One Penis Short of a Male Cat

My poor buddy. Poor, poor buddy Tarzan.

cat with e-collar

He was such a good sport about the e-collar.

For as long as we can remember, Tarzan’s been kind of an asshole about his litter box. He’d go in and pay a visit, and Trevor would scoop it, and – like clockwork – Tarzan would go dirty it up right over again.

And then there was the constant flinging of litter. All the damn time. Because we’re crunchy granola cat owners, we’ve always used “natural” cat litters, first one made from corn husks or something, then wheat hulls. That shit gets everywhere.

Tarzan had us swimming in cat litter, all over the house. We finally broke down and switched litters to a pellet type. He’d had a couple of what seemed to be UTIs, and pellet types are supposed to be more hygienic. Plus, the pellets are heavier, so no tracking.

That’s what we thought. A) Tarzan has monster paws that are capable of taking these pellets with him into another room; B) either because switching litters  totally messed him up (if so, I’m SORRY buddy!), or because the timing was coincidental, not long after we switched litters, Tarzan started going in and out of the litter box, taking pellets with him around the house on his way out. Over and over and over again.

After first we were just annoyed. But then we started seeing little pink puddles outside the litter box. A sure sign of trouble.

The first vet treated him for a UTI and had me pick up a $40 bottle of compounded, fish-flavored Prozac.

A little bit of internet research had me worried we weren’t seeing enough progress, so I took him back.

He was almost blocked, which can lead to sudden death.

After attempting the least invasive procedures, they operated on his bladder and cleared out some weird squishy black crystal things. The vet was optimistic that was all we would need to do. But, after more time and waiting, she made the final call.

Tarzan’s penis would have to go.

I’d read about the procedure, and hoped upon hopes we wouldn’t have to resort to it. It’s an absolutely last-ditch effort, but it was his best shot at surviving, and it turned out he was so severely blocked, nothing else would have worked.

visiting cat after surgery

The girls were so sweet when we visited Tarzan at the vet between his surgeries. They also got an unusual, behind-the-scenes look at the vet’s office. I’m so grateful our vet let me bring the girls for visits.

In all, he spent more than a week at the vet. After a couple of days, I started taking the girls up to visit him. At 15 years old, his risk of dying while under anesthesia was enough to make me worry each visit would be our last. And, if he did die there, I didn’t want the girls to get the impression that we’d just dropped him off to die.

His surgery went smoothly, and he came home the next day, albeit with an e-collar, which he had to wear for two weeks. We’ll have to keep him shaved baboon-bottom style from now on, which means we get to see his fancy new way of eliminating every day.

(I honestly don’t know what to call it… Pee hole?).

I told him he’s got to give me at least five more years of snuggles to pay off his medical bills, because Holy Cannoli, that was expensive.

We’re just glad to have him home and happy. And only tracking a few litter pellets a day.

orange cats

Junebug (right) had to get used to sharing the house with Tarzan again. But all is back to normal.

Where do we go from here?

These two might be dressed the same, but they are so very different.

These two might be dressed the same, but they are so very different.

Wow. An enormous lot has changed since my last blog post here. We went to Disney World. It was a blast. Sadie turned 5, and her behavior got more manageable. She turned 6, and it’s been a bit bumpy again. Polly turned 1 and had to have her growth monitored, first kind of without reason, and then again for good reason. Polly turned 2 and is still super tiny and seems to barely eat real food, but I’m trying not to sweat it.

I’m still writing a ton at work, so I’m not convinced I’ll be up for writing much outside of work. But I’ve got it in my mind that if I ever hope to write a book, this is where I’d better practice.

Trevor is still a bicycle mechanic, which he loves most days.

We still have all four pets, though Tarzan is one penis short of a male cat now. That might have to be my next blog post.

Families who argue don’t go to Disney World


This is probably frowned upon in the parenting circles I frequent, but something’s gotta give.

I have invented what is either the most brilliant or most idiotic game ever to help reduce the arguing that goes on in our house with Sadie.

This morning I showed Sadie pictures online of Magic Kingdom. All the princesses live there! Winnie the Pooh lives there! Tinker Bell! Buzz Lightyear!!!

(For the past two weeks, I’ve done a great job convincing myself and Trevor that this is the year we do it. We go to Disney World!)

Here’s an example of how the game goes.

Sadie: I want some candy!
Brooke: Sorry sweetheart, we don’t have any candy in the house.
Sadie: I want candy!!!
Brooke: Sadie… Disney World…
Sadie: Okay, Mom.
Brooke: Disney World!!!
Sadie: Disney World!!!

We don’t yet have tickets purchased or a hotel booked, so I don’t feel like it’s an empty threat. I’ll be seriously disappointed if we decide not to go, but I cannot agree to take a kid who argues and yells as much as she does these days to a place like that.

We have practiced a lot today through roll play. Sadie thinks of a topic we might argue about, and we go through the the process. We even had a real-life test when she started arguing about catching her fish with the net (not until the tank is cleaned!).

Disney World!!!!

Of course, this could totally backfire on me. And even if the arguing improve between now and when we want to go, there’s a very real possibility we could have an out of control situation once we got there.

But! We are winging it. I’ve got my fingers crossed that she will notice how much more smoothly things can go if she’s not quite so contrary all the darn time.

Or by tomorrow “Disney World” will be on Sadie’s list of “mean words.”

Anyone got a better idea?

A clean slate

Inspired by a meeting today with two successful bloggers in my local area, I’m considering taking up blogging again. Who knows if it will stick; I do a lot of writing at work, and I don’t often have much left in me for writing at home. I’ve stripped it all down to the basics, and want to start all over: from scratch, of course. I want to focus on my words and the documentation of my life as myself and as a parent.

Here’s what I want to say about parenting today: It is hard, and I didn’t do my best today.

I yelled at Sadie. A lot. Loudly.

I also did something I thought I’d never do, or at least not until she’s much older. I told her that when I was a little girl, my parents spanked me. They hit me. I don’t think I wanted to scare her, but I did want to get her attention. I told her that her dad and I would never, ever hit her. I think part of me wanted her to know that as bad as the yelling was tonight, it would never turn into hitting. Who knows what she’ll take from that information. I know I don’t feel great about it.

I am immensely glad for the strong attachment that is the foundation of our relationship, because when we both regained our composure, we spent the next several minutes hugging, kissing and I-love-you-ing.

Tomorrow is another day; we can try all over again.


Summer is wearing me out already!

I took today off from work so I could go to Sadie’s field day. Yes, Sadie’s school had field day for the early childhood center, and it was pretty hilarious. The P2 crew only participated in two events: running the track and tug-of-war.

Very excited about field day!

Off to a good start.


I ended up running the last leg with her. Thankfully, no photos of this event have surfaced.

More interested in posing for the photo than truly tugging.


They did boys versus girls for the tug-of-war. Apparently in all of the field day practices, the girls beat the boys every single time. For whatever reason (a very large audience, perhaps?), the boys took the girls down for the actual event. Ah, well.

To the mall (gross, right?)!

In the quest for replacement dress-up earrings, I unintentionally bought Sadie $10 Fancy Fancy clip-ons. With hot pink feathers. Woe is me.


Taking One for the Team

Something I’ve realized about becoming a parent is that it really highlights the dominant elements of my personality. If I was introspective before, now I’m an absolute naval-gazer. A curious web-surfer? Now a total research junkie.

There’s just all this pressure to Get It Right. The French are doing it right. And so are the Italians. In fact, everyone is doing it right but me. Or you. Or anyone who is actually doing the naval-gazing at the time.

These new chickens are a-okay with Sadie.

Parenting Sadie is hard freaking work. She’s the most awesome kid I’ve ever known, but she can be a real handful for me a lot of the time. I do my best to convince myself that it’s no big deal that she hits and kicks me when she’s mad. That it’s normal that she nearly always does exactly the opposite of what I ask her to do, unless she’s in a magical mood. She doesn’t listen to me. She couldn’t sit through a meal at the table if her life depended on it. I can’t take her into any store without almost certain meltdown. She yells and screams at me, flings her Sadie-sized furniture over onto the floor or even strikes out at the dogs and cats when she doesn’t get her way.

And I’m no peach, either. I speak too sternly, raise my voice, lose my patience, forget to look at things through her eyes. There are a hundred-and-one answers to the “problems” I have with Sadie, and I’m not using them. In the moment, it is unbelievably hard to remember the tricks to making your “no” come out like a “yes.” Nearly all of the time, I’m winging it.

But you know what? I don’t sweat it like I could. Yes, I worry about what it looks like from the outside when people see me “not having a handle on her” at Target. And absolutely, I am SO TIRED. But I don’t worry about my parenting, and I don’t worry about Sadie. Why not? Because every single time I share Sadie with the other adults in her life, her behavior is nearly immaculate. She spent Friday night at my aunt and uncle’s house (her Mimi and Papa), and when I picked her up Saturday morning, my aunt said that I’d left her with a “perfect child.” Okay, nobody’s kid is perfect, so don’t think I took that literally. But there is a recurring theme to the reports I get back from family members who have helped take care of Sadie. It’s that she’s well behaved, well mannered, pleasant and easy.

Whether or not I’m Doing It Right, whatever I’m doing (and Trevor, too, of course) is working.

The all-important phase of lining things up: one of my favorites.

No, I don’t love how hard it is sometimes to parent Sadie. But I love her with every fiber of my being, and I want her to be a happy, successful person. So If I have to take one for the team and be the person Sadie tests every single limit (I mean every single one) so she can be well behaved, well mannered, pleasant and easy for the rest of the world, I’ll do it. Because it’s working. So far, at least.