Friday, August 16, 2013

My Night in the Pet Cemetery

Posted by She Said

You all remember Stella, right? Yes, such a charmer that Stella. She gets so many looks, waves, and huge teeth-baring smiles from strangers young and old, you’d think I’d be jealous that Greg gets to drive her around and not me. Oh, Stella. Stella, Stella, Stella. She’s fantastic. Until she’s not. Like for example when she turns from charming VW camping van into the PET CEMETERY.

You see, Stella has had (note the tense) a stowaway, a little mouse that would chew up the rolls of toilet paper, receipts, or the fries Greg would drop when he secretly snuck away to McDonald’s (and he thinks I don’t know). It would leave droppings in the craziest imaginable places, places that seemed impossible for even the tiniest of mice to squeeze into.

At first this wasn’t such a big deal to me. Greg would often tidy up any evidence prior to my seeing it, with the intention of me being as comfortable in Stella as possible. He didn’t want me all freaked out about hantavirus while the four of us were sleeping, eating, and living inside her during our numerous camping trips. I just tried to think of this little guy as a cousin of Stewart Little. A cousin I didn’t ever have to see, clean up after, or think about.

Until I met him.

Our first encounter was during our first camping trip of the summer. Greg, the kids, and the family we were camping with had all taken a little day trip to a local brewery (‘cuz nothing says camping like getting to fill a growler with local brew!). I had decided that too much fresh air, combined with a night sleeping in very close quarters with Greg, marathon snorer, meant I needed a nap. A luscious, quiet nap. Oh, and that nap was truly spectacular. That is until I heard something nibbling on something. I slowly aroused from my decadent slumber to see Stewart’s cousin staring back at me from the front of the van. I quickly sat up and watched him freak out and run away to the front of the passenger seat. I ran to the front of the van to see where he was hiding, but he had already disappeared. I could not for the life of me figure out where he could have gone. No wonder Greg could never catch this guy; he was freakin’ Houdini reincarnated as this mouse.

For a few weeks and several more camping trips (that I didn’t go on), Hantavirus Houdini kept hidden.

Apparently, the little guy is attached to me because the next camping trip I went on? Yeah, he showed up. He left his little markers everywhere – tiny pieces of toilet paper – taunting Greg, who apparently was a stowaway-hunting pirate in a previous life.

Greg had been booted to a tent so the rest of us could sleep and so his snores would scare away the bear that had lately been making an appearance right in our campsite. (Totally worked, by the way! Snorer-1, Bear-0). Braedyn had finagled his way to a sweet spot on a bed in the trailer our friends were camping in, so it was just me and Emily in Stella. Oh… and Hantavirus Houdini.

On our third night camping, Greg had had quite enough of this mouse, so he set a trap in between the front seats and then went off to scare the bears away from his tent. Emily and I had quickly fallen asleep and were snuggled up against each other for warmth. It was once again a blissful sleep. Until…


I popped up in bed and I instantly knew what had so abruptly woken me. Only it was completely pitch black and I couldn’t see to make sure. I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to confirm my suspicions. I thought, screw it, I’ll know for sure in the morning. But then, what if Houdini just set it off but wasn’t actually caught? What if he was PISSED? Would he venture to our bed and find something else to nibble on? My mind quickly raced through eleventy zillion different ways Houdini could get his revenge on us in that confined space. My mind was racing, and then I heard it, and my mind went completely quiet. There it was again. It was the sound of something moving around on the floor of the van. It sounded like something being dragged.





Oh, dear gawd. I scrambled to find any light source I could, and upon finding one, I shined it upon… a trapped Houdini. Apparently the real Houdini never practiced getting out of a mouse trap that rested just above his hind legs, because I’m certain if he had, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. He’d still be taunting Greg.

Instead, he was fully trapped. And still alive. And dragging himself around by his front legs. I shined the light on him a little more and his top half of his body turned away from me and tried to claw the carpeting on the back of the driver seat. I turned off the light and sat there, unsure of what to do.

Surely he’d just die, I figured, so I curled back up under the covers. A few minutes of silence passed, so I figured I could just let Greg deal with the corpse tomorrow.


Oh, holy fuck. No! It didn’t die! Or maybe it did, and it was coming back because we were camping on top of some ancient burial ground. I turned on the light, fully intent on getting rid of Hopeless Houdini. I had to get him out of the van. I armed myself with my shoe. Then a cup. Then my shoe. Crap, I couldn’t get close enough to him to push him outside. Or was that not the right thing anyway? Would the bear think I was offering up some appetizer for him, luring him over?

I did what I had to do. Turned the light off, crawled back into bed, and pulled the covers over my head.


Please make it stop!

Then came the silence. Fifteen or so minutes had to have passed as my senses were on high alert, just waiting for…


Oh, hell no. I truly was living in a pet cemetery.

It felt like hours inched by, riddled with silence and sounds of life. Until the sounds of life finally and completely stopped.

The following morning, I acted as a human shield, quickly shifting my body between Truly Dead Houdini and Emily. I didn’t need her learning that she slept in a pet cemetery the night before.

Next time, I will take my chances with the bear and sleep in the tent. Greg and Houdini’s ghost can be BFFs.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Open Letter to Mr. Sheriff Wannabe

Posted by She Said

Dear Mr. Sherriff Wannabe,

My children and I were shopping at Winco Foods yesterday, and as I was instructing my son where to scratch my itchy back, you walked by and smiled at us. I didn’t give you much thought at first because I was so focused on getting him to scratch just the right out-of-reach spot in the middle of my back. But then my daughter, who was sitting in the cart, turns to me and asks, “Mommy, is he a Sheriff?” This prompted me to take a better look. As I quickly scanned you, I got a kick out of your salt-and-pepper handlebar mustache, your open leather vest just begging for that star-shaped badge, your faded jeans, and your well-used cowboy boots. With my eyes twinkling and a grin on my face, I told my daughter that you weren’t a Sheriff; perhaps you were a cowboy! Then something caught my eye and I did a double take around your waist. Now, don’t blush Mr. Wannabe, I wasn’t interested in anything you were packing in your pants. Shame on you! No, I was more interested in the heat you were packing. You see, what got me staring at your mid-section was the holster slung to your hips, a holster proudly and openly cradling your handgun.

A handgun. In Winco Foods.

Now my friends know me as wildly liberal, but I grew up in Texas and am very familiar with how feverishly people are feeling about their 2nd Amendment rights. Particularly now that there’s an <whispering> African-American man in the oval office who wants to take away all your guns. *Eye roll* You see that happening, right? No, you don’t see that happening? Yeah, that’s because IT’S NOT HAPPENING, Mr. Wannabe! We can’t even get better background checks passed in this state!

Which leads me to why your smug display makes me completely uncomfortable. I don’t know you! You may look endearing in your “I’m straight out of the wild west” get-up, but I. Don’t. Know. You. Either you are doing this for self-preservation because you are distrustful of your fellow shoppers, or you are doing this because you actually are taking on some self-imposed duty (to protect and serve!). You may feel all proud and puffed-up with your gun on your hip, and you may think that you are providing a service to those around you, like you could save us should a hail of bullets rain upon us (in Winco Foods). Mr. Wannabe, you are not providing me with a service. In fact, looking at you with your gun slung on your hip made me quickly think of hundred ways it could go bad.

If a hailstorm of bullets did rain down on us, I’m thinking, “Great! Now I have to watch out for Mr. Wannabe’s gun, too!” I don’t know if you’re a good shot! I’d have to watch out for your stray bullets, too!

I shudder to think what could happen if my children weren’t as well-behaved as they are and ran up and grabbed your easily assessable gun and shot you or some innocent bystander? What if they shot me? You are kind of getting up there in years; there’s no telling if your reflexes would stop that in time.

What if I happened to look at you with a stink-eye? This wouldn’t be intentional, of course. Perhaps I was thinking of something unpleasant at the time, and you happened to be the recipient of my unintended glare. I have no idea if you just got out of some mental institution, because we know it is easy with the laws to get your hands on a gun regardless of any history of mental illness. So, it is entirely possible that  you, dressed in your adorable wild west attire, are just looking for a reason to start firing that thing!

And of course, other than self-preservation or a desire to protect and serve, there is another offensive option. What if you ARE the bad guy? Remember, I don’t know you! Why should I assume you are good? Because you are wearing a handgun? Nuh-uh. In fact, quite the opposite! You make me more leery that you are that bad guy. Were you shopping, or were you looking for your ex-wife to settle some vendetta with her?

In closing, Mr. Sheriff Wannabe, I implore you to knock these wild west antics off. I don’t need reminding in the middle of Winco Foods that the world is a dangerous place. I am acutely aware of that fact. And I don’t need you to try and “protect” me and my children from your preconceived notions of the dangers of being in the bulk section. I’m not coming for your gun, so simmer down; I just don’t need your weapon blatantly shoved in my face.

In all sincerity,


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Now, Where Did I Put that Ninja School Application?

Posted by She Said

So, you know kids and boxes, right? Scrap the gift and just give them a box? I don’t care how old my children get, they still love to play with boxes. Or sleep in them. Yeah, that’s right, sleep in them. For Father’s Day, Greg got a shop vac (because he didn’t ask for me wrapped up in a new Victoria’s Secret outfit, but whatever, I’m not bitter…). Those handy suction devices come in pretty big boxes, and Greg bestowed the beloved box to our children, who were already dreaming up all of the possibilities.

This cherished box actually made it through its first purpose in one piece. Braedyn, wearing his helmet (thank-you-very-much) sat in the box that had been precariously balanced on two skateboards. Then his friend pushed the skateboards down the driveway and was hurled into the street. Should I copyright that action in case Jackass starts up again? Yeah, maybe I should.

Since it, and Braedyn, survived that stunt, Braedyn wanted to reward the box by sleeping with it. Errr, in it. And who are we to deny our children that kind of appreciation for a box?


Now, anything big brother does, Emily wants to do too. So, the next night, she wanted a turn sleeping in the box. Just saying that makes me feel like a marvelous parent. Anyway, once again, who are we to say no? The only problem was Emily had to have a tooth pulled at the dentist that day. Here the kids are watching the distraction device mounted to the ceiling:

photo (13)

Why is that a problem? Well, imagine this:

photo (14)

And then think Tooth Fairy. And the tooth AND letter to the Tooth Fairy weren’t just under her pillow at the back of the box, they were INSIDE the pillow case.

And who knew being a parent would require having an advanced degree in stealthy ninja techniques?

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Posted by He Said

I don't normally post work related content, but this was something I felt was longer than a facebook post and deserved some space here.

I returned from a trip to the new local Human Bean coffee house to find this IM message on my screen from a fellow in the art department.  Let's call him Fred.

Fred: "I'm getting an error in my AlienBrain program, can you come help me?"

Because I'm lazy, I didn't head over.  I figured he could at least tell me the error.

Me: "What's the error?"

Fred: "It says something about out of memory?"

Now remember, I said ART department. These people think that the word "memory" and "hard drive" can be used interchangeably and that using a web browser can be difficult. Yes. I'm making fun of them.  I have an art degree, and I know how to use a computer, so I am allowed. I'm not saying they are dumb.  I think they like to PLAY dumb. They like people to do shit for them because they are the "creative force."

I hear more times during the day than I care to count how I am asking them to be too "technical".  Have you ever tried to use a 3D program like Modo, or Maya?  You need to learn Klingon just to read the manual.

Me: "Does it say you are out of memory or that your hard drive is full?"

Fred: "It says 'out of disk space'. How do I get more memory installed?"

I have a stain on my shirt from the coffee that came out of my nose at this point.

Me: "Your hard drive is full, you need to make more room by deleting files."

Fred: "So I can just delete everything?"

At this point I wanted to say yes and then claim I never told him this.  Would that have been bad of me?

So, yeah, I had to walk over and show him how to choose what files to delete.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An Open Letter To Our Principal

by He Said

I composed an email to my child's principal today and after some thought I have decided to post it here.

Mrs. xxxxxx,

I am sure you get a lot of emails and I know that you are busy, but I hope you can find the time to sit and read this email and truly think about it.

This week my son came home sad again, afraid to talk about his day. Embarrassed to talk about how two boys in particular are taunting him on the playground. This is not the first time, and it they are not the only children to have done this.

As a young man I was taunted and teased. Bullied with words as far back as I can remember. My parents told me over and over again to just "ignore them and to walk away".  In those days I didn't have a school that was touting itself as zero tolerance for bullying. I didn't have teachers who were supposed to be looking out for bullying. I was an emotional child. One who cried easily.  My parents told me "its OK for boys to cry." The boys on the playground saw it differently and took joy and pleasure in poking and prodding me with words until the tears came. So I learned very quickly it was NOT OK to cry, which made it even harder to stop because I was made to feel weak. Children today are no different.

It rips me up inside to see this happening with my son. My history boils up inside and all I want to tell my son is to fight back. We all know from movies that punching the bully makes them go away.  But that isnot what I truly want my son to do.  

If the answer to ending bullying was to truly walk away and ignore it, then we wouldn't have a bullying problem, because kids who are bullied do try to walk away and hide from those that are taunting them.  

Our kids need advocates and while I understand deeply that teachers have enough responsibilities, my child has no one else to be his advocate on your watch than the teachers and staff who are monitoring the playground.

When a child approaches a teacher and tells him or her that someone is bullying them, be it even with words (because we all know that words do hurt) that child needs to believe that something will be done. Our children must know that their words will be heard.  It takes more strength to tell a teacher that they are being bullied than it does to just walk away.  It takes more character to tell a teacher that you are being bullied than it does to fight back. Because telling makes you a "tattle tale," doesn't it. Approaching a grown up to say you are being taunted is a cry for help that needs to be taken very seriously.

Our children need to believe and they need to feel that telling a teacher is the right thing to do and that if they do, something will be done.  Because if nothing is done, then it's our children who are being hurt. Then our children won't tell when someone is taunting, name calling or teasing them, and that is heartbreaking to consider. Our children need to believe that something will come of their actions. Otherwise our "zero tolerance" policy is nothing but meaningless words, and our children will continue to pay the price.

Does your school have an official bully reporting system? If not, what are your plans to establish such a system? Do you have regular training and assemblies to discuss this issue? If not, are there plans to create and schedule them? 

Take a 8 minutes of your day to watch this video, come back and read my email again and then please, feel free to respond.

I have told my son that the next time he is being taunted to go straight to a teacher and say "I am being bullied."  I expect that his words will be taken seriously. Please do whatever it takes to be sure that his and other children's words are taken seriously.  


UPDATE: The principal responded very quickly with a short response promising a longer one later. She has taken the time to speak with our son already. The reason I asked about bullying programs was because I could find nothing on the school specific website. An important oversight in my opinion. He does not want talk about their conversation and we are honoring his requests. We will see where it goes from here.