Of Hamsters and Honey Badgers

It finally happened.  After 364 days of grueling anticipation, my son finally celebrated his 10th birthday! He found out last month, by accident, that he was going to get a hamster from my Mom and Dad. He begged us all to let him just get it “early”, but we all stuck to our guns. The actual word “hamster” was banned in our house, lest this year’s entire birthday be canceled. Oh yes, it went to that level. So when my Dad left work early to drive he, my Mom, and Dylan to the pet store yesterday to pick out the lucky gal or guy, I was most excited that I didn’t have to almost cancel his 10th birthday anymore.  Dylan came home with “Flash“, the newest male member of our family….and the most galvanizing creature to Erin, the Honey Badger.

Let me interject a bit about our track record with pets. (Not dogs, we have a good track record with those.)

When it comes to amphibians, we are 0-2. (Flash may stand a chance by default, just because he is NOT an amphibian. This is what we are banking on, anyway.) First there was Robbie, the turtle. Oh, how I loved Robbie. I just couldn’t snuggle with him and kiss him. One must assume all turtles have salmonella. So, from the moment we rescued him from the giant water tank at the surf store in Myrtle Beach, I was adamant that no one touch him. Poor Robbie. What a lonely life he led.  He grew and grew. He played Hide ‘n Seek a few times, slipping out of his tank somehow, once hiding under my bed and another time hiding in Dylan’s pajama drawer. Luckily, we always found him and scrubbed ourselves ridiculously clean afterwards. Sean was in charge of cleaning out the tank, and I was in charge of asking him incessantly if he touched anything that may have touched Robbie that may have touched the tank, etc, etc. Finally, we grew weary of the ritual. To be honest, I think I’m the only one that *really* liked (ok, loved) Robbie. Sean had to talk me into reality, and I reluctantly agreed. He then pitched a pretty impressive, yet subtle, plea to Dylan: We raised Robbie from birth (practically) and now, he was a grown man (the turtle, not Dylan). It was time for us to do the right thing: Set him free. We’re keepin’ the man (turtle) down. We decided, as a family, the time to respectfully part ways would be on our way to Florida for summer vacation. I envisioned setting Robbie free somewhere along the backwoods of Alabama, where there was plenty of green, lush forest and rolling, clean waters. My husband envisioned gently tossing him out the window. I can’t confirm this; it’s just a hunch. Like any turtle on a road trip, Robbie was in a Tupperware container on the floor of the van, practically riding shotgun, not quite riding bitch. It was pretty small and he couldn’t quite see out of it, compared to his vast, glass tank that he called home most of his life. Unexpectedly, it started to smell really, really bad. Then, it started to smell really, really, really, REALLY, bad. Robbie was in his own urine and feces. We were in the McDonald’s drive thru, somewhere in Alabama, when it became….an issue. Sean and I looked at each other and silently said, “It’s time”.  There was an apartment building nearby, some vacant stores, a dumpster, some dirty water, and a patch of about 10 trees. We looked at each other and nodded. It was perfect. To Dylan, “Hey buddy, this looks like a GREAT place for Robbie. I think he’s really wanting to strike out on his own.” Dylan wasn’t emotionally prepared for this to be “the moment” to let Robbie free, but the odor in the van was unbearable. It was definitely time. Dylan put on a brave face and I let Sean handle this one. (You’re welcome, Sean.) They meandered down to the trees: Sean, Dylan, Robbie. I saw them let Robbie go, and then they were out of my view. They were gone several, long minutes. I had my phone in hand, ready to speed dial 911. It was just that kind of atmosphere. They finally came back to the car, and we all had a moment of silence. There was a creek back there, it turns out, and Robbie leaped for joy. Strike out on his own, he damn well did. We wish him lots of love wherever he is (heaven) at this moment. Present or future, may you always R.I.P., Robbie.

And then there was Tony, the Toad. We found him in our yard. We set him up in a similar pad to that of Robbie. They were neighbors on Dylan’s dresser, back in the gold ol’ days. I sure did like Tony. We all did. That’s what makes this whole situation so sad. Tony ate live crickets. So, you can imagine what a pain in the ass it was to head to the pet store on a regular basis to buy live crickets. Well, one time we forgot. Just that one time. That’s all I can say about Tony because the rest is Top Secret. As far as YOU, or Dylan, or anyone else is concerned, Tony ran away. And, we know this, because there was a recent Tony sighting in our yard, and we reassured Dylan that Tony was just checking in to show what a grand life he was living and that he was relaying to him how super happy he was/is.

So, now there’s Flash. As I said, Flash has A LOT going for him – he’s not a frog or a turtle! But, I do foresee a very small (3 feet, to be exact) threat. I’ll just come right out and say it: Repeated exposure to the Honey Badger COULD possibly result in peril. Her face constantly pressed up against his cage should be enough to frighten the living daylights out of him. Or, it could be the way that she talks about wanting to hold him non-stop. When she does get to hold him, she “opposite of gently” handles him so that his eyes almost pop out, despite our numerous attempts to help her be careful. Just like Lennie, she has all the best intentions. She LOVES Flash!! She thinks about him day and night and every moment in between! She has been restricted from her brother’s room unless he is in there, or  an adult. We found her in there all by herself today and it was a very, very scary moment. Oh, how she loves Flash. SHE LOVES THE SHIT OUTTA HIM!!!!!!!! Quite literally. But, we are teaching her that you can love from afar. Like the examples below! I will leave you with those, and our very sincere reassurance that we are doing everything possible to save Flash’s life every moment of every day! 🙂

“Flash” is in safe hands for now. If Honey Badger’s eyes were open, you would notice glazed look.

This is an example of “loving Flash from afar”. Notice he is running down a flight stairs (one of Dylan’s skateboard toys). No hands needed! We can play with Flash without touching him!

Another example of loving and playing with Flash from afar. HB is literally trying SO HARD not to touch him. Ultimately, she fails.

She is swooning. She states she wants him to sleep in her bed.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN HE CAN’T BREATHE?”

Stars of the Week….Erin Edition

This has been a big week around here! Erin waited all school year, two months to be exact, to be Star of the Week in her classroom. This was HUGE. She was sent home last week with the coveted “rainbow can” and a special assignment to fill it with things that start with the letter “G”. We promptly found a giraffe and a green toy. Those two items sat in the can all weekend, until Monday morning when we decided we needed just one more “G” item. Nothing like waiting until the last minute! Keep in mind that we spent all weekend working on the Wellness Center (which has also been dubbed The Wine Room). This means that the rest of the house was neglected….in a massive way. I couldn’t fathom coming home to the mess after the kids went to school, so I told my husband that he could find me in the Wellness Center with a fire extinguisher blowing out the flames because I had lit a match to the rest of the house. He promised me he would defecate in the (piled high and overflowing) sink on his way out the door to work just to perfect the theme we had going on. Anyway, I am rushing around trying to get Erin’s lunch packed before we leave for school. As if the kitchen wasn’t cluttered enough, I knocked a giant cup of water over on the counter and just left it there dripping everywhere because I didn’t have time to clean it up. I was still busy trying to get her lunch together. I went to the refrigerator, opened it up, and a bottle of salad dressing fell out onto the floor, splattering everywhere. That was neat, too. So, on our rush to get out the door I had a flash of genius. “Erin, we could rename Audrey (the caterpillar) GUS – Ga Ga Ga GUS starts with GEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and you could take him in the can!!!!!!!!!!”. She thought that was a SUPER idea!! So, I haul Erin, myself, her backpack, her lunch, and the can out into the pouring down rain, along with a Costco-sized bag of Goldfish for the “G” snack, and no umbrella. I hate umbrellas and I never, ever use one. I felt sorry for Erin when I saw all the other parents with umbrellas, or better yet, their kids had their own umbrellas, and wondered what my problem was. I used to think I was simple, but Monday morning I thought I was just plain dumb. Plus, she started to get a little sad and start to cry on the way to school because she didn’t want to call Audrey “Gus”. I toughened her up and told her it was just for the day and she said, “Ohhhhhhh kayyyyyyyyyy”. Mission accomplished. I got her off to school without (much of) a hitch.  She had a fantastic day and I’m sure it was mostly because she got to be the Line Leader, one of her all-time favorite passions. Her day was smooth sailing until I picked her up and she wanted to hold my keys for me while I drove. She cried her eyes out when I took them back and THEN refused to sit with her in the backseat. I can’t do anything right….can’t drive without keys, can’t sit in the back and drive. I’m a horrible mother.  That little Honey Badger finally fell asleep on our way home. She knows not what she does. It’s absolutely exhausting being Star of the Week.

How the Honey Badger Helps With a Project

Here we are, it’s Sunday night and I’m relaxing in my brand new “Sitting Room / Office”. Sean and I spent the entire weekend working on this “little” project where we revamped our traditional dining room. The walls went from a deep burgundy to a subtle light blue. The giant gold chandelier was ditched for a more modern light fixture. The chocolate leather love seat and recliner were brought upstairs from the basement. And last, but not least, we were given my father’s handmade oak desk from my sister. It’s huge, heavy and absolutely gorgeous. I have been sanding and staining it meticulously the last two days. Anyway, the room has quickly become (as of tonight) a place where we quietly enjoy wine, a sophisticated set-up and it just so happens to be the furthest room from the kids’ bedrooms. I think we should call it: The Wellness Center.

We couldn’t possibly have gotten this project done without the help of the Honey Badger. Dylan was gone for the weekend, so he came late this afternoon to the…….aftermath. The Honey Badger helped A LOT. Here are the ways in which she helped:

1.) A well versed game of Hide ‘n Go Seek : HB Style. It gets painting underway like nothing else. This version consists of hiding in a blanket on the floor and HB tells you exactly where to look for her (even though she’s a big lump on the ground in plain sight) and then she giggles loudly. For example, “Mommy, look for me in the garage!! Mommy, look for me under the coffee table!!”  Here’s a visual aid:

Oops. This isn’t Erin! Silly me. It’s Sean, following her directions when it’s his turn to “hide”.

2.) All painting prep work and anything in regards to dining room project must pause for Dylan’s playoff football game. We drag Erin there, with a bag of full of books, toys, snacks and beverages. Dylan played great, but took a really hard hit to the head in the 3rd quarter. He left the game with me wondering if we should be heading to Medcheck. He likely has a mild concussion, but he’s doing ok. It was a gut-wrenching game, with horrible replacement officials making horrible calls, to the point where we lost the game by ONE point. I was devastated. Dylan looked at me and said with a smile, “Football’s over!!!”. Last week was CYO Basketball evaluations. He mentally checked out of football and checked into basketball at that time. Poor Sean had to watch the game from the playground because Erin insisted on playing. She was a ball of mud by the time we got home.

3.) Back to painting….Erin really, really, really wanted to help paint. We set her up in the kitchen with her Crayola easel paints and paper. That lasted about 5 minutes. She was intent on the real deal. Then, Sean had to leave while he ran to Menard’s.  She was happily sucking on a pouch of applesauce when he left. I had just started painting, I was so happy to be done prepping and finally getting underway. Erin wasn’t amused. She was actually pretty tired of asking to paint. So, she squeezed the rest of her applesauce into my (full) paint tray. That was neat. I used her middle name when scolding her. She cried. I didn’t feel bad. But, then I remembered I wasn’t three. So, then I felt bad. She just wanted to be in the mix. And, so on to #4.

4.) Finally, I succumbed to her requests for painting and set her up on the dining room floor with a real can of paint (small, it was a sample can), a paintbrush, and a box. She was absolutely thrilled to be painting a box. She asked for tape as well, so I sent her to the drawer for some scotch tape. I didn’t need to know what the tape was for, I didn’t care. Here is Exhibit A:

“I’m in my pajamas AND I’m painting. This is the best day EVER.”

Here is the final product. She’s so proud of it. You might not be able to see all of the many, many strips, so many strips, of scotch tape:

Anyhither, she helped in a lot of other ways too. She stayed in her pajamas all day and so we didn’t have to get her dressed. Also, she helped herself to snacks in the fridge and pantry, so we really didn’t have to feed her all that much. We were REALLY busy, so she was doing a super job of handling the most basic of tasks – dressing herself and eating. Oh! she also found a caterpillar and named it Audrey – a boy – and she set him up in the lap of luxury with a container with holes in it, a SKATEBOARD, half a Lego man, and a Crayon. He is livin’ the life. Or, he was, until she set him loose. Then, it’s all kinds of crazy here while she and Sean try to track him down at BEDTIME and suddenly Erin (amazingly) finds him and we get him back in his home. We are AWESOME with “pets”. Annnnnnddddd, if you stay tuned, it’s about to get EVEN BETTER. Dylan turns 10 this week, and well, you should just stay tuned.

I leave you with the Before and After pics of the Wellness Center:

BEFORE

AFTER. Decorated with some lovely stuffed animals.