Saturday, March 27, 2010

Have you Filled Out Your Form?

I am now an official Federal employee. Yep, I signed up to work for the 2010 Census. I spent the last 3 days in training, learning about confidentiality procedures, the forms, and all the background stuff the ordinary person doesn't see. It's been interesting.

I'll be starting work sometime in the next week, working random hours to fit my schedule. I hope it's a rewarding experience. If nothing, it's some extra money and who doesn't need that, right? If you're in the area, they are still looking for people! And they may still be looking for people in other areas as well, I'm not sure. But for now, I need to go organize all my supplies and get things in some semblance of order. Fun stuff, I tell you. Fun stuff!

We love Como Zoo!

For those of you who aren't somewhat local, Como Zoo is in St Paul. It's open 365 days a year and is affiliated with a large park system and conservatory, plus a small amusement park in the summer. Oh, and it's all free (except for the rides). They ask for a free-will donation when you walk through the doors, but if you have nothing to give you are still allowed in. It's worth every penny you do, or don't, spend and then some.

Como is a rather small zoo. You can walk through the entire thing in about 1-2 hrs without rushing. It has an Ape Building with about 5 different species, including little Tamarins -- which we all love and refer to as the "Little Old Men Monkeys" -- and going up to large Gorillas. There is a large cat building, which houses lions, tigers and leopards, and next to that is an enclosure for 2 grey wolves (which I see plenty at home, thankyouverymuch). There is a nice central building for African hooved animals--giraffes, zebras, various deer--and then an aquatics building with penguins, puffins, lots of fish, seals and sea lions, and polar bears (which will open their new exhibit later this spring). Scattered around the way are also bison, long-horned sheep, caribou, various bird and waterfowl species, and giant tortoises. Attached to the zoo is a large conservatory with tons of exotic flowers, trees and plants. There is also a newer exhibit, the rain forest. In here you are able to walk amongst the tall trees and see some of the rain forest inhabitants, like a huge anaconda snake, tarantula, and 3-toed sloth (Alayna's favorite).

Again, this zoo is not huge, but it's so much fun for the whole family. You don't have to make a huge time commitment to go there, it's not hard on the wallet, and the animals are pretty close and easily visible. We love it. Which is why we went there again this past weekend. We had a prior engagement with our 4H club that was going to be as far south as the cities but just a bit further east. This commitment, while important, was only for about an hour total. We couldn't drive all that way for such a short time, then turn around and come home. See, Como was the perfect choice!

I took some pictures, but they'll look like any other zoo picture. The big cats and wolves were actually out and active, because it was a cool day--usually we're there in summer and it's so warm they're rather lazy. But because it was a cool day, the giraffes and zebras were kept inside their barn, where we were able to see them but it wasn't as great as when they're outside. All the apes were indoors instead of in their outside pens, and the tortoise was nowhere to be found, probably nicely tucked into a warm room.

We go to Como 2-3 times a year, if not more. And if you're in the St Paul area with an hour or two to kill, we totally recommend Como!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!

Today is my parent's wedding anniversary! They've been together, for better or worse, for over 33 years! So Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad! We all love you!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ferrets, Tigers and Bears...Oh My!

I have been having some bizarre dreams lately. First off, let me tell you that I'm one of those people that has dreams like movies. They are full of detail and I can recall them like I watched them on my tv--what people said, what they wore, etc. It's funny to relate them to Andy, who will then be like, "I had a dream we were camping." That's all he remembers and recalls.

Anyway, the last three nights I've had bizarrely intense dreams. Not scary, per se, but suspenseful and intense. They've involved things like bears chasing us, tigers lose in the campground when all we have is a basic tent for protection, ferrets chasing rats through my house to prevent the rats from chewing on our toes...I told you, bizarre and intense.

Now, I'm not one to analyze my dreams and try to derive some inner meaning from my subconscious movie reel. I usually laugh them off and go about my day. But this has been 3 nights in a row now. I'm not waking from them, but I don't think I'm sleeping well, either. Andy said I was kicking him the other night, and my legs were churning like I was running (that was the bear night) I've been waking up feeling exhausted and spent, sometimes so warm that I am in a sweat or need to throw off the covers. I even took a 3-hr nap yesterday that felt like it was about 10 minutes, and I woke up drooling like crazy because I was sleeping so hard. That's not like me, people--the drooling or the super long nap.

So if you think of it, do you wanna send me some nice sleepy dust? Please? I could really use a good night's sleep without crazy, intense, drama-riddled dreams. Thanks a million.

Friday, March 19, 2010

K is for Kindergarten

It's official--Lilly will be going to Kindergarten in the fall. We recently had her orientation and sign-up, though there wasn't much to do since she's currently enrolled in the school's 4K program. Her teacher told me about the screening they did at school, and Lilly's doing great! She got 50 out of 50 on her screening, which tested things like her knowledge of shapes, colors, spatial relations (above/under, before/after, etc) and basic understanding of word and letter concepts. We all expected her to do well on the screening, since she's known all of those things for months, including knowing and writing all her letters and numbers, and reading beginning words like spot, cat, that, hop...

Signing her up for Kindergarten made it all seem more real. Yes, she's been going to school 2 days a week since September. And yes, she was 5 years old in October. But Kindergarten is so official. It's that first real year of school. She's still my little girl, but she's my big little girl, now. She's reading and writing and making friends and learning basic math. We're so very proud of her!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Anonymous No More

Hey everyone. I know some of you comment anonymously here on my blog because you don't have an account with Blogger. But you know what? You don't have to have a Blogger account. You could have a google account, or an Open ID. Why am I talking about this? Because I've decided to disable anonymous commenting abilities. I hate to do it, but I'm getting a lot of SPAM comments about things I don't need and don't belong here on a family blog. Like male enhancement products, toys of the very-much-adult variety, and random links for sites I cannot verify are safe.

So please, take a moment to create an account. All you have to do is provide an e-mail address, a sign-in name (you could even make it something like Gramma P instead of a name) and a password. That's it. I literally takes seconds. I love hearing all that everyone has to say on my blog, but the SPAM is getting in the way and making it difficult. I don't want to hear what they have to say.

**I've posted a few times today, so look below!

Mikayla's Big Weekend

On Saturday, my mom, the girls and I went shopping for Easter dresses. We headed to a mall and found perfect dresses. Then we decided it was time for a certain 3-year-old to get her ears pierced.

She's been wanting them done forever, so she could be just like her big sisters. We used it as motivation to help her quit sucking her thumb. Her poor thumb was so cracked and wrinkly all the time, not to mention the simple irritation on our part to see that thumb constantly in her mouth. So we told her she could get earrings when she stopped sucking her thumb. Well, it took a few months (this was at her birthday in December) She'd find herself with her thumb in her mouth, take it out and tell herself "No!" Or we'd catch her and simply say earrings, and that thumb would fly out of her mouth. So finally, we decided this weekend was it. She could get the beloved earrings. She cried, saying the "snipper" hurt when it put in her pretties, but that was quickly forgotten with a sticker, a sucker, and a look at herself in the mirror. Then all was good. And so far, she's been good about letting me clean them, as well!

Yesterday (Sunday) was an absolutely gorgeous day. Not only was it sunny and dry for the first time in over a week, but it was 62 degrees!! We broke a record high for the date. Obviously, as soon as we got home from church we hunkered down in the house. Or not. Maybe we spent the entire afternoon outside playing basketball, riding bike, swinging and sliding on the play sets, picking up a winter's worth of dog crap from the yard...all those fun things you do on the first real nice day of the year.

Mikayla had another milestone yesterday--she figured out how to pedal her tricycle! She was really close at the end of last year, but she just couldn't get things going and figured out on her own. This year, she didn't even try. She just got on, pedaled and went sailing across the driveway. She stopped and yelled, "I did it! I rided my bike myself!!" Then she had to show everyone she could pedal like a big girl and even went so far as to say it was because of her earrings.

After spending some time on the driveway, we headed to the backyard. Mikayla hopped on the PowerWheels Gator and decided to go for a drive. She worked on her steering and I think she's finally getting the hang of it! Then she wanted to go for a horsey ride, so we did that, too. See?

Now don't get me wrong, the other girls were about, too. Lilly was steadily practicing with her bike, trying to get the hang of no training wheels. She didn't master it yesterday, but she's getting closer. She's set herself a goal of no training wheels or help by summertime. It's so cute to see her lose her balance and catch herself, straighten her shoulders and say, "Let's try again." I have no doubt she'll be riding along in no time! Alayna was zooming around on her bike, sometimes trying to show Lilly what to do and other times just riding past her. She also helped Daddy move some things around with the aid of the lawn-mower, expertly driving and pulling downed trees and brush into the burn pile. All in all, it was a great weekend!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Ride

For the girls' Christmas when they were 3 (or were about to turn 3), Andy's parents have bought them each a PowerWheels. Alayna got a 2-passenger Gator like the one on their farm, and Lilly got a lawn-mower like our big mowers we go camping with. This year was Mikayla's 3-year-old Christmas (technically it wasn't, but she turned 3 only days after) so it was her turn. They bought her a Ford truck that will hold 2 people and has a small box in the back to carry her heavy loads. With the driveway almost clear of snow and ice, we were finally able to take it out for her first test drive! She was so excited!

Daddy's first time rescuing her from being stuck

Lilly had to help her steer a couple of times
Lilly gets a try at driving the truck

I'm sure it won't be long and Mikayla will be a pro at driving the truck all over the place. Then we'll have a real caravan through our trails of Alayna's lawn-mower (she's outgrown her Gator and has her own lawn-mower now--minus the deck of course) Lilly's PowerWheels Mower and Mikayla's truck.

Monday, March 8, 2010

2010 Family Winter Olympics

We've been meaning to do our family Olympics for the last month. Since there just isn't enough time to do it on a weekday after school and work, we had to plan it for a weekend. Well, the first two weekends of the actual Olympics were just too cold, and the final weekend I was gone. So we had to do them this weekend if we were going to do them at all. So we did our family Olympics--in 47 degree, snow-melting weather. It made for a challenge, but also pleasant conditions to be outside!

Event #1: Snow Angel Contest. This event was judged on style, performance and overall appearance. Alayna's angel is the first one shown. She received a score of 17.9. Mommy marked her down a few points because of the obvious butt print.

Mikayla's angel scored a total of 17.3 points. She had great form and a wonderful giggle while executing her performance, but the legs span lacked a little bit.

Lilly's angel scored a 17.9 as well, tying her for gold with Alayna. Her angel didn't have the obvious butt-print, but did lack a little in the leg span.

Final Snow Angel standings: Gold-Lilly and Alayna Silver-Mikayla
The next event was the target portion of the Biathlon. The girls threw 3 ice cubes at a target drawn in the snow with food coloring; a cube in the blue was worth 2 pts, green was worth 1 pt. I forgot to take pictures of this entire event, but did catch a picture of Mikayla throwing her ice cube (which if you look closely is against Lilly's snow pants in the picture below) She eventually got it in the green circle for 1 pt.

Below is the final target shot--1 ice cube in blue, worth 2 pts for Lilly; 1 ice cube in green, worth 1 pt for Mikayla.

Final standing in the Ice Cube Throw event: Gold-Lilly Silver-Mikayla Bronze-Alayna

The next event was the sled race. Daddy made a snow track with the snowmobile, and the girls pulled the sled around the track in a timed event. Alayna pulled Lilly and Mikayla, Lilly pulled Mikayla and Mikayla pulled an empty sled.

(The horses liked spectating at this event)

Final Sled Race Standings: Gold-Alayna Silver-Lilly Bronze-Mikayla

The final event of the games was a Hockey skills test. Each of the girls had 5 chances to make as many goals as they could. Alayna had to stay back 12 feet, Lilly 9 and Mikayla 6.

Final Hockey Skills Event standings: Gold-Lilly Silver-Mikayla Bronze-Alayna

The total medal count for the day was 4 medals for each of the girls! They were all great sports and wonderfully skilled athletes. Until we meet again in 2012...

Monday, March 1, 2010


I was able to get away this weekend for some long-overdue scrapping. It was fabulous. I had a crazy week, so having 2.5 days to do as I please and not worry about much was heavenly. I got a lot done, some good girlfriend time, and lots of chatting and gossip. I give major props to Andy, who dealt with a puking Mikayla (though she only threw up once) without calling me to come home when I was only 10 mins away. He admitted he didn't want to ruin my weekend because she seemed fine and I don't get away much at all. Awwwww. When I got home yesterday, we were going to do our family Olympics but we all took super long naps and woke up when it was getting dark out. So that will have to wait for another time. Oh well.

And speaking of the Olympics, that's partly the reason for my lack of posting again lately. We all love the Olympics, especially the Winter Games. Every afternoon and evening, if we weren't running places, we were parked in front of the tv watching skiing, skating, snowboarding, curling, hockey...any and all of it. They are so great, but I'm glad they're done. They really take a lot out of me when I can't miss anything, so I go to bed much later than normal.

Anywho, this post is a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, but I felt the need to post something, anything, to get me back into the posting mood. Hopefully I'll soon have some fun pictures of our family Olympics. I have it all planned out, it's just finding the time to do it. Some day...