Sunday, July 20, 2014

Let's Go To The Beach, Each, Let's Go Get A Wave

If you read Beachy Thoughts or Bitchy, I Mean, Beachy Thoughts, Part 2, then you know my vacation at the beach was a bit of a roller coaster ride. But when all is said and done, it was a terrific week.


1. I am exceedingly thankful for the use of my parents' minivan. We had a safe, problem-free trip, never worrying whether the latest noise coming out from under the hood was something to be concerned about or just something that needed louder music to cover it up; it purred like a kitten the entire way. It also gave us a ton more room than our Toyota would have, and we had it filled to the gills.

2. No real accidents or injuries! The first time we went to Galveston, my daughter, who was about 6, got stung on the fanny by a jellyfish about fifteen minutes after arriving at the beach. (We were sure she would never get in the water again, but after a paste of vinegar and meat tenderizer was applied, courtesy of the lifeguard, it quit hurting, and all signs of it were gone within an hour.) My son stepped on a sea urchin two years ago while on a mission trip to Puerto Rico which required a trip to the emergency room and caused him a tremendous amount of pain from the spines broken off into his foot (over 50 of them) and the infection they caused, but no sea urchins or jellyfish to be found at the beach this year. My husband did burn himself on a waffle iron at the hotel we stayed in on our way back, but his little blister isn't that impressive compared to what the kids have done to themselves previously.

Husband's sunburned foot.
Somehow, in spite of using sunscreen,
we all managed to burn the
tops of our feet.

3. The first two days at the beach were hot and sunny. The water was warm, the breeze was refreshing, and we were in beach heaven. (Again, I refer you to Bitchy, I Mean, Beachy Thoughts, Part 2, for the reason it was only the first two.)

4. We ate shrimp. Lots of shrimp. Lots of very fresh, deliciously prepared shrimp. When you live far, far inland, the shrimp is never fresh, and while it's still GOOD (it's SHRIMP, after all), it's usually rubbery and a little tough.

In Galveston, they catch it here:

Then serve it here:

Shrimp N Stuff - yum!

We ate it grilled, stuffed with crab, wrapped with bacon, and, of course, fried.

Tender and delicious - Benno's on the Beach

5. My VERYVERYVERY favorite thing to do on the island is to ride the Galveston Island Ferry. It connects a sliver of the Texas mainland to Galveston. You can drive your car onto it and ride over (did it once) OR (the best way) park on the Galveston side and walk on (which we found is much more fun). Either way, it's FREE! You can watch the big ships (you know I like big ships) work their way towards the Port of Houston and (even better) watch the dolphins frolic alongside the ship.

See those crazy people standing at the front?
Several are holding BABIES. Had to stop watching.

Ferry hair.

Dolphin! There were about
a dozen at this spot.

6. Another favorite place to visit on the island is Col. Bubbie's Surplus Center. Located in the historic Strand district, the building is probably over a hundred years old, unairconditioned (we're in Texas, remember) and stuffed floor to ceiling with military surplus. And not just U.S. military surplus, either, but surplus from just about every country you can name that ever had a military. There are uniforms dating back to WWII, Civil War bayonettes, grenades, shells, hats, boots, mess kits, and thousands more items. The very sad news is that Col. Bubbie's is closing after this summer. The real Col. Bubbie passed away about five years ago, and his wife continued to operate the business. She has decided it's time to call it quits and is liquidating everything. (If you are in the market for military surplus, go here and check it out for their online store.) We'll miss you, Col. Bubbie's.

French Foreign Legion hat. The French
have very small heads, it seems.

7. My husband and son accidentally dressed alike one night at dinner and didn't even notice it until my daughter and I pointed it out from across the table.

8. My kids shared a bed and didn't kill each other. Usually, we do the boy bed /girl bed system when we are in a hotel. I took this picture one morning when my son was still asleep (it's a double bed, which means his 6'4" frame doesn't fit on it very well). It made me think of a magician's trick gone bad. You know, when the two ladies are in boxes and cut in half, then the two halves are switched?

9. Beach sand is a wonderful exfoliant. The bottoms of my feet have never been smoother!

10. I got a butt crack picture to add to my collection!

We also had a fantastic trip home, but I'm already to #10, so you'll have to wait to find out what we did later this week. Don't forget to check back and read all about it!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bitchy, I Mean, Beachy Thoughts, Part 2

Three days ago, my beach vacation was sunlight and sand and warm ocean water.

And then it wasn't any more....

The many "scattered" and "isolated" thunderstorms that have skirted around us all week have dropped trou on us.

Wednesday, we were downtown by the harbor, trying desperately to see a ginormous, ocean-going, cargo ship (okay, that was ME trying desperately; the other three in my group could care less and do not understand my boat fetish). We were on a pier that had an excursion boat and restaurants and such, and as I looked down along the channel, I could see that, approximately 3 blocks away, it was raining onto the water. A woman who worked for the excursion boat came up alongside us at that time and announced there was a waterspout where the rain was falling, but it was dissipating. 

Two things about that:
1. Call it a waterspout if you will, but it's still a tornado, and those of us from Joplin get a little twitchy when told there is one only about three blocks away.
2. Upon hearing it was a waterspout, my daughter proclaimed that was how the sharks fell on the land in the movie "Sharknado" just as raindrops the size of saucers started falling on us, and we scurried to the car.

The rain had stopped by the time we reached our motel, but the day was over halfway over, making it silly to pay $25 to rent an umbrella and chairs on the beach, so we looked for shells instead. It's a terrible year for finding shells.

A rather sketchy bunch moved into the room next to us, and they TOOK OUR CHAIRS from in front of our room. We were pretty convinced one of the men had a prison-made tattoo (that coming from the two Orange is the New Black fans), so no way were we going to ask for the chairs back.

I sunburned the tops of my feet in a perfect flip flop pattern. Even though it was so faint that I couldn't detect it, I seem to have gotten some sun on my feet whilst wearing flip flops. That pale flip flop line then burned when it was exposed to the sun. And yes, I had put sunscreen on the tops of my feet before going out.

My boobie sunburn is now peeling. While I cannot feel pain (good thing) or the opposite of pain (not a good thing), I CAN feel itch. What up wit dat? 

I was aware there had been an influx of seaweed this spring and early summer, but there's always SOME seaweed at the beach. It hasn't been that bad, actually, although there are piles of it rotting up against the seawall, giving off a sulfur smell (odor - it's an odor; "smell" is too nice of a word). Early Thursday morning, my husband and I got up early to walk on the beach and watch the sunrise. We crossed the seawall and saw a bank of seaweed that stretched across the shoreline. (Seagulls, the rats of the sea, were having the times of their lives on that seaweed.) There was no wading in the shallow waters as the surf rolls in. The water was rough, pitching and churning, and there were dark clouds and thunderheads to the south and west. We walked on the soft sand, the wall of seaweed between us and the water. Not the same.

Worst invasion of sargassum ever. EVER.
Record breaking. Historic. 

Since Thursday was to be our last day at the beach, we planned to spend every bit of it at the beach.

Problem #1: A wall of seaweed over two feet high
Problem #2: Rain. Wind. High surf. Lightning.
Problem #3: Did I mention the seaweed?

We walked over to the beach. The wind was so strong off the water that my son could play frisbee by himself. He took a camp shovel and dug a trench through the seaweed to the water. YES, IT WAS THAT HEAVY AND THICK. Then he wheedled and begged me to look for shells with him. He helped me through the seaweed canyon he had forged and into the water, the formerly warm water but which was now quite cold and where the seaweed that was washing in immediately started wrapping itself around my ankles. It was scratchy and made my ankles burn and itch. The water was so churned up by the high surf and storms that I couldn't see my feet, which freaks me out. The seagulls were all over the place, soaring above us, sitting on the seaweed wall, wading in the water.

See how high that wall of seaweed is?
For perspective, the college boy is nearly 6'4"

A raindrop hit my shoulder. Or so I thought, until I didn't feel any MORE raindrops. I looked at my son and said, "Is their seagull crap on me?" He looked, grinned, and confirmed. One of those assholes had crapped on me. I scooped up water in my hand and threw it at my shoulder while my son kept telling me I had missed the spot. 


I slogged through the seaweedy water, buffeted by the high winds, my ankles burning and itching from the seaweed, seagull crap somewhere on my bathing suit strap where I couldn't see it, and no shells, when I informed my son that I was DONE. We walked back to my husband and daughter, taking the route through the soft sand rather than the water (I SAID I was done and I meant it). And we gathered up our towels and blew back across the seawall to our motel. And I got in the shower in my swimsuit and doused myself with body wash, paying particular attention to the vicinity of the seagull crap.

Face of someone who will go home from
five days at the beach with no tan lines.

The only good thing about all this is it will make it easier to leave tomorrow. Besides that, I have a TERRIFIC adventure up my sleeve for the trip home. Stay tuned....

Monday, July 14, 2014

Beachy Thoughts

Beachy thoughts from Galveston, Texas:

There is always more sand. Even when you think you have washed, swept, brushed, picked or wiped every grain of it off, there's still more sand.

I have a parlor trick, just like my friend Kristi does! Well, not the SAME trick; she balances toys on her head for her granddaughter. Mine is actually more practical. I was sitting in the edge of the surf, picking up little shells, but with no pockets in the ol' swimsuit, I had nowhere to put them. Then I came up with a brilliant idea: I put them inside my swimsuit top, inside the bra part of it, under my boobies. Here's what makes this brilliant: I don't have any feeling in my boobies, so I can't tell that there are little shells in my suit. When I returned to our beach umbrella and chairs, I reached in and pulled them out, dropping them into a plastic bag to save. Only hitch was when I got back to the motel and took off my swimsuit. As I was making sure all the sand was brushed off of me, I found a little tiny shell stuck to the underside of my boobie. Didn't feel a thing.

Fish are jumping all over the place in the water. Silvery, trout-ish in shape, maybe 10-15 inches long. Don't know if that's what all the fishermen are trying to catch from the rock jetties, but if it is, then they're doing it wrong, because my daughter was in the water when one of them jumped out of the water and landed on her boogie board. They were both terribly surprised, then the fish flipped back off into the water. 

No matter how bad I think I look in a swimming suit, I still look better than at least 75% of the other beach goers.

I have big damn hair in Texas. It's wildly curly and the consistency of a brillo pad, and I really don't know why I bother to bring my straightening iron with me when I come here, as it just isn't going to happen.

This reminds me of a trip we took to Florida when my daughter was 6 months old and my son had just turned 4. The first time I washed my hair there, I couldn't find the bottle of conditioner that I was just SURE I had packed. All week, my hair kept getting wilder and curlier and there was nothing I could do about it without conditioner. Finally, the night before we left, I had had enough. I remembered reading a hint once that you could use mayonnaise as a conditioner, so I thought I'd give it a try. Of course, we didn't have any mayonnaise, but we DID have Miracle Whip. Practically the same thing, right? I slathered it onto my hair, let it sit there a bit, then went to the shower to wash it out. And I washed and I washed and I rinsed and I rinsed, and I still couldn't get all that greasy Miracle Whip out of my hair. And the longer I stood under the hot shower, the more my hair smelled like hot salad dressing. Eventually, I gave up. The next morning, as I was packing our bags, guess what I found in the toiletries bag? You guessed it. A bottle of hair conditioner.

I can't cross the causeway onto Galveston Island without playing this song, which is one of my all time favorites. Listen....

Saturday, July 12, 2014

We Interrupt Packing For Ten Things Of Thankful

I'm in the midst of finishing up laundry and trying to persuade everyone to pack their suitcases TONIGHT for our vacay to the beach, because we are leaving at 6 A.M. PEOPLE, and there will be no time for it in the morning.

No one has packed a thing.

I, on the other hand, have done about a thousand loads of laundry, bought groceries for the trip, taken the cats to Camp Grandma an hour away, cleaned the downstairs in case something happens to us and my mother in law has to come inside my house while we're gone (and hoping there is no reason for her to go upstairs to the Inner Sanctum, as it is a disaster). I am now taking a breather, lying on the living room couch, having a hot flash that seems to be endless, and missing my Ruby.

1. I guess I'll start my Ten Things of Thankful with that: I'm thankful my downstairs is clean enough for a mother in law.

2. One of Ruby's favorite games is to run up the stairs ahead of me, stop on the landing 3/4 of the way up, and try to grab me from around the newel post. I was trying to capture this fun game on my camera, and I got a picture that I just adore.

Oh, Ruby....

3. My son has decided he is not going to die from his tick bite, so I was able to throw away the tick in my freezer. Hamsters remain status quo.

4. Picked a few more blueberries this week. The season will be over by the time we get back from vacation, so this was my last chance to pick them for the freezer. Once again, I talked my son into going with me, making the deal that whoever picked the least amount would buy the other person breakfast. Guess who got a free breakfast? That's right, MEEEEE! When we finished picking (and he set the time we would finish), I clearly had the most, which was confirmed when our berries were weighed when we checked out. "I don't get it," my son said, shaking his head. "You eat berries constantly as you pick, you take selfies, you text, you answer emails, you check facebook, and I just stand there and pick blueberries. And yet, you pick more than me every time." That's right, College Boy, because I'm a mom and I can multi-task. That's my superpower. 

5. I'm extremely thankful for my parents. We drive two old cars, which is not the way you should do it. You should have one newish car and one oldish car, so you always have a decent one. One has definitely been better than the other for some time, but it recently got bumped to second place by the one we think of as the bad car. Then the bad car, which had been upgraded to the good car, started acting up (as in dying while driving it, which is not a good thing at all) and got demoted again to bad car. So now, instead of one good car and one bad car, we have two bad cars. My parents stepped in and told us we could borrow one of their cars for the trip, so we now know we not only can make it to our destination, we can also return, which would have been an iffy proposition with either of our own cars.

6. Another thankful for my parents is they have opened Camp Grandma for the week so our cats have a place to stay while we're gone. The College Boy and I dropped them off there today. Fletcher and Ruby were hiding under the couch when we left, but Pete had flopped down in a chair and made himself at home. 

Unhappy campers.

Pete, making himself at home.

7. I received a gift certificate for a pedicure recently. Some of you might recall that pedicures were on my list of things I've never done, because the whole idea of it kind of weirded me out, but I decided to take a deep breath and go for it. I took my daughter with me, and we bumbled through the whole thing together. I will say that I did not know there was such a learning curve to getting a pedicure, and that I am really, really, REALLY bad at understanding anyone who speaks with an accent of any kind, particularly Vietnamese, as it turns out. I can't say I loved the pedicure, especially the part where she trimmed my nails, which, to me, was the equivalent of the dental hygienist scraping my teeth with that evil hook-thing. Nor did I care much for the scalding hot towels she wrapped around my legs. But all the massage stuff was nice. And my piggy toes look beach worthy!

8. I took both of my kids to lunch ("Welcome to Moe's!"), and my son called driver and my daughter called shotgun, and I was left to sit in the backseat. I took full advantage of my position by backseat driving the entire way FROM THE ACTUAL BACKSEAT.

Pilot and co-pilot

Backseat driiiiiving.

9. This one is hot off the press, but I had to relay this thing of thankful. My husband has gotten himself hooked on a British reality show called "Come Dine With Us" or something like that, and he had a couple of questions for Lizzi. I sent them to her via Facebook, and I just got the most delightful message back from her, done as a voice message, with her drunk as a runaway bicycle and having what sounded like a fabulous time with friends. It makes me smile ear to ear to hear that message (and all the subsequent ones)!

10. As we get ready to embark on a family vacation, I want to express how thankful I am for my little family. After almost 21 years of marriage, my husband and I still enjoy being with each other and with our funny, smart kids. We've been through some pretty crappy stuff since the very end of December, but I can now say that it's finally OVER. And we deserve to have a fantastic beach vacation. And if we don't kill each other before the week is over, I'll be back next weekend to tell you all about it.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Freezers: Not Just For Ice Cubes

A month ago, I was taking a stab at straightening out the contents of my freezer when I came across what I thought was an empty quart-sized freezer bag tucked in the freezer door. Just as I was throwing it away, I saw something in the bottom of the bag.

A tick. A frozen tick.

I went to the most likely culprit for stashing a tick in my freezer and asked why it was there (note I did not bother to ask if he were the one who put it there).

"Because I got bitten by it, so I saved it in case I get some horrible disease," said the College Boy, holding out his arm and showing me a small red place on his forearm.

He is still alive.

And there is still a frozen tick in my freezer.

I am unmoved by this, because I have two dead hamsters in a toilet paper tube in the basement freezer.

I cannot be exactly sure about how long they have been in there. I know it was before August of 2010, because that's when we got the two guinea pigs, and we were rodent-free when we got those. 

Hamster #1 is buried at my parents' lake house (next to two of my cats - hey, the ground is sandy and diggable). Hamster #2 dropped dead two days after his pet store warranty expired. He got wrapped in a kleenex and tucked in a toilet paper tube and put in the freezer (in a quart-sized freezer bag) for interment at a future date. Hamster #3, who only had three legs and one ear, as an aside, joined Hamster #2 about a year later. At that time, we decided we were not hamster people.

(We are no longer guinea pig people, either, since I was the only one who played with them after the initial cuteness wore off and was the only one who took care of their other basic needs in any way. Do you have any idea how much a guinea pig can poop? I swear they are the only animal that can manage to poop more than they eat. They went to live with a nice family with two kids. Really. This isn't one of those "we sent Shep to live in the country where he can run freely" scams.)

You may, at this time, be relieved to know the only other thing I have ever had in my freezer that needed to be buried was my daughter's volleyball knee pads. Did you know that knees sweat? And that volleyball knee pads absorb all that sweat and then stink to high Heaven, and no manner of washing or using baking soda concoctions will get rid of it? Trust me when I tell you it is a stank you don't want to experience. My husband got the bright idea to seal her knee pads in a freezer bag (gallon-sized this time) and freeze them for a few days, thinking this would kill whatever bacteria was causing the God-awful aroma. 

Stinks even to her, and she licks
her own butt.

She now has new knee pads.

Interment of the hamsters and tick is still pending.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Thankful for the Land that I Love and Other Stuff

Happy 238th Birthday, America! Our neighborhood puts on a wonderful patriotic 4th of July party every year, complete with flag raising, speakers, patriotic music (including a sing-along of "God Bless America"), and lots of food. Usually, it's hotter than blue blazes, but some freakish weather system brought us a delightful morning of low humidity and cooler temperatures than usual.

The flag bearer and Miss Liberty (aka my daughter)

The flag bearer (second from left) and Miss Liberty

We're a festive crowd.

1. I'm thankful to be an American, corny as it sounds. Our country has its problems (and whose doesn't?), but it's a pretty awesome place to live.

2. This week began with a snake in my house. I am not thankful for that. I AM thankful that there was only one and it was very small and very dead. If you didn't read about this yet, you need to fix that.

3. The other evening, everyone in the family (plus Ruby and Fletcher) was in my room, and there was no room for ME, so I took my laptop down to the living room and laid down on the couch and enjoyed the solitude. Is it bad to be thankful to be left alone in my own house for an hour or two?

4. It's no secret at our house that Pete, our 9 year old cat, hates Ruby with every fiber of his being, and he shuns me for bringing her into this life. A large reason for his shunning of me is because Ruby follows me everywhere I go. But the evening I went down to the living room by myself, she was in my room, sleeping in a chair and, due to the other commotion of kids and husband and cats and tv, she didn't realize I left the room. Pete was sleeping in a chair in the living room, and when he realized I was on the couch and Ruby was nowhere to be found, he came over, jumped up on my stomach (oof!) and laid there with me for about twenty minutes. Then Ruby realized I was missing and came down the stairs, and Pete flounced off with a hiss in her direction (and probably mine). Oh well, it was nice while it lasted....

5. Thursday, my daughter and I decided to enjoy a little girl time by going to a movie together. Despite my husband and son insisting it was going to be a stupid waste of money, she and I went to see "Tammy." (I think it's only fair to ask that I be nominated for Mom of the Year for taking my 15 year old to a raunchy, R-rated movie.) Is the movie going to win an Academy Award? Not a chance. Did we laugh all the way through it? Sure did! 

6. Not only did we enjoy seeing the movie, we (and I would like Mrs. Always Random to take note of this) didn't pay a dime for any of it, because I had a gift card that I forgot I had. Cha-ching!

7. Pretty much ever since we have lived back in Missouri, we have spent July 3 with my husband's sister and her family. We spend the day at the pool, eating, talking, and swimming, and the evening at my in-laws' house, eating dinner together, then setting off fireworks. We've gone from little ones who were excited to watch smoke bombs and sparklers to teenagers who can drive themselves to the fireworks stand (CAN, but don't, because they still want their grandad to come along and finance the operation) and set off all the fireworks themselves. My sister in law's family lives in Tulsa, which is only 2 hours away, but with the busy lives we all lead, we don't get to spend much time together. Our 3rd of July tradition is pretty sacred to us.

8. Spray sunscreen fail at our family outing, and I now have a sunburned strip on my right boob. I tried to take a tasteful picture of it, but that was pretty much a fail, too. The thankful here is that, thanks to my reconstruction-induced numb boobies, I can't feel a thing. First pain-free sunburn of my life!

9. My dad shot off a flare gun just after we watched a huge fireworks display put on just across the lake from my parents' house, and he didn't hit the boat that was sitting in the middle of the lake. If the police don't come knocking on the door and arrest him, then this will be TWO things of thankful.

10. Last weekend, my friend Zoe at Rewritten wrote about her chickens, many of whom have names. I told her my great aunt Daisy had a pet chicken (back in the early 1900s). Due to an unfortunate raccoon incident, Zoe found herself down four chickens (that means the raccoon ate them). A friend offered her four chicks to replace the ones who became popcorn chicken, and (THIS IS SO FREAKING COOL) she named one of them Daisy Dillon! Let me tell you, my great aunt would have been tickled pink to have a chicken named after her, as I am now. Well, part of the pink is my sunburned boobie, but believe me, I'M TICKLED!

Meet Daisy Dillon. Hopefully,
she won't become a snack wrap
for the raccoons.

Daisy Jefferson with her pet chicken
ca. 1912

In closing, may I say that if the police show up at my parents' door to arrest my dad for shooting that flare that landed less than 10 feet away from a boat, probably causing the occupants of said boat to crap their pants, I WAS RIGHT HERE THE WHOLE TIME, TYPING THIS POST, AND I KNOW NOTHING.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It Started With A Twist Tie

I have this simple (but slightly tedious) recipe for breadsticks that are made with hot dog buns. Sounds dreadful, I know, but they are delicious.

Easy Peasy Breadsticks

1 package of hot dog buns (day old, preferably)

2 sticks of butter or margarine
1 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 225°.

Melt butter or margarine in a pie plate or other shallow dish. Stir in garlic powder.

Cut each hot dog bun lengthwise and separate sections, giving you 4 sticks per bun. Quickly dip the cut sides in the butter, then lay on a large cookie sheet.

Bake for 1-2 hours. Breadsticks should be golden brown and dry to the touch when done. Very dry buns will only take an hour; fresh buns will take two hours. Makes 32 breadsticks.

Note: you will need two cookie sheets for this recipe. Get creative with it; I usually add dried parsley or dried Italian seasoning to the butter. They can also be sprinkled with sesame seeds or grated parmesan cheese before baking.

Not MY breadsticks, but close.
I didn't know at the time that
a picture might be useful.
So, last week, my husband volunteered me to make about 200 of these breadsticks for a work function. He bought the ingredients for me, except instead of going to the day-old bakery outlet for the buns (which is what I do when I make them and which I TOLD him to do), he bought fresh buns. Since he needed me to make them the next day, he opened all of the packages on the dining room table, leaving the bags open to dry out a little (they didn't), the twist ties scattered over the table.

I worked all day the next day making the breadsticks, and I do mean all damn day. I started at 8 a.m. and I didn't get finished until 4 p.m. My husband picked them up and took them to his function, everyone raved about them, and he brought home a few leftovers. End of story. Not really.

Although I cleaned up the kitchen after the breadstick factory closed, I never went back in the dining room and picked up all the twist ties from the hot dog bun packages from where they lay on the table. Two days later, I found Ruby playing with something on the floor, having a grand time. Upon closer examination, I saw that she had a twist tie. I looked at the dining room table, and, funny thing, there were no longer any twist ties there. Hmmm. So much for "Get off the table, Ruby!" 

Ruby had twist ties stashed all over the downstairs. She'd get bored, fish one out from under a piece of furniture, and play and play and play, often picking up a twist tie in her mouth and carrying it to another location. She was particularly fond of playing with one in and around an obstacle, such as around the legs of one of the kitchen stools or under the dining room chairs.
Transporting a twist tie in her mouth.

Playing on a kitchen stool.

Twist tie dropped in the food bowl.

Monday morning, when I walked into the kitchen, I found a twist tie in the water dish. And one on a kitchen stool. And one under the dining room table. The time would come when I would get tired of stepping on them (or fishing them out of the water bowl), and into the trash they would go. But until then, she was having such a stinking good time with them that I didn't have the heart to throw them away.

A few hours later, my daughter and I were hanging out in the kitchen, she sitting on a kitchen stool, me leaning against the sink. Ruby had been playing with a twist tie in the kitchen with us (where I had already pulled it out of the food bowl once). I hadn't even noticed she left the room until she came trotting back in the kitchen, twist tie hanging out of her mouth. She dropped it under the stool where my daughter sat and proceeded to have a rolicking good time with it, flipping it around between the legs of the stool. 

It was really floppy, that wire twist tie.

I looked closer.

"Is that...? Is that...?" I stammered.

"WHAAAAAAT?!" my daughter cried, looking panicky.

"SNAAAAAAAAKE!!!" I shrieked. My daughter screamed and drew up her legs onto the stool.

Ruby continued to roll around on the floor with her super fun toy.

"GO GET YOUR BROTHER!" I shouted. I watched Ruby and the snake in horror as my daughter leaped over both of them and ran up the stairs, returning with the bleary eyed, half-asleep College Boy.

While my daughter watched from the dining room, and I watched from the sink, where I was apparently frozen in place, my son bent over and looked at Ruby's prize.

Twist tie?

Not a twist tie!

"Mom, it's dead. And it's been decapitated. And it looks like it's been dead for a long time. Ruby didn't kill it just now and bring it to you."

He got a paper towel, picked it up, and threw it in the trash can, leaving the room while muttering about being woken up for nothing.

My daughter and I continued to shudder and keen.

Ruby searched for the best toy she'd EVER HAD.

So where did the snake come from? Good question, but my money is on the basement (which is just a basement, a 90 year old basement, and nice enough but not a finished room or anything).  

"Ruby, show Mommy where you found the snake," I cooed, but just like a toddler who has hidden the tv remote, she only looked at me coyly and refused to offer up any secret hiding places.

Is it an overreaction in any way that I want to move to a new house? 

No, no, it is not.