Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I have, for a few weeks, been planning on telling you about our kitty saga. We moved to Utah and got some pets, two little kittens that filled up the heart's desire of my children. Pets weren't an option in New York. But they are in Utah, and so here we were. And then we found this house to rent. And one of the compelling reasons to take it was that they said our cats could stay. So we were happy.

But the house we live in has a generic backyard, with the same generic fencing that everyone has around here and one night the kitties wandered off and got lost. And we were sad, mostly for my second daughter, who loved those little cats, violently. And we told the girls to pray for them. And we prayed for them. And one afternoon someone brought Bella back. Although Azure was still AWOL, having Bella back was a comfort. And there was no chance of losing her again because, like any respectable cat with nine lives, she came back. Anytime she left our yard for the next week and a half, someone brought her home, or called, or left a note saying she was at so & so's house and we could pick her up.

She came back. And back. And back.

So my daughter could haul Bella around in what looked like a most uncomfortable manner, and Bella could meow up at me to ask for a little bit of relief and some food, and I could employ my impressive cat hissing abilities to scare off bigger cats who came to take my kitten's food. And she was a sweetheart. And on Saturday, she died. She was run-over in the most gentle way possible for a little kitty, for which I am grateful, though I'll spare you the details. Our neighbors found her little body curled up in the rain and they put a bucket over her and when we arrived home Ben found her, and our children didn't. Thankfully.

And Ben dug a little grave in the corner of our yard, out in the rain, by himself. When we told the girls, our oldest burst into tears and our other daughter, the one who Loved our Bella, didn't. She looked at her sister and wondered for a second if she should do the same, but that isn't her nature, and in the somber moment, she stayed true to herself. And we talked about our kitty up in heaven and our daughter insisted against the trauma of her sister that our kitty would indeed be resurrected. And that would be good.

The girls and I had been talking about the resurrection just a few days before. Thankfully.

It's been a long time since I lost a pet. I forgot how much it hurts. That this little ball of fluff meant for my children, always waiting for just the right moment to dash inside the house, coming eagerly when I called her, exasperating me with her lacksidaisical use of the litter box, could work her way so easily into my heart and leave it a little bit hollow when she left.

In French, the word for dead is 'mort'. I've been planning the title for this post, but I just realized that. Death is the inevitable result of mortality. It's the reason why we're mortal, because we 'mort;' we can die, we will die. We do die. Even little kitties with nine lives. And I told Ben our next pet will have to be a fish, because I don't see myself getting too attached to one of those. But I also told him that I think one of the reasons you have pets, whether they be fish, or cats, is to teach your children about mortality.

Which in reality teaches them about immortality. We're mortal. But we won't stay that way.

We prayed for our kitty cats, that they would be safe, that they could come home. And Bella did. And then she went home again.

Being mortal hurts. Being mortal means that you'll feel sadness when your kitty can't flit around your ankles anymore. But I can't imagine a heaven and a life after this one without animals. And neither can my girls. In part because they know that at their core, this life is not about being mortal, but being immortal. And even when it's just about a kitty, that's the comfort.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Things like this make me sad. Who knows what to think? The man has spent almost 2 million dollars defending himself. He says he's innocent. He sounds sincere. But. That's the bummer about today's world. You just never know. Honest? Dishonest? Doping? Non-doping? Pretty much just dopey all around.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

ahoy, there! mateys! (arrghhh) - again

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Get out your red bandana and your eye patch. Put some gold chains around your neck. Grab some skulls and a hat. Wear some baggy pants that come down to your knees. (Warning: if you forget the eye patch you may be mistaken for a rapper or a DJ instead). But I say forget talking like a pirate. (I've never been great at that anyway, it comes out sounding more like an Irish brogue.) How about Be A Pirate Day? Today this sounds very appealing.

There are a few things that I have in common with pirates. I look good in hats. I like treasure chests full of sparkling jewels and gleaming gold coins. I don't have a dishwasher. Pirates of the Caribbean was always my favorite (the ride, not the movie).

But pirates have a few advantages over me. For example the cleanliness requirements for dishes are pretty low. There's probably not even a huge need for them as long as you get some food, the preparation of which is minimal, I'd imagine. Pirates don't have to deal with a kid who has decided that going to the bathroom in a toilet is overrated. In fact having an "accident" on the starboard side may happen on a fairly regular basis and is probably not a big deal. My guess is that pirate ships are pretty smelly already and some additional urine won't make a heck of a lot of difference.

Also, pirates don't feel guilty for spanking one child for chasing their sister around when that sister is holding scissors, which is the object they happen to be fighting over. This is because running on deck with sharp objects is expected and even encouraged. And if you trip and fall on the sharp object, well, man overboard! Besides, flogging and making someone walk the plank are a pirates' kind of discipline. Spanking? Probably more of a form of affection, like a stern talking to. Laundry rarely needs to be done because you only have maybe two sets of clothes and a dip in the ocean is as good as anything, and that happens whenever you tick off the captain. If you get concerned with the moral implications of being a pirate you can always call yourself a buccaneer and that makes everything okay. Well, alright. Maybe being a pirate is not all that it's cracked up to be.

The kicker on this gray day is this; as a pirate you get to sail to relaxing, sunny places like the Caribbean, or Puerto Rico or Hawaii or something. Today if you offered that to me, I might take you up on it.

Originally posted on September 19, 2006.

Monday, September 17, 2007

weather report -again

It's kind of amazing that these days we can turn on the computer, go to a website, type in our zip code and presto! the weather report for our town. It's easy, handy, not always right (what weather report ever has been), and I use it all the time. But I think it's time to bump technology up a notch.

I want a weather report for my kids. It would really help me out. I'd get up in the morning, type in their names and get a read-out something like this:

Fair to partly cloudy in the morning with a chance of whining, clearing up by the afternoon. Sunny smiles with minor scattered squabbling until bedtime when a little poutiness will blow in, but an early bedtime with a story will take care of that!


Watch out today, folks! We have a possible storm brewing on the horizon due to a late bedtime last night and it doesn't look pretty. Take the necessary precautions and don't forget to put on your patience if you decide to undertake any project more difficult than say, getting dressed. Things may be aggravated by some sibling rivalry and jealousy, but could be averted if some kindly words, love, and cookies blow in ahead of the cold front.

See how useful this would be? Actually it would be handy to check anybody's mood, and I'm sure my kids would love a weather report for me as well. Heck, I'd be happy to have a weather report for myself (it could be a tricky day, with some hormones rolling in. Chocolate should remedy any urge to cry or scream...). So someone out there, more advanced than I, get to work. I'll let you try it out on my kids and we'll split the profits 50/50. Deal?

This was originally posted December 7, 2006.

sort of like nick-at-nite

The next week or so I'm posting re-runs. Just a few. Unless something absolutely amazing just insists on flowing out of my brain. But I've picked out a few entries I'm fond of for some reason or another, and I hope you enjoy them, or enjoy them again.
I'd still like that weather report in today's post. And don't miss Wednesday's entry, which is one of my top 10 favorites (argghh, mateys! It's talk like a pirate day!) So, cheerio!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Well, actually, skirted. By my three (almost four) year-old. Because I wouldn't let her go over to the neighbor's house to play. She yelled. Then she grabbed my skirt and yanked downward with all her might.

Fortunately we were in the house. If I hadn't been laughing so hard, and trying to disguise it, I might be a tad concerned about how I'm doing raising this particular child. Do you think she might dare to try this at school someday with one of her teachers? It would be cause for consternation. But I might pay some money to see it...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

kindergarten assessment

My oldest has started school. The first week of school the newbies stay home. Instead of regularly scheduled class they have one-on-one appointments with their teacher to evaluate how carefully their parents have prepped them for this all-important day. How many years has your child been doing phonics exercises guaranteed to have them reading Plato in 48 hours? For my daughter, none. But I can proudly report she does know her alphabet, lower and upper case, can give most of their sounds when prompted (she knows them all, just gets nervous) and had to be stopped by her teacher when asked to count as high as she could. Ahem.

While he drilled her on her colors and shapes etc., etc., I got to fill out a form about her. Did I have any concerns? What was I expecting for this year? What were my daughter's fears? Were there special circumstances I wanted to share regarding my child? I read through the questions. I read through them again. Just who was being evaluated? I began to feel inadequate.

I am a low-key, laid-back person. I usually am not one to jump to an over-emotional response. I don’t get worked up. But put into this context, I began to worry. Maybe I am simply a slacker. Or worse. A slacker parent. Yikes!

My expectations for kindergarten are…that my daughter discover her deepest hidden talents and arrive home singing an aria she has composed with minimal help from the music teacher? Well, my expectations are that she be taught what you teach kindergartners, you know?

What are her fears? Honestly, I don’t think she has any great fears. I mean, it’s not that she’s never afraid, but she’s also melodramatic, so negotiating between “fears” and “fears”, well…have I been neglecting the emotional well-being of my daughter? My, I mean, Her teacher is going to discover some obvious emotional disturbance that I haven’t dealt with appropriately, and what will that say about my parenting skills?

I had the same feeling when she went for her 5 year check-up with the pediatrician. Did I have any concerns? Um…no. Should I? Is this another test I’m failing? I mean, she likes ice cream more than broccoli, but that’s normal. Right? Am I missing signs that she’s growing inadequately? Am I over-confident in her health and well-being? But back to the school form, I could put down that she’s afraid of shots for immunizations.

We’ve survived two weeks of school now and this includes riding the bus to and from school. No real issues. She can be a little over-emotional when she gets home. But everyone seems to be doing alright. I mean, whew! This starting kindergarten thing. It’s a bit more stressful that I thought!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

new moon

The past few days my daughter’s class has been studying colors. Each day the children are to wear the designated color- brown, red, yellow, green, blue. Today, however, they will wear three colors; red, white and blue, in honor of September 11th, is what I think the note sent home said.

My daughter wasn’t born when those attacks, six years ago today, happened. In fact, I doubt she knows anything beyond September 11th than the most benign meaning that a date can convey: simply where the earth is in relation to the sun in its annual cycle. And actually not even that.

Maybe if it were someone’s birthday or Christmas, the date would mean something to her. And yet, here she goes off to school, proudly wearing the colors of our American flag. Have I told her why? Will they tell her at school? What do you say to a kindergartener about something like that? At this age, I think, maybe, nothing. At this age, I think, maybe, nothing?

I don’t really know. Hence, I say it with the question mark, and without.

Last year, living just above Manhattan, I was hyper-aware of the anniversary. It had been five years, and for some reason, a five-year anniversary is significant. CNN streamed on the web a rebroadcast in real-time of the events of that morning, starting about 15 minutes before the beginning of the attacks. To go back to an America and a World that was pre-9/11, that was surreal. Almost more so than viewing the attacks themselves once more.

Each year down at the site of the WTC they have read the names of all who perished there. I have wondered, and I hope not disrespectfully, at what point do we not do that? Is it this year? Is it after 10 years? after 11 years? Never? Is it a conscious decision or does it just happen as my daughter’s generation rises, having lived with 9/11 as Patriot Day as designated by some politicians and calendars, where kindergarteners wear red, white and blue to school, and not as a day that became a significant place holder in a before/after way of dividing life in these United States.

In other words, I’m not sure how I feel about sending my daughter off to school today, draped in the colors of the flag. Because I’m not sure why we’re doing it.

It’s not that there aren’t valid reasons to do so. A show of patriotism. To show respect for those who lost their lives. To have a way our country shows unity, despite being quite divided over how to deal with the ramifications of 9/11. Do I feel funny about the whole thing because somehow a more solemn remembrance has been conveniently folded into Color Week at My Elementary School, USA?

But also marked on the calendar today there is something else. Today there is a New Moon. The beginning of a new cycle and for some reason that strikes me as significant. As with everything else I’ve written, I’m not sure why that is, except that it is. I guess because from something new, comes hope. And that’s something we can never have too much of.

A New Moon. A new beginning. Hope. A happy and oblivious kindergartener skipping off to the bus stop. A place to start from. Let’s start.