Seems all of my posts recently are animal related, but truthfully, that is Life At The Circus these days… it’s all about the animals.  Holding them, taking them potty, fighting over them…


Hands down the youngest two are my biggest animal lovers.  My oldest son has taken way more to the cat than he thought though, he was surprised by how snuggly the kitten is and loves to hold her (though he has taken to either wearing layers of shirts or sweaters b/c he is not a fan of the scratching).  And it turns out my oldest daughter really enjoys changing the liter box (hooray) even more so than actually holding the kitten.   She likes taking care of the cat… making sure the liter box is cleaned out, the food and water are filled…  totally works for me. 


This dog is amazingly good with the kids.  When we had 11 little kids here for our daughter’s birthday party, she CHOSE to be in the middle of them all, being chased or petted.  IMG_5288

The cat too loves to be with us.  If she is hiding under furniture, she will come quickly when you call “kitty kitty kitty”  At meal times when we put her down she likes to be by us.  We’ve rigged a spot for her by the dining room table that allows her to be up from the ground but in close proximity to the family.    One day she wandered out on top of the closet in our foyer area.  The kids were all worried she’d jump, but she just watched for a bit and then wandered back to the landing.  Meanwhile Wendy chooses to rest either under the table or on the AC vent behind the table so she too is close by.


Cartwheel puts up with TONS from the kids… like being put to bed in the American Girl doll bunk… or just the fact that she tolerates my three year old carrying her around the house.  And who knew kittens enjoyed reading Magic Tree house books?





She also likes to play with trains and legos!  No wonder she fits in so well here.





In the 6 days we’ve had Cartwheel, I have already noticed the 2 pets warming up to each other.  Wendy doesn’t bark nearly as much and Cartwheel does still hiss at her now and then, but last night they were playing in our room and even tolerated both laying down on our bed.  Then this afternoon I sat down to work on the computer and the cat jumped up beside me… a few minutes later the dog joined her!  There was a little hissing, but they laid down next to each other for a few minutes… long enough for me to call my son and ask him to snap a picture!  I’d say we are making progress on that front!


I couldn’t believe how many old clichés took on a whole new meaning and relevancy to Scott and I last night when we welcomed our cat into our family. 

When I responded to the ad on Craigs List, I asked if there were any female kittens still available.  She replied, that I was the first to respond to her ad, and so I could have the pick of the liter if I wanted to stop by that evening and take a look.

When we got to her house, she had 5 kittens and one Momma cat.  At one point we were trying to get all three of the females together so we could compare them. Every time she’d get two together one would take off, it was impossible to wrangle all three of them to one spot.  Just as I was thinking to myself “so that’s why they say it’s like herding cats,”  Scott actually said to her, “gee it’s like your herding cats” which made all of us laugh as she said she too was thinking the same thing.

When we got home and set about to introduce Wendy to Cartwheel, the clichés kept on coming… Our dog was none to please with the arrival of the cat and Scott noticed that she had her ears pinned back.  (or in the case of our big eared pup, they were more flying out to the side).  And I definitely noticed when Cartwheel’s hair literally stood on end.


I guess I was kind of surprised to see their reaction.  To be honest, I thought they’d kind of smell each other and then become BFF like in Homeward Bound The Incredible Journey or something.  But, their response was so innate.  They genuinely did not like each  from the beginning.   At this point I was literally cracking up laughing as I said to Scott, “These two fight like cats and dogs!”

Since late last fall, our youngest daughter has been lobbying hard for a cat.  She did a school project on one, she drew endless pictures of them, she wrote stories about them, she slept with her stuffed animal cat every night and my favorite was the note she wrote Scott listing all their fine attributes.

 photo (13)photo (12)

We waited it out awhile, trying to see if it was merely a passing phase or if it would stick.  We figured if come July when her birthday rolls around, she’s still stuck on cats, then we’d most likely allow her to have one.  (we never told her that of course)

July came.  She turned six and she was still crazy for cats.

photo (11)We decided we wanted a kitten so that we could hopefully train the cat to like being held and snuggled  (rather than say hiding under the bed all day).    I found some kittens that had been rescued by a lady who’s neighbor had moved away and left her pregnant cat behind.  This kind woman, took the cat in (even though she is allergic) and raised the kittens till they were old enough to leave their Momma.  When we went to meet them, my youngest was instantly smitten.  (My two youngest children are my animal lovers).  My little guy had a blast picking up and holding one kitten after another.  When one would sneak away, he’d just reach down and grab another. If it would dig his or her claws into him, he’d giggle and say, “It scratched me, but that’s ok.  It likes me.”   Meanwhile my daughter was happy to hold just one. 

Tonight we welcomed Cartwheel into the Circus Family.


We are hoping that by getting both a puppy and a kitten close together neither would feel like the dominate animal and maybe they’d get along. 


It’s a bit soon to say how that is working out… she’d been home a whole 2 hours.  There was some hissing, some barking and some hair standing on end.  Scott’s not very optimistic but I am hopeful they will work things out and become friends.  Or at least they’ll get along. 


On July 14th we welcomed our pup Wendy to the circus fam and 11 days later we welcomed our kitten Cartwheel to the crew as well.  Go ahead and say it, we admit it, we are a bit crazy!


This weekend we celebrated our youngest daughter’s 6th birthday.  Since her reoccurring theme of the year was all things feline, it came as no surprise to me when she requested we have a cat themed birthday party. 

Because she doesn’t like cake, she requested brownies with little plastic cats on each one.  (For real, those were her exact words)  I was more than happy to grant that simple request. (hands down easiest birthday cake I’ve done for one of my kids)


She also wanted a piñata.  I was a bit nervous about pulling this one off, but we were actually able to find a kitty cat piñata  at the party store.   I’ve done a lot of piñatas over the years, and I gotta say this was the best one we’ve had.  So often they are impossible to break, this one did actually break and it broke little by little giving everyone a chance to let out some candy.  The kids seemed to really enjoy it. Actually, we all got a kick out of watching them swing at the piñata.  Though it was a little odd to see all these children swinging a baseball bat at cute little kitty cat.  


When it came time to open her presents, the gift from her siblings (and thus Mom and Dad as well) was a scratching post to signify that we are going to grant her request of the past 6+ months and allow her to have a real kitten.   Her older brother came to us months ago and asked if he could get her a kitten for her birthday.  Looks like the circus family is about to grow even more as we are on the look out for a kitty cat to join this crazy crew!


Since the passing of our beloved dog Maggie, there has been a void in our home.  I missed her immensely more than I ever anticipated.   And while no dog could ever replace her or what she meant to our family, we felt it time to once again hear the pitter patter of doggie feet in the circus home. 

But, we needed to wait until we were home from our grand adventure before welcoming a new pup to the family.  So, at about South Dakota, I started searching the internet hard for Corgi puppies in our area.  We wanted a pup as soon as possible after we got home.  The timing would be ideal as it would give us 2 months to fully focus on training her before school starts again.  I was growing discouraged as I wasn’t finding ANY Corgi puppies (even after extending the search far beyond our area).  The window of opportunity would be lost and our void would continue.

Then the crazy thing happened.  When we were driving to my parents, we were about 10 miles from their house on a small, sparsely populated country road we had no business being on (google maps is not always the most direct path if you know the area… but we followed it the whole trip… why stop now)  when I saw a sign small white sign in someone's yard that read “Pembrooke Welsh Corgi Puppies” and listed a phone number.  It seemed far to weird and random to be true but we quickly turned around for a closer look.  You know how discouraged people in the desert see things they want to see even when they aren’t real?  It felt kinda like that… but this was real!  We got the number and began calling right away.  Unfortunately, it worked out that we could not establish contact until we were all the way home (5 hours away).  But when we did we learned she really did have puppies available and at the right age to be picked up!!  Praise God!

But of course now we had the problem of picking out, and picking up, a dog that we were 5 hours away from.

Picking one out turned out to be surprisingly easy and affirming. When I spoke with the breeder I asked if any of the puppies were particularly snuggly… liked to be held and sit on your lap.  “Oh, yes, I know just the one,” she said.  “Baby girl… we bottle fed her and she loves to snuggle on your lap and be held.”   I asked her for a picture and she sent me one with 4 puppies in it.  I had no idea which one was the one she described, but I found myself hoping it was the one with the cute white marking on her face.  The marking is not traditional corgi but I told Scott we were going to have a real problem if the one she described wasn’t the one with the cute white mark on her face.  “How will we decide because that one is SO CUTE?”

Turns out we didn’t have to decide as it was one in the same dog.  We were instantly sold and smitten and now just had to solve the dilemma of how to get this puppy which was 5 hours away.

Mom and Dad to the rescue.  My parents graciously picked up the puppy for us, foster cared her for a few days, and met us at a Wendy’s parking lot half way between their house and ours so we could bring her home. (THANKS MOM AND DAD!!)

Today we brought home the newest member of the Circus Family!


She loves to snuggle on your lap and be held.  She’s mellow and easy going in the house… and playful outside. 


In a word, she’s perfect.  And no, I am not at all biased.  We all agree.


It has sort-of evolved such that we have always named our dogs after a location of significance to the circus family.  We tried to contrive a name that worked with our new street address / community but nothing really fit.  We were all ready to branch out into a new unrelated name as we drove away from the rendezvous point.  That’s when it hit me…

Meet Wendy.  The newest member to the circus crew.


Yesterday afternoon the girls got their baby dolls and strollers and headed to the court to walk their babies.  I don’t know what it was about that particular moment in time, but it struck a chord in this Momma’s heart and made me all sappy.  IMG_5119

As I watched them pushing their dolls and pretending they were walking to China… with a stop in Tennessee for some Chick-Fil-A, I found myself longing to take in the moment.  I grabbed the camera and was so thankful that they are still little girls.  While they seem to be growing up before my very eyes, they are in fact still 1st and 2nd graders who like to play with baby dolls.  How glad I am for that fact.  And how I long for them to stay that way for awhile. IMG_5124

Then as I snapped pictures and watched them chatting away, I had another thought… “Oh Lord, I prayed, let them be friends forever.”  I hope when they are grown up they will walk their real babies together and chat about life.  I truly hope and pray they are life long friends. 

And just as I found myself all sentimental over that… the timing couldn’t have been more perfect, because they started pushing their babies down the driveway.


And I got a good chuckle as the baby went flying into the ditch!


The last stop on our grand adventure of 2013 was Grandma and Papa’s house.  We arrived in the afternoon on the 4th of July… just in time for a cookout.  The kids greatly enjoyed tractor rides with Papa, playing board games with Grandma and running the trains in the basement.


Then they requested a visit to “The Coolest Playground Ever.”  As we trekked around the US over the past 3 weeks, Scott and I learned from the kids that the playground by which all playgrounds are judged against is the wooden one by Grandma and Papa’s.    Even when we went to what I thought was the coolest one ever in Gunnison, Co… I was told, “This has the fastest slides we’ve ever been on, but it’s not as cool as the wooden one by Grandma and Papa’s.”  Therefore, Scott and I requested a visit to see this infamous playground. 


After a visit to the playground, we headed back to the house to cool off, and get ready for a camp fire and sparklers!  We were really able to fit quite a lot into our short visit!  We all had a fun and relaxing afternoon and evening at my parents.


The kids are quite used to the drive to and from my parents house.  It’s 5 hours without stopping and they can do it without even having to get out of the car.  In fact a drive to or from Grandma and Papa’s has actually become a unit of measurement.  Throughout our grand adventure, we would compare each days drive to a trip to Grandma and Papa’s… each days drive was either a “little more than a trip to”  “a little less than a trip to” or on some of our long days it was “like driving to grandma and papa’s getting in the driveway and turning around and driving home.”  Today when we got in the van we were able to say that we had “exactly a drive from Grandma and Papa’s” till we reached our final destination….which will be home. 

Before we set out on this trip, I assumed by this point we would all be sick of driving and riding and more than ready to be home.  But, I can honestly say we’ve had the time of our life and I am NOT READY for it to be over.