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.

nicnboys

 

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

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

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.

Sandy

Sandy

BJ

BJ

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.

bobbie

Bobbie

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.

sici03

Sici loving Baby W

sici05

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