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


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.


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?)

cassandra’s now-name is chicka-chicka-boom-boom (which, ironically, is the title of an adorable kid’s book about the lower case letters of the alphabet climbing a tree, thinking they know what’s what) 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.


Humor From The Backseat

Years and years ago, I was driving down the freeway with 12 year old Liz and three of her friends, Britney, Alison, and Jessica under a bright blue, sunshiny day. I am sure Roberto was in the car, also, due to the fact he would have been very young, and still completely dependent on me.

Anyway, I am speeding along, heading towards our destination when I mention that when I was a young kid, about their age, I remember driving with my mom and my sis, returning from a mini vacation. I detailed the story explaining that it was a dark evening, aside from the brake and head lights bouncing off all the other traveling cars. Suddenly, not too far ahead of us, a small car tumbled, bursting into flames. We gasped, completely taken back by that strange, unexpected, and horrible, occurrence.

“Oh, my gosh!” one of the girls said, after I finished my story. And then a discussion ensued. Freeway memories of their own.

“I remember once when I was driving with my dad, we saw a mattress fall out the back of a truck,” Alison commented, “right in the path of speeding cars.”

Another discussion picked up. About the consequences of a rather large piece of bedding blocking travelers. What chaos it would cause.

And just as serious, just as concerned, Britney spoke. “Well, once, my dad’s hat flew out of our car!” she exclaimed.

For a second. Just a slight second. Everyone was quiet. Trying to grasp what Britney just said. Then suddenly, we all busted out laughing. Laughing about how funny her comment sounded within the context of the conversation, and even more so about how serious she was.


Rudy arrived early to work, as usual, and sat at his desk, going over the day’s expectations. As he quietly nibbled on a light breakfast, while checking emails, he overheard a nearby conversation.

“Oh. You’re early this morning!” an employee exclaimed, speaking to her manager.

The employee was decorating her manager’s cubicle with balloons, hoping to surprise the higher up for her birthday; a tradition throughout the department, to celebrate people’s special day. The employee had just inflated one of the several balloons, and was pinching it so that the air would not escape.

In the meantime, Rudy continued to work while eavesdropping on their banter.

“So, how does it feel to be 50?” the employee asked her manager.
“I’m not 50, I am only 43!” the manager responded firmly, with attitude; yet, embarrassed.

Just then, the balloon the employee was holding left her grasp, deflating, making a slow blub-blub-blub sound, as it spun towards the floor.

“Oh, I thought…,” the employee tried to redeem herself.
“I guess!” the manager responded.

Rudy slapped his hand over his mouth, holding in the laughter that was trying to escape. His body began to shake as he tilted his head back, opened his eyes wide, and continued to press his now-fisted hand onto his pursed lips. He lowered his right elbow onto his desk, then the left one, and slowly lowered his face into both hands, sucking in air, then slowly exhaling.

“Awkward!” he thought as he slowly shook his head to and fro, while the manager stomped off.

The Turd

There’s this girl. A sixth grader to be exact. My former student. Her name is Cassandra. She has short wavy hair and wears glasses. She’s tall and thin. Quirky and confident. She’s awesome. The perfect description of a character in a book.

Anyway, she walked into my classroom – just as she alway does, every day after school, to say

Hello, how’re you doing?”


“How do you like my haircut?”


“Do you like your class this year?”


“Oh, the state report, I remember doing those!” 

Things like that.

So, like I said, she came into my classroom and plopped herself onto the floor, her face buried between her knees. She was next to my desk, which is next to my chair, in which I was sitting and said,

“Do I look like a turwal?

I didn’t understand what she said.

“What?” I asked.

“Do I look like a turwal?”

“Do you look like a turd?”

Cassandra’s lump of a body quivered with laughter. She laughed and laughed.

“Okay, yeah, you definitely look like a turd lying there on the carpeted floor.” I stated.

Still laughing, she unrolled herself and looked at me with a smirk on her face and said,

“I asked, do I look like a tur-tle? Turtle.” I cracked-up

The next day, she repeated her pose, positioning herself into a lump on the floor and said, “The turd is back.”

I’m a teacher because kids are so great. They roll with the punches and are simply looking for fun, pure and simple.