…Let’s Wait a Little While Longer…

The mister and I became parents Saturday before last.

Well, ok, temporary parents.

A coworker of mine has two little girls, ages 8 and 3, and needed some time alone to pack their house in peace. Enter the Chesnuts.

We picked the girls up at around 1:30, unsure if the youngest daughter, who is typically very clingy, would even let Mommy out of her sight. But, to the shock of her mother, she went quietly – content to ride in the car regardless of who happened to be driving.

After two hours at the city park and another at a McDonald’s play place, the mister and I returned the girls alive and (mostly) well. The baby was actually sound asleep when we got her home, to the joy and relief of her mother. I’m pretty sure we got bonus points for that, even though she’s now limping (it was a short fall and it’s not swollen!).

While we both enjoyed our little foray into parenthood, the mister and I collapsed onto our bed at around 6:30 that night and agreed we had learned several things:

  • Our quiet rides in the car are limited. Once we have children they will never stop talking.
  • It really is hard to concentrate on driving when the little ones are reaching for things, asking for things and messing with each other behind you.
  • The delighted shriek when you pull out Dum-Dums lollipops is both ear-splitting and adorable.
  • McDonald’s really doesn’t put enough food in a happy meal after a long, hard afternoon of playing.
  • My shoulders are too old to enjoy the monkey bars.
  • When you are 8, “base” is wherever you happen to be standing when you get too tired to run any farther.

As I stood at the McDonalds counter and ordered two girls’ happy meals while juggling a baby on my hip and another asking for her drink cup, it occurred to me that, if these children were my own, I would have been 14 when the oldest was born. I wonder how many of the parents behind me were silently doing the same math.

I know of some young women my age who have kids in school. In SCHOOL!! I can’t imagine having a child in utero, much less in kindergarten!

I went through a period of HORRIBLE baby fever this past spring. It was to the point that I couldn’t even play with other babies without crying because I wanted my own so badly. Now I’ve mostly moved on, although I still feel a slight twinge when the really adorable ones go by.

Watching the girls helped reinforce the reality that, while we do want children and the girls were very well behaved, the mister and I are not quite ready to have our own yet. A few more years and several more afternoon babysitting jobs under our belts and we’ll see what happens.

Caching In

It’s my father’s fault.

If he hadn’t entranced my husband with tales of modern-day treasure hunting and the trading of “tracking bugs,” I would not be involved in the choice of which Hot Wheels cars should get to “race” across the country.

When Mom told me my father had gotten into a hobby called “geocaching,” I brushed it off as another one of his passing obsessions. He has these from time to time.

But I didn’t count on it being contagious.

Geocaching is a sort of international game where players use latitude and longitude coordinates to find “caches” – hidden containers with a variety of “treasures” inside. Micro caches are nothing more than a piece of paper for players to log their username and date upon discovery.

Larger caches often contain trinkets of all types, which players can trade with trinkets of their own. (The mister and I now have a special bag full of such potential items.)

There are also game pieces called “tracking bugs,” which have tracking numbers and can be logged online so players can follow the “bug’s” journey from cache to cache. A bug can be any small item, as long as the tracking tag can be attached. Many bugs have “missions,” such as to travel from coast to coast or to visit large bodies of water.

The mister wants to see if a Camaro, a Charger or a Mustang can make it to the Pacific coast the fastest.

I have to admit, the idea of finding secret treasure is pretty cool and it does give us something to do in this small town. There are plenty of logged caches in this area, several even on campus, so we should have plenty of amusement for a long time.

I’ve been out hunting with the mister several weekends and we’ve traded plenty of trinkets and even helped a few tracking bugs along their way. We aren’t high-tech enough to have a hand-held GPS, like my dad does, so we resort to examining a Google Map and writing down the approximate location of the cache before leaving the house.

But we must always beware of “Muggles” – those who are not registered geocachers. If a muggle sees you seeking a cache, he or she may wonder what you are up to and come across the cache after you have left.

This might result in the cache being moved, the contents being stolen and any tracking bugs being lost forever. (And you thought muggles were only in Harry Potter books. Ha!)

So, armed with our log pen and bag of trinkets, this is our semester mission: to seek out new caches and new tracking bug missions, and to boldly go where no muggle has gone before! (cue Star Trek music.)



[If you’re a muggle interested in learning more about the game of geocaching, visit http://www.geocaching.com. If you’re a fellow geocacher and want to know where we’ve been, our username is Nuthouse519.]

At the Zoo with Dr. Doolittle

I don’t know many people who can call a hippo up from the deep.

But apparently I’m married to Dr. Doolittle so common rules of animal nature don’t apply to him.

He causes the meerkats to check the sky for hawks; he talks to the hippos and they fight each other; and the tigers wake up from naps in the sunshine to pose for pictures.

Is it normal for giraffes to follow a man around their enclosure, even when he is NOT holding any food? Do kookaburras always sing songs with passing visitors? I don’t think so.

Normal is the small child shouting and shaking the fence to get the giraffe’s attention. Normal is the man whistling a tune for tropical birds that just look at him silently. The mister is not normal.

It’s just another sign that he was meant to be a veterinarian. Animals can sense his abilities and kindness even from across zoo enclosures. They flock to him. Which, in some cases, can be mildly terrifying.

This really makes me wonder what life will be like in St. Kitts, where there are free-range boars and monkeys that congregate in public areas.

Am I going to come home from the store one day and find the mister on the couch surrounded by unnamed rainforest animals? Am I going to have to learn to feed the free-range cattle that follow him single file like faithful puppy dogs?

Although, if I really think about it, this sort of talent could turn into a profitable business if we use it right. How many people do you know that could stand at the edge of the rainforest and call out never-before-seen creatures? We could fill a tropical zoo in a day! Imagine what scientists and researchers will pay for his services!

And that’s not even mentioning when he opens his own practice on day. He’ll be the only vet around who can literally speak to his clients. It’ll be a little like the Day of Pentacost, but without the tongues of fire and with a lot more barking.

It’s A Crazy, Tragic, Sometimes Almost Magic, Awful, Beautiful Life

I beg forgiveness of all those who have called, texted and Facebook messaged me asking why there wasn’t a column last week.

I am honored to know so many are such loyal readers and I hope I haven’t lost anyone in the posting gap. I have learned my lesson: Write on the weekends because there’s no way you’re going to have time during the week. (There will be two this week to compensate, so check back around Thursday.)

I’m taking four classes and working three jobs, but as far as frustration goes I think the mister takes the cake for the week. He got two parking tickets within 12 hours for the same offense . . . that he didn’t commit.

Now, I’m not trying to call out our public safety officers. They work hard; they keep our campus one of the safest in the southeast and are relatively friendly. But I’d like to see the application requirements for their student ticket-writers.

The mister has a parking sticker clearly displayed on the lower driver’s side of his windshield, as required. Yet somehow he got a ticket for failure to display his permit. This was at 5:00 p.m. and the ticket office was closed.

The next morning he goes to class at 8 a.m., planning to appeal his ticket afterwards. The traffic clerk is kind enough to recognize the mistake and void the charge. Everything’s fine, right?

Wrong. Because when he got back to his truck after voiding the original ticket, he found ANOTHER TICKET on his windshield for the SAME OFFENSE! But the traffic office can’t void this one – even though the ticket writer is clearly an idiot – because second offenses must be appealed in writing. To a board that won’t meet until after the ticket is due. So we had to pay the fine.

It was not astronomical and did not break the bank by any means, but it’s the principle of the thing. I’ve never seen the mister so angry. I thought the apartment above us was going to come crashing down on top of me when he slammed the door.

I just don’t understand why public safety can’t seem to hire students who can read. Or at least see clearly. And this is not the first time someone I know has been given a ticket for an offense that didn’t make sense.

For example, how difficult is it to look at the curb and check that it’s red before citing a car for parking in a fire zone? Why can’t you verify that the sign does in fact say “30 minute parking” before writing a ticket for a time zone?

And if you’re going to write a ticket for parking the wrong direction on the side of the road, you should be sure you actually know which direction traffic is flowing. It’s just common sense.

So if you ever come visit us at school, be sure you take a picture of your car before you leave it in the lot. You never know when you’ll be fined for doing something correctly.

*Title taken from a Darryl Worley song