EVEN BETTER THAN I IMAGINED!!!

Posted in animals on October 13th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We are back from Illinois; actually we got back a few days ago, but things here have been so non-stop that I’m not even unpacked from the weekend trip yet – working on that this week.  But I had to take a break and write about the super fun Jack Hanna show that we were able to see while in Illinois – after all my anticipating, it was somehow even better than I had imagined!!!

We were the first ones to arrive at Aurora’s Paramount Theater (a lovely old-fashioned theater with beautiful architecture – in fact, it was chosen  to be the setting for a few scenes of the Johnny Depp movie about the mobster John Dillinger called Public Enemies that was recently released), so we opted to stand in line rather than wait at the bar.  This way, we were first upstairs for our “Jamboree Lunch” and got first pick of our seats.  Seeing as how there were only two ways that Jack could get up to the second floor – stairs or elevator – we chose the table nearest both entrances.  We went to go pick up our lunch – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies, fruit snacks, and chips situated in a safari hat – and came back to our table which had a bunch of little animal toys on it: lion rulers, a finger puppet zebra, coloring pages, and a parachuting tiger (oh how tempting it was to let him loose over the railing to sail down into the lobby… but Jack was due to arrive, so we were on our best behavior).  Once we saw that all of the kids at the event were going to be seated elsewhere, I scooped up all of the jungle paraphernalia and put it in my purse.  We put on our safari hats and ate our PB & J – did I mention that this event was designed for kids?  Had we known before we got there, we would have brought our kids, but it wasn’t very well organized and so we didn’t really realize it until we got there – oh well.  All was forgotten once Jack Hanna arrived!!  If you don’t know who Jack  Hanna is, here is a brief synopsis:  Jack Hanna is an animal guy, and he was the director of the now world famous Columbus Zoo from 1978-1992.  In that time, he put that zoo on the map; it went from being a place that even locals didn’t know existed to a world renowned animal facility, and attendance at the zoo increased by 400%!  He now travels the world visiting endangered species, zoos, and making live show and tv show appearances (his monthly appearances on David Letterman’s show are always entertaining!!), all in the name of bringing awareness to wildlife conservation.

So anyway, at the Jungle Jamboree lunch, Jack goes from table to table (preceded by a woman carrying a baby wallaby in a pouch and a man with a fox), and he comes to our table first!!  He had limited time at each table of course, but he autographed a little picture of himself, and we did have time to tell him how we saw him at Sea World on our honeymoon in 1999.  He asked if we liked animals, and my response went something like this: “Duh, huh huh huh”.  As much as I had been thinking about what to say to Jack, it happened to me again.  When I finally met him, I was dumbfounded and couldn’t think about the most important things to talk about in such a little time.  No matter; we would be meeting him AGAIN later that same day!!

So after that, we went back downstairs to the merchandise table, and Hubby bought me Jack’s new book (My Wild Life – it’s kind of a re-write / update to my favorite book, Monkeys on the Interstate.  But I didn’t have this new book yet, and needless to say now that I have it, my reading of the Harry Potter series has taken a backseat!), and we waited for Jack to finish at the lunch tables upstairs.  He came downstairs, there was just a few minutes wait, and then we met him AGAIN and he signed my new book, plus ALL of the books of his that I had brought along – and I had a huge purse full.  We explained to him that he is our favorite celebrity (“Oh, I’m not a celebrity!”  he said.), and the nice guy behind us took this picture (note that Hubby still has on his safari hat!):

Not sure what to do with ourselves after our autograph session, we were SO tempted to get back in line.  After all, Jack  Hanna, our favorite celebrity animal conservation personality was sitting within 10 feet of us!  But we wanted to give other people a chance to meet him, and I’m glad we chose to just stand there and gawk at him from the sidelines for 25 minutes rather than getting back in line – turns out that some people didn’t get a chance to get his autograph since he was whisked away to get ready for the stage show.  It just wouldn’t have been fair for us to be in the line twice.  He announced later that people who didn’t get a chance to get his autograph could just email his website and an autographed pic would be sent out.  No offense, Jack, but that’s just not the same as meeting you in person!  I am SO thankful that we got to meet him, and he is even more humble and down-to-earth than he seems on tv!!

Well, this blog post got lengthy, and I haven’t even talked about the stage show yet, so I think I will cut this into multiple posts as my little guy is finished with his ‘quiet time’.  Unfortunately for me (and my ever-growing list of housework), my 2-year-old has outgrown his naps so I don’t have nearly as much free time during the day as I need to get everything done.  So you’ll have to wait until my next post (or two or three) to read about the actual Jack Hanna stage show (best show I’ve EVER seen!!!) and the other stuff we crammed into our jam-packed super-fun Illinois weekend.  Until then…

Jack Hanna!!!

Posted in animals on October 7th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

While my girls are counting down the days until they get to go to their Grandma’s house, I am counting the days until I get to see a LIVE JACK HANNA SHOW!!!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited to see family too, but I’ve been waiting to see a live Jack Hanna show for over a decade!!!

I’ve had the show tickets in the car for about two weeks now, since I was so sure that I’d forget them.  I’ve already packed my glasses too, so I can actually see Jack and the animals from my seat.  And I’ve been “cramming” all week – trying to quickly re-read my favorite book, Jack Hanna’s Monkeys on the Interstate.  If all goes well, I should be finished with it by Saturday when I see Jack.  Because we have tickets for a pre-show event called a Jamboree Lunch, I’m hoping for maybe an autograph or even an opportunity to chat with Mr. Hanna!  I know it’s a shot in the dark, but I’ve made a mental list of things I’d bring up just in case; many of them are from the Monkeys book.  Even if I don’t get an opportunity to talk to Mr. Hanna, I am ecstatic just to be able to see his show!!!  I really enjoy his appearances on Letterman every month, and I’m beyond excited to see Mr. Hanna live!!  Just in case, I’m bringing an array of my Hanna collection in case I get a chance to seek an autograph, but I’m not expecting it or anything – don’t want to be disappointed.  It would be nice, however, to replace our autographed Jack Hanna honeymoon memento.  Now I have to tell that story…

When my husband and I took our honeymoon to Florida in 1999, we were driving from where we lived in Illinois to Florida (which is a very LONG drive…  but for some reason, I cannot remember exactly what it was like to do that WITHOUT KIDS along…), and we were talking about all the things we would do.  One of the things that came up  was celebrities we would like to run into, and Jack Hanna was the only one we both decided we would really care about running into.  Once in Florida, we visited Sea World, and we were going to go into the underwater viewing area for  the dolphins, but it was roped off – “TV show taping in progress”.  Just before we turned away to head to something else, a worker lifted the ropes, so in we went, and the crew was packing up the cameras, and THERE WAS JACK HANNA!!!  And we were all alone since the area had just been closed off – no mob of fans to compete with.  Ok, so maybe Jack  Hanna isn’t the type of celebrity to have fans mobbing him wherever he goes, but to me, he is an animal hero.  His Monkeys on the Interstate book chronicles his creativity, his strength through adversity, and his triumphs (and failures!) he went through as he was building the once unheard of Columbus Zoo into the world famous, state-of-the-art zoo facility it is today – a fascinating read for anyone who loves animals, zoos, Jack Hanna, or who just likes funny stories!!  Jack Hanna is a marketing and animal genius!  But I digress – back to my story…

So we got to meet Jack Hanna, right there at Sea World.  I was not expecting it, so I gummed up and let my husband do the talking, and Jack whipped out an 8×10 glossy picture and autographed it, putting our names on it and everything.  Unfortunately, this picture was one of a few irreplaceable items that were entrusted to so-called “friends” during a move we had, never to be seen again…  but that’s another story and nothing I want to dwell upon now.

So yeah, IF I actually get to talk to Jack again this time, I have my list of things I want to talk about…  though it’s quite lengthy, and my brain will be swimming with basically EVERYTHING from the Monkeys on the Interstate book, as well as things I want to know about starting my own zoo – hey, that shouldn’t come as a big surprise to any of my readers, so lift your dropped jaw.  Those of you who know me realize that I have a pretty good start on one already, don’t you?  🙂

This is Jack at one of his Letterman appearances.  Each of his appearances on Letterman has moments of hilarity as Jack tries so hard to get in his animal facts while Letterman is busy making jokes and heckling him.  After decades of monthly appearances, the two have built a relationship of sorts, and Jack now brings animals that sometimes shock, awe, and even scare Letterman!!  Never a dull moment when Jack’s around…

Been Waiting Over 7 Years For This!!!

Posted in animals on July 30th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , ,

I HAVE TICKETS TO SEE JACK HANNA!!!

I’ve been waiting MORE than 7 years for this!  Mr. Hanna became a personal hero of mine and Hubby’s around 1998, and as we were driving down to Florida from Illinois for our honeymoon in 1999, we speculated on how cool it would be to run into Jack Hanna since we were going to Sea World (where he would and still does often appear).  And guess what happened?  We ran into Jack Hanna at Sea World!!!  We were going down to an underwater viewing area for one of the exhibits (don’t even remember which one, don’t care), and it was roped off with a sign, “tv show taping in progress”.  Just as we turned around, they took down the ropes, and so we went in, and there was Jack Hanna!  And we were the only fans in there with him!  I got tougue-tied, and I forgot every question I wanted to ask him, but luckily, Hubby was able to explain to him what big fans we were.  Jack Hanna autographed a special picture for us, even writing our names on it, but I’m sad to say that this honeymoon treasure was one of a few coveted items that was put in a special box and left with so-called trusted friends during a move when it wouldn’t fit into our car.  Unfortunately, the “friends” never sent the box to us as they promised, and who knows what has happened to our Jack Hanna autograph or other treasures by now?

But that’s not the point.  I’ve been hoping to replace it and to see Mr. Hanna do a show, but he never has appearances close to my corner of Ohio.  He came to Toledo once 7 years ago, but the ticket prices were kind of steep, especially since we didn’t know if our then 2-year-old would enjoy it, plus we had just moved to the state and didn’t know any babysitters.  I’ve regretted not going to Jack’s Toledo show ever since, especially when he hasn’t come close to the area.  But about a month ago, I happened to check his website, and Jack was going to be less than 2 hours away from us AS WELL as appearing in the town where my parents live – TWO opportunities to see him!  So anyway, long story short, we have tickets to see JACK HANNA in OCTOBER!!!  I can’t wait!  This is going to make it so much easier for me to have to forget about the MLB post-season this year (my team is terrible this year and essentially eliminated themselves opening day).

Before the show, we are scheduled to attend a Jungle Jamboree with Jack Hanna also!  Maybe I can find a way to get my honeymoon autographed picture replaced.  Hubby actually tried once to get me one for a birthday, but there was mis-communication, and Jack Hanna signed it to my husband instead of to me.  I actually thought that was pretty funny and classic Jack – totally something he would do as Jack tends to use his brain to store animal facts rather than organizational details.  I think I’ll bring my favorite book, Monkeys on the Interstate for him to autograph also; I just have to sneak backstage with all my things I want him to autograph somehow.  And I’ll have to read Monkeys on the Interstate again just so I can study up on it and write a list of questions down to ask Jack in case I get the chance again – I WILL NOT get tongue-tied this time!!!  I’ll have to take a break from reading the Harry Potter series, so now I definitely won’t be finished in time to get to see part one of the last Harry Potter movie while it’s in the theater – OH WELL!  I’m going to see Jack Hanna live on stage!!!

A highly recommended read for any zoo lover - Monkeys on the Interstate by Jack Hanna

Awesome Anthem Of Moms Everywhere

Posted in Fun Forwards on December 22nd, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Apparently while people are on Christmas break – off work or just home with their kids – they like to send email forwards.  I’ve gotten a burst of them lately, and 2 caught my eye so I will share them.  The first is another personality quiz, but it had some different questions than ones in the past, so I’m posting it.  Second is a really cute youtube video of a lady doing a marvellous job singing a song with which every parent will identify.  She is very talented, and it’s a good performance.  Not only do the lyrics ring true, but the woman has a nice voice, and she just performs the song very well.  It’s amazing to me that she was able to memorize all those words – they come awfully fast!

Here’s a copy of the personality quiz email with the answers I wrote:

A little fun thing to do.
44 ODD Things about you! If you opened this, FILL IT
OUT! Learn 44 things About your friends, and let them
learn 44 things about you! Send back to Me and to
several more friends !!

1. Do you like blue cheese? yes
2. Have you ever smoked? yes
3. Do you own a gun? NO!
4. What flavor of Kool Aid was your favorite? mountain berry
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? yes
6. What do you think of hot dogs ? like em – especially Vienna Beef or Nathans
7. Favorite Christmas movie? Elf
8. Favorite thing to drink in the morning:water
9. Can you do push ups? barely
10. Favorite piece of jewelry? my wedding and engagement rings
12. Do you have A.D.D.? I just might
13. What is one trait you hate about yourself?  that I can be high strung
14. Middle name ?  Marie
15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment. My Grandma’s Christmas village is cooler than the one they’re showing on the news – I can’t wait until Christmas – I can’t wait until Chris gets off work
17. Current worry? money
18. Current hate right now? arrogant, self-absorbed people
19. Favorite place to be?  home
20. How did you bring in the New Year? with friends
22. Name three people who might complete this.  Jamy, Megan, Mary Beth
23. Do you own slippers?  no – I wear imitation Crocs around the house
24. What shirt are you wearing? a red sweatshirt with snowflakes on it
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? yes – but only in the summer
26. Can you whistle? yes
27. Favorite color?  green
28. Would you be a pirate? I’ve got a parrot…  but I don’t really know what this question means.  I would not hijack ships and steal from people, so I guess not
29. What songs do you sing in the AM. Country
30. Favorite girl’s name?  Taylor
31. Favorite boy’s name? Christopher
32. What’s in your pocket right now? a piece of Barbie fake dog poop – don’t ask
33. Last thing that made you laugh? My girls seeing their baby brother jumping in his bouncy
34. What vehicle do you drive? minivan
35. Worst injury you have ever had? emergency cesarean with a blood transfusion
36.  Favorite Season?  Spring
37. How many TV’s do you have in your house? 6
38. Who is your loudest friend? Lisa H. I guess
39. Do you have any pets? 2 dogs, a parrot, and one hibernating ladybug
40. Does someone have a crush on you?  does marriage count as a crush?
41. What is your favorite book? Monkeys on the Interstate by Jack Hanna
42. Do you collect anything?   board games, Legos, Cubs stuff, local historical memorabilia and books
43. Favorite sports team? Chicago Cubs / Bears
44. What song do you want played at your funeral?  Whatever other people want to listen to, I guess…  it’s not like I’ll be enjoying it!

And here is the Mom’s Anthem video:

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I Never Thought About the Crate Being Square and the Turnstile Being Round…

Posted in animals, TV Shows on May 8th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

In case you’ve missed my previous posts about animals and Jack Hanna, let me explain that Jack Hanna is my favorite celebrity and how much I really enjoy following his adventures through zoo life.  In case you don’t know who Jack is, he is the man who gave Columbus, Ohio a zoo.  They did have one before, even though many residents weren’t even aware of it, but with Jack’s brilliance in zoo management and marketing, the Columbus Zoo has become one of the most reknowned zoos in the world today.  These days, Jack spends his time filming tv shows of his own, and also bringing animals around the country for appearances in theaters and on other tv shows, such as David Letterman, Maury Povich, and Good Morning America in order to educate people about respecting animals.  Whenever animals are involved, situations can easily become unpredictable.  Throw Jack into the mix, and these situations now become hilariously entertaining and unpredictable. Things seem to happen to Jack, and if you’d like an example of what I mean, check out the following article detailing an animal mishap Jack encountered at the airport last September:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Animal expert Jack Hanna and an 11-month-old flamingo became trapped while trying to squeeze through an airport security turnstile. It took firefighters to finally get the flamingo out.  Animal expert Jack Hanna had a close encounter with a flamingo Sunday.  Hanna, the director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and a frequent guest on nationally televised talk shows, was returning from a zoo fundraiser with a mongoose, a small leopard and the flamingo. Three other people were with them.  The entourage arrived at the Ohio State University Airport just after midnight Sunday to find the terminal closed. The only way to leave the tarmac was through a 10-foot-tall metal turnstile with several horizontal bars — not the easiest exit to squeeze through when you’re traveling with boxed-up animals, Hanna said.  “I never thought about the crate being square and the turnstile being round,” he said.  Hanna, 60, pushed the flamingo’s 2-foot-by-3-foot compartment into the turnstile, then continued pushing while straddling the crate.  “I was stuck like a worm. My eyes were as big as grapefruits,” he said. “I can’t describe the feeling in my stomach. I can’t move up or down. The bars are on your face.”  Hanna said he eventually squirmed free, leaving the flamingo still wedged inside and everyone else trapped on the tarmac. He then walked to a nearby fire station for help. It took three firefighters to hoist the flamingo’s crate up and out of the turnstile, he said.  Columbus fire department logs show the firefighters arrived at the airport at 12:30 a.m. for a “flamingo rescue,” spokeswoman Kelly McGuire said.  Hanna joked that the next time he flies through the airport, the biggest animal he’ll bring is a gerbil.

If you were entertained by the preceding article, I highly recommend Jack’s book Monkeys on the Interstate which details his life before and during his days at the Columbus Zoo – it’s a VERY entertaining and funny read, especially for animal lovers and zoo enthusiasts.  I really hope I can schedule some time to catch Jack at one of his appearances soon, but until then, I will keep checking for him on Letterman and will probably check out the book for a fourth time!

Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My

Posted in Kids, Uncategorized on March 18th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I am greatly anticipating our scheduled visit to the Toledo Zoo next week.  My daughter needs a specialty dentist in the big city, so we’ve decided to throw some fun in there as well with a trip to the zoo.  It will probably be my last one until after I have the baby, unless they have a wagon available for rental that’s big enough for very pregnant me AND the 3 kids.  Since it’s only March and I’m not due until July, I think I can still handle the large amount of walking it takes to get around the zoo – we’ll see anyway.  I naively thought that pregnancies would get easier with experience, but it seems that I forgot to factor in my increasing age – I am almost 10 years older than I was the first time I was with child – and I feel it!

Toledo Zoo is very large.  It’s a very nice zoo, but there is lots of walking.  It remains one of my favorite zoos in the country however, and I’ve visited at least 20.  Toledo has lots of animals, but they are pretty spread out.  Also, because the zoo straddles a major road, you have to trek up and down a ramp and across a long pedestrian bridge; all of which is not so much fun if pregnant or in the heat of the summer.  But overall, it is one of my favorite zoos.  Even though the gorilla’s indoor exhibit is pretty small, I really enjoy how close you can see them, and they don’t seem unhappy being in a small exhibit…  unlike a gorilla at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska.  He had a really small indoor enclosure, and we witnessed him charge at a little boy – it was very scary and thank goodness that glass was thick!  This was years ago, and I think Henry Doorly has since re-built their gorilla exhibit.  Another zoo with a lot of walking is the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago, Illinois.  Brookfield has lots of walking, but unlike Toledo, the animals are spaced further apart, so much of the walking is without seeing animals.  It’s been a few years since I’ve been there, so maybe they’ve changed this, but it’s not one of my favorite zoos, unless we’re talking about sentimental reasons – it was the site of my husband’s and my first “unofficial” date.  One zoo that sticks out in my memory as one of my favorites is the Folsom Children’s Zoo in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The name is misleading, they had quite an array of animals there; including red pandas, camels, reindeer, leopards, monkeys, a variety of reptiles, seals, sloths, emus that like to be pet, and there are still many more I haven’t named.  All in only 19 acres, nestled right in the city.  Which sounds large, but once you get in there, it was really the perfect size.  Not much walking at all, lots of animals who all had lots of room in their environments, and it was very nicely landscaped with mature trees and such so that you forgot you were in the middle of the city.  We used to live close enough to walk there, but the only problem with this great little zoo is that it was only open from April – October.  If you are ever in Nebraska, the Folsom Children’s Zoo is a must-see.  Being a native Chicagoan, it’s strange that I’ve never visited the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is also in the middle of a city, albeit a much larger one than Lincoln.  But I’ve heard good things about it, and maybe one of these days, during one of our bi-yearly visits to the area, we will give Lincoln Park a whirl so I can add it to my zoo resume.

Before our trips to the zoo, I like to visit a really cool website to brush up on my animal facts.  It really makes zoo trips more interesting if you know a little more about what you’re looking at.  Check out this online database that is maintained by the University of Michigan:  http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/index.html

And finally, if you are still reading this, you must be an animal lover like me.  If you also like to read, I highly recommend my favorite book written by my favorite celebrity: Jack Hanna, called “Monkeys on the Interstate”.  If you ever watch The Late Show with David Letterman, you know that poor Jack often comes across as a bumbling fool when he’s on the show.  He is an animal expert however, and he is much more entertaining to watch than most animal experts.  He and Letterman tease each other mercilessly, and there is almost always some sort of animal mishap that occurs when Jack is involved, always with hilarious results.  His book is a narrative of the same sort of episodes, all taken from his life as he was growing up and also from when he went on to become the director of the Columbus Zoo.  By the way, being an Ohioan, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Columbus Zoo, and I will say that it did not disappoint.  If you read Jack’s book, you will read about how he brought the zoo from anonymity (he notes in his book that when he first arrived in Ohio, people would always ask him,”there’s a zoo in Columbus?!?”) to one of the most renowned facilities in the world.  There was a lot of trial and error involved in acheiving this, and again, many hilarious hijinks, all of which are detailed in the book – it is really entertaining reading.  And it’s not just a clever title – there really were Monkeys on the Interstate, thanks to Jack and one of his hare-brained ideas!  Maybe I will take another look at it on the long ride to Toledo next week…