Category Archives: animals

Royal Caribbean Cruise: Dolphin Push-Pull Shore Excursion in Grand Cayman

20191230_074625When I sat down to look at the shore excursions for our Royal Caribbean cruise on Brilliance of the Sea, I was ooverwhelmed. We only had two stops on our 5 night cruise, but there were at least 100 different options. While there may have only been a dozen or so basic components, there were so many combinations of those different components that I broke down after the third page of options. Finally I just sent my mom and sister some generic options: beach, animal encounters, historical sites, or something sporty.

Ok, I just threw that last one in as a joke. I knew no one in my family was going to pick something actually sporty. There are definitely several physical options for any shore excursion, but my people are not the sporty types. In all fairness, two of the group have limited mobility, so it’s understandable that we had to pick activities that were a bit lower-intensity.

The kids all wanted some sort of animal encounter. When I was listing some of them off to my mom, she was very keen on a sea turtle adventure. My kids thought that would be pretty cool too. And they even offered sea turtles with an additional option of stingrays. My daughter was not too keen on that one. But then my sister told my nephews that swimming with dolphins was an option and the decision was made.

That’s how we found ourselves sitting in the Pacifica theater at 6:45 in the morning on the third day of our cruise. No one was particularly happy to know that that particular hour still existed on vacation. When we signed up for the excursion it definitely did not mention the need to get up before the sun in order to hang with Flipper. If they had, I think my mom might have insisted on befriending Crush and Nemo instead.

20191230_110814But, we’d pre-booked and we were not about to cancel and lose that money, so when our group number was called we headed down to disembark. We had to get the tender boats over to Grand Cayman and all 9 of us boarded together and tried to stifle our yawns as we made our way to the shore. Once there we were bustled into vans with about half a dozen other group members and we set off for our adventure. Our van was just doing the dolphin swim. The other van that drove behind us had one of those combo deals and was heading off to a beach after we finished.

I had no idea what to expect. It was actually pretty confusing at first. We were one of the earliest groups to arrive, but it still took our guide about 10 minutes to get everything squared away. We’d been told we could bring cameras, but once we entered in to Dolphin Discovery, the employees told us we had to leave everything in the provided lockers. Aside from our suits, and our locker keys and our shoes (which we took off close to the pools, everything else had to be left behind. I was disappointed as I wanted to take some pictures of my kids frolicking with dolphins.

20191230_081819Once our gear was stowed, we were taken over and given life vests. We were then split into groups of 10. Somehow we got separated from the rest of our family, so instead of one big family group, it was my family of 4 with 6 strangers. They were very nice people, but I had hoped to share the experience with my entire family.

Our group headed over to a large pool-like area. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but I found this picture of it, so hopefully that will help. Our “pool” was at the far left-side of the picture–it’s the large one. Ours was actually divided into two with our group down on the non-sandy side. All 10 of us got into the water. There was a ledge about 3 feet wide and about 3.5 feet deep that ran the length of the area. Since only one person could swim with a dolphin at a time, it was a good waiting spot for the rest of us.

The weather was beautiful (in the mid 80’s) and the water was warm. Our instructor introduced us to Sherlock, our dolphin. Sherlock was charming and very well-trained. He waited patiently as our guide explained the “pull” part of our adventure. Each person would swim along the wall a little less than halfway out. Then, when given the signal, we’d swim about halfway into the middle of our “pool.” Our right arm would be outstretched ready to grab Sherlock’s fin when he came around and our left would be bend across our chest in order to grab hold of his flipper. Then Sherlock would pull us back to the ledge.

20191230_093226While we were waiting for the first person to swim out and get in position, Sherlock posed with the rest of us. We each got four non swimming interactions with Sherlock. We got to dance with him, get a kiss from him, give him a kiss, and hold his face next to ours. Each of these interactions were photographed for us and after the encounter we’d have the chance to buy our photos, hence why we weren’t allowed to bring cameras.

Frolicking with Sherlock was fun. He was very sweet. I’d never touched a dolphin before. His skin was sort of rubbery. His fins were oddly hard, but also flexible, which was such an odd combo.

When it was my turn to swim out, I did, worrying the entire time that I’d mess up and end up missing Sherlock. Thankfully Sherlock was a pro and our instructor told me when to grab, so I caught on the first time and Sherlock sped me to shore. Now, I am not a tiny person, but that dolphin had no problem pulling all of us back to the ledge, even the gentleman in our group who had to weigh close to 250.

After getting pulled by Sherlock, everyone was laughing. We all clearly enjoyed it. Well, everyone except my daughter. Her anxiety kicked in pretty hard core and she decided she did NOT want to swim out there (she gets very anxious in water). Our instructor offered to let her start from the ledge and have Sherlock just take her a small way and then turn around, but even that scared her. When he realized this, he was great with her. He let her play a few fetch games with Sherlock, so even though she didn’t do the swimming, she still felt connected to him and had fun.

Once our “pull” was done, it was time for the “push.” For this we each used a boogie board and swam out to the middle of the “pool” again. This time we had to lay on the board with our legs completely straight behind us. Sherlock’s job was to put his nose on one of our feet and “push” us back to the ledge. I watched as the first person, a young girl was pushed back to us. She zoomed at us giggling the entire time. Her dad was not as successful. He couldn’t keep his leg straight and Sherlock had to nudge him several times. He eventually got it and came at us a bit slower. When it was my turn I was once again worried I’d bend my leg and mess it up (like my husband did), but I managed to keep my leg rigid and Sherlock flew me through the water. Not nearly as fast as she shot my son through it though. He was like a 5 foot, 90 pound torpedo. I was worried he’d crash into us. But Sherlock knew when to stop and he came floating in.

When were were done, we changed back into our clothes and headed into the gift/photo shop. I took one look at the prices and realized no matter how cute they might be, there was no way we were buying them. To get all pictures for our group of 4 would have been about $250. I loved the experience, but to me it was more important to have it than to capture it on film. I would have liked one to, but I knew if I saw one, I’d want them all. So instead I let my son buy a little bottle of Grand Cayman sand in a bottle, and I bought a can of Pringles for my family to share.

Swimming with dolphins was something I’d always wanted to do and I was glad we got to. Even if my daughter was a bit scared, she had a blast and fell in love with Sherlock. It was definitely worth it!

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Free Reading Friday: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

We are never meeting in real lifeI’m torn about We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby. On the one hand, Irby is pretty darn funny. I really enjoyed her very first essay “My Bachelorette Application.” It set what I felt was a very realistic and funny tone for the book. I also enjoyed all of her essays about her cat Helen, except maybe the last one. I know Irby worked in a vet’s office for 14 years (in fact, I LOVED her essay looking for a new job due to moving in with her wife) and she understood that what the vet was telling her about Helen was pretty hopeless, but having just put my beloved cat of 20 years to sleep, it just seemed a bit harsh at the end.

Then again, that’s the reason I am torn about this book. Irby is, without a doubt, honest in her essays. She is often brutally, in your face honest and sometimes it’s a bit hard to take. There were a couple of essays that I had trouble reading in one sitting just because they were so blunt that I felt I needed a break part way through. “Mavis” is a good example. Actually, a few of the essays talking about her relationship with Mavis were hard to read because it was hard to see why they were actually a couple and why they were getting married. I also am still not sure Irby is happy with it all and I like her, so I want her to be, especially considering her really rotten childhood.

Overall, this book is filled with more gems than it is hard to read portions (at least for me). One of my favorite parts was when she and her friend witnessed a Civil War reenactment while killing time between a wedding and the reception. It cracked me up when the re-enactor told her that her necklace was intense. I love her reply, “Honey, you are wearing a hoop skirt in 2013.” Even though Irby acknowledges her necklace was a bit intense and there’s a good chance the girl didn’t even mean it as an insult, Irby’s quick wit and defense mechanisms kicked in.

It took me a bit longer to read this book than I expected, but I’m glad it did.

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Wildcard Wednesday: New kitten

turnipI had my darling cat Olivia for nearly 20 years. I got her for my 22nd birthday. She was the perfect gift to go with my first real grown up apartment (technically a townhouse) and my first real grown up job teaching English.

She was an amazingly precious kitten who used to play the most adorable game of “fetch” with this tiny stuffed green frog my sister bought me. She’d use her paws to push the frog into position. Then, she’d run behind something and prepare herself to pounce on the helpless stuffed creature. Once she had it, she’d sort of get it between her front two paws, almost like a toddler grasping a toy between her hands, and carry it for a foot or two. She’d wrestle it for a few minutes, snap it up with her mouth and bring it to me. Then she’d wait patiently for me to pet her, praise her and throw the frog across the room so she could start the hunt all over again.

Although her health had been in a fairly steady decline over the last two years, she finally reached a point where she was in a lot of pain and her back legs basically stopped working, so we decided to put her to sleep. It was a very hard day for all of us. My daughter, who is mildly autistic, had a particularly hard time with it. Over the past year, my daughter had taken to kind of babying Olivia. Although she never picked her up (Olivia no longer liked to be picked up), my daughter would sit next to her on the couch, baby talk her and just carefully pet her. She must have had 100 pictures of the cat on her school iPad. Actually, it was probably way more as her teacher kept making her delete them to free up space. My daughter was a bit lost without Olivia.

A few months later, my husband and I started discussing the possibility of getting a new kitten, mostly for our daughter. We thought helping to care for the kitten might be a good learning experience for our daughter and since the kitten would be added to a house where my daughter already existed, she wouldn’t have to get used to my daughter’s behavior like Olivia did…a new kitten wouldn’t know any other life.

So, one Saturday when my husband was at work, I checked our local Humane Society’s website. Sure enough, they had some kittens who had recently arrived at the shelter. I loaded up the kids and we went just to have a look.

Turnip #2A look…who was I kidding? The second we got in the building and saw those tiny bundles of fur, we were all in love. One of them was a grey and black striped kitty. I won’t lie, when I looked at the website and saw her name was Hermione, she was my immediate favorite. I thought my daughter might really love having a kitten named after one of her favorite literary characters (well, Hermione or Junie B. Jones). But my daughter hardly glanced at that striped cutie, which was probably for the best as someone who arrived minutes before us was already snuggling her and had asked about adopting her. In fact, all four of the kittens were adopted in less than an hour.

My daughter was immediately drawn to a quiet little white kitten near the back of the multi-level cat cage. She had beautiful ice blue eyes and a pale tan bit of fur over her left ear that also had an even tinier bit of black on it. She was so tiny and so sweet looking. Unlike her two siblings, who were meowing quite a bit, she seemed content just to sort of hang out and look at the world. My daughter desperately wanted to hold her. She asked the lady in charge if she could and was told only if we were serious about adopting. I assured her we were and in moments, we were holding Turnip.

Turnip was the name she was given at the shelter. Her siblings (one boy and one girl) were called Cabbage and Radish. Both were cute, but my daughter has a great eye because little Turnip was the best of the bunch.

It only took a few minutes to get the initial request in and about ten minutes later, we were back in a cubicle discussing the adoption process. My daughter was not at all happy that we had to give Turnip back while we talked to the adoption counselor, but we repeatedly promised her no one else would be able to take Turnip while we were away from her. It didn’t stop my daughter from asking about her every few minutes. And we were back in that cubicle for quite some time. I totally get it. I don’t think any shelter should just hand a cat off to just anyone off the street. They wanted to do some checking in to us. I didn’t actually think we’d even be able to take the kitten home that day. I figured we’d have to at least wait overnight which is why I didn’t bring a carrier with me.

Imagine my surprise when we were told we could take her home less than an hour later. I ended up buying a cardboard carrier as I knew there was no way my daughter was going to let me go home to get ours, no matter how many times everyone assured her Turnip would be there when we came back. She was not taking any chances.

I sent my husband pictures (which were not good as she would not stay still) and he was not impressed. He thought she looked sickly. Even though he’d agreed we could get a kitten, he was far more hesitant than I was. He loves cats, but he wasn’t sure he was ready for 20 more years of litter box cleaning. We already have another cat, Bob, who is 8, very fat and has a real attitude with me. When he got home, he went in and peaked at Turnip in the guest room. That was all it took. He was smitten. He came back and asked when he could hold her (I’d quarantined her in the guest room to help her acclimate). I told him he could go back in when she woke up and he was there the very second she did. He played with her and fell in love (I knew he would). He babies her more than anyone else in the family.

turnip in basketWe’ve had Turnip for about a month now (my daughter decided she loved the name and I agreed). My daughter scoops her up just like a baby and Turnip sort of rolls her eyes and takes it. She lets my daughter push her around in a doll stroller. She lets my daughter give her raspberry kisses. She humors my daughter and all of her little attempts at mothering the kitten. Not that she knows much else, but it’s sweet.

Turnip is an amazing addition to our family and I am so glad we brought her home. Although since we haven’t had a kitten in about 15 years (Bob was my dad’s cat and was 3 when he came to live with us), I’d forgotten how crazy kittens are. She attacks my feet pretty much every chance she gets. She loves when I wear maxi dresses (which I do several times a week), because she sneaks under them so that she can bat at the hem when I walk, which means I trip over her constantly. She loves when I refill my water cup and constantly tries to knock it off the water cooler shelf. She meeps every single morning and evening when she wants her wet food and will not stop until her bowl is placed in front of her (although it is about the only time she meows at all). She terrorizes Bob; she is enthralled by his tail. It cracks me up and has actually made him attack me like 75% less. Granted, she’s now attacking me, but mostly just my toes and she’s yet to draw blood.

Turnip is our sweet little furry vegetable.

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Chocolate Monday: Savvy Cakes at Cakewalk

Savvy cakesOn my recent trip to visit my best friend in Athens, Georgia, she told me that a new bakery had opened up. She suggested we take a trip there, knowing full well that there was no way in the world I was going to turn down a chance to try a new bakery. Especially not one named Cakewalk. I’m always willing to partake in a cakewalk!

When we pulled up to the shop, I was a little thrown by the exterior. It didn’t really look like a bakery. It looked like someone’s house. Now, I know looks can be deceiving. After all, the best bakery I’ve found in Athens is in a building that used to be a BBQ shack. And when I say shack, that is really not an exaggeration. When it was The Butt Hutt, it was a take out place. With its transformation into a bakery, there is just room for a display case, a few display fridges/freezers and a fancy coffee machine. It is still a take out only place.

When we walked in the front door at Cakewalk, I was even more confused as I didn’t initially see any baked goods. I saw lots of home goods and cute gifts, but no food. Turns out Cakewalk is not actually a bakery. As the very enthusiastic and helpful woman working there told us, they aren’t zoned for baking. They are zoned for retail. So, what Cakewalk does is connect with small, local bakeries to resell their delicious treats.

What Cakewalk does (and does quite well in my opinion) is allow dessert lovers to take a “cake walk” through the store. Would be chocoholics can sample nearly all the cakes and bars available for purchase. The samples are already prepared in tiny sealed cups and customers can try as many as they’d like. The cakes are on display in large glass cake dishes for anyone interested and come from several local bakeries.

My best friend and I indulged in several samples, including an old-fashioned chocolate cake, a red velvet, a carrot and a double chocolate. Although they didn’t actually have a sample available, my best friend opted for a slice of the almond cake. Since I have a serious chocolate addiction, I had to go with the double chocolate cake.

I’m not sure which bakery my BFF’s cake came from, but mine came from Just Desserts Made from Scratch Bakery located in Statham, GA. For some reason, that I’m still not quite clear on, it is listed as a Savvy Cake by Just Desserts Made from Scratch Bakery.

Regardless of who made it, it was pretty darn tasty! The layers of cake were incredibly moist and very chocolaty. I loved the layers of creamy chocolate buttercream frosting. I was also happy that this cake was not too heavy on the frosting. For me, cake should always be the star. When people add too much frosting to their cakes, it almost seems like they are trying to hide the fact that their cake is not that good. I prefer a fairly thin layer of frosting on both the top and the sides of the cake. I actually would have been even happier with a little less frosting on this piece, but it was better than what many bakeries produce. I would definitely like to try more of these Savvy Cakes.

I did a little googling and it looks like Staham is only about 20 minutes east of Athens, so as much as I enjoyed the very friendly service at Cakewalk (and petting the seriously adorable dog who was hanging out in the store far from the actual food), I think on my next trip to Athens, my BFF and I will have to hop in the car and make a trip to the actual bakery for some additional treats.


Appearance: 8/10
Taste: 8/10
Value: 7/10 (we bought from a retailer, so prices were a bit higher than at the actual bakery where they seem pretty reasonable).

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Free Reading Friday: Secretariat

SecretariantSecretariat by William Nack was an obligation book for me. I read it because one of my students asked me to so that she could use it for her non-fiction book project. Since I’d read Seabiscuit the year before for a similar reason, I figured this would be similar. I’d already exposed myself to the world of racing, so this book would be easy to get through, right?

WRONG! At least not for me. Now, I am not a racing fan of any sort, so I’m sure that was part of my problem with the book. Actually, it was like 90% of my problem with the book. Since I am not a fan of horse racing and do not follow it in any way, my only real knowledge of racing comes from Seabiscuit and the one time I went to the race track with my family because my aunt had won some sort competition which entitled her to a party at the racetrack. I was 15 and wasn’t even allowed to bet, so my memories of it are hazy at best.

I was prepared for an underdog race horse story with lots of descriptions of the people surrounding the horses and the races themselves. And I got that. What I was not prepared for was page upon page upon page (seriously, like 1/4 of this book) devoted to begets. It was like reading Genesis in the Bible, only for horses. This horse beget this horse beget this horse ad nauseum. I was also not expecting very detailed descriptions of horse insemination. Seabiscuit was all about one horse and his racing career. Secretariat is all about those thoroughbreds that came before him, his amazing performance and those who trained him. It made the book awfully long.

I was also not a huge fan of Nack’s storytelling. I think part of the reason I enjoyed Seabiscuit so much was because of Hillenbrand’s storytelling. I actually liked her narrative so much that I went on to read Unbroken, which was a book that appealed to me even more and I found myself engrossed in. Nack’s narrative seemed broken up by all the begets and race times. It felt more like a list than a story at times.

I was also not a huge fan of Penny Tweedy. I thought her behavior spoiled and superior throughout most of the book. If Nack was trying to paint her as a heroine in the world of racing, it is not how she came across to me. She threw too many tantrums and was far too nasty to too many people for me to like her or even sympathize with her.

For true horse racing fans I’m sure this is an interesting read. It was just not the book for me. I felt each one of the 455 pages I read and I hate when that happens.

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Throwback Thursday: Vacationing with kids

Athens playgroundFrom the moment my best friend delivered the devastating news that she’d gotten her dream job–10 hours away from me–I started planning my first visit to see her. It just so happened that her move at the end of July coincided with my school’s very first year on the balanced calendar. In between trips to our favorite coffee shop and last minute movie watching, she was packing up boxes to move three states away and I was putting the finishing touches on my lesson plans.

Although juggling the heartache of her leaving with the extreme stress that comes with the start of each new school year was really weighing me down, I just kept reminding myself that in a little over two months I’d be taking my first trip to see her. I attempted to delude myself into believing that I’d be so caught up in the new semester that it would be easy to forget she was no longer right down the street. Sadly, I’ve never been a great liar…not even to myself.

The time did pass and at the end of the grading period, we loaded the family up and headed to Georgia. Of course, we only stayed with her one night before continuing on to Disney World. After five days that I can only describe as the best family vacation we’ve ever been on, we turned around and headed back to see my best friend.

This time my husband only spent one night before he had to head back home to work, leaving me and the kids behind to spend an amazing week with my best friend and her husband. Although we had no car of our own, it really wasn’t a problem. When my best friend had to teach we either hung around her house doing crafts and taking walks or we went to campus with her and played in the fun park-like area near her building or she lent us her car and we went to local parks. Then, when she was off, she introduced us to a plethora of really fun places for the kids to play while we got to talk.

Since this initial trip, we’ve found some favorite places in Athens that we go back to every single visit.

park bulldogOne of the best parts about visiting Georgia in October is that the weather is usually pretty nice. Unlike Indiana, where the temperatures sometimes sink down into the 40’s, in Georgia the weather rarely dips below 75, which means plenty of outdoor time with the kids. And since my kids LOVE to be outdoors, if it’s not raining, we plan outdoor activities.

This year we got to check out the new World of Wonder park, which is actually part of Southeast Clarke Park. We’d actually visited the park on one of our previous trips and while the playground was pretty cool and the kids had a blast, it was not nearly as epic as the updates are. The playground was actually moved to the other side of the park and now has two separate park areas, one for kids under 5 and one for bigger kids. The bigger kid playground features 10 different slides, a really cool webbed climbing merry-go-round thingamabob, a three-story tree house looking structure for kids to climb, wobbly bridges, tons of swings, lots of room for families to sit and even these really cool porch swings (of sorts) that are in shaded areas. The picture at the top of this blog is from the WOW park. My kids had a blast on it. My son particularly liked the “mushrooms” which were these stepping areas that reminded him of the mushrooms in Mario Bros. He loved the way they sprung beneath his feet as he jumped from one to the next.

My BFF and I loved that we could sit on a lovely shaded bench and talk while my kids ran amuck on the playground. Since we could see just about every area of the playground from our seats, we never lost eye contact with the kids for more than a few seconds. And, since the playground is surrounded mostly be a wide open grassy area (and is completely fenced in), it’s not like they could really wander off anywhere.

Bear Hollow signOn our last full day in Athens we also got to visit one of our favorite places: Memorial Park/The Bear Hollow Zoo. My BFF is not normally a fan of zoos. Like many people, she hates the fact that animals are taken from their natural habitats, forced into cramped spaces (at least compared to how they’d live in the wild) and put on display for our amusement. However, she is a huge supporter of The Bear Hollow Zoo. The reason is simple: The Bear Hollow Zoo only has animals that are native to Georgia and only has animals that have been injured and are in need of rehabilitation and protection. All of the animals in the zoo have been injured and cannot survive on their own. They are brought to the zoo by people who rescue them. Some times the animals can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild, but often times their injuries are so severe that they would not be able to survive in the wild, so instead they get to live out their lives at Bear Hollow. The zoo is fairly small with only less than two dozen animals in it, but it’s pretty cool.

The zoo has a few birds, including two owls, an alligator, three bears, an opposum, a tortoise, an otter, a bobcat, an eagle, deer, turkeys and some reptiles. Every time we’ve gone we’ve been able to see all of the animals, which is pretty cool. Since it is part of the public park system, it’s not fancy, but it’s a great way to spend half an hour with kids.

Bears at Bear HollowAs part of her service learning class, my BFF has her students do volunteer work for the zoo, so she always has some great information to share with me and the kids. One year she even got us a “backstage” tour. We got to feed almost all of the animals (we skipped the alligator and the snakes) and even got to go into some of the enclosures. My daughter still goes on and on about how she fed the bears blueberries. Yes, that’s right, my kids actually fed the bears in this picture yogurt covered blueberries. It was initially pretty terrifying for me to watch, as I was sure they’d lose at least a finger if not an entire hand, but they loved doing it.

Once we finished up at Bear Hollow, we walked down a short wooded path to get to Memorial Park. Although much smaller than the WOW park, it has a fun little playground, which is geared more toward younger children. My son, who is 10, still finds ways to have fun on it, but everything is sized a bit more for my daughter, who is 7. In addition to the playground equipment, Memorial Park also has a large man made lake full of ducks, geese and turtles. There are hundreds of turtles in that lake. And, there are little machines with food in them scattered all around the lake, so once we finished on the playground, I handed my kids a few quarters and we killed another 20 minutes walking around the lake and feeding animals. The turtles were not too quick on the uptake. Most of their food was snatched by very quick little fish. My kids thought that was hysterical.

One great thing about the parks in Athens is that they also feature the famous UGA bulldog. My kids LOVE driving around Athens and looking for bulldogs, which are all over the city. At the parks not only do they get to look, but they get to climb on them as well. My kids have memorized where some of their favorite bulldogs are and they make a game of trying to be the first to spot them. Whenever we find a new one, they get very, very excited.

Not only is Athens the home of my best friend, but it’s also a wonderful place to find great food and some great outdoor family fun.

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A Cat Named Bob

I’ve always been a cat person. Not that I have anything against dogs. When I was a kid we even had a couple of dogs and as much as I loved them, there has always been something about a cat curled up in my lap, that I just love.

When I was finally out on my own and had my own apartment, my best friend found a litter of kittens in the rather scary maintenance shed of her apartment complex. What she was doing in the shed is still a bit of a mystery, but the end result was half a dozen little balls of fur who all needed lots of love and warm laps. I fell absolutely head over heels with the one I nicknamed “second to runt.” As the oh so clever name implies, she was the second smallest in the litter. At least for the first few weeks. But then, even the runt outgrew her and was quickly snatched away by neighbors. Second to runt was my favorite and every time I visited, I spent all my free time letting her run all over me.

It just so happened that my birthday fell somewhere between her sixth and eighth week of life. My ex (who was quite allergic to cats), decided my love for her over-ruled his allergies and in a moment of great sacrifice, put a little bow on her and let me bring her home. Olivia was my pride and joy.

Olivia and I have been together for somewhere between 12-14 years now. She is still thin as a rail. She still loves to curl up next to me, but now that’s only after the kids have gone to bed. I’m not sure she’s forgiven me for bringing my son home from the hospital almost six and a half years ago. While my kids are wonderful around animals, Olivia wants nothing to do with them. The have never chased her or pulled her tail. They are just too darn loud. She’s always been skittish and constant pounding of their feet and the insane echoes of their voices is just too much for her. She hides most of the day.

The same was true for our other feline friend, Jenkiss. He was a stray I was fostering for a local shelter that was out of room. Even though I really wanted to keep him, Olivia didn’t seem very fond of him, so I decided that when the shelter could take him, I’d have to give him back. That was, of course, before my husband (who was just my boyfriend back then), took a liking to him. My husband never had pets as a kid, and he thought Jenkiss was the bees knees. Before the week was over, I got a sheepish call asking me not to give him back to the shelter, so I quickly bought kitten supplies and took them over to his apartment so there was no way my boyfriend could back out.

Late last year Jenkiss got sick. We took him to the vet, but to no avail. My husband had to let him go and it about broke his heart. At that moment, he decided he was done with cats. Well, at least with getting any more (Olivia is still around, after all).

Even though I sometimes thought how much fun it would be for the kids to get a kitten that would be used to their loud noises–like Olivia, Jenkiss never took to the kids either. I think he actually despised them even more than Olivia. She never hissed at them. The same could not be said for Jenkiss. My kids got used to it and learned to just ignore the cats, but every now and then, my son would get sad that the cats didn’t like him–I knew my husband didn’t want more cats, so I let it go.

That is, of course, until Bob happened. bob 2

Being a cat person is sort of in my blood. Everyone in my family loves cats. My parents were no exceptions. Well, at first my dad was. He hated cats (or so he claimed), but when I moved in with him at 14 and begged and begged for the stray kitten my aunt had found, he caved and Pookie came to live with me. It never fails, as much as I showered that cat with attention, she preferred the person in the family who seemingly wanted nothing to do with her. And that, is how my dad became a cat person: a sort of war of attrition. She just plain wore him down with her constant love. He got so used to having a sleeping cat on his lap, that when she passed away (I had to leave her behind when I moved into the dorms), he got another cat.

Bob was my dad’s cat. He loved Bob. The two of them could be found every afternoon lounging in my dad’s favorite spot on the couch. Each morning Bob would wait for my dad to get up, and then trot down the hall with him on the way to the kitchen. Like my dad, Bob was a night owl, and I suspect he was a huge bit of comfort to my father as the cancer slowly made his life harder and harder to bear.

When my dad passed away last year, Bob was a bit lost. He still had my step-mom and she loved him dearly, but he was my dad’s cat and you could see him pining a little. Now, not so much that the little fatty refused treats, more like just enough to get extra treats. He became my step-mom’s new lap kitty and seemed to be loving life.

But then, all of a sudden, my step-mom passed away in June. Once again, Bob was set adrift. He was still living at the house (my aunt came over daily to check on him and the other cat), but he just meowed sadly. My aunt and I had talked about what to do with the two cats, but we weren’t really sure. She already had about a dozen animals and I knew my husband really did not want another cat.

A little over a month ago, my son overheard me talking to my aunt about giving clothes to Goodwill. We must have been talking about Bob just moments before, because all of a sudden, I heard this desperately sad cry from across the room, “You mean you’re going to give Bob to Goodwill?” My son’s eyes filled with tears and he begged me to let Bob come live with us. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him so legitimately worked up about anything in my life. I calmed him down, assuring him that Bob was not going to be loaded up in the truck and tossed aside with the old waffle maker and coats, but it was not enough. He wanted his Pop Pop’s cat.

It was my husband’s call, but before I could even finish recounting the Goodwill story to him, he shook his head and said, “so, I guess we’ve got ourselves a new cat.”

And that’s how Bob joined our family. Unlike Olivia and Jenkiss, he likes the kids. He doesn’t run from them and even lets them pet and kiss him. My daughter has started calling him Bobby and she loves to follow him around the house. He never seems to mind. He’s claimed a spot on our bed where he spends about half of his day. He and Olivia are learning to tolerate each other. Even my husband has been won over by the Bob’s charm.

Still, I don’t think we’ll be getting any more cats any time soon.


Filed under animals, married life, motherhood, my childhood, my crazy family, my daughter, my son, nostalgia, ramblings, what makes me me