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     There has been a devastating amount of loss to our family over the last several months. It was only shortly after the passing of my hero, Grandma Keiser, that we began the upheaval of Isaac leaving. And between the dogs running away and Isaac coming and going every weekend, it's been a real struggle for each of us to find our way and to grasp on to happy moments once again. Unfortunately, my husband had one more devastating blow over the weekend. His beloved pet toad (of 4 years), to whom he fed bugs and played with while he "worked out in the garage", was tragically stepped on late Sunday night. (I don't know if you've ever seen a toad that's been stepped on.... but I don't even like toads and feel like I may have PTSD from the whole thing!) Pat was obviously crushed and left with an empty void; his friend of 4 years, taken so suddenly and grotesquely.
     Luckily, my family has decided to fill their voids with taking in stray animals. After one of our dogs cornered a kitten on the front porch, my weak-for-animals husband felt the need to nurse her back to health from her bone-thin, flea-infested frame. Now, my grandmother didn't have fleas, and even though Isaac pooped himself, he didn't get it all over the basement, so to me, it doesn't seem like much of a fair trade. But for whatever reason, my husband and children are running about with gaiety in their steps and smiles on their lips, talking about the kitty this, and the kitty that. My husband maturely "made a call to the humane's society" which consisted him of NOT making the call and playing with the cat instead, so I looked like the bad guy when I suggested we find a nice home for the kitty. Three hollow and shell-shocked faces abruptly popped up and stared at me with mouths gaping. I felt like Hitler, standing there commanding them into the gas chambers if they didn't hand over the feline!
     Oh, for heaven's sake.... FINE. We'll keep the darn cat! (For now.) How we're going to feed it? No one but me cares about that. Who will clean the crap out of the basement? Eh, Pat will get to it (eventually). At least Isaac got WIC to help with some of the financial burden.... do kittens get WKC or something, maybe? I'll have my husband "check with the humane's society" about it....
     So, since we have to keep the little critter, we might as well come up with a name for her, right? We had a family meeting and decided that the top contenders were:
Puddles (that was aaallll Taylor)
Cuddles (Taylor again.... they're learning rhyming in Kindergarten this week.)
Patrick (Cameron)
Esmeralda (Pat)
Persephone (Pat.... again. Apparently he wants his cat to be a Disney character or a Greek goddess.)
     All interesting options. However, the name that beat out all the rest was a nomination made by Cameron in honor of his and Taylor's favorite movie, Matilda. (However, the kitty's name is not Matilda.) The new name for our furry little feline is Miss Honey. She is a goldeny-orange color and she is very, very sweet (and sticky from the poo), so this name actually fits her like a glove (AND I don't have to yell "Persephone!" every time I track litter up the stairs.)
    In addition to the kitty, I mean, Miss Honey, Cameron happened upon a salamander in the basement and he decided that he couldn't live without his new friend. I informed him that that was fine, as long as he and his friend lived outside and at least 100 yards from my house. Cameron reluctantly told his red, spotted pal that I am a "Big Meany" and that he'll come visit him in the yard. So, not only can I not go into my basement due to the giant wolf spiders, salamanders, and cats that have taken over, now I can't walk in my yard for fear of stepping on toads or Cameron's little buddy.
     To top everything off, this evening, as I sat in the living room, plunking away on my piano, my husband bursts through the door looking like a kid on Christmas morning. Holding his hands together in front of him, he thrusts them out at me and says, "Look, Bubba! I found a NEW toad!!!" Just as the words were leaving his lips, the giant amphibian leapt from Pat's fingers and towards my face. Frog dampness flung and hit me in the mouth as the gross little creature landed at my feet and hopped across the floor. "He's a big fella, ain't he?" My husband was so happy, and despite my disgust, I couldn't help but feel a bit happy for him, too. Even though Miss Honey, Sal the Salamander, and Toad-The-Sequel can't replace what was lost to our hearts, I am grateful that the ones I love are able to find joy in the moment.... even if I do, officially, now live in a zoo.

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