Category Archives: Children

A Sick Kitten and a Changed Boy

​We adopted Marvin and Coco one year ago today. The kittens were part of my children’s Christmas presents. Little did we know then that 4 month old Marvin was sick. We took many trips to the vet over the next few months and spent hundreds of dollars trying to get him well.
There was no pushing this kitty away when bacon or salmon were around, but I knee something was really wrong when I offered and he wouldn’t take it – he wouldn’t eat and barely drank anything.

We went back to the vet in May, and he told me Marvin needed surgery. The assumption was he had swallowed something that was obstructing his intestines, but I couldn’t afford the $1,500 price tag after all I had already spent. So, they sent us elsewhere.

We ended up at WellPet Humane in Atlanta. The owner came in on her day off because it was deemed an emergency and the other vets were booked solid.

When she called in the middle of surgery, I assumed it was to tell me it was worse than expected and would cost more than originally thought. Sadly, it was to ask permission to euthanize our beloved Marvin. He was dying and and there was no way to save him. To finish the surgery would be inhumane because he would starve to death in the following weeks. Of course, I gave my permission to end his suffering as my heart broke and my eyes flooded with tears.

I gained my composure and went to take my babies out of school early to say our goodbyes. My sweet, innocent Avery thought we were just going to go visit him while he recovered. But Nathan saw my tear stained face, and said, “He didn’t… did he,” as tears welled up in his eyes. It wasn’t a question. He knew Marvin didn’t make it.

I hadn’t felt such grief since the early months after Tom’s death. I had lost pets before including one I’d had from the time I was 3 to 20, but none had ever made my heart ache like this.

My sweet, sweet boy, who has been through more than any child should, lost his beloved kitten just 6 days after the 6th anniversary of his Dad’s death. Our whole family felt it. Coco hid in my closet staring at the wall refusing to eat unless I carried her to the food bowl for weeks.

Marvin and Coco have both blessed our hearts more than I knew animals could. And Marvin (both his life and death) did something even more powerful than I could have ever imagined – he softened my sweet boy’s heart.

Marvin’s death allowed me the opportunity to comfort my son like I should have and couldn’t do when his Dad died. It gave him the permission he needed to cry – the permission that had been stripped from him when a close family member told Nathan that he was the man of the house now and needed to be tough. Marvin brought our family closer together in life and even more so in death.

God knew that sweet kitten wouldn’t live long, but he needed love while he was here – and we gave it to him. God also knew we needed Marvin more than he needed us.

It still aches. We still cry and tell each other how much we miss Marvin. But in the seemingly simple act of adopting a shelter kitten we were given such a gift that transcends grief and pain. 

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A Martha Stewart B-Day (Just Kidding)

Martha Stewart, I am not, but for my daughter’s birthday, I tried. Sorta. I only let her invite 6 girls silently hoping that not all would show because I wasn’t sure I could pull off a birthday sleepover. There were 13 girls for my 9th birthday sleepover, and my Mom never allowed me to have another birthday again (and she could be compared to Ms. Stewart in some ways). I knew this wouldn’t be easy. Thankfully for me, only 3 came to the party.

There were 13 girls for my 9th birthday sleepover, and my Mom never allowed me to have another birthday again (and she could be compared to Ms. Stewart in some ways). I knew this wouldn’t be easy. Thankfully for me, only 3 came to the party.

I turned to the ever helpful Pinterest for party ideas. I hit the jackpot and decided on a handful of them. We never even got to them all and now have fun crafty supplies for another time. But while my kids were in school, I tried my hand at decorating.

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I turned to the dollar store table cloths for this gem. The picture doesn’t do justice to the jagged and uneven edges of the strips, but you can clearly see my finely tuned cutting and tieing skills at the top with nice even lines. Lovely, huh? I expected my daughter to hate it when she came home, but she loved it. She also loved that I taped balloon-covered table cloth on the front door.

The girls all loved painting letters and doing their nails. I bought popcorn and candy for a movie, and they had a great time. I didn’t do any party games because that’s not my style – well neither are 20160917_084908 crafts,but that was a big hit.

And I was able to do it all under $100 including pizza, drinks, cupcakes, and breakfast. I asked my birthday girl if she enjoyed this party better or the one she had at Sweet and Sassy’s two years ago. She emphatically said this one! Now I know how to save $300!

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I seemed to have forgotten that my daughter is only 8, and it doesn’t take much to make her happy. I don’t have to be Martha Stewart for her, and thank God for that because I don’t come close.

Happy Birthday to my beautiful girl!

 

 

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Cat-astrophe

Last Friday night… it starts off sounding like a Katy Perry song, but is nothing like that at all.

Last Friday night when my son’s friend was picked up by his Mom, I went outside to say hello to her, but when I opened the door to go in, The Girl kitten (aka Coco) ran right out.

She has every desire to be an out door cat, and I have every desire to keep her inside. This time she won that battle.

I went inside to get ready to take my son to his last hockey practice of the season figuring that I’d give her a few minutes of freedom before recapturing her. since the furthest she has wandered was next door. And by next door I mean, my neighbors brought her home when they found her in their kitchen last week after they had left their garage door opened.

Well, this time the dog from our other next door neighbors’ saw her and started barking, naturally scaring The Girl up one of our Pine trees.

I then got the bright idea to climb the tree to get her since my son was unintentionally chasing her further up the tree. The thing is, I’m not-so-young and not-so-fit-anymore, and as I climbed, a few branches started to break.

It wasn’t pretty, people, but now I can laugh and say it was funny and I wish it was on video for all to laugh at. My kids kept trying to give me tips on how to get down, but what they didn’t realize was that one leg was down, while the other leg was up and over a branch that I could not break.

My Mother asked if I wanted her to call the Fire Department. They won’t come for cats, but maybe for single woman who clearly wasn’t using her brain? I declined the offer of humiliation, but it took me a while to get myself out of that position and down the tree with the realization that I could not attempt that again.

My 7 year old then made a joke that, “this is a Cat-astrophe.” I laughed. She’s very witty and very cleaver. It soon felt like a catastrophe waiting to happen because it got colder and darker and became apparent that The Girl would not be coming down on her own. My son made several attempts to get her down, but I told him she was too high for him to climb at 60 ft.  and to come down (he did make it up there against my wishes, but just couldn’t get her).

The Girl cried most of the night and I checked on her multiple times, trying to coax her down. We called someone and were told that they’d be out first thing in the morning. I feared the below freezing temperatures, but thankfully she made it. It cost $200 to get her down, but it was money well spent.

The kitten has not been the same since. The vet has told me to give her a few more days, so I will, but she is clearly suffering from some PTSD. Even The Boy kitten who normally attacks her/ plays with her very aggressively has backed off. He also doesn’t chase her away from the food dishes anymore, and actually waits for her to eat before he does.

Hopefully she just needs a few more days because she was our playful kitty who never sat still, and now she mostly lays around and will often just stare off into space. The bad thing is she still wants to be an outdoor cat. Sigh.

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Oh No Kitties!

Three weeks ago I made good on a promise to my children when we adopted two little kittens. I have two children, so naturally they each need their own pet t̶o̶ ̶t̶e̶a̶c̶h̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶m̶ ̶r̶e̶s̶p̶o̶n̶s̶i̶b̶i̶l̶i̶t̶y̶, so they wouldn’t fight over the poor creature(s), except this hasn’t been the case. We are working through it, mostly by me reminding my son that I will claim his cat as my own and change the name if he doesn’t leave his little sister’s cat alone sometimes.

I really have no problem changing his cat’s name, either of the cats really because I can’t remember them to being with. Since they are not “my” cats (except for all the responsibilities), I let my children name their own pet with the understanding that I have full veto power. My daughter named her cat Coco, and after talking to one of the board members of PETA during the adoption process, she now calls her Coco Chanel. My son tried several variations of his father’s name for his cat including: Tom, Tommy, and T.J. (Tom Jr.), but I wasn’t a fan and none of those fit his cat. My Mother has been here for the holidays and we both kept referring to him by his shelter name, Marvin. So, it has mostly been decided that we will keep his name as is.

Marvin looks very similar to one of my childhood cats, Mr. Marshmallow, who you’d expect to be white, but wasn’t. I was in first grade, so there is no way to know my reasoning. Sometimes Marvin is called Mr. Marvin or Mr. Marshmallow. I also call him Martin or Marvey because I cannot remember the poor thing’s name. To be honest, I can’t remember Coco’s name either. I call them The Boy and The Girl and if it wasn’t for the need of my children to give their cats “real names” then they would officially be known as “The Boy” and “The Girl” from here on out – even at the vet’s office.

Speaking of the vet, the Atlanta Humane Society is amazing. The kittens’ first vet visit was free, and The Boy, whom they’d only had a few days came to us with a parasite and a nasty virus. When we got home from my son’s birthday dinner I thought he was dead. It was bad, but it was covered by the Humane Society, which saved me $150. I love the Atlanta Humane Society. When we saw Marvin online we knew we wanted him, so the Saturday before Christmas we ventured down to Atlanta, 45 mins from home to check out this kitten. My daughter made a B-line to the other side of the cat room and fell instantly in love with her now kitten.

I wasn’t feeling well that day and wanted to leave, but there was a line and we waited well over an hour. I have adopted from a shelter before, but it was nothing like here. They went over everything about the cats with us and made sure any questions we had were answered. They gave us a collar and tags, a bag of food for each kitten, and a stocking of toys. The best part was that not only are their prices better to begin with than the shelters closer to home, but they did/do a two-for-one deal on the kittens. They even do a follow-up call to see how things are going. I can’t say enough about this place!

Almost nothing in life ever goes this smoothly for me. I kept telling my Mom that this was obviously meant to be. Or so I thought. Well, about 6 days ago I woke up with itchy hives from head to toe. It was miserable. Who wants a full body rash?! I spent 3 days taking multiple doses of Benadryl and Zyrtec to no relief before going into the doctor. I had no idea why I was itching. I thought it was something I had eaten and was allergic to.

My doctor gave me a shot of steroids and a Z-pack, and said that if I’m still itchy in 7-10 days then we need to try to really figure out what could be causing this. That was Tuesday. Thankfully my doctor’s office is closed on Wednesdays because when I woke up the hives were worse. And they looked like streaks that would appear and disappear all on their own. I tend to either overreact or underreact about things, and in this case I erred on the side of overreacting. I thought I had a parasite in my skin and took myself to the urgent care.

As soon as the doctor came in she knew what it was minus the cause. She seemed irritated that my doctor didn’t take any blood to find out what exactly was causing my allergic reaction, and took 4 vials to send out. She also gave me “real drugs that will help.” They have, but as you guessed it, the test results showed that I’m highly allergic to cat dander. I can’t live like this forever and I don’t think my body was designed to spend the rest of my days on steroids and other medications.

Since these little fir-balls are already part of the family, and because my children would shun me if the cats were re-homed, my only option is to get allergy shots. Every. Week. For Two Years. The only thing I’m allergic to more than cats is Commitment. This should be interesting.

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A Piece of the Puzzle

A single piece of a puzzle can be misleading in assessing what the whole picture looks like. Have you ever looked at a zoomed in picture that only shows a small portion of an object? You may think it’s one thing until you zoom out and realize it’s something entirely different.

Sometimes having several pieces of a puzzle can cause a greater challenge than having only one. It’s easier to recognize that something is missing when we have limited knowledge, but as soon as we are given enough information to see part of the picture we are often convinced we know it all. We believe we have enough information to move forward instead of waiting to see what else presents itself.

This can be dangerous. It can also be disappointing. When we accept part of the whole we are still operating with limited information, yet we behave confidentiality as if we have everything we need. Eventually we miss the mark. Perhaps nothing tragic or “bad” comes from it, but what if we fail to see something greater than we could have ever imagined? We miss out on the blessings we could have enjoyed.

This is true in life, and in regards to knowing and understanding God. We limit our full potential when we stop trying to know God. When we get to a point that feels comfortable with our relationship with Him we stop growing and stop seeing what else is going on around us. But the more we seek Him, and study His word more of the picture is revealed to us. Sometimes that view is beautiful. Sometimes that view offers clarity, closure, or understanding in a difficult situation. We see the bigger picture and understand how it all fits together. We gain deeper joy and greater peace when we seek to know God better.

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If I Died Tomorrow…

I’ve been compelled for a while to write letters to those who have influenced and help shape my life. I have a folder on my computer called “If I Died Tomorrow…” I realize how short life can be and that it can be gone in an instant. I’ve contemplated sending some people their letters, but have yet to do so. I’ve written some to my children individually, but today I decided to write one to both of them of a few tidbits and lessons I hope they hold with them even if something were to happen to me. This is it…

Oh my sweet, sweet babies. Okay, okay, you’re not babies, but you will always be “my babies” in my heart. You once were so tiny and so helpless, but now you do things that amaze me and take me by surprise. You are the loves of my life and the greatest joy I have ever known is being your Mom. I cannot express in words how much love my heart feels for you. My heart smiles because of you both. I know you have this incredible competition with each other, and while I don’t want to stifle your competitive nature, I do wish it wasn’t with each other, especially not in terms of me and my love for you. I cannot explain how it is that a mother can love her children so immensely and so equally; it is something that God has been able to gift us with. I do love that you are competitive, though, and want you to keep that fire in your hearts always.

Never settle for less, always try to be your best, but remember that there will almost always be someone better than you and almost always be someone not as good as you. So, don’t get bitter or jealous when someone is more successful. Use that as a standard to keep aiming for and then surpass. Don’t be hard on yourself either. If you do your best then be proud! The person you should compete with the hardest is yourself. Always try a little more, and never forget that it is never too late to make things better!

Also, never gloat over anyone who hasn’t done as well as you. Be humble. Humility will get you so much farther in life than arrogance in success ever could. Encourage and lift those up who may not be on your level. They need it and we are called to help those around us who are in need. We all are in need at some points in our lives, and I pray that there are people around you who will be there to help you in any way you might need. Don’t be afraid to accept or even ask for help. It takes a greater amount of strength to do that than to decline and try to do it all on your own. Pride is never useful and this goes back to being humble. I cannot stress it enough. If you are prideful life has a way of knocking your ego down to where it belongs. And let me tell you, it’s not fun; it’s better to start from a place of humility.

Choose good people to be in your life. You can have many friends, and I hope that you do, but your inner circle should always remain small. Trust is a big deal and not everyone who is a friend deserves the trust to be considered part of your inner circle. Friends will betray you. You will do the same at some point. Ask for forgiveness. Learn from it. And forgive others. Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean they still need to be in your life, at least not on the same level as they were. You have to decide that for yourself in each situation, but don’t let your heart dictate this without first consulting your head. And do not let anyone misuse or abuse you on any level! Some things can be forgiven and forgotten or at least worked through. Some things cannot. If someone hits you or abuses you once, I promise it will happen again and they should be cut out of your life completely!

Do not ever misuse or abuse anyone else either! I pray that I have instilled this in you. Treat others with respect and even if they use hurtful words, do not use physical means to respond – ever! Now, if someone hits you? You defend yourself! Never start a fight – always finish it. But don’t let rage overtake you. Do what you need to do to stop it and get out of there. Go for help. Stick up for those who cannot stick up for themselves.

You don’t have to get involved in every issue that is going on in the world or around you; you have to decide which injustices you need to get involved in for yourselves, but do stand against some injustice that breaks your heart. And kids, always defend each other! I know you love each other. I know you often do this. Sometimes I wish you did it more. But there is so much love there and a bond that no one else in this world can claim. You two need to hold on to each other in the tough times and be strong for each other when the other is having a hard time. Encourage each other. Love each other. Never turn your back on each other. Even when one of you is wrong, stand firm together.

And stand firm in your faith. The only one who loves you more than I do is the Lord. You can never do anything to make either one of us stop loving you. You’ve both been through so much in your young lives and could easily allow bitterness, anger, or fear take over and control how you think and act. Always try to remember all the good in your life. It may seem like there isn’t much good, but if you look hard enough you’ll find blessings. This is the one time I say to compare yourselves with others. Yes, you have been through more than probably most, but there still are many who have it worse, and many, many more around the world. Find perspective. This will help you find some blessings.

When you think about your circumstances remember that God has you in His hands. My love and your Dad’s love for you surrounds you always. There are still good things left in this harsh world; you’re both proof of that! Don’t build up walls too high that no one can get through, but always guard your heart. Do not be quick to give it away. Once it’s broken (and it will break) give yourself time to heal. The scars will remind you that you are capable of love and able to love again. I already know how much you can both love. You two show me all the time. I pray that I have shown you enough love to make you secure and confident in life. If I haven’t, then please know I am sorry.

You are both so loyal. I love that about you. Loyalty is important. Continue to be loyal. Brave. Be brave, too. The world can be dark and scary, but you can do it afraid. That is being brave. Bravery isn’t doing something once you’re not scared, it’s being scared and doing it anyway. Live life and enjoy the beauty of it. Realize that you’ll never be completely satisfied in this life. That’s a good thing because this life isn’t where it ends. This is only a dot in eternity. You will make mistakes. You will get things wrong. You will intentionally and unintentionally make bad choices. It’s okay. We all do. This is a fallen world and no one gets it right. It’s all about being better and asking for forgiveness, which has already been given to you. Forgiveness was yours before you were born, you need only to accept it.

People will question why you believe in Jesus, and any “god” at all. You won’t really need them to make you question it though because we all do at some point or another. That’s okay. It’s good to question it. Search your heart and do your own research. I pray that I can give you a foundation of why and that the Lord will put strong Christ-followers in your lives to point you in the right direction and pray for you along the way. But for the record, a good starting point is that if a man can predict and pull off his own death and resurrection then maybe we should listen to the rest of what he has to say, don’t you think? Share what you believe with others, but don’t force it on them. Meet people where they are.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you know it isn’t right or you don’t feel comfortable, be strong enough to walk away. Say NO. And on that note – if anyone ever hints at saying no to you about anything then respect it! Don’t push someone into something they aren’t comfortable with. Don’t give in to peer pressure. Do Not stay somewhere that you think may lead to trouble even if everyone else is, even if you want to participate because it seems fun. It is always better to err on the side of caution. It is always better to leave. Because fun is temporary, but consequences are far lasting. Take a stand. Someone else may want to say something, but maybe they are too afraid. They need that nudge, they need you to take a stand. You may lose friends and if you do? Well, then they weren’t the type of friends you needed in the first place. You will find new friends, promise. As you get older your circle of friends will change anyway. But things can go from bad to worse very quickly. It’s easy to get caught up in something and do things that you wouldn’t normally do. I will love you no matter what, but please, take action. Walk away even if you are walking alone. Go early because you never know when things will escalate and you won’t be able to get out of a situation.

Forgive yourself. Don’t let guilt consume you. It can take years away from your life. Guilt is useless. You don’t need to punish yourself over and over and over again.

If you ever find yourself in a bad situation with someone who is trying to bring you to another location: FIGHT like hell! It will be the fight of your life, and you may lose it, but NEVER go anywhere with a stranger (or even someone you know depending on the circumstances and what your gut feeling is telling you). If they tell you to go with them and they won’t hurt you or threaten you in any other way, do NOT listen! They will do worse things to you in another location than what will happen right there, and you will still die. End the fight right there. Do all that you can to fight and get away as quickly as possible, but never, ever surrender!

Listen to your gut feelings. Even if you second guess yourself or think that it’s a silly feeling and there is no logical reason to feel that way: listen to it anyway! We were blessed with intuition for a reason and you should never question it. It could save your life. You may never know if it did or not, but don’t change it. You are both pretty good judges of character, go with it. If you offend someone? Don’t worry about it. They will get over it. If they don’t then there is probably something wrong with them and you need to steer clear of them anyway.

Always tell the truth. It may cause you more trouble at first (in the real world, but here at home, it gets you a little less trouble when you fess up right away), but it will inevitably earn you respect and people will trust you. Respect and trust are vital to living to your full potential, and both are hard to come by these days. This will set you apart from the world around you in a very important way. Now, listen carefully about this. Not everyone wants to hear the truth even if they ask. Tell it anyway, but it’s not only important what you say, but how you say it. Be tactful. It’s something I’m still working on. Truth is always better received if the teller does so in a kind way. Sometimes you don’t need tact. Sometimes people need a cold dose of reality. This is one of those things you will have to determine on a case by case basis, but never compromise your integrity by lying. The truth eventually comes out anyway. Sometimes it takes years, but lies will eat at you and ruin your reputation.

Use the dictionary and thesaurus. If you don’t know what a word means well enough to explain it to someone else then look up the definition. Expand your vocabulary. Go to college. Get a degree. Find something that you are passionate about and pursue it.

Find someone you love and get married, but don’t only marry for love. Love is more than an emotion and any marriage based solely on love will fail. You will have to choose love over and over throughout your marriage. I believe in intentional dating. I did it the wrong way enough to know this is the best way. Make sure you have similar goals, interests, and most importantly – faith! Realize that you are not going to be the half to someone’s whole, nor are you going to complete each other. You need to be a whole person marrying another whole person who decide together to make a covenant with the Lord and each other.

The grass isn’t going to be greener on the other side once another storm hits you over there – and it will! I promise. Find someone who will weather the storms on your side with you. Be that person for them. Don’t live together before you get married. Secular statistics show that your chance of divorce is so much greater if you do. The whole “try before you buy” thing only leads to heartache and baggage. You don’t have to rush life. It’s not meant to be fast-forwarded. The time will pass either way and your choices help to determine if it passes with ease or strife. And yes, my dear children, all good things truly are worth waiting for. That includes sex. There are so many reasons not to have sex before marriage and “because it feels good, you only live once, but we’re in love” are the dumbest reasons and come nowhere close to outweighing the benefits of waiting… Just trust me on that one, okay? 😉

I love you both with all my heart. You are my life. I love you. I cannot say it enough. You cannot hear it enough. You are the greatest blessings I could have ever been given during my time on this earth. Your father counted you both as his greatest accomplishment (his second was serving his country – our country). Don’t forget that he loves you, too. No matter where we are you are loved. I know you love us, too. You showed it enough. I can only pray that I’ve done the same.

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