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 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.


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.

new family member for a new year

My dad is going to be 80 years old in a few months. He had a dog when he was a little boy – maybe 9 or 10 years old – but there’s a whole mystery over whether the dog ran away or whether my grandmother gave the dog away. She was not what you might call an animal person. Either way, his little dog Fido was gone, he was heartbroken, and he’s wanted a dog ever since.

My parents have always had cats. My mom told him he could get a dog when he was willing to clean up its poop, and my dad is… not a guy with a high poop tolerance. Like, he’s changed one diaper in his life. Three kids, two grandkids, one diaper. Ever. So the dog poop condition has kept him from getting a dog for years.

Last month, my mom’s cat had to be put to sleep. And I say my mom’s cat, because that’s what she was. That cat hated everybody on earth except my mom. She’s the only cat I’ve ever known who hated me, and she’d hiss when I walked in the room. Blanche, the cat, was 18 years old, so she had a long, happy, very spoiled life. Still, my mom was sad, and I know their house has felt a little bit emptier without her.

Since they had no other pets, I started searching on PetFinder for dogs that my mom might agree to. I figured that if I found them an older dog that was already house-broken and well-trained, she might go for it. But when I mentioned it to her, she said absolutely not. No dogs.

Then I started thinking: my kids have been asking for a dog forever, so maybe we should get a dog. They’d love it, and I wouldn’t mind having the companionship during the day while I’m working. And as a bonus, we go to my parents’ house at least a couple of days a week, so if we had a dog, he/she could come with us and let my dad feel like he had a dog, without dealing with poop clean-up. (After two kids, a cat, and a bearded dragon, I’m pretty immune to poop.)

When I mentioned this to Chris, he just kind of shook his head and laughed. I’m pretty sure he thought I was crazy, but he said he’d support whatever I wanted to do.

So for the last few weeks, I’ve been searching online for dogs. Several times now, the kids, Chris, and I have gone to meet dogs at different shelters and adopt-a-thon events. Then, on Monday afternoon, we met Roxie.

Hey everybody, this is Roxie*. She's coming to live with us.   (*Name possibly subject to change. Haven't decided if we're keeping it or not.)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Yorkshire terriers, because our neighbor had one and she was the sweetest dog. So when we met Roxie, it took me less than a minute to decide that this was our dog. We took her home that day.

And oh, she’s a sweet dog. She’s about a year old, mostly house-broken (she was completely house-broken at her former home, but adjusting to a new house means accidents, and I knew to expect that), she’s great with the girls, and she’s mostly ok with Beaumont. Roxie really wants to play with Beaumont, and Beaumont wants nothing to do with her, so they’re sorting out their boundaries. It’s an adjustment phase for everyone.

I think Roxie might be a little traumatized from being given away by her previous owners. She follows me from room to room, and seems to want to keep an eye on me all the time. Last night, Chris and I dropped her with my parents while we went to buy a crate for her. (I didn’t want to leave her loose in the house and risk her fighting with Beaumont while we were gone.) My mom said she sat at the door and cried for us after we left. I felt so bad for her, hopefully the separation anxiety will ease up over time.

Initially, I wasn’t sure if we’d keep the name Roxie or not, and I thought we might change it to something else. But I realized that she knows her name and responds to it, so that would be confusing for her. Plus Lucy calls her “Woxie,” which I love. And I have an excuse to sing “Roxanne” all the time now, and that’s pretty fun.

Lucy does the best photobombs of all time.

And I’ll admit, I’ve been having a little bit of that “holy crap, what have we done?” feeling like you get when you have a baby. Like: oh god, life will never be the same and nobody will ever sleep again. But I’m pretty sure that’ll pass as we all settle in and adjust. I’m pretty fond of her myself.

First selfie with my very own dog. This is weird and also great.

So, yeah, a new family member for a new year. Big changes, but pretty great changes.

welcome home, Spyro Jones

Back when my cat Teenie died a couple of years ago, Catie was devastated, and I ended up getting her some fish as a consolation pet. The 3 glowfish died shortly after we got them, then we got a betta fish, which lived for about a year and a half.

Catie still sometimes cries that she misses Teenie. It’s usually because she’s upset about something else, and Teenie becomes the placeholder for whatever it is that’s making her feel sad. But it’s obvious that cat took up a pretty big space in her heart.

I think Catie figured out quickly that the fish were not a good substitute pet for a cat. Since she’s been obsessed with dinosaurs since she could talk, she started asking for a reptile. She had her heart set on getting either a snake or a lizard.

I held off as long as I could, but it’s been over two years that she’s been wanting a pet reptile, and her interest hasn’t waned yet. She’d regularly bring home books from the library about lizards and other reptiles, and talk about, “someday, when I have one…”

About a month ago, I gave up the fight. We started researching different options. From everything I read, it seemed like bearded dragons were the considered the best pet as a “starter reptile.”

We went to PetSmart. They had a baby bearded dragon at the store, but since I was planning to get a terrarium off craigslist (because that stuff is expensive to buy new), we weren’t able to take him home that day.

But, they let Catie hold him, and she pretty much instantly fell in love with him.

Later that afternoon, at my parents’ house, she drew a picture of her experience. Note that Lucy is pretty indifferent about the whole lizard concept.

Today, we went to Petsmart & held a baby bearded dragon. This is Catie's artist's rendering of the experience. I'm on the left, pet store guy on the right. Note Lucy looks less than thrilled about the whole thing.

I found a used terrarium setup yesterday. We went back to PetSmart and bought the baby bearded dragon.

Welcome to our family, Spyro Jones. (That's what Catie has named our bearded dragon. He enjoyed the bathtub while we set up his terrarium.)

Catie named him Spyro Jones. Spyro is for her favorite Skylander character — he’s a dragon, so I guess the name is fitting for a bearded dragon. And Jones is for Martha Jones, her favorite of Doctor Who’s companions. (I take no credit for turning her into a Doctor Who fangirl. That is entirely her dad’s influence.)

She is completely smitten with the little guy. Last night, she couldn’t bring herself to go to bed because she didn’t want to stop watching him.

It's way past her bedtime but she can't stop staring at her new buddy. I think this is true love.

This morning, she woke up with pink eye, so I kept her home from school. (We’ve all had it in the past month. We went to the doctor and got some eye drops, she’ll be fine in a couple days.) If I didn’t know better, I’d think she planned getting sick so she could stay home with her new lizard.

Catie hanging with Spyro Jones this morning. She is so happy.

It’s a weird thing, I have no big love of reptiles, and I am grossed out that I have a container of live crickets in my house that I need to feed him.

But at the same time, I have to admit that I’m developing a weird affection for this little lizard too, simply because he makes my Catie so happy. And really, what more can I want for my kids than that?

Thursday Brain Dump

So. The fish died. All three of them. I’m a very efficient fish killer. The key appears to be forgetting to pre-treat the water. You’re welcome. (Also, whoops.)

Catie handled it so-so. There were a lot of tears, but then she got excited when I told her we could go to the pet store to pick out new fish. So, you know. We cope, we move on. Such is life.

Rest in peace, Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi.


I don’t usually go this long between blog posts, and I think that staying in my own head this much is probably not good for me. The issue is that I’m not sure what to share, how much is too much. I’m having trouble deciding exactly where my boundaries are.

At the same time, writing things out usually makes me feel much better. So I should probably be doing more of that.

Where to start…

My mom is insisting that I need to see a therapist. She’s concerned about the dating thing. She thinks that I was so starved for affection in my marriage, that I’m greedy for it now.

[Side note: I know some people in Dave’s family still read this blog, and that previous sentence might upset them. All I can say to that is that the only two people who knows what goes on in a marriage are the two people in it. We each have our perceptions of what things were like, and that perception colors our reality. I’m not going to say anything negative about Dave himself, because I don’t need to. But I’m allowed to talk about my own personal experience. Also – if you don’t like the fact that I’m not going to be all happy & joyous about my failed marriage, perhaps you shouldn’t be reading my blog anymore. And yes, I see when you visit here on my stat counter.]

So, yeah. Apparently I’m greedy for affection, attention, positive reinforcement, etc., from men. Maybe that’s true. I don’t necessarily see the harm. If I want to flirt and have guys tell me that I’m cute, how is that such a bad thing?

I guess I could see it possibly being negative if the kids were being exposed to any of it. But the only difference is that occasionally they have a baby-sitter in the evenings, which is usually a big fun event for them. They aren’t being introduced to some revolving door of men or anything even remotely like that.

My awesome stylist fixed my stupid self-inflicted bangs haircut.
There’s really no reason for this picture to be here, except that I’m talking about myself, and good lord, I do love my hairstylist.

The therapy issue is kind of a weird topic for me. I was in therapy for a while last year during most of the really horrible stuff (both before and after the separation). And I’ve been in therapy a couple of other times in my life. In theory, I know it’s a positive thing, I know it helps people. But for me, personally? I’ve never gotten anything out of therapy. I think I have a fair amount of self-awareness already, and I typically leave therapy sessions feeling exactly the same as I did when I walked in the door. That’s not how it’s supposed to work, right?

(And don’t tell me to go to a support group for single/divorced parents, because I’ve heard that suggestion too, and OMG I would rather bash my own forehead into a hard, bumpy surface than endure that.)

I suppose you could make the argument that if it doesn’t work for me, I need a different therapist. And that might be an entirely valid point.

There’s a lot more I’d like to say about the issue of dating, but that’s at least 5 more blog posts right there, and this is probably long enough.

The upshot here is that I probably will give therapy one more shot, mainly to make my mom happy, so she can know that at least I tried. Maybe I’ll even learn something this time around. Who knows.

circle of life-ish (or live fish)

I wasn’t sure how Catie would deal with the loss of Teenie. She’s known that cat her entire life. We talked for several days beforehand about how Teenie was very old and sick, and how it was almost time for her to go to Kitty Heaven. But I was dreading telling her about it when it happened. The poor kid has been through quite enough over the past year, she deserves a break.

She took it all really well at first. She knew it was coming, so it wasn’t a total shock.

But the next day, she walked into the room and said, “Mommy, I just don’t feel like myself without Teenie here.” I told her that I knew exactly what she meant. Then she burst into tears. There wasn’t anything I could do except hold her while she cried for a long time.

She asked if since Teenie had died, could she get a puppy?

I said no way, kiddo, sorry. Mommy is responsible for cleaning up quite enough poop around these parts. We aren’t adding a puppy to the mix.

She said, then can I get a hamster?

I said no, because hamsters stink and Mommy doesn’t want to clean its cage.

She said, then can I have a fish?

Sigh. Damn it.

I’m not made of stone, y’all.

Internet, meet our newest family member(s)…

(See the 3 blobs at the top of the green aquarium plant? Yeah. Them.)

Their names are Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi. Catie named them herself. Obviously.

So, yeah. Fish. At least they’re really low-maintenance pets, right?


Not so camera-shy Teenie

I found my cat, Teenie, sometime around my 21st birthday. I don’t remember if it was a few days before or after my actual birthday. It doesn’t really matter.

What I remember is that I was living off-campus in a house that I rented with two other girls. There was an ice storm, and I came home really late, like at 3 a.m. (I don’t remember why I was out so late – again, doesn’t really matter.) As I was walking up to the front door, I saw something run from the front porch. It was dark out, and the blob that I saw running was so tiny, I thought it was a squirrel. Then I thought I heard a meow. Just to be safe, I said, “Here, kitty-kitty-kitty?” She came running to me.

I searched all over the neighborhood for her owners. It quickly became apparent that someone had dumped her during the ice storm, probably figuring she wouldn’t last through the night. My parents told me that they were already helping to support my living expenses while I was in college, and I was not allowed to keep a cat. I lied and told them that my roommate had decided to keep her. But Teenie was mine from the moment I found her.

(For the record, she got her name because compared to my roommate’s three humongous cats, she was this wee little kitten, so she was, quite literally, teenie.)

I’ve had Teenie for over 15 years now. She’s moved all over the country with me. I found her in Memphis, TN, but she’s lived in Mississippi, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Washington, and North Carolina. She travels like a champ. I used to joke that she needed her own frequent flyer account for all the times she flew home with me.

When Catie was born, Teenie would stand guard in front of me while I was nursing her, and hiss/growl/swat at anyone who came near me and the baby. That included Dave too. She just knew that Catie was “ours.” The same was true with Lucy, too.

a girl & her cat

Teenie hasn’t been doing well for a while, and her health has taken a serious turn for the worse in the past couple of days.

This is part of the deal with pets, right? They typically live shorter lives than their owners. And it’s horrible and heart-breaking, but that’s what you sign up for when you adopt a pet.

I’m having Teenie put to sleep this afternoon. It’s a horrible decision to have to make, but it’s time. She’s been a really good cat and a great companion, and I will miss her terribly.

I don’t know what else to say. I’m just really damn sad about it.

May you rest in peace, Teenie. I hope Kitty Heaven is full of bologna and cheese.