Friends After 30

Friends after 30.

Can you read that out loud without feeling a bit faint or sad or disappointed? Probably not. I’ve struggled with the idea of friends after 30 for a few years (4 years and a half, to be specific). I am not sure when it went down hill – maybe after kid #1? Or was it kid #3 that marked the turning point? All I know is that I was FUN. You hear me? I went dancing at the club. I had a drink of choice and my friends knew what it was. And I could have multiple before looking sloppy.

But then life got in the way.

I stopped calling, they stopped calling. “We need to get together soon!” Uh huh. I was busy with life. Kids, husband, school/work. The house doesn’t clean itself, you know? All my friends, they sort of vanished. Sure, they were still around on social media. I saw their families grow, but I felt the pang of distance burning between our friendship. And so…

Friends after 30 become a commodity for which so many of us yearn. But why not just make new friends whose lives fit ours? A soccer mom at the fields, a mom panicking about their kid started high school, or one who is just as worried about her baby starting kindergarten in just a few months. Those are my people now. Yet, I don’t know them.

But here’s a thought: Have you ever watched kids at a playground? They want to ride the merry go round, but they can’t spin themselves. Instead of waiting around for life to fall into place, kids will just ask another kid, “Hey, wanna play?” And there you have it: a friendship is born.

Why not be more like kids?

Well, I tried it, and it worked.

I was on social media, following a silly thread where we had to guess each others’ middle names by only providing the consonants. (Mine was ln, by the way). This led to the most unusual chat: 2 other girls and I started talking about being tired, needing wine/margaritas, snoring husbands, sneaking-into-your-bed-kids, and from the outside looking in, you would have thought we had been friends forever.

What was most interesting was finding that these two random strangers felt the same way. “Y’all need to move to Texas just because I need friends.” So I wondered, how many others out there feel this way? Who feels alone in such a busy world? We are connected, but so disconnected all at once. Who wants to ride the merry go round? Who is willing to take the challenge of making a new friend?

The three of us spent over two hours messaging back and forth about everything. It felt natural and joyful. I felt connected. Could you imagine if we did this on a regular basis? If it was ok to strike up not only a conversation, but a friendship?

Are you ready for that challenge?


Writing a Christmas Letter

Once the dust and store receipts have settled from the Black Friday rush, I turn my attention to Christmas. My home becomes engulfed with age-old decorations whose worth are found in the memories and nowhere else. “One day I will buy all new decorations,” I say, but never follow through. Instead, I melt the wax to seal together a Santa candle that has seen better days.

Then, there’s the Christmas letter. I learned long ago that an outline goes far in putting together a writing project, and though the letter is short and must fit on one page, the outline is often the most tedious bit. I begin by looking back at pictures from the past year, memories of big days (that day I walked away with my Masters degree) and memories of not so big days (that day I took a selfie with a llama).

I make a list of these big and small days for my family, but also for each person individually, too. What big events happened to Baby G? Baby D? Baby W? The Man? Me? I even ask them – what memory do you hold most dear? And that’s exactly what I did yesterday that led to this post. Asking about a memory: Baby G’s memory.

Baby G had several memories: he stepped into the official role of a teenager with the blowing out of 13 candles, he maintained straight A’s for the entirety of his middle school career, and, most memorable to him, he enjoyed the company of our Italian family once again during our extended Euro trip. Specifically, he loved The Hague, home to his Nonna. “Her house overlooks an intersection where pedestrians, cyclists, cars, and trams cross constantly. There are window shops lined one after another. It’s so busy and I loved it”. In truth, we all loved The Hague, in part due to catching a full week of sunny weather brightening the North Sea rather than meeting the typical windy and drizzly condition that badgers the area. But, what we saw was beautiful and Nonna’s view was an amazing show of European life.

“Nonna said you could even go to the university there since it’s in English. It’s an option.” I offered this thought to my young boy because the world of universities and colleges and frat parties and drinking and being away from Mamma is a world that is out of sight. Right? Baby G responded, “It’s definitely an option. I have a couple of years to think about it and see where I stand”. Silly boy, you have more than a couple of years. You have decades, centuries, millennia even. But then his words struck me hard because, he does, in fact, only have a couple of years: three and a half, four at the most, and then he needs to decide where he wants to study, what he wants to study, or if he even wants to leave his Mamma. Surely he will decide to stay here? …Less than four years? I am not prepared!

I can recount what I wrote in my last four Christmas letters. I can recall where we spent the last four Christmas days. These last four years flew by in a blink. How do I stop the next four from doing the same? And, adding fuel to the fire, when Baby G is off to his first year of college – wherever that might be – Baby D is just seconds behind him with one foot out the door.

Parents out there, surely you understand: the panic is real.

So, my outline became fidgety and uncertain. I stopped thinking about the past and tried conjuring a way to slow down the rushing future. I didn’t want to write another Christmas letter marking the end of another year, but instead wanted to publish the headline: “Woman, crazed mother of 3, finds a way to slow time so she can enjoy every.single.second before the world of universities and colleges and frat parties and drinking and being away from Mamma takes hold of her kids.” In my mind, it’s quite the story, but not a solid reality.

So where do I go from here? There are hundreds of articles and blogs about living in the moment, absorbing every ounce of life while you can, and fulfilling corny bucket lists with your kids. I won’t write about those. I won’t even tell the lie that suddenly we will start cozying up by the fire to watch a great family show every night, just after finishing a game of Monopoly during which time no one will have argued about whether you can buy a hotel during the same round or not.

That’s not real.

What’s real, instead, is that for the next four years I will continue rushing to football games and basketball practices. I will continue pushing the importance of flossing your teeth and folding laundry my way. I will eventually meet whatever girl they bring home and pray very, very hard that I like her. I will continue worrying about not doing enough, not being good enough. I will continue being so proud of their successes and stand behind them when they falter.

I will continue writing our Christmas letter, and if you’re reading it in four years, I will let you know what the son of that crazed mother of 3 decided to do.

When Fasting Doesn’t Fit

As any good Catholic knows, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40 day Lent season. As any good Catholic also knows, one should give up a vice (or other) as a form of penitence. Another option, one I find more favorable, is to not give something up, but rather take something new on. And that, my dear friends, is what this good Catholic is going to do.

Step 1: Admit I am not such a good Catholic. Truthfully, I ate both bacon and chicken today – both big no-no’s for a day of fasting. That should be our first clue that, for me, fasting doesn’t fit [see title].

Step 2: Admit there are things in my life that are inadequate or lacking and could benefit from some stimulation.

Step 3: Tell you all about it, you eager reader, you!

This life of no pretty in pink here is too often marked by rushed drives to football or soccer practice, folding a never ending pile of laundry, fixing broken bikes or deflated basketballs. I have watched Cars and Toy Story and Godzilla and World War Z enough times that I could easily come up with a script that combines all four in one movie. I hear that having a Valentine’s Day party is a waste and that crying at commercials is stupid (do not judge – you know you cry too). Amid all this roughness, sometimes I forget that deep down, these boys of mine, are still precious babies. I forget to talk sweetly to them, to hold them close, and tell them how much I love them.

This wonderful blogger I follow wrote:

“With me, you don’t have to be strong. You can cry, scream, and let out your true feelings. My love for you cannot be changed by revealing the feelings going on inside you—no matter how hard they are to say out loud”.

How often do we forget to tell our children – boys and girls alike – that in this fast paced world we live in, it’s ok to lean on someone – their mom or dad or whomever – and let their true feelings come to surface. We run and quickly mask emotions because who has time for them?

I assume my boys know I love them. I mean, all I do is for them – how many of us have heard that line before? I make sure they have everything they need and I go out of my way to make sure that things are pretty darn awesome. I tell them goodnight each night, and goodbye when they get on the bus in the morning. But do they hear me tell them I love them? I don’t think they do.

So, here is my 40 day Lenten challenge: I will be more loving. I will utter kind words: words of praise, of affection. I will hug and kiss more. I will tell my boys I love them every single day, so much that they will look at me like I’m a sappy girl; but also so much that they will have no doubt in their hearts that the love is true.

To take the challenge a step further, I will be loving to everyone I come across. I will emote graciousness, generosity, and overall kindness. Sure, I strive to do so everyday regardless; but this is a conscious effort to be gentle. Thank you’s will be accompanied by a genuine smile, greetings with a warm handshake or hug.

These next 40 days I plan on exhibiting the qualities that I hope to see reflected in my boys. They are qualities of a successful, rich in love, blessed person. And I am blessed.



An Every Day Rant

Do you ever sit down after cleaning house, look around, and think to yourself, “I’ve got it. My life is under control.”

Beware of that.  It’s one of the most dangerous things you can possibly do.

This morning I made that fatal mistake.  With the help of the boys, I cleaned the house.  By 10:00 AM, even dinner was steadily cooking in the crock pot.  I put Baby W down for his nap, finished the last few chapters of my book, and as I closed the back cover, I glanced around thinking “I’ve got it. My life is under control.”

Immediately I recognized the mistake.  It’s an open door, an invitation to chaos and madness; but in the moment of content joy, I tried to convince myself that this time was going to be different.  I was wrong.

Now it’s 1:05 PM.  Let me recount what has happened.

  1. Baby D, in a rush to leave the house to play with his friends said, “Is my lunch ready yet?” I know, that sounds innocent enough, but I heard it as a hot splash of his lunch splattered on my shirt.  I glared at him, slouched on the couch yet ready to dash out the door.  No one volunteered to set the table, or to calm Baby W.
  2. Baby W, wearing fresh underwear since his recent wet (and too short) nap, was dragging his high chair between the kitchen and the living room while yelling, “Mamma! Up!”
  3. Baby G, in his own world playing Destiny on the PS4.  I say this as if I recognized the game.  Truth is I hate video games.  He knows it so he plays them with the sound off in an attempt to ward off my negativity.  He does not, however, refrain from making frustrated comments toward the poor fellow on the TV who apparently was just shot or bombed or devoured by an alien – I have no idea what happens in the game.  There are floating bad guys that shoot lasers or something.  If you ever see PoisonIvy463, that’s me. Only it’s not me, it’s Baby G playing under the disguise of me.
  4. Lunch itself was good.
  5. Baby D ran out the door before I was even half done with my food.
  6. Baby G ran back to his alien world before I was even half done with my food.
  7. Baby W threw his food on the dog’s back.
  8. I threw the dog out the back door.

Break in list.  You must understand that while all this was happening, I didn’t actually disconnect from the virtual world.  I received Facebook notifications, text messages… asking how are you?  -how’s the potty training going? -what’s up?  Want the answers? The real answers?  I’m screaming like mad at kids for not being helpful and then scream even more when I see Baby W’s high chair is soaked.  He is soaked.  So, the answers in order are: losing my mind, God awful, and my blood pressure.

But let’s proceed with the list:

9. Baby W is throwing a potato (currently) at the cat.  Yes, you read correctly, a potato.  He found it when he was trying to squeeze past me in the laundry room as I started another washer full of toddler underwear, blankets, and now a high chair cover.

10. The dog is soaked because in the time it took to start the washer, the skies opened up and it poured.  It poured for no more than 45 seconds, but it was enough for the dog to run like he’d never seen rain before, and get soaked.

11. The food that Baby W threw on the dog’s back (a wrap) is now laying drenched in the grass being eaten by a turtle.

12. I just yelled, “No more snacks!” and now Baby W is racing toward his brother in attack mode because he knows he can’t attack me.  Casualties of war, you see.  Even the cat is trying to hide.

I know, I know.  It isn’t all that bad.  It’s a little unsettling, a little unnerving.  We look at Facebook and believe we see the realities of other people’s lives.  Moms who take the time to make personalized first day of school gifts for teachers, moms who make scrapbooks of their summers spent at the pool with smiling and visibly loving children.  I’m not even going to deny it, I’ve been guilty of plastering social media with images of a perfect house.  And maybe potatoes as toys, dreaded potty training, and kids who can’t seem to clean without being clearly instructed to do so is actually a perfect house.  Or as close to it as you get.  I just wanted to remind you of the chaos behind those pretty smiles.

baby g2 baby wbaby d boys 1

What They Really Think

This evening I read a Facebook chain post that actually caught my attention.  It asked:

“WITHOUT ANY prompting, ask your child these questions and write down EXACTLY what they say. It is a great way to find out what they really think. When you re-post put your Child’s age.”

I decided to give it a try…

Baby D – Age 8

1. What is something mom always says to you?
Stop talking.

2. What makes mom happy?
Me helping around the house

3. What makes mom sad?
Feeling sick

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Lots of things: when I said I like turtles and she said aint nobody got time for dat.

5. What was your mom like as a child?
I don’t know…kind?

6. How old is your mom?

7. How tall is your mom?

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Cook, I think

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?
School stuff

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Research and the other stuff you do at school

11. What is your mom really good at?
Cooking and being a good mom

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Umm, messing up

13. What does your mom do for a job?
about to be a social worker

14.What is your mom’s favorite food?

15.What makes you proud of your mom?
for being nice

16. If your mom were a character, who would she be?
wonder woman or cat woman

17. What do you and your mom do together?
we do stuff outside and in public

18. How are you and your mom the same?
we look the same

19. How are you and your mom different?
she’s a girl and i’m a boy; she has long hair and i don’t; my nose isn’t as big as hers

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
She says I love you

21. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?
Italy, but we don’t go there too often because it costs too much money.

22. How old was your Mom when you were born?
in her 20s?

Baby G – Age 11

1. What is something mom always says to you?

2. What makes mom happy?
I don’t know, being quiet. You don’t smile much for some reason.

3. What makes mom sad?
I don’t know, you never tell me.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
She doesn’t.

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Getting hurt a lot

6. How old is your mom?

7. How tall is your mom?

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
I’m guessing reading.

9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?
I don’t know! Maybe work on school stuff?

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Writing an article.

11. What is your mom really good at?
Being a mom

12. What is your mom not very good at?

13. What does your mom do for a job?
doesn’t have a job. unemployed.

14.What is your mom’s favorite food?

15.What makes you proud of your mom?

16. If your mom were a character, who would she be?
Marge Simpson because she has to do a lot of work and she groans like her when shes frustrated.

17. What do you and your mom do together?
we sit in the same car, we live in the same house, eat the same food at the same table…

18. How are you and your mom the same?
Both smart and better yet, both good looking

19. How are you and your mom different?
She hates electronics

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
She says it.

21. Where is your mom’s favorite place to go?
Golden Coral

But here is the real kicker: I am going to provide my own answers and see how well my kids really know me!

The Woman – Age 31 and strong

1. What is something you always say to the boys?
Stop it, basta, no, quit talking, get over it, dinner’s ready…

2. What makes you happy?
My boys agreeing and playing nice, puppies and kittens, back rubs, foot rubs, head rubs, neck rubs, hand rubs, leg rubs…catching the trend here?

3. What makes you sad?
The kids fighting, bills, ignorance, bills, poverty, hunger, bills…

4. How do you make your boys laugh?
I think I’m pretty funny, thank you very much.  I have some witty jokes. Knock knock…

5. What were you like as a child?
Shy when I was itty bitty, then probably bossy, a control freak, snappy…you know, like me today.

6. How old are you?
Show me yours and I’ll show you mine.

7. How tall are you?
5’3″ on a proud day 😦

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
Laying on the beach, reading, writing, taking long baths, swimming with the kids, hanging with the kids, eating (let’s be honest here), some R rated stuff…

9. What do you do when the boys are not around?
Probably that aforementioned R-rated stuff.  And clean, and read, and write (hence, now).

10. If you become famous, what will it be for?
I hope my kids nailed this one: for achieving something great in my chosen career path, or for writing something so memorable that it keeps being shared for ages!

11. What are you really good at?
Taking charge.  It’s my way or the highway, people.

12. What are you not very good at?
Following.  See question 11.

13. What do you do for a job?
According to the IRS, I am a student; but I am also a chef, chauffeur, cleaning lady, laundry person, babysitter, teacher, deviant R-rated partner (don’t be jelly).

14.What is your favorite food?
What isn’t?  I love most anything pasta, I love vegetables, and meats.Yum. And sushi.  And gyros.  And Italian pizza (the real stuff, not that DiGiorno crap). Oh and BBQ. I love me some good BBQ.  Yea. I love food.

15.What makes you proud of yourself?
My boys. I know, I know – sappy moment. But for real, I am so proud that I have never had to worry about them academically because they have always been at the top; I have never worried about them socially, because who doesn’t love my kids?  They are kind, sweet, beautiful – I mean, I did make them!

16. If you were a character, who would you be?
I am slightly disappointed my Batman-fanatic kids didn’t think of Poison Ivy because I would totally be her, just in a backwards sort of way.  I don’t actually poison anyone, but I do kill any plant that I touch (silent prayer for my big boy tomato plant growing in the backyard…)

17. What do you and your kids do together?
There isn’t much I do without them – they are always around.  A-L-W-A-Y-S. It’s ok, though – they are pretty cool cats.

18. How are you and your kids the same?
Baby G has my drive to be on top – he will always strive to be the best, because, well, that’s the gene I past on to him. He got 99% of his dad.  But that 1% is all me. 

Baby D has my kind heart.  No, no – don’t laugh at the thought of me being kind.  I might actually say the most cruel words you’ve ever heard, but I say them with the kindest intentions.  At the end of the day, though, I will flip backwards to help anyone!  Baby D once said that when he is rich, he will buy us a beautiful, huge house to live in and then he will buy another equally beautiful and large house for the homeless people to live in.  That, folks, is a kind heart. 

Baby W is a little too little to really gauge, but he seems to have my carefree spirit.  Act now, consequences later.  I feel that way about Burger King as he does about leaping off the back of the couch.  Tomat-ow Tomah-to.

19. How are you and your kids different?
Baby G is analytical and precise.  That isn’t genetic, it’s learned; learned from his detail-oriented, borderline panicky step-father. 

Baby D would spend hours glued to his video games if I let him.  It blows my mind because once I force him to disconnect, he is the most sociable and outdoorsy child I know! I do not like video games. I try to feign interest in Pokemon names, or how to run a play on Madden…

Baby W still hasn’t learned to pee in a toilet.  Thankfully, we are very different there!

20. How do you know you’re showing your boys that you love them?
I tell them, of course.  But greater than that, I do as much as I can for them.  Like, everything. 

21. Where is your favorite place to go?
Hawaii. I absolutely love it there. The smell of eternal summer.  Perfect.  But, that being said, I also love Italy, France, Germany (sometimes), the mountains – oh I love and miss the mountains! Lakes, rivers, the beach….

22. How old were you when your boys were born?
Baby G: 20

Baby D: 23

Baby W: 29

I am pretty sure that if I read this list to the boys, they would say, “Oh yeah! I knew that!”.  I wonder how well I could answer these same questions about my own kids.  Maybe it’s time to put the laptop and the books away, and play a game of “get to really know each other”!

Potty Training Like a Pro?

Have you ever seen the Love’s diapers commercial where it shows how a mom treats her first baby with the uttermost concern, but then grabs scraps for her second baby?  A non parent might interpret this as a lesser degree of love or care for a second (or third, or fourth, etc) child; but they would be wrong.  As a parent of three boys, I can tell you that the degree of love and care does not change. [Pause for potty break] What does change, however, is your level of acceptance of what you can and cannot control.

I tried, for example, to keep Baby G (child #1) constantly sanitized.  I had a pack of wipes (generic? absolutely not) in every diaper bag (yes, there was need for multiple diaper bags), in every car, bedroom, and bathroom.  Oh, you spilled some juice on your shirt?  Goodness, no – let’s change you!  Let’s discuss the outcome: I changed his clothes too many times and wiped him too often – and he couldn’t care less.  Baby G enjoyed an all too regular meal of grass, crayons, and play-dough.  He preferred moments of nudity over cute outfits.

When it came time to potty train him, I bought the coolest looking potty chair and even a mini toilet seat for the grown up potty.  I used training pants and a timer set to 15 minutes to keep our potty training on track.  Outcome review: the potty chair became one of his favorite toys, after all, it was really cool looking.  It was never peed or pooed into.  Ever. [Pause for potty break] The mini toilet seat became nothing more than a hazardous donut for the grown ups and the training pants became a burden to my washer.  Worst yet, the timer became a dreaded tool – I wasn’t achieving anything in those 15 minute spurts between often dry potty beaks.  Baby G simply did not care about becoming a big boy when it came to the bathroom realm.  I’ll admit that eventually, I kind of gave up.  I figured I would still be changing diapers when he came home for spring break his sophomore year in college  Whatever, right?  There are worst fates in the world.  Then, one day I realized I was changing dry diapers.  I stopped putting diapers on him, and he started using the toilet.  No potty chair, no training pants, no mini toilet dangerous apparatus.  I didn’t actually do anything.

Since Baby D came so shortly after Baby G – and just seconds before the whole instant self-potty training occurred, I felt very at ease.  In fact, I do not remember using wipes, I kept a diaper bag in the car but never carried it around with us, and when I thought it was time to potty train, I just let it be.  I cannot tell you how old Baby D was when he stopped using diapers.  Maybe 2? Maybe 1?  No idea – he was such a piece of cake baby and I was such a laid back mamma.

So one would think that I would take my lessons learned and use them with Baby W.  He is almost 2, and about 4.5 million diapers later (or so it feels like), I am ready to potty train him.  Or rather,  I forgot what potty training a boy of mine means.  Let’s accredit this situation to the 7 year gap between having Baby D and Baby W.  While there were certain things I was smart enough to remember (a little bit of grass never hurt anyone, and play-dough makes for interesting poops later), other aspects of baby rearing clearly escaped me.  So I purchased a potty chair and a pack of training pants.  If you look in my bathroom now you will find that the potty chair has become the holder for [Pause for potty break] all of Baby W’s bath toys (two dinosaurs, three fish, 4 cars and some character from a Super Mario chess board game, FYI).  After going through the entire pack of training pants in less than one hour, I decided to let Baby W free roam [Pause for potty break].  This morning was an absolute success: he did not have any accidents (unless I find a hidden wet spot somewhere).  Then after lunch we took a dive in the pool.  It was so cold!  When Baby W’s lips took on a slight blue hue, I decided it was time to call it quits.  We came inside and I sat his bare butt in his high chair while I whipped us up a snack.  He was wrapped in a blanket, still warming himself from the too cold pool water.  Then, I thought I heard something: dripping water, a leaky faucet.  Only it wasn’t.  Baby W smiled as he was clearly feeling some warmth under that blanket.  So gross.  Frustrated I began wondering what I am doing wrong, what I need to do differently.

It required a bit of introspection to realize I am not doing anything wrong per say.  Neither is Baby W.  But some things I cannot control – and apparently – neither can he.  I will keep running him to the potty anytime he asks – hence the pause for potty breaks – and I will keep washing blankets, training pants, high chair seat cover, etc until Baby W is ready.  Then again, I might still be changing diapers when he’s home for spring break his sophomore year in college.  It could always be worse…[Pause for potty break]…

Recognizing My Furry Family

Two years of blogging – not as frequently as I should – and I have yet to make a formal post about the furrier members of my family. I have a ton of them too, so it is odd that I haven’t introduced you to them! But behind every post, there’s hidden meaning – and I will get to that shortly.

Starting chronologically, there’s the biggest of the fur-balls – Levi. He was born eight years ago exactly to a German Shepherd mom and a Bordie Collie dad. He was graced with his father’s soft locks, but his mom’s commanding shape. He acquired the discipline of a Buddhist monk – he is obedient, quiet and tame. Levi suffers from separation anxiety and has the worst case of abandonment issues around. Poor boy. The night I brought him home, he fit snugly in my lap for the entire hour long car ride. He was housebroken in less than a week, and besides the one incident where he collected all my dad’s shoes and piled them all together (weirdo), he has never had a destructive bone inside him. That being said, donuts and baby diapers are a delicacy in his mind, so those have to be well hidden (or better yet, trashed). I am proud to say that Levi loves me above all else in the universe. He follows me like a shadow and gives me a pained, saddened look any time I walk out the door, leaving him behind. I always, always, always promise to come back – and I have never let him down. After all he did save me from going insane one time…

Jump back 7 years. We were living in Germany. It was a Sunday evening mid fall/early winter and in the region we lived in, that equated to frigid weather. Levi and Baby D were barely over 1, Baby G was 3. I had gone grocery shopping with a baby and toddler in tow, so the word ‘exhausted’ doesn’t even come close to explaining how I felt. It was getting late and I was cold, tired, cranky, ready to throw my kids out of the car (I would never ever do that, by the way, promise…) I pulled up to my house, walked up to my front door, unlocked the door…only, I didn’t. The lock was jammed. So there I was, on a hilltop in the middle of no where Germany (in retrospect, the location of the house was not so smart) with the weak sun slowly sinking. My two little boys in the car started screaming – one had probably poked the other one – you know – everyday kind of stuff. My car was full of groceries, but no worries, nothing was going to thaw – not as cold as it was! I started to panic. I could call my landlord, but between the language barrier, the screaming kids, and the aggravated tone that would come out of my mouth – I knew that call would be a lost cause. I just sunk to the ground, my back to my front door, face in my hands exasperated. Then I heard something behind me: a sniffle, like someone rubbing their wet nose against the door. I might have even heard a faint bark. Levi! You have to understand, Levi is also an extremely intelligent dog – and I’m not just saying that because he is mine, but I truly mean it! (My dad might beg to differ after the shoe collection incident, but I still believe there was a genuine purpose for that odd event). I felt a glimmer of hope – Levi had been known to open doors. In fact, he got loose a couple times – we even found him and Mac, my dad’s dog, wandering the streets of our little German town causing quite a fuss. So I stood up and in the happiest voice I could muster, I called out his name. “Levi! Levi! Hey baby boy! Who’s going to let Mamma in?” And just like that, I heard it. It was really low, but I heard it: “click!” I slowly pushed at the front door and it creaked open. Staring back at me was the happiest and proudest puppy face I had ever seen. I had never been any happier to see Levi. I was no longer locked out of my own house: I wasn’t going to freeze to death in my own car, in my own driveway with my babies and a car full of groceries. Levi saved us – or at least my sanity.

So, yes – when I walk out the door every day and Levi gives me that “please don’t abandon me” look, I promise him, “I will be back – I won’t be gone long.” Maybe it makes him feel a little better, maybe not.


Levi today

As much as I have begged and pleaded with The Man, he will not agree to let me get a wife for Levi. He insists Levi is just fine, and in truth, he has plenty of company with the other fur-balls. Thing is, when The Man met me, I came with a lot of baggage – kids, dog, and cats… Enter Sandy and BJ.

Four years ago (June to be exact), Baby G and Baby D were vacationing with their daddy. I had all the time to focus on myself – no one to take care of (Levi was temporarily away also). It was fa-bu-lous! Then one day, my former teacher brought two little kittens to school. They were barely four weeks old. Their mother had been mauled by a coyote, and though she survived, she was unable to nurse them. They were the smallest kittens ever – the female fit in the palm of my hand, but the little boy, even my palm was too big for him. His weak little legs couldn’t hold him straight, and when he sneezed, his entire body flipped. It was the saddest – but cutest – thing ever. It took about 2.3 seconds for me to decide they were coming home with me. Obviously. Sandy got her name from the squirrel on Spongebob, but she is nothing like that squirrel. She is regal, proper, and loves sitting on people’s faces, particularly The Man’s. BJ, on the other hand, was named after Baby Jaguar from the cartoon Diego – a staple in our house at the time. Truth be told, however, I did not think BJ would survive. I set up a strict feeding schedule, and with the help of The Man and The Man’s Sister, we rotated around the clock to bottle feed them kitty formula. I bathed them, I helped them take baby kitten steps. The boys were still gone for another two weeks and all I hoped was that BJ would pull through. When the boys made it home, Sandy was so much healthier and bigger. She could run, but not quite jump. BJ, however, still barely walked. I cried so many nights worried that he would not make it. I cried even harder when Baby G claimed BJ as his. He took over all the feedings, the bath times, the strength building exercises. He was committed. And so was BJ. Slowly he put on weight, he grew little kitty muscles, he began eating on his own. And every night he slept right next to Baby G’s head. It didn’t take long after that: the two of them were destroying blinds, shredding toilet paper, knocking over flower vases – and even though it should have infuriated me – I was always simply happy to know that they were healthy and strong because of what we did!

Now, four years later, Sandy lounges on the shed roof during the day, catching warm sun rays. Then, when she is ready to turn in for the night, she peers at me through the glass door. She has her designated spot on the couch, molded to her shape. BJ, on the other hand, hasn’t changed much – you can still find him sleeping on Baby G’s bed, sometimes even under the sheets with his head poking out, laying on the pillow, like a proper little boy. He’s our miracle baby.





Our house is full of miracles, to be honest. Another gleam of hope comes with Bobbie. She is actually older than Levi (oops!), but in my defense, she didn’t become mine until a few years ago. The In-Laws lived in this house when Hurricane Katrina hit. Our neighborhood was destroyed – words cannot even begin to explain the conditions. They were bad enough that our street made the news – a quick glimpse of our roof can even be seen on a commemorative Katrina video. Lives were lost, property was gone, and pets were stranded. One such pet was a beautiful kitten with long, soft fur. The In-Laws discovered her wandering the neighborhood, obviously injured and afraid. Her long tail was severed, but no one could catch her to help her out. For weeks they tried. And finally one day, it was gone. Just the tail. The rest of the kitten was ok. The beautiful kitten now had a stump for a tail. She stopped running as fast when people tried petting her, and she started coming when called for supper. Who ever owned her before was long gone, and she was alone. The In-Laws took her in. Bobbie. When I met her, she hid in corners, wouldn’t stay in the closed garage, especially during storms. She never meowed, she never made a sound, in fact. But I persevered. I kept inching closer to her, and within a few months, she began trusting me. Now Bobbie will come into the house, spend the night even during the cold winter months. During the day she lays on our front porch and begs us to pet her, rubbing her still soft, long fur against our legs. She even braves enough to let Baby W pet her, real quickly though. Our Katrina cat.



And then there was Sici. Sici was our latest addition. In a house full of animals, The Man said – No More! But one day almost two years ago, February 20th, he came home from work with a little black and white kitten. She was immediately the friendliest, sweetest kitten I had ever met. She knew no strangers. She purred so loudly she sounded like a freight train. She refused to sleep anywhere besides between me and The Man – and that freight train sounded really loud when it was only a couple inches from my head! She laid on my belly throughout my pregnancy, eventually rolling off when it grew too big. She grew big in that time too. She never left our house – stayed in our yard and watched her boys get on and off the school bus every day. When Baby W finally arrived, she watched him intently and decided then and there, that he was hers. She played with him so gently, batting at his little hands. When Baby W started crawling, she made him chase her around the living room. He laughed so hard seeing her dart up and down the furniture. Then Baby W started walking and she ran faster, played harder. She slept at the foot of his bed at night, and when he woke up crying, she would watch me as I soothed him back to sleep and I could hear that freight train of a purr. Sici was even one of the first words Baby W spoke. There was never a kitten as sweet as her.

This past Sunday, we lost our Sici in a terrible accident. We found her lying in the street and I cried. I cried for a very long time. I am crying as I write this. I am crying because I realize how precious our furry family truly is. Each and every one of them. My little Sici was abandoned as a kitten, but we gave her a home. In reality though, she made us hers. It’s amazing how in such a short time a pet can become so important in our daily routine. I keep looking at the window expecting to see her black and white face meow back at me, wanting to come in and check on her baby. I have noticed that Sandy, BJ, and Bobbie haven’t left the house much since Sici passed. I wonder if they know – if they understand. If they too mourn. If they too miss her as much as we do.

I don’t think Baby W will remember his Sici when he grows up – but I will always have the memories, the pictures. I will tell him the stories and create a memory for him.

So tonight, tuck your kids in bed, tell your spouse you love them too, but don’t forget your furry family. They contribute so much to our lives – an array of emotions – and when they are gone – it’s too late then to hear that freight train.


Sici loving Baby W


Sweet Sici

On the day Sici came home to us

On the day Sici came home to us

Never a dull moment

Never a dull moment