the life and times of owning pets, and the reason i renamed my cats

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long ago, probably about five, six, maybe seven, eight years ago brad announced he knew someone, or talked to them in passing, or something, and mentioned that the person had told him about a cute, little, itty-bitty, barely-born, newly-arrived kitten.

he wondered if he could have it.

hum.

i have forever been opposed to pets because kids tend to think all they have to do is pretty much nothing. just occasionally (operative word here) engage with their newly obtained hobby. goldfish died due to an overload of food. while on the other hand, hamsters starved to death.

for me, it was too much to handle. little kids running around asking mommy this, mommy that, mommy, mommy mommy, which caused me to forget there was a pet in the house. i had tunnel vision. hence, supervised kids. unsupervised critters.

which meant no more pets. no. never. not on my watch.

until brad showed me, and roberto (a huge pet advocate), an adorable photo of the kitten he had mentioned. he caught me off guard. sly kid. the kitten’s big green eyes and fluffy fur was hard to resist, for all of us, apparently. please, please, please they both whispered, hands clasped into steeples, prayer-mode.

ok, i said.

say what? what did i say? i asked myself.

really?! they both screamed.

really, i mumbled.

as they were walking out the front door, i said, bring home two. (again, what the heck was going on with me?)

two? you sure?

yeah, you know, to play together.

within the hour they brought home Cassandra and Skyler (named later that afternoon by the boys). fraternal twins. one black, one multicolored. both with green eyes.

i was smitten.

still am.

roberto recently moved out and brad is a busy 17 year old. both engaged elsewhere, most of the time. so, aside from brad allowing them to sleep in his room, the girls belong to me. i tend to them 99% of the time, and i even renamed them. (the kids don’t know this, they’d probably think i’ve gone bonkers, but oh well, a caretaker’s got to do what a caretaker’s got to do, right?)

chicka-chicka-boom-boom belongs to cassandra because of her diva personality and i refer to skyler as skitter. so sweet, yet so nervous. she has never been able to fully relax.

ah, there she is. I can hear chicka-chicka-boom-boom’s deep guttural mew call me.  she wants in the house for a quick nibble of chow and a full-on vigorous back rub. she likes her cheeks gently caressed as well.

spoiled. i know.

 

Un-coloring My World

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Painting walls in one’s home is big news these days. Be brave, brighten your rooms with color, color, color.

Well, now, I’ve been coloring-up my rooms for years and years. Not just one overall color throughout. But each room was given a personality. Walls dedicated to the person living in each space. Roberto danced in Florescent Green. Brad played Legos in Light Grey. Liz had friends spend the night in Orangesicle Orange. Rudy and I chilled in Olive Green. The living room, a light turquoise blue, matching a very small teapot, wrapped anyone sitting there with comfort. And the kitchen felt happy, alive in Buttercup Yellow.

Everywhere I looked the color spoke to me. Reminded me of milestones, friendships, hardships, laughter, serenity, and so much more. Life happened amongst those walls.

I loved the color. Until I was over it. 

So, I decided to paint every room in my house white.

Not a new concept, I know. I see those walls in buildings, in magazines, on TV.

White. White. White.

And I love it.

I’ve been coating the walls with Crystal Cut white. Soothing. Relaxing. Vibrant.

And the stories live on. Nothing has changed. Color still makes its claim. Among the white it speaks quietly or loudly, depending on its mood.

 

Life as I Know It

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People say, so I’ve heard quite often and have actually been told (personally), that we, all of us, should open up, divulge our feelings, let them loose, free, get them out so that we can all move on, move forward and feel content. That we should have someone to confide in, someone who hears our woes, someone who cares.

For sure, I say.

Yet, me being me, I find in my outside world, away from home, the information I share, throw out there, is very minimal. Rather, I tend to grab hold of conversations, people talking, revealing their lives. And I love it. I love the psychology of it all. Sometimes I think I understand more about a person than they understand themselves, simply by listening.

On occasion, others will say that I really do need to give more, tell more, open up, share.

I understand their point. I do. That’s how others learn about who I am. Understand where I’m coming from. But, for me, I do not need to entertain others with my drama, with my hardships, with my not-so-perfect happenings.

Which, believe it or not, has enhanced my skill of being a good listener. I talk in order to clarify. Out of interest, wanting to know more. I enjoy people and the stories they tell. I don’t need the drama, the gossip, yet I understand it’s those concepts that enhance one’s life story. And yes, I understand that since I am limiting my voice, not telling my whole story, not opening up and not providing others with every aspect of my life, limits what others know about me.

But, I consciously choose to cruise this road in my own, personal, quiet way.

Many people believe someone who doesn’t’ share everything must have something to hide. Not me. I just don’t like to air dirty laundry. Unless it’s dirty enough that it must be told.

I’m not going to complain when I have an argument with my husband, or how pissed I feel when one of my kids might have disrespected me. What’s the point? All that does is paint a picture of them in a moment, yet can be a determining factor in how other’s view them. It’s not my job to create how a person is seen, but rather it’s each of us that must live a life in which we feel content with how we present ourselves to the world.

I am fortunate to have been blessed (thanks Mom & Dad) with a very calm, empathetic, observant, understanding, nonjudgemental, carefree, and organized personality – yes organized. It’s seems out of place here, I know, but I love that not only is my mind (mostly) clutter free, so are my closets!  I, also, am fortunate that I don’t take any of my traits for granted.

Life as I know it, means being true to who you are. Talking or not. Living life to the fullest, whatever that means to each of us. And being kind and respectful to others.

 

Adventures within Adventures are What Memories are Made of.

Nine years ago Rudy took a job offer in Honduras, Central America. He had been working there for several months when the Winter holidays arrived. It was December. The kids and I were beginning our school break so, rather than having Rudy come home to us in California, we decided to venture into his native land and explore the country where he spent his youth.

One place Rudy really wanted us to see was Roatan, one of the Islas de la Bahia, so we jumped aboard a charter boat off the mainland, anticipating an exciting trip that’d take us across the sea.

All I could think was,

Easy. Breezy. Beautiful. Honduras.

Unfortunately,

The. Boat. Trip. Was. Awful.

For me, anyway!

I mean seriously, there I was, hardly ever sick, can handle pretty much anything… vomiting. It was so embarrassing! And I was so obvious, sitting in the front of the boat stumbling to the rear every 10 minutes, to the same bathroom, over and over, during the entire excursion.

Rudy and the kids?  Oh, they were fine! …Okay, well, maybe Roberto had an issue as well. But he did a better job of holding himself together than I did.

Two and a half, three hours later, we stepped onto a wooden dock. I was feeling a bit shaken, but the solid ground helped ease my vertigo.

Our rental car was waiting for us curbside. We were off to our destination (for the next four days). The resort was an almost untouched paradise. Almost, because it was under construction. Once we got past stacks of plant-less planters, still needed painting stucco, and an empty not finished by any means manmade pool this is what we saw:

After we tossed our packed things onto the huge beds, checked out the supersized bathtub, opened and closed every single kitchen cupboard (stocked full of useful items), and turned on, then off, the big screen TV, we ran Outside. Our toes clinched the warm, finely-grained sand as we ran to the water’s edge, where we then frolicked in three versions of blue water. The Caribbean Sea was splashing into a private alcove, a place of complete serenity. Pure bliss!

We spent those several days enjoying the uninhabited land, on the far side of the island. Seriously, it felt as if we were the only ones there. It was so quiet, like it belonged to us.

Easy. Breezy. Beautiful. Roatan.

As days always do, ours came to an end.

On the winding road back towards the wooden dock, to our departing boat, we made a quick stop for some Dramamine. You know, the anti-motion sickness pill. No way, no how was I going to let the extreme rocking of the boat ruin my trip back to the mainland. So, I popped a few pills, as did the kids. Rudy had no need for them.

The drug did the trick. We all felt energetic and content, happy even. The boat was bouncing up and down, sailing along. I took it in stride, observing what I missed on the ride out. I watched Brad as he stood outside the door, stood with some tall guys and just seemed to enjoy the water’s spray as it licked his face. His exhilarated expression told a story of its own. Liz and Roberto were playfully being sarcastic with each other, laughing.

At the same time, people were screaming every time the boat lifted its nose into the air. The kids and I laughed. We thought it was actually pretty fun. It seemed, to us non-Spanish-speaking foreigners, everyone was having fun on the amusement park kind of ride.

Suddenly, it started raining outside, lightly at first, then progressively harder. I began to notice the faces of the people, at least those nearby enough to observe. Their pained looks said they weren’t screaming for the fun-of-it, they were scared. I looked out the door, towards Brad. The ocean was getting out of control. Rudy grabbed him by the shirt sleeve, quickly yanking him inside.

We were no longer laughing, or joking. We were quiet. Rudy began listening to the people, to their panicked concerns. “It’s bad.” he said. They only thing we could do was watch the people’s expressions and wait for Rudy to explain what was happening. I stayed calm, hoping it would help calm Liz, Roberto, and Brad.

All of a sudden someone piped, “Land!” We breathed a sigh of relief but quickly realized… it was definitely land but not the mainland. The boat, for safety reasons, had returned to the island, to Roatan.

We, again, stepped onto the wooden dock.

The  weather worsened. It was windy. It was rainy. It was stormy. It was loud. We had to stay in a bug-filled room for the night. Needless to say, none of us slept. Rudy found a local guy to drive us to the airport way before the sun rose, where we had to sit and wait out the storm before boarding a 12-15 seater plane. A plane that was old, small and loud. Water dripped from the ceiling. I found myself smirking at the entire situation. Part of me thought the whole adventure had been kind of cool, in a extreme way, while the reasonable part of me wondered if that was the day of our demise. It sure felt like it could have been. But, that was a thought I kept to myself.

Late into the afternoon, our wobbly old plane safely landed. We had made it back to La Cieba, the small town where our boat should have docked. And where the kids and I hugged and kissed Rudy goodbye before returning home to sunny California.

A Bee, Plus We

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There we were.

Taking a leisurely walk along the path, in the hills behind our campsite.
Strolling along, enjoying the ocean view. Up at Leo Carrillo State Beach, near Malibu.

The only setback was the Radio Flyer wagon I decided to drudge along, so that three year old Brad could kick back, while I pulled him down the dirt trail.

Well, better than having to hold him.

The going was slow, but that was okay.
It really was all about the experience.

Not about… What a mistake! [it was to bring that darn wagon with us].

Anyway, I was moving a bit slower than my brother, his boys, and my two older kids.
Hanging back.
Yanking on the wagon’s handle.
Yelling to them.
Telling them I was fine.
Just keep going.

When suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, I heard a buzz!
A loud buzz!

I shook Brad out of his relaxed state.
His humming stopped.
When I screamed, literally screamed.
A bee!

Now, I am by no means afraid of bees, but this one caught me off guard.

It must have liked the smell of my day-old hair.
Because it began to swirl around my head, near my ear.
Buzz! Buzz! Buzzing!

Next thing I knew, I was no longer way back behind the others.
I was passing them.
Yanking that little red wagon behind me.
Very aware that Brad was hanging on for dear life.

I ran down the winding-rock-filled-dirt path.
Just wanting to get away from the buzzing! bee.

A bee! 
Oh. My. Gosh. 
A bee!
Run! Move! Do something!
A bee! is chasing me!

My running, my yelling, caused everyone else to panic.
They started running, too.
Screaming.
All freaked out.

And then. The bee was gone.
Got bored of teasing, I guess.

I was breathing hard.
Trying to figure out why I lost control because of a little buzzing! bee.

Then I sat.
Right down in the middle of the dirt path.
And laughed.
Hard.
Couldn’t stop.
Couldn’t believe I just did what I did.

Zoomed a Brad filled Radio Flyer down a winding dirt path.
Just to steer clear of a buzzing! bee.
Pushing the others out of the way.
Trying to save myself.

And then, everyone else laughed, too.
Except for Brad.

He was crying.
I scared him.

You Are Who You Choose to Be

I am positive. I see what’s right. What’s good. What’s relevant.

When negativity slips its way into my thoughts, I won’t lie, bad vibes can take over the way I’m feeling.

Because well,

It’s hard not to feel anger, spite, and bitterness, but for me, it’s so much easier to embrace the good. To reflect on all the positive happenings around me.

When I do that,

pull strength from one of my greatest attributes, being positive, my shoulders relax, my headache withdraws, and my demeanor lightens.

And I feel fine.

That’s who I choose to be.