Monday, November 22, 2010

It's Been a Good Year

Last month, Tanner and I celebrated our first year anniversary. A week before our actual anniversary, Sept. 19, we headed to New Braunfels and San Antonio to celebrate.

Any time we get a chance, we head to my family's River House in New Braunfels, which has been in the Sullivan family since my dad was born – so, about 45 years ;) It's the place I feel most at home in this big ol' world.

This little guy greeted us. I thought he was very cute. One time, in college, my sister accidentally shut a huge toad in her door and it was still alive. Then she realized she had locked herself out of the house, and the toad was trapped. Waiting for the Pop-A-Lock guy was a very traumatic experience.

We love taking the dogs down to the water. They are so happy, and the scenery is so beautiful.

One of those moments of pure majesty.

Like I said, pure majesty.
(I forgot my swimsuit. So no pictures of me in my Walmart sports bra and booty shorts.)

After a day a the river, we headed into San Antonio for something a little different.

We checked out the Alamo...

and the Riverwalk.

Then we headed to Boudro's on the Riverwalk, where the table side guacamole and the fire-roasted salsa are AMAZING...

and the view is breathtakingly beautiful.

I mean, breathtakingly beautiful.

More sightseeing after dinner...

Then a little surprise I orchestrated for my hubs back at our B&B, The River Vista Hotel (AMAZING place, FYI).

The next day, we were overdosed on champagne and romance, so we invited my parents up to the River House with us. That's how we roll.

Irrelevant. He just melts my heart.

Mom and Dad took us out to dinner,

and gave us a gift certificate to Country Custom Pine in Weatherford for a new dining room table.

It was a great way to celebrate one year of being married. After it all, there's nothing we enjoy more than simply spending time together.

I love you, Tanner.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

These are the words I would say

I used to think it was really super-duper mega-mondo dorky to listen to Christian radio. Even though I was a Christian (FYI, I still am), I thought the songs were really, well, bad. Musically speaking that is. I remember being shocked to hear the Houston Christian radio station playing in the apartment of my former youth leader and cool music connoisseur, Kirsten. ("Kir" rhymes with "ear," not "err" – this is important to avoiding Kirsten's wrath. You will find out why avoiding her wrath is very important in just a couple sentences.) If you know Kirsten or have visited her blog, you know she's anything but dorky. Hello, she plays roller derby. Case and a point.

This morning, one of my close friends, Jennifer-the-huntress (I like to befriend with girls who do things like bodycheck people on roller skates or shoot fish with a bow and arrows), text messaged me to check in and see what's up. Then I got a text from my mom about Thanksgiving with my Grandma. (Apparently, people don't like the sound of my voice.) That and some other things that have happened recently – such as a phone call from my best friend since high school, a visit with an old friend from college, a bossy message from my sister, and a Facebook post by Debbie Ballew, someone from Tanner's hometown who we love very much – got me thinking of all the friends and family in my life who I don't get to see very much now that I live in Siberia (aka North Texas). I miss them. I love them.

I don't know if the music has gotten better, if I've gotten more dorky or if I've gotten over that pretentious music-snob phase people sometimes go through – Oh my gosh, you don't know who ::insert obscure band name here:: is? But now I enjoy listening to Christen radio. The lyrics inspire, convict and encourage me, and a song, "The Words I Would Say," that I've been hearing on the DFW Christian station lately seem not dorky at all, but just right for how I've been feeling today.

Three in the morning,

And I'm still awake,
So I picked up a pen and a page,
And I started writing,
Just what I'd say,
If we were face to face,
I'd tell you just what you mean to me,
I'd tell you these simple truths,

Be strong in the Lord and,
Never give up hope,
You're going to do great things,
I already know,
God's got His hand on you so,
Don't live life in fear,
Forgive and forget,
But don't forget why you're here,
Take your time and pray,
These are the words I would say,

Sidewalk Prophets

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Tribute to My Cat

Our wonderful cat, Striker, has been missing for a week, and sadly, I don't think he's coming back. I've been holding out hope that he's stuck up in a tree or just wandered too far from home, and I suppose that is still possible, but it's probably unlikely. Striker loved, and I mean LOVED, his food and his cozy cat naps in the house. We let him outside each night to do whatever it is cats do all night, and he always returned in the morning like clockwork, meowing to be let in for breakfast. He loved going outside, and the times I tried to make him an indoor cat were miserable for both him and me. But no matter how much fun he's had out in the great outdoors, he's never been gone for more than a day.

Baby Striker (and his spotted belly) with his best friend, baby Bella

I really, really loved my cat. For those of you who don't like cats, and I realize there are many of you, that may be hard to relate to. I understand. I used to not like cats. I grew up (as in I felt this was until I was 22) thinking my friends' cats were scary and always waiting to ambush my ankles from under the bed or jump off a dresser onto my head. Then I got Striker, and I realized how unique, clever, entertaining and even sweet a cat can be. Even in their aloof independence and self-indulgence, they have an attractive quality – they're nobody's fool. And when a cat deems to bless you with his affection, it's a special gesture you are always excited to receive.

The sweetest, cuddly sleeper. Striker used to sleep on my chest when he was little.
When he got too big, we resorted to spooning.

This loss has been really hard for me to handle, especially in the mornings and evenings. I've found myself bursting into tears when I go to the back door in the morning to let the dogs out, caught off guard that Striker's not perched on top of the grill waiting to be let in. Same thing in the evening when I come home from work, I'm used to him being right there at the door waiting for me. It's a meowing, calf-rubbing, gray and black welcome wagon I've been accustomed to being greeted by everyday for the last four years. As dramatic as this sounds, until today I didn't know how I was going to get over it and "move on" so to speak. I can't expect everyone to understand how I feel. A lot of people just aren't "animal people" or "cat people," and some who are also happen to be better dealing with the inevitable loss of a pet.

Places Striker loved to curl up over the years: under the Christmas tree, in the bathroom sink,
in a wicker basket on the sewing table or in the storage shelf, on the wicker patio sofa, on the
sofa arm, on stacks of paper, on wet clothes I've laid out to dry on the bed, on the hood of the truck ...

...and on the new dog beds -- pictures taken the night he disappeared. :(
Can you tell who was the king of the house?

As Tanner said the other day, I just have a lot of "heart" when it comes to animals. I love animals. I love being with animals, working with animals, writing about animals, etc. I love loving animals. I get more joy than many people probably do from their pets, and I also have a lot of sorrow when they're gone. I struggle with letting go of the sadness. Of course, time helps to heal. But today I found myself with a new perspective that I'd never considered before. One that helped heal me.

I was reading in Genesis this morning. I'm trying, for the bizzillionth time, to read through the Bible in one year, which involves reading a few passages each day. I was reading about how, just like man, God created all the animals from the ground (or the dirt of earth) and breathed life into them. God brought them to man to name them all, and God charged man to rule over every bird, fish, and beast of the land. When God was looking for a suitable helper for man, he turned first to look through the animals he had created before deciding on woman (lucky us, *wink ). From the beginning of time, we've had an intimate relationship with animals, and God has blessed us by giving us charge over his creations.

It doesn't mean I don't care my cat is gone, but after reading that this morning, I had a conversation with God that helped me to feel a great peace. If it makes you laugh a little that I had such an intimate and heartfelt conversation about a cat with the Creator of the Universe and Savior of Mankind, that's OK. But that's one of the things I love most about God. I can turn to him for anything, no matter what it involves, a great mountain that needs moving or a tiny little cat that I loved.

Dear God,

You created everything. You worked in all your wonder and power to make all things. You deserve all the glory and all the honor and all the praise.

Thank you for creating Striker. Thank you for creating him with his spotted belly and gray and black stripes and big eyes. Thank you for making him unique and for giving him a personality of his own. Thank you for giving him the instincts, agility, speed and athleticism that make cats amazing. Thank you for bring him into my life.

Thank you for allowing me to be a steward of the animals you've so masterfully created. I'm grateful for the gift and responsibility of caring for them. It brings me great joy. I thank you for gifting me with the patience and compassion to do a good job of it, and I ask for more of each.

Even though it hurts to lose something I loved, Striker, I give you thanks and praise in my sadness. You give and you take away. You remind me that no matter how wonderful something is on this earth, no matter how great a joy Striker brought me, nothing is greater than the gift of knowing you. I treasure my pets, and I thank you for bringing them into my life. The relationship I have with each of them, no matter how sweet, can't last forever. But I can forever count on you to be there for me in good times and bad. My relationship with you is forever, on this earth and after this life.

I'm so glad I can come to you to than
k you for this little creation. How wise and wonderful you were when you made the earth and everything in it, including my sweet Striker.


Things I will remember about Striker:
Coming out of nowhere like a bat out of hell, scaring the crap out of me, running up a tree like a crazy banshee, turning around and running up and down several more trees, then jumping on the roof.

Coming out of the wood work from where ever he was hiding whenever I tapped a wet cat food can with a spoon.

Meowing constantly for his food, but getting lazy and just opening his mouth without making a sound.

Climbing up on my belly, kneading my belly pudge with his claws, and curling up for a nap. (Always made me feel fat.) :)

Sitting on my chest and purring so loud and so deep it reverberated through my whole body.

The stage where he would get in the shower every time after I got out to drink the water and get his paws wet.

The time he got sprayed by a skunk, I gave him a bath, and he was so angry.

Playing with Tater's or Happy's wagging tail like it was a cat a cat toy.

Epic wrestling matches with Bella.

How he loved his Greenie cat treats.

How he loved to lay in the sun shining through the windows.

The time I lived in an apartment and took him for a walk with a harness and leash on -- he ran up a tree and I had to tug him down with the leash.

How he used to kill baby moles, snakes, and lizards and bring them to me.

How we always had to raise all the blinds in the house enough for him to get on the windowsill and look outside during the day -- if you didn't, he destroyed the blinds in protest.

How he LOVED to give kisses on my nose and lips -- he'd lick me with his scratchy little tongue.

How if you scratched his belly, he'd get all hyper and attack your hand.

How if you scratched his booty, he'd bite you cuz if felt so good.

How he'd wriggle and wiggle on the floor and pull himself along the carpet with his claws when he was hyper.

How he'd temp and tease Digger by randomly licking him, biting him, or clawing him.

How he was so darn cute and funny, very cuddly and loveable, and very bad ass and independent.

I will miss him a lot. More than I can say. I'm so glad to have had him.


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