five years

Here’s a story that I should probably be embarrassed to share, but since it has a happy ending, eh, here goes.

Five years ago, I was separated and in the process of getting a divorce. Thanks to North Carolina’s mandatory “one year waiting period” before a divorce can be granted, that state of limbo seems to be longer and more torturous here than in other states. I had dipped my toe in the online dating world, but had only been on a few dates at that point.

This was before Catie started kindergarten, so both of the girls were in daycare full-time. There was a little girl in Catie’s pre-K class whose parents were divorced, and her mom, Tanya, and I became fast friends. Tanya sort of took me under her wing to help me through the process. We lost touch after our kids started school, since we live in different districts. But I think about her often, and I’m eternally grateful to her for some of the advice she gave me in the months after my separation.

In 2012, on St. Patrick’s Day, Tanya convinced me to join her and some of her friends to go out for dinner. My mom baby-sat the girls that night so I could go out with them. There were cocktails with dinner, then afterward, we ended up at a bar and had more drinks. (I guess it wasn’t really a bar – it’s normally a restaurant, but on Saturday nights, they have live music and it turns into sort of a dance club? It’s an odd place.) I’m a total lightweight with alcohol, I drink maybe 3 or 4 times a year on average, so it doesn’t take much to knock me for a loop. I don’t know how many drinks I had that night, but suffice to say, it was way past my tolerance level.

So, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and I’m drunk in a bar. You know, as you do. I decided it would be a good idea to text a guy who I had a lunch date with earlier that week. It started off as just a, “hey, I really enjoyed meeting you, we should hang out again sometime,” friendly chat, and then turned into me confessing that I thought he was really hot and a whole bunch of other things that I would never have had the nerve to say if I had been sober.

I ended up taking a cab home, and my parents had to drive me back the next day to retrieve my car. Which was kind of embarrassing for a grown 36 year-old mother of two children, but better than the alternative of driving under the influence.

The guy I had been drunk texting? He texted me in the morning to ask if I was feeling OK.

Five years later, that turns out to have been the best drunk text I ever sent.

Waiting for fireworks. Happy 4th of July!

Chris is the guy who takes care of me, deals with all of my crazy hang-ups and anxieties, loves my kids, does the dishes and takes out the trash without me even having to ask, helps with the pets, and does a million other things that I try my hardest to never take for granted.

Chris is such a good guy that even my dad likes him, and my dad is a hard guy to win over. In fact, my dad likes him so much that he has never once told me that he disapproves of us living together even though we’re not married. (One exception: he did once say that he didn’t want me to talk about us living together on Facebook, because he doesn’t want some of his conservative Christian family members to know that I’m “a fallen woman.” Which didn’t offend me, it made me laugh, because it’s such a hilariously antiquated expression. And my dad is nearly 81, so I get that he has some outdated worldviews that I don’t share.) Meanwhile, my mom loves Chris so much that she automatically assumes any disagreements we have are my fault. So, yeah. Both of my parents are big fans. My kids adore him too. Hell, even Dave likes him.

Happy five years, babe. There’s nobody I’d rather be shacked up and living in sin with.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

P.S. Neither of us can remember the date when we met for that first lunch, other than it was a few days before St. Patrick’s Day. But 3/17 was the night of the drunk texts, so that’s what we jokingly refer to as our anniversary.

March 17, 2017Permalink

Introducing Fifi and Sunny

We had Beaumont put to sleep a few days after my last post, and it was pretty much as heartbreaking and terrible as I expected it to be. Catie insisted she wanted to be here when the vet came to put him down, and Dave came over too, since Beaumont had been his cat. Catie held it together until the vet and her assistant walked out the door, then she just burst into tears and wailed. I cried, Dave cried, Chris cried. It was awful.

Later, Catie went with Dave to his apartment, and Chris and I buried Beaumont in my parents’ backyard. Well, Chris buried him. Sometimes it’s handy to be in a relationship with someone who grew up on a farm and has a lot of experience digging graves for small animals. I mostly just stood around and cried a lot.

I told Catie that we had given Beaumont the best life a cat could have, and somewhere out there was another kitty who needed a good home, and we were going to find that cat, and give them their best life, just like we did for Beaumont. I started researching shelters and filling out applications within a couple of days, because I knew were going to need a new cat ASAP. That weekend, we hit up some adoption events that local rescues were having. Turns out, February isn’t exactly “kitten season,” so we were finding a lot of older cats, but not many kittens. If it was just me, I would’ve been fine adopting an older cat, but Catie and Lucy have never had the experience of having a kitten. By the time Catie was born, Beaumont was already 4 years old, and Teenie was nearly 11. I wanted them to experience falling in love with a cat when it’s a baby, and watching it grow up.

One rescue group we found had kittens, but their policy is that if you want to adopt a kitten younger than 6 months old, you have to adopt two of them. The thinking is that it’s supposed to help with the cats’ social development, but I wonder if it’s just because there are so many cats out there who need homes, that they made a rule that you have to take two of them. Either way, we had all four kids with us, and they just fell in love with these kittens. For that matter, so did I.

At one point, I looked at Chris, and said, “We… could maybe get two kittens, right?” He just shook his head and laughed. I think he knew that between my kids, his kids, and me, he didn’t stand a chance. He didn’t even try to argue.

So, this is how we got our new babies: Sunny and Serafina.

Our new kitties: Sunny and Fifi

Since they’re both girls, I wanted to name them Leia and Rey, but the kids overruled me. Sunny is named after the baby in Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Serafina is from the book, “Serafina and the Black Cloak,” about a girl who can morph into a mountain lion. Serafina is a little ridiculous as a cat name, so we just call her Fifi.

But man, they are so cute.

We call her Fifi, Queen of the Scratching Post

Fifi has medium-length hair (possibly long hair, hard to tell when she’s a baby), and she’s solid gray except for a little tuft of white on her chest.

Sunny

Sunny is a dilute tortie, and has the cutest markings with her little nose freckle and white paws. They’re from the same litter, even though they don’t look alike much at all.

And oh, we are so in love with them.

When Catie met Serafina (Fifi) for the first time.

I used to lament how sad it was that Lucy wasn't much of animal person. I think I have to retract that.

(Let the record show that even though Chris acted like he was against the idea of getting two kittens, you can often find one or both kittens in his lap while he’s working. He’s a big softie.)

They’re adjusting really well to Roxie too. She loves cats, and seemed so sad and confused after Beaumont was gone, I think she’s just excited to have new playmates around. The kittens weren’t quite sure about her at first because they’d never met a dog, and even though she’s a tiny 8-pound Yorkie, she’s still quite a bit bigger than them right now – although probably not for long. They’re getting used to each other and play together a lot now, which is hilarious to watch.

I guess Beaumont left such a big hole in our hearts that we needed two kitties to fill it up. But I’m glad we found these two girls, because they’re pretty wonderful.

February 28, 2017Permalink

Beaumont

Beaumont has never really been my cat. He was Dave’s cat, then he became Catie’s cat. From the day she was born (even before then, really), she has been his person.

 


When Catie was a baby, we lived on two acres out in the middle of nowhere. We were the only people in our area who didn’t have horses or other livestock, just cats. I worked from home part-time, and it was really isolating, so to keep from going crazy, I would take Catie for walks every day. It started in the Baby Bjorn, then the backpack carrier, and eventually she was walking on her own. But everywhere we went on our walks, Beaumont would follow us.

 

 

 

 

 

More than once, we had neighbors stop us to tell us that they’d never seen anyone walking their cat before. He wasn’t on a leash or anything, he just followed us – or I should say, he followed Catie – everywhere.

I’ve had the opportunity to get rid of Beaumont twice, and both times, I didn’t do it because of Catie. The first time was when we moved from Washington to North Carolina. Since we had been living in such a rural area, the cats were used to being both indoors and outdoors. But in NC, we were going to be moving to the suburbs, and we wouldn’t be able to let them roam, and it felt like it would be a hard adjustment for them. We found new homes for two of the cats, Cleo and Greta, but with Beaumont, I just thought that he loved Catie so much, maybe he could adjust to being an indoor cat. And I was right, he did.

 

 

 

 

 

The second time was when Dave and I separated. Since he had been Dave’s cat, Dave offered to take Beaumont when he moved out. And I was tempted, because I was already overwhelmed with a 4 year-old and a newborn. But again, I thought about Catie. She went through so much so fast: she got a baby sister, her dad moved out, and we moved to a new house, all in the span of less than 6 months. Taking her cat away felt like an extra layer of trauma, and I just couldn’t do that to her. And I’m so glad I didn’t, because as it turned out, our other cat, Teenie, passed away just a few months later. I can’t imagine how much worse that would’ve been if she didn’t have Beaumont.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beaumont loved Lucy too, of course. I don’t think I’ve ever met a cat that’s more tolerant of being manhandled by little kids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Lucy really does love him, but she’s never been as much of an animal person as Catie. The bond he has with Catie is really something special and rare.

Beaumont adapted really well to both Spyro Jones and Roxie, too. Like, a million times better than I could have expected. He really has been just the best at adjusting to all manner of upheaval in his little world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the nights when the kids are here, he follows us upstairs at bedtime, he gets in Catie’s bed while she’s brushing her teeth, and waits for her. He sleeps with her for a few hours, until she starts rolling around (which she always does, that girl sleeps like a tornado), then he’ll get up and come get in bed between Chris and me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last summer, Beaumont lost a lot of weight really suddenly, and we learned there’s a mass in his anal gland. (I didn’t even know cats had anal glands, I thought that was dog thing – the vet said that in her 15 years of practice, she’s only had maybe 5 cats that have ever had an issue with their anal glands at all.) The surgery to remove the anal gland was $2800. I couldn’t justify spending that much money on a cat who was already 13 years old, and put him through all that pain and suffering, and for what? How much more time would it really buy him at his age? We decided to just let it go, and let nature take its course. And since then, aside from a few butt-related issues, he was his normal, happy self.

This past week, his health took a turn really suddenly. He’s mostly stopped eating and drinking. He’s obviously in pain and suffering. He only purrs when Catie is the one who pets him, nobody else. (She really is his person.)

I know this is the end. I realized on Friday that I needed to have him put to sleep, but it was Catie’s birthday, and I just couldn’t do that to her – I don’t want her to associate her birthday with Beaumont dying for the rest of her life. Which feels horribly selfish of me, to keep him alive because the date was inconvenient, but I don’t know what else to do.

The vet gave us pain medication, and we’re trying to keep him comfortable for a few days. But we’re going to have to have him put to sleep sometime soon. They’ll make housecalls for euthanizing, which I think I’ll do. He can be peaceful in his own home, surrounded by his people, not scared in a vet’s office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for being such a good kitty to my babies, Beaumont. You are such a good boy, we are going to miss you so much.

January 29, 2017Permalink

10

Today is Catie’s 10th birthday.

Catie is 10!

I don’t know what to say about this amazing little girl. She surprises me on a regular basis with the things she knows. She comes home telling me about books she’s read at school, and so many of them are books that I loved at her age – a lot of Roald Dahl, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” etc. She recently discovered my old “Calvin & Hobbes” and “The Far Side” books. She laughs at all of them, and explains the jokes to me. It’s so great.

Catie is reading my old Far Side and Calvin & Hobbes books. Big kids are awesome.

(Caveat: a lot of Far Side cartoons have very dated references in them – Reagan, baby Jessica, etc. – that I have to explain to her. She still loves it, and was bummed that I only had two of their compilation books. I’m getting her another for her birthday.)

We took the kids to the Women’s March in Raleigh this past weekend, and we talked about why it was important. It’s odd when your kids are old enough to understand politics. Catie was very worried about Donald Trump all during the campaign cycle – she came home upset one day because some kids on the bus told her that when Trump won, he was going to send her friend Mohammed away and she’d never see him again. (This was long before November 8th, and I foolishly assured her that she had nothing to worry about because OF COURSE Trump wasn’t going to win. Haaaa, I’m an idiot.) She’s also been worried about her friends at school who are Mexican. I keep assuring her they’ll be ok because they’re American citizens, but she still worries.

She said she thought the Women’s March was “a little boring because all you do is walk around,” but then she asked when the next march will be. And if we can make more signs for the next one. (Answer to the former: I’m not sure, but I’ll find out. For the latter: heck yeah, we can.)

Her class saw a play about Harriet Tubman, and she understood the connection between that and what’s happening now in the world. She asked me what we could do to help make an Underground Railroad for Muslims and undocumented immigrants. She has more empathy and compassion in her little finger than most adults I know, and sometimes it’s hard for her to process all of it, but I absolutely love her sweet, compassionate heart.

I don't own a pantsuit, but I threw on a blazer with my t-shirt & jeans. Happy to spend a historic Election Day with my girls. #pantsuitnation  #imwithher

Happy birthday, my sweet Catie-bug. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.

January 27, 2017Permalink

so long, 2016

There’s a little Q&A thing I usually do at the end of each year, a sort of year in review thing. What did you do this year that you’ve never done before, what were your biggest achievements/failures of the year, etc.

This year, I just don’t feel like doing it.

2016 has been so awful on so many fronts. From politics (the election, Trump) and world events (Syria, Russia) to the loss of so many cultural icons from my childhood (I’m still upset about Carrie Fisher), to seeing friends and loved ones struggle with losses and heartbreak, and feeling helpless about the best way to support them.

At the same time, by any measure, my own life is pretty great. It feels gauche to even talk about it, but I have so many things to be thankful for.

  • My kids are healthy and doing great. Catie blows my mind with the stuff she learns at school. She comes home telling me about books she’s reading, which are the same ones I read at her age and loved. Chronicles of Narnia, everything by Roald Dahl, etc. That’s been so fun to talk about with her.

    Lucy had a little bit of a rough adjustment to kindergarten (she did great at school, but she would come home exhausted every day and she was mean as a snake), but she eventually settled into her routine. She seems to be outgrowing her interest in princesses, which breaks my heart a little bit, but she’s still the same hilarious little ball of light that she’s always been. And she can read now! She reads books to me every day, and she sounds out everything. We’ll be in the car and she’ll announce the name of the street we’re on because she read it on a sign.

  • Chris is awesome, and takes care of me in ways I usually don’t even know I need. Do you have a partner who brings you bakery-fresh apple fritters and then does the dishes for you? You should. It’s pretty great. He gives backrubs too. A++, highly recommend.

  • My parents are still healthy, and since we see them at least twice a week, I feel lucky that the kids get to have a close relationship with their grandparents as they grow up.

  • Dave and I have evolved into a pretty solid co-parenting team, and I think we’re doing a good job at making sure rules are generally consistent between our households. The kids know that if they get in trouble at one parent’s house, the consequences (loss of screen time or whatever) will be enforced at the other parent’s house.

  • My siblings are both happy and doing well – and my brother got married this year, so I have a sister-in-law for the first time. She’s probably one of the most genuinely nice people I’ve ever met in my life, so I’m happy for them.

  • We had one of the best Christmases we’ve had in years. I was so stressed about it beforehand, but everything just fell into place, and it was wonderful and fun and so much easier than I thought it would be.

  • I’ve been at my job for 6 years now, and I continue to learn new things all the time, and I genuinely enjoy it. I got a raise this year, and our company’s stock price has shot through the roof, so from a personal finance angle, I’m doing way better than I could have ever expected.

So all of that is really great, but at the same time, I look at the state of the world, and I feel nothing but dread for 2017. And I suppose that’s mainly due to the political climate. I worry about the world my kids are growing up in. I have so many fears, I don’t even know how to prioritize them. Will we end up in a nuclear war with Russia or China? Will repealing climate change regulations kill us all slowly instead? Will my daughters have any autonomy over their own bodies? How do you fight back against literal Nazis taking over your country’s government?

And then the selfish angle: do I cash out my stock options and use them as a down payment on a house, or do I put them into some type of holding account so I have access to it whenever the Trump-apocalypse hits? It seems like such a minor, self-indulgent thing to worry about, especially compared to other people who are in fear for their actual lives. But as I am often reminded: our fears aren’t invalid just because other people have it worse.

So, like everyone else, I will be glad to see 2016 make its exit at midnight tonight. But I also don’t feel a lot of excitement or optimism about the coming year. I sincerely hope I’m wrong about that, for all of our sakes.

December 31, 2016Permalink

for Mimi

Today is my mom’s 70th birthday, one of those big milestone ages. Last night, I cooked dinner and we had birthday brownies afterward.

Happy 70th birthday to my mom. We love you, Mimi!

My relationship with my parents is complicated, but for the most part, my mom and I have always been close. I know I went through a few years where I was an insufferable brat, like most teenage girls do (I think it peaked around ages 14-16 for me), and my mom deserves major credit for not murdering me at the time. But post-“Teenage Brat” years, I genuinely enjoy being around my mom, and I know I’m very lucky in that regard. I have a lot of friends with crappy moms, and I definitely lucked out with mine.

I will say, my parents living nearby has been a mixed bag. They help out so much, and save my butt with childcare all the time – just last night, after that picture was taken, I took Catie to her taekwondo class, and my parents took Lucy to their house to hang out, so she wouldn’t be bored sitting through Catie’s class. And sure, I could’ve left Lucy with Chris, or asked Dave to keep her, and that would’ve been fine, but Lucy loves getting her Mimi and Pop-Pop all to herself. I love that both of my girls get to be close to their grandparents as they grow up. Those are such important relationships, and I feel so fortunate in that regard. But my parents being local also means they unload on me more than they do on my siblings. Which is nobody’s fault, it’s just geography: my sister is in Texas, my brother is in Utah, and I’m a mile and a half away. They see me at least twice a week, so they’re more likely to nitpick with me about little things, and I hear about their squabbles (which are more frequent in an election year).

Both of my parents watch a lot of true crime shows, like Dateline and 48 Hours, and it makes them worry a lot more than they should. Chris and I joke that one of my mom’s catchphrases is “people have died!”

  • “You have to make sure your doctor always washes his hands before he touches you so you don’t get a staph infection. People have died!”
  • “You shouldn’t let the kids go on the crazy rides at the state fair. People have died!”

It goes on and on. We now use it as an inside joke for minor little things. “Better fold the laundry before it gets out of hand. People have died!”

Which is not to say that it’s all ridiculous, because it’s not. Some of the stuff my mom worries about is valid – like she worries about online predators with the kids. And hey, I worry about that too, but this is why I’ve already got a long list of rules: they’re not allowed to have any passwords on their devices that I don’t know, their iPads are configured so they can’t install any apps without my password, I won’t allow any social media until they’re teenagers, and they know that they can expect zero privacy because I can and will check up on what they do online. At this point, the closest thing to social media that Catie has is Google Hangouts, which she uses to chat with her cousins and a couple of friends from school. And she knows that I regularly check to make sure she and her friends aren’t talking about anything inappropriate. (They aren’t. They mostly talk about Minecraft.) So maybe I get the worrywart gene from my mom, because when it comes to my own kids, I tend to be a little overly cautious like she is.

For many years, I never saw my parents on their birthdays (and they didn’t see me on mine), because we didn’t live in the same area. They were in Mississippi, and I was in Memphis in college, then I moved to Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Washington, and eventually North Carolina. But I’ve gotten to spend their birthdays with them (and vice versa) every year for the last five years. It started in 2011, after Dave and I split up, when my mom moved in with me for four months while I sold my house and found a new one, and my dad sold their house in Mississippi and got ready to move.

Sometimes it strikes me just how huge that was. They lived in Mississippi for 40 years, from 1971 to 2011. Their entire lives, all their friends, all their routines – they gave it all up for me and Catie and Lucy. So yes, there are a lot of ways that my mom and I differ in our parenting styles, and I sometimes complain that she nitpicks about silly things. But I hope that if 30 years from now, one of my girls is having her life fall to pieces in front of her eyes, she knows she can call me and I will drop everything to be there for her without hesitation. Even if that’s the only thing about my mom that I emulate, I’ll consider myself to have been a damn good parent.

Happy 70th birthday, Mom. I love you. And your grandbabies think you’re pretty fantastic too.

September 28, 2016Permalink

in case you haven’t had nightmares lately

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this at some point, but my mom is one of 7 kids, so I have aunts, uncles, and cousins all over the place. And my grandfather was one of 16 kids, so I literally have cousins I wouldn’t even know if I saw them on the street.

(16 kids. Can you imagine? Three of them died when they were babies – I’m not sure why, just a lack of modern medicine in the early 1900s, I guess – but 13 lived to adulthood. My poor great-grandmother spent more years of her life pregnant than people spend in prison for murder.)

Back in May, my great aunt Juanita passed away. She was the last of the 16 kids of my grandfather’s generation. She was in her 90s and had been in failing health for a long time, but it was still sad. My mom and I flew to New Orleans for her funeral, and my sister flew in from Austin and met us there.

It’s rare to get my mom and all of her siblings in the same place at the same time, so at some point, we made them huddle up so we could get a picture.

truxillo_siblings

(My mom is the front left, the black & white shirt.)

And this happened, which I think is hilarious because the boys are all standing nicely for their picture while the girls are complete crack-ups.

truxillo_siblings_goofballs

See that guy in the back right, the shirt with fish on it? That’s my uncle Mark. Remember him, he’s important to this story.

Mark has always been the practical joker of the family. When he was a kid, he poked holes in a tube of toothpaste with a straight pin and waited to see who’d be the next person to squeeze it and get toothpaste all over themselves. It was my mom. She still tells the story about how he ran and hid behind their mother when she was about to murder him. My grandmother’s defense was, “He has a scientific mind, he was curious to see what would happen!” My grandmother was basically a saint.

Because our family was so big, we used to do Christmas presents via a name exchange – instead of having to buy a bunch of small presents for everybody (because who can afford to buy 30+ Christmas presents?), we all drew a name at random and got one nice gift for whoever we picked. One year, Mark got my sister Tracy. She unwrapped this pretty velvet jewelry box, opened it, and inside was… a rubber cockroach. With a safety pin stuck through it. The roach brooch. Or just broach. I believe there was also a real non-prank gift, because he isn’t a complete jackass, but this gives you an idea of his sense of humor.

(Side note: that rubber cockroach came in really handy as a gag. If you had long hair, you could pin it to your shirt collar, then toss your hair back at some point and completely freak people out. Quick way to know who your true friends aren’t: the ones who ignore it and don’t tell you there’s a cockroach on your shoulder.)

Anyway, Mark and his wife (my aunt Pam) recently moved to a new house in New Orleans, and they’ve been cleaning out some stuff that belonged to my grandmother, which they’ve had in storage since she died. He emailed me a picture of a doll that belonged to my grandmother, and asked if Lucy wanted it because he knows she loves baby dolls. It was the most horrifying thing I’d ever seen – not even really a doll, more like a potato sack with a disfigured face embroidered onto it.

My reply to his email was basically, “Haha, yeah that’s funny, don’t you dare send that thing to my house.” I also told him that he should burn it, and bury the ashes somewhere really remote, so that when it re-animated itself, it wouldn’t be able to find him.

Last week, we went over to my parents’ house for dinner, and my mom said “Oh hey, Mark sent a box with all kinds of stuff in that you should check out.” There was a photo album on the top, and I thought oh wow, that’s cool to have copies of all of these old photos. So I picked it up, and underneath the photo album was this nightmare.

nahnee_dinxy_doll

Not gonna lie: I screamed like I was in a horror movie. BECAUSE I WAS.

Apparently the story of this doll is that my great-grandmother (my grandmother’s mom, not the one who had 16 kids) made it for my grandmother when she was a little girl. And important side note: my great-grandmother didn’t know how to sew. OBVIOUSLY.

My grandmother was not quite a hoarder, but she had a hard time letting go of things. Like, her house was always tidy and clean, but the closets and attic were always packed to the gills. I suppose I should be grateful to have something that she deemed precious enough to keep all those years, but I just look at that doll and shudder. I’m waiting for it to come to life and strangle us in our sleep.

And for the record, my baby doll-loving Lucy looked at that doll and made a face. “What is THAT?” Even she knew something was wrong with it.

My aunt Michele made a comment about not having many things that belonged to my grandmother (her mother), so I’m thinking about mailing it to her. Preemptive apologies to the city of Atlanta when this doll comes to life and goes on a murder spree, but at least it’ll be a nice long distance from us.

In the meantime, I left it at my parents’ house. Just to be safe.

September 19, 2016Permalink