Sunday, July 27, 2014


Sometimes I don't know where to turn.

The usuals aren't working:  the silence, knockoff Oreos, sideburns of sun on the too-tall grass in our backyard, or the third glass of wine.  Nothing, none of it's working right now.

So I turn inward and starve myself from connection, figuring nobody can touch what they can't see.  Then, in a mean twist of chemistry and human condition, I turn it outward and clean the crumbs from underneath the plate of a child who is still eating.  Nothing, none of it's working right now.

I don't go for the spiral, the deep dive down in to the well where things are just plain pitiful.  Mostly because that is selfish crap.  We all have this sometimes.  Nobody is saved from their lives.

But it's there.  The desire to be saved.  To be taken by the wrist, shown the way down the dark hall, sat down in a place I don't recognize, and held strong by someone - anyone- who means it.

I'm no more tired than you.  Not in the physical, more something else to do with your worn out soul-ical.  Your fatigue from life and mine are the same.  And utterly different, all the time.  Because it's work.  We all have it.  We wake up, nobody but us steers the day.  We look at the clock to see how much longer we have, as if a certain whistle gets blown at a certain hour.  We fix dinner we won't ourselves eat, we make more dishes like an evil boomerang.  I swear I just washed this knife.  We hide in our bathroom from more innocent chatter about impossible treehouses and Spongebob.  We are found by all sets of eyes, human, canine, and now feline.  We can't hide from life.  Life finds you and has you clock the hell back in.

Because there is no clocking out.

I never knew that.  I should've, but I didn't.  I figured there were diapers, formula, bouncy seats, playdates, wine, and then YAY school!  Oh, dear HayZeus, how naive of me to think there was a space between.  The only spaces I've found in between is laundry.  The beautiful puzzle of laundry that allows me to pine for sister wives, churning butter, and sharing a man who will only annoy the sh*t out of me once a month.

It's going to be fine because fine is what I'm after.  No epic knowledge of home making.  No epiphanies about child rearing or "finding myself in the mundane."  If I haven't found myself by now, there may not be real reason to keep looking.  I've been here all along, cursing, singing, writing, saving dogs.  It takes more than gray hair and eyebags to suffocate that girl who refuses to go out without a fight.

Manifest.  I keep saying this word to myself:  manifest.  Manifest the will to keep pushing through the muck and the sludge in the miracle likelihood there is someone at the end of this to hug me tightly.  To show me that love and willpower are, in fact, always met with the reward of a brighter day.

And by brighter, I totally mean overcast with over a 60% chance of rain.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I'm not sure when it started but we now have a nightly tradition.  At bedtime, after I peck their foreheads and mush their cheeks for another kiss, they ask the same question:

Grayson:  Mom, will you pray with me?
Abby:  Mommy, will you PRAY, not P-L-A-Y with me?  There was some confusion one night with Abby's request, leading to my delivery of a dissertation on effects of sleep deprivation.  She is seeing to it that never happens again.

For Grayson, now 7, we fold our own hands neatly, close our eyes, and chat with God silently for a few minutes.  Our main focus here is to ask God to fill our minds with specific lovely things while we dream.  But there's a catch.  He insists we pray for each other and not ourselves.  I find this fascinating.  Either my boy doesn't trust me to cover myself in the right words or he has certain requests he's sure I'll omit.

Abby's another story.  She likes her prayers out loud, up close, and centered around her only.  Our prayer is conjoined, outspoken, and sparkly.  Just like our relationship.

Dear God, thank you for these blessings we recognize and fail to recognize daily.  Please allow Abby to dream of rainbows, fairy wings, cotton candy, Pandora kitty, kissing Sparrow and NOT ______________.  There is always a fill-in-the-blank word she chooses with fervor like NOT SHARKS or NOT WOLVES or NOT GREEN BEANS.  My favorite is "NOT SECRETS because I cannot keep a secret."

The other night I was in a hurry and ready to collapse into a pile of laundry I'd held at bay all day long. Grayson sensed my rejection but held fast to our ritual just the same.  My prayer for him was officious, abrupt, and over well before his prayer for me.  This gave me a few seconds to watch his small face emote all the requests being made on my behalf.

A slightly raised eyebrow.
A tiny frown lasting milliseconds.
Eyes squeezed together and pensive.
And finally, peace.

"What was that all about?"  I had to ask.
"You'll see,"  he responded, tickled with himself.

That night I had a visit from Jimmy in my dreams.  It wasn't anything spiritual, heavenly, or even magical.  It was a favorite uncle hanging with his niece, talking over mundane things like wallpaper.  His voice was pure Jimmy- rich, mellow, and normal.

It was an answered prayer from a little boy who has every reason to be tickled with himself.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Vacations Aren't For the Weak of Heart

It's been too long.  I'm jumbled up and inside-out for not being able to write in the last few weeks.  Feels like my brain needs a good dusting off.  Many layers need sorting.

I'm a few real life errands away from doing work worthy of reading so in the meantime, let's just wipe around the lamps and magazines-

  • We just returned from a few days vacation on the east coast.  
  • I combined visiting with family with a vacation.  It was eleven days of pinging all over in planes, rental cars, and boardwalks in effort to do it all.  I should know by now that for me Doing It All means immediate inner turmoil and a mini-meltdown on a lounge chair.  
  • We surprised the kids with a visit from their old besties from Virginia.  Their reactions were low-key and conversations picked up right where they left off while Tanya and I wiped away unnecessary mom tears. Kids and their impervious hearts.
  • If we vacation together, never invite me to the beach..  I will spend our entire trip disappointing you that I don't want to actually go to the beach.  Or go anywhere or do anything.  Unless you desperately want to listen to the seagulls while sipping hot tea on the porch.  In that case, let's.  I will pack two mugs.
  • The boardwalk is prime real estate for feeling awesome about yourself.  Anything goes.  And sometimes some of it has yet remains scantily clad.  Rock on, rounding curves and aging muscles.  You too deserve the light. 
  • My mom's house is now a time machine that makes me walk around daydreaming about my little brother's elementary school years (he's 22 now).  Standing in his closet remembering the days he wore funny T-shirts, teenage-slouched in his oversized hoodies, and turned pink when he laughed.
  • My own children seem older and more present in my mom's house.  Gone are the days I hover or refill sippy cups.  My favorite thing in the world now is to watch Mom listen to Abby.  Abby speeds up and Mom's face searches for anything meaningful.  It's like Diane Keaton meets Reece Witherspoon.  So, so funny.
  • Grayson still thinks my mom and Grandpa T are Santa Clause.  When I'm not in the room, apparently he places his order for the next LEGO piece his shelves can't live without.
  • My little nephew dances just like his father.  I wish we could see this more often in person.  And more of my brother's sweet family.  
  • East coast waters are frigid in July.  Living in Louisiana for a year has spoiled me and now I fully expect all natural waters to be bubble baths leading into a jacuzzi.
  • Abby is terrified of sharks.  This made the beach trip and surrounding aquatic themed EVERYTHING so much fun for her.  I have sore arms from carrying her little near 6yo frame so she could hide her eyes from all of Ocean City.  
  • Leaving my family is increasingly difficult for me and taken in stride with my kids.  Their youth and their "military kid" lifestyle seems to be giving them an edge over change and loss.  I'm impressed at their fortitude and maybe a little envious.  Andy always stops at Dunkin Donuts because husbands don't mind spending $5 on a hot drink that might dry up the sads.
  • If I never see another arcade, token machine, or ticket counter, it will be all too soon.  We took kids to the arcade so many times it began to feel like an Examiner headline:  Family of Four Rot and Perish at Prize Counter Because 5yo Could Not Decide Between Pink or Purple Slinky. There is not enough cotton in the world to mute out the hellish cacophony of that place.  I might actually hate it.
  • When asked what their favorite part of vacation was, the children both agree:   The arcade and visiting with their old buddies from home.  Sacrifice is often worth it. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pandora's Box

It seems our world has been enlightened.

We have a new family member that I haven't formally introduced yet.  Her name is Pandora and this is her story:

On Father's Day, I am doing what all derelict wives are doing - coming home from Wal-Mart with last minute Father's Day gifts.  Reveling in my hour long child-free shopping trip, I decide to take the interstate home for a moment with the open road.

It takes nearly five whole minutes of driving down the wrong direction on the interstate for me to realize I am, as usual, headed west when I need to go east. The nearest turn around spot takes me to a busy parkway, where everyone is speeding up to merge instead of slowing down.

Oh man, is that a half-smushed bird in the road?   I swerve hard to the right so as not to add insult to obvious and miserable injury.

My God.  It's a KITTEN!    And the kitten isn't dead at all, she is dragging her lifeless legs toward the median like the tiniest warrior I've ever seen.  Mouth wide open in a battle-cry, she is heaving her good legs - one front and one hind- to propel herself away from zooming cars and toward the safety of tall grass and swarms of ants.

You can do this, you can do this, you can do this!  My van and I are parked with hazard lights on before I rationalize how stupid it is to try to chase a traumatized creature on the median of a busy road.

(No cars taken in this pic as it was taken days later, but it was insane on Father's Day)

You're gonna be ok, You're gonna be ok, You're gonna be ok.  I gallop from shoulder to median eyeing dry grass for any movement.

With nothing but my thrapping heart and jingling car keys, I stand without a towel, extra shirt, or even large cup, in which to put her...if I find her at all.

A few feet in the opposite direction of where I think the kitten is hiding, I see a flattened piece of cardboard.  My head on a swivel, I grab the cardboard piece and galumph through the grass with bumblebees like a dizzy antelope.  (Oh no, I'm sure that's not scary at all to a wee kitten running for her life.)

You can do this, you can do this.

 If I'm able to get to her, I'm now positive she'll shoot toward the street again to get away from the crazy panting monster leering at her spouting Tony Robbins inspirations.

There you are, you dear little thing.  

I lay one hand on her speckled gray coat and use the other to put the hunk of cardboard on the curb that she is hugging so she can't dive toward traffic.

We stay like that for many minutes.  She lets me pet her until finally her open mouth lets out a silent cry that guts me from the inside out.  We are not having a picnic, this girl is in trouble.  She is in serious pain and I need to get her out of here now.

You can do this.  We can do this.  This is happening.

I quickly lift her scruff and she doesn't even flinch.  Holding her a few inches off the ground gives me no comfort as to well-being.  Her limbs just hang this way and that.  Some look broken, some look to have simply given up.

I scoot the cardboard piece under her before realizing it's actually a dilapidated box.  Not much of one anymore as I re-assemble its ripped up sides but enough to act as her safe house for a while.

She lets me slide her right in.  Her terrified golden eyes are the last thing I see before clutching that box in my arms like it is a bomb ready to explode.

Well, shit.  I can't just stick you in the carseat, can I?    

If you've ever try to extract a petrified cat from your vehicle, you'll know this only ends in cat urine all over your upholstery and slices down your arm that may or may not need stitches.

(Yep, she's in there.) 

I have no choice but to trust she's too tired to fight.  I put her in Abby's carseat, tell her she's going to be ok now, and drive like hell to the nearest open animal hospital.  

Then, somehow text my husband.

Hi Honey.  Pls don't be mad but I found kitten in road and now at vet.  Will text soon.  Happy Father's Day.

Within a few minutes, he writes back, "Do what you gotta do," and I fall in love with him again.  You see, Andy hates cats.  He doesn't hate anything but he hates cats.  He has allowed many dogs in our home throughout the years but has never bent one millimeter with his rule of no cats, ever.

So I sit in the waiting room - half adrenalized and half wondering what will happen to our bank account when the doctor comes in.

Two hours later, Doc tells me the kitten looks bad but is stable.  Do I want to continue with feline leukemia test?  Yes, I do.  What''s going on with her?  Kitty has sustained a lot of injuries and a possible head trauma as one pupil is blown.  Kitty's x-rays show no broken bones but she does have legs that have serious ligament injuries, front much worse than hind.  It will be more than likely she'll need her leg removed before long.  She will need observation overnight.  Do I need a coffee?  No, just a job please.  We are hiring.  I'll take an application.  Thank you.  No, thank you.  Have you named her yet?  I haven't even seen her yet, really.  What does she look like?  She's gorgeous.  And tiny, only 2 lbs.  Would you like me to bring her out.  Yes, let me put on some lipgloss.  

Well Hello you little warrior princess.

I name her Pandora because she is stunning, strong, and let me put her in the saddest little box I've ever seen.  I name her Pandora because it's a name I love and I'm pretty sure I already love her, too.  Warrior kittens don't come across my path everyday.  When they do, I illegally park my minivan to help them get to safety.  Forever.  I'd be crazy not to.


An update on Pandora or Pandy Paws as we call her:

She has come along beautifully!  She has gained weight and is now over three pounds.  Pandy Paws no longer has worms, fleas, or any disease at all.  She still cannot feel or technically use her front right paw but has been using the rest of her legs quite well.  I cannot see any defects in any of her other legs.  Our regular vet assessed her recently and discovered there is a teeny-weeny bit of feeling returning to her injured paw so we will give her much more time and kitty PT to see if she can keep it.  We are so hopeful.   And our vet says there isn't any sign whatsoever or head trauma so another win!

Pandy Paws hasn't officially been integrated in with the dogs yet.  Sadie scares her which is hysterical because Sadie is more afraid of cats than anything else in the world.  Sparrow has whined, pined, and cried for Pandy ever since she sniffed her here.  We hope this is maternal (Sparrow had a litter of pups before we adopted her.) and not carniverous.  Needless to say, introductions are going well but very, very slowly.

The kids' summer has been filled with kitty snuggling, kitty feeding, kitty play-scratches, and kitty bedtime stories.

Life with a kitten is a very good life, indeed. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

To Detoxify or Not, That is the Question

Two days ago, I received a text from a super in shape buddy of mine.  She asked if I wanted to join her for Dr. Oz's 3-Day Detox since we've talked about it in the past.  Glancing at the ingredients list I decided I was in.  Spinach, raspberries, coconut water, almond butter, hells yeah.  This is what I usually eat so why not use Andy's new baby Ninja food processor to make these foods into smoothies?

Because once you do that, they're no longer food, that's why. 

Holy crap, you guys.  I had no idea how much I love food.  I always poke fun at Andy for being the foodie but Day 2 on this smoothie detox (Is it a juice cleanse? Not really, very chunky.) and I'm so ready to park it in a pizzeria and crawl into the nearest meatball, fork first.  I actually might just use my hands, I am that damn delusional. 

Day 1 was traumatic with feeling subhuman-tired with a headache the likes of caffeine withdrawal (btw, I am relatively caffeine free so that wasn't cause)  but Day 2 has me barely functioning as a responsible citizen.  We were coming home from a play date and I stopped our minivan in the middle of the road to admire flowers in a neighbor's yard   They've always been there because they're huge and lanky but I've never noticed them.  "Whoah, look at the color on those petals, you guys.  It's like magenta dipped in milk."
"Mom.  There are cars behind us.  You need to go."  

"I mean, I can almost smell vanilla..."


It was obviously a dairy mirage.  What's next.  Will Andy stride through the door and I'll eye him sideways while asking for a serrated knife?  "Honey, have you been working out?"  My carnivore nature knows no bounds.  It's been over 48 hours without chicken meat and eggs and I'm beginning to lose my sh*t. 

Except, I licked the spatula from this morning's egg burrito breakfast for the kids.  My tongue no sooner left the station when I had scandalous egg in my mouth and exploding all over my tastebuds.  SWEET JESUS these eggs are AMAZING. 

Detoxing wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the blistering headache driving through my temples into my spleen.  I'm not even sure I can take a Motrin because all that synthetic stuff would surely count as a "tox" of which I'm trying to "de"?  

After cheating with the egg spatula, I recommitted.  

Until lunch.  When I was met with a situation.  My friend and I had gotten together with our kids at a park.  We (my kids and I) sweat our weight off by barely moving.  We are very lucrative with our sweat glands here in The Big Easy.  I could see Grayson raining from his earlobes.  Abby was doing better but only because she was siphoning Gatorade from my snack pack at an alarming rate.  So, my kind friend suggests we grab lunch in a place with air conditioning to get everyone out of the heat.  

And here's when life decisions get tricky for me.  Just for me.  Normal people would've simply explained the hardship of not having their blender and 12 ingredients with them in a polite manner.  But at that moment in time, I didn't want to deny my friend's invitation to lunch thus prioritizing my detox. This detox, let's revisit, I accepted on a whim - for no reason whatsoever other than I like my friend - this detox that I'm totally committed to until I'm holding a cheesy egg riddled spatula that I can't keep away from my suck-hole?  

Oh yes, there was cheese on that spatula.

The detox rid my confident body of no.

Off we went to a cute place so our kids could eat and I could bumble awkwardly around a menu that didn't serve Dr. Oz's 3-Day Detox smoothie.  Crap.  What to do.  Order food that I stare at like it is illegal in the state of Lousiana.  I whisper, "I'll take the spinach salad please."  It arrives moments later:  fatty spinach leaves with succulent cranberries, cinnamon walnuts, and delicious dressing on the side.  There are beautiful puffs of goat cheese all over it and I don't know what to do.  I love goat cheese.  Like it's sick how much goat cheese I don't mind eating.  And it was all mine for the taking if I wanted to dive off the detox wagon and into Normal Life Land.  I didn't eat the cheese.  I cry with you. 

So here I am now:  a guilt-stricken, migraine having, food eating, bona fide spatula licker by noon on Day 2.  
Detoxes are hard.  And possibly for people who have a real drive to do them.  I've lost a couple pounds so far but this thumping bear in my skull is making me not care two bear poohs about numbers. 

But I'm in this far and am curious if maybe by Day 3 my system will feel brighter, more hopeful, and less hating the sun.

My plan is to stick with it for the rest of today and tomorrow.  But if this cranium throbbing doesn't let up by noon?  I will personally buy you our first round of burritos (extra guac) at my favorite Mexican place.

We'll even ask for goat cheese.