My kids give me no end of crap about the fact that I'm always incapable of staying up until midnight to celebrate the new year. Last year I fell asleep in my recliner and Gene made the kids be quiet so that I could sleep. They warned me that THIS year I better go to bed if I'm going to fall asleep early because they are NOT being quiet, thankyouverymuch! I'm doing my best to stay awake until midnight. I went to McDonalds at 6pm and got a coffee and an iced tea. It's 10:20pm and I'm still going strong. I'm going to make it this year! Maybe...
I scheduled this week off work for vacation long before I scheduled my foot surgery. We had planned to go away for a few days, but we didn't decide where to go and I didn't plan boarding for Scout. I waited too long and my boarding kennel was full. We decided to leave him for one night and go to Gurnee to the KeyLime Cove waterpark resort. We stopped in Schaumburg on the way to go to the Lego Store at Woodfield Mall and to eat at Fuddrucker's. Logan used his Christmas money and bought a Lego police bank robbery set and a fire truck. As we were leaving the store, I noticed one remaining Harry Potter Diagon Alley set. This is probably the coolest Lego set I've ever seen and I've wanted it for well over a year since I first saw it in the catalog. I didn't ever buy it because I'm a cheapskate. Also, this set was exclusive to the Lego Store so I wasn't seeing it all the time. All of the Harry Potter Legos are now retired and I knew I'd never see this set again. If I wanted it, it was now or never. Gene and Kaylin convinced me to go ahead and buy it. I was thrilled to find it was on sale for $30 off! I spent most of my day today building that huge, huge set and it is AWESOME! Logan also built his new sets today and is still playing with them.
KeyLime Cove was fun as always. With the holiday weekend it was busier than usual, but that really only meant a long wait for the most popular waterslide. The kids still got to ride it many times and went on the other slides countless times. I still can't go barefoot, so I didn't swim. Gene hates to swim, so I had company. The arcade at this resort is our family's favorite. Kaylin and I got addicted to this ridiculous Wizard of Oz game. It was one of those "token pusher" games, but you didn't win tokens or tickets, just these stupid plastic coins that were worth one ticket apiece if you turned them in. You could also potentially win Wizard of Oz trading cards, but when they fell off the edge, the machine just "ate" them and we never received one. I don't know what it was about that stupid game, but we both wanted to play it over and over. It made no sense! Gene and Logan played good games and won lots of tickets. Kaylin won an adorable Nerds candy nerd stuffed animal from a skill crane. We had pizza and ice cream and lots of fun.
Sunday after we checked out of KeyLime Cove, we headed over to Gurnee Mills mall and ate lunch at Rainforest Cafe. We shared entrees and then got a Sparkling Volcano for dessert. It's a giant brownie sundae that is served with a sparkler on top and is dee-licious. We went to Serpent Safari (a reptile zoo inside the mall) and saw a HUGE Burmese python and a huge anaconda. We have large Burmese pythons at the zoo, but this one must have been 5 times bigger than ours. They also had all kinds of lizards and snakes and the biggest alligator snapping turtle I've ever seen. It was a pretty impressive collection in pathetically inadequate and filthy enclosures. I did like that we got a guided tour and the tour guide told us about each animal. We then went to the Disney Store and Kaylin bought some Lion King toys. We hit a few other stores and headed home. It was a really fun weekend. The pets all did fine, but were happy for some human attention.
I had planned to go to Banner Marsh today to try to find one last year bird to make my goal of 180 birds in 2012. When it started snowing, I decided to stay home. Instead, Logan and I headed to Galena Marina late this afternoon for one last shot. We saw lots of birds, but nothing new. I ended my year at 179 birds. My goal for 2013 is 200. I think I will make it. We did have some excitement for our final bird of the year. As we were leaving the marina and driving past the golf course, a great horned owl flew in front of the car and landed on a light post. It was still just light enough to get a good look. We watched it swoop down and disappear into thin air, only to appear a second later on a power line where we watched it until it flew off again.
Overall, 2012 was a good year. I had some great times birding and saw my first snowy owl and burrowing owls. Logan got interested in birding and came with me on many adventures including two fun road trips to Minnesota and Michigan and many trips to Emiquon. We had family vacations to South Dakota, St. Louis, Wisconsin Dells and Chicago. I changed back to my old "string" at work and got to work with the tiger cubs. We lost Duncan the dog and Willow the cat, but then got Scout and Princess. We played with Legos and ate frozen yogurt at Sweet CeCe's. We watched lots of SpongeBob and played lots of basketball and baseball. We played fetch with Scout's toy pig 40 million times. We laughed a lot. I spent my 40th birthday using a walker to get around. I had two months off of work following a surgery that hopefully fixed my foot and I didn't completely freak out.
My biggest goal for 2013 is to return to work and be pain-free. I suppose that is more of a wish than a goal, but I'm going for it. I also plan to lose some of the weight I gained during the past few years of being in constant foot pain and unable to exercise. I want to become better at identifying birds and start to work on birding by ear. I want to be better about cooking for my family. I hope to figure out what to do with my life if I can no longer be a zoo keeper. Here's to hoping that 2013 is the best year ever!
(It's 11:45pm and I'm still awake. I think I'm going to make it!)