We are dog people.  As a  child I envied friends with cats – those mysterious creatures who passed silently through the room assessing us from afar, and gave birth to precious things called “kittens” in closets and under beds.  They looked really cute and seemed like interesting, if aloof, creatures.  But it didn’t seem to be an option, and it wasn’t a boat I cared to rock as a child.  I just knew that when I grew up and got married, I could “do what I wanted”.

Hah!  The reality of that was a husband who was okay with a dog, but completely intolerant of any association with cats.  Curses!  Foiled again!

My catless existence came to a screeching halt seven years ago.  During a difficult period of life, my daughters and I were in the process of moving into our home, and the girls broached the subject of getting a kitten.  Seemed like a small request, and I still harbored a hidden curiosity about those creatures of my youth.  So I assured them we would do so, as soon as we were all settled in the new house.

Then we attended a “Pet Expo” at a local convention hall just for fun.  It was made up of all shelter pets, and I felt safe in the surety that we had enough dogs (is there ever enough?), and wanted our first feline to be a KITTEN, not a cat.  In theory, we should be able to make it in and out without a hitch.  I should live so long.

We left that day with two tiny black kittens, and joined the mysterious world of “litter boxes” and “scratching posts” .

Having a big heart, and no brains, I quickly added another kitten – a transaction that was like a drug deal out of a bad movie.   After an email exchange with a representative of a shelter, I waited in front of a Pet supply store in a strip mall.  A car pulled up, and I got in the back seat.  The adoption fee changed hands, and I got back out with a container carrying “the goods” – a
tortoiseshell’ kitten with ears like a cartoon alien (think Stitch) and an outgoing personality.  Luna eventually grew into those ears, but her happy, outgoing disposition remained the same.

After that, it was easy to add Esmerelda (part Maine Coon, part princess) from the same mysterious strip mall meeting source.  This time the girls were with me for the pet adoption, and my car broke down on the way home thus proving the old saying “no good deed goes unpunished”.

I never realized that cats had breeds, and began learning more about Maine Coons (did I mention that I’m an idiot?).  Lambert, a big red Maine Coon and our only non-rescue kitten, arrived for my birthday one year courtesy of my daughters.  He is the man of the feline family – and as big and gentle as he could be.

Cinderella joined us last, a tiny little kitten with a little busy face and such a cuddly disposition, from another pet adoption.  Had we known how tiny she’d stay, we’d have named her Thumbelina instead.

I don’t know who said that cats are aloof.  I have three cats in my lap and I am writing this with the laptop balanced precariously between the arm of the chair and Lambert’s rear.  The same person must have said that as wrote the theory that dogs and cats don’t get along.   My crew don’t subscribe to that theory either.  In fact, one of the cats gives backrubs to our old timer of a Basset Hound, and two others like to cuddle with him on his bed.

Something I have learned about cats is that these suckers are AGILE!  They leap through the air like the Flying Wallendas, run nimbly across curtain rods, and tap my head from the top of bookcases.  They have brought a new dimension to my life with their ability to get on any piece of furniture they choose – the only animals that can cross an entire room without once touching the floor.

I have added cats to the list of pets I never want to be without, and I regret those years that I missed out on cuddly kittens and purring, warm bodies.  Five cats twine around my feet, and purr contentedly in my lap.  (There is a special place in heaven for me – but I probably have to clean the litter boxes when I get there)  I can call them by name and they all come running.  Aloof, my foot.

However, I have been told that my cat quota is full for now.  These five keep me very busy…… and my daughters (the instigators of this whole thing!) have banned me from any and all pet adoptions…..

Posted in Aging, Cat Lady, Cat Lover, Children, Daughters, Diet, Dieting, Dog, Dogs, Family, Golden Retriever, Life, Love, Maine Coon, Mom, Mom Eyes, moms, Mother, Oldage, Over50, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Diet – MESS

I’ve been dieting most of my life…. probably off and on since birth. (I have dim memories of turning away a bottle of Similac in the nursery because my diaper was a little snug)  Over the years, I’ve lost a total of 17,648.26 pounds.  By all rights, I should be able to fit in my Hummel cabinet or hang myself on the top of the Christmas tree.  However, I regained all 17,648.26 pounds plus a few friends they brought along for the ride.  (I may have extra pounds, but at least they are friendly pounds!)

I’ve tried lots of diets, and been somewhat successful at most. But then the diet goes south and my hips go with it.  I recognize what the problem is.  It’s not the diets, it’s me!  I get bored.  Shocker, I know.  Bored and discouraged.  And then frustrated.  It’s a vicious cycle.

I need to see results…. I need to feel results….. instant gratification.  For a woman with a legendary amount of tolerance and a strong sense of the ridiculous, my dieting is frustrating business.  It’s not that I don’t want to look good and feel good.  It’s not that I am not willing to put in the sacrifice and the time.  I just think that I should get pound credit for good intentions!

For example, in the supermarket the other day, I virtuously stocked up on cucumbers, endive, carrots, cherry tomatoes, low fat cottage cheese, and yogurt.  Now just buying that should be good for about 8 pounds (per hip).  THEN I walked right past the ice cream aisle which was easy so I only want two pounds credit for that.  However, in the end freezer case there was a Friendly’s Wattamelon Roll – my favorite summertime dessert!!  I stood in front of that thing for a good five minutes opening and closing the freezer door and bargaining with myself….I would just eat one small slice per night (bull****)…I would walk one mile for each piece I ate (deeper bull****)…..I would have one piece and then throw the rest out (maximum bull****)….I was buying it for my girls and there was no need to deprive them just because I was overweight (biggest bull**** of all since they don’t even like it!)

By the third time some young mother pulled her small child away from the strange lady talking to her shopping cart, I had successfully slammed that damn freezer door for the last time….Wattamelon roll still safely on the shelf!!  Victory!!!!

And what did I have to show for all that willpower and virtuousity???  A dinner of cucumber, endive, carrots, tomatoes and cottage cheese!   Where is the justice??   All that willpower should have caused 25 pounds to miraculously disappear off the lower half of my torso!!  But nooooo!   I still had to expend the same effort to heft myself out of the car when I got home with the dinner I would share with my rabbit.

Well, I ate that rabbit food three days in a row.  I had yogurt for lunch.  For breakfast I had my usual meal of three blood pressure pills, low dose aspirin, and allergy medication.  (I may have to start washing that breakfast down with a Mimosa).  I supplemented dinner a couple of nights with grilled chicken a la my eldest daughter who has discovered an amazing knack for the barbecue grill.   I didn’t exercise, but I weeded and mulched all my flower beds, mowed the crabgrass that doubles as my lawn, pruned rose bushes, played with dogs, cleaned litter boxes, did laundry.

Yesterday morning I got on the scale….. down 11.5 pounds!!!!!!   YAY!!!!!  I thought I had been feeling a little thinner – my bra was loose and my rings were turning on my fingers – always the first places I lose weight. My hips stay intact until I’ve gone from a B cup to an A.  (Unfortunately the reverse is not true – I never gain weight on my chest…. it all settles somewhat south of the equator.)

But 11.5 pounds and I hadn’t really dedicated all my efforts to this diet!  It was something I was putting together for myself!   And it was WORKING….so far….. 🙂

I’m sticking with this one….it’s a win win – no personal trainer which I can’t afford anyway.  No expensive diet foods which I won’t actually eat.  No gym membership which has never worked out for me – as soon as I put the pen down from signing the membership agreement, I am sure to pop a tendon on the walk to the car.  All those things work really well for most people.  Don’t get me wrong.   They are just not for me.

I’m calling it Mom’s Efforts to Self Success …. MESS.   My own personal invention.  There are no must haves, no must buys, no must do’s.   I can adapt to wherever I am and whatever I am doing.  This is IT – the one that’s going to do the job.  I can feel it. I’m going to see it through!  ( I did feel a pang as I turned my back on the box of Apple Newtons beckoning to me in the cookie aisle, but maybe I’ll get three pounds credit for that.  A girl can dream….)

Granted, when I am done I’ll need to buy myself a few training bras, and have my rings resized.  But I’ll have the shortest crabgrass, nicest flower beds, and cleanest litter boxes in town!

Posted in Aging, Children, Daughters, Diet, Dieting, Family, Life, Love, Mom, Mom Eyes, moms, Mother, Oldage, Over50, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Wonder of Fred

“Everything in moderation” is a good way to live.  I follow this credo in most areas of life, but not pets.   There I throw caution to the wind and  let my heart lead the way!  Consequently I can’t get up from a chair without someone jumping up on it behind me, can’t leave the room without an honor guard of at least two or three tripping me up,  a posse accompanies me to the bathroom, and I eat every meal with the knowledge that I am being watched intensely (by several pairs of eyes!).. but my home is filled with love….and hairballs.

I’ve been a dog lover all my life.  As a child, we had small dogs – “toys”.  Very cute and very loving… but I yearned for a St Bernard.  I asked Santa for one every year; a dog I could play with and wrestle with, walk with and HUG.  (Yes you can do all those things with toy dogs….but you have to watch the big hugs when the dog weighs under 5 pounds.  You hug with your fingertips)  Santa had other ideas though.  I suspect my Dad had a hotline to the North Pole on this one.

As a wife and hopeful mother to be, I was told that Golden Retrievers were great with children.  I did a little research and, indeed, they sounded like great family dogs.  Lovely to look at, even tempered, ideal with little ones.  Perfect.  This would be our family pet.

Then Fred entered my life.  Fred was a 12 week old Golden puppy when he wiggled his little furry way into my heart.  As the previous owner of dogs that could fit in snack bags, Fred was a totally new experience.  Here was a pup that you could really hug, and he hugged back!  He loved to cuddle and lay in my lap, yet frequently got the zoomies and tore through our home sending carpets flying!   He was my best friend, and as the babies arrived, he became their best friend and Nanny too.  He slept next to bassinets, cribs, youth beds.  Small fingers entwined in his fur and tiny arms hugged him tightly.  He shared meals, played games, attended bath times, said bedtime prayers.    Fred had his own stocking on the mantle at Christmas, his own basket at Easter.  No trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house was complete without Fred – and he was welcomed with open arms.

Fred was not a family pet.  Fred was FAMILY.

Having Fred was the best experience of my life  Loving him opened the way to my obsession with Goldens.  For me, they are not the perfect family pet – they are, in fact, the perfect FAMILY MEMBER.

As I am writing this, I have my feet on Goldens Number 4 and 5 in my life.  (Fred and Goldens 2 and 3 are in urns in the bookcase)   They have all had their own individual personalities, their own obsessions, their own idiosyncrasies.  But they are all a tribute to that first wiggle-butt of a pup.  That happy, loving ball of Gold fluff who filled my life for twelve years and my heart forever, and taught my children the meaning of friendship, devotion, compassion, and unconditional love. As a family, we have other breeds of pup, but the one I keep returning to is the Golden.  I can’t get enough of them, and I never plan on being without at least one in my life.  Everyone one of them has completely owned my heart.

I still haven’t gotten that St. Bernard.  But you know what?  I haven’t missed him so far….. and I’m sure my Goldens would love to have one someday…….

Posted in Aging, Children, Daughters, Dog, Family, Golden Retriever, Life, Love, Mom, Mom Eyes, moms, Mother, Oldage, Over50, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Wrinkle or Not to Wrinkle……

In this time of youth, health, and Botox, let me make a startling confession.   I have wrinkles.  There, I’ve said it.  They say the first step is admitting it, so I’ll say it again.  I have wrinkles.  Phew.  I’m glad that’s out in the open.

As a child, when you picture the wrinkles that come with time and age, you envision something along the lines of the Crypt Keeper.  The entire face (and probably body too) covered in crags and crevices.  Well the reality is a little different, thank goodness.

Wrinkles are not just generic markings.  There are degrees and categories of wrinkles.   I began early on with that ever so slight furrowing of the brow – only a few degrees at most.  I wasn’t concerned – barely noticeable!   I would just make an effort not to frown or squint in the sun, and I was good to go!

Then life took over and the degrees mounted.  I married, gave birth, raised children, took care of aging parents.  I wiped away tears at first steps and first words.  I glowed with pride at school plays, talent shows, dance recitals.  I grimaced and grinned through basketball games (my daughter’s grammar school team had a perfect record – they lost every game!)   I ground my teeth in anger and frustration during painful times, and smiled till my face hurt at the joys of my life.  I cried when I held my dogs in my arms as they breathed their last.  I sobbed when I lost first my Mom and then ten years later, my Dad.

All these things left their marks on my face…and my blood pressure.  My forehead is criss-crossed with the times my daughters had Scarlet Fever and Pneumonia.   Around my mouth are the etchings from pursing my lips rather tightly when the principal of the elementary school asked me in semi-annoyance why my daughter was always smiling (this is a problem??)   I have a matched set of luggage under my eyes from the sleepless nights of having teenagers and young adults out on the town.  Best of all, are the laugh lines that crease my eyes – from the little jokes, the new puppies, the silly laughter, the tiny kittens, the overwhelming love, and a million and one laughs over the course of my life.

I have been asked if I would ever consider plastic surgery.  The answer is a most emphatic NO.  These wrinkles are a badge of honor of a life well lead and well loved!  To remove them would be to negate the hard times and the happy times – the effort I put into living every day.  I earned every one of them and I wear them with pride.  I look forward to many more years of wrinkling ahead of me through happy times as well as sad.  That is Life.  My Life.

I have decided that as long as the laugh lines exceed the rest, I have nothing to complain about.

Posted in Aging, Children, Daughters, Family, Mom, Mom Eyes, Mother, Oldage, Over50, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wonderful Reality of “Mother”

“Mother” is a wonderful word in all its many forms.   That first “Mamamama” is music to your ears.   “Mommy”, accompanied by two little arms wrapping themselves around your legs and a little face shining up at you, brings a swell of love to your heart that threatens to choke you.  “Mommmmmeeeeeee”  shrieked at the top of little lungs and accompanied by tears and stamping feet is still precious in its own little way – unless you’re in the middle of a restaurant, store, or church, in which case you’re wondering why you didn’t just get a goldfish and call it a day.

The first thing to learn about me is that I LOVE my children – in capital letters!  I always wanted a big family – lots of happy, smiling faces around the dinner table; lots of love; lots of laughter.  My children would run home from school to tell me about their day…. they would sit in our warm, homey kitchen while I dispensed love, motherly advice, and chicken soup.   There would be nothing I didn’t know… nothing I couldn’t handle…. Mother Earth personified!  From that first bout of morning sickness that lasted seven months, I eagerly awaited the magic arrival.

Well I didn’t get the big family, but as I always tell my children, since I was only going to have two children it’s great that my two are so perfect 🙂  And we certainly do have lots of laughter!   But I discovered there was plenty I didn’t know, and my motherly advice was sometimes as welcome as my chicken soup – that is to say, not at all.

Somewhere along the way from “Mamama”, a mother goes from best hugger/cuddler/ story teller to public enemy number one.  We not only makes the rules, we must enforce them.  We are in charge of homework, discipline, dentist visits, doctor appointments.  We must be strictly accurate in what we say, because at some point we will be called out on any discrepancies.  I once made the mistake of telling my daughter she would NOT need a throat culture at the doctor’s office.  I never did that again.  The look of hate she gave me over the doctor’s shoulder as the swab was stuck in her mouth seared me to my soul, and caused the wall behind me to burst into flames.

You love them, you worry about them, you embarrass them, you are embarrassed by them.  No one has the power to hurt you like your child, and yet you would kill to shield them from all hurt.  You adore everything about them, even during those moments when you wonder why you didn’t take a vow of celibacy and join a convent.  You worry more than you ever thought possible, and you develop  detective skills that would be the envy of the FBI.

And you know what?  It’s all worth every second of it – every sleepless night (pretty much from the moment you are handed the baby in the hospital till the present day), every gray hair, every tear, every feeling of complete inadequacy.  My life was changed by the word “Mom” – into something wonderful, heartbreaking, love-filled, painful.

And you forever see the world as a beautiful burst of color, bathed in sunshine, filled with laughter and tears when you see it through Mom Eyes.

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