28 December 2006

Crystal Ball

When I was moving into our new home, I had a visitor almost immediately. Black and white, fluffy beyond belief and bright green eyes--he had the courtesy to dive right into my garbage canister outside to see if the new folks brought some new food.
I began setting food outside at the curb for him, gradually easing it up the steps. I also found a great use for all of Little A's formula that I can't use anymore, but had purchased in bulk. Each night I'll set out his food and milk, and probably about 3 nights out of the week, see him coming up to eat his dinner. Everytime I open the door, he bolts, but we've made some great eye contact, so I consider it progress.
Last night, or maybe it was early this morning (I avoid looking at the clock when I'm laying there wishing I were sleeping), I thought that I heard something outside. After a few minutes, I was certain-it was like a humming noise. I went to the door and my mind flashed to what surely awaits me.
There, on my brightly lit porch, growling at one another were two cats. Neither of them "mine", but each of them highly interested in the milk in the saucer. The fact that two large black cats were on my porch about to throw down wasn't frightening to me. What horrified me was that this was probably the first step into my destiny. You know, the neighborhood cat lady whose death is solely mourned by the gaggle of cats meowing on her porch, looking for food, and whose obituary is internationally posted as "todays 100 cats found in house with dead body" story on Fark.com.
Has anyone heard anything good about e-harmony? :)

14 December 2006

Full Circle

About six months ago, I wrote a post about something, that to this day, still bothers me. During the past week, I had a second chance to do what I considered to be the right thing. Not that it helped the man I left walking in the dark all those months ago, but it helped someone else.

A co-worker and I were on the drive home from a twelve hour day. She was filling out paperwork while I was driving, and I passed a truck on the side of the expressway with its flashers on, then a man walking about 100 feet from it, head down, hands in his pocket, coat zipped up as far as it could be to cover his face.

I hesitated for a moment, then continued driving before braking and pulling off to the side. "There's a man broke down back there, is it going to freak you out if I stop and pick him up?" I asked my colleague. "No, but it would freak me out if you did it when you were alone". I put the car in reverse and backed up to the stranger.

The next exit was over four miles away, and it was bitter, bitter cold. He'd run out of gas and didn't have a cell phone to call anyone. I handed him my phone so that he could call for help. We left him at a fast food restaurant off of the exit so that he could wait for the person that was coming to get him. I made sure that he had enough money to buy a coffee to warm himself up.

"Thanks", he kept repeating to me. "Thanks so much. If I see you along the road, I'll be sure to stop."

"If you see anyone that needs a hand, just help them," I responded, "That can be your thanks back to me".

He looked stunned for a second, then something--almost light--dawned on his face, and with a cracking voice he responded, "I'm going to. I'm going to help someone else. Thanks, lady".

And I'm certain that he will; I know not many certainties in life, but with all that is within me, I know that.

And there lies the dilemma within me. Had I been alone, would I have stopped? I believe that even if it were just myself, this was a person that simply needed a hand. After all this time, it bothers me that I haven't answered this question, that I don't know this about me.

Am I the sort that only offers hope when it fits into my time frame? When I am secure in my surroundings? When they are dressed appropriately and don't appear too desperate? When it's light and sunny and not dark and cold? When it's convenient for me?

How many others on a daily basis do I pass, walking along some other road that I cannot even see, that I don't give a second thought to? The old woman across the road from me, shoveling herself out from the snow storm? The woman in the supermarket whose children were running up and down the aisles, her baby in one arm, screaming, shoppers glaring at her, the sheer exhaustion in her eyes weighing me down? The man who I only made eye contact with for one second as he was shoving along his shopping cart full of possessions while I scurried as fast as I could to my car?

How many chances did I let pass me by to alter a persons perception of what type of kindness this world holds?

Would I have stopped, that night last week, had I been alone in my car? I don't know the answer to that, even now.

That's what makes this full circle seem more of a jagged line, piercing in and out of my soul.

16 November 2006

Thanksgiving--Turkey Free

Next week is Thanksgiving, but instead of planning my menu (those who know me, please stop laughing now), I'm planning my thank-you's...here's my list so far:
  • My friends & family--some of them even being one in the same. How I'd get through a day without those that are so special to me, I haven't a clue.
  • The Queens. They are my life. No further comment needed
  • My home...I never thought I'd love a house again as much as I love this one.
  • My job. Do I wish I could be a stay at home mom? Heck yeah. But in lieu of that, I love where I work.
  • My sitter. I'm so fortunate to have someone watching Little A and Big A that loves them like her own.
  • My car. It keeps on ticking--a miracle within itself.
  • My body. Yep, my body, lumps and bumps and wrinkles and all. Overall, this thing works great, and it's produced two awesome children, and carries me where I need to be, even though I wish the carriage were smaller.
  • My dogs--my first kids. The definition of "faithful" lies in their eyes.
I'm blessed, I truly am.

26 October 2006

House of Hope

I've been house-dreaming for almost eight months now, and if I were to graph the level of my interest, I'm certain it would show a giant peak each month when the rent check is due. I'm not sure how many houses I've looked at, but it's been many. I'm still stunned when my realtor actually returns my calls--how she can still deal with my reasons for rejecting places is beyond me.
She called about two weeks ago and asked me to look at a house that she thought I would love. I wasn't wild that it was on a main road, so I said, "no thanks". She insisted, so figuring I owed her, and since she always humors me, the least I could do was return the favor.
"Love at first sight" would be an understatement. From the minute I walked in the door, I felt like I was home. The house held many of my requests: I'd rather have an older home with character than a newer one (but it had to be updated so all the pesky "older home" issues like electrical, plumbing and insulation were taken care of), I had to have a basement and a garage, new appliances preferred, fenced in back yard, and wood floors. This home exceeded all of my wildest hopes.
The old hardwood floors had been sanded and refinished, with all of the creaky character in tact. The kitchen was completely remodeled, but was completed with old style charm, the FOUR bedrooms were all upstairs, so no one had a room in a different part of level of the house. The fenced in back yard even has a little playhouse. The doors still have the old doorknobs on them--I could go on and on. It was the built in bookcases that got me right in the heart--literally--tears came to my eyes when I thought of finally getting all of my books out of storage and onto those shelves. I made an offer that they include the brand spanking new oversize washer and dryer, all the window furnishings, swingset and the playhouse. I low-balled it--not out of a lack of wanting, but out of a financial necessity. I figured that their counter-offer would give us a happy middle ground.
Imagine my shock when the realtor called and said they accepted it, as is. I put down the phone and cried. This group of girls is going home in a couple of weeks, opening the door to just one more reason for us to smile.

10 October 2006

All Apologies (And Animals)

First, my apologies for my lack of comments lately. My computer is at the tail end of its death spiral; it's been a long, sad goodbye, but I've finally started pricing out new ones. (eek!) I'm still thinking of all of ya'll each day.

So did I mention before my penchant for collecting stray animals?

I was at a stoplight last week, when out in front of me and into traffic darted two large rat-like creatures. I looked around and whistled for about 1.2 seconds (not my problem, not my problem, not my problem) before I hit my hazard lights and hopped out of the car. "They'll bolt", I thought, "as soon as I get out". Instead they scurried to me and snuggled down into my lap.

"Won't have them long," I thought, "Surely someone has reported these collar-less chuiaia mixes missing". Not so much. "Are you sure"? I asked animal control and 911 the next day, on my third call to them. "We'll call you if someone contacts us". And I've got some oceanfront property to sell you in Arizona.

My attempts at knocking on doors in the neighborhood where I found them yielded no results, except someone telling me that he didn't like Jehovah Witnesses. I started to explain, but just stopped. I had two more dogs to go home and feed and try to pawn off on my network of friends.

Two days later, the male mix wriggled under my fence and off to greener pastures. "So you're reporting a stray dog missing", verified the 911 operator as I drove up and down the street looking for him. "Yes. Is that odd"? "We'll contact you if someone turns him in", as he said that he sneezed, but I'm pretty sure he was repressing laughter.

I looked down at the remaining shaking dog...she hadn't quit quivering since she arrived. Big A was coming home in two days. Desperation started to creep in as I tried to think of something to do with her.

I thought of all of the strays I'd brought home as a child. "If we keep this thing, that's it, I'm moving out and you and the kids and the animals can just have the house", was my dad's standard line. I'm not sure how many hours of my youth I devoted to mentally decorating the walls of his shack in the woods, but it was many, my mothers picture square in the middle of the wall, portraits of us children placed in a perfect circle pattern around it. His curtains were sunshine yellow and he had to pump water and heat it on the stove to bathe, but he was happy and comfortable there and enjoyed the holidays that he came to share with us.

So, we have a new dog. Her name is Lucky. She behaved like a champ at our local pet store as we selected her collar, cage, dog bed, etc. Jesse and Buddie openly accepted her; I'm sure they remember their desperation days before they landed in my home.

And guess what? Lucky quit shaking and quivering, just like that, when we slipped her collar on. "It's like she knows that she's OK", said Big A.

Yes, it's like she does, little girl.

Happy New Year.

**Update: The Stray formerly known as Lucky is now Paco.

09 October 2006

Serving the Queens

There was life before the Queens--I know there was--I have the pictures to prove it.

Before Big A, I had so much free time, I actually looked for things to do and causes to volunteer time to. I played some form of organized sports at least three nights a week, and spent weekends out, with friends, no real worries in the world. I went to the beach with a book and a towel, not a shelf from the toy section at K-Mart.

Before Little A, I still had a couple of weekends a month to myself, and I spent them lounging around bookstores for hours, spending my disposable income, visiting friends, going to Michigan football games and sleeping all day on the couch if I wanted to.

I wouldn't trade one minute of my life now to revisit any of those days. I'd never give up the magic laundry pile (it keeps growing, no matter what I do), the cracker crumbs in my car, missing socks, homework reviews, dirty diapers or the sheer exhaustion I feel at the end of the day, because it means that I wouldn't have "group hugs", construction christmas cards, open mouth kisses, "chunky chunkers", skinny butts, or moments on the couch, where, for just one minute, I could actually hold both of my girls against my chest and breathe them in.

None of my life before Big and Little A meant much; each second of my life now means everything. Hail to the Queens.

03 October 2006

Save (some) of the Cows!

Big A and I were eating dinner the other night, and she looked at me and said, "I think I want to become a vegetarian". I asked her why. She responded, "Because you are". I told her that was sweet, but that it's pretty tough to do, especially when you're a kid and you love hamburgers. Then she told me that what really made her sad was the fact that her grandparents would buy a cow and raise it, then kill it and eat it. She's a pretty thoughtful child, so I explained to her that if that's how she felt, I'd be happy to help her try it.

She came home from her Dad's two nights later and I asked her how it went when she told him that she wanted to become a vegetarian. "Good", she said, "except we were eating chicken when I told him". I laughed, and she said, "So, I think I'll be a vegetarian here and a meat eater there".

19 September 2006


Last week when I went to pick up Big A from her gymnastics practice at 7:00 p.m., I was informed that there was a parent's meeting, that night, at a local hotel conference room, at 7:15. In a panic I called her dad, did he know anything about it, was he coming? He had forgotten to tell me, and no, he couldn't make it. I looked at Little A, all pink and perfect in her pajamas and at Big A, who was near a panic attack at the thought of neither of her parents attending. We got in the car and headed to the hotel. While driving, I was praying that Little A would make it through--she goes to bed at 7, and she needs to be in bed at 7, or else she gets a little wacky.

We got there, and I stood in the back of the room w/Little A while Big A went and played with her friends at the play area. I let Little A down in the back of the room to crawl around. She was enjoying demonstrating her great crawling abilities and I followed behind her as she wore herself out. She was being near saintly--not making a peep, just crawling. As we turned around and headed back to the other side of the room, there were two moms sitting on a couch, the volunteers that checked us in. One of them looked at Little A and than at the other and said, "I guess someone's never heard of a babysitter".

I'm not sure if it was because Eviction Day was the next day, or if it was because I'd been up since 4:15 a.m. and was exhausted, or because I was just so stunned that someone could be so bitchy, but I instantly felt the sting of tears in my eyes and picked up Little A and headed out the door. To the other mom's credit, she turned beet red when she realized that I'd heard her. I kept myself semi-composed until we got to the car, then I lost it.

Yes, I've heard of babysitters, they spend more time with my children than I do, and I actually pay them to do this. I've also heard of deadbeat dads, exhaustion, being at the end of your rope, and I've also heard of practicing kindness and empathy, apparently all topics that she missed. I wasn't proud that someone so little made me feel so small, but she did.
I went through the conversation that I would have with her the next time that I saw her:

"Do you know that I went home that night and cried all night"?
"Do you know that on that night, a night I could have used an ounce of kindness more than you could ever know, I could barely drive home because I was crying so hard"?

I won't have any of these conversations with her, I know this about myself, because I genuinely believe that for a person to treat another with such disregard and judgment, they must be pretty miserable themselves. And I'd hate the thought of me causing someone to walk blindly to their car in the rain and put their head on their steering wheel and sob like a baby in front of their children. That's what helps me sleep at night, even if I fall asleep crying.

13 September 2006

Note From the Dog

Dear Mom,

We need to talk. Now. Please put down the children and ignore the laundry, and while you're at it, go ahead and toss that graham cracker right over this way.

First, I'd like to compliment you on all that you do for me. I love the walks and treats, plates to lick, the creature that you hired to sit in a highchair and toss me snacks, and especially love that you still let me curl up next to you under the covers after all of these years, and the perfect little air hole that you create for me to stick my nose out. I love the doggy park, belly rubs and even some of the songs on the radio that you leave on for me all day.

Despite all of your wonderful qualities, we need to have a very serious discussion right now.

I've been losing sleep lately over this, (OK, 15 minutes might not be a lot to you, but in dog years, it's enough to throw your day out of whack) and so today while I carefully nudged off the newspaper that you left on the couch so that I wouldn't get on it (so cute; "A" for effort) and sunned myself, I finally decided to just let you know that I've become aware of your evil plans for me, and I'm telling you now, I want no part of it. I've been a faithful and loyal dog; why would you want to do this to me? Hear me loud and clear:


So you can take that little fish pattern for dogs and march it right back to the torturing facility that it came from, and then take the money and go buy me some treats. I don't really care how cute you think the snack thrower and Big A will look as mermaids, I am not an accessory. I sat passively by when you tied that mane around my neck and hung the "courage" badge from it, but this is where I must draw the line. Portraying the king of the animal world is one thing, pretending to be a fish ( PINK fish to boot) is entirely different, and it must be stopped.

I've not asked for much from you over these past 12 years, if you don't count the above mentioned items, but I'm going to have to put my paws down on this one.

The Smoosh

05 September 2006


The lotto is up to $95 million tonight. I hardly ever spend money on anything like that, but today I am, just so that I can spend some time revisiting a favorite childhood habit: daydreaming. If I hit the lotto, I'd take home about $50 million in cash. Here's a list of some of the things I'd do with it, right off the bat:
  • Pay off the mortgages of all of my friends and family
  • Put in my two weeks notice
  • Buy my parents an around the world trip, where they would stay only at 5 star resorts
  • Start looking for land to begin my animal sanctuary where my friends could be employed
  • Purchase michigan college funds for all of my relatives
  • Build a hospice house
What would YOU do w/the money?

30 August 2006

Eviction Notice

He has until September 15th, then I’m journeying to the place inside of me where I still let him reside, and tossing him and all of his luggage (turns out a lot of it was empty) out onto the street. I’ve probably given him shelter far too long; I know this; it’s just that I have a hard time letting go of things that once meant so much to me.

Letting him stay is just too hard anymore—he’s zapping my resources and energy and when I think that I might have met someone worthy of my time, his ghost curls up beside me and whispers fairytales into my head,
“But I might come back, give me time, I think of you everyday”.

Why September 15th? I don’t think I have it in me to go that much longer; my mind is growing weary from the creaks that he makes crossing the floorboards, and my heart is heavy from holding the door open for so long.

I’ve let him stay for many reasons, but the only ones that are valid anymore are bright blue. They pierce me to the core of my being when I wonder how I will come up with the strength to look into them one day and tell her that her dad knows she exists, but that he doesn’t want her. The look that I’m sure will be in her eyes is the image that I’ll keep in my mind when I’m wondering if I really have it in me to let him go. I know that I’ll have a lifetime of cleaning to do after I toss him out, but I’m ready for that: it’s far better than leaving a room filled with broken promises scattered about and dashed hopes collecting dust on the shelves, wasting space in my heart.

I’m going to redecorate the room and paint it bright colors; I’m going to hang beautiful pictures of a happy family of us three girls on the walls; I’m going to let Ella draw whatever she wants on the floor, and give her a comfy chair that she can sit in if she’d like to visit there for a while; I’m going to have big windows that the breeze can roll through and a polished wood floor that the girls can slide around on as they chase rainbows from the prisms hanging from the ceiling, and a big chest where cherished memories can be stored away and visited time and again when the urge strikes. Then maybe someday when the sun is going down and I enter it, I won’t think of my former tenant and how sad and lonely the room used to be, but rather about what a beautiful place it turned out to be.

28 August 2006

The Shape of Things to Come

Big A and I went shopping at Marshall's to find her some shirts for school. We had a blast, and found tons of great buys that she genuinely loved. I just didn't know how much...

On the way home, she told me again that she loved her shirts, especially the ones that fit "kind of tight, you know, not too tight, but that show off my shape." After I resumed breathing, I asked her what she meant. She informed me that she liked clothes that made her look skinny, and that she is skinny on her stomach, so sort of tight shirts were her favorite. Now hear me out: the child did not buy anything tight, tummy baring, or that I would deem inappropriate. I'm not one of the moms that thinks it's cute if her daughter wears adult fashions that you might see in a bar on Saturday night.

HELP ME OUT HERE!! How old were you when you noticed that a certain pair of pants made your booty look better, or a particular shirt made your waist look smaller? I don't remember much about my wardrobe when I was eight, but I'm pretty sure that I wasn't focusing on "my shape", but rather that my pants were zipped....

24 July 2006

Alarm Clock

The phone ringing at 2:21 a.m. for the most part isn't usually a sign of good things to come. We've all been there; somehow at our most courageous and honest when bolstered by one too many drinks, rationalizing that making a phone call at that hour really isn't a bad thing, and besides, there are things that you just have to get off your chest. Right now. Sleeping and the humiliation of what you did in the morning, be damned. Only this phone call, the caller wasn't drinking, he was wide-awake, brutally sober.

My 2:21 wake-up didn't just nudge me from a slumber, "Wake-up sleepyhead", it slapped me in the face, and threw water in my face, "Are you awake, because you need to be awake for this."

Because it was Him.

Little A's dad.

My former best friend and the person for whom my heart aches when I look into Little A's bright blue eyes...I've seen blue like that before, but I try not to think of it. When he casually wanders into the paths of my mind, I physically envision pushing him out, shoving him, as hard as I can, back to a place where I can close the door on him and continue on with my life. I knew he was still there: I could hear him knocking sometimes when I put lotion on Little A and looked at her toes...she has his feet.

I would sense his presence when I did something that I had once shared with him, or laughed at something that I knew we both would find hilarious, but I trained myself to ignore it. "Noise, what noise? I don't hear anything. If you think you hear something, that must be you imagining things again....things like him showing up one day, out of the blue, telling you that he's sorry and that he misses you. Things like him saying that he wonders what Little A is like. These are dangerous, dangerous things...and they don't exist. You don't hear them. There is no noise." (Except for the sound of me mentally rocking myself just enough to let the pain pass, but really, that hardly makes any sound at all anymore)

Before the phone call, I have to say, there were days when I woke up, and the first thought that I had wasn't, "Maybe he'll call today". There were days that I woke up and sometimes he didn't cross my mind for a good hour.

I considered that progress.

Then he called, and the things he said broke my heart in places that I didn't know existed.

Nothing horrible and awful, but words that floated so sweetly, softly, then pierced me with each sentence.

Like daggers disguising themselves as flowers.

Words like he misses me. He needs me to know that he thinks of me everyday. He misses my smile and my hair. My easygoing personality. My laughter. And finally, was there room for him in my life? Yes, there's room. It's a room; it lives inside of me. But I keep the lights off and the door bolted shut. My happiest memories and deepest heartbreaks lie within...and he holds the key.

26 June 2006

Ransom Note

My favorite cousin, B, needed to find a home for her cat.

So we took Jack in. Jack didn't take us in, per say. He expanded my theory that every other person on the planet has more willpower than me by demonstrating that apparently so does every other MAMMAL when his hunger-strike delved into the 7th day, prompting B to rescue him back from us. She kindly left his things for a devestated Big A, telling her that we could use them to get a new cat.

This being over a month ago, (which in childhood time is tantamount to approximately 3 years) I packed up the items and told B we needed to schedule a pick-up. Big A saw the things, and reminded me that there had been a promise to get a new cat. Before I could list the top 742 reasons why we didn't need a cat, she said, "I'm old enough now to remember when you don't keep your promises."

We have a new addition to our family. Her name is Stella. ("Stella" loosely translated in the motherhood name book: "Desperate attempt to maintain mommy hero status rather than mommy-promise-breaker-and childhood-destroyer status".)

20 April 2006

The Art of War

The latest battle left the General shocked at the depths to which she would sink just to win....


ME: Sweetie, did you take care of your laundry like I asked you to?

BIG A: (Looking up from her book, with a look of contempt) Mom, I am in the gifted and talented program, and I have to read this book.

ME: You're going to be in the beaten and abused program if you don't take care of your laundry right now.

Let's just all be glad looks can't kill.

27 March 2006

I'd Take a Hit Out on Her

If I had a friend that treated me the way I treat myself, I'd hate her.

If I had a person in my life that said things like: "Your hair looks awful!" "Oh my God! Is that another wrinkle?" "Nice black smears under your eyes." "Nice ass, bubble-butt" "Wow, I didn't know that stretch marks looked worse over time" I think I would have to re-evaluate why they were in my life. 

If I had a friend in my life that equated my self-worth to the laundry pile, I probably wouldn't have them as a friend very long.

If this person in my life questioned every single decision I made as a parent, I'd hope that after a bit of time I'd be able to tell them thanks, I already make those questions 100 times a day.

If I had a friend that repeatedly told me that I could be thinner, prettier, nicer, a better mom, a better person, a better anything if I just wasn't like I am, I'd throw myself at her, begging her mercy, asking her to please, just love me! 

So here goes:


25 March 2006


The first weekend of June, I'm running a 5K. "Running" might be pushing it. 

I am going to start at a line, and I am going to cross a finish line, hell or high water....and believe me, it might be both. My cousin and soul sister, "B" invited me to run in this race with her in January. (Isn't it funny how, in January, so many things are possible? How everything you've wanted to be seems so within reach?) 

So, of course, I said, "SIGN ME UP!" And she replied: "You have to sign yourself up." I should have had pause at that point. Instead, I put it on my calendar and committed myself to it. Then I plugged in the treadmill and it's been an uphill journey since, no matter what the incline on the treadmill says.

I'm pretty emotional about doing this. I tell people I'm running it, and they say, "Great", or "How far is 5K"? Saying it's a little over three miles doesn't do it justice, so I'm going to give you my list of how far a 5K is and why every time I think about running it, my voice cracks and my eyes start to tear up. It's really not because I have perma-PMS, it's because this is how far 5K is:

  • It's 332 days of caring for Little A, without help from the person that I least expected to not be there.
  • So far, it's been 62 days of getting on a treadmill and getting OFF the couch
  • It's been 27 days that I haven't laced up my shoes and I've hated myself for it
  • It's probably been a hundred times that I've eaten broccoli instead of oreos and probably thirty that I didn't.
  • It's been hundreds of middle of the night phone calls that I didn't make, wanting to sob, "I CANNOT DO THIS! I CANNOT BE ALONE ONE MORE MINUTE! I DIDN'T WANT THIS!"
  • It's been two that I did
  • It's been a million times of thanking God for the gifts that I have....
  • ....and a hundred times that asking Him to watch out for us
  • It's keeping a promise to myself, finally, allowing myself to know that it's OK to have something for me, just for me, and understand that doesn't make me less of a parent or less of a person
  • It's been seeing Little A rescesitated twice, each time thinking, "This isn't happening..this isn't me..this isn't my life..this isn't happening..."
  • It's been realizing that it IS happening, and coming out of it not stronger, wiser
  • It's thanking God for the friends that said, "I'll run it with you" and the friends that said, "I don't know why you're doing this, but I'll come and watch"
  • It's finally realizing that the finish line is an illusion....and there really isn't any training, there's just the daily doing or the not doing....it's been a race all along; I just finally decided to lace up my shoes.