Our 3-Ring Circus

But ask the animals, and they will teach you;
the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
ask the plants of the earth,
 and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of every human being. – Job 12:7-10

There were sooooo many outtakes of this photo!

We are big on learning and experimenting and giving things a whirl at our house. Jason and I encourage at-home science experiments – messy art projects and forts in the living room.   The Legos (and the yarn) – well – those are almost everywhere around here!

I joke our house is decorated in early modern Lego with yarn-y accents. But honestly – that isn’t much of a joke.

Messy messes don’t phase me at all. Kids and chaos and all that come with it – clean up (most of the time).   And if it doesn’t – well then – we have a lasting memory and a story to tell. I am proud of the fact our dining room table has acrylic paint dots and stray Sharpie marker marks on it (even after a serious scrubbing with hot – soapy water and a hand-knit washcloth).   The paracord stuck WAY up in the tree out in our backyard makes me smile every time I see it.

The exploding baking soda volcanoes – dyeing experiments – painting – goo – slime – elephant toothpaste – rockets – beads – beans – paracord – forts – duct tape – PVC pipe – boards – models – the messes and the barely controlled chaos are some of the things that make up our weekends and our evenings.

Trying things – giving things a whirl and experimenting are an important part of who we are. I try to have a – “why not?” and a “sure – let’s give it a go!” attitude.

But our home isn’t a free-for-all. There are definite limits. We clean up after our experiments and artistic endeavors. I am BIG on organization.   I may have paint in my hair and embroidery on my jeans – but my paint is stored neatly in bins by color and so is my embroidery floss . . .

And both Jason and I are BIG on reading and research. This helps in so many ways.

And wow have I been reading and researching a lot lately – because we have entered completely new territory for our family! And with it has come some seriously intense experimentation and chaos and goofiness and messy messes . . .

Our latest endeavor is pets.

Note the dog is ON the couch . . . sigh . . . some battles were lost immediately. Pick your battles – Kerri – pick your battles . . .

Yes – we have had pets before. We have raised adorably goofy golden retriever puppies into beautiful dogs.   Zoë and Katherine were even respectably (if not impeccably) trained dogs. Okay – Zoë did eat an entire HOT pizza out of the oven where I left it warming when Jack was a toddler and Katherine was so stubborn it made our brains ache! But still . . . for the most part – Zoë and Katherine weren’t too annoying to us or the rest of the world.   Their behavior was not generally shocking or shameful.

But now – we are exploring new territory. We are tilling new soil. We are venturing into places we have never gone before. Because we have added not 1 but 2 shelter/rescue pets to our family. And WOW – are rescue pets different creatures!?!?!? Shelter pets are a whole different story. Both Doug and Gracie came to us with significant baggage.

Gracie is our silent pet – our stealth cat. We rarely see her or hear from her. But – at least – our Gracie has moved out of Will’s closet (significant progress) and into the basement. Gracie will now sit and sleep in the middle of a room on a comfy nest (she particularly likes sleeping on the boys’ backpacks) – but she does not like our company yet. She tends to walk away from me on silent feet with wary eyes.

She prefers life under tables and away from me . . .

Gracie does like Jason . . . At night – after everyone else goes to bed Gracie comes upstairs. And then Gracie and Jason hang out together in Jason’s office. Gracie will even allow Jason to pet her. (Why yes – Will – Jack and I are massively jealous!)

Jack did catch Gracie purring contentedly last evening – BUT – she was all by herself in her favorite spot in the basement. Gracie purrs and meows for Jason too . . . Gracie clearly knows Jason is the quietest – least obnoxious member of our clan and finds his steadiness reassuring (we all do actually).

“Go away crazy camera lady – GO AWAY!” – I can read Gracie’s mind.

Gracie still avoids Doug the dog and Ash the kitten and the crazy chaos that is the main floor of our house when we are all hustling and bustling around during the day and evening. But – slowly – Slowly – SLOWLY our sad – grieving cat is adjusting to her new home and her new people. We tell Gracie we love her and we are here for her – but we are also well aware Gracie needs her space. We are letting Gracie be Gracie. We read this is the wisest – kindest – most loving way to care for a sad – traumatized – grieving cat.

Gracie is the epitome of low maintenance!

We are Doug the Dog’s 3rd family. And so far – we have discovered he is sweet and smart (very) and terrified of cameras and anything with a motor. Trash trucks and UPS trucks and BUSES are super-duper scary!

Doug hates car rides. Our Doug is very – Very – VERY afraid once he leaves home – he may not be allowed to return home. If we walk by our house on a walk – Doug does everything in his power to try to GO BACK HOME IMMEDIATELY! Wow – does this dog have some abandonment issues (not surprising after being dumped by 2 other families).

Doug is a blank slate when it comes to training. A total formless void. We have made a start of it – but this dude absolutely – positively loses his mind when he sees/hears/smells another dog. This makes for interesting walks and he can’t be in our backyard when our neighbors’ dogs are in their yards – because I value my garden and   flower beds and sanity!

Note my serious face – Doug the dog and I were having a heart to heart and Jack found in amusing.

I have informed Douglas more than once that I am in fact “the boss of him!” But after 14 days – his thoughts on this are “Hmmmm . . .   but I am CUTE.” “So are my sons! But we still made/make them behave themselves. NO MONSTERS ALLOWED!” – is my response to this line.

And Ash – our spoiled – diva of a kitten – well – the lion hasn’t laid down with the lamb at our house yet. The fur still flies when Ash pushes Gracie too far. But Ash doesn’t puff up like a giant puffer fish anymore whenever she sees Doug the dog and she has returned to napping in her hammock in the sun and lounging on the back of her favorite chair – and generally bossing me around loudly.

I have stopped asking Jason “what were we thinking?!?!?!” Every 15 minutes (now I only do this once an hour . . .)

What were we thinking . . .

If nothing else Jack will have some street-cred with the other pre-veterinary medicine majors at Morehead State. What self-respecting pre-vet major could come from a home that wasn’t a total zoo/three ring circus?!?!?!? So – I suppose we are just doing our parental duty as people raising a future veterinarian. I just hope and pray Jack doesn’t decide to go into exotic animal care. I don’t think I am up to a tiger or a python or a polar bear!

What a goof!

But seriously – we are all slowly beginning to get along and to trust one another and to build relationships and we are all learning a lot.

PS I don’t care how sad or how cute the ????? is. Besides I can’t hear you over our barking dog and the hissing cats and the sound of my brand-new pet-hair collecting dust buster!

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