Friday, November 27, 2009

A Snuggie for every cart!

I hate shopping, but I love Black Friday. I don't care about the deals. I don't care about Doorbusters and BIG 5 Hour Sales!! and Unbeatable Prices! I love watching and listening to the people. I love spying on other peoples' carts and watching people grab stuff off of shelves for no other reason than it's a "good deal." I love heaping carts with hundreds of dollars of useless junk that no one will like or appreciate. I love strolling through the stores and looking at the huge lines and then leaving without buying anything. I love the groups of women in pajamas with perfect hair and makeup and the women in sweats who look like they actually did just roll out of bed. Today's winner was a woman who appeared to be in her late 50s. She had on Green Bay Packers lounge pants, those fuzzy slipper boots that went halfway up to her knees, a puffy pink coat with a rainbow fuzzy scarf and a black and white Cruella DeVille hair-do that must have taken an hour to accomplish. I was too gutless to ask if I could take her picture with my phone and I couldn't really have snuck it. Maybe next year I'll make a certificate and hand it to the winner :)

After hearing my aunt's amazing story of Wal-Mart and covered pallets and store maps and crazed shoppers grabbing at items, I decided to hit Wal-Mart first. The sale started at 5am. I left home ~4:40. I figured I could watch the fun and then maybe grab some of the $3 pajamas for the kids and beat the crowds to the registers. Ha ha on me. By the time I got to Wal-Mart the parking lot was completely full, as were the lots at Bob Evans, KFC and the little strip mall next door. I could have walked from Arby's, but I could see crowds and crowds of people lined up inside and just couldn't handle walking in the cold just to view the nutters.

Instead, I headed out to Gordman's which was the place I really wanted to go. They were giving out shopping bags with a 25% discount on everything that fit inside to the first 300 customers. They also had marshmallow shooters for $8.99 and cheap Webkinz. I arrived right at 5am and the line wrapped around the store. I got in the slow moving line and was inside in about 5 minutes. Yeee! I got my bag! Boo! I missed the marshmallow guns. Oh well, I got some really cheap sleep pants and slippers, a cute zebra shirt for Kaylin and a reindeer Webkinz that came with a KinzClip (to unlock a new game) for Logan. They often have a nice selection of White Sox stuff, but I found absolutely nothing for Gene. The lines were long, but not horrible. I probably waited 20 minutes at most.

On to Michaels. It was a couple minutes after their 6am opening and I walked right in and could have gotten a cart if I wanted one. I found some craft items for Kaylin and a few stocking stuffers. There was one person ahead of me in line. Michaels had the same sales and deals last night, so that majorly cut back on their shoppers at opening today. A couple years ago I waited in line almost an hour at Michaels. Hurray for making their employees work on Thanksgiving!

So far, the people hadn't been that interesting (though The Winner was at Michaels.) I needed to go somewhere for some good people watching. Kmart had buy 2 get 1 free Legos. Eh, worth a look... I parked at the garden center at the back of the store and walked in to find lines from the two garden center registers waaaayyyyyy into the store. I strolled along, looking at the people and their pending purchases. There was a Snuggie in every cart! There were also tons of those cheap small appliances, gobs of doorbuster toys and clothes. Just what everyone wants for Chrismas, a lovely $7 blouse from Kmart! The lines in the main part of the store were outrageous, stretching more than halfway back through the store. Fortunately, the Legos were picked over and nothing tempted me to wait in a two hour line to save $10! I have to admit that my time is far more valuable than $10.

I was very satisfied with my Black Friday experience. I got home before 7:30. I spent maybe $60 and got a bunch of fun stuff I wanted to buy anyway for 25% off. The kids will be thrilled that I bought a gingerbread house kit. I will enjoy my new pajamas and slippers. Now the kids are hounding me to get off the computer and help them make Shrinky Dinks. Now!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blah dee blah

Whoohooo!!! I am done with all of my major Christmas shopping. I haven't bought candy for the kids' stockings because I'll eat it. I also plan to hit Michaels on Black Friday, but only if they have their usual 40% off your entire purchase coupon. I'll buy a few stocking stuffers and Kaylin wants some green yarn. (?) I kept on budget and managed to get the kids pretty much everything on their lists. (Kaylin actually made a list and had "a real cooking station" on it. Um... Does she want her own oven? She can have the one in the kitchen :) I found some great surprises, especially some new books Kaylin doesn't know exist. Yeeeeeeeee! Now I just need a better place to hide this stuff.

The kids are off of school today and I took the day off of work. I also had yesterday (Tuesday) off because I switched days with a coworker. I'll have to work Saturday, but it was great to have yesterday off by myself and complete that shopping before the mega-crowds hit. I don't know what we'll do today, but hopefully it won't involve the neighbor kids being here all day long!

Speaking of the neighbors, their awful, out of control, untrained border collie jumped the fence into our yard on Saturday. Brady was locked in his crate while Gene was working in the front yard with the garage door open. Stupid Dog entered our garage through the doggie door and proceeded to mark (pee on) every open surface inside our garage. This included Brady's crate and dog bed. I walked out there and was Ticked. Off. Brady would NEVER pee in the garage! I spent way too much time cleaning up after Stupid Dog. I dragged him home and threw him into his own yard and left a long note about what a pain it was to clean all THEIR dog's pee out of my garage and would they PLEASE find a way to contain their own dog! And that he barks nonstop while they're gone and that I've heard other neighbors complaining about him and yelling at him to be quiet. They have avoided me since (which is more than fine) and Stupid Dog has not been back in our yard. They haven't refrained from sending their children over to play at dinner time. Oh well. I can't have everything :)

One bit of good news came from the podiatrist. I've had horrible plantar fasciitis pain since last spring. It has been bad enough to majorly affect my life and decisions about vacations, etc. I haven't been able to run or even walk for exercise and have gained some weight. For most of the summer, the pain was the major focus of my life. I could make it through my workday, but would come home to immediately soak and stretch and ice and wrap my feet. I've been on a high dose of an arthritis drug for months. I spent hundreds on custom orthotics and new shoes. I've previously only visited the doctor this many times for pregnancy. Anyway, the pain has steadily been getting better. My left foot is almost completely better. My right foot still hurts, but is sooooo much better. My life no longer revolves completely around my feet! I had yet another appointment on Monday and told the doc I'd like to start exercising again and figured losing some weight would help my feet as well. He misunderstood my intentions and thought I WANTED to start running again. He quickly forbade me to run or even walk for exercise, but said I can use an exercise bike. Being "forbidden" to run again (at least for a while) makes me happier than I can express :) I hate running :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009


The kids and I were wandering around Wal-Mart looking at Christmas decorations. Kaylin suddenly asked if we had Tiger last Christmas? I told her he wasn't even born until January, so no. She said "But how are we going to have a tree?" Uh.... Smart child. I never even thought about Tiger and Simon and a Christmas tree! We will have a tree that gets knocked over multiple times daily. We will have a tree with no breakable ornaments, no candy canes and no decorations we care deeply about. Fortunately, our artificial tree is only ~5 feet tall with built-in lights. It will be annoying to wake nightly to the tree crashing over, but at least the cats can't do any real harm.

My next holiday problem is that both kids still believe in Santa Claus. Kaylin's classmates keep telling her there is no Santa, but she refuses to believe them. She had forms sent home for parents to fill out if they want a phone call or letter from Santa to their child. Both were stamped with the logo of the park district. Kaylin asked if Santa is my coworker? I told her in this case he is, because obviously Santa can't call and/or write every kid in the world so park district people and volunteers do the actual calling and writing of letters. She was ok with that explanation.

I am not really ok with the whole Santa thing. I've been working hard with Kaylin on spending vs. saving and checking reviews of expensive toys before purchasing. She may still blow her $10 on yet another Webkinz rather than saving for a new video game, but she has gotten into reading reviews on Amazon. We just read about the Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker and found that the vast majority of reviewers thought the cupcakes were mediocre and the frosting applicator didn't work. We also found that a refill package that makes 6 cupcakes costs $12! We discussed how many "real" cupcake making supplies she could buy for $30 and how many regular cupcakes she could make for $12. Kaylin is now fine with NOT having the cupcake maker toy under the tree. However, she does keep throwing out huge, ridiculous things that she'll "just ask Santa" for. She understands and accepts that Gene and I aren't going to spend $$$$ to buy her equipment so she can have her own web show like iCarly. But why can't she just ask Santa? Aaahhhhh! Now the stuff the kids want is getting more expensive. When Santa brought a $30 set of toys that was great! Now one teensy little video game costs more than that! I never in a million years thought my 4th grader would still believe in Santa! Surely, next year in middle school there is NO WAY she can still believe. Right? Right? (Oh, and as far as Logan's concerned, I don't think he'll care or be overly disappointed. He lives in the "real world" and will likely be relieved that some fat guy isn't actually breaking into his house, even if it is to leave presents.)

Otherwise, most everything in my life has been blissfully boring. Nobody's sick, school is normal, work is normal. I found a great deal on a new laptop that doesn't overheat and shut down every 5 minutes. (Oh, Mom, that's why I haven't been blogging. My old computer wouldn't stay on long enough.) The cats have been my major source of entertainment. Simon figured out how to push down the tapper on the water dispenser and enjoys watching the bottled water run out. Tiger has taken ownership of the box my laptop came in. I bought myself a Fiskars scissors that is zebra print. Yep, boring :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Logan!

Woohoo! I can't believe it's Thursday (my Friday) already. This week flew by!

Saturday night we went to Logan's Roadhouse to celebrate Logan's birthday. Birthday Boy was very impressed with the barrels and buckets of peanuts everywhere. And you could throw the shells on the floor! He's been talking about the peanuts all week. A couple days ago he added "Too bad you can't throw all your food on the floor." Um, eeewwwwwww. That reminded me of when I worked at Pizza Hut we always hated it when the assistant manager's toddler son came in to eat because the kid threw an obscene amount of food on the floor. So much, that when he left we had to use a broom and dustpan, a hoky AND a vacuum to clean up after him. Back to intended topic, Logan loved "his" Roadhouse and even Kaylin (who normally picks at her restaurant meal and then comes home STARVING) ate almost everything on her plate.

The place was packed so we went to the parking lot to open his presents. He got two Fisher Price Trio castle building sets from Grandpa and Grandma and another from Andy. He also got a "moon in my room" nightlight from Kaylin. Logan was bouncing around, incredibly excited about his new toys. He wanted to go to Wal-Mart (within sight of the restaurant) to spend his birthday money from Great-Grandpa and Grandma Kaiser. He bought a Play Doh set and a Hot Wheels race track and was now begging to get home to play with all his new toys.

It was about 7:30pm. I quickly put together the Hot Wheels track while Gene hung the moon nightlight. (Man, those Hotwheels tracks are JUNK! They are so flimsy I don't think a kid could put one together without destroying it.) Logan went in circles, checking out the moon, playing with the race track, playing with Play Doh and building one of the castle sets. I was in bed sleeping by 8:30 but Logan stayed up playing until 9:20pm. That's pretty impressive for him :)

He got up early the next morning and played and played. The neighbor kids were over most of the day and Logan and Little Boy built another castle. When I got home from work we had the neighbor kids over and sang and had cake. He's been running into the house after school every evening and plopping on the floor to play with his new toys. It was a good 7th birthday!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Thursday was parent-teacher conference day. Kaylin has had two nutjob teachers, so the thought of conferences is horrifying. (Kindergarten rubbed my thigh and back the entire time, 2nd grade was an insane drama queen who had a major personality conflict with my kid.) Last year I got lucky and loved Kaylin's teacher (she was that special, once in a lifetime teacher Kaylin will always remember) and liked Logan's teacher. I wasn't too concerned about Logan's conference because both kids had his teacher for several weeks of kindergarten before they were moved to another class so I have gotten to know her. I was a little concerned about Kaylin's teacher because of some things she said at the back to school night. I thought we might have another personality conflict...

Fortunately, I was wrong. Kaylin's teacher doesn't "get" her and love her like last year's teacher, but she also isn't offended to the point of major drama by Kaylin's quirks. Mrs. M was matter-of-fact about Kaylin's disorganization and doodling and writing silly things on papers. She feels Kaylin is bored and seemed really happy she channels her boredom in these ways rather than being disruptive. (That's what I couldn't figure out about 2nd grade!) Kaylin's ISAT scores from 3rd grade were very good so I got a small lecture on how her class grades would be higher if she would turn things in on time. Are you calling MY KID disorganized? Yes, I know. All-in-all, a good conference. I came home and showed Kaylin her ISAT scores and her report card grades and told her that Mrs M said that Bs were not ok because she was only getting them because of late assignments and disorganization. Kaylin was somewhat impressed, but honestly, she understands the material. I don't care about Bs in 4th grade!

Logan's conference was a breeze. He is doing well and is well-behaved. We discussed his hatred of reading and how incredibly stupid the "decodable books" that are constantly sent home are. Kaylin breezed through those things so I don't think I paid much attention to the stories. Logan struggles with them so this time I've noticed how bad they are. I mean, they're written for phonics, not content, but when you have a kid who struggles (and Logan isn't that bad, I'm just comparing him to Kaylin) the story means a lot. I think they make him hate reading even more and I can't even blame him! I know I can't stand listening to them! Mrs. S asked why we haven't turned in Book-it! forms the past two months (free Pizza Hut pizza for reading) and I replied that there was no way I could get Logan to read 15 extra books every month on top of the ~10 decodable books he brings home every week! That is a battle I choose not to even think about! She said we could record the required decodable books for Book-it. Whew. No problem, I'll start sending in his forms.

I survived another round of conferences! The teachers were both fine so I'm not dreading the spring conferences :)

The kids were off of school Friday so I decided to take them to Bloomington. We did some Christmas shopping (sorry, Sarah, it was a bad idea to involve them in choosing your kids' presents...) and then went to the Children's Museum. We had spaghetti at Fazoli's and got doughnuts from Krispy Kreme (both favorites that closed in Peoria.) We went to the wonderful Gingerbread House toy store. The kids played for hours at the museum. Of all of the activities and displays, Logan's favorite thing was playing with crutches in the medical area. That cracked me up because that would have been my favorite thing, too. Logan and I played several games of giant checkers while Kaylin spent time in the art room. There were at least three other families from their school at the museum, but no one they knew really well.

The museum is on the campus of Illinois State University so when we were done, I took them to one of the bookstores and then showed them several of the buildings where I had classes or hung out. Neither of them could wrap their brain around this huge area and all of these buildings being one school. I tried to explain dorms, but they kept comparing them to the gigantic, multi-level apartment in the tv show iCarly. Next time I'll walk them around the quad and take them to the student center and the library. Hmmm, we usually go to the smallish Lakeview branch library which is one large room. I think they'll be impressed with the floors and floors of books at the university library. Well, impressed or bored...

Today's my last day of vacation from work. I feel like I've spent the entire time recuperating from last week's flu. I guess a week of rest was probably good for my recovery. Still, it sort of feels like a lot of wasted time. I really wanted to make a major Goodwill run, but I didn't go through all the junk I wanted to. I planned a major fall cleaning that never happened. I did get a haircut and got most of my Christmas shopping done. I guess that's something :)

Tomorrow is Logan's 7th birthday. (Wow, where does the time go?) We're not having the usual theme party, but he's been wanting to eat at Logan's Roadhouse for months. We're planning to eat there with Grandpa and Grandma (and hopefully Andy) tonight. It should be fun and will hopefully be great food!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vacation, yawn.

Well, I'm on vacation from work this week and feel like I'm accomplishing next to nothing. My illness last week really knocked me out. I'm still tired and coughing and lacking my usual energy. I guess I'm glad to be home and have time to recover rather than working and wiping myself out. Relaxation is rarely high on my vacation priority list, but this week I'm getting plenty. I'm also bored out of my mind :)

Gene and I ended up going to Lincoln Park Zoo on Saturday. I haven't been there in a few years and they opened a couple of new exhibits. We had a great time strolling around and seemingly had the whole zoo to ourselves. Gene was thrilled to have scored the best free parking space possible, right in front of an entrance gate. I was thrilled to watch the wolf pack catch a squirrel and scrap over who got to carry it around. They were still playing with the carcass when we left several hours later so I guess it was just a toy, not a snack. We then stopped and shopped in Bolingbrook and Joliet and slowly made our way home. I was disappointed at our shortened trip, but didn't feel like walking through huge museums and couldn't imagine spending another day shopping. We did at least get a good chunk of Christmas shopping out of the way!

This week I'm taking it easy, going through stuff to send to Goodwill and spending WAY too much time with my computer. Gene's work schedule has changed yet again and he's back to working five eight-hour shifts with Saturday and Sunday off. Poor guy can't win with his new job. I guess I better shower and get ready to take the kids to school. Today I'm going to force myself to get a haircut. Ugh. Tomorrow I have parent teacher conferences. Ah, new year, new teachers. What wonderfully stupid things have my kids done in the past couple of months?