Being on the road ’til the very last minute in recent years has changed my Christmas-shopping habits, and like a lot of people, I started ordering the bulk of gifts we give online. It’s great to have everything at the house when we get there – or, better yet, shipped directly to wherever the receiver of the gift will be.

This year, being home before Christmas with plenty of time to shop has been weird. I’ve got time to go to the mall, but I can’t find it within myself to actually leave my house to attend functions that don’t include people I’m related to by blood or other close affiliation. The thought of braving JCPenney’s during December fills me with great trepidation, and I’m seriously hindered by Target on any given Saturday afternoon, much less the last minute sale push beginning December 18.

The internet has once again come to my rescue, offering me the ability to be wary of only the UPS guy, who gets lost and has to call at least once a year to remember how to get to our house. Apparently, there are left turns involved in getting to the farm that can’t be avoided. (This is a filthy lie and intended for humor only – the FedEx lady has to call, too – it’s hard to find and we like it like that.) You can also find much cooler presents on the interwebs. I’m forever looking for things that don’t involve iPads or machine interaction for my young nieces, and since fireworks and liquor are frowned upon for children under the age of 10, I settled on dinoflagellates for the eight-year-old..

Don’t worry – they’re legal in at least 42 states. And she lives in Texas, so it’s a given – if it’s even remotely dangerous it’s legal.

Possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.

Dinoflagellates are teeny bio-luminescent plankton that light up bright blue when shaken or disturbed, and there’s a company in California that has found a way to suspend and ship them to families all over America – so they can have their own “glowing” pets and have long, involved discussions about how to save the universe so the glowing Sea Monkeys can live forever.

It’s probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen and I’m totally ordering one for myself one day, although the cynic in me can just hear the lawyer ads on television, ten years from now, when they discover gazing lovingly at bio-luminescent plankton for hours on end gives you eye rot and causes deformities of the basal skull in newborns.

“Did you or someone you love get eye rot or funky head formation from watching glowing chunks of fuzz float around in a plastic dinosaur? Call Wartenstein and Foolbaggery – we’ll get you PAID!”

Also – can you imagine having to go through a checkpoint hauling these things?

“What are you hauling, driver?”

“Ummm, let’s see, bill of lading says, ‘dinoflagellates’…”

“Dyno – WHAT? Pull over to the side, sir, your placards aren’t displayed!”

“No, wait – look – it’s plankton! It’s not explosives – it’s glowing sea monkeys!” “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to step out of the truck and give us a urine sample immediately…”

So yeah, I should probably order her a little pair of safety goggles to wear while she’s observing her new pets. I’m also thinking I should have asked her parents before I got her something so oddly specific to feed, but I’m sure they’ll figure it out – how hard can it be to feed plankton?