Saturday, July 31, 2010

Love of a Grocery Store

Exhaustion is eating my brain. I need to figure out how to sleep more during the week so I can spend more time on Friday not sleeping or resting. And my answer is most definitely NOT go to bed earlier. That would be nearly impossible! I'm often in bed asleep by 8pm. My problem is waking up for the day at 2am. That's not bad when I get 6 full hours of sleep, but when I'm up until 10 or later multiple nights and STILL wake up at 2am, that gets to be a problem! It's just that I soooooo love my alone time in the middle of the night! Reading books or blogs, writing emails, cuddling with cats in my chair... Nobody needs anything or talks to me, I can give my full concentration to what I'm doing. It's hard to trade this time for something as "unproductive" as sleep!

Moving on, my kids have fallen completely and totally in love with a grocery store. A new HyVee opened a couple weeks ago and it's pretty much all they talk about. Gene took them to check it out before their Tuesday swimming lesson. They only had a few minutes to look around, but they were VERY impressed. Very. I took them to their Thursday swimming lesson and when we found it was cancelled, they begged to go back to HyVee. Ok, fine. The place has a large food court with Chinese, Italian, soups and sandwiches, chicken, meatloaf, etc. and a huge salad bar. They have a large dining area. I agreed to quickly look around the store and then get carry out salad bars and go home. (I was sweaty, stinky and disgusting in my zoo uniform.) I found a few really good "grand opening" deals, but otherwise wasn't at all impressed with the layout of the store, the selection of food or especially the prices. We loaded up our carry out salad containers and went home. Yummy! But I'll never do carry out again because Kaylin LOADED her plate with cantaloupe and strawberries and I ended up paying $8.50 for hers when I could have gotten her a dine-in unlimited buffet for $4.99.

Friday night my parents came to take the kids to dinner. Gene was at a baseball game, so I went with them. It was Kaylin's turn to choose where to eat and she chose HyVee. I think we'll be regulars. I've rarely seen the girl eat that much and most of what she did eat was fruit, fruit and more fruit! Logan wasn't quite as enthusiastic, but he also ate a lot off of the salad bar. I'm sure it was one of the more healthy restaurant meals they've had!

We then went to Gordman's for new backpacks for school. Yaayyy! They had what we needed and I got two decent quality backpacks that will (hopefully) last the entire year for ~$22. And the kids who were quite positive this shopping trip would kill them didn't actually die!

So far, my car has been great. I finally figured out how to reduce the bass on my stereo so I'm no longer driving around with my speakers thumping to Lite Rock 107. That was driving me nuts!

I walked into work Sunday morning to find four adorable baby piglets. Mama hog looked so huge and ready to give birth, I separated her from rest of the hog group for many nights before the piglets arrived. I was pretty much to the point I thought I was imagining her pregnancy signs and she wasn't actually pregnant, just chubby. It was good to know I'm not completely insane :) The piglets appear strong and healthy and are very active and nursing well. As usual, I'm completely in love. I'm always a sucker for babies, but these piglets... I wish I could spend my entire work day standing in front of their viewing window making sure every single zoo visitor sees them and admires their extreme cuteness and exclaims how lucky they are for coming to the zoo on this particular day to witness this adorable wonder!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New (to me) car

Today was Logan's final baseball game of the season. Following a morning of heavy rain and thunder, the sun came out and the game was on. The infield was too muddy so they played in the grass instead. Logan had three at bats and three hits. He's been practicing constantly and has improved a LOT over the season. After the game, the team went to Double A's Pizza to celebrate the season. Both kids had a wonderful time.

On the way home we decided to cruise through the Green Chevrolet lot and check out a couple of cars. It was more about checking what was on the lot than any real thought of buying anything today. We stopped to check out a Toyota and a salesman was on us before we even got out of the van. We took a test drive and I decided to go for it. I hate shopping for cars. I didn't even want to think about shopping around and driving other cars. Sheesh. I was looking for a used economy car. This one had windows that rolled down, a radio and it started. Its two bonuses were the Toyota brand and the dark gray color. Oh, and Gene had been looking online and THIS car was the reason we stopped by Green's in the first place. Four hours later we drove it home. It took FOREVER because one of the two finance guys went home sick and the other was WAY backed up. I feel like I blew my entire afternoon off sitting in the waiting room, but hopefully I won't have to buy another car for 10 years.

The kids actually enjoyed the experience. They got free soda and popcorn and even free hot chocolate. They were thrilled about drinking hot chocolate on an unbearably hot and humid July afternoon. They used the free online access, raced each other on wheeled chairs, used the bathroom 100 times and played with the balloons that were tied all over the place. They want to go back. I do not.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Last Friday night the kids went to the hot air balloon festival with my parents. By the end of the evening, Logan was exhausted and complaining of a stomach ache. He had spent most of the day in the sun at a water park, so I figured a day in the sun plus a night eating junk food equals tired and ill. He never threw up or anything and felt fine Saturday morning so I didn't give it another thought.

Saturday was very hot and humid. Logan had a baseball game at 9:45am. He complained a little that his legs were itchy, but they only appeared a little red in the areas he had been scratching. I was hurrying around, preparing for Kaylin's birthday day out with her best friend Zoe. We were making brownies and doing some last minute room and car cleaning before picking Zoe up at 10am. I grabbed some lotion for Logan's legs and he felt a bit better. He DEFINITELY wanted to go to his game! Gene and Logan headed off to the ballgame, Kaylin and I left to get Zoe.

Kaylin's original plan was to spend the day at the fair, but it was miserably hot. We headed down to the riverfront farmer's market instead. Kaylin's "lifelong dream" was fulfilled when we were unexpectedly picked up by a "limo golf cart" and driven from our car to the market. Kaylin and Zoe had a wonderful time looking at all the craft tents and were especially interested in the hand made jewelry. They wanted me to buy them matching bracelets, but at $30 a pop I passed. Zoe then had the brilliant idea that we should go to the mall! Not only would it be air conditioned, but Claire's has an entire display of best friends necklaces and bracelets. Whooo Claire's! The girliest girl store ever. A store that's probably been around most of my life, but one I never set foot in until Kaylin was magnetically drawn to the sparkly, shimmery displays of girlyness when she was maybe 2. Ugh.

We bought some cinnamon rolls and cookies at the market, then headed for the mall. The girls were determined to find the perfect best friends necklace as well as matching bracelets. The necklaces they wanted were the ones that look like they're broken in half and one side says "best" and the other "friends." They found a set that stuck together magnetically! That way they could walk with their heads touching and Zoe all hunched over (she's WAY taller than shorty Kaylin) so their necklaces could stick together. Fun. Ok, are we ready? Moooom! We need to find bracelets! (My eyes glaze over and I die of boredom.) The first "perfect bracelets" they found were regular size multicolored dice strung together on an elastic band. They looked like something a crazy old lady would wear with her purple polyester pantsuit on her trip to Vegas. I stifled my laughter. "Fortunately," the only person working at Claire's was piercing someone's ears so we had a long wait to pay. The girls put back the dice bracelets and found some best friends bracelets with charm letters spelling "best" and "friends" instead. By the time they made their final decision, we waited for yet another ear piercing. We were in Claire's well over an hour and were starving. I was hoping for a good restaurant NOT in the mall, but Auntie Anne's Pretzels called to the girls.

We couldn't think of anything else to do so we headed home so the girls could play for a while. Gene and Logan were home from the ball game and Logan seemed fine. We eventually decided to take the dog down to the river and then go to the playground on our way back. Sadie had a great time swimming while the kids looked for shells. We spent a little time at the playground, but there were too many other people for Sadie to be off leash and she wouldn't stop whining so we didn't stay too long. We went back home to cool off and play a little more before taking Zoe home at 4pm.

At 5:30pm, I was trying to get everyone ready and out of the house so we could stop somewhere to eat before Bowling for Rhinos at 6:30. Logan was once again complaining of being itchy. But this time his face was covered in spots. I made him strip down and found his entire body covered in hives. Yikes! Bowling was sort of an obligation for me, so Kaylin and I left for bowling while Gene took Logan to a prompt care doctor. The doc first thought food allergy, but then settled on sun poisoning. That had been my first thought, but Logan didn't have a sun burn. Logan got a cortisone injection and a script for pred. He was told to take Benadryl if his symptoms flared. The injection helped so much that Gene and Logan showed up to bowl! Logan even complained bitterly when we left after the second game (his first.) Yeah. It was 9:30pm and had taken us THREE HOURS to bowl two games! None of the rest of us could handle a third. We (the zookeepers) ended up raising around $1000 for rhino conservation. Not bad for our first year and almost exclusively zoo people!

Back to Logan... He spent the week at camp trying to stay out of the sun as much as possible. That's a tough task when they're outside 90% of the time! We got lucky this week that they went to a movie and bowling one day and their big weekly swimming trip was to an indoor pool. Yesterday was fishing in the morning and the (no shade to be found) fountain in the afternoon. I slathered him in sunblock. By the time we got to camp his legs were covered in red bumps. It looked like he had 1000 mosquito bites! He took a Benadryl and I decided to work as hard as I could, leave work as soon as possible and pick him up as early as possible. Fortunately, I had an intern and we knocked out my cleaning work by 1pm. The only things I had left were making diets and cleaning the kitchen, both things my intern could do on her own. I made arrangements with another keeper to feed and put away my animals at closing and took off to rescue my poor boy from the fountain. I assumed we'd spend the afternoon at the doctor. His legs were fine! The zillion angry welts from a few hours before were GONE! His legs looked normal. What? I took the kids home and plan to keep them home today. Otherwise, I have no idea what to do??? Does he need to go back to the doctor if one Benadryl knocks out the hives and itchiness? Will this go away on its own? Does he need more pred? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! (And yes, I'm TOTALLY wondering if he's reacting to the sunblock!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I need to write this while I'm thinking about it because these "good old days" are likely almost over. Logan's getting better, but he's still not the World's Best Reader. Therefore, he's still mishearing (is that a word?) words and using them incorrectly in everyday conversation. Kaylin then picks up on his mistakes and throws them back in his face resulting in many angry fights in the car.


Logan: I'm betchioning there will be road construction on Knoxvittle so we should go through the Heights instead.

Kaylin: (In an incredibly snotty voice) Oh, you're BETCHIONING KnoxVITTLE is busy, huh?

Logan: Oh, for Peep's steak, Kaylin!!!

Susy: laughing so hard she should probably pull off the road rather than try to keep driving. Then laughing even harder when Logan insistently bellows that "Peep's steak" came from Grandma and Kaylin questions who Peep is and why we're talking about his steak?

I know by laughing I'm encouraging horrible behavior from my daughter, but that particular exchange was so funny I couldn't help myself. Plus, I reminded Kaylin of some of her past misunderstandings, the only ones I could think of at the moment being "instersting" instead of interesting and "Inconsin Dells." Logan got his laugh in and Kaylin's superiority dropped a couple of notches.

We've been trying to get Logan to say "Knoxville" for years now. When he was really little he loved pointing out all the hospitals on Knoxville. I think the two combined in his brain and even though I constantly make him look at and read the street signs, Knoxville is still Knoxvittle. I'm sure he'll get it right soon and I'll miss hearing Knoxvittle terribly...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Time for a new car?

I keep beating myself up for not buying a new (as in newer, not brand new) car. I don't want to put one more penny into my good old '97 Geo Prism! I know that something major is bound to go wrong any second. I avoid driving it on the highway whenever possible and haven't driven it farther than Morton in years. It shakes and makes weird sounds, but it starts every day. So far...

I hate shopping for cars and am hoping the perfect used car will just fall into my hands with no effort on my part. I don't want to go to a dealer, but I also don't want to deal with getting rid of my old junker on my own. I don't care AT ALL about models or colors or features. I want a radio, windows that roll down and a car that starts when I turn the key. At the moment, my old Prism meets all my requirements.

Yesterday was a perfect example of why I should NEVER own a new or nice vehicle. I went to pick up the kids at camp but the city bus broke down and they were waiting for a park district van to pick them up and bring them back. I would have gladly gone and picked them up, it was only about a mile away, but what if one or both of them were already on their way back to the park? It seemed like I was better off hanging around and waiting.

There was a large trash barrel close to my car so I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to clean out the garbage. Wow. I'm pretty sure I could win a disgusting car competition! There were so many crushed up Pop Tarts, sunflower seeds, french fries, crumbs, unidentifiable sticky messes, etc. I've been surprised that at age 10, Kaylin still wants to use her booster seat in my car. I now understand that it's because the seat is too gross. She needs to be elevated away from the mess. The mess she creates! I think I made 8 trips to the trash barrel and that didn't even count all the food crumbs I just swept onto the ground or the many cans and bottles I saved for recycling.

I think I'll try to squeak a couple more months out of the old car. I hope it will last until summer is over! Maybe if it lasts until Logan's birthday in November, I can trash the booster seats (he'll finally be 8 and legal) so the kids at least won't trash my backseat, only the floor. As for just making a rule about not eating in the car? That will NEVER happen! They have breakfast in the car or not at all! It's not worth the battle of getting them up earlier in the summer just to have a clean car that I don't care about anyway!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Our week, whoooo

It was a tough, depressing week and I'm glad it's over. I'm spending today resting and napping with the cats. Tiger made my morning. I brushed him and trimmed his claws and instead of taking offense and shunning me the rest of the day, he curled up in my lap and joined me for a nice, long rest. It wasn't quite a nap because every time I dozed off and stopped petting, Tiger gently bit my hand until I resumed petting. That went on for a good hour until I decided to take a real nap in bed. It was another failure at actual sleep because Simon insisted on sleeping on my head and whacked me with his paw every time I changed positions and disrupted his napping. Still, I can't complain about cat love! They usually do their own thing and ignore me completely. No sleep, but kitty therapy has to be one of the most relaxing, healing things in the world.

Kaylin got a tent for her birthday. Gene put it up in the backyard and Kaylin slept in it all night by herself. Well, she did have Sadie with her. She took out blankets and pillows, a clock, flashlight and Harry Potter 5. The kid who has to leave her closet light on all night slept outside with only the dog. The weenie, wussy dog. She did come running inside around 2am, but it was only to use the bathroom and she went right back out. I snuck out early in the morning and wished I could have gotten a picture of Kaylin and Sadie cuddled up together in a little ball. Adorable! I think she would have slept out there every night this week if it hadn't kept raining.

Logan has taken a huge interest in baseball. If the Sox aren't on, he watches the Cubs. He's really into learning the rules of the game. He constantly wants to play catch or have batting practice. If he can't get anyone to play with him, he plays by himself. He's loving coach pitch ball and looks forward to all the practices and games. The only drawback to his baseball obsession is that I almost never get to watch anything on the living room tv anymore because baseball is on every night.

Swimming lessons started last night. The kids are in different levels, but are in the same class. The class is huge, at least 12 kids, and seems like such a waste of time. I think they went out twice apiece last night. I insisted they take lessons to learn to swim well. The lessons I took as a kid involved swimming laps and laps and laps. We had to swim a mile to pass our final level. Kaylin is IN the final level and she is paddling about 15 feet with a kick board and coming back to the side. These lessons are free for me, but if I was paying I would be ticked! Both kids can tread water, swim under water and dog paddle. I suppose they could swim to save their lives if they fell off a deck 15 feet from the side of the water! Oh well, at least Logan is older and no longer drinking half the pool and vomiting repeatedly all over the pool deck. He learned THAT lesson well!

I got lucky at jury duty this week. I went in at 10am, sat until 11:30, was dismissed for lunch until 1pm and then got called 27th out of 29 people to "try out" for a traffic court case. The guy just ahead of me in line was FINALLY chosen as the alternate at 4:30. The two other people and I were sent back to the check-in room for further instruction. We joked the whole way back about how we'd probably spend the next 3 days doing the same routine, but when we got back we were dismissed for the week! We didn't have to call in or anything, just done!

Well, I think I'll flip laundry and go take a real nap for a while. I still have a few hours before camp is over. Yawn.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ohio Vacation

For the past several days I've had terrible Internet access. Then Tuesday I got the terrible news about our beloved Savannah the giraffe and when I sat down to write could think about nothing else. That is the curse of being a zookeeper- caring so deeply about the animals in your care it rocks your world when one dies. Especially when the animal is young and the death is totally unexpected. It is a huge personal loss for everyone involved and a gaping hole in our zoo family. Savannah, I will dearly miss visiting you every morning and will especially miss your kisses and your sweet, sweet breath. You were my favorite giraffe in the world and I will think of you every time I eat a sweet potato.

Despite the sad news, we have had an excellent vacation. We left home around 8 Sunday morning and Gene dropped me off at Indy Zoo a little after noon Eastern time. I met up with my keeper friend Holly and spent nearly five hours tagging around with her, meeting her new cheetah boys and watching the cheetah girls on exhibit. We fed the baby giraffes, cut browse for the baboons, watched an elephant show and checked up on several animals. I spent five hours at the zoo, never left the African Plains area and was completely shocked when the phone rang that Gene was in the parking lot and it was after 5pm. I had a great time with Holly and many other keepers that I already knew and several more I just met. I love the Indy Zoo!

Gene took the kids to the Indy Children's Museum. They had a great time as always. The great thing about the Indy museum is that they are so huge they cater to the older kids as well as the younger ones. Most children's museums are really targeted at the preschool crowd, so older kids don't have as much to do. Kaylin still loves the Chihuly glass exhibit. Logan didn't give me a favorite, but he had lots of fun. We drove on four more hours to Zanesville and arrived at the same Super 8 I stayed at in February, exhausted and ready for bed.

Everyone slept in late Monday morning and we set out for the Wilds around 9:30am. I was expecting to love the place, but it was even better than I imagined! We had the choice of closed, air-conditioned buses with tinted windows or canopied, open-air buses. The open-air buses were significantly more expensive, but appeared so much better! It was a cloudy day with a good breeze and maybe 80F at warmest. I sprung for the open-air tour and didn't regret it! The place was amazing! Herds of animals EVERYWHERE! Babies chasing each other around, adults coming right up to the bus... We were stopped for several minutes when the herd of Bactrian camels came up and started rubbing on the bus mirrors. We didn't, but we could have reached out and touched them. We saw a newborn baby onager (wild donkey) and two baby P-horses. There were pairs of wild trumpeter swans nesting on almost every lake. To give an idea of how huge the place was, the tour lasted more than 2 1/2 hours, including a stop at their carnivore center (cheetahs, African wild dogs and dholes) and another stop at a lake trail with beautiful flowers and a catfish feeding area (Logan's favorite.) The place was so huge that somehow the herd of 8 white rhinos was completely hidden and we didn't get to see them. That was my ONLY disappointment! I was afraid the kids would be bored or get sick of it. Nope. They loved every second and can't wait to go back. Um, it's an 8 hour drive. So?

I rarely buy zoo souvenirs, but loved the Wilds and wanted to support their efforts. I bought both a t-shirt and a hoodie, Gene a t-shirt, Kaylin a bag of wildflower seed and a key chain and Logan (dum da da dum) a chocolate bar. The kids pronounced the Wilds restaurant "the best food they ever ate in their lives" and while I won't go that far, I will admit it was the best "zoo food" I've ever had.

We sadly left the Wilds and drove 3 hours toward Cincinnati. The plan was to spend the next two nights at Great Wolf Lodge. GWL was booked solid Monday night! Yikes! We had planned to come home Wednesday, but decided to stay an extra day so Kaylin could have her two nights. We booked Tuesday and Wednesday night and moved on to a La Quinta with a pool. The kids were happy to have an extra day of vacation and pretty much didn't care where they were swimming as long as they were in the water!

Tuesday we went to the Cincinnati Zoo. We all loved it! I spent hours there back in February when half of the zoo was closed due to heavy snow. I couldn't BELIEVE how much I missed and how many more areas there are! Kaylin had a great time feeding the lorikeets. She was actually picking up birds and holding them while they ate. I love their insect building and think it's the best I've ever seen. I also saw my first Sumatran rhinos. It seems like this zoo has a lot of rare animals as well as all the usual zoo favorites. It's a great zoo and I hope to visit again.

We checked in at GWL around 3pm. Our room wasn't quite ready so we played in the arcade for a half hour until they called. Our room is amazing! It has a separate "Kid Kabin" area with bunk beds and a twin bed (oh, AND their own tv) for the kids. We also have a fireplace and a balcony. We were able to watch fireworks at the amusement park next door both nights. There is tons of room and the kids love being in the room almost as much as they love the rest of the resort. The water park is huge with a wave pool, several activity pools and areas, numerous slides including a roller coaster slide and even an outdoor area. The arcade is wonderful. The MagiQuest game is set up right in the middle of the common areas of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors, so Kaylin can easily access it and play by herself for hours. This GWL is vastly superior to the one in Wisconsin Dells and we hope to come back someday.

Yesterday (Wednesday) we went to Newport Aquarium. It wasn't the best I've ever been to, but we all enjoyed it. I especially loved the entire room full of various jellyfish. Gene loved the penguins and the kids loved the shark touch pool. It was worth a visit, but for the price I doubt I'd return. We came back to GWL and swam for several hours before arranging Kaylin's birthday surprise. We got a package that included a door banner, pizza and drinks, a personalized cake as well as a t-shirt and stuffed animal for Kaylin and goody bags for all 4 of us. It was a bit pricey, but far less than what I'd spend on a theme party at my mom's. She was very surprised and loved the attention. Oh, I forgot the best part of the package! A ridiculous birthday cake hat with candles! Kaylin wore it all night while she played MagiQuest and will probably wear it all day today.

Today we'll be heading home. I imagine that will be AFTER we swim, play MagiQuest and play in the arcade one last time. I did my 4 zoos in 4 days. If I had more time off work I wish I could squeeze in Columbus, too! It's been a great trip and honestly, a great week to NOT be at work.

Happy Birthday, Kaylin! I can't believe you are double digits!