Thursday, April 30, 2009

Return of Littlest

I've probably written this before, but my least favorite thing in the world is listening to crying when I'm trying to eat. This stems back to when Kaylin was a newborn and I'd spend my day completely wrapped up in nursing and other baby care. About 4:30 every afternoon she'd get fussy and cry. I'd spend an hour pacing and rocking and walking her outside. When Gene got home at 5:30 I'd hand her off and ask for nothing more than him taking her outside so I could have 5 minutes of silence while I ate. Over the years of babies and toddlers I came to despise crying while I was eating more than anything else.

My second least favorite thing in the world is when the neighbor kids come over while we're eating. We have a rule against it, but all three of them were hiding in the computer room when I got home from a long, hard workday. I was pretty late and Gene already had dinner on the table. I sat down to eat before I noticed they were here. When I saw Littlest, I realized I'd have to get up and help him get his shoes on if I kicked them out. I was tired...

They were playing a computer game (which is why I didn't see them immediately) so I said if they stayed in the playroom and were quiet they could stay. Little got bored with the computer and started playing with Logan's giant Incredible Hulk gloves that make roaring noises when they hit something. Littlest was scared to death. Little was chasing Littlest and Littlest started BAWLING. No. The neighbors send their BABY to my house and then I have to listen to him CRYING while I EAT? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Get out of my house!!!! I yelled at Little to take his baby brother home NOW! I found their shoes and kicked their butts out. Little Girl practically ran out as well :) I would have to be a LOT meaner to scare off the older two, but Littlest is shy and barely two years old. I'm pretty sure I've scared him off for a while. Bwa ha ha ha.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Giraffe from above

This is Taji reaching his long blue tongue up to eat sweet potatoes being fed from the balcony in the giraffe barn. Hand feeding the giraffes is one of the most fun parts of my job. It's always hilarious to see what the giraffes will do just to get a chunk of sweet potato. Sometimes they will even steal chunks from each others' mouths. My favorite thing is to feed them at ground level. They bend down and breathe their sweet breath into my face and allow me to touch their soft noses. We'll be having public giraffe feedings when the new Africa area opens June 6th. Hopefully lots of people will take advantage of this amazing and cool opportunity. (And hopefully the goofy giraffes will cooperate :)

Kaylin's paper making kit is even more pitiful than I thought it would be. We drove to pick it up Saturday, stopping at Target for a blender on the way home. The instructions didn't give a good paper to water ratio so we're STILL waiting for the first sheet of paper to dry! I think it will take several more days. Had we done it right, the kit would only make one sheet of paper every 24 hours. Um, yes, I want to shred tons and tons of newspaper and repeatedly clean my blender so my kid can have one stupid crumbly piece of paper per day! Our joke of the weekend was that we were going to find a piece of screen and use Gene's useless ShamWow! to soak up the excess water. Pound it here, pound it there and voila! A perfect piece of recycled paper!!! Dry as a bone. If finding the screen wouldn't be so much effort and the ShamWow! wouldn't ruin the paper that has been four days in the making I would totally do it! Of course, then the paper would probably stink like the ShamWow! Is that what Germany smells like?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

a long week

Gene came home on Wednesday and said he had a meeting with his boss Friday morning. Cat was planning a large round of layoffs and about 1 in 10 people would be affected. Gene promised to call me immediately following his meeting at 10am. At 10:30 I started to get nervous, BUT, his boss could have been running late. At 10:40 I started to panic because WHAT could take that long if the news was good??? The phone finally rang at 10:52... The news was good. The meeting took forever because Gene and his boss were discussing Gene's "redeployment" into the factory.

Phew! We dodged that bullet! For now. We have always known layoff was a distinct possibility. Gene just always thought he was "safe" until the end of the year when his project was scheduled to be completed. His project was scrapped at the end of March. I hadn't taken the whole thing too seriously because we had MONTHS to change our spending habits and start saving more. This threat was a definite wake-up call! We are very lucky.

My work has also been stressful, but in a very different way. With introductions of same species, different species and moving animals outside into yards, work has been nuts. Every day introduces the possibility of something going terribly wrong. The time limit of June 6th looms closer and closer and we all feel the weight of the major deadline. I'm back into the exhausting cycle of going into work early and working as hard as I can until a half-hour after quitting time. Breaks are non-existant and even lunch is usually cut short. The successes make it all worthwhile! It is amazing and wonderful to see the lions and monkeys outside in their yards. The giraffes, small antelope and rhinos have daily access to outside paddocks but their yards need more work before they can be released into them. It should be VERY interesting trying to get them to come back into their barns once they have yard access. I have a feeling I may be living at the zoo for a while :)

I took the kids to the Earth Day celebration at Wildlife Prairie State Park last weekend. Kaylin especially enjoyed the special activities and spent a long time decorating a reusable WalMart bag. She very much wanted to participate in the recycled paper activity but Logan was getting extremely bored and hungry. She settled for signing up for a drawing to win her own paper recycling kit. Tuesday evening we got the answering machine message that she won. Crud! We can pick up her prize at the entry gate anytime during park hours. Great. Now I get to spend an hour of my day off driving into the middle of nowhere to pick up a junky toy. (I checked the reviews on Amazon and they were all pretty horrible. Apparently I will have to buy a blender to make the toy work...) Eh, at least she's INCREDIBLY excited about winning :)

The kitten has been a total pain. He isn't happy unless his teeth are in human flesh. Tiger isn't picky about which people and doesn't have a body part preference, he just wants to feel flesh in his teeth at all times. He also jumped into the toilet. Twice. The first time Kaylin had just finished #2 and stood up to turn around and flush when he leaped into the filth. The second time he jumped directly through Gene's stream of urine and into the bowl. In Tess's 12 years she has never received one bath. Tiger got two this week. He has further shown his lack of intelligence by pestering Tess. Tess will be all puffed-up, growling and hissing and Tiger will run up to her with his happy tail and rub all over her body. When she runs off in disgust Tiger tears after her, tail up and purring, wanting to rub on her more.

I do think that once he's over his play-biting stage (and I am working hard to end it sooner, rather than later) he will be an amazing cat for the kids. I can cradle him upside-down on his back and rub his belly and he will just purr and snuggle into me wanting more. I can trim his claws, bathe him, clean his ears and he just purrs and rubs on me. If he possesses the smidgen of intelligence it will take to survive the neighbor dogs (I have my doubts) he will be a great cat.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Purrfect torment

For the first two weeks we had the kitten, Kaylin babbled nonstop about how she couldn't wait until Tiger was big enough to climb into her bed (a low loft.) She wanted him to sleep with her. It would be the greatest thing in the universe. Our other cat often sleeps with Logan and Kaylin was definitely going to score sleeping with Tiger! That is, until it happened...

Tiger is HORRIBLE to sleep with! Every night I wake to a purring ball of fluff lying across my head. Purring doesn't seem loud until it is directly in your ear! When I move him off my head he'll usually somehow end up sleeping across my neck. If I get too rough with my attempts to free my body from kitten he'll think I'm playing and start biting at my fingers- or anywhere on my body. Once in a great while he'll curl up next to me on my blanket and that is actually quite nice for the 30 seconds it lasts.

Needless to say, I was THRILLED when Tiger learned to climb onto Kaylin's bed. Oh yes! She can sleep with him every night! Except it only lasted a few hours. I woke at about 1am to the sound of Kaylin shooing Tiger from her room and (sigh) closing the door. Within minutes the purring fluffball was draped across my head. The past few nights Kaylin has slept with her door shut. I have slept infrequently.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

St. Louis Day 2

Turns out the kids weren't overly thrilled with the zoo idea. Kaylin wanted to see the Arch and Logan wanted to see "that loop thingy by the river." Ok. Breathe. I CAN ride in the jerky, teensy orb to the top of the Arch. I think I can, I think I can... We slowly strolled to the base of the Arch. The kids were amazed at its size. I pointed out the windows at the top and how we'd be able to see really far when we looked out. They both looked at me like I was INSANE and together exclaimed that they would most certainly NOT be going to the top! Ah, sweet, sweet relief :) We hung out for a while and walked around the riverfront. Logan was happy to see several trains.

We then headed over to Union Station for lunch. I was pretty shocked at how crappy this place has become. Twenty years ago it was the coolest mall ever. Now it seems that 3/4 of the stores are vacant. Most of the quirky, fun stores are long gone. Even the food court is down to the standard basics. We wandered around for a bit before eating at Sbarro. Nothing like baked ziti to raise the spirits.

Kaylin was excited to try the bungee trampoline in the middle of the mall. I wasn't too excited to pay $7 for the experience, especially since she plays on the neighbors' trampoline almost every day, but eh, she really wanted to do it. It was TOTALLY worth the money! She was bouncing higher than the second level! It was amazing! Since she was the only person on the trampolines, she got a long turn. I got some really bad pics and video. Logan flat-out refused a turn. It was way too high for him!

We then headed out of St. Louis and stopped at the Henson Robinson zoo in Springfield. I hadn't been there in many years. It's located right on the lake and we were lucky to see several migrating white pelicans! The zoo itself is small. The kids had fun feeding ducks and fish and watching the penguins. We stopped at a playground along the lake hoping to see more pelicans, but they were gone.

We made it home about 6pm and the neighbor kids were over before we even made it into the house. Both Little Boy AND Little Girl have been literally hanging off of my legs, asking pointless questions in whiny voices over and over and over. "Whyyyyy are you on your compuuuterrr?" "Whyyy are you washing your hairrrr?" This morning I asked Little Girl whyyyyy she kept asking me all these questions? She didn't know, hee hee hee. Whyyyyy can't they just ignore my existence?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Operation: Avoid Neighbors

Before I get into the Operation, I have to record my latest Adventure in Voting. Minor election, 6:30am, one other voter already at the machine. I walk to the table with two old people and give my last name, triggering a five minute argument over who has to look up the name because I'm in district X, not district Y. Well, the districts are combined for minor elections. I give my last name again and the fella starts paging through each and every T. Uh... I'm Tu. Oh, he thought I was Te. Seriously, sir, in your 80-plus years have you EVER seen "Turner" spelled Te??? Whatever. The woman who assigned my voting machine knew what she was doing and I was done voting and out of there in about one minute. I am sooooo going to be an election judge and torture these people's great-great-grandchildren. Bwa ha ha ha.

Back on track, I couldn't stand the idea of spending the entire spring break with the neighbor kids. Littlest has been coming over more often, Little Girl has been extra whiny and Little Boy questions every single thing I do. "Whyyyyyy are you drinking that waaterrrrr?" Oh, and Littlest has a horrible hacking cough and sores around his mouth. Since they won't go away, I decided we would. We're in St. Louis.

Yesterday we went to City Museum, the coolest place on earth. We spent the day climbing and sliding and running and swimming in balls. We were there almost six hours and the kids didn't stop the entire time. It is seriously the best place I can even imagine to take kids. If you haven't been there, go. I can't describe the place. Go to their website and look at the pics.

We found a Drury Inn with a (gasp) indoor-outdoor pool. This was pretty much the thrill of Kaylin's existence to this point. She swam under the barrier 5 bajillion times. The room has a huge tv and right now we're going to hit the breakfast buffet. Oh, and the elevators talk. I'm glad we're only staying one night because I don't doubt Logan would be ready to come back to the hotel by 10am. Today we're going to the zoo. Then we'll head home because we all miss the kitten.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Fool

I could have a lot of fun with April Fool's Day if only there were more hours in the day... I didn't play one April Fool's gag this year at home or at work. Several years ago Family Fun magazine had a feature about April Fool's meals. There were mini meatloaf "cupcakes" with colored mashed potato "frosting" and "veggies" made out of candy and fruit roll-ups. I love the idea, but I severely lack the motivation and the desire to make the time to not only make mashed potatoes, but to also color them blue and pink. Yeah, no!

The kids had plenty of fun with the "holiday." "Hey Kaylin, there's a guy behind you!" "April Fool!!!" "EEEK! Logan, there's a spider on your head!" And on and on and it never stopped being funny. To them. Then the neighbor kids came over and there were four of them fooling each other. Tee. Hee.

Eh, I'm just grumpy because the kitten kept me up half the night. He is the cutest thing in the universe, but he's not fun to sleep with. Two nights ago he figured out how to climb onto our bed and spent the night cuddled next to Gene. It was adorable! Tiger snuggled into Gene's blanket and barely moved all night. Last night I was the Chosen One. He balled up his 800 degree body right next to mine and nearly boiled me out of my blanket. When I removed my socks to try to cool down he attacked my toes. Then he attacked my fingers and my face and anything else he could think of. Ahhhhhhhhh! I was too tired to do anything about it. Plus, he's so stinking cute and starts purring like an engine every time he's touched.

Spring Break is next week. I took the week off work so I just have to get through today and I'm on vacation! We don't have any plans so it should be a fun week of playing with kids and kitten. Oooh! Maybe I'll make those meatloaf cupcakes! Not.