times more than Mickey Mouse, so that was pretty cool. Even Gene bought himself a toy SpongeBob :)

The best thing about the Nick Hotel was their character breakfast! The breakfast buffet itself was really good, with tons and tons of options. The characters were amazing! It was WAY better than any Disney charater meal! Our characters were SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer and Cosmo and Wanda, the fairy godparents from Fairly Oddparents. We got a family picture with SpongeBob (he didn't walk from table to table, but had his own area with a Bikini Bottom backdrop) and I forced the kids to pose with Dora, but Cosmo and Wanda ruled the morning! They were HILARIOUS! Cosmo stole a kid's little box of cereal, stuffed it into his mouth and then took off running around the restaurant. Wanda laid on a table to get a baby to notice her. We laughed the whole time they were out and even stayed long after we finished eating to watch some more.

We checked out of the Nick Hotel about 11am and drove to Crystal Springs where we found a public beach in a bay right next to a nuclear power plant. It was about 40F and very windy, so we definitely didn't swim or even play in the sand, but the kids had a great time watching the waves and the thousands of gulls. We walked out onto a fishing pier while Logan looked down into the choppy water, hoping to spot a shark. He was convinced that if he put so much as a toe in the ocean water a shark would immediately chomp it off. We then found a dive hotel right next to the state park we planned to visit the next day. It even had a bridge connecting the hotel to the park!

Homosassa Springs State Park was everything I had hoped and more! It was a beautiful, well-maintained wild animal sanctuary as well as a rehabilitation facility. They had wonderful exhibits of native Florida animals, all of whom were unable to survive in the wild. The most amazing feature of the park was a huge manatee area with underwater viewing. What was amazing about the manatee area was that there was a bridge with slats wide enough that the captive, rehabbing manatees couldn't escape, and the wild manatees couldn't enter. However, the fish and birds could come and go as they pleased. I could stand on the bridge and see dozens of wild manatees on one side and many captive manatees on the other side. It was one of the coolest things I've ever done! This park was fantastic! Oh, I forgot to mention they take you on a 20 minute boat ride from the visitor center to the park and we got to see a pair of osprey and their nest both trips! We also saw tons of other birds and fish. I was thrilled with the entire experience and even bought a tee-shirt.

Well, I better shower and pack so we can head home!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Still at Disney!

Rainy Friday turned out to be a great day to visit the Magic Kingdom! Fantasyland was a ghost town. We made the first Dumbo ride of the day and then hit every other ride (some multiple times) before I noticed they were letting people into Toon Town. Kaylin and I "ran" to meet the fairies while Gene and Logan rode the Tomorrowland Speedway and the Goofy coaster over and over. Even on a day with light crowds and right at opening, we still spent more than 30 minutes in that fairy line. Fortunately, we got to meet Silvermist (new to us) but Kaylin was disappointed Fawn wasn't there. I guess we'll try to meet Fawn one last time when we return on Monday...

Oh, I mentioned that Friday was rainy, but by park opening it never really rained again. We occasionally had a light mist or very light rain, but never enough to put on our ponchos. The crowds were light the entire day. We stayed until ~5 and walked onto almost everything! We tried the relatively new Monsters Inc comedy club show for the first time. It worked along the same lines as Turtle Talk at Epcot- the monsters talked directly to audience members and reacted in real time to what they were saying/doing. It was pretty funny.

Logan's favorite thing to do is play with cars on the floor. I brought along some Hotwheels for him to play with in the car, but they never made it to our hotel room. Thursday night he was playing with a flashlight and a fingernail clipper, vrooming them around the floor for quite a long time. I wasn't paying attention, but when I realized the poor boy was playing with a fingernail clipper, I resolved to FINALLY get him some souvenirs! I hadn't let the kids buy any souvies yet because I wanted them to buy only what they REALLY wanted! Friday I bought Logan some Disney Racers (Hotwheels sized cars shaped to resemble Disney characters.) He loves them and traded in the fingernail clipper for the real thing :)

Today we're planning to go to Epcot World Showcase and tomorrow Magic Kingdom one last time. Monday afternoon we'll leave Disney World and go to the Nickelodeon Family Suites for one night before heading home. I hope to stop at a Florida state park to see wild manatees on the way home. I'd also love to stop at the aquarium in Atlanta. We'll see...