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The Two Little Piggies

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I have a love-hate relationship with teaching. The hours are horrible. The pay is a pittance. The work never stops – nights, weekends, vacations. There are times where it is as if no one wants to hear a word I am saying, and all I am doing is putting out one behavior fire after another. Not to mention all the times I have had to tell  the Three Monkeys that I can’t do something with them or for them because I have had something to do for the class.

It is EXHAUSTING.

And then there are times when it all is so incredibly breathtakingly amazing.

This is the story of the two little piggies – guinea piggies that is – and how an act of kindness lifted my heart in so many ways.

Way back in August, my students and I decided we wanted to get guinea pigs for our classroom. We had everything we needed. Cage? Check. Food? Check. Hay? Check. Guinea pigs? Ummm…

It’s not that I didn’t want them. I did! But, guinea pigs cost money. And with the pay cut I took in order to work at this little piece of academic heaven, I never had the spare change to go get them.

That damned empty cage sitting in my classroom mocked me every single day.

And then this week something serendipitous happened. I came across a listing for two male guinea pigs (cage included) FREE to a good home. Needless to say, I jumped on it. FINALLY we were going to get our piggies! I went to school the next day and excitedly told my class the news. The squeals of delight filled the room. We couldn’t wait!

That evening I took Monkey #1 (now 15 1/2, if you can believe it) and The Middle Monkey (almost 14!) to go pick up our new furry friends, Sergeant and Lieutenant – AKA Sarge and Louie. Together, the boys and I loaded the cage into the car and headed home. Upon arriving, we unloaded the cage to the kitchen table where they would wait until the next day when I would move them to their new home – my classroom.

There was just one little hitch in the plan. Something unexpected happened. In the span of about 10 minutes, Monkey #1 fell head=over-heels-hopelessly-in-love with Sarge and Louie. The very guinea pigs that were destined to go to my class the very next day.

All Wednesday evening, Monkey 1, my sweet little Aspie Monkey, was crouched on a kitchen chair, arms wrapped around his knees, gazing through the open cage door at Sarge and Louie.  He was so calm. So peaceful. Nothing, not meds wearing off, not his brother being very 13, was ruffling him. Occasionally he would tentatively extend one finger and stroke one of the piggies.

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“But, I love them,”

And then came the words that broke my heart. “I wish I could keep them,” he quietly whispered.

“But, baby, I’ve already told my class about them, and they are very excited about the piggies coming. You know they are meant to go to school.”

“I know,” he sighed. “But, I love them. I know I just met them. I can’t explain it. I love them.”

Oy.

I tried to make light, but I could tell, this was no ordinary love. This was a deep piggy love, and I – the worst mother in the whole wide world – was ripping them away from him. Not that he told me that. But he might as well have, because that is exactly how I felt.

The next morning, I brought the piggies to school. More squeals of delight. I told my school kiddos the story of Monkey 1 and his love of the piggies and how he had wanted to keep them. I don’t know why I told them. Except that maybe I have a case of verbal diarrhea and just talk even when I shouldn’t. But I did.

Today I got a message from one of my parents. Her daughter had told her about Monkey 1 falling in love with the piggies. Then the sweet girl asks her mother if there was a way that we could get other pets for the class and return the piggies to my son. Because obviously God wanted my sweet son and the sweet piggies to be together. The piggies belonged to him. Not the class.

I didn’t know how to respond. I was literally speechless. All that came were tears.

In the hours that followed, that mother asked and searched, and has now located another pair of guinea pigs for my class to have. All so my sweet Aspie Monkey can keep Sarge and Louie.

His response when I told him was to bury his head in my shoulder and repeatedly say, “I get to keep my boys. I get to keep my piggies.”

Yes you do, my sweet boy. Yes you do.

So while it means there will be more living things in my house, every single time I see those little furballs, every time I see that little smile on Monkey #1’s face, I will think of the sweet girl who knew it was meant to be – even when I didn’t.

And I’ll remember the time my student and her family taught me a lesson in kindness and compassion I’ll never forget.

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Happy Birthday

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Yesterday was my mother’s birthday.  And with all the craziness of the past couple of days (you know, what with the break-in and all), I failed to mention it when I dropped the monkeys off at her house yesterday morning.  Not exactly a stellar moment. I was well on my way to work when I remembered and gave her a quick call to send birthday greetings.  She was in the car, on her way back to her house after taking the Girl Child to school to then pick up Monkey #1 to then take him to school.

You see, that’s what she does. She ferries the monkeys for me on my days with them. Well, that’s just one of the things she does. She does ever so much more for me – for all the monkeys – and I am afraid I don’t let her know how much we all appreciate it.

Among the many things she does, she:

Is a chauffeur for the monkeys. She takes them to school.  She picks them up from school. She takes them to the doctor and to the orthodontist. She takes the Girl Child to dance three days a week. She puts miles and miles on her car every week – and never asks for gas money.

She is the homework manager.  She keeps track of missing assignments and project due dates and science fairs and…and…and…well, everything.

She is a teacher. When it was decided that the Middle Monkey had not transitioned well to middle school and perhaps needed to try on-line learning,  she has stepped out of her retirement and is serving as his learning coach. She spends all day cajoling an at times quite reticent (and quite loud about it) 12 year-old to complete his tasks. She is having to relearn high school algebra (yes, he was placed in a math class 2 grade levels above his own), just so she can assist him. I know it hasn’t been fun, but she’s doing it – for him. Because he needed it.

She is my errand runner. Dropping off prescriptions, dropping off the dry cleaning, picking up things I might need from the store but forgot to get.

She is a Dance Nonna. She takes care of all things dance related for the Girl Child. Other than ferrying her to class, she makes sure there are tights and shoes and costumes and rehearsal schedules.

She’ll bring us dinners and does the laundry and sometimes even surprise me by cleaning my kitchen.

Why, you might ask, does she do these things?  Well, because she wants to help and to feel the she matters.

And, yes. I repaid her by forgetting her birthday.

Ugh.

So, my sweet Momma. Our sweet Nonna Monkey. Thank you for all you do for me. Thank you for all you do for us. I know there are times when I don’t express how very much I appreciate you. I know there are times when I seem annoyed. But, I could not manage my life or the lives of The Monkeys without you. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Happy birthday.

I love you.

You Can’t Take That Away From Me

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 We were robbed.

I mean that in the literal sense. Not in the idiomatic “We were robbed” after one’s favorite team has lost (yes, FSU, I’m talking to you).

I mean our home, Happy Monkey Land itself, was broken into, searched, and had things removed from it. Someone we do not know smashed a window, crawled through, slinked through our safe haven, rifled through our drawers, and took our THINGS.

I know we were lucky.

We could have been home. But, we weren’t. We were at our respective schools.

We could have walked in on the offender. But, we didn’t. We came home to discover the broken carport door window, well after the event.

We could have walked in to find everything we own had been loaded into a truck and carried away. But, we didn’t. We are missing only the electronics the offender could load into the backpack he found in my room and carry out with him.

The Wii, the games, the girl child’s DS, my camera, and yes – even my laptop – can all be replaced. The THINGS can be replaced. But, yet, I mourn.

I mourn that someone, some criminal, touched my things. I am tempted to burn all the panties that had been in my top drawer, but were carelessly tossed to the floor, all because he touched them whilst looking for hidden gems. (Thank you, Mr. Burglar, for leaving my vintage silver jewelry collection)

I mourn the pictures “saved” in my laptop. Pictures of our past two and a half years. Pictures of birthdays and special events and field trips. Pictures of our vacation this summer to Washington and New York. Pictures from the vacation my former love and I took with our children. That amazing week on the beach. Not that I looked at those images from that summer. I didn’t. Why dwell? Those pictures were tucked away in their own little folder, but they were there. Visual proof of what we once were to each other. And while I no longer mourn the loss of the relationship, the fact that I no longer have that proof, that data, that EVIDENCE, has hit me harder than I ever could have imagined. It is as if it never happened. I have lost them all over again.

But, mostly, I mourn the loss of The Monkeys’ sense of security in their home.

The Girl Child didn’t want to sleep in her own room last night because the offender was in there. He took her DS from off her bed. She made sure I not only reported the DS as being gone, but also its Hello Kitty case. She counted all her American Girl dolls and has proclaimed them all present and accounted for. She wants to inventory the “buddies” on her bed, just in case some rogue stuffed-animal-thief comes and takes THEM, she’ll know what is missing. You, my dear baby girl, know what is important in life.

The Middle Monkey is quieter than usual, none of the trademark arguing with his sister. He quickly ran upstairs to count his books, and check to see if the Kindle and HIS DS were there (everything was, the boys’ rooms were unscathed). He will randomly come up to me and hug me and say, “I hate burglars.” It’s happened about 10 times since yesterday. I understand, baby. Really, I do. So do I.

Monkey #1 has taken it upon himself to be The Man of the House. He has been updating me on the value of all the missing items, especially the missing games, “so we get the right amount back.” He allowed his little sister to sleep on his futon last night, even though what he really wanted was to be left alone. When I came out of my room this morning to let the dogs out, he was standing in his doorway, holding the dowel that keeps his window shut, standing guard. “Just let anyone try to come in.” He has spent the day with his Nerf gun always by his side, threatening to “shoot in the brain anyone who tries to hurt my brother or sister.” My sweet little man. Excuse me. My sweet almost-full-grown-man-who-shouldn’t-have-to-feel-the-weight-of-the-world-on-his-very-narrow-shoulders.

We all took the day off from school today, The Monkeys and I. A day to clean-up and call insurance and make lists of missing items. But, most importantly, a day to heal and cuddle and to try feel comfortable in our own skins again. A day to reclaim Happy Monkey Land as our own.

So, Mr. Burglar, you may have broken our door. You may have taken our things. You may have pawned them for a quick buck. But, Mr. Burglar, you will NEVER take our love for one another. For, you see, we are the Mighty Monkeys of Happy Monkey Land, and no matter what happens to us, no matter what is taken, we will ALWAYS have each other.

No, no. You CAN’T take that away from us.

Not now.

Not ever.

It’s a Summer Solstice Miracle!

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Summer officially arrived at 1:04 Eastern Standard Time.

And here in Happy Monkey Land we did not celebrate it with dancing nekkid in the sunshine, as per the druids of ancient days (or even as some of those who gather at Stonehenge even now).

It instead was met with a series of what will now be known as the Miracles of the Summer Solstice.

Miracle #1 – The Three Monkeys let me sleep until NINE!  Well, technically, it was only The Little Monkeys, as Monkey #1 was himself still sleeping.  No yelling.  No screaming.  No fighting over which channel to watch.  No peeking into my room and then jumping onto my bed.  Just sleep.  Heavenly sleep.

Miracle #2 – I had mentioned to The Monkeys that the inside of my car needed cleaned out.  Well, Monkey #1 and the Girl Child take it upon themselves to get my spare key, clean out the car AND THEN VACUUM IT.  It is important to note that this was completely unprompted.  Later in the afternoon, we all decided to go out and wash my car.  Big fun was had by all.

Miracle #3 – After cleaning out my car, Monkey #1 handed me some mail he had retrieved from inside.  I thought it was all junk.  Until I felt one, opened it, and discovered my new debit card inside.  I have been without it for three weeks, after SWEARING to the bank I never got it.  Just in time too.  The Netflix account ran out today.

Miracle #4 – We ate dinner together, at the table, with my mother, with no screaming, no yelling, no meltdowns, no screams of “SHUT UP!”  Just talking and laughing.  Oh, and they all ate without my having to nag or set the kitchen timer.

Miracles one and all, I tell ya.

You know, summer always has been my favorite season.  The sun beating down, warming me.   I feel like a little hot house flower, soaking up the rays.  And I know not every summer day will be as lovely as today.  But, today?  It was truly a miraculous day.

Falling in Love Again? The Update

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Princess - Blurry because she wanted to go to The Monkeys - not stand still for a picture...

Princess – Blurry because she wanted to go to The Monkeys – not stand still for a picture…

Well, we did it.  The Monkeys and I went to meet the two dogs we hope to adopt.

Needless to say, it went well.

Very well.

The Monkeys covered the girls with hugs and kisses, and received doggy kisses in return.  The girls were sweet and gentle and not in the least bit shy (which in our house is a REALLY good thing).  It was love at first sight.

Two dogs.  Three Monkeys.  Only two leashes.  Three Monkeys all wanting to walk the dogs.  It is an exercise in time-sharing.  “Ok, Monkey #1, it is your sister’s turn to hold Princess’s leash.  You can take Baby from Middle Monkey for a while.”

Baby - smiling

Baby – smiling

I knew we were done when I looked over at Monkey #1, and he was crouching in his little “Gollum” pose – with a shy little grin on his face.  That little smile said it all.  “Those are our dogs.”

Unfortunately, we couldn’t bring them home with us today.  Princess will have her final heartworm treatment Monday, then she needs a period of calm (which of course she wouldn’t have here).  So, we scheduled for the dogs to come visit the house in two weeks.  If that goes well, they will come home to stay the next weekend.

The Monkeys wanted them to come home with us today.  And really, who could blame them.  It is hard to fall in love and then have to be separated from your love.

Oh, sure, the girls will need a little training.  Namely, pulling – Princess nearly dragged The Girl Child.  But then again, I am going to have to train The Monkeys on how to walk a dog on a leash!

As we were driving home, it occurred to me that I am not replacing Duffey.  He is still with me.  Instead what I am doing is allowing The Monkeys to have doggy memories of their own.  Their memories of Duffey are hazy.  And he was old in those memories.  These dogs are young and vivacious and playful.  Just what my silly monkeys need.  And THOSE are the memories that will hold them for the rest of their lives.

Memories of two dogs.  And love at first sight.

Falling in Love Again?

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PrincessToday’s the day.

The Monkeys and I are going to be meeting the dogs that just may become the newest members of our family.

Yes.  You read that correctly.  DOGS.  As in more than one.

I never intended on adopting TWO dogs.  I mean, I haven’t had more than one dog since I was a kid.  And they were mother and daughter.  But, apparently, these two come as a package deal.

As I mentioned in a previous post, it has taken me 4 years to feel ready to bring a new furry friend into our home.  But, then I saw Princess.  And I felt those familiar feelings of doggy love.  I fought that feeling for months.  It was a valiant fight.  But, I continued to feel “called” to her.  About a month ago, I sent an inquiry to the rescue group about her.   Was she still available?

Yes.  She was.  She was very much available.  She was undergoing treatment for heartworms, but her prognosis was fabulous.  She would be ready in a month or so.

The Monkeys and I were ecstatic!  We were going to do this!

Then came the news that they were hoping to adopt Princess out with Baby.  You, see the girls were rescued out from the same situation.  They had been kept outside – on four-foot long chains.  They had been kicked and beaten and all round mistreated.  That is until angels intervened and they were saved. (Yes, the woman was arrested).  And because of this, the girls were strongly bonded and they really did not want to separate them.

I was crushed.  Two dogs.  TWO DOGS!  I couldn’t do that.  I mean, it’s so much.  And the expense.  And TWO DOGS!

Reluctantly, I sent a message to the foster mom telling her that while I felt such a strong calling to Princess, I just didn’t think I could swing the second adoption cost.  She sweetly replied they were a package deal.  Buy one – get one, if you will.

Well, there went that excuse.

The Monkeys and I talked about it.  Needless to say, they don’t have the same qualms I have.

I told the foster mom that before we made a decision we needed to meet the girls.  All of us.

Well, today is the day.  Today, The Monkeys and I will be driving the 50 miles or so to meet the girls.  And while I am trying to keep a level head about it, I am afraid, I am alone in that.  As far as The Monkeys are concerned, the girls are already ours.  The Girl Child in particular.  This morning when The Monkey Daddy dropped them off, she came RUNNING upstairs and FLUNG herself onto my bed screaming, “WHEN DO WE LEAVE TO SEE THE DOGS!!!!??????!!!!!”

My fear is, what happens if we get there, and it doesn’t work out?  What if we don’t feel that connection?  What if?  What if?  What if?!

In case you haven’t noticed, sometimes I can over think things…

This feels like a first date.  A first date with someone I’ve met on-line, seen pictures of, chatted on-line with, but am just now meeting in person.  I am nervous and excited and terrified and hopeful all at the same time.

The Monkeys, on the other hand, have already decided this will be their happily ever after.

In a way, I guess they just may be right.  I mean, in most fairy-tales, there is a Princess…and after that – a Baby…

 

 

An Unexpected Love

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Duffey was always in the middle of everything.  Every Christmas I would have picture of him buried in wrapping paper.

Duffey was always in the middle of everything. Every Christmas I would have picture of him buried in wrapping paper.

via Daily Prompt: I Want to Know What Love Is.

Some of the most amazing relationships in my life have come about when I wasn’t looking for one to happen.  The night I met the Monkey Daddy.  My former love.

Such a happy dog...

Such a happy dog..

My first baby…

No.  I didn’t have a child I haven’t talked about before.  This baby wasn’t a “human” child.  He was a furry one.  A VERY furry one.

He was a dog.  Duffey.

The day I found Duffey (or I should probably say, he found me), I wasn’t expecting to fall in love.  I was just looking at the puppies.  And then he looked up at me from out of his cage with his silly little grin and that right ear flopped over his head – and his chocolate-brown eyes locked with mine – and I was lost.

I actually walked out of the store, got into the car, and started driving away.  Then the tears came.  I knew I couldn’t leave him.  He was mine.  So, I turned around and walked back in and didn’t leave again until that 11 pound 11 week old collie/shepherd mix was with me.

He was the sweetest dog.  Always happy.  Playful.  A tiny bit mischievous.  And BIG.  85 pounds of love.

Duffey was in my life before The Monkey Daddy.  Before any of the Three Monkeys.  But, Duffey welcomed each one of them into our lives like they were meant to be there.  He was so good with the Monkeys.  They crawled on him.  Used him as a back rest.  Fed him from their high chairs.  Every night we would hear him make his rounds into each of the children’s rooms – checking on them – making sure they were safe.

The Girl Monkey with her two best friends, Duffey and Kitty Kat (the rabbit)

The Girl Monkey with her two best friends, Duffey and Kitty Kat (the rabbit)

His bond with The Girl Child was the strongest.  She loved him almost as much as me or her father or her brothers or even her beloved Kitty Kat (her lovey…yes it is a rabbit – long story).

I knew he wouldn’t be around forever.  After he turned 10, I pretty much considered every additional month with him a gift.  After he turned 13, he started aging more rapidly.  Within 6 months he lost most of his hearing, had doggy dementia, became incontinent, walking became harder.  I stopped letting him go up and down the stairs.  In this same time period, my marriage was coming to an end.  I couldn’t bear the thought of losing Duffey, too.  But it was coming – faster and faster.

Then came the day when he could not stand.  At all.  Not even with help.  He wouldn’t eat.  He barely drank.  And I knew it was time for us all to say our final good-byes and with love let Duffey go.  It was the day before Monkey #1 was to come back from his trip to France with his grandmother.  So I had to make the agonizing decision to either wait until #1 came back, or have him not be able to say good-bye to his beloved dog.  I decided to wait until he came home.

I still miss him.  And I swear, even four years later, I still find some of his long hair in corners of closets.  (Every summer he would blow that double coat – and we would be knee-deep in fur. )  I know that dogs like him don’t come along every day.

It has taken me four years, but I think I am ready to enter into a new furry romance.  Ironically, it has taken me longer to feel ready to “replace” Duffey than The Monkey Daddy… Please don’t take offense to that when you read that, Monkey Daddy!  🙂

The Monkeys and I have been searching for the perfect rescue dog, and we think we might have found it.  Her picture stirred the same feelings in me like I had with Duffey,  Something is pulling me to her.  We will meet her for the first time next weekend.  We are all nervous.  We want it to go well, but we also all know that we can’t let pure emotion rule this decision.   With any luck this furry baby will be with us for a long time, and we have to make sure she will make a good addition to our family.

Of course, the last time I was in this position, I did let my heart rule my head – and look how beautifully that turned out.

Maybe this will be just as grand.

Monkey #1 and Duffey

Monkey #1 and Duffey

The Middle Monkey with his favorite pillow

The Middle Monkey with his favorite pillow