Archive for July, 2009

Why We’ve Already Packed Away The Baby Walker…

Posted in Kids on July 31st, 2009 and tagged , , , , , ,

Because he’s a boy.

The other day, I  was sitting in the living room when some action in the area of my son’s walker (the thing the baby stands in that has wheels on it, allowing them to walk easier) caught my peripheral vision.  I silently watched as he turned around and proceeded to climb up and out of his walker, backed down the front of it, and quietly sat on the floor like nothing had happened.  Then it dawned on me that I hadn’t even put him IN the walker in the first place!  I checked with my husband, and he hadn’t put him in there either, and later that evening it was verified as we watched him do it again – my son had put himself in his walker in the first place before he climbed back out again.  He acted like a pro, so who knows how many times he’s done this, but needless to say, the walker has been packed away before he even used it to help himself walk.  But that leads me to my point – we’ve had 3 girls and now a boy, and we are starting to see the major differences between little boys and little girls;  the most noticeable at this point being that boys climb EVERYTHING! My son can climb before he can walk.  He’s been climbing stairs for awhile already, and the other day he climbed the table in the laundry room, and he can almost climb up onto the couch.  I can’t imagine what it will be like when he CAN walk, YIKES!!!

The End Of The (Band) World As We Know It…

Posted in Current Events, Everyday Life on July 30th, 2009 and tagged , , ,

Our town holds the distinction of having Ohio’s oldest city band – it’s over 150 years old.  Remarkably, this city band has had only 3 directors since 1888 – the current director has conducted the band for 48 years!  But at the age of 96, this was his last year with the band – and last Wednesday’s concert was his last.  The turnout was incredible – for a small rural town, an audience of 1,000 was beyond expectations, I think.  Usually, we can hear the band concerts from our backyard, but there was a threat of rain for this last concert of the season, so they moved it across town where they could have it under a roof.  We drove over for just a little bit, and even though we stayed in the car in the parking lot (sleeping kids), it was very enjoyable to listen to the band in the night air.

I would have liked to play for the band under this band director, just to meet him and be a part of town history, but my schedule does not allow for this as a hobby right now.  I guess I’ll have to wait until my kids are grown and I can play under the direction of the city band’s 4th conductor since the 1800’s – providing I still have the skills to play in a band, that is –  I am quite rusty even now, let alone years from now!  But as I was saying, the city band as we know it is about to change…

A Nielsen Family

Posted in TV Shows on July 29th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

It began with $3 cash being enclosed in a letter – we had been selected to be a Nielsen family.  You know the Nielsen company – basically, they gather information about how many people are watching what on tv in order to determine how much commercials should cost.  So anyway, they sent $3 cast, and I have to admit, that piqued my interest.  They called with a short phone survey, and a few weeks later, we received a large envelope with 4 booklets (tv diaries), and $30(!) cash.  There were instructions; all we had to do was record what we watched on which tv for a week.  But it turned out to be easier said than done…

Recording what is watched on all of the tv sets (what year were those diaries  printed – who says “tv sets”?) in our household turned out to be quite a challenge!  First of all, we have a parrot in the laundry room, and his tv is on all the time.  I don’t always know what is playing, but I do know that the bird loves The Price Is Right.  So I made a little note in our tv diary for that tv and mentioned that it’s on all the time for the pet parrot and that he especially likes The Price Is Right.  I made sure to notate that I don’t know if he prefers Bob Barker or Drew Carrey, though…

And then there is the kids’ tv, which is in their room.  I know they watch a whole lot of the Disney channel, but I don’t know what’s always on it.  Because it’s summer, we didn’t watch much tv in the living room; we mostly use that tv for movies on DVD.  It was challenging to remember to write down details every time a tv was watched, and if we forgot, it was hard to remember what was watched.  So at times the task was daunting, but we had already accepted the payment, so I felt that we had to follow through with the project.  Overall, it was a neat experience, and if they value our input, there will be a lot more of The Price Is Right, The Office, and hopefully Cubs baseball on tv 🙂

Just for the heck of it, I took a picture of one of the tv diaries and the envelope:

late July 09 005

Overall, a fun experience, but next time I might have to decline depending on how old the kids are when our names come up again.  It was very difficult for me to have to complete “homework” with 4 small children underfoot – hard to say if it would be worth the $30 again…  maybe if the kids are older and can fill out their own diaries…

A Bridge Over Not So Troubled Water

Posted in Current Events, Travel on July 25th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

I received a cool picture via email the other day – a river bridging over another river!  It’s man-made of course, but what a feat!  It bridges the River Elbe in Germany and connects two important shipping canals.  The project was put on hold indefinitely when Germany was split during the last century and was finally completed in 2003.  I think this is pretty cool, so I’ll share it and thank fellow tangents.org blogger Jamiahsh for sending it to me.  I don’t know why he didn’t put it on his blog, but I  figure he probably would have gotten a chance by now if that’s what he wanted to do with it 🙂  Check it out:

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For more information about the bridge, click here.

“It’s Kind Of Like A Kid’s Birthday Party…”

Posted in Kids on July 21st, 2009 and tagged , , , , , ,

The title of this post is a quote from my favorite tv show, The Office.  Now I must go on a brief tangent to find out when this awesome show starts for the season – there it is, September 17, ugh, almost two months to go!  Time to add a countdown to the site…

Tangent over.  Anyway, in the tv show The Office, they have an annual awards show called The Dundies.  The lovable yet jerk of a boss, Michael Scott, gives (mostly silly) awards to his staff, and the workers generally are not thrilled about the Dundies.  A character named Oscar Martinez says the following about Michael and his Dundies:  “The Dundies are kind of like a kid’s birthday party, and you go, and there’s really nothing for you to do there, but the kid’s having a really good time, so you’re kind of there? That’s… that’s kind of what it’s like.” The reason I’m sharing the quote with you is because it floats through my mind every time I invite our family friends to one of my kids’ birthday parties.  I have 4 kids, one born in every season, so we have a birthday party around here every few months.  For the older ones, we invite their friends from school, and we invite family and a few of our adult friends to the parties for the younger ones.  I really hope no one is ever bored – it is, after all, a bunch of adults sitting around at a kid’s birthday party.  We don’t play “pin the tail on the donkey” or break a piñata; it’s just a reason for a bunch of us adults to get together, chat, and have some cake.  This is exactly what we did this past Sunday at my son’s first birthday party.  He had a really great time, and so did his sisters helping him open the presents.  He turned blue from his birthday cake, which he absolutely loved, of course!

BEFORE:christophers-1st-bday-party-7-19-09-007(his bib says “My 1st Birthday”, but he hated it and is trying to get it off in this picture)

AFTER:christophers-1st-bday-party-7-19-09-013

He also got lots  of great presents –  some adorable outfits and cool toys that actually kept him busy for more than 10 minutes!  He likes his new toys so much that he’s been playing with them non-stop!  They’ve actually kept him out of trouble – well, kind of, he did have two baths out of necessity already today and he spilled a glass of water all over my computer wires, but that’s nothing for him.

So thanks again to everyone who attended – he especially loved it when everyone sang ‘happy birthday’ to him!

Library Update

Posted in Current Events on July 20th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

A few blog posts ago, I made a plea to save Ohio libraries because the governor was proposing a budget plan that included a major cut in library funding.  The vote went through the state legislature, and the budget was re-worked in such a way that the libraries received less than half of the budget cut that was originally proposed, so YAY!  Our voices were heard!  In this economic crisis, it is understandable that funding is going to be cut on certain community resources, so let’s hope that our libraries can figure out a way to continue their many services without changing too much in light of these cuts.  I received an email back from one of the congressmen, so I thought I’d share it below.  Not that the letter was written personally for me, but it’s nice to have my efforts acknowledged.  Hopefully my friends who work for the state can keep their jobs in light of the budget re-working!

Dear Ms.
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns over Governor Strickland’s proposal to reduce the general revenue transfers to the Public Library fund by $227 million over the next two years. A vital aspect of democracy is that all citizens are able to express their views, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me. Although I was not able to respond to you prior to the budget vote, please know that your correspondence as well as messages from across our region and the state had a major influence on my work on this bill and, ultimately, how I voted.

Due to the economic situation that the State of Ohio is encountering, all agencies and departments have been forced to absorb cuts in state funding. Fortunately, during the conference committee, an agreement was reached to reduce the Governor’s proposed cut to library funds so that libraries statewide will experience only an $84 million cut over the next two years. While I realize that this is still a considerable reduction, it is substantially lower than the $227 million originally proposed by Governor Strickland.

Again, thank you again for contacting me with your concerns on the budget. If I may ever be of assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to write or call.

Sincerely,

Steve Buehrer

State Senator

1st Senate District

VIPs For A Day (part three of…. well, I’ll try to make this the last part)

Posted in Travel on July 16th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If you’ve read my first two blog posts about our trip to King’s Island, then you know that I’ve rambled and chronicled, and now I’m blue in the face and ready to move on.  I would like to rate most of their rides though for those who are curious and/or contemplating a visit to the theme park.  Somewhere there is a Discovery Channel show about the 10 Most Extreme Roller Coasters I’d like to see – I hear King’s Island has 3 or more on the list!  Going to hope that it’s on youtube…  If you haven’t read my previous post, here is my ride experience scale: 1♦ = not so good, while 5 ♦ = awesome!

The Racer – 3♦.  A wooden racing roller coaster that doesn’t really race.  According to our guide, people on the different racing trains would trash-talk each other so much that they built a wall to separate the two train colors.  When we rode, the first time the blue train was not operating, and the second time, the trains did not go at the same time.  Still a fun wooden coaster though!

Flight Deck – 1♦.  Formerly called Top Gun, but whatever you call it, we did not like it.  It’s a roller coaster whose car is suspended from the track above the car, which basically amounted to a lot of swinging.  Ok for me, not my favorite, but it made my husband sick.

Vortex – ¼♦ – This one only gets a quarter star to put it on the map –  my map key didn’t exactly contain a zero, so let’s give it a quarter star just because it’s a coaster.  But otherwise, yuck.  Jerky, but without any real thrills.  Reminds me of the Shockwave they used to have at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee Illinois.  Funny how I used to ride that over and over, especially near park closing when it would empty out.  We would just stay on Shockwave until they kicked us off!  But as an adult, the ride type doesn’t work for me.

Invertigo –  3♦.  I need to go back on this one when it isn’t lunch time!  I think the Flight Deck/Invertigo/haven’t had lunch yet combo did me in as I  felt a bit queasy after this one.  Basically, you go up and through a loop, and do the same thing backwards.  The cool thing about this one is that you face other riders, which I actually don’t know if that’s a cool thing or not – our guide recommended we try sitting on either the front or back of this one so we didn’t have to face strangers on the coaster.  I did enjoy how this one whizzed through the station though, and like I said, I will have to try it again on a full stomach.

Sponge Bob 3D Ride – 4½♦.  I really liked this one!  A lot of fun, and much more movement than its counterpart at Universal  Studios, the Jimmy Neutron ride.  It’s a 3D Sponge Bob movie where the seats move as you move about Sponge Bob’s world.  The scenery is great, and not only is it 3D, but the rider actually gets to move along with the movie.  As a bonus, the movie is very funny, and I loved the story!

Whitewater Canyon – 4½♦.  You know the type – a large round boat makes it way down a “river”, complete with rapids, drops, and waterfalls.  I always love this type of ride and much of the fun is riding it with your friends or even  strangers trying to see who is going to get the most wet!  The day we went, it was an unseasonal 70°, and getting wet wasn’t quite as enjoyable as usual.  This is actually one of the smaller versions of this type of ride that I’ve been on, and the boat seated 6 people instead of the usual 8, 10, or 12 as I’ve seen before.  But this version has an added element of fun – friends, family, and people who have ridden the ride can take revenge on riders by putting in a quarter for a chance to launch a water cannon at passing boats.  This part is lots of fun, although they need to get the change machine working so more people can squirt!  We went on with some kids who didn’t get wet enough in their opinion, so they rode again while we kept watch at the water cannons and succeeded in getting them SOAKED!

Backlot Stunt Coaster – 2♦.  Lameness.  But remember, I’m used to Universal Studios since we try to trek to Orlando yearly.  This has nothing on Universal.  But I suppose for younger kids, it could instill a feeling of bravery as they race past exploding police cars.  It goes kind of fast up a winding track, which is kind of different, but other than that, the excitement kind of fizzled, and the ride isn’t all that long.  The brightly colored cars you ride in are super-cute, but does that really matter?

Adventure Express – 1¾♦.  This is also kind of lame, which is alright, not every coaster has to be top thrill.  But this one is like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney, but that is bigger and faster.  Adventure Express was going alright until the rider finds himself in a climatic tunnel, climbing a lift past moving robots and everything.  Then when you reach the top – nothing.  Nada.  Literally – the ride ends here.  What the ?

Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle – 4½♦.  You ride through scenes of Scooby Doo trying to shoot the bad guys with a laser gun attached to your car – cool!  Even better, I actually beat my husband on this one!  This ride is a lot like Buzz Lightyear at Disney, and I can never even get close to Hubby’s score on that one.  He must have had an off-ride though, cuz the second time we rode he beat me silly again.  Oh well, this ride is awesomely themed.  They remembered quite a few of the bad guys from the old Scooby Doo tv show, and there were sound bites galore.  The castle looks awesome from the outside,  and we even drove a Mystery Machine:

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Other fun rides at this park that deserve at least an honorable mention are the railroad (just a standard train ride, but oh-so-relaxing after a huge day of coaster riding!), the Wild Thornberry’s River Adventure (kind of a lame log-flume type ride, but still lots of fun), the Eiffel tower (we didn’t ride it, but it was gorgeous to look at), and Dodgem (plain ole bumper cars, but when is the last time hubby and I got to ride ‘n bump kid-free?  I don’t even remember!).  Because we splurged and got the guided tour, we even had time to catch some shows – an ice show and an 80’s review.  The ice skaters were pretty good; especially one guy who even did a triple axle!  The 80’s show was fun, even though many of the performers were incapable of both singing and dancing at the same time.  There was a special  Michael Jackson tribute, even though he had passed away only a week before our visit.  But there were afros, mullets, big bangs, leg warmers, bright colors, even giant Rubik’s cubes, and it was fun to sing along to the rockin’ 80’s tunes.  One did get the feeling however, that not one member of the show had any idea of what the ’80’s was actually like…

So there you have it.  I’ve reviewed and rated the rides I rode and found worth a mention.  If you are thinking of visiting, you should know that King’s Island also has a huge kids area, and many more rides I didn’t mention.  We tried to stay away from any rides with a lot of spinning or anything that looked too crazy (especially this one called Delirium):

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It looked a little too crazy/dizzy for me; maybe if you go to King’s Island, you can try it and let me know what it’s like in the comments!

A Future In The Superbowl?

Posted in Fun Forwards, Kids on July 15th, 2009 and tagged , , ,

Here is a commercial I had not seen until a friend sent it to me in an email forward.  As I was sitting here chuckling over it, my two oldest daughters became curious and came over for a look.  They loved what they saw, and I had to play it 3 more times!  I don’t think it’s in regular circulation yet, but if it is, I haven’t seen it.  Of course, I never watch tv anymore!  Perhaps it’s waiting to be unveiled until the next round of infamous Superbowl commercials?  Enjoy!

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Our (Thirty) First Year Checkup

Posted in Everyday Life on July 15th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , ,

My son had his 12 month checkup at the pediatrician the other day, and all is well!  It was kind of strange though, when the doctor asked my husband if I snored a lot.  My husband admitted I do, and then the doctor proceeded to make me breathe for him.  What the heck – is this a normal part of how a one-year-old baby is examined, by exploring the mother’s snoring habits?  The doctor then started describing some of my behavior as of late – you are tired all the time, and you feel lazy.  Right on!  He said he could tell just by looking at my puffy eyes that I probably have allergy problems, which is inhibiting my sleep patterns – did I mention that our pediatrician is also the county’s medical sleep expert?  So he recommended that I start taking Claritin and some nose drops.  I tried the nose drops yesterday, and already I could breathe better through my nose better than I’ve been able to in months – funny how you don’t notice things like this, but I’ve been so busy, I thought I was just tired from all the busy-ness, and I didn’t really notice that I wasn’t able to breathe much through my nose.  I did notice that I’ve been itchy constantly – my eyes, behind my face, and now, I have this nasty spider bite on my knee I got on the 4th of July that will not go away – I itch constantly!  I’m really hoping the Claritin works, and I can be back to the energetic mom I so want to be!  Hey, maybe the allergy medicine will work SO well that I can get myself a pet cat 😉

So anyway, like I said, everything is going great with my son.  I just thought it was weird when the focus of the doctor’s appointment turned to me.  He is doing great; he is 30 inches long which is exactly average for his age.  He weighs 21 lbs, which makes him a little on the smaller side, weight-wise, so we have to try to fatten him up.  The doctor also said he should be standing more, but then again, I had scheduled his appointment for during his nap, so we had to wake him up to see the doctor.  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t exactly be thrilled about standing up for someone in the middle of my nap either!

VIPs For A Day (part two of even more parts)

Posted in Travel on July 12th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So, where did I leave off when I blogged about our kid-less day trip to King’s Island amusement park?  I don’t remember; I got kind of side-tracked and have made a few unrelated blog posts since then…  But no matter, I’ll just begin by rating the rides at King’s Island; my scale is 1-5 ♦’s, 1 being not so good and 5 being a perfect ride experience.

The Beast – 4½♦.  I have an in-depth description of this one in my previous post, but I will recap again – very cool wooden roller coaster; built into the existing terrain of the Miami River valley in southern Ohio which means you can be speeding along not more than 3 feet above the ground, thinking you must travel a lift before you can drop, but that’s not the case!  This is the longest wooden roller coaster in the world with a 4 minute and 50 second ride time.  Like any wooden coaster, it can be rough and rickety (I was sure I threw out my bad back on one of the speeding curves, but thankfully, I did not.  Shhh, don’t tell anyone I ride coasters with a bad back, but it must not be that bad since my back was one of my least sore parts the day after King’s Island), but these sensations improve if you ride the front row – I HIGHLY recommend the front seats on this one!

Diamondback – 4½♦ – I also talked about the park’s newest addition in my previous post, so here is another recap.  Exceptionally smooth ride, with no upside-down air time.  Rather, the only air time is achieved when your butt lifts from your seat on the multiple drops.  The sensation of free-falling is achieved by the restraint system – one smallish plastic piece that sits between your legs – that’s it!  The picture I posted in my previous blog doesn’t do justice to the coaster, so here is another:

delete-diamondback1I know certain readers of mine will notice that this is indeed a computer-generated picture, so I might as well just say that outright.  The first time we went on Diamondback, I loved it, and it would have gotten an even higher rating from me if it were not for the time we rode it in the front row.  Unlike The Beast, the front row of the Diamondback adds an entire new dimension to the ride – one I was happy enough without!  I respect our tour guide’s opinion that riding front on Diamondback is a must-do experience, and even though it wasn’t for me, I’m glad I got to do it once.  But it was SOOOO scary!

Firehawk – Holy (excuse my language) crap.  This is one doozy of a coaster!!!  Wow, I forgot to rate it, hmmm let me think…  3¾♦.  First let me explain what this coaster is, and then I can explain what would have made it better.  The riders load into Firehawk, and then the seats recline until the rider is lying down.  Not for the faint of heart – you are strapped into flexible (not hard plastic like most) shoulder harnesses, and then you are tilted backward until you are lying on your back – and it even  feels like your head might just be lower than your feet.  So anyway, lying down, the rider leaves the station, and proceeds to go up a hill, head first, facing the sky.  So of course you can’t see when you’re going to reach the top.  And when you finally do reach the top of the lift, you flip until you’re flying Superman-style through the trek of the coaster.  Overall, it was awesome, and I have to say  that I truly misjudged how ultimately different the horizontal sensation would be – it was VERY different.  What kept me from giving this coaster a higher rating, however, was this (and a discussion on the long ride home found my husband thinking the same thing):  For a unique roller coaster where you were supposed to feel like you were flying, especially for one of the first and only of this type (this is the only one in Ohio, I believe), they really could and should have simplified the design.  Instead of all the inversions, corkscrews and loops, they should have actually slowed down the coaster and left the rider suspended belly-down for the majority of the ride.  After people experienced that, THEN they could have added the speed and all the inversion stuff in an update version of the ride, and it would have been like a 2-fer – 2 rides, one idea.  The way it was, the ride was so fast that you really didn’t have the time to pretend to be Superman, and that was a shame.  The woman in our row the second time we rode Firehawk was, and I quote, “terrified”.  My husband told her it wasn’t that bad, and when he told her that, I was thinking, “What are you thinking?  It IS terrifying!”.  I just did not think that being on our backs face up on our way up the lift was the right time to tell a stranger that my opinion differed from my husband’s – it’s not like she could check my face for my true feelings.  The woman found out for herself.  I think she liked it though, as did I in the end, despite the changes I would make.  Another fun thing about this coaster is that while waiting in line (or by-passing the line on your VIP tour, highly recommended please see my first King’s Island post ), you get to pass next to the part of the ride where it first slows down as the riders come back into the station.  You can hear the riders’ very first reactions to the crazy configuration of this coaster, and that is a really cool time-filler!

Flight of Fear – 3¾♦.  It does feel strange to rate this and the previous coaster the same since they are two very  different ride experiences, so I feel the need to disclaim that I’m rating my overall ride experience.  Keep in mind that I am no longer in my 20’s, so I’ve lost my reckless abandonment.  I really like roller coasters, but I do draw the line and find some things too scary – so my rating system might vary from that of a true coaster enthusiast.  But anyway, I liked Flight of Fear, largely because it is like a much better version of Disney’s Space Mountain.  My husband likened it to the Aerosmith Rock N Roller Coaster at Disney’s MGM Hollywood Studios – which I loved, but I  found it more like a much improved Space Mountain.  All 3 are dark indoor coasters.  Flight of Fear and Aerosmith have what they call linear induction launches, which is how smart people say “0-54mph in 4 seconds!”.  On the way home, I was browsing through (ahh, life without kids in the car!) the super-cool stat sheets our guide gave us as parting gifts, and I noted that Flight of Fear was the first ride in the world with the linear induction launch!  It was SO much cooler than Space Mountain; much more smooth and with inversions.  Space Mountain is herky-jerky, and there are no drops nor inversions – it’s almost kind of like, what’s the point?  THIS is Magic Kingdom’s thrill ride?  But then again, Magic Kingdom really isn’t like that – you visit with small children and/or for the small child inside yourself.  But my point is, Flight of Fear is SO much better than Space Mountain, but not quite as good as the Aerosmith coaster – perhaps something to do with Aerosmith’s black light flourescent graphics versus the plain darkness of Flight of Fear; I preferred the graphics.  For a tangent, here is an interesting story about Flight of Fear: as I mentioned, we had a guide for our trip to this park.  Other park visitors would see he was an employee and ask him questions throughout the day.  One of the questions was “Is Flight of Fear still open?”.  Our guide said yes, not really knowing what the guest was talking about until later during the behind-the-scenes tour of The Beast when the park’s PR Manager, Don Helbig (who has ridden The Racer, another wooden coaster, almost 12,000 times!  How does one even count that high, especially when being tossed around on a wooden coaster?) told us that one of his job’s challenges was to dispel the rumors about the park given life by the internet.  One of those rumors he talked about happened to be that Flight of Fear met its demise.  Not true – Flight of Fear is alive and well and also well worth riding, especially if you are a person who is used to Space Mountain.  I think I can pretty much guarantee you will like Flight of Fear better.

Well…  I have once again talked blogged your ear (?) off with my boring detailed account of an event.  I wanted to rate most of the enjoyable rides at King’s Island, but I must cut the post short for now – maybe I will be able to get the other cool rides in the next post if I cool it a little and shorten the detail…  Until then…