Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the little plattler

The little plattler, aka Josh, is on a kick where he likes to put on a CD and dance or just listen to whatever songs he picks - I think he likes the feeling of having control over the music. For a few weeks we listened to The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything by Veggie Tales and he learned how to put the player on repeat - oh great the same songs over and over!

Now he's onto an Oktoberfest / German dance group theme - for those who don't know what that means: our German dance groups do several work ethic dances from Bavaria and Austria that are imitations of real, rural life. Today he's been pretending to be a little blacksmith and wood chopper in our playroom again and again and again. He could hardly wait to finish dinner to get back to dancing. He's go this own style of plattling that is more like flapping around and I've been telling him that when Papa gets home he needs to ask how to really do the dances.

Right now he's "chopping wood" with a wooden "knife" and a cup standing in for the log he's chopping - the kid also known as Mr. Destructo really likes that one - go figure!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

B B Bat for me

Josh: "Da da da da, Da da da da B B Bat for me, B B Bat for me, B B Bat for me." ""Da da da da, Da da da da B B Bat for me, B B Bat for me, B B Bat for me."

Me: "Josh what are you singing?"

Josh: " You know, from Augustoberfest... the guy with the alphorn... he sings this song... B B Bat for me, B B Bat for me, B B Bat for me" to the tune of : I don't Want Her, You can have her, She's Too Fat for Me.

Me: "Oh, now I get it"

I've decided NOT to tell him the real words. Don't need to have him going around saying that whenever he feels like it!! _Hey, music teacher guess what I learned??!! - Just as I've told Chris not to let him repeat the current country song that says something about " toes in the water, a** in the sand" I really don't want to have to explain that when the kid starts singing it out in public!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What do zoos sound like at night?

One thing I thought about as I was figuring out if Dima and I could to the zoo sleep over last weekend was: What do zoos sound like at night? I was thinking that if we were sleeping near something like big cats or something would we hear them? Would the sounds get incorporated into my dreams and then I'd end up dreaming about being stalked or something? Would we hear them roar or doing other stuff that we'd then have to explain to the kids?? Would it be like torture for them to smell fresh meat right there - so close yet so far??

The tour and the staff were great the "live animal show" included an screech owl, an American alligator and a kinkajou. Trust me, while they were out of their cages I was happy to be back a few rows and ready to get my (and Dima's and Vicki's if needed) feet up on the bench if that two foot alligator made a run for it!! Interesting lay out of this zoo - Vicki pointed out the close proximity of the porcupine and the fisher, the only animal that knows how to eat one - by digging under the snow to wait for them - I think their cages were pretty close to back to back or at least within smelling distance if the wind is right.

It turned out that our "camp" was near the vulture cages and as we waited our turn to go do the night tour I mentioned my thoughts to the the lady that was helping with the enrichment project and she pointed out that unless we smelled like carrion the vultures wouldn't be interested in us. That made me feel better.... then Vicki tried a few times to freak me out as we did the night tour. I couldn't help but notice that the bald eagle "enclosure" was kind of lame. The five eagles were all just sitting there in a big fenced off pen nothing over them, nothing tying them down. Okay so they each have something wrong with a wing but the fence wasn't very tall and IF these eagles decided to make a break for it all they would have had to do was run close to the fence (and they could have gotten to right under a walkway) and jump like six feet up and over to the path to run around the zoo. They have this menacing look when you go near the enclosure that's like " If only..." I did ask about it and the tour guide said that they don't really run and really can't jump, and I'm thinking - uh, not that they've seen so far.

As we tried to fall asleep that night with the gabbing girls next to us they were pretty much all I could hear. Somebody said they heard elk making noises late at night but it was hard to tell if it was them or people. The howling monkeys definitely made noise but that was almost exactly at 8:30 like the zoo staff predicted. So basically zoos are pretty quiet at night... aaahhhhh. By the way - and not necessarily on purpose - our tent was in the middle of 50 other tasty campers who would certainly become eagle chow way before they would have gotten to us.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Night at the zoo

Dima and I went to the Elmwood Park Zoo's Zoo Snooze last night and had a very nice time. We were there with good friends who had done the whole thing before. dima likes anything to do with water and was interested in the water in the enclosures as well as the creek beside the zoo. The staff was attentive and knowledgeable about the animals, their program kept us busy - the time from 6:00pm to 10:00pm - just flew! We set up our "camp", ate our dinners from Panera Bread, got to see live animals up close, the kids made "turkeys" out of papier-mache to feed to the cougars this morning, had a tour of the nocturnal animals' cages and had s'mores by the camp fire... at that point the rain that was drizzle earlier really started coming down pretty fast. They had planned to show the movie "Madagascar" but since the rain picked up the staff decided to skip that. I thought it was just as well since it was getting late and they told us that they'd get us up at 7am. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Well, apparently not everyone thought so... a tent not too far from ours let their kids stay up and talk loudly for quite a while and the moms in the same tent were also awake til midnight + not being quiet about it we could hear them shuffling cards! and laughing after every sentence - just great - I used the time to research the local geocaches I had loaded on my GPS and Dima was asleep pretty quickly so I just waited them out.

This morning we packed up our stuff - it's amazing how much you need for just one night! Took our camping gear to our cars and then had time to eat - more Panera Bread food - and then explore the parts of the zoo we missed in the dark. They fed their bid cats turkeys like the ones our kids made - the lady helping us last night said the ones the kids make usually take days to dry - the "enrichment project" (enrichment for the kids? or the animals? I think both) was made in a room with the floors covered in plastic and glopped with goo by the time we left, a few kids had to work together to put the plaster stuff on the paper strips and smooth it over big balloons. They explained that the stuff we were using will just be eaten and digested by the animals who are lucky enough to get them. They also said that sometimes they fill them with food and other times they don't to keep the animals interested. This morning they were NOT filled and the obviously well- fed cougars just kind of played with one of them once they were released into the area where the turkeys had been placed.

It's a neat zoo and I'd like to to the whole thing again - maybe place our tent apart from others who might yak into the night - and if Josh goes along we'll have to cause he'll be the yakker... his lips tend to go from the moment he gets up til he goes back to sleep at night.

After we left the zoo we tried to find a few caches and found a pretty cool sculpture garden with large wooden animals that Dima really liked since it had a creek running through it, again we went to a place that we wouldn't have seen if not for caching:

At this point I'm exhausted even though I had a quick nap this afternoon!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First day of school, 2009

Josh has pm kindergarten this year and was of course bouncing off the walls before it was time for us to leave for school - The morning seemed long for me too especially while he was asking every five minutes if it was time yet. I got out one of our clock - toys and showed him what the clock would look like when it was time to go. Even after that he was still standing here literally bouncing up and down.

When we got to school the parents and some grandparents were taking pictures and stuff and we ran into a neighbor who's in the same class and was nervous about starting school. Well, after Josh started yakking to him the kid probably didn't have a chance to even THINK about being nervous. There was also a kid we recognized from the school he went to last year and he was sitting off to the side even when the teacher asked them to line up so I suggested to Josh that he go say hi. He did and was then trying to get other kids to sit with them but since they were supposed to line up I told them to get ready to go into the building - well, guess who ended up being the line leader on the very first day of real school? As they were going in with the teacher I could hear him saying " My Dad has a ..." I don't know how that conversation ended but it was just a preview for the teacher of what's to come.

After they went into the building I stopped by the office to volunteer to help them out and they asked me to send an email to them, so I did and got a response last night at around 7:30 that they'll keep me in mind especially for days that they do health and dental screenings in the school.

A neighbor and I are working out a carpool so I won't have to drive over to the school every day and now with them both coming home on the school bus it feels like I have all this free time that just opened up. I spent yesterday cleaning the kitchen and re-arranging the table and chairs while I was cleaning the floor and even had time to get a walk in before I had to meet the buses. Since they both go to different schools they take two different buses - I got a note from each that they'd be here at exactly the same time but in two different locations - Dima's in front of the house and Josh's down the street. As I wondered how that would work out I was pacing up and down the street (and getting extra steps on the pedometer) while I waited. Josh's bus got here first and he had to scoot down the steps on his butt - his uncertainty in cases like that could be a result of the glasses - but today I explained that he could try to do it slowly while carefully holding onto the rail that's there so we'll see if that works for him today. So while we waited for Dima's bus he was going - " I'll go up to the house and you can meet me there later." Uh - I don't think so... Even with the school day over he was throwing himself at me so I could pick him up as we stood on the street.

Now Dima's a second grade - veteran of the schools so first day was really no big deal for him. It's always hard to get information from him about how things are going and what he's doing - I really wish there were some kind of webcams in the schools so I could peek in and see what they're really doing there. He picked his hot air balloon festival shirt to wear and shorts even though it was pretty chilly out especially in the morning. Today we did jeans - quickly since he had been wearing shorts with a broken snap and didn't mention it until Chris and I noticed as we were walking out the door that his pants were loose. Here's me running up the stairs for jeans while Papa and Dima went outside in case the bus came - then me hustling him into our beetle barn to change his britches. Giving them the responsibility of picking out their own clothes sometimes amounts to um... interesting pattern combinations and at times surprises like this one. There are times that it really doesn't matter so I'll let it slide - but when Josh came out with the flowered shirt and plaid shorts yesterday I had to make him turn back to change - though it would have made some very funny first day pics!!

This season Dima's going to be Chris's "assistant coach" while he's coaching Josh's team. That means he'll be the example of how to run the drills for the little kids and it'll get him more - + free! -ice time. He seemed proud of himself that he'll be doing it - he's a good skater and it's nice that he can take a role of responsibility. I think this is going to be a good thing for him.

We'd talked about letting him opt out of skating next year to do Boy Scouts instead since he has a friend who's doing the same and since he really does need the one on one interaction with other kids his own age to get better at the social stuff. We'll probably leave it up to him - the team for the next level is more involved and would mean more traveling so that would be the time to drop it if he's going to. If the helping out with Josh's team works out he'd still have a hockey connection and would still get to skate as well as the outdoor stuff which seems more suited to him. I think he'll want to do the outdoor Boy Scout stuff and that's fine with me it means more caching and maybe I'll actually learn the orienteering stuff so we can use it for some really challenging hikes.

I was just unplugging the camera and Josh was like " take a second day picture" so I'll put it on here too. The explanation is that he listens to music on the CD player while rolling around on the floor. Whatever.....