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June 25th, 2007

#1 son is going through a practical joking phase, aided and abetted by some guys he met at camp, last year.

This is how, when I was at a writing conference a couple of weeks ago, I was shocked to find that the wallpaper on my new cellphone had been changed to a picture of #1’s buddy, Matt.

For a minute there, I had no idea whose phone I was holding. If it was mine, I was expecting to see a cane toad.

If you are reading this in Australia, I don’t have to explain the cane toad, other than how it happened to be on my phone.

But for everyone else:

The cane toad happens to be one of the world’s top invasive species (!!!!!!!!!) and a lot more interesting to me then the invasion of zebra muscles we have in Lake Michigan. The toads are huge, ugly, poisonous, and hopping all over Australia, eating anything they can get, and generally freeloading their way around Oz.

And they happen to be the subject of one of the world’s great documentaries Cane Toads: An Unnatural History. This show played on New Year’s Eve several years in a row, when my kids were in the baby/toddler stage. At this point in life, I was convinced I was never going to leave the house on New Year’s again, and sat at home, drinking, and watching bad TV.

After a couple of bottles of $3 champagne, the toads and I bonded.

This spring, when I took my Destination Imagination team up to the state competition in Stevens Point, we visited the annual herpetological exhibit (afternoon time waster for tired coaches with packs of hyperactive boys).

And thank you Jesus! They had a cane toad.

Knowing my love for the toads, my sons yelled for me to come see. And I got out my new camera phone, tipped the toad (He had a tip jar. This should give you an idea of how pushy invasive species can be.) And I snapped some pictures.

The herp student behind the toad, you know, there’s a movie.

I said, “I LOVE the movie!”

He said, “All herpetologists love this movie.”

I said, “I’m a romance novelist.” (beat) “Its kind of the same thing.”