Monday, February 8, 2016

Dear Middle Schooler

Orangutan is now a middle schooler. Sounds insane, right? Yeah, to me too. But we had a moment this weekend I think and I feel I need to write her a letter that she will probably never see. I'll tell her all these things over the course of the next three years but I'm sure she will cut me off so this will be my one chance to tell her all my thoughts all in one place. Someday I'll print it out and give it to her. Right about the time she has a middle schooler of her own but until then...

Dear Middle Schooler,
There are people in this world who have to control things. Your mother is one of them. I'm going to tell you a little secret about Control People. We want control because it makes us feel secure. When we understand the world and people and processes around us, we think we can deal with things and succeed. When we don't understand things, we don't feel secure. There's a question mark in our world and question marks are open. Anything can happen. Anything can be said. Anything can be done. The answer to that question mark changes things. But Control People don't know what that change is or if and how it is going to affect them. And we don't like not knowing.

You, my sweet darling child, are a question mark. You embrace life for all the quirks, and funky, and fun it has to offer. Every new person is a friend. Every new style is your fashion. Every new food...ok, bad example. Food isn't open to question marks for you. That's your brother. Every new song, every new's all your personal adventure. As a result your humor is different. Your tastes are always changing. You don't fit in to what everyone else (the Control People) expects.

In other words child, you terrify us. When I was a Middle Schooler oh so many decades ago, question mark people were just ignored. They found people who were the same kind of question mark and went on their merry way. Unfortunately for you, this is not when I was a middle schooler. Now question marks are turned into targets. If Control People don't understand and get scared, they get angry. How dare you make me feel insecure in who I am? How dare you be happy just as you are? How dare you value your own values and drummer over the screams of Instagram, Twitter, and all other social media? And the target starts to appear.

Mean Control People want to break your spirit and bring you back into line. They want to take your question mark and understand you and make you predictable and just as boring as they are. Then you aren't different and in their estimation "better." They are just mean. I hate to tell you kiddo, but your only answer for them is to pray for them and love them no matter how badly they treat you. Only God can deal with their hearts.

Now sneaky Control People will tell you it's just a joke so they can keep you close and under observation. Secretly they want to know how you pull it off. And this my darling,  is where you get to change their world. Start a conversation. "Wow. Your sense of humor is very different from mine. You know what I find funny?..." And then tell them a joke or show them a video. Bring them into your question mark world a little. They make comments on your clothes?  You ask where they got theirs. Not because you intend to shop there, but because it shows them you are interested in them. It's OK to say, "Your shirt is very different. Not really MY style but that's what makes America great, right? "

I pray every day that you will keep your question mark. It terrifies and sometimes bugs the snot out of me but I know that's what makes you you. You are my question mark. You make it all interesting.

I love you child.
Your Zookeeper

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The ????

Grandkeeper and Silverback are on vacation at the ZIT's house this week.  That said, I didn't really expect to hear from them much this week even with the new additions.  However...apparently last night there was great discussion of this little blog of mine.

ZIT gave them all a rundown of all the alter egos that everyone has.  Zookeeper, Lion, Orangutan, Rhino, Marmoset, ZIT, Grandkeeper and Silverback.  I'm pretty sure she covered the security team too.

Then her hubster piped up and the text messages started flying.  "Why don't I have a nickname yet?!"

So I asked if he had one in mind or had any ideas about a name to which there was no real reply or idea.  Guess what you get to do now?  You get to help us create Uncle N's alter ego.  Some facts you should now.  If he sticks out his tongue his shadow looks like a zipper.  Yes, he's that thin.  And he's a paratrooper/master carpenter/engineer/drill instructor.

See why he doesn't have a nickname?! 

Now we kicked a few around last night. 
The Badger (a nod to the DI in him). 
The Wombat (a nod to...well, I'm not really sure). 
And then (his current preference - we think) The Flying Wonder Weasel.

But here it is Zoo Visitors!  Time to name the...well, Gonzo for lack of a better temporary idea.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Crabs and Flying Zookeepers!

You know how there are just some days?  The days when it really didn't pay to get out of bed?

That was yesterday.

The day started way too early and there was just one hiccup after another but the exhibits got to visit a neighboring Zoo for a while and they were happy with that idea.  Mid afternoon our neighboring exhibits came to visit so that they could meet Rookie Walter.

We all decided to visit on the driveway where the wee ones could play with sidewalk chalk while Walter got some fresh air.  He still hasn't gotten used to staying in the yard yet so he has to be on his leash for these little adventures.  I was chatting with my Neighbor and not really paying very much attention to Walter's leash until I stood up and realized that I had one leg tangled. 

You see where this is going right?

Now in his defense, he didn't pull or lunge or anything to that effect.  He just tried to walk to see Rhino's art work.  Behind me.  Did I mention it's a retractable leash?  I don't know why I didn't release it.  I just know that before I could even blink my legs went out from under me and flipped up over my head.   The following dialogue played out in my brain.

You're airborne you know.
Yeah that occurred to me.
Try not to land on your head.
Ok but I can't let go of the dog either.
You're coming down now.  And pretty fast.
This is going to hurt.
I wonder which body part I'm going to land on.
Who cares? I still have a grip on the dog.
I probably shouldn't land on the Rhino.

CRASH!!  and Rollllll right on down the driveway.   The next thing I heard was my Neighbor telling me to let go of the leash; she had the dog.  Then the dog licked me and I opened my eyes.  Assessment.  I landed on my elbow which was surprisingly free of blood.  I apparently had my feet slightly tucked under me because I bruised a heel and a little toe.  I didn't notice until about an hour later that my tailbone was throbbing so I guess I made fifth point contact too.

Then Orangutan walked up to me and said, "I took this stick out of your pocket Mama."  I dissolved into laughter.  I just crashed and rolled 10 feet down the driveway and she thought to make sure I was presentable.  She didn't brush the blue chalk off my butt but I was twig free.

Obviously we called an end to the playdate.  I rounded up my exhibits and took them inside for showers.  I sent a quick message to Lion letting him know that I resembled something totalled in a car wreck and he immediately called back.  He checked on me and let me know that he was running an errand on his way home and then he dropped a little bomb.

"Hey I'm bringing home a little surprise for the family."  I'm sorry?!  Wasn't Walter a big enough surprise for this year?!

"What exactly are you bringing home?"
"A pair of hermit crabs."  Apparently word has gotten out that we are adopters.

I dropped to the floor (gently of course) and laughed myself silly.  He actually hung up on me. 

Marmie has adopted them as her own since O and Rhino have aquariums already (which are in need of restocking by the way).  Their names are Luz and Annie and she is in love with them - as in, they ate breakfast with her.

I made Lion make me a promise before he left for work today.  That he come home empty handed.  All that's left is a turtle, hamster, guinea pig or bird.  And heaven knows I'm out of space!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Chief, The Sarge, and The Rookie

**There are some great pictures that are supposed to go with this post.  Unfortunately DinoComp won't let Blogger have them and I don't have the patience to force the issue right now.  When the Speed Demon gets back I'll put the pics in.  Until then...use your imagination, please.**

In case you missed it over at The Bowl, we were looking at adopting a new dog to add to the Zoo security force.  Then the owners decided that they didn't need to give it up after all.  And then Lion's phone chirped at 9:45 Thursday night.

"Hey, were you still thinking about the dog?"
"Absolutely!" I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head.  And I thought I was going to barf.
"I'll know for certain in the morning but we'll talk."

9:45 Friday  morning.  I was paying Zoo invoices and getting my brain together for OAT, RAT shopping when my phone rang.  "He's OURS!!"  Yay...Don't get me wrong.  I love dogs.  Security Chief Max has been with me for 10 years.  We've seen some good days and some rough days together.  He knew I was in labor before I did.  He's faithful, sweet, and adores the children.  But he's a small dog.  And this is, and always has been, HIS house.

Then you have The Sarge, Bentley.  He's the neighbor's 80 pound chocolate lab who spends a lot of time at our house when Neighbor has to work till all hours of the morning.  He thinks he's mine.  He will attack his own owner if he tries to yell or mess with me.  And he'll growl at me if he thinks I'm being too rough with the kids when we wrestle. 

(You HAVE noticed that they are both males, right?)

And now (as of 9:45 Friday night) we have The Rookie.  And when I say Rookie I mean, puppy brain.  This dog is house broken and that's about it.  His (yes, a third male dog!) name was Max too but we are trying to change it to Walter.  Walter is not terribly bright.  And he's a black standard poodle.  With a mohawk.  And a paw and crossbones collar.  And a barking habit.  He's a sweet dog and very cuddly.

But he barks a menacing bark at every sound and to tell you he wants to play.  He wants to play with The Chief a lot.  He wanted to play with The Chief at 1 AM.  The Chief wanted nothing to do with him so he barked back which The Rookie took to mean that we were going to talk about playing all night.  Like two kids having a sleepover planning the next day.

At 1 AM.

I do believe my time today will be spent researching some new acadamies that Walter the Rookie and I can attend together this fall.  Or buying several bedtime muzzles.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm Not Feeding my Children Anymore.

All right Zoo fans.  Name one hobby that I truly love.  Writing - yes, but that's not the one I'm talking about.

Cooking.  How many bajillions of Wordless Wednesday's have been dedicated to food creations?  How many times have I blogged about baking or cooking or creating new meals?  I really do love to cook.  And of corse I'll continue to cook.  I'm just not feeding my family any more.

See there's a difference between cooking and feeding my family.  Cooking involves chopping, dicing, fileting, sauteeing, broasting, marinading, grilling, and searing.  Cooking means savoring aromas of fresh herbs, breathing in the sharpness of onions and garlics, and tuning in to the sizzle of the butter in a hot skillet.  Cooking can be done slowly while sipping a glass of wine and nibbling on the scraps of hard cheese that fall by the wayside of the cutting board.  The Three Tenors can keep you company in the kitchen and coax smoothness out of the sharpest combinations.  Cooking is relaxing and comforting.

Then I remove my lovingly prepared meal and I place it on the dining room table amidst the bouquets and neat place settings.  I call the family to the table.  This is where it goes from cooking a lovely meal to feeding my brood.

"But I don't like peppers." 
"These aren't the kind of noodles I like."
"You know I don't eat squash."
"Can I have a drink to wash this down?"
"I'm going to pretend to be a race car at the table now."
"Yeah, well, I'm going to scream all through dinner."
"Is it time for dessert yet?"
"Mom!  He's looking at me!"

I've decided that I'm not feeding them any more.  I will cook and they can come and get it.  But I will not be present.  I'm going to be out on the deck with Pavoratti.  Who cares if it's still 96 degrees at 9 PM?  At least I'll be able to dine.

Monday, August 2, 2010

How to Spell Drama!


45 minutes and still going strong.  And now she's poked herself in the eye.  Great day in the mornin'!

It started right after lunch.  She and Orangutan were playing dog catcher while Lady and the Tramp played in the background (just so you know it wasn't a TOTALLY random game).  Apparently the Dog Catcher (aka Orangutan) caught the dog (aka Marmie) and proceeded to drag her across the living room floor.  Her dress of course slid right on up over that bare belly and we were presented with the perfect form for righteous rug burn.

Four quarter to half dollar sized rug burns are glowing on her belly right now. Well, they would be if she would let me take off the cool compress.  But we can't move the washcloth and we had to put a Dora band aid on her belly (nowhere close to the burns mind you) but we are still miserable.  So miserable in fact that we have to rub our eyes OUT of our head apparently.

Never mind the fact that a nap is in desperate need right now.  And we missed the movie because we were dealing with the "belly on fire."  So very pitiful.  She even had to call the Grand Keeper (Grammy) and ask her to come to our house to kiss her belly "'cause it weeeelllly huurts!"  It was left as a message of course because Grand Keeper is getting ready for vacation but that will only add to the drama because now the message can be saved and replayed for the Great Silverback who will of course call and moon over his precious little Marmie.

Did we mention that she's headed for Hollywood?

Friday, July 30, 2010

And The Z.I.T. Presses On.

If you are new to the Zoo, let me explain Z.I.T.  Zookeeper In Training.  That would be my beloved sister.  Her Zoo consists of a boxer, a cat, and a drill sergeant.  Yeah, it's definitely a mobile Zoo.

I was scrolling along checking out my Facebook pals when I came across her status posting. "For the record...spray olive oil will remove fly paper glue from a cat."

It was all I could do not to pick up the phone and speed dial immediately!  I mean seriously!  That had to be the most awesome story EVER!!  Especially if you know the cat in question.  She's the ultimate cat.  I mean attitude and all and her name is Cleopatra (or Fatra as I like to call her).  The suspense was killing me.

Then I got the phone call that explained it all and I cried in hysteria before I was able to choke out, "You have to write this down so I can blog it!"  My sister is so sweetly accommodating.  The following is her account (in italics) and of course, my commentary.

So it started off like a normal day. (Like those EVER happen!) The alarm goes off at 5:30am; mommy stumbles out of bed; lets Baxter (also known as Eating Machine) outside to do his potty thing; and down the steps we go to feed Cleo. I open up the can of cat food, and dump breakfast into the bowl.  The kitty is happy so mom goes to let the boy back in for his breakfast. Normal start....then it all goes wonky.

There is a strange sound followed by a cat like screech, and here comes Cleo streaking out into the laundry room with a fly strip zig zagged down her back and up her tail. (People, this cat doesn't "streak" anywhere - she might roll quickly but "streaking" is not her normal MO.) There is nothing else to do but remove the extra sticky fly covered mess from her back. So I pull, and tug and come away with a fly strip and half a cat worth of hair (anybody else picturing a backwards mohawk?)  but I leave behind a sticky hairy mess (a backwards mohawk with spiked edges?!).  So I grab a washcloth and a bar of soap -  Irish spring to be precise (top o the marnin' Cleo!) - and try to clean the sticky off the cat. Cleo at this point is quite happy to go back to eating breakfast (did I mention I call her Fatra?). I however am concerned about the sticky poison laced glue that is still matting her fur and that Cleo will try to lick off later.

The soapy wash cloth did not do the trick. After breakfast is finished and Cleo reappears upstairs, we try the brush to remove the sticky (because a glue wadded cat brush is just what every house needs!). While this method removes a good bit of the loose hair that the original removal of the fly strip didn't accomplish (tidied up the mohawk), it does not get rid of the dreaded "sticky." We snag another wash cloth, and a different soap - dish washing soap this time (I'm sure this was a Joy.  Get it?) -  and now the cat is damp, soapy, AND sticky (But she smells great!). There is nothing I can do for it;  I have to get to work, and the cat will have to stay sticky until I get home. Hopefully the two different soaps will at least rid the glue of most of its poisonous quality (and what cat wants to lick glue AND soap off her fur?).

After a tedious day I get home and the cat is still sticky. While making dinner I discuss the problem with the hubster. Thinking out loud, I suggest that since peanut butter is used to get gum out of hair, perhaps it would work to remove fly strip glue from a cat (Peanut butter hairball anyone?).  Hubster thinks it would be a bad idea because it would leave the cat messy and greasy(and that's any worse than soapy and sticky how, exactly?!) .  I remember that the dog loves peanut butter better than steak (loves it?  He's obsessed with it!  Ate a whole jar if I remember correctly!), and realize that having a peanut butter flavored cat running around the house is probably not a good idea (but they would both get their exercise!).

Enough pondering.  Time to solve the problem. I turn to the all powerful GOOGLE. After a quick search, I run across a post from a gentleman asking how to remove fly paper glue from his wife's hair. They had also unsuccessfully tried the same soapy remedies that I had, but there were many posts that suggested oily substances like baby oil, or mineral oil to remove the glue. Brainstorm! I have spray olive oil in the kitchen. Non-toxic and it just might get the sticky off the cat (how that doesn't attract the dog too I'll never know.  Olive oil - steak?).

A few sprays is all she will tolerate after a day full of indignities (ya think?!), and she goes hiding behind the couch. When she reappears, we try a quick couple passes with the brush (good thing it didn't work the first time!) and we have an oily, but not sticky, cat.  I think that she is trying to pass it off as hot oil treatment.

The moral of the story....spray olive oil removes fly paper glue from a cat.

No my darling sister.  The moral of the story is that, Google is a mom's best friend when dealing with child induced disasters.  Oh and humor tolerates a multitude of disasters.