Saturday, August 29, 2009

Another vacation over :(

I've had a great vacation. It was the perfect mix of going somewhere fun and loafing around the house. I can't believe it's over :(

Last night we got a new cat. A friend is moving to a temporary location and can't take him. He'll either stay with us forever or go back with her when she finds a permanent place. So far, he's not doing well. He spent the evening hiding behind the toilet in the "cat bathroom" and all night and all day today behind the couch. If anyone looks at him he hisses and yowls. In real life he's a lot like Tiger so I'm hopeful that once he adjusts to his new home they will be buddies. (And he'll be buddies with the rest of us...) Oh duh, his name is Simon. Tiger is a little upset by Simon, but mostly is acting normal.

The kids had a great first week of school. Both liked their teachers. Kaylin has had only minor homework and Logan has had none. I took them to school every day since I was off. School doesn't start until 9am so they were able to sleep until 8. Monday will be a bit of a shock when we have to leave at 7:25 again. Oh well, they did it all summer. I suppose one week won't ruin them too much! I hope.

I finally got around to reading Twilight and I hated the ending so much I decided to not bother with the rest of the series. At least for now. I usually love books written for children and teens, but the incredibly drawn out "epilouge" of Edward taking Bella to the prom made me want to puke. Would a 100-yr-old vampire really go to the high school prom and then be jealous of a 15-yr-old boy hitting on his girlfriend? It was so lame. Also, the huge buildup of the tracker vampire coming after Bella and then- nothing. Bella's in the hospital. Whoop dee doo. Maybe I have to read the rest of the books, but I honestly don't understand why this series is so popular with adults.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

40 before 40 revisited

I've been meaning to update my list for a while and now that I'm almost 37 (and have the day off) it seems like a good time.

40 before 40
A list of 40 things to accomplish before turning 40 on 10/29/2012
1. Overcome walkingstick phobia- some progress but still eewwwwwwww
2. Vacation without kids for at least 3 days- DONE (Nashville 9/08)
3. Vacation by myself for at least 3 days- DONE (see above)
4. Vacation with kids somewhere other than Walt Disney World- DONE
5. Start college savings for both kids
6. Organize and declutter entire house-LOL
7. Furnish at least one room with "real" non-hand-me-down furniture- DONE (and now looks old...)
8. Establish savings account-DONE
9. Avoid acquiring ANY new dogs, small mammals or birds-so far, so good, but I should have originally added cats
10. Meal plan for an entire month- probably least likely to happen of entire list
11. Keep weight at or below current weight
12. No fast food for two months straight- yikes
13. Regulate sleep schedule-hmmm, bed at 8:30, up at 4?
14. Establish daily exercise program- Did it and stopped doing it
15. Figure out how to balance family/work/kids activities/personal time-I'm getting better, but will probably never figure this one out!
16. Go to Yellowstone or Grand Canyon
17. Visit a friend or family member out of state- DONE
18. Do something every day that takes me out of my comfort zone-A work in progress, but yeah, I'm doing it.
19. Write a book-even if only for myself
20. Buy a video camera and actually use it- I bought one and shot video of the tigers tearing apart bags of feathers. I have not used it on my human children :(
21. Hang family pictures-DONE
22. Learn to play piano or guitar
23. Read the classics I've never read- working on it.
24. Eat the daily food pyramid recommendations of fruits and vegetables- did it for a year and then slacked off
25. Increase wardrobe to include DECENT outfits for every season and occasion- hee hee, nope
26. Get up close to a giant anteater- DONE. Twice
27. Take kids to see the eagles near the dam in Burlington
28. Run in a Zoo Run Run- DONE (9/08) Will likely never do again thankyouverymuch.
29. Find a place to see wild otters
30. Learn how to buy and cook meat other than hamburger and chicken breasts
31. Make and freeze a week's worth of meals and then actually eat them
32. Refrain from starting any new collections- so far, so good
33. Organize photos into albums or scrapbooks
34. Learn to identify trees- working on it
35. Go to a concert- I can't believe I haven't accomplished this one!
36. Regularly keep a journal or blog- so far, so good
37. Read at least two books a month- um, I must have been running out of ideas as this has never been a problem for me!
38. Sleep in past 8am (being sick doesn't count)- Hmmm, I think I slept until 8:20 once at Disney World, but definitely never at home.
39. Huh, I somehow missed a goal. My new goal is to find out the old goal before my next revision list.
40. Do something completely unexpected- I wonder what I originally had in mind here... I mean, I don't want to do something terrible :)
Many goals accomplished, many more works in progress that I'm keeping up. Most of the food and meal planning goals are no longer important to me and I can't imagine I'll bother freezing a week's worth of meals or planning menus for a month. We shall see.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The First Day of School

It's hard to believe that yesterday at this time we were still in Wisconsin Dells, riding go karts and having fun and today is suddenly school. Sigh. Anyway, school starts at 9am this year. Since I was off work today, the kids got to sleep in until almost 8. They got up and put on their uniforms. Logan was in khaki shorts that went below his knees and a navy polo. He looked like a mini zookeeper. Kaylin wore her one and only white polo with a navy skirt. They looked so cute in their uniforms. I walked them into school and all the other kids looked so cute in their uniforms. It was interesting to see the girl who is normally dressed in $$$ outfits with matching shoes wearing the same thing as everyone else. I don't really think clothing is an issue yet at Kaylin's primary school, but it certainly will be at middle school next year. My feelings are still pretty mixed about the whole uniform thing, but I will be glad to not EVER have to shop at the mall for school clothes!

The kids were both excited about their first day. Logan had a couple of old friends in his room and Kaylin went from being incredibly disappointed about the teacher she got to being crazy-excited. It turned out that she had the teachers' names wrong and thought she got the "mean" teacher but actually got the nice one! She was yapping loudly as we were walking out of the building and the mom behind us stopped her and asked who the mean teacher was? Kaylin told her and the mom admitted that she'd heard that. It was pretty funny.

I better get some laundry done before we go to my parents' house to celebrate my dad's birthday. Logan is eager to go fishing. Now! Happy birthday, Dad!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Dells, Part Two

We did manage to book a third night at Great Wolf Lodge, but probably only because I was up early and went to the front desk first thing. The woman at the desk told me they were even busier Sunday night than they were Saturday. She said that was very strange and figured it was people trying to eek in one last getaway before school starts. I happened to be walking by the front desk after breakfast and heard them turning down someone else who wanted to book an extra night. We were lucky ducks!

Even the kids were tired of swimming! They actually skipped their morning swim. We drove about 20 minutes to a big cat rescue facility. They take in unwanted big cats and (apparently) don't breed them or do photo sessions with cubs. We had a good time watching many tigers, seven lions and two leopards. Most of the tigers were displayed alone or with littermates (tigers are solitary animals.) The lions were in pairs because they are social animals. However, my favorite exhibit contained a grown male tiger and a grown male lion. I am assuming they must have been raised together as cubs. I can't even estimate the number of times I've been asked at keeper chats who would win a fight, lions or tigers? My answer is ALWAYS "We don't know because we'll NEVER put them together!"

Kaylin was eager to play MagiQuest. She carefully chose her electronic wand and we began our very long scavenger hunt. We used a booklet of clues to guide us on 10 missions to find ancient runes and become Master Magi. It was really cool because most of the items did something when you aimed your wand at them (treasure chests opened, lights turned on.) The thing that was painful (for me) was that there were FIVE floors of clues and almost every mission included at least four floors. Up stairs, down stairs, up stairs down stairs, over and over and over and over. There were 4-8 things to gather per mission and nearly all were on different floors. We played for about four hours before we finally "won." Of course, there is really no end to the game because now she can choose from a dozen "adventures," plus there are two missions located inside the lobby area of the lodge. Kaylin loved every second of the game and wants to go back today.

I knew Logan would NOT love the game, so he and Gene went to a huge indoor playland within walking distance of our hotel. They had indoor go karts as well as many rides and a large arcade. Gene took him on the go karts twice and then got him a ride wristband so he could ride everything over and over. We met up at MagiQuest about 3pm, just as Kaylin was completing her Master Magi mission. I really wanted to go to the International Crane Foundation, so I hopped in the van and headed there. Gene took both kids back to the playland and got Kaylin her own wristband :) The crane place was awesome. They displayed a pair of every kind of crane from around the world (15 or 16 types- I sadly can't remember.) Years ago, I worked with African crowned cranes and had forgotten about how much attitude they have! I'm trying to think where we could (safely) house some in our new Africa exhibit. It was extremely enjoyable to wander around without kids. They would have hated the place!

We met up for dinner at 6 and then hit the waterpark from 7-9. I have no plans to swim this morning, so I decided to make the most of my last night. Logan and I went on slide after slide and I played in the wave pool and the basketball pool. (Kaylin made a friend that she was hanging out with.) Suddenly Gene showed up in his swim trunks and said he'd decided to go with me on the Tornado. The Tornado was the one slide Logan wasn't tall enough to do and it required at least two people so I couldn't do it on my own. You sit facing each other on a tube and do an almost vertical drop into a huge cylinder (the tornado) where you go back and forth up and down the walls until you are flushed out into another vertical tube and expelled from the ride. It was 15 seconds of pure awesomeness for me and terror for Gene. (Eh, only a few seconds, thanks Gene-Gene :) I wisely stayed out of the hot tub and all my stair climbing for the slides kept me warm. I wasn't cold at all. The kids loved swimming as always and will go one last time this morning. The plan is to then maybe do MagiQuest for a little while, go on "real" outdoor go karts and then start heading home.

It's been an excellent weekend adventure. We've all had a great time and have tons of stuff we want to do "next time." My only complaint is that my bad (planter fasciitis) foot flared up again majorly after climbing all those waterslide stairs barefoot. Then when it was already flared up I spent four hours climbing stairs at MagiQuest and then on many more barefoot climbs at the waterpark last night. I will have to spend the remainder of my vacation week with my orthotics or just resting the foot. Poor Susy. At least I have five more days off work :D

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wisconsin Dells

Well, after countless ideas, many plans and changing our minds dozens of times, we are currently in Wisconsin Dells. I made no reservations because I was unsure where we'd actually end up. This was a good thing and a mistake. We pulled onto "Waterpark Row" and found both Kalahari and The Wilderness completely booked. I was a little panicked as I entered Great Wolf Lodge, but we not only got a room, we were upgraded to a room with bunk beds for the kids! Great Wolf was my last choice of the big three, but it turned out to be fantastic. I've never been to The Wilderness, but compared to Kalahari, Great Wolf seems much more geared to families with school age kids. There is only one waterslide Logan is too short for and I feel comfortable allowing him to ride the slides over and over and over by himself. (After the first evening of climbing those stairs over and over I was pretty much done.) The big slides are all tube slides so he's fine going on them alone. His favorite is a mat slide where you lie on the mat head first and zip down the slide. The end part is similar to those giant slides at the fair. It is a blast! Unfortunately, you have to climb 20,000 stairs for a 10 second ride :) I'm on vacation!

Friday was our travel day and we stopped at the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison. They had some very cool animals and we enjoyed watching a pair of rhinos digging in the sand. We also stopped at Madison's Lands' End store. I was hoping to find good deals on school uniforms and was disappointed. Oh well... We spent the entire evening swimming.

Saturday we swam in the morning, wandered around downtown Wisconsin Dells, played mini-golf at a gigantic place with waterfalls and caves, rode the Ducks and swam some more. I hadn't been too excited about the Ducks, but that was really fun! I would totally do it again on another trip. Logan was thrilled with the Duck experience and was hoping for a Duck (Hotwheels type) car from their gift shop. The only Duck "cars" they had were wooden and for display, not play. Too bad, I think every little boy would love a toy Duck!

I suppose I have to admit that I'm So. Done. Swimming! Last night I made the mistake of getting into the family hot tub with Logan. The kids love the thrill of getting into the hot tub for a couple of minutes and then jumping into the cold pool. I am too old for that "thrill." I was to the point where I was so cold I couldn't get out of the hot tub. I was so sick of swimming that I actually fell asleep for a while on a lounger in front of the wave pool.

In a few minutes, I will head to the front desk and try to book our room for one more night. The kids are NOT sick of swimming and Kaylin really wants to play the resort's new game (Magic Quest?) It's a virtual scavenger hunt where you take a special magic wand around to many different stations, gathering clues and attempting to slay the dragon. I inquired about the game and they said "depending on the person" it takes anywhere from two to FIVE hours. EEEEEEEEKKK!!!!! This person cannot handle five hours :) Gene wants to take Logan to an indoor amusement park within walking distance of our hotel and we all have many more activites we want to do in the area. Another night will equal at least three more swimming sessions. Ugh. I think I'll just take my book and not even bother putting on my suit. At least this morning...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

School registration

Sigh. Tonight was registration night at the kids' school. I had to leave work an hour early to fill out reams of paperwork and write check after check. I suppose I should be glad that I now have their emergency forms, school directory, latchkey and a ton of other forms finished, but man, that was overwhelming! Kaylin was greatly disappointed that she didn't get the teacher she wanted and that Zoe's not in her classroom. Logan also didn't get his preferred teacher, but he did get his (and Kaylin's) original kindergarten teacher. Both kids were moved out of her class when they added a 4th K class. She moved up to 1st grade this year. We'll see if the third time's a charm and if he'll actually STAY in her room this time!

The first graders got to go to their classroom and meet the teacher and put their supplies in their desks. Logan had been nervous, but since he already knew Mrs. S it turned out to be no big deal. Kaylin ran around with friends and was crazy-excited. It took about an hour, but I finished and we left.

Well, better clean and do laundry and pack for our weekend get-away. I'm 90% sure we're going to Wisconsin Dells. We shall see :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

End of Summer

Sniff, sob. Another summer of Camp Zone is over. Kaylin loved it as always. Logan started out not loving being outside all day every day. For a few weeks he begged to stay home on Fridays when I was off work and sometimes whined about having to go. He ended up loving it. He even asked to go to Glen Oak Park this (Saturday) morning because he missed it. Sorry, no.

What I love about Camp Zone is that it is as close to the perfect childhood summer vacation I can provide my kids while still working fulltime. They are outside all day, every day. While they have plenty of organized activities, most of their time is spent swinging and playing in the sand and playing board and card games and running around. They are surrounded by other kids and get to swim, hike, fish, go to movies, go to playgrounds and go on a special field trip every week. They spend almost no time watching tv or playing video games and I have literally not heard the words "I'm bored" one time. Evenings and weekends are spent riding bikes, playing with neighbor kids and pets and playing catch in the yard. I will be sad to see school start. I hate homework and shortening days and cold temperatures!

Some of the things Logan learned this summer were how to dogpaddle, how to swing really well, how to make bridges and tunnels in the sand, how to play many card and board games, how to remove a fish from a hook, how to go across monkey bars, how to catch and throw a football and how to make a fort inside of a large bush. He also learned some undesirable words and phrases, but nothing he wouldn't have learned at school this year. Logan is terrified of thunderstorms and used to Freak Out and bawl. Through the power of Camp Zone peer pressure, he learned how to keep calm and hold it together through the worst storms. He loved his counsellors and could probably get me anywhere I need to go on the city bus system. Camp was a very good experience.

This week the kids will go to Riverplex Camp. It's a much larger camp with many more kids and more organization. They get to swim every day, but Kaylin doesn't like it nearly as much as Camp Zone. I think Logan will enjoy the sports aspect of the camp (which is what Kaylin doesn't like.) I'm on vacation from Friday through the following Saturday and we plan to go away for one last long weekend before school starts. As usual, we have no idea where we're going. The current choice is Wisconsin Dells. We were thinking about Chicago, but when we started adding up everything we wanted to do it was going to cost too much and cause too much stress. We also considered St. Louis, Indy, Cincinnatti, the Ozarks, Memphis and Omaha. I guess we'll refer to Summer 2009 as The Year of the Waterpark Resort. I think we'll try The Wilderness in Wisconsin Dells. Or maybe we'll head to Paducah, Kentucky...

Well, better go wash school uniforms and clean out my car. Five more days of work before vacation!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back to normal

Yippee, my hair is back to brown. I took the plunge and plunked down $6 at Wal-Mart for some light brown dye and did it all by myself. I was so shocked at my $80 atomic sweet potato coloring job I didn't do anything with the color for three months. It's not dry yet so I don't know exactly how it turned out, but seriously, it can't be any worse than the "professional" job.

I'm coming to the end of a lovely, relaxing three day weekend. I got a lot of little stuff done and spent even more time reading and messing around on my computer. The kids and I spent most of the afternoon building a Playmobil pyramid and sphinx. It's an amazing set and the kids and neighbor kids have been playing for hours, discovering all the cool secret features and making up adventures.

I'm so rested I don't even mind the neighbor kids being over. Well, that's about as interesting as I get this week.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

facebook honeymoon

Lynne's been pestering me to join Facebook for I dunno, maybe a month? I'd groan and roll my eyes and delete the email :) I finally broke down and joined on Friday morning. I've blown a ridiculous portion of my weekend looking at family photos of high school classmates I haven't thought about in nearly 20 years. I've also found former coworkers I've lost touch with and even set a lunch date with one. It's totally addicting because everyone has a unique friends list and different people are popping up all the time. I haven't even scratched the surface of my family. So come friend me and check out my photos and find out my favorite books, movies and tv shows, lol.

Yesterday was back to school clothes shopping day. I was thrilled when I heard the school district was switching to uniforms, but man, they are NOT fun to shop for. Do you like these completely plain pants, these completely plain shorts, these completely plain capris or this completely plain skirt? No. I mean, I know you don't LIKE any of them, but which ones do you want? None of them. Ok, I know you don't want ANY of them, but you have to have clothes for school. Do you want skirts, pants or shorts? No. Ok, child, you must have one of these plain navy or khaki pieces of cloth to cover your underwear while attending school. Skirt, pants or shorts? I hate them all. Well, duh. I am now going to lose it and start beating you with a plastic hanger in the middle of Target!!!

Logan's pants were much easier because my only choices were shorts and plain or pleated pants. I grabbed navy and khaki shorts and navy and khaki plain-fronted pants and moved on. We then hit the shoe store. Logan knew exactly what he wanted, tried them on and was done. Kaylin knew she was bitter she'd no longer be able to wear Crocs. We tried on 7000 pairs of shoes and they all felt TERRIBLE. I finally found a pair of plainish white Nikes and while they still felt TERRIBLE, they felt better than the others. Done. Then Logan ran up and asked why she was trying on BOY shoes. I am now going to lose it and start throwing those packets of "Do not eat" drying crystals at you in the middle of Shoe Carnival!!!

Hi. My name is Susy and I hate shopping for back to school clothes just as much now as I did when I was a kid. Amen.

I met Jenny and her kids at Splashdown on Friday. My kids were already there with Camp Zone. While it was great to catch up with Jenny, I completely don't understand the appeal of floating around the lazy river crammed with a bajillion other people. I am so completely done with water parks I will for sure have to rethink our mini-vacation in a few weeks. I don't want to swim again for at least several months! Oh, and despite slathering myself with SPF 50, my back (that hasn't seen direct sunlight in years) got completely fried.

Hi. My name is Susy and I hate outdoor public waterparks despite the fact that I loved them as a kid. Eh, at least the kids had a GREAT time. They got to play with their camp friends AND Jenny's kids.