Snake Gazin’, Alligator Huggin’ And Tortoise Lovin’

I’m not saying that it’s hot right now, but THIS is a snapshot that I took inside my Suburban this afternoon:

IMG_7285Now, granted… it had been parked and we were just taking off, so… yadda, yadda, yadda… I’m sure the heat got to build up a touch in there.  I think it has to do with those laws of physics that say THE INSIDE OF A PARKED VEHICLE IN SMALL TOWN, USA IN JULY WILL HEAT TO THE TEMPERATURE OF HELL VERY QUICKLY.  All I know is that we singed our eyebrows when we opened the doors today, and Thing 2 gasped, “Start the conditioning!  Start the conditioning!”  He wasn’t talking about the conditioning necessary to train your body to survive in 113-degree heat, either.  No, ma’am.  He was talking about the AIR conditioning, which he already knows will help take the edge off this brutal summer.

Once the conditioning was going as fast as my elderly, wheezing, 2001 Suburban could manage, without her having a full-on stroke in her carburetor, we set off to run our errands, driving just like this:

629ce22ff582cc6b72b86afb0ad9630fPlease give me grace when it’s ten degrees out this winter, with an icy crosswind, and I’m shivering and moaning about being so cold.

Before we get started, you should also know that Hubs and Thing 2 found a teensy little frog in our front yard yesterday.  This is the second frog that we’ve seen in the yard this summer, which makes NO SENSE, because we have no nearby water source that is within a days’ hop for a frog the size of a quarter.  Plus… well… it’s been KILLER HOT, which we’ve already established.  Those two factors do not usually mean HERE ARE THE FROGS!  But, they found a second frog in our grass, which Thing 2 wasted no time in catching.

And then we had a frog in our house.

And then I had boys begging to keep him as a pet.

The end consensus was that he could be a DAY PET, which meant HERE IS A CUP OF WATER, AND YOU CAN SIT IN IT, KERMIT, UNTIL THIS EVENING, WHEN HUBS WILL DRIVE YOU TO THE CREEK, SO YOUR SKIN DOESN’T FEEL ALL LIZARD-LIKE.  We felt like we had rescued him from certain BAKING outdoors.

Within twenty minutes of having our day pet, he was loose in the boy’s bedroom and classified as OFFICIALLY LOST.

Twenty minutes after that, he was rediscovered, and returned to his glass jar.  This time, a makeshift lid was created for him, because Kermit possessed some big jumping skills for his tiny size.

Then, cue the setting of the sun, and OH, LOOK!  WE STILL HAVE A TINY FROG IN A JAR WITH A NON-OXYGEN-SUPPORTING LID SYSTEM, ON MY KITCHEN COUNTER!  So Hubs declared that he would take the frog to the creek in the morning (which is today).  The boy rigged up a lid that could generate some oxygen being sucked into the glass, and BOOM.

We went to bed.

And then we woke up to an empty glass.

Kermit, in a suicidal attempt at freedom, is formally listed as missing.  We have searched, but the square footage is too large, and the hiding spots are too many.  Kermit was pronounced deceased, without any evidence of the body, at 8:30 this morning, because we have taken biology.  We all know what happens to tiny amphibians when they are away from water too long and their skin dries out.

I believe you call it Death.

So there I was, at 8:30 this morning, GRIEVING over a frog who had the misfortune to come into our home and lose his life.   Granted, HE was the one who chose to escape, but I still feel very sad in the depths of my heart that he either (1) was eaten by a cat in his escape, or (2) dried out somewhere, but I still feel HORRIBLY for him.  What a cruel end to face in this life.

Anyway and so on and so forth…

Last weekend (because TIMELY, Y’ALL!  I am SO INCREDIBLY TIMELY!), we took a little trip to see some Christian concerts and practice our wilderness survival skills in a miniature campground cabin, which was forty-six miles away from the VERY PUBLIC, VERY COMMUNAL bathrooms and showers.

(Also?  As a side note, you should know that I am now humming Johnny Horton’s epic musical opus, The Battle of New Orleans.  It has everything to do with the sentence I typed up there, bearing the words, “we took a little trip.”  I’ve completed the entire sentence in my head by humming quietly to myself, “along with Colonel Jackson, down the mighty Mississipp’.  We took a little bacon and we took a little beans, and we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.“)

(It has everything to do with my maturity level.)

(And probably a lot to do with my wandering mind.)

What we learned from that trip is simply that I am not cut out for surviving in a campground where I must share showers and hike to the bathroom, with a preschooler.  I’d like to SAY that I was able to channel my old college self, who could survive in the wilderness WITHOUT FLUSHING TOILETS for a week, but I cannot.

(And my old college self… well, although she really could have and really DID survive on backpacking trips, with just a sleeping bag and bacon and beans and the wild west as her front yard for days on end, she actually physically ached for her small, spiral curling iron and two cans of Aqua Net hairspray.  Flat hair in my college days was not an acceptable mane of glory.)

(Different times.  Different times.)

I came home from our weekend and had to talk to Jesus.  Specifically, I had to acknowledge before Him that communal living in a campground, where you take a shower in a small, fiberglass shower stall covered with RED hairs, when you are not, in fact, a REDHEAD, is more than likely BETTER LIVING than 90% of the world experiences.  And don’t quote me on the percentages, because that would involve math skills and research, and I don’t do those things on summer vacation.  It’s a GUESS, people.  It’s a guess that 90% of the world’s population has zero access to showers that are cleaned once a day with disease-killing chemicals, which also have clean, running water, and LOOK!  TOILETS THAT FLUSH!  I had to tell Jesus that I KNOW I’ve become quite pampered, because of my love for my own bathroom, with no red hairs clinging to the shower walls.  But the honest truth is, I felt like a dirty, sweaty, hot mess all weekend.

And I forgot flip flops, so I’m sure a giant case of Athlete’s  Foot is incubating between my toes right now, and that it’ll sprout up at a very inconvenient time, reminding me that I showered BAREFOOTED after the red head did.

No matter.

The weekend was so much fun.  We were surrounded by good friends the entire time.  I’ll do it again next year, but next summer… well… can we all just say the words HOLIDAY INN together?

Before we headed for home last Sunday, we took the boys to a giant reptile oasis, which I like to refer to as THE SNAKE PIT.

I saw a sign not long ago that sums up how I feel about snakes.  It said, “There are only three kinds of snakes I can’t stand.  Live snakes, dead snakes, and sticks that look like snakes.”  I feel like I should have penned in the word AMEN at the end of that sign, because I do not do the snakes with grace and finesse, y’all.  I’m more of a SCREECH AND JUMP AND RUN sort of girl.

But the boys in my life?  Well, they are fascinated with the biting belly crawlers.  It also seems like THE MORE POISONOUS the snake is… the MORE FASCINATED with them my boys are.

IMG_0718 IMG_0719 IMG_0720 IMG_0710We went through the make-believe, tropical rain forest.  At one point, I was admiring some parrots above me.  I could hear Thing 2 exclaiming, “He’s so cute!  I love him!”  When I returned my attention from the bright green birds to my preschooler, he was walking off, holding a tortoise the size of a salad plate.

He assumed that this tortoise he had caught was HIS to take home and keep forever and ever.

There were some tears when he learned that picking the tortoise up was actually called BREAKING THE RULES, and that keeping the tortoise was actually PUNISHABLE BY FINES, BECAUSE OF SOMETHING CALLED STEALING.

(And listen.  We know how the frog ended up at our house.  I wouldn’t wish that on a tortoise, although I am guessing an escaped tortoise would’ve had more survival luck at our house than Kermit did.)

IMG_0697I believe this is EXACTLY how Thing 2 helped himself to a tortoise:

IMG_0698 IMG_0701IMG_0705 IMG_0707 IMG_0714Eventually, we found ourselves back outside, at an alligator show.

IMG_0726 IMG_0725Now.

Do you know what I NEVER DO?  I never, ever, not at all, not even for a small space of time, engage in any political debates or big controversies on my blog or social media.


I’m not going to argue political beliefs with you or engage you in a battle about something that has happened in the news, where we don’t share the same opinions.

But, I’m going to today.

Do you remember in the news not so long ago, when the four year old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo?  It sickened me to read over and over how many people BLAMED HIS MOTHER for not keeping an eye on him.  They belittled her and pegged the cause of that gorilla’s death to her, like it was a scarlet letter and she had gravely sinned.  I saw the video footage of that gorilla, dragging the boy around in the water, and you can’t convince me that he was being “parental” or “protective” with that boy, as critics were screaming out.

That gorilla was simply DRAGGING THAT CHILD.  And what’s difficult for a small, four-year-old boy to actually… you know… SURVIVE… is being dragged around by a full-grown, male gorilla.  Cue those laws of physics again.

Look at the picture of our Thing 2 sitting in front of the fencing at the alligator show again.  Here it is, one more time:

IMG_0725That’s chain link fencing, that’s four feet tall, right behind him.  Then there’s approximately two feet, give or take, of space, followed by another section of four-foot-tall fencing, with bigger squares.  THAT fence curls over slightly at the top.

Because I’m his mother, I know how strong Thing 2 is.  He has the upper body strength of a marine.  He has the balance of a mountain goat.  He has the speed of a ninja.  I know that Thing 2 could get into that alligator pen, with very little trouble.  He would need sixty to ninety SECONDS to climb the outside chain link fence, pull himself across the gap, to the bent over section on the second fence, and then boom!  He’d drop into the enclosure like he was a Navy SEAL, arriving unexpectedly.  Have you ever looked away from your child for sixty to ninety seconds?  Maybe to consult the flyer you were handed, to find out WHEN the snake show started next?  Maybe to look at the map of the complex, to see WHERE the snake show was going to take place?  Maybe you bent over to tie your shoes and straighten your socks and dig for Chapstick in your purse?  I can guarantee (GUARANTEE!!) that while you were doing that, my son could get into that alligator pen.

And there’s no animal on this planet whose life is more valuable than a child’s.

As much as I love animals… as much as I GRIEVED for the tiny little frog who escaped our glass jar last night and ended up MIA and very probably DEAD today… I would have shot that gorilla point-blank myself, to save that little boy; I don’t care HOW much of an endangered species he was.

So, people, make sure you give a tired mama a break in your criticism.  Extend grace to her, as she deals with a traumatic experience, in which her son is LUCKY TO BE ALIVE.

*Jedi Mama now steps down off of her soap box, which she rarely stands on.*

Sorry.  Where were we?

The alligator show was hilarious.  The college-aged boy who wrestled the gator and fed the pack was funny and engaging, and he made us laugh until we cried.  I kept thinking through the entire show that his mother, somewhere, must be very proud of how he turned out — how funny he turned out to be, how confident he grew up to be, and how patiently he interacted with the little kids after the show, who had dozens of questions for him.  I kept hoping that his mother had seen him do an alligator show; I imagine she probably grinned with pride from one of her ears, clear across her face to the other ear, after he told her a thousand times, “MA!  THE ALLIGATORS WON’T EAT ME!  I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!”

Afterward, that young man brought a baby alligator around for the crowd to pet.  Thing 2 waited for his turn like a champ.  He was determined to wait there ALL THE LIVELONG DAY, if he had to, to pet that little thing.  When it was finally his turn… when the big boy stretched the baby ‘gator over the fencing so Thing 2 could pat his head… Thing 2 simply grabbed him up in a giant, alligator hug!

It took the guy by surprise, as he nearly lost the baby alligator to Thing 2’s clutches!

IMG_0732Afterward, there were big tortoises.

These ones were entirely too big to be picked up by Thing 2, regardless of his marine-like strength.

For that, we gave thanks.

Our preschooler was in love with those giant beasts.  He sat with them forever, patting them and telling them how awesome they were.  He built up their egos and self confidence quite nicely!

IMG_0740 IMG_0743 IMG_0744

Oh, look!  Aren’t THESE THINGS cute?!  How I love them both!

IMG_0738And then… well… we set off for home.  We had a four-hour drive ahead of us, and there was more unpacking and repacking to do, so that we could get the boy to a week-long church camp the following day.

Our backseat looked like this again… as the boys shared earbuds to watch a DVD together.

IMG_7264And then, at one point, I glanced back at them to see that they were HOLDING HANDS!

Be.  Still.  My.  Heart.

IMG_7268I think they kind of like one another.

Y’all have a happy Monday.

1 thought on “Snake Gazin’, Alligator Huggin’ And Tortoise Lovin’

  1. Yep. used to pack up all that freeze dried inedible stuff, roll up a little bit of nylon that would never cover a barbie doll, clip on all kinds of ridiculously small and inefficient lighting gizmos, water bottles, rain gear, fiberglass tent poles – the whole REI shootin’ match – and climb into the WILDERNESS and scare the blood from all my veins, arteries and those little bitty capillaries, too. I have redefined camping as going barefoot in a motel. Period. I’m a recovering camper. There are probably groups and 12 steps but I DIDN’T NEED THEM!! and I know you can follow in my indoor lovin foot steps some day. But you might need another set of ovaries in your home…..I wonder if you can rent?

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