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I just bought Ron a new digital camera to replace the one that went missing over Thanksgiving weekend. Now, he can take it on his bass boat and photograph all those enormous fish he catches and then releases.

Lost items have become all too common since we moved into this house in August 2006.

Shortly after our move, “someone” lost the USB cable to the old camera, rendering it temporarily useless as a means of showing off my husband’s latest catch. After too many hours spent looking for the lost cord, I solved the problem by getting a memory card for his camera.

Now, my brain needs a memory card to tell it where all the things are that have been misplaced since then!

I took the blame for losing the USB cable, and everything else that is now unaccounted for in our home, because I’m the person who picks up after the rest of the family.

It is a constant battle to control the amount of toys, magazines and other junk that is strewn around our living room.

Sometimes, I don’t know what belongs to whom or even what it is that I have just picked up. That’s when I toss things in the trash or put them out of the way somewhere … and forget about them.

An item becomes officially lost only when Ron or one of the boys suddenly misses it and asks me where it went. At least 80 percent of the time, I can put my finger on whatever they need, or I will remember tossing it into the trash.

It’s the other 20 percent that gets me into trouble. That’s when I either cannot remember seeing the item or am unable to recall where I put it.

How long I spend looking for something depends on how replaceable it is. Ronnie’s favorite stuffed animal and sleep mate, Tracker, is one of a kind. No one gets any sleep under this roof until Tracker and Ronnie have settled down for the night.

The last time I went all out to find a lost Zich item was in June, when Jimmy accused Ronnie of hiding his wallet. The search motivated me to do some late spring cleaning but produced no wallet.

It’s probably hiding somewhere next to that USB cable.

Christmas brings out the worst in me as far as losing things are concerned. Even though I hid the boys’ gifts in only one place this year, I have still managed to lose one.

I know those Astrojax Jimmy wanted are tucked away under something, but I have no idea what. I do remember they came in a flat package that was easy to hide; perhaps too easy.

The most recent thing lost in our house is pretty disgusting to write about … but I will.

In last week’s column, I introduced readers to our newest pet, a baby corn snake named Caramel. I described Caramel as a low-maintenance pet who eats only every couple of days.

What I kept to myself was a description of Caramel’s food because it’s kind of gross to admit that nestled in our freezer beneath a frostbitten egg roll are three packs of gourmet rodents. Also known as “pinkies,” they are little baby mice without fur.

The second time Tommy was preparing to feed Caramel, he suddenly announced the “snake food” was missing from the freezer. First Tommy and then I took everything out of the freezer and fridge, but there were no “pinkies” to be found.

With darkness approaching and pet stores preparing to close, we headed out to buy more. “How could we lose five frozen mice?” I asked myself over and over.

Glory wouldn’t even go close to a thawed-out mess of mice!

Ever the optimist, I cling to the idea that maybe the first batch was accidentally tossed into the trash. It’s the only answer that provides me with the peace of mind that comes with assuming the little buggers made it out of the house.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has moved eight times in 17 years of marriage to her Marine Corps husband. They have been stationed in various locations, including Okinawa, California, Texas and their current home in Springfield, Va. E-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or find the Zichs online at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.


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