The Thing That Has Maybe Changed My Life

If you read my last post, you may remember that I have begun to employ the KonMari method around my house. If you missed it, you can catch up here. Embarrassing photo and all. It’s so simple. Look at all my things, one by one. If a thing makes me happy (or is something I *need*), I keep it. If I don’t need it, and it doesn’t make me happy, I have permission to let it go. This notion is huge for me! I grew up low-income, and with tight family ties. This combo is a giant-double whammy, and has led me to be a borderline hoarder all my life. But now, I have permission to let it go. My brain does not operate in any kind of linear manner, so organization has been a huge struggle until now. But using KonMari, I have less *stuff* to process, and packing what I DO have in clear bins makes sense. I get it! And it’s easy for me to maintain because I can see immediately when something is out of place and return it to its home. But there’s something that has helped me even more.

I have started going back to the gym, too. I had a wake-up call that reminded me that I need to take care of my body. The gym seems cliche (have you met me?!), New-Years-Resolution Driven, but the truth is that I love the gym. After spending an hour on the treadmill, reading and listening to music, I feel so good. It’s like a spa treatment. I have not prioritized going because it felt like a guilty pleasure, and because it has been difficult to get there. The Destroyer has had full-on panic attacks when we have tried to get him to stay at the facility’s childcare. It just wasn’t worth it. But now The Padawan can babysit, and The Destroyer even likes to work out on the treadmill, too, so it can be a bonding experience, at least in the short term. But that isn’t the thing that has revolutionized my take on the world.

I went to the used bookstore the other day, with $90 in credit from the books I had KonMari’d because I didn’t feel like I needed them anymore. In the humor section, I found the most incredible book, a gift from God. It’s called The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*** by Sarah Knight.This is a family blog, so we’re going to say the f-word is Fig. The idea behind this book is so simple. Set a Fig Budget for how many figs you have to give overall and then see where they *really* matter and where they don’t. Where the figs given do not matter, cut them out. That’s it. There are even tips for how to do so politely so that feelings don’t get hurt when we say no. It’s all about prioritizing, and it’s glorious.

As a result, just a few days after buying the book, I am sitting at my kitchen table at 8:30 in the morning. School is delayed due to ice on the road. Husband has an early-morning meeting, so it is up to me to stay home and disperse kids. I normally leave for work at 7:15, and Wednesdays are busy days. But can I change the weather? I cannot. So why invest the energy of giving a fig? So I am blogging and drinking coffee while my son and his buddy play football outside. It’s not even an inconvenience. This re-route is a gift.

I went out to move my car for husband, and the car wouldn’t start. The battery is sick and needs replacing. That will take me a half-hour this morning. Can I control it? No. Will buying a new battery after I drop kids off make my life better? It will. No more mornings wondering if today is going to be the day my car won’t start. I can put that fig back in my pocket. And if it’s a battery? They’re expensive. But electrical issues in the car are MORE expensive. So a battery seems like a good deal. I will save this money-fig for another day.

So there it is. All that time and energy spent worrying about things that I can’t control today have been invested in writing. Do you spend more figs each day than you have? I have your solution. Read it, love it, share it. I’m serious.

The Introverted Activist: We Shouldn’t Have To #MarchForOurLives

I don’t want to write this. I am tired. I’m worn out from daily gun violence across the country. I’m exhausted from fighting to make my voice heard in this whole debate about gun reform. And I am SICK and tired of the rabid folks who want to spin school shootings as just one of those things when literally no other nation with our kind of wealth and power has thousands of people die each year from gun-related violence. And that want to reframe all attempts at reform as “Them libs wanna take all your guns.” Because that’s garbage.

  • If you can’t log in to social media without seeing reports of gun violence, you have a gun problem.
  • If it is more difficult to purchase an R-rated movie than a long gun, you have a gun problem.
  • If your child has ever lain on the floor of their classroom during an active shooter emergency, wondering if the footsteps in the hallway are those of a gunman coming to kill them, you have a gun problem.
  • If your third-grader has ever come home distressed because their assigned spot in an active-shooter drill seems way too obvious, and they speak matter-of-factly that when a shooter comes (not *if*, but when), they will be shot first, you have a gun problem. Third graders in our country have to think about where they are going to hide when a shooter comes to their school. America, friends.

I’m going to suggest that, perhaps, these cold-blooded murders are not simply the cost of doing business in a free country. We have to do something differently if we want a different result.

To those screaming “2nd AMENDMENT!” I call BS. In 1934, the National Firearms Act created a list of firearms that are illegal to possess. Machine guns, short-barreled shotguns, explosives, silencers. So there is a precedent for restricting certain times of firearms. So now is the time to make some additions to the list.

Do I want ALL THE GUNS? Um, no. I take no issue with hunting, or with people having hand guns as personal protection (though I will not send my kid to a school where teachers are carrying handguns on premises). I do want:

  • military and police-grade weapons and certain long guns (AR-15, I’m looking at you) banned, along with large amounts of ammunition.
  • gun owners to carry liability insurance for each firearm they own.
  • more extensive background checks.
  • loopholes for gun transfers and gun shows closed.
  • concealed carry permits granted only to military and police.
  • people found guilty of domestic violence lose ability to own firearms

Is this a liberal agenda? I’d like to think it’s more one of common sense. I consider myself more middle-of-the road when it comes to politics, but if being sick of seeing children die of preventable violence at school, well then, call me a liberal.

Here’s an incredible video my son shared with me about common-sense gun reform. And it uses cats as a fabulous example.

To the folks talking to the streets in protest tomorrow, I am so proud of you! And I am with you in spirit.

Thanks, Mr. Bill!

Sometimes you only think you’re taking one for the team.

It’s Spring Break. I know. Technically, it’s not even Spring. I don’t get to make these decisions.  When given an entire week of nothing, I’ve learned it’s good to plan at least a little something lest the critters get restless, so I planned a trip to the Tennessee Aquarium. I spend hours each week in a zoo already, but I do love to visit other facilities. The Padawan has had his heart set on being a marine biologist since he was three. We’re members. We make the trip several times a year.

That being said, we’re members. We visit several times a year, and we have done so for ten years or more, thirty or more visits. After a while, I feel like I’ve seen what there is to see. I do have my favorite exhibits. Turtles, anyone? But lately we haven’t been spending as long in each building as we used to. We know what’s there. We’ve read the signage. We’ve been, we’ve done.

And then there was yesterday. At first glance, our choice of days seemed a poor one. The place was crawling with kids; swarms of them, busloads of them, schools of them. But we’d made the two hour trip, so we were there, for better or worse. It was for better. When we picked up our tickets, the young lady at the counter advised us as to the location of a table where we could sign up for behind the scenes tours. Actual tours. Behind the scenes. For free. So we did. And that’s where we met Mr. Bill.

For our first tour, he took us behind the scenes in Rivers of the World and let the kids feed the fish. Those same fish we have been pals with for ten years? Yeah, my kids got to feed them. Mr. Bill handed out little handfuls of pellets and explained to the kids how to do it properly. He taught them about the species and how to identify males from females. And despite the distractions around them, his audience paid close attention. The man knows how to talk to kids.

I’ve kept fish for close to thirty years. Wow, does that make me feel old. I’ve fed them hundreds of times. No biggie. But the kids getting to help take care of a collection of fish at a world-renowned aquarium? That, friends, is a biggie. Even for the most jaded of folks.

Our second tour met right after we finished the first one, and it was with great delight that we saw our guide was none other than Mr. Bill. He led us to a classroom deep in the heart of the building and gave us an up close and personal encounter with my favorite things: turtles and toads.

We met an ornate box turtle who made quite a show of trying to snap his handler’s fingers, a snapping turtle who was far more docile, and a barking tree frog.

I can’t pick a favorite. Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I can. It’s this guy.

Marine toad. He's as big as he looks, about six or seven inches across. Invasive in Australia, but look at that face!

Marine toad. He’s as big as he looks, about six or seven inches across. Invasive in Australia, but look at that face!


I’ve kept reptiles and amphibians for thirteen years. I have acted as an educator in a zoo for almost as long. And Mr. Bill still taught me some stuff. That’s no small feat.

When we were finished with our tours and encounters, we were all set to enjoy the rest of the afternoon at the Aquarium, and we did. But I didn’t need to. The hour we spent with Mr. Bill getting to see things we had never seen before were worth the two hour drive. If I hadn’t gotten to see another thing, I would still have left happy.

Thank you to the Tennessee Aquarium for offering the Keeper Kids program for free during Spring Break. And thank you to Mr. Bill for breathing new life into some old favorites. I’m tentatively planning another trip down this week. That’s how good it was. If you have a kid in your possession, or if you can borrow one (I cannot advocate stealing, though), hop in the car before April 15 and head for the Tennessee Aquarium. Spaces in the tours are limited.


This post wasn’t sponsored in any way, shape, or form by the Tennessee Aquarium. No octopus or marine toad changed hands. Although if they’d like to make an offer, I’m listening.

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!

I’d Like to Thank the Academy


I must say that I am thrilled to pieces to be nominated for any kind of blogging award. I know this one doesn’t come with a million dollar, no-strings-attached check, but knowing that there are people out there who at least sometimes enjoy what I write makes me feel like a million bucks.

The first thing I would like to do is specifically thank the blogger who sent me this nifty little icon. I always try to read the blogs of those who comment on mine, and I’m really glad I did. Dogs, kids, the occasional rant. What’s not to like? If you have a moment, be sure to check out “WhatIMeant2Say

I am also asked to list seven fascinating things about me. I’ll pretend my readers care that:

1) I have 3 kids, but I usually only blog about one. Two of them are old enough to be potentially embarrassed by stuff that I write, and they’ve asked to prescreen anything I post about them. That seems fair to me. Squish, on the other hand, is at the age of implied consent.

2) I used to breed leopard geckos. Lots of them. And when Squish is older, I will, again. I have better pictures, but I can’t find them right now. Bonus fact: I may get a new snake very soon.

adolescent male

3) I can buck-dance. Which isn’t dirty. And when I hear bluegrass music, I have to dance. Standing still is not an option.

4) When I was in high school, my dog was nationally ranked in AKC obedience. I trained and showed him myself.

5) Whole Food’s mango almonds make me want to cry. But in a good way.

6) I was a fat kid. My grandmother made me a White Rabbit costume for my role in the school play, and I can still wear it.

7) I used to work on a sheep farm.


And now the hard part. Naming fellow bloggers for the award. This is actually my favorite section to read because I may find a new blog to love! I read a LOT of blogs. I have tried to choose those that haven’t already received the award, just to share the love. And if I didn’t mention you, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love you! I only follow the blogs that I want to have in my inbox. I’ve got a ton of subscriptions to read this morning, and I will read them all, so your work does matter. It’s just that I have limited space. So here goes. In no particular order.

Hyperbole and a Half Yes, she’s famous, is publishing a book, etc. But she’s funny.

The Quiet Voice Read a few of his book reviews and other entries. And then I will tell you that he is in high school. Some of the best writing I have come across in a long time. Gives me hope for the future.

Peas and Cougars Very funny. And some days it has cartoons. Double score.

A blog about poop. What’s not to like.

Woman in Thrisis  I blog to which I can often relate. A lot.

The Ramblings Another funny one.


Adventures of Little People When you’re not looking, those little Fisher Price folks are up to some rather strange stuff.

Ramblings and Rumblings Another funny blog with solid writing.

The Byronic Man Stuff I wish I had written

The Middlest Sister So creative. Told with actual story boards. Must see to appreciate!

Usyaka Primarily photography. Of a very unique cat.

Brain For Thought Don’t read while eating. You will laugh until you choke.

And a couple of other blogs that have received the award but I want to mention anyway.

It Happens Every Day One of my faves. A dynamic blogging duo that makes me laugh.

If I Were Brave Honest and heartfelt


So there you have it. Check ’em out. It would make me happy, and we all know that is what life is about.
















Why I Love My Husband

I have to say it. I am nuts about him. Who wouldn’t love a guy who:

Takes the coffee grinder outside in the morning so he doesn’t wake me up on the rare occasions I can sleep late.

Remembers to add “Poop treats for Squish” to the grocery list.

Didn’t bat an eye when he found out how much it cost for the old kitty to have oral surgery because she’s our first baby.

Loves his kitty

Takes each kid out on “Dates with Dad” because he realizes they may not want to be seen with us much longer.

Invites Phoebe the dog to go to Starbucks with him.

Tells the two-year-old that the nuts littering our driveway are “squirrel cookies.”

Is willing to be seen with me when I dress up in full Harry Potter regalia. Saving that photo for another blog.

Even though he is doesn’t like spiders (really, REALLY doesn’t like spiders), he said our daughter could have a tarantula “If that’s what she wants.” For the record, she didn’t want one at all. I set her up to ask him for one because I was hoping to freak him out a little. Now I feel kind of bad.

Has shared his home with many a scaly creature during my days of rehabbing and re-homing reptiles.

And then there’s this:

Sweet snuggles

And most importantly of all, he bought a one-way ticket for this crazy train almost 20 years ago and still seems to be enjoying the trip.

Dear Teacher on the Sidewalk

You don’t know me, but I wanted to say thank you. You may think you’re just the unlucky soul who got stuck monitoring the car line at drop-off this morning, but you are so much more than that, and you make a difference.

You are the first face my son saw this morning as he skipped exuberantly down the sidewalk. You are the person who greeted him with a broad smile. I heard his silly “Good morning!” as you called him by name. I watched him grin and leap like a puppy to return the high-five you offered. I saw his chest puff out as he passed you, feeling like somebody. I saw. And I thank you.

This boy is nine, and he’s growing up way too fast. We have only a limited time before his attitude on school and education in general is firmly cemented, for better or for worse. And this morning, school is a place of fun, enthusiasm, joy, and acceptance. Thank you for giving him that, a small deposit in his love of learning.

Today I sent my heart skipping down the sidewalk to you, eyes, shining, hair askew, Daddy’s old brief case in hand. Thank you for holding it so gently.