Kids and Pets and The Day Zac Died

I have a special Christmas post just about finished and ready to publish, but first I had to share this conclusion to a post I started writing in…oh my…October. What can I say? I’ve been busy cooking up a baby. If you need a refresher to Part One , click here.


I woke up one morning a couple of weeks ago to the sound of a normally chipper (albeit hungry) household in the throes of a great and raucous mourning.

And it was a mourning that seemed to be spreading with each pitter and each patter of newly awakened feet upon the staircase.

There was weeping.

There was wailing!!

And all of it was gradually mounting in both participation and volume.

It was like Jairus’s daughter all OVER again.

My husband opened up our bedroom door and sat gently on the bed beside me, a chagrined look upon his face.

“Well…” he said, “I want to preface this by first saying I am NOT talking about our friend, Zac, but the FISH, Zac…Zac died.

That husband of mine is a smart man, knowing instinctively that waking up his addle-brained, sleeps-like-the-dead wife with the words “Zac died” would probably send me into a true conniption.

“Oh no…” I croaked, tuning my ear to take in the specific words and lamentations of each of the children who were wailing in the next set of rooms.

I heard things like “Nooo!!!!” and “Why?!?” and “HE WAS THE BEST FISH EVER!!!!!”

Okay, so let me tell you a little something about the Gore children.

Someone…I don’t know who, but someone very morbid and sentimental…might have inordinately passed down a wee little character trait to each of the children in this house that manifests itself quite glowingly on days like this.

And really, I don’t know if I…er, that person…really passed it down to ALL of the children or just to the FIRST child, who then commenced to influence the siblings who have followed behind said first child.

But regardless of  who, what, or how, the Gore children are just insanely loyal to…

well, to pretty much everything.

For instance, to our house (we can never move). To the nursery upstairs (we can never insert a wall up there to divide it into its two intended rooms, never). To the tiny and completely unfunctioning and unused back porch that we will probably cover over when we build on our schoolroom (they sat on it and cried when they heard this news. “This is our favorite part of the entire house!!!” they bawled). To our former minivans (“If the van is going, I’m going with it! I’ll LIVE in it!” one of our more dramatic children wept). To old toys. To broken dishes. To drawings or crafts of any kind. To paper airplanes. To socks. To taco shells. To Frosted Mini-Wheats that are stuck together in interesting ways. To tiny blueberries. To “lucky sausages”. That’s right. I said lucky sausages.


And, most recently, to our new goldfish.

The goldfish that was now floating, dead, in a big jar of water in the kitchen.

God, be near.

“What happened to him??” I asked my husband.

“I told the kids that he died of old age,” he replied. “I mean, that stinking fish lived for two weeks! Who would have guessed that?…”

That much was true. We never thought he would survive the trip home from the fair.

But then he leaned in conspiratorially.

“But if I was really going to name what happened…”

I looked at him, wide-eyed.

“…I think it might have been Chloe.”


You mean this cat?

Yeah, that might have had something to do with it.

“I think she tortured him all night and he had a heart attack,” he whispered.

“Oh my…” I replied in matched tones.

What a dismal day at Gore House.

I put on my glasses, waddled to the bathroom, and joined my grieving family as quickly as I could. They initially fell into me, those sobbing children, longing for comfort, but in my arms they simply could not stay; they needed to pace, bless their little hearts, to put motion to their grief, and though it might seem silly to big persons to see these sorts of theatrics…

well, it’s not totally theatrics, is it?

It’s also true sadness.

A first taste of loss.

A slap-in-the-face reminder that death is real and that it takes something precious away from us.

There was a part of me that wanted to laugh at the entire scene…

this stupid goldfish from the stupid fair!!

But there was also a part of me that understood and that empathized and that throbbed a little at what my little ones were experiencing.

Which leads me to a real topic that I want to discuss today.

I would not consider myself a real animal-loving person, and each of our pets house specific characteristics that absolutely DRIVE ME CRAZY…

but it’s a headache that I have come to believe is completely worthwhile.

Animals and children go together quite well, don’t they? I mean, we have a bottle of “Kids and Pets” stain and odor remover in our laundry room. Because “kids” and “pets” are, without contest, a darling duo.

They’re messy. They’re stinky, without intervention. They are full of energy and playfulness and, in most cases, unconditional love. And, oh yes, we cannot forget their LOYALTY.

Our pets have taught our children, right here in the safety of our home, to look out for the little guy (or the Basset Hound who gets her head stuck in the picket fence). To rescue the perishing (or the tiny and starving kitten hiding out in the neighbor’s engine). To protect the weak (or the bunnies who need extra hay in winter and frozen water bottles in summer). To reward the good deeds of the deserving (or the Golden Retriever who learns and listens to commands).

And, obviously, they’ve taught them to love, till death do them part.

Our kids LOVE their animals. They dote upon them like a mother dotes upon her children. They want to take pictures of them anytime they’re doing something cute or funny. They call themselves “Chloe’s Mama” or “Grace’s Mama” or “Jake’s Papa” (consequently, I am “Chloe’s Grandmother” and Sheppy is “Chloe’s Uncle” and so on and so forth). They rush to see them the minute we walk through the door after being out, even for a short amount of time.

And you know what?

Love that big and pure comes at a cost.

For when it is lost, we feel lost.

And so I didn’t laugh at my kids during Zac’s toilet funeral, and I didn’t tell them to toughen up, even as I secretly rejoiced that we could get that giant fish bowl out of our too-small-for-giant-fish-bowls kitchen.

Which was stupid of me.

I should have known that my “loyal” kids would find a way to keep Zac’s memory alive.

You see, minutes after the conclusions of his funeral, grief still fresh, they replaced him with a plastic goldfish we had in the toy bin.

So now Zac can be with us, in our kitchen, FOREVER.

And ever.

And ever.

Yay for pets…


Thank you so much for reading today! If you’d like to hear our stories on an almost-daily basis, follow along on Facebook. And for more photos of plastic fish and childhood antics, join us on Instagram! Now, really, stay tuned for a Christmas story that has my heart all aglow. Coming up, this week!! (and I mean it this time…I think.)


The Rescue Cat that Rescued Us (from getting a Dog) – Part Two

Continued from Part One


It was just a random weekday.

I doubt I had any plans for even our meals that day, let alone rescuing someone.

But that’s the thing about rescues.

They’re not really planned.

It’s just that someone needs saving and…whatdoyaknow?…you’re nearby.

Early that afternoon, our neighbor shared a photo on Facebook of the tiniest kitten that had stumbled its way onto her back porch. “Anyone know whose kitten this is?” she asked. It was starving and scared and, since she is very allergic to cats, she was hoping to find its home quickly or get it to a place where someone could care for it without sneezing all the way to their death.

Seeing that tiny little furball on my screen, I dashed out of my chair like a lunatic, thinking…


What WAS I thinking?

I don’t even know.

It was something like…


Looking back, it’s like the 6-year old girl in me took over, even though, if you had me in an interrogating room with a lie-detector test today, it would probably come out that I don’t reallllly like cats.

That 6-year old girl in me, however?


She loves them.

And so, if you’ll remember, does my 6-year old daughter.

And speaking of her, I immediately called out her name…again, I don’t know WHY…with a mixture of panic and excitement in my voice.

“Get your shoes on!!” I urged her.

“Why?” she asked.

“I just need you!!” I said. “Hurry!!!!

Frantically throwing shoes on our feet, we dashed onto the front porch where my husband was visiting with a friend. Leaning down to where he was sitting in the rocking chair, I murmured something in his ear, explaining where we were going and why.

Do you know what I said?

I said “KITTEN!!!”

I just wanted to see it, really. To let my kitten-loving daughter see it. We’d just look at it and maybe…well, there was no maybe, because there was no PLAN. We were just going, blindingly, toward KITTEN.

My husband seemed to interpret my thoughts…he’s really good at that…and gave me to the go-ahead to see what we could do to help. At the very least, we could bring the little baby over to our non-cat-allergic house and take care of it until its owner could be found.

We were quickly met with a big problem, though.

When our neighbor went out onto the back porch with us to show us the kitten…

the kitten was no longer there.

“KITTEN!” I inwardly yelled. “Where are you??”

“I can’t believe this,” she said. “It’s been meowing back here since 6:00 this morning! I mean, it was just here! But it was extremely skittish, it might be hiding somewhere…”

We started snooping around the porch and backyard, but to no avail.

“Kitten” was GONE.

My girl and I shrugged in disappointment and had just picked up the turtle we found on our way over to head back home (did I forget to mention a turtle? We also brought home a turtle that day…) when our neighbor, miracle of miracles, spotted a flash of fur in one of their ricks of wood.

Putting the turtle back down, the three of us surrounded the wood pile, trying to coax the kitten to come out.

And our brave friend was just sticking her hand into the wood pile to snatch it when her husband yelled at us from the garage across the yard, “Hey!!! The cat’s over here!!!”

We all slowly looked at each other with wide eyes.

We STILL don’t know what sort of animal she was about to drag out of the woodpile, but we don’t really care to know!

Leaving that mystery critter behind, we high-tailed it to the garage only to discover that the kitten was…oh the drama and excitement!!…in the hood of their car!!

Now we were in a real predicament.

I had to call in the troops.

I waved down my husband and his friend, and soon, our entire family was over there. Have you ever been surrounded by five adults and four children who are about to save a kitten? It is VERY exciting. And also very loud, what with all the ideas and opinions about how to save the kitten and “can we keep the kitten??” and so on and so forth.

Carefully, so as not to frighten the skittish kitten away, the menfolk opened the hood of the SUV, and there she was. The most frightened little kitten you ever did see.

SO frightened, in fact, that when my husband tried to slowly reach for her, she lunged deeper into the engine.

But quick as a whip, our visiting friend caught her by one paw.

The surrounding congregation broke out into cheers! We had a foot!

He dragged her gently out, and soon she was clawing onto his hand like…

well, like a scaredy-cat.

The rest, my friends, is a TOTAL blur.

I don’t know how…

I don’t know when…

I don’t know WHY…

I don’t know what was said and who agreed to what…

but by nightfall…

this was pretty much OUR cat.

Well, HER cat.

Said cat lives in our house now.

Her name is Chloe.

And she has a giant litter box in our tiny laundry room.

And a special, magical trashcan for cat poo.

And toys and jingly balls and tiny stuffed animals and all KINDS of stuff that I never really planned on having in my house.

But our kids are obsessed with her. And she’s insanely weird and hilarious. And, somehow, even though she drives me mad when I’m trying to clean the house, she reminds me of this beautiful picture of being helpless and marching hopelessly toward death and having someone big and kind and powerful reach down and pluck you up and give you a home where you are safe and loved. It’s kind of really, really beautiful to behold.

But mostly…

she’s not a dog.

So that’s really, really good.


Ah, cats. I have more Chloe stories to tell, and hope to do so soon. Until then, find us on Facebook and Instagram!