We love you, Ellie the Cat

Ellie the Cat, our sweet white calico cutie who provided much joy and laugher in our household, passed away Sept 21 after a very short illness. She was seven years old.

Born in Northern Virginia as the youngest and smallest of her litter, Ellie and her older sister Kiwi were promptly separated from their ailing mother, and were paired up with another Mama cat. Continue reading

Family Farm

Martin took Lola and Jaz with him today to visit with family who live an hour away from us. They didn’t get home until late, and Jaz was already asleep. I went to kiss him goodnight, but recoiled in horror because his face, hair, clothes, shoes…everything smelled like a horse. Continue reading

The Neighbors


We live in one of the largest, most industrial metropolitan areas in Germany.

Yet, our neighbors are cows. Honest-to-goodness bovines who moo, eat hay, and produce milk.

To be clear, our immediate neighbors are human, and they are wonderful humans. But just beyond them, just the next street over, are two barns full of dairy cows. That’s one of the things that amuses me so much about Germany, it’s ability to blend the urban and the rural in the same space. There is no suburban sprawl over here. There is city, and there is country, and in our village — like many other villages — there is a bit of both. Continue reading


Photo of Patches Der Hund from last year

I’m here scheduling a vet appointment for Patches Der Hund, and because she’s about eight years old (we got her as a rescue, so we can’t be sure), she’s considered a senior/geriatric puppy. So, she’s got more gray, a little extra weight, doesn’t like to run as fast … can’t we just call her DISTINGUISHED?

Kiwi the Cat

I’m sorry, but this laundry basket is occupied.


This is Kiwi the Cat, and not only does she randomly appear on the bottom of laundry baskets, but she also has the uncanny ability of suddenly appearing on my clean, pressed black slacks just seconds after I put them on the bed or ironing board while getting dressed for work in the mornings. Every time.

She must think she’s accessorizing for me.

The Heart of Dixie

Dixie and me in 2001
I missed the President’s State of the Union address this evening, even though walking out of my building after working late made it impossible to avoid.
Since I work just a few blocks away from the Capitol, my building was surrounded by police officers, police cars, police motorcycles, and black vehicles with tinted windows, preventing anyone from getting close, but allowing me to leave, of course.
Clearly, given this city and the constant media coverage, the SOTU address was the talk of the town.
But as I left my building and made my way home, all I was thinking about was breaking the news to my girls that our beloved Dixie was put down this afternoon.

Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Baby Panda

It’s going to be a crazy weekend at the National Zoo as the newest baby panda Bao Bao makes her debut to the public tomorrow.
All the pandamonium (yeah, I just did that) reminds me of when Tai Shun made his debut in December 2005. He was the first panda to be born and survive at the National Zoo, and everyone was so excited about it, of course.
Normally, the zoo exhibits are open to the public, but because of the huge interest, there was a lottery for free timed tickets. Fortunately, I was able to get four tickets for a viewing in mid-January 2006.  So we took Miss C, who was then only 2.5 years old, and her new friend from our neighborhood.
I remember everything about that day because it was the first time I really felt settled in our new hometown. Martin was dressed in his business clothes because that very morning was his first official day at the bank after completing his training. I was four months into my job at the Pentagon, and Miss C was doing so well in her new daycare center. I was in the midst of training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer taking place that spring. Our house was completely unpacked and organized, and we were making friends in our neighborhood.
And best of all, we were exposing our daughter to something pretty awesome and historically significant — a baby panda, something we wouldn’t have been able to see if we lived elsewhere. Our life in our new hometown felt so promising that morning.
You can read today’s Flashback Friday post from 2006 HERE.

Et tu, Patches?

Patches Der Hund

As expected, there have been some behavioral changes at the house since Martin left for Air Force basic military training. Some restlessness and regression, moodiness and testing of boundaries, as well as some earnest, if not slightly misguided, efforts to exert more leadership and responsibility around the house.

I expected some of these things from the kids.

Not so much from the pets.

But let it be known that Patches Der Hund misses Martin, and she’s revealed her lonliness by peeing all over the family room floor two nights in a row.

I haven’t been lavishing attention on the cats and dog so much lately. That’s not to say they’ve been overlooked. Our nanny Mary’s been excellent about having the kids follow the chore chart I’ve created for them, so the pets are getting all their meals and treats, their water dish is always full, and I know the kids play with them throughout the day.

And I’ve assumed the one chore I absolutely hate: cleaning the litter box for the cats. I clean it on a regular basis, gagging the whole time. But it gets done.

As for Patches, it’s not like she’s a forgotten pup in the corner either. The kids definitely don’t neglect her. Her favorite place to be is underneath where Jaz is eating, and just the other night, I was asking the girls to calm it down a little as they played tag with Patches around the first floor of our house.

She’s healthy. She gets let out for a bathroom break late at night before I go to bed. Yet, she’s now using our family room as her pit stop. So the only reason that makes sense is that she’s missing Martin.

As annoying as it is, I am also a bit amused because I can tell you that Martin isn’t exactly a dog person. At least, that’s what HE claims. He will be the first to tell you that he didn’t want to get a dog, that it took a long time to convince him to get a dog, and that he tends to be hands-off when it comes to caring for the dog.

But in her own way, Patches Der Hund is telling me … or rather, affirming what I already suspected … that she and Martin do have a bond and she’s feeling his absence.

Yeah, he can deny being a dog guy all he wants. Photo from 2010.

She’s missing him yelling at her to get off the couch. 

She’s missing him telling her to stop whining for food.

She’s missing him grumbling about vacuuming all the dog hair.

She’s probably also missing sitting at his feet as he folds socks, or seeing him patiently wait at the back door for her to take care of her business before locking up for the night. And I know she misses going out with him on his runs as he prepared for Air Force basic training.

Plus I haven’t been scratching her belly, rubbing her ears, or letting her snuggle with me on the couch as much as before.

So as Miss C begrudgingly grabbed the paper towels and cleaned up the mess this morning (as part of her efforts to be more responsible — win for me!), I made a note to pay better attention to Patches der Hund from here on out.

Partly because I don’t want her peeing all over the house now.

But mostly because I know how she feels.



Photo Booth with Patches


Patches der Hund does not care for Photo Boothing


She does not appreciate making silly faces or posing for the camera. It’s beneath her to look directly at the green light. And she absolutely will not, under any circumstance, tolerate those countdown beeps without howling her dissent.


Monday night did not go as planned. Not that I had any real plans, but I certainly didn’t plan on playing referee between players almost the second I got home from work, stumbling onto the field at the very bottom of the last inning without any accurate replay to make a fair determination as to who was safe and who needed a penalty when both were acting unfairly, and of course, there is absolutely no rule book with specific instructions anywhere to be found.


Nobody wins in that situation.


I sent the players to their separate corners, which for me meant rounding up the kids — all three of them — and heading to my gym so all of us got a time-out. We got there, only to learn that the Kids Club was closing within 10 minutes.


Stupid gym and those stupid hours that were so perfect when I was a stay-at-home, but are pretty much useless as a working mom.


No Kids Club. No workout. No burning off steam.


So we returned home.





It’s not like I’m a fool who thinks I ever really have a handle on things. I don’t. Most days, I do look around this house and feel a surge of gratefulness that things are functioning so well.  But there are other days when I’m reminded that being a wife and mother is seriously the hardest freakin’ job in the world.

The fah-reakin’ hardest.


Tonight was one of those nights. There were no cheerleaders for this referee. 


Instead, I got the silent treatment from the key players and I sent the others to bed early. I sat on my couch in the family room, listening to the silence and mapping out a game plan for a truce when Patches Der Hund came up and put her face on my lap.


I broke protocol and patted the couch next to me. She jumped right up. As I scratched her ears, it dawned on me that I’ve never PhotoBooth’d with Patches. Not like I’ve done with my children and husband in lighter, sillier moments.


So I flipped open my laptop and Photo Booth’d with Patches.


I couldn’t help, but laugh. She looked so patiently bored with my shenanigans, but she tolerated my goofiness all the same.


She may not appreciate Photo Booth. But my gosh, do I appreciate her. My cheerleader in this circus. 


I take comfort in knowing that in the morning, my husband and children will be well-rested and ready to try for a better day. It was just a bad night for everyone, one that reminded me that no family is perfect. 


But I’m pretty sure all pets are perfect. 


I may not always have a grip, but I’ve got my Patches.