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

Awesomeness

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.