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".