There is a museum in Massachusetts called Battleship Cove and it has retired Naval ships that you can explore. It's pretty cool and the kids LOVE it although they are insane enough to ask to go there NOW - when it is 0 degrees outside - and they are suprised when we say, "Um, no."
Last summer my husband took the kids one day when I was working in New York. Apparently Battleship Cove was having a very interesting fundraiser where you had to find the "rats" on the ships. The "rats" were actually stuffed animals and after you'd spent the day playing this really fun game you could buy your very own rat in the giftshop. Needless to say they came home with 4.
Now let's be clear. I'm not a silly girly type of person who faints when she sees a bug. Once when I was in college there was a drowned mouse in the sink of the office where I worked and when the female office manager totally freaked I went in and got it and threw it out.
I didn't love it, but I'm not a wuss.
HOWEVER, in the years since that act of heroism I have learned that I don't PREFER rats so I try to avoid them whenever possible. Also, gerbils, hamsters, chipmunks, guinea pigs and anything else remote rodent-like. Oh, ESPECIALLY FLYING RATS, aka bats.
So of course my kids like to taunt me with their stuffed animals. I have a mini-fridge in my office and whenever I open it there is a stuffed mouse, plastic spider or fake bat.
So this morning when my daughter stuck her stuffed rat in my house I was unfazed.
"Mom," she asked, "Why don't you like rats?"
To which I replied, "Um, because they're rats?"
To which she replied, "Well there's a dead rat in a bucket in the basement."
To which I replied, "Another stuffed rat?"
And she said, "No! A real rat."
And I said, "Nuh-uh."
And she said, "Uh-huh."
And I said, "Nuh-uh."
And then three of my kids said, "Uh-huh" and one said, "Shhhh" which was the scariest part because that meant it might be true so I looked at my husband and he said, "Nuh-uh."
And they all said, "Uh-huh." and then they all went downstairs to see the dead rat.
Ok it was a mouse - but it was definitely dead. Apparently it had gotten stuck on a mousetrap and in its thrashing had fallen into a bucket in the utility closet.
When I asked the son who had said, "shhh" why he hadn't told us sooner he said, "Because I didn't want you to make us move."
"How long has it been there?" I asked him.
"About two months." he told me.
At which point I sort of freaked out and said, "IFTHERESEVERANOTHERROTTINGANIMALCARCASSINTHEHOUSEPLEASETELLUS!"