We are animal lovers in this house. Even the more level headed root (Shane) will often times say "no Jessica, we can't do any more animals", but when he gets back home after work to find a basket of kittens, he caves because he loves us and secretly loves critters. As of Friday, we have Bruce the Goose Rickman who is the man of the house. He is a wiener dog with a bow tie and a serious love of kisses. We also have 5 chickens, Whitney, Bobby B, Emmie Lou, Oprah, and Shits McGee. Needless to say, Shits McGee isn't allowed on the front porch due to habits that need not be mentioned. Whitney is my coffee buddy, though she opts for a cup of oats. She shows up every morning at my back door when I'm having my morning coffee to have her oats with me and to seek refuge from Bobby B, who has beaked her so much on top of her head that she is slightly bald but not any less adorable. We recently lost our oldest furry pal, Rubie, to old age, and despite being content with the critters we have, in my mind that meant that I could successfully convince the level headed root that we had room for another pet, but for now, I would lay low and devise a plan to counter any resistance which I felt like would revolve around cost to feed said critter versus cost to feed our own human critters. For a few weeks, I took it easy trying not to over exert myself because let's be honest, there are LOTS of cute little animal videos that show up on the internet and between the oldest root and my mother, it was gonna be a hard task not to run out and purchase a dozen bunnies, a herd of pygmy goats, 2 love birds, a house broken racoon, and a bulldog puppy. I was able to reel myself in on more than a few occasions, but then one day while surfing Hip2Save for coupon deals, I stumbled upon a post about Pets In The Classroom. Pets In The Classroom is an educational grant program that helps teachers purchase and maintain a pet for their classroom. The program was established by the Pet Care Trust to provide children the gift of interacting with a pet which may or may not be something they experience at home. The benefit of having a pet in your classroom is an endless bounty. Beyond teaching children the responsibility of caring for animals, you have the opportunity to teach them about their eating habits, reproduction, and why it is that some animals thrive in hot dry climates, while others need cooler temperatures to thrive. The program is literally a 3 step process 1) Do you qualify, 2) Choose your pet, and 3) Choose your grant. The list of possible pets is really pretty great, it gives you several different things to choose from such as a rabbit, guinea pig, fish, several reptiles and birds, even a Taranchala was listed (That's a hell no from me). I filled out the application, and within a few weeks, I received a letter saying that we had been approved and would soon be receiving our vouchers to take to Petco which was the grant I chose. Needless to say, I was beside myself because I was now about to be armed with the perfect ammunition I needed to take to Shane. What would his tactic be? He couldn't use feeding cost as a downside because not only does the program come with vouchers the animal and its habitat, but it also comes with coupons for food, and every year this is a renewable grant which means that even if you have already been approved for the initial grant to purchase your pet, you can reapply each year to sustain the animal. Bottom line...He's screwed. Unfortunately, Pets in the Classroom is currently not set up to fund pets for homeschoolers YET, but because of the way we have ours set up and the way I do reporting of attendance through a particular umbrella school, they consider me an employee of that school and, as such, a teacher, which to my children, I am certainly that. Within a week of getting our approval letter, I received my vouchers, and now it was time to take it to the husband and see what he would say. The truth was that he didn't say much at all. When I told him that my selected animal was a Bearded Dragon, he seemed sort of surprised but then I could tell that he was a little happy inside that I didn't bring home another random litter of kittens. Yesterday morning, myself, the two littles and my "down for anything" friend Marian piled up in the vehicle and headed North to see if we could seek out the animal of my affection. We get to Petco and there he is, in a tank with 2 other bearded babies. I am immediately drawn to him because he cocked his head at me and he had catfish eyes, you know, the kind of eyes that are farther apart than seems normal, like Brittney Spears type eyes. Anyway, I take my coupons and my new dragon and hit the dusty trail back to root base camp. I think about a name for a while. The middle root is the one that typically names the pets inside the home because he gets so offended if we don't respect his creativity, but for fear that we may end up with another 3 parter name like the late Johnny Sawyer Davidson (may he rest in peace), I was taking on the naming task all on my own. I watched him find his food and bask on his log and splash in the little water pool, and because my brain wheels work in an odd way, I say out loud "Check out the big brain on Brad" (I'll leave out the next line). For those of you who aren't familiar, that is one of the best lines in Pulp Fiction. Then it suddenly hit me. Brad! It's perfect, and because Samuel Jackson also has the catfish eyes, it seemed like destiny. The middle root took to the name immediately because he is a fan of human names for animals. In an instant, we had a new family member and we knew exactly what to call him. All evening we sat in the living room and watched him scamper and play. A couple of times we caught candle flies and put them in there for him to eat and he loved it. The best part is that Shane is completely enthralled himself and as always, is a good sport about our new addition. Thanks to Pets In The Classroom for making classrooms everywhere a little more fun. For my educator friends out there, this is not an application that is first come first serve. If you meet the criteria, you are approved. I encourage you to fill one out during their enrollment period, which ends June 1st, 2018. Here is the link to their page, and if you have any questions, they also have a Facebook page and are very quick to respond.