Saturday, October 28, 2006


I never thought I was going to be a cat person.  I'd always had dogs, but dogs aren't the best apartment dwellers, especially if the owner is never home.

I'd resigned myself to the idea of not having pets until I was an official adult, mortgage and all, when Mr W bought me a cat for my birthday.

He figured, I think, he'd better find me something little to love, or he'd have to marry me and get on the parent bandwagon.

Okay, so maybe he was a little right.

I wasn't sure how our cat and I would get along, but things went well and eventually, I decided we'd need another cat to keep the first cat, EG (El Guapo), company while we were busy at school and work.

Enter Otis, a tiny black cat that I picked out at the Humane Society.

To hear Mr W tell it, it was a not so much "picked out" as it was "stolen from the man who put him down and left the room for a HS staff member."

Isn't possession 9/10ths of the law?  He put the cat down.  I picked him up.  I marched right out of there with him cradled against my chest, and that was that.

Mr W insists the man who was holding him first looked incredulous, then crestfallen, as I waltzed by.  Uhm-hmm.  But he didn't stop me, did he?

Otis was a handful at first.  Unbeknownst to me, or perhaps it was a karmic repayment for the way I "took"  him, Otis had guardia, which he promptly passed on to my other cat.   Oh, goody.   He also wouldn't eat, so I wound up bottle feeding him for a while and getting him up to speed.

Yup, like my first baby, in a way.

Otis grew and grew and eventually, was a quite hefty 17 lbs.  He'd sleep against my pregnant belly, he'd sleep against the back of the sleeping toddlers, he would play fetch like a dog.

I was looking at some pictures the other day, and I was amazed to see him in his prime.

And I was sad when I looked at the cat laying near me at the foot of my bed, thinking 'how can that be the same cat' ?  Thin, bony, and losing fur on his nose, old.

He's had lots of issues as of late, aside from the weight loss, and I knew in my heart that it was time.  I just couldn't ever bring myself to do it, no matter how many gentle nudges my friend Jane gave me, no matter how many times I had to wash something he peed on.  I couldn't do it until I saw him, and really looked at him, earlier this week. 

I made "the appointment" and tried not to think about it.  The day arrived, and I made myself really, really busy. 

So busy that I barely had time to pick him up and make it to the vet.

The vet examined him, as I have been extremely lax and he'd not been in for a long time.  I told her how he'd lost interest in grooming, was sleeping for extended periods of time (for a cat, can you imagine?), and his other issues.  She and I talked, and I told her that I didn't want to do any crazy "let's turn this around" kind of stuff.   There were no guarantees for that anyway, and it had taken me a lot just to get to this point. 

I'd told myself I was going to be tough, that I would be fine, but in the end, I was a crybaby like I always am.  Audrey asked, "Mommy, why are you crying?"  "Your Mommy is sad,"  the vet said, "because Otis is her friend and he's very, very sick..." as she patted my shoulder, I nodded I'd explain to Audrey and she gave me a minute or two. 

At this point, Audrey actually made me laugh, unintentionally.  She's just innocent, she's four, and as her father put it when I told him this story, "It's like she's our own little Bart Simpson."

She said, "Is Otis going to DIE?  Why does Otis have to die ?  Otis is gonna be DEAD."  I had to explain to her what was going on, and we found something out of the room for her to do when the time came. 

It was fast, and it was peaceful for him.  The vet said it would be, as it was an overdose of barbituates.  My cat, the rock star.

Nolan took it pretty hard, that evening, as the cat had taken to jumping up on his bed and sleeping with him.   Just like when Nolan was a toddler.

I find myself looking for him, in his usual spots, and putting things out of his reach...and realizing I don't have to do it anymore. 

Then I'm surprised and a little embarrassed to feel a sense of relief.

Audrey made up for her Bart-ness that night.  I was making dinner, and she started going on again, about how "Mommy, you're pretty..but you'd be prettier if you wore a skirt.  Not pants." 

Not that again.

I was crabby, which considering, wasn't so unusual.  So I was a bit sarcastic, and I said, "Gee, thanks, Audrey.  That's just great, for you to think that all I'm worth is the sum of my parts."  

Yeah.  Like my four year old will get that, I thought.

Then I heard her say, "No, Mommy.  All  your parts are pretty."

OH.  Oh, my.

I think I may have to rewrite my will.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A closed door is not a sign of doom

Hubby was late coming home from work last night, so I had my room aallll to myself.

Until Nolan came and flopped himself over the foot of the bed.

He knows he's blocking my view.  I figure he wants to say something to me, so I don't chastise him for it.

"It's hard being a teenager these days."

He's still got a month and a half or so, but I give it to him anyway.   I can feel him thinking about what to say next.

"We've got school, homework, I have other activities...." he's kinda ticking it off on his fingers as he goes ", and divorce."

"Divorce?  Why are you thinking of divorce?"

I immediately start thinking of mine and Mr W's behavior as of late.  No arguments, real or fake; nothing comes to mind that might have Nolan heading down this path.

With the subtle 'friend-of-a-friend' approach, he continues.
"I know these two boys, and their parents go into their room and shut the door.  They're probably arguing and throwing things at each other and talking about divorce.  They close the door for privacy."   He looks at me pointedly, and I'm not stupid. 

Oh.  I know what he's getting at.  And I'm fighting a giggle, a smile that would incriminate me.

"Just because someone has a closed door doesn't meant they are talking about divorce."

Far from it.

"Yeah, but...."

"Nolan, we're not getting divorced."

It's on the tip of his tongue to ask, he wants to ask, but I'm not giving him an opening.  He has, and Ben has, asked before, "Mom, was your door closed last night?"  This annoys me.  It's the middle of the night, why are they policing my door??

"But still..."

I'm still fighting the giggles, and I know I can't ever, ever say this out loud, but my mind is going anyway.

We're not getting divorced, we're just having sex.  Hot, hot, nasty sex.

The door is closed because you are much to old to believe that Mommy 'fell asleep' with her head in Daddy's lap.

That was not a smack...

He's not really  yelling  my name.

Something came loose on the bed, and we closed the door because we had to fix it.

Nope, I don't think any of those things were necessarily something he should hear.

Finally, I lost my battle with the giggles and started smiling.

Nolan sighed.

"I know you're laughing because you're still watching tv."

"Yeah, honey, that's it."

At some point, I will tell him the truth, or he will discern it on his own.   Initially,  I really thought that he was going to say, "I know you guys close the door because you are having sex."  and I was horrified and preparing myself for a response.

To hear his version was amusing, and I'll talk to his Dad about maybe being a little more demonstrative in regards to me.  Nothing inappropriate, but maybe a little hug and kiss they could see would be enough to make them feel better.

Of course, that could lead to something else. 

A little grope in the hallway, a pinch on the ass on the pantry...

And we're behind a closed door again.

Maybe we'll have to stick to "Hi, honey, how was your day?"

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Now I lay me down to sleep

It seems like lately, I can't keep Audrey in her bed---and out of mine.

She isn't content, you see, to just come in between us and sleep.  Nope.  She's gotta share your pillow.  Right up against your back.  The other morning, when I woke up, she was like the bar in the "H" in our bed.  Luckily for her father, he was already gone, or else he'd probably be missing a kidney.

In addition to that, the bed becomes Audrey's mosh pit.  It's better to have her up against your back than to wake up with a black eye from a flying little elbow.  It's no fun to get slapped into wakefulness, I tell you.

(These nocturnal visits will pass, I know they will.  And pretty soon, the only invasion of pillow space I'll have to deal with will be the cat or my husband.)

What is fun for me is the beginning of the night, when she's going to bed.

She still likes me to hang out for a while with her, and I don't mind.  I crawl up into bed with her, sharing her pillow, and she snuggles in.  The other night, she pulled me close and patted my shoulder soothingly, like she was the Mommy.  But what really turned one evening last week into a giggle fest was when I got right close to her ear and whispered, in the most gravel-ey whisper one could manage:  "Luuuke.  I am your faaather."

Instant giggling.  From both of us.  She's been watching all the Star Wars movies with her brothers over their Fall (ha) Break.  We recently became owners of the talking Darth Vader head, courtesy of one of the other Moms I know.  It's kinda loud, and the Mom said her son never played with it.  Um-hm.  I think she just wanted it out, as in the manner of all loud toys that outstay their welcome. 

So Audrey, in particular, has been enjoying the head, she wears it and runs around all the time, playing Darth.   

"Luke.  I.  AM.  Your faaaadder."  She responded back when she could breathe again.

I then leaned back to her and said, in the same voice, "Auudrey.  I am your mooother."

I was certain we'd wake the other kids, we were giggling so much.

Last night, as I lay next to her, we snuggled in.  I thought, hmm, I'll do it once she gets settled...when she leaned over and whispered to me first:  "Luke.  I. AM.   your faaaaddder."


I tried to focus on that this morning, as I heard nothing but pops and creaks when I got out of bed, careful not to wake her.

She'll come scooting down the hall soon enough.


P.S.  The hair-straightening, okay.  Not as spectacular as when she did it, but presentable enough.  :p

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Holidays and conversation

One should never forget that kids have their own ways of looking at things.

For example, Ryan came up to me last night, wondering if you go to school on holidays.  I wasn't quite sure what he was getting at, so I asked him to repeat himself.  "It depends on what holiday,"  I said. 

He asked, "Halloween?" 

I started laughing.  "Nope, baby, Halloween doesn't count as a no-school holiday." 

His hopes were dashed.  I didn't see that one coming.  I must be losing my touch.

Audrey has become our little conversationalist, moral monitor, and all around talker.  She talks.  Alot.

(Don't know where she gets that from.)

I went to pick her up at school yesterday, and she's chatting me up on the way to the car, something about "super starving" and "Daddy lunch." 

Okay, I admit it.  She talks sooo much, sometimes I tune her out.  I'm not a bad Mommy, I just need to hear myself think.  It keeps me from swerving in traffic.

"I think Daddy's busy, but we can find out for sure."  I called him and handed her the phone.

"Hi, Daddy.  It's me, Audrey.  Do you think that when you are done with the busy, you can meet us for lunch?  I'm super starving!"

I could hear Mr W laughing as she handed me the phone back.

"The busy?"  He starts laughing again. 

He did meet us for lunch.  

I think I'll let her make all my calls from here on out.

I'm sure it would go over well with my boss.

The movie stars make it look so easy

The saga of my hair continues. 
It's still growing out.  It still has days that make me reach for my husband's clippers.  I'm still learning how to deal with it.

Monday I went in for the scheduled-maintenance haircut.  It was so funny to me, as we chatted about where I'm going with this, to realize that I'm getting attached to it.

I finally got my girl, who is very good about making you spill it, and not steering you herself, to give me an opinion.

"I think we should cut off two inches, so the bottom layer and the next shortest layer are closer together."

Ordinarily, I'd be okay with it.   But two inches was suddenly the difference between Lady Godiva and jarhead.  I was tempted, but hemmed and hawed so much you'd have thought I was at a beauty school and it was her first time.

Ridiculous of me, I'm surprised she was able to not slap me silly but instead offering a compromise, one I should of come up with on my own.

"How about one inch, and it'll look a little more polished?"

Perfect.   Hack away.  So off comes one inch, it's all good, I'm in capable hands.

She's awesome, really.  And she always styles it so well I wish she lived right next door.

This time, we decided to blow dry it straight. 

Holy cow.  Is that really me?  "Diva," she teased me.  "Your husband will think he's got a whole new woman." 

"He wishes it were that easy."

I left, totally thrilled, hair as straight and smooth as glass.  I kept shaking my head from side to side.   I'm sure cars passing mine must've thought I was having a seizure or something.

I beat the hubby home, and was outside with Ryan when he drove up.   Before he got out of the car, he points at my head and gives me a thumbs-up. 

"Isn't this cool?"  I asked him.

"It looks nice,"  he said.  "Really good."

"Don't get excited,"  I cautioned him.  "I don't think I can duplicate this on my own."

Why is that?  I mean, I think I'd need an extra set of hands; preferably on another body, to pull it off.   Oh, man, but it was soo cool....

I think I'll try it tomorrow, as I am going in to work.

Hopefully, I won't be arriving in a baseball cap.

That's some wake up call

I was in a green, all kinds of green, forest.   Pine trees all around; it was foggy and I couldn't see very well.   Looking for something, and feeling like I was being watched.

Yet I wasn't afraid. 

(distant ringing)

Where is he?  I know he's here...

Hmmmm.  I roll over and sigh....

(distant ringing brings me to semi-wakefulness, where my mind starts ranting, and I start reaching for my bedside phone...this had better be good)

Unfortunately, the answering machine goes off too, and now I have to get out of bed and go get the other phone so that I can hear whoever it is that is calling.

I look at the clock, blinking, trying to focus.  7:00 am.  Who the hell is calling at 7:00 am, when I don't have to be up....

Oh, my god!  7:00 am!  The kids have school today!  Nolan's ride is coming at 7:30! 

Guess no one is showering this morning. 

I call back the # that is on my phone, as it is Nolan's ride.  His friend asks to speak with him, and I am slapping at covers and shaking my boy as I hand him the phone.  Ha, he wants to be treated like a bigger kid, welcome to the world of instant-wake-up-and-be-coherent.  "Hmmphf,"  he manages to grunt at me, as I hand him the phone.  "It's for you."

I did get quite a bit of pleasure out of that.  Too much.  Heehee.

Somehow, I managed to scramble everybody out of bed, into clothes, throw something down for breakfast, out the door.

Audrey and I went for the morning snuggle.  That turned into, "Mommy!  No sleeping!"

"Hmmphf."  I twist my head into the pillow some more.

"Mommy!"  she pokes at me, playfully.  

I was up late the night before finishing a book, so I decided to get up.  It's not her fault I was plowing through pages at 1:00 am.  

No rest for the wicked....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hopefully, no survelliance camera

I recently had to take Shadow to the vet.  Max had already had his checkup, but I decided to bring him along.  He'd only been there for unpleasantness, and I thought (and was told) that taking him there just for a regular "hi, how are ya?" to the receptionists would help keep him happy to go there.  He's 90-some-odd lbs, so naturally I'd like him to always cooperate when it comes to a vet visit.   It beats claw marks in the asphalt.

Besides, he's a big baby and cries if I take Shadow but not him.  The boys were all in school, Mr W was at work, so I didn't much relish the idea of Max being alone, howling and disturbing neighbors.   And Shadow is a little skittish; I figured having Max along would reassure her. 

I got them leashed up, and off we went.  Audrey thought it was fantastic to have both of them along.  

I'm thinking, as I made the five minute drive, 'this is not so bad.'  I forgot Rule of Life, #248, section B:  Pets, like children, are unpredictable.  Equalizers.  Stealers of dignity.

Because, believe me, there is no way to look dignified as you run after two dogs, a leash flapping, four year old on your heels, shouting like a maniac.

As soon as I shut the door to the van, Shadow did this minor head shake that got her out of her collar.  She took off, after all the amazing animal smells in the parking lot.

Max, being very puppy still, started to chase her.

Me, being an idiot, dropped Max's leash.

I probably would've spun in circles, in a classic 'what do I do, what do I do' Lucy-mode, had not my four year old given chase too.

I'm calling out to the dogs, and it's like they've forgotten their names.  I'm a little freaked out, as a major roadway is at the end of the drive, and really don't want to explain "splat goes the puppy" to Audrey. 

Luckily, a horse at the horse-vet next door neighed, whinnied, made some noise.  Shadow stopped for a second and I stepped on Max's leash just as Audrey slammed into me from behind.

I crouched, and held out my arms to the sides, and called Shadow.  Surprisingly, I was able to pull it off, using a voice that belied the fact that I wanted to save her from traffic so I could throttle her myself.  She wasn't fooled, and was getting ready to go again, when I heard another voice.

One of the receptionists had viewed my little parking-lot-tableau through the window and had come out to lend me a hand.

I wanted to hug her, but I was in a position I've not been in since my naked Twister days, and getting up quickly, gracefully, was not an option.

She got Max's leash and I managed to get my hands around Shadow's neck.  It was a briefly satisfying moment before I put her collar back on and we went straight inside.  (I adjusted her collar once we were in a room waiting on the doc.)

Why does this come to mind today?

I'm taking Max to PetsMart this afternoon to be groomed.   

Leash?  Check.

Four year old?  Check.

Sanity?  Questionable.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Making some space

Mr W not-so-delicately hinted that I need to conduct a thinning of the herd.  Not children, but closet space.

I hate it when he's right.  And although I really wanted only to sit on my bed and lounge with the kids, watching movies, I forced myself to at least deal with the more pressing mess in Audrey and Ryan's room.

You know how they say, "be careful what you wish for"?  I always wanted a house full of kids, and books.  A dog or two, and lots of love for everyone.  Boy, did I get it.   :)

I have all the kids books, bulging at the seams in their rooms, and as I considered Mr W's request, I forced myself to realize that the itty bitty-themed books probably should go.

I steeled myself for the mission, heart of stone, I told myself...I'd talked to Jane about taking some to the preschool with her, and was wondering what to do with some of the others when I thought of a coworker with a toddler who also loves books.

I want them to go to a good home, you know?

So I had two piles going, along with a trash one; I was really making progress and then I saw Bean.

I used to read the books about a little black cat named Bean to the boys all the time.  They're little board books, and the cat is adorable.  I paused.  Okay.  Bean stays, if only to be put away in my baby keepsake box later. 

Audrey was looking over my shoulder, conducting a mental inventory to hold me accountable to later, and making it harder for me as she pronounced each one her "favorite" and "give it to me."  Isn't that what always happens?

I reached for the next book, and I stopped dead in my tracks.

I picked it up, this $1.00 board book about Halloween.   With tears in my eyes, I gently stroked the spine, the white fray on it, little dents around it...the perfect half-moon of a little teething mouth apparent and well-preserved.  It doesn't matter who the teething mouth belonged too (I suspect Ryan) I still needed a moment to recompose myself.

Oh.  I don't have a heart of stone.

When Mr W came home, I showed him the book.  "You insensitive ...."  I teased him, pointing to the spine.  "Do you know what this is?"  He thought for a minute, and said, "Teethmarks?  Who did that?"  he looked accusingly over at Nolan.

"Dude, look at the teethmarks.  We don't have a child with a bite radius like this anymore.  It's an oldie."  "It made her cry,"  Nolan piped up as I shot him a look.

"It's probably Ryan's,"  I added.  Mr W, ever careful with my crazed maternal emotions, said, "You have his teethmarks on the window ledges in the dining room" (true) "and front windows, if you really need to see them..."  (spackle just couldn't conceal the spots completely)

I smacked him on the shoulder and stalked off, book in hand.  I'll put it with Bean, for now.

In the great green room.....

Have glue gun, will travel

Audrey is loving her new ponytail-wearing style.  I am getting better at making the part, or just letting it be what it is.   Hey, we're all a little asymmetrical, right?

My new dilemma centered around her bows.  She likes them, but like with most girlie things, there are strings attached.  They can be expensive--$8 bucks for two at the local kiddie hair place (One online site sells them for 10 bucks a pair!  Without shipping!)--and they are illogically sold.   In the regular department stores, you might find a deal, where there are two bows, but chances are, they are not matching colors.   Who wants the perfect pink and fluorescent lime green?

Bows get lost, up there with socks in their ability to be missing from the pair the morning you need them--only to turn up that afternoon in the bottom of her (or your) purse.   They fall apart from everyday use and the loving touch of little hands.

I realized I was bordering on having a bow-sickness when I bought her a really pretty blue set of bows, with the intent of getting her an ensemble that matched around them.  Who amongst the ladies hasn't done the same thing with a pair of shoes?  

After some encouragement/brainstorming with a coworker who insisted "These things CAN'T be that  hard to make,"  I bit the bullet, bought some ribbon and a new glue gun and went to work.   Besides, I thought to myself, if that chick on Project Runway can make those little fabric rosettes, surely I can manage a bow.

That first night as I measured, clipped, and sewed, I was overjoyed.  It's not that hard!  I did sacrifice my fingers to the needle and glue gun a couple of times, but I managed.

It's crazy how a simple thing like that is probably going to become an obsession for me, and one more idiosyncracy added to my list of things-I-do-that-make-my-husband-wonder. 

The possibilities are endless.  Skull-and-crossbones grosgrain, anyone?

I have to get this off my chest

Last week, one of our other local police departments lost an officer.  He was on his way home from work, on his motorcycle, he hit some construction supplies on the freeway and was killed.

He shared a kinship with our department in that he was one of the first officers on the scene when Rob was hit in April, and stayed with him, holding his hand, while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.  It was a strange coincidence that his accident happened in the vicinity of Rob's. 

I felt quite sad to hear about such a tragic event.  I've struggled with the irony of the situation; and my heart smarts at a wound that threatens to reopen. 

But that is not the thing that is truly bugging me.  No, the thing that is truly bugging me is the fact that people have a hard time vocalizing their thoughts about tragic things; sad, unpleasant things like death, and the stuff that fills in and is meant to be comforting...can irritate, for want of a better word.

People want to know if you knew the deceased, and as you answer how closely you did or didn't know them, you can see them measuring the weight of their consequent response.

Then it's the "married?  kids?"  question.  And here is where I have to take a deep, deep breath.  People mean well.  They just short-circuit in the face of grief.

There is an audible sigh of relief when you say "not married."  And a half-shrug, half-grimace, "well, at least he didn't have any kids left behind."

Honestly, I wonder about how anyone can say that.

If someone is taken unexpectedly, horrificly, quickly, from this earth, whether or not they are married or have children is important, I'll admit, but I think that putting the entire value of one's life on that detail isn't fair.

I caught myself nearly snapping my answer last week, responding to someone with the "no kids" comment, "Well, that doesn't make it any easier for his parents."

You cannot tell  me that a parent would half-shrug, half-grimace, and write it off as an "ah, well, these things happen, at least there isn't a wife and kids" should they be told of their child's untimely death.

And if there was a wife, but no kids, you will never convince me that she feels any sense of relief at all for her situation.  Because I know a widow who misses her husband every second of every day.

I did not know the officer who was killed recently, but from all accounts, be they in the media or from people who knew him, he was an exceptional young man.  A friend of mine who did know him said "He was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet.  My brother used to get in a lot of trouble when he was younger;  this guy was the only person who stuck by him during that time."  (As for our Rob, exceptional is only one of many superlatives we could use to describe him.)

Exceptional people touch more lives than those of their immediate family and loved ones.  They tend to touch the lives of everyone they come into contact with; in both positive and negative ways. 

It might be a minor interaction, or it might be a years-long friendship.  But their mark, it's indelible.  It's an imprint on your heart that you always carry with you. 

And when they are gone, taken from you unexpectedly, it's gonna hurt.   Which is why a statement like "well, at least there was no wife or kids left behind" bothers me.

There's a lot of people left behind, who will carry the memory of this person with them forever. 

I'm so sorry for their loss.