Archive for December, 2011

Harvey, You Were Awesome

Posted in animals on December 31st, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

I was thinking that I should get in one more blog post before the New Year.  I was going to write a general update about my beautiful family, but before I got to writing it, I found myself thinking of Harvey.

Let’s begin at December 26, 2011.  My husband and the kids surprised me with a wonderful Christmas gift:  they had all saved and planned for months to buy us a zoo membership.  Our family loves zoos and has had a membership to the local zoo (whichever zoo happened to be local at the time)  for as long as Hubby and I have been married.  I remember that our most recent zoo membership expired on April 1st of last year – I remember this because I made sure to visit on April 1st for what would be our last visit to the zoo for many months.  For budget reasons, it didn’t make a lot of sense for us to renew the membership because I was expecting our 5th child in October – what pregnant lady wants to take her 4 kids to the zoo in the summer?  Not this one.  So we let the membership lapse.  I missed our visits to the zoo, but at the same time, plagued by pregnancy related nausea and fatigue, followed by post-cesarean surgery recovery and the joys (and trials) of caring for a new baby brother to 4 other kids, I didn’t really miss our visits to the zoo…

But then my family surprised me with that membership.  Now that I’m healed from the surgery.  Now that the baby has stayed with the babysitter a few times and actually liked it.  Now that I can take my home-schooled kids to the zoo any time I feel like taking a field trip!

This past week was a great one!  Hubby was able to flex his work schedule to spend a lot of time with the family, and we all enjoyed the break, which included visiting the Toledo Zoo.  In our travels to zoos over the years, we saw many amazing things and learned many amazing things.  Among them:  zoos are GREAT to visit in the winter!  Many animals are so much more active in the cold weather, and there are many less people, allowing visiting families opportunities not normally offered (Example: my kids made bird feeders as a craft at the zoo and loved it!!).

Being winter, some of the exhibits were closed.  Other animal environments were rearranged from the last time we had been there, so we couldn’t quite keep tabs on our familiar favorites.  We did notice that the Great Apes area was rearranged.  There was a sign saying that the Great Apes area was going to be closed for the Lights Before Christmas event, but we saw the gorillas and orangutans, so we didn’t think much of it.  Until we didn’t see Harvey the Chimp.   When I got home, I looked in the Toledo Zoo’s newsroom online  and saw that Harvey had passed away in August.  It was sad for me; Harvey’s exhibit was one of my favorite stops at the zoo.  He was an elderly chimp who loved little kids, and here is a video I have of him playing with my kids.  I can’t be too sad though; Harvey died in his sleep, at the healthy chimp age of 52 – DOUBLE the average life expectancy of a chimp in captivity.

My other favorite exhibit at the zoo, the orangutan family, was also rearranged – during our visit we saw only the mom and daughter – what happened to Boomer (my favorite zoo animal until Harvey stole the title), the patriarch of the orangs?  Such things are commonplace in zoos, and I’m thankful that I once again have a membership that gives me insight to studying the wonderful creatures inhabiting the zoo.  As much as I mourn my old favorites, I will be looking forward to watching the new additions as well:  baby Lucas the elephant, the new baby tigers soon to be exhibited, and the new addition soon to be announced to the public due any day!  Yes, I have inside info!  One thing I love doing while visiting the zoo is talking to the volunteers, and one was beside herself with the awesome news of an impending birth!  So much so that she couldn’t keep it to herself, even if she was supposed to!  Would I do the same if I was a zoo volunteer?  Dunno…  but in the meantime, a HUGE THANK YOU GOES OUT TO HUBBY AND THE KIDS!!!  I’ve already enjoyed my zoo membership more than you would have ever hoped for when you planned and saved!!  LOVE YOU GUYS!!!

I wish everyone reading this a very happy and safe New Year!

Here are tribute videos to Harvey the chimp – watch how he played with my kids!  We will miss him!

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Monday, Monday

Posted in Everyday Life on December 5th, 2011 and tagged , , , , ,

Don’t you just hate when you run out of certain household staples and a trip to the store becomes imminent whether you planned it for that day or not?  Happened to me today, and wouldn’t you know, it was a cold December rainy day.  Complicating what should have been a simple run to the store were my 5 kids and the fact that the rain decided to change over into sleet and ice during the trip.

As always, it took us almost an hour to get ready to go.  It takes forever for the kids to listen well enough and to stop playing long enough to pull on socks, shoes, and coats.  Since 2 of my kids are in diapers and one is being bottle fed, my diaper bag these days is huge and takes some time to pack every time I leave the house; especially when I have to take breaks from packing it to tend to the baby and the various needs of various kids.  Finally, we were ready to leave the house, but somewhere in the melee I decided to leave my 2 oldest kids home.  Contributing to my decision, Sammie was having a rough and crabby day, so I decided it would be most productive for the family if she and her brother were separated since that’s where today’s fights were centered.  Except that meant that I had to come up with a home-schooling project for the girls to do while the rest of us were out, which meant further delay.

I get most of our family’s staples at Walmart because they are usually cheapest and it’s the whole one-stop shopping thing.  Except that their milk prices are horrible, so today I found it worth the savings to unload all 3 kids (ages 2 mos., 3 years and 5 years) to make an extra stop at Rite Aid.  Besides, I’ve had a hankering for some Combos and Rite Aid often has them on sale.  But wouldn’t you know it, today was a Monday and there wasn’t a sale on Combos, nor was there any milk on the shelves at all!  “The truck is usually here by now,” said the clerk when I asked about the absence of milk, but his musing didn’t help me any.  So I re-loaded all the little kids and headed to Walmart – by now the rain was turning to sleet and the driving visibility was compromised.  We made it across town safely with a quick pitstop at the gas station because it was coffee Monday, which meant all sizes of coffee are just $.89.  But they were out of 24 oz. cups.  Which meant that I had to have a 20 ounce cup for the same price as a 24 ounce cup would have cost – the kind of stuff that normally gets my goat.  No matter, I shouldn’t have coffee greed anyway, but now I was cold, wet, and slightly irritated…  and I had all these KIDS with which to deal…  that extra 4 ounces of coffee could have served me well!

On to Walmart where I had to circle the lot 3 times to find a decent parking spot.  Not that I’m lazy, but it makes me nervous to walk through the parking lot with so many little kids, at least one of whom doesn’t listen well and tends to run off whenever he pleases.  I got a break because my parking spot was next to a cart return, so I loaded all 3 kids into a cart – though it was a bit of a feat to fit them all in along with my huge diaper bag.  We had plans to switch into a more kid-friendly cart once we got inside, but the kid-rider carts were all buried behind other carts, leaving me no choice but to leave my kid-filled cart in the path of every other shopper who entered the Walmart in that particular 5 minute span.  The shopping itself was uneventful, unless you count the fact that my son tumbled out of the cart (did it have to be while he was explaining to me how he likes Justin Beiber’s songs just not Justin Beiber himself?  And one wonders what that all even means when coming from a 3-year-old…)  We had to stop a few times to nurse his wounds and to feed his brother, but then we were on our way.  I didn’t realize until my groceries were all bagged up that I forgot my wallet, meaning that I had to drag all the kids back out to the car in the now freezing rain (it actually made noises as it bounced against our cheeks) to get my wallet and then  to return to the store to buy our groceries…   not to mention maneuvering BACK to the car to load up all the kids and the groceries…

Following that, my intentions were good; I was going to bring Hubby a special half-price fountain drink from Sonic for Happy Hour, but I ran out of gas.  Well, I didn’t run out of gas and get stranded in the cold, so for that I’m thankful.  But after all of the illustrations of Murphy’s Law I witnessed on this Monday, I decided not to risk stopping at the gas station again for gas – coffee Monday or not.

In case you had the same sort of Monday and need a theme song:

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Little Luke Likes Lights

Posted in Kids on December 4th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thought I would post a quick little update about our youngest child who is growing so quickly that I don’t know if we can call him our “new addition” any longer!  Luke James is almost 2 months old, and among his likes are being held, listening to music, and looking at lights.  He’s been especially impressed by the colorful lights on the Christmas tree.  These things are common favorites among many almost-2-month-olds, but Luke is a very special baby – he has been able to hold his head up for a few weeks and is extremely alert for a baby his age.  His VERY FAVORITE thing to do in the whole world is to be held like this while his little hands open and close and his eyes bulge as he takes in the world around him:

Luke doesn’t sleep well at night, but we aren’t really surprised because none of our 5 kids were very good sleepers as babies.  But Luke doesn’t sleep much during the day, either – he takes about one good nap per day about 3-4 days per week.  And by “good nap” I mean him sleeping for over an hour without waking up.  Actually, I thought of the perfect way to describe Luke the other day: he is an intense baby.  He wants what he wants when he wants it, and he’s not shy about asking.  Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that he is a disagreeable baby, and he is very smiley.  He’s just very demanding, and since he is always awake…  well, you can understand why my free time is down to almost none and the blog posts from me remain infrequent.  Especially because he demands to have 100% of the available attention, whether it’s eye contact while playing with him or using both hands to feed him – he is not a fan of a multi-tasking parent.

He’s already able to play – he loves looking into the eyes of people who play with him, and he especially likes to exchange baby talk with “goo” being his favorite word.  He loves when his sisters and brother play with him, but it’s hard to tell if he has a favorite yet.  Christopher is 3 and Luke’s only brother, but he doesn’t play with him often – it seems like Christopher is afraid of hurting Luke, and he also seems shy about talking to him or playing with him.  Disney likes to hold Luke (she’s 5), but she loses interest in a matter of minutes.  Taylor is almost 12, and she enjoys Luke’s cuteness, but she is too busy with a life of her own to spend a lot of time with her baby brother.  Sammie stands out as the remarkable sibling.  7-year-old Sammie just adores her baby brother; she’s always asking to hold him, and she doesn’t soon grow tired of it.  She plays with Luke, asks how he’s doing, expresses interest in his activities, misses him when she’s gone, and loves seeing cute pictures of him.  I’m looking forward to watching their special bond strengthen even further as they grow up together.  His brother and sisters love their baby brother in their own ways, and any time Luke does something new, he is crowded by an admiring entourage that can rival that of most celebrities.

Luke also really likes baths.  He smiles like crazy the whole time he’s in the bath; he’ll even throw out a couple of “goo”s and “gaa”s and doesn’t seem to notice that he sounds different when his ears are under water.

Luke is also the tie-breaker in our family – we have 3 brown-eyed people and 3 blue-eyed people.  Two months old is too early to tell what color a baby’s eyes will be, so right now we don’t know which “side” will win.  It’s interesting also that our 2 blue-eyed kids are left-handed while our 2 brown-eyed kids are right-handed.  Will Luke be a tie-breaker in only the eye color category or will he break the mold and be a blue-eyed righty or a brown-eyed lefty?

Even with his intensity, Luke is a wonderful baby and it’s been nothing but a pleasure so far to get to know him as his personality develops – I wouldn’t change any part of him or anything about him, no matter how far behind on stay-at-home-mommy-work I am!  Here he is wearing the adorable camouflage hoodie someone got him – it’s so cute!  And here’s an interesting bit of culture clash for you – where I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Luke would wear this and we’d be trendy.  Here in the woods of rural Northwest Ohio, I put the camo hoodie on Luke, and we heard no fewer than FIVE comments about hunting and him being a little woodsman  🙂

King Praising King

Posted in music on December 1st, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Our new addition, Luke James, is almost 2 months old (already!), and he loves music.  While I sit cuddling, feeding, and playing with him, I’ve been perusing youtube.com looking for music for us to enjoy together.  Being the time of year that it is, we’ve really been appreciating Christmas tunes, especially Martina McBride and Celine Dion’s versions of O Holy Night.  How I love to sit with my little Luke and think about what the lyrics of these songs REALLY mean!  I’ve also been especially appreciative of Elvis’ gospel songs and praise music lately.  My favorites are “How Great Thou Art” and “Put Your Hand in the Hand”.  Today it came to my attention that my friend’s dad composed a praise song for Elvis and sang backup for the track with his music group, The Imperials!  How cool is that!  Thanks to Amanda who shared her dad’s talent on this song, “If the Lord Wasn’t Walking by My Side”:

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