Saturday, October 30, 2010

Yesterday it was my birthday...

Is my use of song lyrics getting old? Tough :)

Yesterday I turned 38. I've never really sweated getting older before, but for some reason this birthday hit me hard. Don't get me wrong, I'm not feeling old, but I do feel like if I want to make any changes in my life I better get on them! It's like I'm still young enough to go back to school if I need to, but just barely... How much longer will I be able to do my extremely physical job before I have to quit? I mean, I'm hoping another 10-15 years, but then what? Is it worth putting all that time in and then what, finding another non-zoo job in the park district to keep my benefits? What could I possibly do? Secretary of golf?

I've also always wanted to leave the Peoria area. If you would have told High School Susy I'd still be living in Peoria at age 38 I would have fallen on the floor laughing! I want to move to Denver or New Orleans or Montana or somewhere in Florida. Just to see what it's like! Then I think about how instead of using my vacation time to see these places, I'd be using it to return to Peoria. Ugh to that! Plus, Gene and I have worked HARD to get where we are now. I don't want to relive my "poor twenties" in my forties! Gene has been promoted so much at Cat I strongly doubt he'd be able to get a similar opportunity elsewhere.

I'm so conflicted between adventure and common sense, risk and safety, immaturity and maturity. If it was just me, it would hardly be a risk to find another job, move to another city and make what I'm making now. It would be a great adventure and potentially a way to advance my career. Gene's job is so different. Leaving his job would be a huge financial risk and potentially very unsafe. Would it be an adventure or a lifetime of disappointment and bitterness? It's hard to predict. It's hard to take that kind of risk when the kids are involved.

Speaking of the kids, now would be the perfect time to uproot them! They're old enough to have some measure of input and independence but young enough to not be completely tied to their friends and activities.

Urgh. Knowing me, I'll go with safety and security. I don't know if I can handle going from comfortable to poor, plenty of room to tiny apartment, college savings accounts to scraping together enough change for milk and bread... I guess I'll have to take the risk I'll live long enough to see retirement and save like crazy for the emu ranch of my dreams :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The coolest thing EVER

Last week I was turning on my work computer. It was early and I was tired and sitting at the desk waiting the excruciating 25 seconds for the password screen to come up. A fly landed in the middle of my monitor. Not wanting to damage the monitor and never expecting to actually hit the fly, I gently flicked at the fly. Y'know, just to get the fly to go away. Well, the fly must have been dazed by the brightness of the monitor or something because I hit it! I hit it but didn't kill it. The fly was stunned and fell to the desk buzzing and fluttering its wings. I had a split second of amazement over what I had just done before a spider came tearing out from under the printer, grabbed up the fly and retreated to its printer sanctuary.

I was completely horrified! It was so unexpected! I spent a few seconds in shock before realizing that was one of the coolest things I've ever seen! I spent the rest of the day thinking about it, blabbing about it to anyone who would listen and generally building up this mini display of nature as the best thing that ever happened ever.

I wondered if I could recreate this spectacle? Could I intentionally reproduce the shocking event? Could I share the joy with my coworkers? I grabbed a flyswatter and went around lightly swatting flies until I managed to not actually kill one. I picked up the struggling fly and dropped it in the area the original fly fell. Sure enough, the spider tore out from under the printer and grabbed the fly! Sweet!

That started the feeding of the spider. Once or twice a day for the past several days we've fed the spider. It will only come out for struggling flies, not dead ones. I have no idea what kind of spider it is but it's about the size of a nickel and not hairy. We even tried giving it a mealworm one morning, but the mealworm was too big and the spider came out and checked it out but left it all day. I ended up removing it so our pet wouldn't be too stressed. Last night was the first time the spider didn't come out for her fly. Hopefully she's just full. Otherwise I'll have to believe she moved elsewhere because she was bored with not having to do any work. We did not overfeed her to death! Noooooooooo!

I finally remembered to pack my camera so if she does come back I plan to get it on video and post it. I have a feeling that's a blown opportunity, though...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The photo is a tortoise eating watermelon. No blood. I was looking for a pic that would actually work with my formatting issues and cracked up at this one... It worked EXACTLY how I hoped. We'll call it my scary Halloween header.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Junior Politico

The other day on the way to school, Kaylin was checking out the sea of campaign signs along Detweiller. She commented on how many there were and then was talking about how many tv ads there are. Eventually, she asked who I was planning to vote for? I told her I wasn't sure; I had to do more research before making that decision. She then filled me in on the most hilarious list of why I couldn't vote for potential candidates I could have imagined. If only I could have recorded it, because I will never remember her entire amazing rant.

"Well, Mom, you can't vote for Bill Brady because he's Wrong and Reckless. With Pat Quinn things have gone from Bad to Worse. You can't vote for Mike Unes because He's for Them, not Us. Alexi raised tax funds and Left Us with NOTHING!"

She went on and on with all the right names and campaign slams. I was laughing so hard I was crying. Probably a dozen idiot politicians blowing massive amounts of money slamming their competitors brought down by a ten-year-old girl. It was one of the best things I've heard in my life. My child is brilliant!

I usually get into the whole election thing and research and pay attention and read the paper. This year I just don't care. I'm sure I'll do some last second cramming and will go vote, but at this moment I don't feel like it. Ever since the last election when some competitor was slamming Illinois House incumbent Mike Smith for being FAT I have just lost interest and have ignored all the ads. Seriously, dude isn't in my district, I know NOTHING about him, but the ONLY thing you can come up with why you deserve the vote over him is because he's FAT??? He can't do his job because he's FAT? Wow. Kaylin got a kick out of that story.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Good-bye Sadie, it's been nice

Ours is a dog-free home once again. I wonder how long I'll be able to handle it? At the moment, I'd claim FOREVER, but I thought the same thing after Brady-dog died and I lasted maybe 4 months.

Sadie isn't dead, her previous owners took her back following several weeks of completely unacceptable horrendous behavior. Sadie's always been a nervous whiner. She's always had separation anxiety and issues with the cats. She's always been nasty with other dogs and an occasional problem barker. Those were not deal breakers. Sadie was excellent with the kids and neighbor kids. She was a fun playmate and great to cuddle with.

For some unknown reason, in the past several weeks she stopped coming when called. She started TEARING out the front door every time ANYONE opened it. She was unstoppable. By the way she came slinking home in shame, it was obvious she knew she was doing wrong, but that didn't stop her from repeating her bad behavior 5 minutes later. First she was visiting the dog two houses down and barking through the fence. At some point she realized it was more fun to try to attack the next door neighbor dogs through their house. The final straw was when the neighbors called the police over the weekend and animal control paid us a visit. We don't know yet whether the neighbors actually filed a complaint, but if they did we'll have a $100 fine. A fine that would apparently increase with multiple offenses. I think pretty much the ONLY way to NOT have multiple offenses would have been to either keep the dog in a cage 24/7 or get rid of her.

This was beyond a training issue. Well, that's possibly not true. I imagine with a HUGE amount of time and effort she could have been trained. Meanwhile, we probably would have had hundreds of dollars in fines and would have been sued for damages to the neighbors' house. Sorry, doggy, not worth it!

So far the kids are taking it well. Logan was extremely offended by her running out so he's glad she's gone. Kaylin will likely have a much harder time because she really loved cuddling with her. I feel like a failure, but the past few weeks have been so stressful I'm also extremely relieved to have her gone.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


In case you're wondering about my past three or so header photos, for some reason I can't get them to "shrink to fit" so I keep ending up with huge and ridiculous tiny sections of the photo. I have to admit, the polar bear nose is my favorite so far. :)

This morning I braved the Toy Land crowds at Farm and Fleet. I went much later this year and missed the insane people, but it was still really busy. This year instead of watching the crazy women grabbing up every bargain in site, I watched the grumpy old men who were upset there were no carts and upset about the check-out lines. Logan (for the first time in his life) showed some interest in what he wanted for his birthday and Christmas and went through the ad and circled things! I joked with Gene that it would be worth spending $40 on the sled he wanted because that would be an excellent insurance policy we'd get no snow this winter. When I actually got to the store, saw the size of the box and had no cart, I passed on the sled. Everyone can blame me when we have record amounts of snow. It is my fault for being cheap and unwilling to lug a box half my size around the store.

The kids had a 3 day weekend last week for Columbus Day so we decided to hit a couple of the local apple orchards. Y'know, not to actually pick apples, but to eat yummy food and play on playgrounds and ride monster trucks. The kids wanted to do the corn mazes, but my foot was hurting and oh yeah, I hate corn mazes. No. They are stupid. Apple Blossom Farm had the monster truck rides and gem mining. The playground was free this year, but most of it was for younger kids. We got some pumpkin doughnuts, cider and caramel apples. On Monday I took the kids to Tanner's Orchard. Holy cow, that place was packed! They had their pony rides and barrel train going for the holiday so the playground was full price. Um, no. Kaylin and Logan wanted to play their dinky mini golf course and do nothing else. Sorry kids, I'm too cheap to pay NINETEEN DOLLARS for 6 holes of mini golf! Instead they got make your own snow cones and played with the farm animals. We bought some amazing turtle brownies and some apple doughnuts and left because we could barely move around with all the people there.

I couldn't stomach the thought of going home and spending the rest of the day babysitting the neighbor kids so I drove on to Bradford. Bradford! What are we going to do in Bradford? No idea, but if they have a gas station I'll buy you a drink. It turns out Bradford has a nice park in the middle of town with a playground left over from the olden days of metal merry-go-rounds and animal teeter-totters. The kids aboslutely LOVED Bradford. They want to go back! Kaylin even begged to go back sometime with her friend Zoe. They talked about Bradford the rest of the day and Logan has decided he's going to live there when he grows up. Ok, then.

Well, better go do laundry and make lunch. I have to work Howl-Zoo-Ween tonight selling hot chocolate. Whoopee! Our zookeeper group is selling it as a fundraiser for bat conservation so if you're going, buy some hot chocolate to help the bats!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yet another Introverts v Extroverts question

I'm watching Logan struggle with yet another introvert issue. It's sort of a big deal. Not necessarily RIGHT NOW, a few weeks before his 8th birthday, but it could be a reason people view him as rude or weird or fill in the negative adjective in the future. Pointless greetings.

I would imagine for many introverts (myself included) pointless greetings are as painful and useless as small talk. They make absolutely no sense and we'd prefer to just ignore them. However, we're adults so we say "Good morning!" multiple times each day to the same people we see daily an in the exact same context daily. But hey! Why am "I" rude for NOT saying good morning but the extrovert is "polite" for saying good morning and possibly making small talk and ripping me out of my deep thoughts? Am I being selfish for not wanting to be bothered for something pointless or are they being selfish for needing to talk constantly?

Logan isn't shy. He's not particularly outgoing, but he's not afraid to talk to teachers or other adults. He makes friends at the park and loves participating in games and group activities. He orders his own food at restaurants and will happily answer any question the waitress asks. That is, UNTIL we get one of those overly chatty waitresses who tries to engage him in small talk. At that point he stops talking and will no longer look at her. But I don't think he's being bashful as much as he just doesn't understand why she's asking such silly and pointless things and is confused about coming up with an instantaneous answer. I imagine one part of his brain is shutting down in panic, unable to come up with an answer while another part is wondering if this adult is perhaps mentally challenged for asking something so pointless in the first place? Obviously, I relate.

Our issue right now is Logan's latchkey teacher saying "Good morning, Logan!" and "Have a good night, Logan!" Logan NEVER responds. I don't think he's being intentionally rude, I think he can't make sense of the exchange. I mean, if he happened to run into this same teacher at Target, it would make sense to say hi because it would be acknowledgement of an unexpected meeting. The whole "good morning" day after day after day baffles him.

I don't know how to approach this. The rebellious part of me wants my son to stand up against stupid social conventions. The sensible part of me knows rebellion will backfire and every extrovert he encounters will judge him as rude or stuck-up. How do you explain that even though something makes absolutely no sense you HAVE to do it because it's the socially acceptable way? WHY is it the socially acceptable way? Why is it polite? Why is it required for him to follow what the extrovert needs but completely unnecessary for the extrovert to follow or understand in any way what he needs? Freaking extroverts! :)

The Phone

The phone ringing... It sort of gives me the same feeling of revulsion I get when I hear the cat retching and know I'll have to stop what I'm reading or writing, get up from my comfy chair and out of the happy place in my head and clean a disgusting mess. The phone invades my privacy. It robs me of valuable free time. It makes me sad. Caller ID has helped immensely, but I still shudder in disgust as I listen to those four endless rings. Actually, there are many times I'd prefer scrubbing cat vomit to talking on the phone.

Ok, a quick disclaimer lest I offend: The calls letting me know about the family birthday party or the change in plans are the reason I still HAVE a phone. I want to know if so-and-so is in the hospital and I need that reminder that you'll be gone on Saturday and want me to get your mail.

It's not even the telemarketers or donation solicitors who have driven me to my phone hatred, it's the pointless babbling calls that invade my day and make me feel like I just got smacked in the face with a two-by-four. I have actually stalled and ended budding friendships based on the fear they are one of "those people" who will call me nonstop. My phone phobia has gotten much worse as I have gotten older, and now includes making calls such as doctor appointments. Phobia isn't the right word, I'm not AFRAID of the phone, I just hate the time commitment of being put on hold and asked the same questions over and over. For example, I now have Fridays off (instead of Mondays) and could actually have a "real" hair cutter person (yeah, sorry, I know they have a title) but I choose to stick with the walk-in places so I don't have to make the appointment calls.

Back to the donation solicitors, survey takers, etc. Gene also hates the phone and these calls, but we have opposite ideas about what level of courtesy to provide. I am of the belief these folks are doing their job to make a buck and are NOT out to pull me out of my happy place and ruin my night. I don't think they deserve rude treatment, but I prefer to cut off their spiel, tell them no thank-you and hang up. Why would they want to recite their entire spiel BEFORE I say no? Gene feels it's rude to cut them off and will let them go on for several minutes before his rejection. Does anyone have thoughts on this? Is it more rude to cut them off or to make them speak? Not that I care, I won't EVER listen to the full spiel, I'm just curious. I'm not against the individual calling, but I AM against the organization they are calling for! I will likely NEVER donate a penny of my money (on the phone, at least) to veteran or police organizations! Veterans and police are WONDERFUL, but their charities have called me too many times and they are permanently cut off. No soup for you!

How about cell phones? I got my first cell phone when I was pregnant with Logan and Kaylin was 2. It was all about emergencies. If the car broke down and I had a baby and a toddler, I needed the phone. I don't think ANYONE but Gene had the number and I barely used the thing. That was 8 years ago and one of the first "pay as you go" phones. I still don't use a cell enough to bother with a contract, but I have learned the joys of texting. I still don't get the OBSESSION, but I love a quick text instead of an actual call. I now carry my cell most of the time and actually remember to check it most days. I still only need to add minutes maybe twice a year, but I use it a lot more than I used to.

Kaylin's in 5th grade. I'm almost positive that at her age I was calling friends nonstop. Maybe I was a little older, but I don't think so. I can probably count the number of times Kaylin's called friends on ONE HAND. I think it's interesting that she's so disconnected because the phone is so underemphasized in our home. In this age of email and texting, the land line is almost obsolete for our house of phone haters. I remember my mom yelling at me to get off the phone in case someone was trying to call with important news. I can't imagine having the same issues with Kaylin! When she gets "into" the phone, she can have it!

Friday, October 1, 2010


I've spent the past 3 hours cleaning Kaylin's room and I'd guess I'm about 1/3 of the way done. I don't usually wear gloves at work. I can't stand how they make my hands feel. I dislike gloves so much that I'd rather bare-hand animal feces than wear them. If I had a pair of those yellow rubber housewife gloves I'd be wearing them right now while cleaning Kaylin's room. So far I've removed 2 giant bags of garbage. The most shocking thing I've found so far was a bag of approximately 200 (no exaggeration) MOLDY buckeyes that were swarming with fruit flies. Ummmm. Sadly, Kaylin will be home in about 10 minutes and that will severely slow my progress. This job is way too huge for a 10-yr-old. It might be too big for an almost 38-yr-old!

I'm really sad about how long my house decluttering project is taking. It seems that every time I haul a bunch of stuff to Goodwill, Gene and the kids go to a garage sale and bring home a junky toy ice cream making set with 1000 pieces or 20 gourds from Great-Grandma's house. Kaylin has enough art supplies to stock several classrooms. I'm so overwhelmed with stuff I feel completely buried! I feel like the only way to actually get everything cleaned out is to ACTUALLY move. But who would ever want to buy this house???

Ok, my break's over. I'm gonna spend two more hours on the room and then give up for the day. I'll need a shower before Gene and I go out to dinner tonight. It's that bad.