Mocking Bird and a Creek

When I was a little girl, I was known for quoting movies, reiterating plot lines from Bonanza and Sleeping Beauty. My Granny swears to this day that my Maleficent was a dead ringer for the real thing.
“Touch it, I say!”

I became suspicious that The Baby had inherited this talent early on, when she began to be riveted on everything everyone around her was doing. She began “snapping” her silent little fingers, blowing baby raspberries in response to big people raspberries… and soon she began singing lines from “Frozen.”
Her first spoken sentence was -in very fact -SUNG, “Leh i’ goooooo!”

Now her favorite game (aside from a pretty painful version of “peek-a-boo” in the which she grips her Mom by the hair and forces her head into hiding) is the call and echo game.
“Hi, Dad!”
“Hi, Da!”
“I’m sorry…”
“I dorreee…”
“I LOVE you!”
“I YUH YOO!”

And the beat goes on.

Last week, we said family prayers and I stayed kneeling on the ground to say my own personal prayers. I wasn’t long into it before I felt tiny fingers on the back side of my pants… lifting them away from my body.
“You poop?!” a tiny voice inquired from directly behind me.
She was just checking… the same way Mom checks her.
Last Saturday, we went out as a family to The Steps outside of town.

The steps are a place in a canyon where the rocks have been whittled away by some mysterious band of someones.
Maybe the Spaniards?
So that they might water their livestock at the creek below.
Sheep, maybe?

Our neighbor growing up owns the land now, and he’s added a few more man-made steps and a sturdy hand railing to make the hike down easier.

My sister arranged for us all to meet out there and soak in the creek water, catch tad poles, and get completely covered in sand.
Trenton and Lacy were ALL ABOUT the water, the crawdads, and the tadpoles.

Alice was mildly interested in the water, but the sand? She was infatuated. She dug her hands and feet into it, peeling off her most beloved pink crocs (she’s obsessed with shoes) to sink her little painted toes (“prebbies!” aka “pretties”) into the soft beach-like sand.


But somehow I only manage to get a water picture. Good job, Mom.

After a good long dunk in the water and a few walks along the creek side, my sister took a break in the shade. Alice watched her spread her pretty swimming cover-up on the sand and lie down. Then she toddled over and did exactly as Julianne had done.
She plunked her little wet bum next to Ju and lied down flat.
“Dis bed?” she asked, honestly wanting to know why we bother lying down when there’s SAND to be had.

The kids all loved it.

The tadpoles did not.

And we all went back to Grandma’s for hot dogs and s’mores which means we all slept soundly from either exhaustion or full bellies.
Or happiness.

A Blog About a Cat

I hate my cat.

Can I just put that out there? I’m not naturally a hateful person (or a cat person…) but this cat has incurred my spite, ignited my dark side, and pretty much just peeved me off. To be fully upfront about the role I’ve played in welcoming this cat into our house, I have to take full ownership. I saw the kittens on facebook, and I fell in love and did something very FEMALE.
Or maybe very 5 year-old FEMALE.

I set my computer aside, put my jacket on and went straightway to get a kitten. I indulged.
And now I must repent.
And believe me -I AM REPENTING -sackcloth, ashes, the whole nine yards.

First, I thought the cat was male (it still looks like a male). And then she got pregnant.
Fool me once.
Next, my seemingly well-behaved cat showed her true colors when I started seeing MICE. MICE IN MY HOUSE.

Fool me twice, shame on ME.

Now I’m going to take you back -flashback style.
A few years ago, we brought home two kittens as Christmas gifts “for the kids.” They were mostly for Danny and I because our MOUSE problem was outrageous. I had HAUNTA nightmares. In my deep cleaning, I would find evidence of mice, YEA even MICE THEMSELVES. I hit my breaking point when I was vacuuming out our hall closet and found a mouse carcass.
I phoned a friend and secured two kittens from her pregnant cat. I claimed those little mouse murderers before they were even fully developed. Having them around the house was a balm to my soul. Truly. Is there any greater cure for what ails you than kitten on your porch? Spats and Fluffy were a dream come true. The mice disappeared from every corner of my house… I rejoiced. REJOICED.
But then Spats died of pneumonia.
We buried him and felt sad, and I didn’t waste anytime in finding another kitten to fill the void. I wasn’t about to let The Great Mouse Massacre come to any kind of halt.

I mean what I say when I say they were chewing through clothes, dryer hoses, dish cloths! I found mouse feces WEEKLY on my kitchen counter tops. I bleached furiously, constantly. And still. Feces.

I could hear them chewing wood at night, scurrying under my bed.
It was torture, and it drove me to something of an inmousanity. ¬†As opposed to inhumanity because they’re really two very different things.

I picked up our new cat, Crissy, and we loved her fully and wholly for the short three months we had her. Upon her sudden and unexplained disappearance, we realized Fluffy was pregnant. She produced four of the most beautiful kittens in the world. Once again, our porch was littered with kittens.

If you’re swooning, you’re with friends.

We lost one kitten in the cow trough behind our house, and Lacy went to school the next day and wrote about it in her Writer’s Workshop Notebook, “The orange kitty got in the cow troth and we think she is gone forever. and she is.”

We gave two of the kittens away to the UPS man and kept the last for ourselves for maybe a week. We came home from church to find it dead.
I started sensing a pattern… kittens come TO our house but NEVER GET OUT.

But we still had Fluffy. Faithful, gentle, wonderful -so long as you didn’t come near her or touch her -Fluffy.
And no mice.

I picked up this new kitten, and Fluffy eventually came around to her. Our new kitten became a teenager, and Fluffy took it personal and vanished (Our house is something like a Feline Bermuda Triangle).
And the teenager became so fat, so pregnant. She birthed SIX healthy kittens.

Which brings us to today.

That CAT. IS HORRIBLE.
We have 50% of the kittens left. She starved two to death (and ATE one. ATE! HER OWN BABY!). One disappeared in the barn because she moved those poor kittens constantly.
All we found was a furry orange paw…

But that’s all just background. ALL BACKGROUND to what I’m getting at.

Having discovered our “male” cat was pregnant, we began calling her Mama, and the name has stuck but it is not at all fitting (see “ate her own dead baby” above).
A few weeks ago, I took Mama and her 5 remaining kittens to the vet. She had mastitis because she refused to nurse her kittens.
I felt for her, having battled mastitis myself, and I ached watching her gingerly walk the porch.

I set her appointment up at 8:30 am. I got up early, dressed and got ready for the day. I then got the children up, loaded up the cat and her babies into the car which my husband had started and cooled down before we put them in.
I crawled through my passenger side door to the driver’s side (which door has been broken for far longer than I want to discuss thankyouverymuch).

With three sleepy children in carseats and 6 felines in the back seat, I followed my husband into town where he AND the vet work. As we merged onto the highway, I spied with my little eye a barn cat darting back and forth in the back of the car.
Not gingerly.
Her pain had been temporarily backseated to her terror.

Back, forth, back forth, backforthbackforth… and that’s when she pooped. TERROR POOPED.

Let it here be known that my children have the weakest gag reflexes in the history of children. I immediately rolled their windows down and begged from the depths of my soul that they NOT PUKE.
It crossed my mind that the cat might jump out of their open windows. I didn’t have time to figure out if that scared me or tempted me. Jury’s still out…

I pulled off the nearest exit, barreled out the passenger’s side door, called my husband and asked him to please turn around and help me either clean up or keep the kids from puking or just cheer me on.
I used what few baby wipes I’d brought with me to scoop the mess up, deposited it in a diaper (what else?) and let the car air out. At this point, we were officially going to be late for the cat’s appointment which would make me late for work and so I’d need to call the sitter and inform her as well.

I drove cautiously into town, glancing down at the CAT at my son’s feet. Cursing her, pitying her.
As I pulled into the vet’s parking lot, my baby began screaming in pain. I turned to see what fresh hell had hit and found her puking.
She’s never PUKED before. She’s spit up and gagged and threw up small amounts of food when she chokes (gag reflex WEAK). But this? This was seriously something from the depths bottom DEEP of her little self.

I screeched into a parking spot, rolled the windows and began LOUDLY begging my gagging older two children TO PLEASE NOT PUKE. They opened their doors and TOOK FLIGHT. My husband quickly popped the back hatch of the car and volunteered to handle the cats. He was halfway to the waiting room before I could protest.

I was left.
with puke.
and no wipes.

That.
damn.
cat.

I managed pretty well with what I had on hand (luckily I keep a small kit in the car full of disposable gloves, bags, and baking soda -although no wipes, apparently). I found an old extra outfit for the baby, wiped her down with the clothes she had on, and then bused her into the office where I gave her a makeshift bath in a sink.

I came home with antibiotics for Mama, eye creme for the sick kittens, and a belly ache from ALL OF THE FLUIDS AND FECES.
I called into work.
I cancelled the sitter.
I diffused my stomach ache blend for the rest of the day.

And I’m standing here to tell you that MICE ARE IN MY HOUSE. AGAIN.

I hate my cat.
I’m babying these babies in the hope that they’ll turn out nothing like their mother and somehow foster an insatiable thirst for hunting small game.
Like the mice that invaded my dresser a few months ago because although Mama is bad news for her own flesh and blood, she’s apparently a cake walk for mice. They’re having a regular reunion at our house.
Can I just say? We caught FOUR in the course of THREE days.

If nothing else, NOTHING ELSE, I only hope they’ll just not eat their dead babies. Is that too much to ask?

Humble Pie

A few months ago, I read a Christian book about God’s love for women. Instead of being fraught with antidotes that trigger intense amounts of guilt for not being ENOUGH, it’s full of encouragement for individuality.
It honors the athletes, the musicians, the creative, the analytical… it gave me some insight and inspiration.
It reminded me that I’m a daughter of God, that He loves me and each numbered hair upon my head, and that I can grow and develop as the woman He made me to be, regardless of my neighbors, Pinterest, and magazine covers.

An invaluable truth I cling to in my life right now is simply that GOD LIVES, and He knows so much more than I do.
Not unlike Gru’s minions do I wander, getting in fights over insipid crap that doesn’t matter, feeling like I have a lot of know-how when all I really, truly have is a great deal of capability only magnified when God is at the helm.
When I leave that helm, I’ll only wind up in a serene and beautifully brief paradise where the living is temporarily easy and eventually leads to me turning into a wild purple monster that holds little resemblance to the minion I once was.

God knows my name.
He knows my needs.

God hears my prayers when I’m lying in bed in the dark of night.
He knows who I need.
He knows WHAT I need.
He knows when I need.
And I think I do, but I don’t. I may have SOME IDEA but never the full picture.

All my life, I’ve FOUGHT to be capable and in control. I’ve fought to handle my life.
I’ve worked to save myself -to earn every ounce of love and appreciation. I’ve been judgmental of others who didn’t somehow live up to my standards.
Oh, how my stomach churns to write about that…

I acknowledged God. Sure I did. I gave Him a nightly nod of recognition and then drifted off to sleep to thoughts of how I would manage the next day.

This past year, God has brought me to circumstances which have humbled me outright. He has taken me by the hand and heart and asked, “Are you ready for Me now?”
I didn’t need God…
I had Google.

I didn’t need God…

I didn’t want to bother Him with my smallness, my cluelessness, my habits and challenges. After all, He has a great, wide world to tend to. Surely, Alicia can handle her own bumps and bruises.

But you guys. I CAN’T.
I mean, I literally can. I literally can go forth and try to manage MY ENTIRE LIFE from the tops of the cupboards to the bottoms of the floorboards and everybody in between, but at the end of the day all I had was gold star stickers and sore feet.
What was missing?
Peace, grace, serenity, soulful rest.

As the last year has wound it’s challenging little noose around me, I’ve found myself at another rock bottom, looking up to God and desperately croaking out in the middle of the night, “Help. Please, God. Please, dear GOD. HELP.”
I find myself looking up and saying, “God, I can’t do this. I can’t try and fix my reaction to this or that. I can’t manage their reaction to my this or that. I can’t fix other people. I can’t manage or rescue them either. They are yours. I am yours. But I. I AM FULLY BROKEN.”
Instead of trying to put on a show for God that I was sure was going to earn me His shining Celestial approval, I began speaking in a tongue completely foreign to me… HONESTY.
I told Him every soul-rending truth about my days. I poured out my broken on a platter and served it to Him with a soaking, snotty wet tissue garnish, “sorry…”

I started calling people I knew were safe. I called and told them I was broken. I was so afraid they’d think less of me, tell me to put my big girl panties on and consult Google, for crying out loud. But they didn’t! They didn’t. You know what DID happen? A sort of, “Me too” kind of moment.

I’ve been writing -OH! How I’ve been writing. I’m finding the more I write, the more I see and feel like myself. The less I write, the less I like myself.

I’m finding that I need help. Humble Pie has been my dish of late, and it tastes remarkably like FOOD OTHER PEOPLE ARE GIVING ME because I can’t muster it up for myself. Bags of fresh fruit delivered to my table, pizza boxes full of warm, fragrant pepperoni to tempt and fill my children…
At one point, God sent me -literally -fish and a loaf of bread through the arms of one of his dear daughters.

I’ve had my house cleaned, my children taken and cared for.
I’ve broken down in tears that I CAN’T DO THIS ALL MYSELF. I hate bothering people, but I’m learning -I’m talking to you, God -that it’s okay, and that people actually don’t feel bothered. That people are good, and that people love giving.
That I am people.
And that someday, when I’m managed to get it through my THICK SKULL that it’s okay to be helped, I’ll be the one helping.

And in that day, I’ll be able to fully help and serve without judging those I serve -wondering why they can’t Google themselves out of it.
Because I’ve been there. I am there.

And I’m so sorry -so full for sorrow -for judging those who were crying out from their own beds in the middle of the night, “God, HELP.”

Because in almost 98% of those around us -even the ones in bright houses with good jobs -there is help needed.

Yesterday, I went to the city with all three of my children and a tank full of gas. As I went over my food budget (again) and wrangled the children OFF the motorized carts and picked up thrown slushies (Alice…) I couldn’t help but feel incredibly and thoroughly blessed.
Despite being sick with a bad gall bladder (surgery pending) and nearly giving up on myself and the world at least 6 times during that trip, I had food in my car.
I had three healthy kids.
I have God.
My mind continually turned to the fruit in my fridge, the empty pizza boxes at home -the gifts that had come the morning after a bleak and dark night from whence I felt as if my soul might bleed to death.

I testify here and now that He knows the hairs on my head, He knows my tears, my prayers, my truth, my life.
He knows MORE than I do.
I can surrender my life to His and in so doing ACTUALLY FIND THE LIFE WAITING FOR ME -the one He’s had in store all along.

Humble pie is hell to eat, but how blessed am I that it comes from hands lovingly moving in place of the Savior’s.

My tears today are for those who serve endlessly with love and without judgment to those who don’t deserve it but desperately need it. Today I’ll take my three healthy children and dunk them in a creek with my family and look heavenward and say my millionth prayer of gratitude.

In order to give me true life, God has taken some things from me. And this exchange has been the most rewarding of my life. I can give nothing back right now except WORDS.
And these are my words:

GOD IS ALIVE.

And THANK YOU. THANK YOU to whoever has been serving me as the Savior would have you. I pray for you each day.