Archive for September, 2010

Meet Marty

Posted in animals on September 29th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Question:  What’s the best way to dislodge me from a “case of the Mondays”?

Answer:  A surprise trip to the zoo on a work day, of course!  Hubby knows me so well 🙂

Tangent:  If you have your own “case of the Mondays”, rent the movie Office Space – it’s hilarious!

So we took off Monday for the zoo, and we were torn between which side of the zoo to visit – Toledo Zoo straddles a major highway, the Anthony Wayne Trail, and we never visit both sides in the same day because it adds a TON of walking, much of it up long ramps pushing a heavy double stroller.  We usually park in the back and opt for the larger side of the zoo, but we have been visiting  a lot lately, and since it was a work day and Hubby had to get home at a somewhat decent hour to get back to work, we opted for the smaller side of the zoo.  This side might not have many exhibits, but there is this almost-year-old baby polar bear that I’ve been wanting to see, so it seemed like the right choice – until we saw the sign at the gate that read, “Our baby polar bear, Siku, will not be on exhibit today.”  WHAT?!?  Well, we had already parked, unloaded kids, and walked into the zoo, so visiting the other side was no longer an option.  We trudged on, determined to make the best of it.

And lucky us, it all worked out wonderfully!  We may not have gotten to see a super-cute baby polar bear, but we got to see a full-grown male polar bear up close, nose to nose – I’m talking within inches.  Sure, there was a pane of glass separating us from the polar bear, but that’s a given – look at this:

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In case you’re wondering, Marty the polar bear (Siku the cub’s dad) has a bucket containing frozen fish in an ice block.  We watched him conquer the first bucket and devour the fish, and then he bullied the 2nd bucket away from the other polar bear and worked on it for a good 30-40 minutes – we had to leave before he got to the fish from the 2nd bucket.  I could not decide which video was best, so I’m just going to post all 4 – they’re all under a minute long anyway so they don’t take forever to unload off my camera.  All of the videos were taken while Marty was working on the 2nd ice bucket.  You can see how he dips the bucket in the water and even  dives into the water with the bucket in his mouth in order to let the water loosen up the fish ice block for him.

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In case you’re wondering, being up close and personal with a thousand pounds of polar bear (give or take a few hundred pounds) is really as amazing as it looks!!!

And my two little ones had a great time also – at first my son was afraid of the polar bear, but he got over that once he realized that Marty was much more interested in his bucket than some zoo visitors.  Here are the kids posing in an “arctic cave”:

And the kids’ favorite part of the day?  Climbing on and posing on this mock dung heap near the giraffe exhibit.  Kids – gotta love ’em!

Dropping Like Flies

Posted in Kids on September 28th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s been really difficult to blog with a 2-year-old in the house, especially because mine is a boy.  He just seems to get into anything and everything, and this phase of his is lasting longer (and is much much messier and harder on my house) than was any of his 3 sisters’ terrible twos.  Complicating my schedule is the fact that he seems to be growing out of his naps, so now Mom’s daily time-out has been reduced to mere hopefulness for a time-out.

So anyway, this explains my blogging absence, and now you know why it’s taken me so long to blog that…

My 6-year-old daughter Samantha lost her first tooth last week!

She was SO excited, and of course the tooth fairy made her nighttime visit.  You might have read that I’ve been teaching 1st grade Sunday school (which just happens to be Sammie’s class), and that’s been going very well – I really enjoy it.  Sammie’s lost tooth prompted me to ask last Sunday how many of my students have lost teeth, and they were all full of stories.  One little girl (who is missing her two front teeth) told about how she lost this one and that one in the same day – and she was pointing to her missing bottom teeth, not even  the top two that were visibly missing!  So it seems that Sammie is just beginning – she has lots of teeth to lose, and because teeth seem to drop out of 1st graders’ mouths constantly (dropping like flies?  That doesn’t sound quite right now that I think about it), it makes me think that I had better bring a little container or two with me every Sunday just in case I need to send a fallen tooth home with its owner.

What an exciting time in a kid’s life, and it was neat to hear how enthusiastically all my first graders talked about losing their teeth and getting visits from the tooth fairy.  By the way, the going rate for a baby tooth seems to be around $5 these days – WOW!  Do you remember how much the tooth fairy gave you for your teeth?

How much did the tooth fairy leave you per tooth when you were a kid? (Feel free to check all that apply and leave your comments in the box!)

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Congratulations Sammie!

Recycling Is Important…

Posted in Everyday Life on September 23rd, 2010 and tagged , , , ,

Especially when you are this cute – my two youngest helped carry in the recycling bin on garbage day, chanting “Teamwork, teamwork” all the way!  Awww!!

Next On Dancing With The Stars…

Posted in Pop Culture, TV Shows on September 17th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , ,

One of those rare amusing email forwards caught my eye, so I’ll share.  Besides, my last post was kind of a downer; here’s something funny to counteract it:

Next Season on Dancing With The Stars:

More Beautiful Than Ever

Posted in Current Events on September 16th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

My husband was in bed last night waiting for me to come up because I was putting some finishing touches on my daughter’s school fundraiser and picture forms when we both heard a bunch of sirens.  We live pretty close to the fire station, so we didn’t think much of it, even if it was odd that they were allowing them to wail so loudly just before midnight.  This morning a friend emailed me with the bad news, and I went to  the local newspaper’s website to see the details: our beloved community park, Imagination Station, burnt last night.

We still don’t know how it happened, but it’s obvious that this was not a natural cause – it was not lightning, and there is no electricity capable of sparking such a blaze at the park.  Unfortunately, this seems to be the work of people, and whether it was intentional or an accident remains to be seen.  At least no one was hurt physically in the blaze.  But many in the community are emotionally distraught, for Imagination Station was a wonderful park where citizens from throughout the area would spend warm summer nights, cool autumn evenings, and many a Saturday afternoon with their families and friends.  Funded by private donations and built by the hands of thousands of volunteers in 1994, it was a source of community pride.  Everyone came together to create Imagination Station; kids volunteered their cool playground ideas, while adults physically built the play equipment and still others provided thousands of meals for the builders.  The community worked together day and night, rain and shine for 6 days until it was finished.  The final product was amazing, impressing locals and out of town visitors alike.  And now much of it is gone.

Many people came out tonight to walk past the charred ruins.  In a way, it was like paying one’s respects, and many people stared at the blackened splinters in stunned silence.  There were whispers, “Who would do such a thing?” and “How did this happen?”, and one woman walked by slowly, saying quietly, “We will build it again.  And it will be more beautiful than ever.”  I believe her to be right.  People came together in 1994 and built an amazing park, and people will come together again to replace the one we lost yesterday.

“The Greeks built an Acropolis – And Noah built an Ark
The Russians built a Sputnik  But Bryan built a Park”
(Bryan Times, 1957)


There was an update in today’s (9/17/10) newspaper saying that tons of people have stepped forward and created a volunteer organization to rebuild.  It was insured, and Spangler Candy Company has stepped forward to cover any costs not paid for by insurance.  There is a Facebook page dedicated to the rebuilding of Imagination Station where people can share their memories of the park or volunteer for the rebuilding.
Unfortunately the fire investigation and the insurance company’s investigation will both take awhile, and nothing can be done until they are finished.  They hope to have the playground replaced by Spring, but that is still a long time, especially for those of us with kids.  Sure there are other parks in town, but Imagination Station was the favorite.   🙁  The little town made the big Toledo news though, they had a nice story:

Felonious Dishonesty?

Posted in Current Events on September 15th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , ,

What do you think about this: a guy goes to the drive-up window at his bank, and they accidentally give him $3350 that was supposed to go to another customer.  He drives off.  He is now facing felony theft charges.

I wanted to blog about this because I really disagree with it.  Morally, it wasn’t right of the man to drive off with money he knew did not belong to him.  Ethically, he should have notified the teller of his or her mistake, and the teller should have thanked him profusely.  But I believe that to charge this guy with theft is wrong.  Sure, he took someone else’s money, but it was a bad decision made in the heat of the moment.  He saw a lot of money, it had been given to him, and he made a mistake.  It was a bad decision, and a greedy one at that, but deserving of a felony?  I think not.  If convicted, this man will have a felony record.  He will have trouble finding employment, and he will lose basic freedoms that many people take for granted, such as owning a gun or being able to vote.  I believe it to be a bit severe to slap him with a felony record when his crime shows no premeditation nor malice toward another.  For all he knew, he was given the money and he might not have realized that his taking it would have hurt anyone.  He did not hold up the bank, and order a teller to give it to him or use a gun to get the money.  Again, clearly the wrong thing to do morally, but were his actions criminal?

What do you think?  Check as many answers as you’d like, and feel free to add any thoughts or opinions you have in the comments section.

Does the punishment fit the crime?

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If you would like to  read the article before voting in my poll, below is a copy of the original article that was printed on  Hmm, I see that his court date is only days away.  I will post an update to this story if I come across one.

A man who reportedly drove off after a bank teller mistakenly gave him $3,350 that was supposed to go to another customer now faces felony theft charges.

The teller at a drive-in window of Chase Bank, 2555 Golf Road, Hoffman Estates, accidentally sent the cash to the wrong customer and quickly told the recipient to come inside the bank, said Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Moe Ahmad.

But the driver, whose name and address was known to the bank because of his transaction, drove away, Ahmad said.

Hoffman Estates police arrested Luis Villarreal, a 26-year-old stay-at-home father, Thursday in his home in the 600 block of Alcoa Lane in Hoffman Estates. Ahmad said police found $2,920 in a diaper bag.

Cook County Associate Judge John J. Scotillo set Villarreal’s bond at $25,000 and ordered him to appear at 9 a.m. Sept. 16 in room 108 of the Rolling Meadows Courthouse.

The Little Boy With The Black Eye

Posted in family fun on September 12th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , ,

We took the kids to the county fair on Saturday, and we had lots of fun.  It may have rained most of the day,  but we stayed comfortable using  an umbrella and our stroller awnings for the little ones.  There was only one or two major downpours, and we spent those in the animal barns, looking over the fair kids’ 4-H projects.

It’s always amazing to us how much our 6-year-old  loves going on all the most extreme carnival rides, and my husband and I took turns with her on this:

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and this:

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To her disappointment, she is not yet tall enough for this, but maybe next year:

My little guy took his nap at the fair, and when he woke up, we stopped for a snack.  He began to cry; at first we thought he was just crabby from his nap and that his sister had taken his cookies.  But then his cheek up near his eye began to swell up and turn black and blue.  When he said, “Bug hurt me”, we knew that he must have gotten stung.  We made a precautionary visit to the fair’s EMS squad, and they were excellent with him, even  though he wanted no part of it.  He soon got over his ow-ie with the help of some fair rides, but if you look at his right eye, you can see that he was sporting a minor shiner:

I know, the clowns are scary enough, but our son loved this ride despite how upset he looks – it was just his swollen eye.  When the ride stopped, he got off the clown and immediately climbed into another one.  Hey, you can’t expect a 2-year-old to understand the concept of fair tickets being $.75 each!!

I’m happy to say today that the swelling on his face is down a little bit, and good thing too – I got tired of the scrutinizing looks from people who were wondering, “How did that cute little boy get that black eye?!?”

In Remembrance

Posted in Current Events on September 12th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


September 11, 2001 was day we won’t forget, a defining time in our nation’s history, and the first of its kind for the generations who hadn’t been exposed to such feelings of terror nor national vulnerability before that day.  This blog post is a day late, but I spent some time yesterday reflecting on the sacrifices made and the lives forever changed on that September day in 2001.  Alan Jackson wrote a poignant song about September 11, 2001 that asks, “Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?”, and I think that everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when they learned that the United States was attacked nine years ago.  I remember receiving emails from my friend who was serving in the Air Force at the time:

To All My Friends and Family:
I just wanted everyone to know that I’m okay.  We are not going anywhere.  Our jets are on standby, but that’s it.  Also, Jerry made it home okay, for those of you that were worried.  I love you all, and I miss you.

Hi Everyone,
Things are still going as well as can be expected.  We are currently
working 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week.  Please, I’m asking everyone,
do not call me during the day, because most of you know that’s when
I sleep.  I’m working 7:00pm to 7:00am.  If you absolutely need to get in touch with me,
you can call me at home between 5:30pm and 6:00pm, or in an
emergency I can be reached at work. (Mom and Dad you
can call me anytime, even at work if you want)  Also I check my
e-mail a few times a night, so I will respond to everyone as quickly
as possible.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask, but I
only have limited info at this time.  For everyone wondering, we
currently have 1/3 of our jets standing by with a full load of fuel
and equiped with armed missles.  If anything else happens, the jets
will take off and patrol from South Carolina to the Southern tip of
Florida (the Keys)  They will shoot down anything that comes within
that area.  They will give the planes one warning and if they don’t
turn back, our jets will shoot them down without hesitation.  We are
very tired and will be even more worn down by the time this is all
over.  Working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week will do that to you.
Again, if anyone has any questions, please e-mail me.  I love you
and miss you all.
Love, Kel

Her emails illustrate the widespread uncertainty coursing throughout the nation at that time as well as the need to keep close contact with friends and family.

One of the most moving experiences I’ve had was visiting the 9/11 museum in New York city a few years ago.  It was a somber experience, and there was scarcely a dry eye left amongst those who came to learn, reflect, and pay tribute to the victims of 9/11.  The victims, their families, and those who were affected in other ways by the infamous September 11, 2001 were in my thoughts and prayers yesterday, as well as they are today, and I’ve included the following video if you’d like to reflect as well.  God bless America.

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Not THAT MGM Lion…

Posted in animals, Current Events on September 10th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , ,

Have you seen that MGM lion video?  When I asked a friend about this the other day, he apparently thought I was referring to the lion that roars at you from the screen in the beginning of some movies – not THAT MGM lion!  I’m talking about the shocking video of the lion turning on his trainer at the lion exhibit in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.  Notice I didn’t use the word “attack”.  Animal experts (including Jack Hanna, my favorite animal expert) who have reviewed the footage have agreed that it wasn’t an attack, but rather retribution or perhaps rough play from one grumpy lion.  The fact is, had the lion been attcaking, it would have been over in a matter of seconds with a tragic outcome for the trainer.  The trainer escaped uninjured, and watch how the lion follows him out of the enclosure, giving him “yeah, you’d BETTER run” looks all the way out:

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Personally, I do think the lion was playing rough.  He might have gotten a bit irritated at the trainer, but if he had truly wanted to hurt him, he could have killed him in seconds flat, which is why extreme caution should always be used when handling exotic animals.  I wish the video showed what was occuring between the lion and his trainer just before the incident.  Seconds before, the lion seems relaxed, but then the camera pans away until the lion lunges for the trainer’s leg.  What I find truly amazing about the video is the female lion’s reaction.  She follows the male lion around the enclosure throughout the incident, seemingly trying to get him to stop stalking the trainer.  Just after the male lion’s first lunge, the female even jumps on his back and gives him a little nip.  A penny for…  scratch that – I think I’d pay a  lot of money for the thoughts of these lions!

Scary as these incidents are, I’m happy to report that this one had a positive outcome – the trainers are fine.  I wonder if that trainer will be working with that male lion again?

Disney’s First Day Of School!

Posted in Kids on September 9th, 2010 and tagged , , ,

My almost 4-year-old daughter Disney joined her sisters in the profession of “student” the other day- it was her first day of prechool, and she LOVES it!!

Here is the cutie on her first day: