Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I've done a lot this week, but nothing particularly interesting or blogworthy. Gene and I celebrated our 16th anniversary on Friday by going to see Star Trek. I can honestly say I wasn't looking forward to this movie but ended up loving it. I didn't even fall asleep! We also went hiking at Forest Park Nature Center in the morning and had breakfast at Le Peep.

Gene took the kids to Chicago on Saturday and Sunday. They went to a White Sox game, the Museum of Science and Industry and the DuPage Children's Museum. The Sox won, the fireworks after the game were great and the kids loved the museums. Everyone had a great time.

I spent most of my free Saturday going through toys, including Logan's massive car collection. I sorted them and got rid of a bunch. I also spent some quality time with the kitten. Oh, and I got myself a giant potato from McAlister's. A terribly exciting day!

Right now work is actually terribly exciting :) Just about everything is ready for this Thursday night's "company picnic" followed by Member Day and Donor Night on Saturday. The new area will officially open to the public the following Saturday. So far, everything is going really well and I'm looking forward to finally falling into a routine. It will be soooo strange to have visitors in the new area! I've been working in the area for six months and the only other humans have been construction workers finishing jobs and the rare VIP tour. It'll be strange to have to maneuver through a sea of people! We'll have to drive through four sets of gates we've never before bothered to use to get the Manuremobile from the main building to the giraffe/rhino building. Without people, we've been able to move vehicles back and forth anytime. It will be quite a sudden change to go from no one to crowds in one day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The lion version of Kaylin

Last night at work I was bringing the lions inside for the night. (We bring them inside to feed them and keep them in their barn all night for a variety of safety reasons.) Anyway, I opened the door and Luxor the male came right in. Casey the female is usually right with him but she wasn't coming so I shut the door for a minute while I shifted Lux to his food. I reopened the door and Casey still wasn't there. Odd. I called her and a few seconds later, she strolled into the barn. She was completely covered in wet mud and more closely resembled a black leopard than a lion. It was hilarious! And sooooo disgusting. Since I had already put her meat in her stall, I let her eat while I checked and fed some other animals.

When I returned to the lions, Casey's two stalls were completely brown with mud. She shook mud droplets all over the walls and even out the mesh fencing into the keeper hallway. I was about bawling with laughter. I grabbed the hose and started hosing out the stalls. Lions typically don't like water, but Casey must have really wanted to lose the mud because she allowed me to hose her off almost completely. I spent about 10 minutes hosing the stalls from the front and got most of the mud off the lion and lots out of the stalls. I imagine I'll still spend at least an hour cleaning her two stalls today. Yuck. Oh, and I can't even imagine what she did in the yard to make this mess :) I didn't have time to look after all my hosing...

It was only Tuesday and already my second experience with a mud-covered girl this week. Kaylin came home from the neighbors' Sunday evening COVERED in mud. She claimed that she slipped coming off their trampoline, but judging from how even her covering was, it appeared she rolled around after she "slipped." I immediately went for the hose but it wouldn't turn on. Ok, maybe Gene shut off the water to the hose for some reason. I went to the kitchen sink. No water. Huh??? Kaylin told me the neighbors had no water either. Ugh. A water main break. I ended up using one of Logan's beloved spray bottles that happened to be half full and some paper towels to clean my mud-covered child. Nice timing, Kaylin!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Kaylin's room, aaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Gene and I spent a good portion of Friday afternoon discussing giving the kids allowance and whether they should be required to do chores/ have good behavior to earn it or whether it should just be a learning experience on saving vs. spending. It's actually a tough question in our house, because the "learning experience" would just be a weekly stuffing of Logan's wallet. He would refuse to spend a penny. Kaylin, on the other hand, would spend every penny. Also, Logan keeps his room neat and puts his dirty clothes in the laundry basket and his books back on the shelf. Kaylin is a disaster. To me, both the chores and "learning experience" majorly favor Logan (even if hoarding isn't really learning...) so I was for the behavior based system that would benefit both kids. Gene was for the chore system because he can't stand Kaylin's disorganization and wants everything to be based on the cleanliness of her room. Yeah, I know from personal experience that a few bucks a week will not help her problem. Gene and Logan are naturally more organized. They were born that way. It's certainly a good quality, but it's only something Kaylin can improve, not completely change.

We didn't come to a conclusion, but I did convince Gene that as long as Kaylin has 12 bazillion toys, books, art supplies, etc. in her room there is No. Way. she is going to keep them organized. Especially with the neighbor kids coming in and dumping stuff everywhere or getting out toys Kaylin rarely plays with. I decided to clean Kaylin's room. Not just throw things around and make floor space, but actually go through and sort everything and get rid of tons of stuff. It was the most overwhelming task I've taken on in a long time!

Her three biggest toy collections are My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop and Playmobil. I got three empty Rubbermaid containers and started sorting. I also had three plastic shoebox-sized containers, one each for crayons, markers and pencils. I slowly worked my way around the room, sorting and pitching and screaming at myself for taking on this horrible project. It felt like every time I finished one small area another hidden area of junk would pop up. Gene came and helped. In the end, we filled 4 1/2 large trash bags and a box for Goodwill. I just recently went through all her clothes for her school garage sale so the vast majority of the garbage was junk toys and tons and tons of art supplies and paper. Oh, I even recycled quite a bit of paper, but we still had that much trash! I ran out of time for actual cleaning, but somehow got through all her stuff except her stuffed animal collection, which is at least contained to a pet net above her bed. It was a horrible project that an 8-yr-old could NEVER EVER have done by herself!

And yes, Kaylin was barely involved in the room cleaning. I threw out soooooo many of her art projects, it would never have worked to have her involved! I can't even pretend to have any kind of attachment to the mobile made from a plastic hanger and several Dora the Explorer characters that appear to have been cut from a cereal box. Trash! Along with about 1000 other similar projects...

Next weekend I'm doing Logan's room. It will probably take an hour including deep cleaning time and I may fill the bottom of his tiny trash can. Phew!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day outing

I had to work Sunday so I wanted to celebrate Mother's Day with my family on Saturday. I didn't have an exact plan in mind, I just wanted to go somewhere and do something fun. I wanted to go places I've never been before and have a relaxing good time. Unfortunately, Gene and the kids had other plans. The kids wanted to play with the neighbors and Gene wanted to mow the lawn. Yeah, tough crap, I win because I'M the mother and it's Mother's Day and you have all day actual Mother's Day to do that stuff while I'm at work!

So we all piled into the van. The kids were whining about WHERE we were going and Gene was disgusted that I didn't have an EXACT destination in mind. I was totally wasting everyone's time! I told him to drive toward Chillicothe. I've never been to Three Sisters Park or Camp Wokanda and we were going to check out both of those places :) As we set out on our journey, Gene calmed down and remembered a road that runs alongside the river all the way to Chilli. We took it and marveled at the high water and watched ducks and geese. Once in Chilli, the kids remembered a park with a really big slide where they watched fireworks last year. We went. It was right on the river. After sliding a bunch of times we went and threw rocks and sticks in the river. Huh, this was turning out to be fun after all.

After we'd had enough sliding and rock throwing, we headed to Three Sisters Park. Gene assured me there was nothing there, but I wanted to stop anyway, just to say I'd been. We drove back into the park and found many campers, drove a little more and discovered border collie herding trials! Cool! The kids were AMAZED that Horrible Neighbor Dog's breedmates were actually intelligent! We watched a few dogs herd their sheep and played with a very nice border collie who didn't leap straight into the air trying to bite our faces. A very fun unexpected find.

On to Camp Wokanda! I really just wanted to see the place, not actually stop to hike or anything because The Bottomless Pit a.k.a. Logan was STARVING and would probably DIE on the trail. We pulled into a parking lot and got out to use the (very nice and clean) bathrooms. Behind the bathrooms was a field. A field FULL of those nutty Renaissance reenactment people battling with swords. Hee hee. Talk about unexpected!

I was pretty pleased with my outing and wanted to end it with ice cream. Ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery! But, I forgot that the mall hosts a big bash after Race for the Cure and from the highway the parking lot looked like the week before Christmas. We took another exit and went to Cheddar's instead to share a Cookie Monster and a Brownie Thunder. Mmmmmm. Perfection.

Oh, and since I failed to call- Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Over the past several months, Gene and I have been joking around about different infomercial products. It hasn't been a major part of our lives or anything, just a little teasing about the ShamWow! or the Snuggie. Oh, and if we see a woman we suspect of using a Bumpit, we point her out. On the rare occasion we're at Target or Walgreens together, we might stop and marvel at the As Seen on TV section. It's a dumb inside joke that one of our children has now picked up on...

Logan has been imitating fire extinguisher safety videos for some time. He knows what PASS means. He knows to occasionally tip the extinguisher upside down five times for I don't remember what. He can mimic entire safety videos and does them in the same monotone we've all come to expect in our work required safety training.

Lately, however, Logan's been trying to take the huge leap to imitating infomercials. It's a BIG difference. The safety video guys are dull and boring and speak slowly so you can take in and understand every important word. The infomercial pitchmen are loud and obnoxious and speak faster than auctioneers. They don't care if you take in every word, just that you get excited about a revolving hairbrush or a jerky-making machine.

Yesterday I was at the kitchen table, reading the paper and doing the Cryptoquote. (Yes, that's precisely how exciting I am!) Logan came in and started his pitch about some miracle planter thing to grow your own tomatoes indoors. Because NOTHING is better than fresh, homegrown tomatoes! But planting your own garden is bad freaking work! Wait a minute, bad freaking work? Kaylin was nearby and was unable to speak she was laughing so hard. I called him out on it and he very seriously said "Yeah, planting a garden is bad freaking work." Kaylin finally caught her breath and said "Back-breaking work, Logan. Back-breaking!!!" Ah, maybe he should stick to safety videos.


Speaking of products seen on tv, Friday night I got myself a box of those detox foot pads that change from clean white to filthy-disgusting as they absorb impurities while you sleep. We were having dinner with my entire family and my dad offered to play the $3 game at Deal$ (a junk store mix between Everything's $1 and Big Lot's.) He then extended the game from grandchildren only to everyone. The foot pads were $5 so I forced Gene to go in with me :) It was bedtime when we got home so I applied a pad to each foot and then another to my right forearm that's been bothering me for several weeks. The smell was overpowering and awful. Gene compared it to a basted rawhide bone for a dog. I agreed, but it was really a STRONG spice or herb. I slept pretty well despite the pads and when I woke I eagerly turned on the light and ripped off the pads to check out the "impurities." I took the pad off my arm first and was somewhat disappointed. It just had a small amount of discoloration but was still mostly white. My feet didn't let me down! The pads were solid brown and dripping with nastiness. The smell, oh the smell...

Ok, I don't believe for one second that the pads removed anything toxic from my body. They got wet with sweat and changed colors. Whoop-dee-do. They did actually do SOMETHING. I have arch pain due to wearing rubber knee boots at work. It's usually worst in the morning until I stretch and it didn't hurt at all. Also, the dull muscle pain in my arm was gone. I think the pads work similarly to the stick-on heat pads you can buy for muscle pain. Except the heat pads don't stink and probably work a little better. I scrubbed my feet with soap and water and put on fresh socks before heading out for an hour and fifteen minute hike in the woods. I worked up a pretty good sweat and my socks and shoes REEKED like foot pad afterward. I took a shower, rescrubbed my feet and put on fresh socks and a different pair of shoes. Last night my socks smelled like foot pad. Repeat scrubbing and fresh socks. This morning my socks smell like foot pad. Yuck. I think I'll pass along (or maybe trash) the other 11 pads. I don't think I can handle the stink again. And there's No Way Gene's gonna put them on HIS feet!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

You can call me Red

Saturday afternoon I went to the walk-in place to get a haircut. They were surprisingly slow and way overstaffed so I was taken to a chair immediately. The girl asked what I wanted and when I said just a haircut she wasn't having any part of it. I'm thinking she was going to get sent home early and wanted her hours, because she went on and on about how I was going to have to color my gray sooner or later so I might as well do it Right Now. Since I've been meaning to color my hair for several years now, I went ahead with it.

Cutter assured me she would match my natural brown so perfectly that the roots won't be noticeable when it grows out. Well, except for the gray. Ok, go for it! Cutter spent a ridiculously long time mixing the color (or doing something since I have no idea how the process actually works.) She then colored my hair and stuck me under the dryer long enough that I fell asleep. (Which could have been two minutes since I can't sit still doing nothing without falling asleep. Thanks Dad!) She then washed my hair and warned me that it looks really dark but that's just because it's wet. I didn't pay much attention. She cut my hair and messed around for a long time with different straightening irons and curling irons and gunk and spray. Cutter was having a good old time playing with my hair. Finally, she turned me around for my "reveal." I was SHOCKED. My hair is nowhere NEAR my natural color! It is RED!!!

Ok, red may be a bit of an overstatement, but it is dark brown with a very rusty tinge. In direct sunlight it looks like I intentionally dyed it a weird shade of red. I'm terrible at describing color, but my hair color reminds me of the women with brown hair who dye their hair with that purple tint. Except my hair has a red tint. I'm having a hard time getting used to it. Kaylin is too... Next time I will save some $$$ and do it myself! I doubt I can do any worse :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Out of Shape

One of the women I work with hosts an annual charitable run/walk to honor her brother-in-law as well as other police officers killed on the job. It is a fundraiser for a survivor's group. Last year it was my first ever 5K and I won my age group. I quit running regularly in November when I was working 7 days a week and was exhausted and then failed to start running again due to a huge variety of lame excuses. Mary has been "bugging" me for months about running again this year. I decided that since I was not in shape to run, I'd drag the whole family along to walk with me :)

The kids had no idea what they were getting into so they whined about getting up early and about where they were going. (The event was at Junction City which is maybe 5 minutes from our house.) Once there, they kinda changed their minds. We got t-shirts and backpacks stuffed with candy, bottled water and other fun stuff. We got racing numbers. We got to eat from the buffet of donuts, fruit, sandwiches and chips. The walk was only one mile and the kids had a blast picking "wish flowers" and then spreading dandelion seeds into all the lawns along the walking route. We walked with Gene's cousin and his wife who we usually only see at Christmas. It was a good time. Maybe next year I'll run it. Or maybe not...

Now I have to get in shape for a park district team competition next month. It requires a lot of running (though thankfully not all at once) as well as rowing a small boat and many other physical activities. I was talked into signing up for no other reason than I'm one of the few people with Saturdays off. I figured it would be a fun couple of hours and that we'd not be competetive and that nobody on the team cared about winning or placement. I was wrong. My boss is pumped! Next Thursday the team is meeting at the (event) park to make sure everyone knows their way around and then to practice on the team building course they have. I suspect this won't be our only practice. Sigh.