Cat kisses are dry and small and neat and rough. When dogs are distress they whimper and grumble…and cats, well, they hiss.
Jack moved in on Friday. We followed all the instructions we could get our hands on as to how to best introduce him to our feline family. I guess you could say it went as well as could be expected…and I’ve got the scars to prove it. It wasn’t all bad though. Jack hasn’t made any aggressive moves toward the cats, he just really wants to make new friends. They’re just not quite as eager to befriend him. Still, we’ve had a handful of promising moments that lead us to believe that before too long we’ll have a foursome of furry friends.
Since we’re still dealing with lots of apprehension from the cats, it’s hard to give a full report as to how the transition is going. And I must admit, I feel like this is coming out all choppy and not as a string of complete thoughts. Oh well, it’s your weekly blog post as promised. Sorry it’s so brief!
So, it looks like I’ll need to either add a post category or rename one…because as of this Friday “cat tales” will no longer be an adequate description of stories regarding the pets under our roof. That’s right ladies and gents, we’re getting a dog.
Trey & I have been talking about getting a dog for years. We both grew up in dog households. We love dogs – cats are just easier when you know you’ll be gone for long hours during the day. But since I’m at home most days, that’s no longer an obstacle. A few months ago, Trey’s sister approached us about adopting their 8 year old Golden Retriever, Jack. They’re moving to Washington D.C. in June and since 2 of them are allergic to dogs, she thought this would be the opportune time to find him a new home. We love Jack, he’s a big, floppy, gentle beast and the most damage he’d ever do is beat you to death from wagging his tail so enthusiastically. We reluctantly agreed, but were genuinely worried about how it’d work out. Then Uncle David and Angie said they’d be happy to take Jack – so Trey and I forgot all about it and went back to business as usual.
Well, last week sometime, David and Angie decided that taking on a new-to-them dog just for the sake of keeping him in the family might be more difficult than they originally thought, so Trey and I were up at bat again. But this time, rather than moan and fret about how the cats would react to the furry intruder, we decided to do some research. We wanted to make sure we could afford to take care of him, first of all. So we priced food and meds and grooming and all sorts of things. Then we looked for information about how to introduce a dog into a “cat family.” And what we found was really encouraging. So much so that we made it official. After his vet appointment this Friday at 2pm, Jack will be coming home with us to stay.
I’m not gonna lie, we’re pretty excited. He’s such a great dog, and we look forward to afternoons with him out at Boerne Lake throwing a Frisbee or just laying in the sun. I hope to get him in shape enough to accompany me on my morning run before too long. Trey is convinced that Jack and Rufus will be come fast friends and will snuggle and take naps together (I have my doubts about that one). My prayer is that any disgruntled growls and hisses won’t last for too long and that he’ll be able to incorporate into our family quickly and easily…and that our sweet nieces won’t be too mad at us for taking their beloved family pet.
We brought his bed home with us on Sunday and the cats have sniffed it without hissing so far – I’m taking that as a very good sign.
Once upon a time, I married an awesome guy who has 4 awesome nieces…3 of whom came to stay with us the other weekend. Mary Beth, Isabella, and Makayla arrived on a Thursday. Here’s what happened on Wednesday:
I had all these awesome plans. I had asked the neighbors for ideas, I had searched the county website. We were going to go swimming, we were going to check out the Cibolo Nature Center, and gosh darn it, we were going to feed the ducks on River Road! I was so excited about all the outdoor activities I had planned that when it finally occurred to me to check the weather report, it pretty much made my brain explode: thunderstorms and a cold front. Crap.
Then I talked to my awesome mom, who suggested taking the girls to the library to pick out a book that we could turn into a skit. Well, that was the seed – but it needed to grow a little bit.
MB, Bella, and Mak love to put on shows. These shows usually consist of singing and dancing along to whatever song is on the radio at any given moment. But they take them very seriously and usually “have a show for me” every time I see them. And then I thought about Pop. As his cancer has progressed, it’s become necessary for him to remain in bed 24/7, and there’s just not enough room in Nana & Pop’s bedroom for the girls to put on a show for him. And then it hit me: we needed to do more than a skit – we needed to make Pop a movie!
So I spent that night and most of Thursday morning writing my very first screen play. I tried to think of all the little songs the girls sing on a regular basis, and some good old-fashioned Bible School songs and I let them guide the story.
The girls arrived late Thursday night, and Friday morning we got to work making posters and playing dress up to find the perfect costumes. We practiced and played, we had a photo shoot to have headshots to use for the DVD case (we’d make copies to present to both Nana & Pop and their mom & dad). We only had one curling iron related injury and for the most part, had a grand old time.
Now, without further ado, I give you: SADLANDIA
An Aunt Leslie & Uncle Trey Production
For those of you who knew Trey and I kept three of our nieces over the weekend, I’m sure you expected this blog post to be about that adventure. But that will have to wait: latest reports confirm that my sister and brother in-law have yet to get their surprise from the girls that we spent most of the weekend working on. I’m so proud of the work they put into it, so I won’t ruin the surprise now!
So, in lieu of that story, I decided to share this one. Months and months ago, maybe even years, I had the most vivid and amazing dream. It was so vivid that upon first waking up, I wrote it down. Every now and then I would tweak it here and there. But mostly it’s turned into a very short story. Just a page long. And maybe one day I’ll use it as inspiration for a larger work, but for now, enjoy learning to fly:
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The witch doctor lived in the bottom of a valley, in the side of the mountain. Her entryway was shaded by shrubs and Spanish moss. She opened the door before I could knock. The woman was short and squat, a fair-skinned negress with freckles and short curly reddish hair. When she smiled with her mouth, her eyes rarely followed. We could hear bombs exploding in the near distance. She hurried me inside down a steep and endless flight of earthen stairs into the vast cavern that was her home and workspace. She gestured for me to sit in what resembled a dentist’s chair that swiveled. Excitement rippled through my body…excitement and sheer terror. But how could I not take this chance, how could I pass something like this up? After I was seated, she strapped me in with thick leather belts around my chest, wrists and ankles. Then she pulled a large metal hood, much like an old-fashioned beauty salon’s hairdryer, over my head. The witch doctor told me to close my eyes and said if I didn’t look, it’d only hurt for a moment. I squeezed my eyes tight and awaited pain.
At first, it was a small needle prick on the top of each of my feet, close to my toes, right in the center. The needles grew larger with each prick, stabbing me so quickly, so mechanically, that I could not separate the pain each one caused. When the needles stopped, I was flung from the chair to land on the ground face down, the metal hood still on my head. A deep red heat radiated from the hood, pounding on the back of my head, hotter and hotter, redder and redder, for what felt like hours. When it stopped, the hood was raised and the room felt silent and empty. “Well,” she said, bored and waiting, “fly already.”
I sat up slowly, praying that this time it had worked. Before, I flailed and flung my body but could only seem to hover for a few seconds. This time, I was determined to take flight. I slowly pushed myself up to sit, then shakily straightened my legs to stand. I clenched my arms tight by my side, my hands in locked fists. My feet shoulder width apart, I slowly bent my knees and pushed off from the ground as hard as I could, holding my breath and praying for success. And it happened, I took flight.
I soared into the rafters, turning my head to change direction, avoiding the enormous crystal chandelier by inches. I spread my arms and swooped from side to side, high and low, exploring and reveling in my new ability. I laughed and screamed with joy. It was everything I hoped it would be. To feel the wind rushing by my face and feel my body, weightless, soaring though the air I breathed was nothing short of miraculous. I dipped and landed with a slide and a puff of dirt in the place from which I had risen.
The witch doctor watched with detached amusement as I tried to simply levitate, face down, hovering a few feet over the ground. I wanted to know if I could soar to great heights and stay in one place to observe, to learn, to really see. But I couldn’t stay aloft for long, my balance eluded me and I dipped and swayed in all directions, only to land on all fours with a thud. I gathered myself up and tried again, this time leaning back as I slowly pushed my toes off the ground. I lay back in the air relaxed, as if swaying in an invisible hammock. I couldn’t quite control myself enough to hover in once place, but I didn’t rock and dip uncontrollably like I had when floating face down. I lay flat on my back in the air and drifted.
“Why,” I asked her, “is it easier to float on your back than on your stomach? It’s like just like floating in water.” I floated, unintentionally, right into her lap. And she laughed. The witch doctor let out the most delightful, infectious, comforting laugh and I knew right then that I had done what none of the others could. I alone was the girl who could fly.
Okay, my last few posts have been weepy and melancholy and no fun at all. I think the funk is finally behind me! Thanks to the wisdom of my amazing husband, I’ve stopped taking my allergy meds (did you know one of the side effects of Zyrtec is weight gain???) and that was the start.
Total sidebar: I have a confession to make. I got duped. I saw a tweet from what I thought was Women’s Health Magazine that suggested using raspberry ketone as a weight loss boost. I really thought it was an article written by a health-conscious columnist…it wasn’t. It was a crazy ad that hid itself amongst the great health advice that I’ve come to expect from WHM. So I bought the brand mentioned in the article (Lichi Superfruit – never, never, NEVER take this!) and started taking 3 pills a day about a month ago.
Now we’re back: I started doing some research about the stupid pills and found that other users were extremely disappointed and some had in fact GAINED weight! So I thought, if this certainly isn’t helping me lose weight, why am I still taking it? So I quit. Threw the bottle away. And guess what: all of the sudden, my insane moodiness lifted, and I finally (FINALLY!) feel like myself again. It took about six weeks of crying non-stop for me to learn my lesson – but now that that’s over with, I’ll never make that mistake again. Whew!
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So, now that I’m back to my old self, here’s what I’ve been up to: yard work. It’s coming on summer super fast here and that means I get to play with shiny new toys. I’m mowing and digging and edging and hauling rocks and it’s AWESOME! I’ve missed this all winter. I’m nowhere near a green thumb, but I love digging around in the dirt. So, it’s a new day and a new (but really the old) me. And I feel sooooooooo much better.
Let me tell you about the total emotional breakdown I experienced on Friday that resulted in a 5 hour nap. I love naps, especially when they allow you to completely ignore your circumstances for a while.
WARNING: This is a super weepy emotional girly rant, it is not for the faint of heart…and probably not for guys.
I’ve been struggling with my weight a lot lately. I know what you’re thinking: “who isn’t?” But it’s really starting to get to me. Let’s just say I wear yoga pants more often than not. What’s really bothering me is that I’ve been running 3 times a week for several months now. And I’ve been eating better in a frantic attempt to lower my cholesterol. So the fact that I’ve gained 10 pounds since Christmas is really discouraging.
On top of that I’ve been extremely emotional lately. Just bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. Literally. I dropped my hat the other day and it made me cry. Poor Trey is doing a fantastic job navigating my insane moodiness. And, being a guy, he really wanted to help fix things. Cause he’s awesome like that. And cause this was one of those occasions where I was seriously sick of feeling moody and fat and wanted a solution. So Trey suggested I go to the doctor to have my thyroid checked out. It would explain a lot.
So that’s what I did. Last Wednesday I went to visit my doctor and explained my symptoms. And she asked some questions. And with every answer she shook her head. And finally she said, “I know this is the obvious question, but do you think you could be pregnant? It really sounds like you’re pregnant.”
Now, let me pause to tell you in the mildest terms possible (so as not to frighten you away) the extent of my baby fever. I feel like part of me is missing. I get weepy not only looking at cute babies, but at children in general. But it’s just not the right time for us to start a family. We have two mortgages (anybody wanna by a house???), and we have some pretty heavy stuff going on with Trey’s family (health-wise) that just makes trying to start a family too complicated right now. My brain knows all these things and accepts them. My raging hormones, however, are having difficulty reconciling this.
So I tell the doc that I’ve taken several pregnancy tests in the past few months, because I realize that’s exactly what all my symptoms point to, and each time I peed on a stick, the stick said no. So she decides to add a pregnancy test to the thyroid blood work, just in case I’m in the one percent of people who just doesn’t gel with the over-the-counter variety. I leave her office and walk across the sidewalk and immediately have blood taken (yay for non-fasting blood work). They tell me I should have the results by Thursday or Friday.
Longest two days ever. Two days spent dreaming about baby names and how to tell our families and how to post our awesome news on Facebook. Two days of praying that if I wasn’t pregnant that I wouldn’t get my hopes up and that we’d figure out something with this potential thyroid issue.
Friday morning, around 10:00, I get the call.
Not only am I not pregnant, there’s also absolutely nothing wrong with my thyroid. Basically, I suffered through some of the worst anticipation of my life to find out that I’m just fat. FYI: that is not good for a girl’s self-esteem. Especially a girl who’s already super emotional and moody. I pretty much went straight upstairs and slept for the rest of the day.
On the plus side, Trey & I went to the symphony that night and it was the first time in years that I’ve been big enough to wear one of my absolute favorite dresses. It’s funny how God can show you the silver lining in just about anything…
First and foremost, before I get on with this week’s post: Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers, encouragement, kind words, advice, and all around awesomeness. I definitely needed that last week and you delivered. Special thanks to Muffin, who is without doubt the best sister that ever there was.
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I hate dieting. Did you know that? What’s more, I’m bad at it! I know what’s good for me and the basic principle (eat more veggies and less crap) but I also like to be rewarded for my efforts. So if I had a particularly nutritious lunch then I certainly deserve an afternoon snack that consists of lots of sugar and chocolate and stuff that’s pretty much bad for me (and before you make the “but dark chocolate is good for you!” argument, I should stress that I’m not a huge fan of dark chocolate, I’ll suffer through it, but if I’m on a sweets binge, it’s milk chocolate all the way).
Trey and I have recently (without much conviction but off and on for about 3 or 4 months) been trying to eat more “natural”…less processed foods, more produce – you get the point. We’re trying to cut out artificial sweeteners, i.e.: we add honey to our respective morning beverages instead of Splenda. In fact, I put honey in just about everything (tea, oatmeal, Greek yogurt). It took some getting used to, but Trey swears that he feels better since the switch.
I’ve also tried to make this switch to Mother Nature’s recipes in my beauty routine as well. For a little over a month now I’ve been using olive oil as my nightly skin moisturizer. Seriously. About 5 drops covers my entire face and leaves my skin smoother than any night crème I’ve ever used. The only reason I don’t use it during the day is due to the lack of SPF. Anyway, since it worked so well on my face, I started using it on my legs, arms, feet, hands – you name it! If it needs lotion, I reach for the olive oil first. Before you rush off to do this yourself, I should remind you that a little bit goes a looooooooooong way. I cannot stress this enough!
So that was the first thing. I figure, if I have such a hard time going totally natural on the inside, at least I can do it on the outside! That’s when I stumbled upon this link (thanks Patricia!): Never Shampoo Again! How to Wash Your Hair Using the No Poo Method. I had heard of washing your hair with baking soda before, but it always seemed impossibly messy. Seriously, how do you get a box of baking soda in the shower with you without accidentally making bread in your hair??? (I should note, I’m not a master baker and this is probably not the recipe for bread). This link basically breaks it down into step-by-step instructions that actually make this transition to using no shampoo doable! So I did it. Last Thursday was my official first day of not using shampoo to wash my hair. I’m still technically in the “transition” period, so I’ll try not to form an official opinion just yet, but those I know who use this method swear by it.
There you have it: my bathroom cabinet is slowly being vacated by beauty products and turning into a pantry. And I kinda like it. Besides, if this works, it’s gonna save us boatloads each year in toiletry items!
Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand. I am tired. I am weak. I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.
Exhausted is an understatement. Exhausted implies that I’m simply very tired, that my body needs sleep, that I have been physically overworked and that a good night’s sleep or two will set things right. I am so very beyond exhausted.
I am emotionally weary. I feel like there’s not enough time in the day to pray for all the needs I know of. Between sicknesses that need to be healed, comfort that needs to be given, needs that must be provided for, there’s no time left to pray for the energy and encouragement I need to go on praying for all these other things. It sounds silly, but I’m at the point where one more prayer request will send me over the edge. I got an email from my mother a few nights ago to pray for a mutual friend’s health issues and I burst into tears, when Trey asked why I told him I just don’t have it in me to pray for anything else, my list is too long, my heart is too heavy and I feel guilty for praying for myself and my family because there’s so much other pain out there.
I’ve been feeling this way for a few weeks now, and I don’t like it. It’s a strange mix of feeling over-full and empty at the same time. It’s like I’m in desperate need of a good cry and can’t quite find the opportunity to let the tears flow. Which leaves me over-sensitive. Seriously, a guy cut me off in traffic yesterday and I almost had an emotional breakdown.
I need help. I need encouragement. I need strength to carry on to encourage others. I need energy to be what my husband needs me to be – even if those needs are unspoken…especially when those needs are unspoken.
This song by Tenth Avenue North pretty much sums it up. Have a listen to my current anthem: Worn.
I love spring. Not as much as fall, mind you, but still. I like the cool/hot weather that can never seem to make up its mind. I like seeing flowers bloom – what an awesome reminder of new life and rebirth. But most of all, I love that it’s the kick off of Yard Work Season.
Yes, you read that right. What I love most about spring is that it gives me the opportunity to work with my hands. Nothing says a hard days work like a day pulling weeds and shoveling mulch. Mowing the lawn (while it’s hard work) is INSTANT gratification – and who doesn’t love that?
We’ve already had 4 humming birds grace our kitchen window. The daffodils that Grandma sent last fall are in full bloom. I keep finding lots of awesome big rocks to include in our flower bed. We bought a lawn mower (FINALLY! Thanks to the Watts and Schroeders for letting us borrow theirs all last season) and a weed-whacker. Man, that thing is much more powerful than I expected…I LIKE it! But we’ve got one super springy problem…
I’ve pulled them, I’ve sprayed them, I’ve cursed their very existence, and I still can’t seem to rid our yard of weeds. HELP! Seriously, help. It seems like no matter what I do, they come right back.
But that won’t stop me from tryin’!
It’s been a weird couple of weeks. I’ve been going to the chiropractor each morning since my treatment began and it’s put a kink in my morning routine. Today was the first day I haven’t had to leave the house in the a.m. in about 19 days, and as I was puttering around the kitchen this morning (packing Trey’s lunch and making his coffee, preparing my oatmeal and tea) I had this wave of relief that things were finally back to normal. Even the cats rejoiced as they watched me load up the end table beside the chaise in anticipation of my imminent hunkering-down to do my Bible study.
Once I kissed my (super awesome and incredibly handsome) hubby out the door, I crawled over Frank and wiggled into place on the chaise. I pulled the blanket up to my waist and scrunched my toes under Frank’s belly. Roger and Rufus soon joined us, and my morning Bible-study-breakfast-cat-snuggling routine was officially back on track. I was genuinely surprised at how much I’ve missed my quiet time these past few weeks. It’s as if I’ve been troubled by something vaguely unsettling and instantly, all was right with the world.
I took a deep breath and soaked it in. All of it: the warmth of the blanket, the sound of three purring cats, the familiar feel of my cup of Earl Grey, and the cozy cinnamon-honey flavor of my oatmeal filling my tummy and my soul with warmth.
And then I had a mini-epiphany.
Anyone who’s a regular oatmeal connesieur knows that no matter how you dress it, the one ingredient that will make or break your oatmeal is salt. You can put all the fruit, nuts, butter, sugar, or spices you want on it, but without the right amount of salt, your oatmeal will taste like cardboard. It’s an indisputable fact.
So this morning, as I was savoring the perfect amount of salt in my cinnamon-honey oatmeal, this scripture popped in my head (I feel I should note that I’m currently reading through 2 Chronicles and Acts – so I didn’t stumble on it as I was eating breakfast, it really popped in my head because I was thinking about the salt in my oatmeal):
Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV) – Salt and Light
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
And my epiphany was this: salt not only has its own flavor, but it brings out the flavor in other things. So if my life is oatmeal and I am salt (through my faith in Christ), then not only does my faith add its own flavor to my life, it makes my life more flavorful in its own right! I’m seriously having trouble putting this realization into words – it’s much more profound floating around in my brain, but I do hope you get the jist of my discovery. Christ doesn’t take over my life, He makes me MORE ME! Does that make sense? Gosh, I hope so, cause it kinda rocked my world.
And once I had the Salt Thought (try saying that three times fast!), I wondered what salt had to do with light. HELLO? What does light do if not illuminate the darkness? In the dark things are not always as they seem – but they still are what they are – and light simply shows what they truly are. So, applying the Salt Thought to Light: being in the Light shows us MORE OF WHO WE ARE!
Don’t you see?!?! We are Salt & Light and because of that, we are more of who we are meant to be, and in being more of who we are meant to be, we can finally be who we really are! And if that’s not enough talking in circles for you then I don’t know what is!
“I’d take a look at my own self in the mirror and wonder how it was possible that anybody could manage such an enormous thing as being what he was.” ― Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
The answer to that, Mr. Kesey, is Salt & Light.