Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Oh, Rats!

This blog is dedicated to Katie B. Now...GET OFF MY ASS! Just kidding, friend. Thanks for reading. I'll blog more often, I promise. Miss you! :)

Jacy and I have officially been in Oklahoma for four months now and I've officially been away from Nebraska for almost a year. Who'd of thunk I'd make a grand tour of the Bible Belt in less than 12 months? I shall note here that I am still a registered Democrat; however, I do enjoy the hundreds of pro-life signs on my drives back to Nebraska. (Mainly, I just use them to pass boredom. I like to count them like I used to count windmills when I was younger.) I am also looking into joining the NRA. Guns, guns, for everyone!

Jacy and I are definitely not the same two girls who left the Cornhusker state. We're much more mature. Case in point: Jacy has unofficially changed her name to "Jae," which is her professional hairstylist name. And I now go by Jes (with one "s") because I was getting sick of having gender identity issues caused by the spelling of "Jess." Rest assured, faithful readers, we will NOT be changing our website to jesandjae.blogspot.com. It doesn't flow off the tongue quite as well. And I'd rather not drop our blog's readership from two people a day down to one person a day....

In our quest to become more mature, Jae and I decided that this was a great time to take on the responsibility of a pet. Our apartment complex doesn't allow pets, so I told Jacy "Oh, hell naw" when she asked if we could get dogs, cats, pigs, mini giraffes, penguins, etc. But, for some reason or another, I really liked her idea of getting rats. I once heard they were loving, affectionate creatures. Plus, they were much easier to clean up after than boyfriends. AND if our landlord caught us with the rats, we could essentially turn the situation around and blame her. "Well, our apartment had a rat infestation, so we felt the only way to control it was to take them in as pets." If she didn't believe us and eviction was threatened, we could just take the easy way out and give them to our friends with snakes.... (gah-ross).

Everyone, meet Blanche.....

And Harriet....

Jacy and I are really great about naming our pets racially-obvious names. When we were younger, Jacy had a white rabbit named Ivory and I had a black rabbit named Ebony. When Jacy got a Chihuahua, we didn't have a hard time picking out the name "Cholo." (Thank you, Down aka Kilo for one of the best songs ever written, "Lean Like A Cholo.") Times still haven't changed. I named my white rat "Blanche" after everyone's favorite Southern belle, Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls (Caucausian slut). And Jacy named her black rat "Harriet" after Harriet Tubman (African-American abolitionist). Jacy is really into history. I'm really into 1980s sitcoms. We felt like these were very strong and very appropriate Southern names.

Choosing Harriet and Blanche was no easy task. We went to Petco to find them. There were three cages containing rats. The cages didn't indicate what breed of rat was inside, rather they were just labeled "small," "medium," and "large." We thought the labels had something to do with how big the rats were going to get. Come to find out, they were labeled based on the size of the snake that would be eating them. Small rats were for small snakes, large rats were for large snakes. I absolutely despise snakes. I typically go out of my way to kill snakes with lawn mowers, ice picks, machetes, etc. I immediately wanted to save all of the rats. (Kind of like the time I wanted to rescue all of the puppies from puppy mills after taking that stinkin' animal welfare class in college...)

Unfortunately, because we really aren't supposed to have pets at all inside of our apartment, Jae and I could only take home two rats. Jae wanted a "large" one. I didn't. They were far too creepy for me. You've seen "Willard," right? The idea of our rats eating our faces off was unsettling. I had to ease into the rodent thing. So, I convinced her to get a "medium" one and I got the lonely "small" one. (Getting smaller ones really hasn't lessened my fear. Everytime I hear the dang rats stirring during the night, I'm convinced they're bee-lining for my bedroom to begin chomping on my fingers off while I sleep.)

Jae tried to warn me that I should get one of the medium rats because rats were much more social when they were living with other rats, but I was willing to take on the challenge of Blanche. She was so tiny and white and perfect and LONELY. Not to mention, she was inevitably the next rat up for a small snake date. There was no other option. I HAD to take her home with me.

I should have listened to Jacy. Blanche is scared of everything. Oh, yeah, and she has a major problem. She can't control her freaking bowels. I have never been shit on more in my life...and I'm a middle child! (woe is me, woe is me.) Naturally, Jacy's rat is awesome. She perches on her shoulder and cuddles and doesn't poop on Jacy's clothing/floor/hands/carpet. Go figure. Jacy's good at everything, even raising rats (insert more middle child whining here).

If anyone has any great rat-raising tips, I'd love to hear them. I just want to know how to teach my rat to not poop. I'm reallllyyyy far behind on the rat training thing. Jacy's already working on sit, shake, and bang. Also, if you make rat clothing, please let me know. Or little wooden rat spatulas.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I Heart My Mama

I told my friend, Katie, I would dedicate my next blog to her. Sorry, Katie, but I'm a big, fat liar. I promise you'll get the next one, dear! Instead, I'm dedicating this blog to my amazing mother.

Mother's Day is just around the corner and my hometown's local radio station offered a Mother's Day contest this week. There are so many wonderful moms in our little community, so I didn't know if my mama would be able to pull off the victory. (Well, in my heart of hearts I knew she would because she is just that awesome!) In order to nominate her, I had to write a short essay on why she's the "best, most deserving mom of all." I knew instantly what I would write. I thought I'd post it on zee ol' blog for all to enjoy. I only wish my words could give her more justice.

When I think of my mother, Jan Schwager, three words automatically come to mind: courage, strength and love.

My mother’s courage began in 1972, when she moved to Chambers to begin her career as a school teacher. My mom grew up in Elkhorn, so moving to Chambers seemed completely irrational to her friends and family back in Southeast Nebraska. After a couple of miserable years of living in a one-bedroom trailer in Chambers (not that Chambers isn’t the greatest place in the world!), my mom met a smooth-talkin’ country boy, who swept her off of her feet – my father, Gene.

My parents got married in 1975 and had their first daughter, Gina, in 1977. In 1979, my parents had a son, Jeff, and my mom took off work to raise her family. However, my parents were struck with terrible tragedy in their newlywed stage. In 1983, my mother’s father died of a heart attack at a very young age. Then, just a year later, my parents lost their only son in a tragic snowmobile accident.

The death of a child often tears families apart, but my mother’s strength and courage held my family together through even the darkest times. My mother went back to work, helped provide for her family, and put a smile on her face despite the pain. After all, she had a young daughter and a grieving husband to take care of.

Just three short years after my brother’s death, my parents had two more daughters – me and my sister, Jacy. Despite having two young daughters, my mom never lost sight of her career goals and decided to take classes the University of Nebraska at Kearney to complete her Master’s degree. Upon completion, my mom became the guidance counselor at Chambers.

My mom wears many hats at Chambers – English teacher, geography teacher, guidance counselor. She even teaches college-credit classes through Northeast Community College at 7 a.m. every other day. Oh – not to mention – she is one of the school’s administrators. But her passion for teaching has never, EVER prevented her from being a tremendous mother. Even after a long day at work, my mom would have time to cook supper, clean the house and help my sister and me with our homework. Somehow she even attended every single athletic event my sisters and I participated in – and those bleachers aren’t comfortable!

Even though I’ve been far away from home for nearly six years, my mom’s love has never wavered. I always look forward to my daily chat with her. She understands my busy lifestyle, so she even learned how to text, Facebook, Skype and Twitter to keep our family connected at all times.

There is so much more I wish I could say about my mother. And, there is so much more I wish I could give back to my mother for all of the courage, strength and love she has provided to my family. I hope by winning KBRX’s Mother’s Day gift basket, my mother would finally see how amazing she is. I only hope to someday be half the mother my mother has been.

Thank you, Mama Schwag, for always being my light, guidance, and friend. And, perhaps, for giving me one of my greatest gifts --- my words. Happy Mother's Day, Mama Schwag! I love you!