The One Where I Tell You a Secret

I have the weirdest dreams. When I was a kid, I used to dream that I could fly. I still remember that *whee* feeling in the pit of my stomach this one time when I dreamed I was flying on my magic carpet. Okay, so it wasn’t a magic carpet. It was a suitcase. I told you my dreams were weird.

The other night, I dreamed I was a zookeeper. Like, instead of volunteering in the reptile department once a week, they actually paid me to show up. And I had animals of my own that I was assigned to take care of. I didn’t get to fly, but I did get to touch cool things. It was the happiest dream I think I’ve ever had. Then I dreamed that I bought a box of salted caramel MoonPies. When I woke up, I had the biggest smile on my face. Don’t you love dreams like that?

Here’s where things get really weird. I opened my secret hiding place in the closet cabinet, and look what I found!

 

Oh, my gosh! Salted Caramel MoonPies are a THING!

Oh, my gosh! Salted Caramel MoonPies are a THING!

 

But wait. If the MoonPies were real… Does that mean…? Yes, it does! As of this week, I have a new full-time job! I am the newest keeper in the Herpetology department. This is my dream job. I have thoughts and plans for studies on reptile cognition, and I want to do some operant conditioning with our giant tortoises. I am so excited I could cry. And I may have once or twice already.

Can you imagine having a job where you get to continue learning and learning and learning about things you love? Because that’s what this job will be for me. I’ll eventually be in charge of some species of snakes that I have limited or no experience with, so I will be reading and scouring the internet for information to learn as much as I can. About biology and the natural world. What could be better?

My first day is Saturday, and I’ll let you know all about it. My new life is about to begin. First full-time job since Squish was born. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time. Wish me luck!

 

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In case you didn’t know, I contribute writing in other places. This week, I entered my drug screen post in a competition over at Yeah, Write. If you enjoyed it, click here to go vote for me. You can vote for your five favorite blog posts that you see there.

 I also added a post over at our local City Moms Blog. It’s a silly little poem about how parenthood changes us.  Because it does. Want a free sample, no extra charge? Okay, then!

Motherhood is pretty great.

I know that statement’s true,

But I’d be lying if I said

Kids haven’t changed my view.

.

At restaurants fine, I used to dine

On lobster or capon.

Today, I only choose the place

That offers free crayons…

Click here to read the whole post, and feel free to leave a comment to let me know you were there. I like it when my friends visit me.

 

Ten Things I Don’t Want to Hear Two Days Before Christmas

1) I have a Christmas lunch at work/school/preschool tomorrow. What would you like to make?

2) I need to start my Christmas shopping. Can you take me to the mall?

3) How about that! The guaranteed Christmas delivery wasn’t actually guaranteed.

4) The turkey’s going to take three more days to thaw.

5) We’re out of tape.

6) Can you wrap this? And this? Oh, and this?

7) I should have opened the shipping carton when it came two weeks ago. Instead of Star Wars Legos, they sent a beer pong table. We can’t give that to the kid, can we?

8) Did I forget to tell you my second cousin, twice removed, will be at Christmas dinner? We have a gift for him, right? I’ve met him once, but I’m sure you could pick out something he’d love.

9) The cat just threw up on your Christmas sweater. Is the dry cleaner open today?

10  ) Were we exchanging gifts this year, or just giving them to the kids?

Squish

Merry Christmas!

Take That, Pinterest!

You may remember that I’m not on Pinterest. I have my reasons, and the rest of civilized society has theirs for not wanting me there. I’m about to give you another one.

Recently, I flew the friendly skies. “Friendly” is a bit of a stretch; more like a-little-TOO-friendly-and-with-very-poor-personal-boundaries skies. Other than a quick pat-down and an agent freak-out over the rice sock I brought to soothe my sore knee, my travels were uneventful. I even managed to fit a souvenir for the kids into my carry-on.

Imagine their delight when they were each presented with their very own airsickness bag. The Padawan was so overcome with emotion that he had to leave the room. Or maybe he went to play the Wii. He was gone for a long time. I’m pretty sure it was emotion, though.

Motion discomfort bags (or as Squish calls them, “barf bags”) are the perfect gift for any child, prompting hours of dramatic play. Squish walked around all afternoon pretending to throw up in his. Think of how well-prepared he will be for a life of travel, and as an added bonus, when he moves to the top bunk, I can just hand him a bag and he’ll already have his aim down pat. Or he could learn to pack his own lunch. Barf bags are waxed on the inside to prevent spillage. So many possibilities in one small bag.

Our favorite use, though, is for craft time. There’s something for everyone. Look what one small motion-discomfort bag can do for you and your family.  Click to embiggenate.

How do you put a price on creativity?

Airline ticket: $400

Barf bag: free

Quality time with family: $400 + $100 food costs + $20 gas to airport + $36 long-term parking

Conquering My Fear

By the time you read this, I’ll be gone. At about 4am, I left for Wisconsin. For the first time in nine years, I am taking to the air, and I am conquering my fear.

I am not afraid of Wisconsin. Cows, cheese, Green Bay Packers, all good. It’s not the state.

It’s my first professional conference in about 15 years. I’ll learn some things and get free pens. I’m not afraid of conferences.

I’ll be off-line for three days. I’m not taking any electronic devices except for my e-reader. No email, no Twitter, no WordPress. No pressure. I’m not afraid to unplug.

I’m not afraid to fly. There is nothing better than taxiing down the runway and feeling the earth fall out from beneath my feet. There is no fear, only exhilaration.

I’m afraid of TSA. I don’t like being told what to do, especially by an organization drunk on its own power. I don’t know all of the regulations, and I know from an experience last year that sometimes airlines make stuff up as they go along. The airline itself charges $25 to check a bag. That’s $50 round trip. To check a bag.

I am allowed one carry-on, but if I put the wrong thing in it, I’ll have to check it. Guess who doesn’t want to spend the next two days shopping for shampoos and conditioners in exacting three ounce containers? In the interests of time, I will forgo personal hygiene altogether.

Hairbrush is okay, right? What about a cup of coffee? Is toothpaste considered a liquid? I’d like to have clean teeth and minty fresh breath, but I can skip if necessary. I hate all these rules. I don’t like the total loss of control. Anyone at any given time can choose to do a pat-and-probe or search my things, and there’s not a thing I can do about it. It doesn’t seem quite fair.

What if they go through my bag and steal my stuff? I’d kill over my Severus Snape t-shirt, you know. What if I have to kill over my Severus Snape t-shirt and I go to jail forever and without my guidance my children become pole-dancers? What if my imagination runs away with me and never comes back?

But the real issue is this:  I didn’t lose enough weight to be happy about passing through the nekkid scan. Ten pounds lighter, and they’d have to beg me to leave. And to please, for heaven’s sake, stop that dancing. But for now, I must do the suck-in-and-run.

Flying friendly skies? As if.

I Got Schooled

Conventional wisdom tells us not to go grocery shopping when we are hungry. You know another time you shouldn’t shop for food? When you first get behind the wheel after having been without a car for five straight days. After subsisting on hot dogs, French fries, pancakes and peanut butter sandwiches for that long, I went a little nuts. Grocery store = fresh fruits and vegetables! I stuffed my shopping bag with Honeycrisp apples, nectarines, sugar snap peas, carrots, pears, and maybe some Honeycomb cereal. I have a sweet tooth. Sue me.

My car has been in the shop three separate times this week. That number would have been higher, but I quit bringing it home at night to save a tow in the morning. The issue itself has been a mystery. We were ready to call in Dr. House, or maybe in this case Dr. Garage. The mechanics have tried a number of things. These things seemed to work at the time, and I’d fetch the car, only to have it die in our driveway overnight.

Besides the grocery shopping tip, here’s another thing I learned. It’s difficult for a mechanic to fix a problem they don’t actually get to see. Two of the three times the car was towed (yes, three. This week. We’re on AAA’s hit-list), the stupid car started right up when it was unloaded. It wasn’t until we left it for a sleep-over that they began to see what we saw. Looks like it’s fixed this time.

Car trouble is a pain. It’s an inconvenience. It’s a game-changer. It reduced me to dependence on other people, starting with the very first tow. Another lesson for the week is that having AAA didn’t necessarily mean I could take care of business without my husband. His name is the only one on the card. Turns out that he actually had to be with the car in order for it to be retrieved. Had they made that clear when we initially bought the membership, we’d have sprung for the upgrade. Of course, the tow truck never even asked whose car it was when they picked it up, so chances are my husband was late for nothing.

I also learned this week that, though I may require assistance retrieving Squish from his school and getting too and from my commitments, I could still function fairly well. I made it to work. I made it home from work. Each day I managed some arrangement to get kids to and from their respective schools. I even walked the two miles to the garage two or three times to pick up the car when we thought it was fixed. I can do things. And I learned that some things can be cut out of the schedule and no one dies. I missed Tortoise Day, and it didn’t kill me. It almost did, but like my grandpa used to say, almost only counts in a game of horseshoes.

Here’s another cool lesson. I’ve been on the waiting list at the library for Mumford and Sons “Babel.” It came in over the weekend. I’ve listened to it obsessively a couple of times now. Turns out that M&S is the perfect soundtrack for automotive misery. Who knew?

I learned this week that I being grounded was a gift. In slowing down, I gained momentum. I finished a project that has been on the back burner for months, and I have made incredible headway on another one. I am so pleased with the results, and I can’t wait to share it. Creativity apparently doesn’t require transportation. It’s a vehicle all its own. Ideas are flowing so fast I can barely keep up.

Today, I have a car. It has started three whole times in a row. But it is parked. I’ve stocked up on fruit and Honeycomb cereal, and today I’m getting some work done. Just because I have a car doesn’t mean I can slack, you know?

Gratuitous box turtle shot. Just because.

Gratuitous box turtle shot. Just because.

What have you learned this week?

Three Days To Freedom

Over the last couple of weeks, sugar has become the focus of my day. I scavenge any time of day or night for something sweet. It’s either my metabolic disorder begging me to eat more carbs so I don’t die, or I’ve been sneaking one too many handfuls of Sour Patch kids. It’s probably the Sour Patch kids thing, so it’s time to take control of my body. I did a very little bit of reading about sugar detoxing, and I thought I should try it. Three days without sugar, and I’m free. I can do that.

Day One

Morning – I pour myself a bowl of Cheerios. Instead of sugar, I use raisins. Look at how healthy I am! I feel powerful conquering my sugar addiction. I drink my black coffee in triumph. It’s not bad, really.

Mid-day – Turns out I’m subbing for the afternoon, so I can keep busy. It’s easy to distract myself. I grab a snack of sugar snap peas, which are surprisingly low in sugar. I am so proud of myself!

Afternoon – It’s time to go home and pick up kids. What a great day! I feel amazing! I can do this!

Evening – I drink another cup of black coffee. It’s not bad. Not good, either, but not bad. I can do this. Three days is nothing.

Day Two

Morning – I’m 1/3 of the way there. Cheerios with raisins. Again. Anyone ever notice that raisins look like rabbit turds? Just me, then? Whatever. I drink my black coffee. It tastes bitter. Like tears.

Mid-day – I’m subbing for the morning. I’m busy, but I’m not all that nice. I’m supposed to have a lunch meeting, so I didn’t pack any food. Turns out it was just meeting, no lunch. I hate everyone.

Afternoon – It’s time to pick up the kids. Wow. I never noticed how much that haircut makes the Padawan look like a Hostess cupcake.

Mmmmm. Chocolatey!

Mmmmm. Chocolatey!

I apologize for biting him and try to hide my disappointment that he does not, in fact, taste chocolatey.

Evening – I drop by the grocery store to pick up a couple of things. Namely bags of sugar. I briefly wonder if snorting the sugar spilled on the shelf is punishable by law. I briefly wonder if I care. The manager asks me to leave. Looks like it’s not technically illegal, folks! Yet. Just strongly discouraged. Store that in your trivia bank.

Day Three

Morning -  Husband gives me a vitamin. It’s a Flintstone, and the sweetest thing I’ve had in days. Half a cup of those things in a bowl of milk isn’t half bad. Sadly, I discover that they contain artificial sweeteners. My hair begins to fall out, and I grow gills. I hate my life.

I drink my coffee black, hot, and so fast I scald my tongue. There. Now I can’t taste it at all. Makes me happy.

Mid-day – Blah, blah, blah.  I don’t care. Leave me alone.

Afternoon – I have to get the kids from school. Which kids? I don’t know. Which school? Like I’m supposed to know. Shut up.

Evening -  Nothing will ever make me happy again. I don’t care if I never eat another snickers bar blizzard.

Mission accomplished. I’m going to bed.

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: A Fortune Cookie and a To-Go Box

Remember this guy?

Yep. That's a fortune cookie, alright.

Yep. That’s a fortune cookie, alright.

The next day, this is what it looked like.

That's its tail. When I touched it, the turtle would curl its tail up. I think it's ticklish.

That’s its tail. When I touched it, the turtle would curl its tail up. I think it’s ticklish.

I would show you a photo of the finished product, but I can’t. Because there are eight of them now, and I have no idea which is which. Eight. I was pretty wrong. And there are still a couple of eggs that might hatch. We’re almost at 50% as it is. Not bad considering their story.

Full to the top with cute? Ready for that to-go box? Coming right up.

I want to stick it in my pocket and take it home. I won't. No, really.

I want to stick it in my pocket and take it home. I won’t. No, really. Can you see that egg tooth.? It blows me away!

Here's your to-go box. Box turtle, that is. It hatched yesterday. It's an Eastern Box Turtle, Tennessee's state reptile.

Here’s your to-go box. Box turtle, that is. It hatched yesterday. It’s an Eastern Box Turtle, Tennessee’s state reptile.

Its plastron is completely different from the snapping turtles'. You can see the beginnings of some yellow, though it may take a few years for real color to appear. Note how its yolk is almost completely absorbed.

Its plastron is completely different from the snapping turtles’. You can see the beginnings of some yellow, though it may take a few years for real color to appear. Note how its yolk is almost completely absorbed.

This post is for my friend, sj. I hope she knows why. All the purty turtles to you, sj!

Happy Monday! You Won’t Believe This!

Remember our little friend from Thursday’s post?  It looked as though a handful of other eggs had the potential to hatch. Based on egg condition alone, I guessed there would be a total of six. I guessed wrong.

The incubator has been busy. There are a few more turtles just waiting to hatch. Click to enlarge the photos.

Looks like my guess was too high, doesn’t it? Wait.

Note the domed shell. That's from being squashed in the egg. The turtle is actually very soft and squishy right now. Give it a few days and it will be a lot flatter.

Note the domed shell. That’s from being squashed in the egg. The turtle is actually very soft and squishy right now. Give it a few days and it will be a lot flatter.

Overnight, three other turtles hatched, so we’ve got four that have completely emerged, and three others that are on their way. Plus any surprises that get thrown out there. If you only click on one to enlarge, click on the left. It is hard to appreciate the weirdness in a thumbnail.

And let’s not forget this guy.

Not coming out. Sorry. I like it in here just fine!

Not coming out. Sorry. I like it in here just fine!

 

Here’s an upclose and personal of his egg-tooth. He used that to shred the egg in order to make his escape.

He looks like a little shark with that tooth.

He looks like a little shark with that tooth.

I’ll be watching the clutch with even greater interest over the next few days. Who knows what miracles will emerge?

They now have water to swim in. Because that's what turtles do. But he has some towels so he can haul out of the water if he wants to.

They now have water to swim in. Because that’s what turtles do. But he has some towels so he can haul out of the water if he wants to.

 

I’ll keep you posted!

Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Choosing a Surgeon

Managed care has made it difficult to find specialists when you need them. Sometimes insurance limits your options to just a handful of practitioners, so how do you choose a good one?

Look for a surgeon with good focus. The ability to concentrate is essential.

It takes a very steady hand.

It takes a very steady hand.

They get bonus points if they’re ambidextrous.

Gloves are encouraged but not required

Gloves are encouraged but not required

A willingness to really get in there and dig around is a plus. Operate big or go home, I say. Surgery ain’t for sissies.

Ignore the red light on the dude's nose. That's just a spleen. Or a liver. Or something non-essential.

Ignore the red light on the dude’s nose. That’s just a spleen. Or a liver. Or something non-essential.

This scalpel jockey is for hire.

This_knife's_for_hire

You could do worse.

With a bit of luck, you won’t hear what I heard at the end of this particular operation.

“This poor fellow’s dead.”

Sorry about that, little buddy. I’m pretty sure it’s not because you yanked out his heart with both hands.