Monday, November 17, 2014


It was the spring of 2000, and I was a junior at JMU when I found and adopted an adorable calico kitten. I named her Ally. The guy I had just started dating was allergic to cats, but who knew if he was going to be around forever? I just told him not to pet her. 

After living with me for a summer at my parent's house, my dad started calling her Squirt because she loved to play with water. If you didn't keep the toilet lid down, you would find the bathroom soaked with water that she had splashed everywhere. 

She returned to JMU for my senior year, and then moved with me to my first apartment in Alexandria. The boyfriend was still around, and they tolerated each other. My apartment was small, and Squirt insisted on pushing her water bowl all over the place and getting water everywhere. So I put her water bowl in my bathtub. Soon I would just plug the drain and add some water to the tub a few times a day. It kept her out of the toilet. 

Every day when I'd come home from work, I'd pick her up and she would perch on the top of my shoulder while I sorted mail and cooked dinner. She loved to play in the mini-blinds. At Christmas I left her for two days while I was visiting home. I came home to find the entire Christmas tree on the floor, almost every ornament broken. 

A few months later she decided to climb on top of my TV in the middle of the night - a TV that was precariously perched on a too-small table - and the whole thing came crashing to the floor at 2am. My boyfriend bought me a new TV for my birthday. It came in a big box and, knowing Squirt's fondness for boxes, she probably thought she was doing us a favor.

Fast forward a few months, and the boyfriend was now my husband. We lived in a townhouse in Fairfax. They continued to tolerate each other, but he wasn't really allergic to her anymore. She ruled the house... until we got a dog. 

When Duke entered our home, he had never been with a cat before. He chased Squirt around the house like she was a rabbit. She smacked him across the nose about three times, and he never bothered her again. She did spend several days sitting on top of the refrigerator and loudly protested this new addition. But in the end she decided she would tolerate Duke in much the same way that she tolerated Eric. 

A few more years and our little family made the move to Richmond. Squirt continued to drink out of the (much bigger) bathtub, and now she had twice as many windows to sit in. She spent a lot of her time contemplating her escape to the backyard, and when she did occasionally slip out she would sit contentedly at the bottom of the deck and eat grass. She was thrilled when we built a screen porch (just for her) and she could sit and watch the birds. 

Fast forward a few more years, and I was insensitive enough to bring a baby into her house. Instead of sleeping at my feet each night, she was now wakened every few hours for me to feed a baby. It was quite inconvenient, especially when the baby started crawling and thought that there would be nothing better in the world than to grab Squirt's tail and chew on it. She was mildly upset when Duke Dog died in 2011, and seemed to simply sigh and roll her eyes when we brought home Dixie. She started to question whether she could possibly tolerate anyone else coming into the house. Then we brought home another baby. To show her displeasure, decided she would no longer sleep by my feet at night. She did, however, eventually grow to tolerate both children. 

As she got older, one of her favorite places to be was in front of a warm fire. If a fire wasn't available, she would sit as close as possible to one of the floor vents.

A sunbeam was close to heaven - even if only part of her body could be warmed.

She also loved to crawl into (or on top of) any paper bag that came into the house. Big shopping bags with handles were a particular favorite. 

As we come to our first Christmas without her, I think about how much she loved the holiday season. The Christmas tree was a favorite - she would spend most of the day hiding behind it, buried in between presents, where she could watch everything in secrecy. She would occasionally chew off a bow or try to crawl inside a gift bag. She always tried to drink water out of the tree stand and would end up with sticky paws from the tree sap. 

After suffering over the past year with hyperthyroid and kidney disease, it was finally time to let her rest. I will miss her soft bunny fur and her funny squeaky meow. She had my full attention for several years, before the addition of a husband, two children, and two dogs. Although she never fully warmed up to anyone else, she was always happy to sit on my shoulder. Cats are one-person pets, and she was certainly mine. She hasn't been able to jump up on the bed in years, but she still slept on the floor next to my side. She went peacefully on Friday night, but last night I swear I heard a cat meow in the night. I've told Ainsley that she is in kitty heaven and watching over us - I think maybe I'm right. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My Little Soldier

Parker has been having such a fun time at Ms. Kari's house. We weren't sure we would ever find someone we loved as much as Ms. Robin, and we do still miss her dearly. But Ms. Kari has been a blessing, and we are glad everything worked out so well! Kari's daughter Meredith is just a few months older than Parker, and the two of them play together nicely. Parker has preschool every Tuesday and Thursday, and they go to bible study together every Wednesday. Ms. Kari also takes them out to do other fun things like story time at the library, and play dates around town. Here are some other things that my little guy has been doing recently!

Boys seem to be born with an innate sense of fighting. Parker is definitely a boy. He is now obsessed with finding the perfect stick, which he will swing about and pretend to fight with. Mostly he's quite harmless, but occasionally he will stab his sister with it (usually after she has taken something that he wants, so I can't really blame him). 

Sometimes he finds a really big stick.

A visit to the zoo!

A visit from the firetruck at preschool!

Playing hide-n-seek with Meredith.

Learning about Native Americans as we prepare for Thanksgiving.

Occasionally Ainsley gets to go to Ms. Kari's house too. Last week it was parent-teacher conference day so she did not have school (but I did). She spent the day at Ms. Kari's house, and after helping her with some projects they all had fun at Chick-Fil-A!

A scary spider! 

Parker learned to ride a scooter at Ms. Kari's house. It's one of his favorite things to do every afternoon!

Helping Ms. Kari at Costco. 

Parker and Meredith hold hands in the car every day. He can't say Meredith so he calls her 'Merida.' They are so cute - best friends!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Little Dukes

Last weekend was JMU Homecoming so we all packed up our purple gear and headed to Harrisonburg. Eric's connections with the JMU Alumni Board got us into a suite for the game. The timing couldn't have been any better- it was 40 degrees and raining! We were able to watch the game outside but then sit inside and warm up when needed. Plus the kids got to eat as much popcorn as they wanted, and we got to enjoy some adult beverages. A win-win for everyone!  

These little Dukes had a good nap on the way there - gotta get rested up for all the cheering! 

Yes, they are eating popsickles when it is 40 degrees outside. They are definitely Bowlin kids!

Another benefit of the suite? Duke Dog comes to visit! Go Dukes!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Halloween: Frozen Style

Halloween was fun for the whole family this year, as Parker finally understood what was going on, and that it involved a lot of chocolate. This is probably the last year I'll be able to get them in coordinating costumes without argument, so I took advantage of the situation and got them Elsa and Olaf costumes.

On Wednesday night our church had a dinner and Trunk-or-Treat in the parking lot. We ran into several friends, and lots of other girls dressed as Elsa. 

It took Parker a few visits to figure out what to say and how to ask for candy. But he quickly got it right and always yelled a loud 'THANK YOU!'

Cutest kids ever!

Parker also discovered Twizzlers - a new favorite.

Parker's class at preschool had a Halloween party and I got to go. We had fun decorating pumpkin-shaped cookies, and listening to them sing songs that they learned in school. 

Ainsley also had a field trip to a pumpkin patch with her class at school. Afterwards I got to visit and help her decorate her pumpkin!

The night before Halloween we finally got around to decorating our pumpkins. Parker was too young last year, but this year he spent lots of time adding color to his pumpkin!

Ainsley created a rainbow masterpiece. 

On Halloween night we went trick-or-treating with friends in our neighborhood. Parker ran those little legs trying to keep up with Ainsley and Owen. By the end of the night everyone was happy but very tired!