Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Snapshots - Two of my Best Girls

My youngest and Layla were exhausted after Layla's first soccer game.  I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship :)

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce @ At Home with Books.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thomas O'Malley

On one of our morning walks a couple of Sundays ago, as Layla was approaching one of the culverts that run all through our neighborhood, I swore I could hear the high pitched, scared out of its mind meow of a little kitten.  

We stopped and listened.
Layla heard it too.

I began calling, "Little Kitty, Little Kitty, Where are you?"

Each time I would call, the kitten would answer me back.
Layla and I could hear the kitten but we could not see him and could not be sure of where the cries were coming from. 

"Little Baby?"


"Where are you Little One?"


"Tell me where you are."


I crawled down into the ditch (yes I did) with confused but excited Layla by my side (she must have been thinking we were on a treasure hunt!)

I continued to talk to the kitten and narrowed down which culvert he was hiding in...unfortunately it was a long culvert with no end in sight so I couldn't see anything but pitch black.

As Layla became more and more excited, I realized how silly it was for me to be calling the little kitten while holding a German Shepherd...doh!

Layla and I went home, I told my daughters about the kitten, we went to church and stopped by the culvert on the way back home.
No kitten.
I didn't think about it again.

The next morning was Memorial Day and Layla and I were in the backyard.  I was sitting in the swing watching her eat sticks when I heard that same little scared "Meow!"
The culvert where we had first heard the kitten is down two streets from my house so surely it couldn't be...I followed the sound, again talking to the kitten as I walked. 
I left Layla in the fence and realized that the kitten was under my middle daughter's car.
 Layla began to bark bc she didn't understand why I was outside the fence and she was inside so I decided to enlist my daughter for help.

"Whitney," I said to my still sleeping 17 year old.
"Whitney, I need your help."
"Mama, do you even know what time it is?" she groaned.
"Whit, I think there's a kitten under your car!"

Huh? What? Where? 
She was awake then.

My girls are a lot like me when it comes to animals that need saving ;)
As she began to look under her car and talk to the little kitten (who all the while is still talking back to us), we became afraid that the kitten was somehow in the engine of the car.  

Until Whitney said, "Mama, here he is...awww little one, come here."
Thankfully, Little Thomas O'Malley was sitting on top of my middle daughter's tire.

He was absolutely frightened to death, crying and even shaking.  For the record, I've had cats all my life and I've never seen one shake.
He was petrified.

Now, I'm making a huge leap here in assuming that the kitten on Whitney's tire was the same kitten in the culvert...but if he was desperate, and I think he was, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to assume that he followed our scent up the street to our house...probably even traveled through the culverts.

We wrapped him up to keep him warm in case the shakes were the beginning of shock and held him close to our bodies.
He immediately began to purr...sounded like a helicopter...I'm not kidding at all.

As soon as we were sure he was ok, my youngest claimed him.

Then, the oldest and middle daughters started fighting and fussing over who should get to keep the kitten, assuming that there was no way the 7 year old was going to keep the kitten.

"You already have a cat!"

"And, you have a dog!"


"So, you don't need another animal!"
"Just because I have a dog doesn't mean I shouldn't get to have another cat!!"

"Yes it does!!  You're leaving in a couple of months can't take the kitten to the dorm!"

"He can be my cat and still live here!  What's wrong with that??"

There's plenty wrong with that...I'LL end up taking care of YOUR cat...and I'M not taking care of YOUR cat!!"

By this time they were screaming at each other and my youngest was crying.
How in the world my husband slept through all of that I don't know.

I told the big girls to HUSH!
The Firstborn is leaving in a couple of months and the middle daughter will follow in a year.
My youngest has never had an animal of her own so if ANYBODY got to keep the kitten, I was determined for it to be her.
I told her I couldn't make her any promises, but I would talk it over with Daddy.

My youngest has been in and out of her own bed for 7 years...mostly out...every time I've managed to get her out of our bed, something happens and she's right back in bed with us.  
I told Reagan that I already have a cat; Thomas O'Malley cannot sleep with me...I don't want Uh-Oh any more upset than he's gonna be when he sees this new kitten. Beneigt usually sleeps with Whitney and I don't want him upset either.

If Daddy says the kitten can stay, after a clean bill of health from the vet, he must stay with HER and in HER bed at night. 
She didn't even hesitate.
I honestly did not believe her.

Neither did my husband.

I guess they showed us :)
Like his namesake, Thomas O'Malley is a scrapper. He stands up to face even Layla and will give her a 1, 2 punch in the nose if she gets too close.  The vet even said that while Thomas O'Malley stayed with them for his check-up, he was hissing and spitting at everybody :)

Uh-Oh and Beneigt weren't sure at first, but once they realized the feisty little kid wasn't gonna get in their way, they were fine with Thomas O'Malley moving in.  

Even the Head of My Household is ok with Thomas O'Malley...he's like a hero...finally got the youngest out of our bed and all that ;)

Abraham De Lacey

Guiseppe Casey

Thomas O'Malley

O'Malley the alley cat.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

As Wordless as I Can Be Wednesday

Yes, we have 2 black cats, Uh-Oh and Beneigt.
Yes, we have Hermione, a rescue after Hurricane Katrina.
Yes, we have Layla, my new German Shepherd puppy.
And, yes now we have this little fella, Thomas O'Malley...who likes to stretch out on my laptop.
Thomas was in dire need of a home...and I'm a sucker.

Please don't miss his little legs which are stretched out behind him :)

More on Thomas O'Malley later.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Awww Moments

 Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's theme is Top Ten Awwwwww Book Moments.  I define an Awwww moment as one that elicits strong emotion...and that emotion usually touches something personal...hence the reactive "Awwww" response.  For obvious reasons these choices are individual and certainly won't affect all readers the same way...but hey, that's one of the reasons there are so many books in the world to read, right? :)

Here are my Top Ten Awwww Moments in Books:

 1.  Narcissus in Chains/Laurell K. Hamilton

Jean Claude to Anita:

"I knew from the moment I heard you, the moment I saw the gun and realized that this lovely, petit woman was the executioner, that you would never die waiting for me to save you - that you would save yourself."

Anita doubted her place in Jean Claude's life in the shadow of Julianna, Jean Claude's former human servant, the love of his life (or after life).  Julianna was so perfect in every way that Jean Claude and Asher fought tooth and nail over her and Julianna's effects on both vampires is evident even centuries later.  Julianna died because Jean Claude didn't get there in time to save her.  I think this is the part of the series where Anita finally accepts that Jean Claude's love for her is real even though she is a much different person than Julianna.  Jean Claude and Anita's relationship is not a mushy gushy one by any stretch of the for him to know exactly what Anita needed to hear and to say it so matter of factly...well, Awwwwww!

2.  Fearless Fourteen/Janet Evanovich

STEPHANIE: "If something happened to me, you'd take care of Rex, wouldn't you?"

JOE: "Nothing's going to happen to you."

STEPHANIE: "Yes, but if it did."

JOE: "If anything happened to you, I'd be so destroyed they'd have to strap me to a bed and feed me through a tube.   After five or six years I might be capable of taking care of Rex.  In the interim, you should assign a guardian."

Joe is strapping Stephanie with a listening device as they have this conversation.  I loved the way it said so much but in off the cuff way as well...two people who love each other deeply but don't spend a lot of time with all that smoochy smooch business.  Rex is Stephanie's hamster.  Awwwww, I'm a Joe girl all the way.

3.  Little Women/ Louisa May Alcott

"Ah! Thou gifest me such hope and courage, and I haf nothing to gif back but a full heart and these empty hands," cried the professor, quite overcome.

Jo never, never would learn to be proper, for when he said that as they stood upon the steps, she just put both hands into his, whispering tenderly, "Not empty now," and stooping down, kissed her Friedrich under the umbrella.


 Thank you, Jo for staying true to yourself...whether fact or fiction, Louisa May Alcott's Jo didn't let popular consensus guide her choices in anything.  Her refusal to conform lands her a man that she will be happy with for the rest of her life.  Truly happy.  Awwwww!

5.  Breaking Dawn/Stephanie Meyer
He caught up to my mood in an instant, or maybe he'd already been there, and he was just trying to let me fully appreciate my birthday present, like a gentleman.   He pulled my face to his with a sudden fierceness, a low moan in his throat.  The sound sent the electric current running through my body into a near-frenzy, like I couldn't get close enough to him fast enough.

It's difficult to explain this Awwww moment without I won't. :)

6.  The Heart is Not a Size/Beth Kephart

I heard my mother.  "Apply your intelligence to everything."

Thank you so much to Beth Kephart for creating a YA character with a mother who has some sense...and whose child actually listens to her.  Georgia wasn't simply doing what her mother said though...she took her mother's words and applied them to her own life...Awwww, now that's a breakthrough!

7.  Dead Reckoning/Charlaine Harris
"I love you," Bill said helplessly, as if he wished those magic words would heal me.  But he knew they wouldn't.
"That's what you all keep saying," I answered.  "But, it doesn't seem to get me any happier."

As much as I like to think I want Sookie to choose between Bill and Eric, I think her realistic view of these impossible relationships, even though they bring her such pleasure and even excitement at times, is what keeps me coming back.  I love that these two guys love her so much...and she's the one holding out. 
And I love that they give her the space she needs to figure it all out....(not that they really have a choice)  Awwww!

8.  Out to Canaan/Jan Karon

Father Tim could hardly bear the look of his dog, suffering, whimpering, thrashing on the asphalt, as fresh blood poured from the wound in his chest.  
Dooley tied the bandanna around the dog's nose and mouth, and knotted it.  "Okay," he said, taking off his T-shirt.  "Don't look, you can see 'is lungs workin' in there."  He pressed the balled-up shirt partially into the gaping wound' immediately, the dark stain of blood seeped into the white cotton.
"Give me a towel," Dooley said, clenching his jaw.  He took the rowel and wrapped the heaving chest, making a bandage.  "Another one," said Dooley, working quickly.  "And git me a blanket, we got t' git 'im to Doc Owen.  He could die.
The rector ran into the house, praying, sweat streaming from him, and he opened the storage closet in the hall.  Not blankets.  The armoire!
He could die.

Barnabus, just one of the characters that Father Tim takes in as a ragamuffin dog with no home, is hit by a car in the middle of the night.  Dooley, a growing man by this time in the series, takes charge and  voluntarily takes over when Father Tim cannot see through his emotions.  Father Tim fought to take care of Dooley and Barnabus and now Dooley is taking care of Father Tim. At this juncture in the series the reader really sees just how much Father Tim's unconditional love has affected so many of the people whose lives have crossed his.  Awwwww!

9.  Blessings/Anna Quindlen

And suddenly she knew in her bones, the way she knew the alphabet or the Lord's Prayer or the piano fingering to "Clair de Lune," that that was a life no better than the life she had had.  The great grievance she had felt for so long, the sense of being done out of something by her mother, by her daughter, by her class, by chance, by fate: it was a Potemkin village, a stage set, a papier-mache thing that had lost its power.  She had filled her days mourning that shadow life, and it had no more meaning than the chattering of monkeys.

Thank goodness she finally gets it...and boy when she gets it, she really gets it.  While I felt so wonderful for Lydia here, I couldn't help but think of how sad it was that it took her so long to catch on.  Look at all she missed while holding onto her hate.  Awwwwww.

10.  The Glass Castle/Jeannette Walls

In the hallway, Lori and Dad got into a loud argument over who was responsible for pushing Maureen  over the edge.  Lori blamed Dad for creating a sick environment, while Dad maintained that Maureen had faulty wiring.  Mom chimed in that all the junk food Maureen ate had led to a chemical imbalance, and Brian started yelling at them all to shut the hell up or he'd arrest them.  I just stood there looking from one distorted face to another, listening to this babble of enraged squabbling as the members of the Walls family gave vent to all their years of hurt and anger, each unloading his or her own accumulated grievances and blaming the others for allowing the most fragile one of us to break into pieces.

I wanted all of these kids to get out.  I waited and waited as they one by one left the damaged nest their mother and father had thrown them in.  I realized when Maureen left for good, however, that they would never be able to completely "get away" from the life they had been brought up in.  It would scar them all for life even as they made the best of each of their circumstances and carved out their own futures.  My Awwww moment here was when I realized Maureen wasn't going to be saved.  As unrealistic as it would have been for all the kids to escape and lead normal lives, I sure did want it badly.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Layla, you got me on my knees, Layla...I'm begging darlin' please ;)

All of my reading plans went up in smoke when this little bundle of joy came into my life.  The picture below is her enjoying her first soccer game :)

I'm so smitten I don't even begin to know what to do with myself. :)

I put aside even the new Anita Blake book, which was auto-shipped from Amazon on its release date, in order to spend some time with the following books:

Laugh if you will but Cesar Milan, aka the Dog Whisperer, uses behavioral psychology in order to train humans how to interact with their dogs...yes, I said "train humans."  The Head of My Household and I learned the hard way with a Rottweiler how very important it is to understand your dog completely...when the owner is able to work with how the dog thinks, the dog responds not only with obedience but with respect.

The Monks of New Skeet follow the same philosophy as Cesar...with full attention to the dog's pack mentality.  The "pack" includes all of the people/other animals within the home the dog resides.  The dog's instinct tells it to follow an established leader.  If no leader presents itself, the dog will take that spot.  Really, it's like raising a child.  Children actually need structure and need to know somebody is in do dogs.  How convenient for me that the Monks of New Skeet have been training German Shepherds for years :)

Then, of course there are the standard breed books...I've looked through them all...the biggest difference I can see is that some of them are actually written with the specific breed in mind all the way throughout the book, no matter how many sections might overlap with other breeds.  Others have one little introductory section on the specific breed and then the rest of the chapters are generic material that supposedly you could apply to any dog.  The one above by the publishers of Dog Fancy is one of the best I've found in the standard variety with very specific information whether on potty training, the basic commands, etc. with a German Shepherd's temperament, instincts, history in mind.

This MagBook is also published by Dog Fancy; I read it cover to cover along with another MagBook specifically focused on German Shepherd puppies published by the DogChannel folks.  I found both of these publications at Pet Smart the day we brought our Layla home.

The German Shepherd has a long history of being a loyal, intelligent and hard working dog...specifically in the military as "trackers."  I've found a few books and DVD's about these working GSD's (German Shepherd Dogs) and have added them to my WishList; however, I'm a little nervous about reading these because I know just as with humans in war, there will be death and grievous injury for the dogs as well.  One particular book is called None Came's about dogs in Vietnam who were left behind even after the American troops pulled out :(  I haven't exactly made up my mind about that one.

We have always been animal people...cats, dogs, name it, we just feel a sense of responsibility to the creatures that are sharing our world.  There is also nothing, and I mean nothing like a good dog.  Our first child was a Chow.  The Head of My Household and I got her right around our 1st anniversary.  We trained her and treated her as if she was our child...a part of our family.  She was with us through the birth of our two older daughters and loved them as if they were her own pups.  She was very protective of all of us but she never, ever showed any kind of aggression towards any of us or anyone we were around.  We lost her after 13 years to breast cancer...and yes, she had been spayed.  I vividly remember the day the vet told us the best thing to do was to let her go...she was suffering.  And, I vividly remember the man I love burying our beloved dog with tears in his eyes as rain poured down around him.   

I have high hopes for our Layla :)