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

What I did not sign up for

“Baby G, you are pushing my buttons today!!!”

“Really?” [Talking to Baby D] “Did you know Mamma had buttons?!”

Day 3 of Summer Break and they are already driving me insane.  Now sure, partial blame should be placed on Baby W who is less than a month away from gracing the world with his presence (don’t worry – the constant jabs and karate chops never let me forget he’s a growing boy).  However, a great blame can be placed on his two older brothers who insist on fighting over who’s turn it is to play Minecraft (what a senseless game!) and why in response to my pleas, it is truly impossible to play together.  Or why, mathematically speaking, Baby D got at LEAST 2mm more juice in his cup and that’s totally not fair!

But it’s ok – I can handle all of this.  I knew it was coming when the ultrasound showed me that extra body part (arggg why never a girl?!).  So I prepped for the summer:  had a large pool installed, searched the crevices of Pinterest for summer activities and ideas, signed them up for summer camps (mostly vacation Bible schools – who knows, maybe instilling some God in them will calm them down!!)

Some things, however, I did not sign up for.

This morning I dared entering their room – always a dangerous feat because you never know what you will find – living or not.  Today I found 2.5 living creatures in there:  BJ, the cat: alive and napping on the top bunk.  Though he isn’t really allowed in the house, I pick my battles wisely and this one just isn’t worth the fight.  Next, I find Zane, the turtle.  Just last week I realized his green little shell was turning slightly pale so I moved the poor guy into sunlight and he seemed very appreciative of the action.  He only hid his limbs in his little shell, but left his head peaking out as if thanking me in some weird turtle manner.  Today, also, he was just fine.  Lastly I spot the largest tank in the room, home to Dino, the newt (or salamander? No one is really sure what he is, honestly – the man at the mall swore he was a baby dinosaur, hence his name…)  I saw the tank, I saw the rocks Dino usually creeps out of when I come around, but what I did not see was Dino.

OH LORD! HE GOT OUT!  The thought of that slimy dinosaur lurking in my house sent chills down my spine!  “Man up, Woman!”, I tell myself.  I took a deep breath and dove straight into action.  I lifted the entire tank: water, rocks, and possible Dino and all.  The whole thing weighed a good 50 pounds (ok, I am probably exaggerating, but as always Baby W had to kick and that did not facilitate the move).  I took the tank to the bathroom, got some disposable plastic gloves (I have learned at least this: when living in a house full of boys and random animals, ALWAYS have disposable plastic gloves – you never know what grossness you have to collect), and slowly prepared for a tank clean-up.  First, I removed the rocks:  under rock one there was nothing but goo.  Under rock two, I discovered a slithering, slimy, and suddenly really skinny Dino.  Alive. So gross, but poor little guy, he did not look so happy.  Usually when he sees me he opens his gross little mouth all wide so I will drop a couple of his little dinosaur kernels into his tank.  But today he did not look too interested in lunch time.

Long story short, let me just draw you a picture:  I am 8 months pregnant, in my pajamas, singing lullabies to a newt/salamander/thing in my bathroom.  The boys come in to check on me and just watch in amazement as I show such love and compassion for an amphibian that as far as they knew, I thought was a repulsive, slimy creature.   But let’s be honest:  when we see another life living in distress, we, as mothers, step it up.

I cleaned his tank, placed him back in his home and then fed him (mouth wide open, this time).  He is a much happier Dino now.  Zane just looked at me from his again green shell, and BJ sneaked into my room – I do, after all, have the softest comforter in the house.

And would you listen to that?? -No yelling.  No fighting.  One of the boys, or both, must have fallen asleep.  Ah, no, there was a crashing sound now.  It’s all good in the world again…