My Midnight Scare

Last night at bedtime, my seven-year-old daughter complained that she heard noises in the hallway that were keeping her awake.  I didn’t think much of it.  I tucked her in, and a little while later she drifted off into that deep rock-like sleep that only children seem to achieve.

Once the house was quiet and still, I started hearing noises.  I suspected it might be the cat and dog playing, so I put them in my room.  Then I noticed that all the driveway and porch lights were off.  We live on a heavily wooded lot, so when the outdoor lights are off, it’s pitch black outside.  My husband was on a trip, so it was up to me to find  a flashlight, go down to the cavernous unfinished basement, and play around with the fuse box.  I found the one that triggered the outside lights.  Sure enough, it was flipped, but when I put it back in place, it just made a loud buzzing sound and flipped back off.  After playing around with it a bit more, I gave up and went back up the two flights of stairs to my bedroom.

I laid in bed listening to every little sound that went bump in the night, but I finally, against all odds, drifted off to sleep around midnight, only to be awakened a short while later by a loud crash inside the house. I wasn’t sure where it had come from. I thought maybe downstairs. I, perhaps stupidly but somewhat bravely, went downstairs armed with a phone ready to dial 911 and a flashlight.  I couldn’t find anything, so I peeked outside to see if there were any critters on the deck.  We get a menagerie of wild animals in our yard from raccoons and squirrels to deer, chipmunks, coyotes, neighbors’ dogs, and even the occasional fox.  There were no animals outside though, on the deck or otherwise.  Of course, it was dark because we had no outside lights, and my little flashlight didn’t shine far.

As I made my way back upstairs in fear and confusion, I heard another loud crash coming from somewhere upstairs.  I froze at the top of the stairs and beckoned to my dog. She was hesitant to follow, but didn’t seem too concerned about anything other than me disturbing her sleep, which somewhat reassured me.  The cat peeked out of my room and into the hallway, curious to see what all the fuss was about.  Suddenly, there was another loud crash from down the hall, and the cat darted under my bed.  Whatever was causing the racket wasn’t making any attempts at being quiet, so that at least reassured me that it wasn’t a burglar.

I formed a hypothesis that maybe bats or a raccoon had gotten into the house. I ran into my bedroom closet and put on boots. I would have put on gardening gloves and a catcher’s mask too if I’d had any handy, but a girl’s got to make due with the accessories at her disposal. Now wearing my pajamas and boots and carrying the flashlight, I turned on all the hall lights. I peeked into the laundry room but didn’t see anything. I shined the flashlight towards the girls’ bathroom at the other end of the hall and saw a disarray of junk on the floor. Did my kids throw stuff on the floor before bed?  I didn’t think so. Another crash from the bathroom.  I was literally quaking in fear, waiting for a wild, possibly rabid critter to leap out at me. Why was my dog laying back down in the hallway calmly ready to go back to sleep?  Shouldn’t she be growling and defending her territory?

I crept into the bathroom and quickly shoved the door open all the way. What did I find?  My 10-year-old daughter’s pet snake, Cheetos, slithering around the tub toys.  I had totally forgotten that he had gotten out of his terrarium a couple of weeks ago.   The bathroom was a disaster!  The shower caddy was knocked over, bath products everywhere. The stack of bath toys was scattered around the floor. The laundry hamper and trash cans were knocked over. Even the Kleenex box and the toilet brush were strewn across the floor.

I picked up Cheetos, returned him to his cage, turned on his heating lamp, and refilled his water.  Meanwhile, both of my daughters were still soundly asleep.  Other than me nearly having a heart attack and feeling nauseous from coming down off the adrenaline-induced state of terror, it turned out to be a happy ending.  Cheetos was back safe and sound. No intruders, human or otherwise. No electrical malfunctions burning down the house. No scared kids in my bed.  Just scared me losing another night’s sleep, but nothing new there.

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Updated World Travel Map

visited 22 states (9.77%)

This world travel map is a great tool for putting into perspective how large the world is.  I consider myself fairly well-traveled, but as of April 2014, I’ve still only seen less than 10% of the countries across the globe.  I’m slowing making progress though.  When I first posted this map in 2008, I had seen 6.66% of the world, and in 2012 that percentage grew to 8.88%.  Now I’m up to 9.77%, and I hope to keep expanding my horizons every chance I get.

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Regal Book Giveaway 2014

Regal LiteraryRegal Literary not only represents some of the best titles of literary fiction, but they also offer some of the most generous book giveaways in the industry.  They’re currently hosting another big book giveaway.  This one features eight of their upcoming 2014 titles:

  • Savage Harvest by Carl Hoffman
  • The Ascendant by Drew Chapman
  • Beauty by Frederick Dillen
  • The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham
  • The Art of Lying Down by Bernd Brunner
  • Sorry You’re Lost by Matt Blackstone
  • The Question Book by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler
  • All Russians Love Birch Trees by Olga Grjasnowa

Be sure to check it out and enter for your chance to win.  The contest ends Feb. 21, 2014.

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Book Review: Rustication by Charles Palliser

RusticationAs the historically British term of the title itself implies, Rustication by Charles Palliser is a novel set in Victorian England and is narrated by the main character of 17-year-old Richard Shenstone who was recently asked to leave, or rusticated from, Cambridge for mysterious reasons.  Upon moving in with his mother and sister in the run-down home where his mother lived as a child, he finds himself thrust amongst the gossip of their new neighbors in the small village of Thurchester.   His opium-hazed perception of events, lusty imagination, awkward social skills, occasional naiveté, and bouts of paranoia add to the shadowy plot twists and turns of this gothic novel.

While trying to uncover the secretive details about his father’s recent death, Richard also attempts to uncover the source of the threatening letters and escalating violence taking place in the otherwise quiet village.  People all over the town begin receiving letters from an anonymous source.  While all of the letters spew lurid insults to the recipients, some threaten violence and death.

Here’s an excerpt from one such letter, provided on page one of the book:

“I am going to make you pay with your blood.  You think you have got away with it.  But you are wrong.  You won’t be able to hide behind your friends the next time we meet.  I am going to kill you but before I do that I am going to hurt you so badly  you will scream for mercy.”

The intricately woven web of mysterious events unravel as Richard attempts, through his journal entries, to speculate as to the often duplicitous meaning of the townspeoples’ behavior.  Even though he scoffs at the rampant gossip, he hangs on every word, hoping he might be able to grasp and dissipate the cloud of darkness looming over this town and his own circumstances.

While portions of this story dragged a bit for me, I did enjoy the gothic novel genre of Rustication.  I could have done with less of the sexual fantasy entries in Richard’s journal, but overall the characters were well written with a bit of room for mystery left to unravel about each one.  The larger murder mystery played out well, with plot twists that continued to loop and knot straight through to the end.


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2013 in Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,500 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Daughter’s Surgery

CastOver Thanksgiving break, my 10-year-old daughter had foot surgery.  She has a condition called Accessory Navicular Syndrome, which basically means she has an extra bone in each foot.  We always knew she was special!  The condition itself isn’t super rare, but the size of her extra bones are unusually large.  After the surgery, the doctor told us it was probably the biggest accessory bone he’s ever seen, including all of his adult patients.  The condition results in the tendon being connected in the wrong place, which has caused her a fair amount of pain and repeated injuries.  She had to quit gymnastics, but it’s not in her nature to curb her naturally athletic tendencies.  She decided to opt for the surgery to get it taken care of, so that she’ll be able to play sports in junior high next year.

She’s been super tough through the entire experience thus far.  She rarely complains, and her naturally high pain tolerance certainly helped this whole process.  She was very matter-of-fact about it all, even watching the anesthesiologist insert her IV before being wheeled into the operating room.  The doctors and nurses were fantastic.  They even let her bring her pillow pet into the OR with her.  She said the surgery wasn’t as bad as she expected, and she’s in very little pain, rarely asking for the occasional Advil.  I think the hardest part of it is being on crutches for a month.

She was in a splint and bandages for the first week, until the swelling went down enough for a hard cast.  She asked the doctor to make her hard cast purple and lime green, and he was happy to comply.  Friends have signed her cast in silver Sharpie marker, and she’s decorated her crutches to make them quite the sparkly accessory.  After she gets her hard cast off in a couple of weeks, she’ll wear a boot cast for another month or so after that.  She may also need to do physical therapy.  I’m learning that navigating in the rain and snow on crutches can be very nerve-wracking.  She’s already fallen twice, which was pretty traumatic for both of us.

She’s doing great, but unfortunately we’ll have to do it all again.  The plan is that we’ll likely follow up with her other foot in about three to six months, after she’s had a chance to fully recover from this first surgery.


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Giving Thanks

In this spirit of Thanksgiving, my seven-year-old daughter was given an assignment by her second grade teacher.  Each student gave a presentation in front of the class, describing three things for which they are thankful.  My daughter chose three topics close to her heart:

  1. “I am thankful for art because we would not have that much color without it.”
  2. “I am thankful for school because without it, we wouldn’t learn much.”
  3. “I am thankful for my pets because my cat, Willow, snuggles and is very patient.  I am thankful for my dog, Paris, because when I am sitting down and stop petting her, she lays her head in my lap.  I am thankful for my fishes, snails, and seahorses because they are interesting to watch.  I am thankful for my sister’s snake because it’s interesting, and it’s very colorful.”


Filed under Art, Creativity, Education, Kids, Lists, Things My Kids Say