After the baby screamed, the dog sniffed her leg for a treat and the cat tried to taste her food, my friend said, “Your house is so full of……life!”

I decided it was time to attempt to have a dinner guest. After all, AJ is 22 months old now. How bad could it be? I invited our veterinarian over for dinner - she is the BEST vet we have ever had. She is knowledgeable, compassionate, caring and she and her team have always been so helpful for me juggling AJ and whichever animal had a appointment. And I figured she would be understanding about the almost continuous chaos that is our home.

I started two days ahead in getting the house clean. It took that long because AJ is now tall enough to reach almost anything she wants and is strong enough to climb everywhere. When I was finished the house looked and smelled amazing. I gave Issac a treat for being so good while I cleaned. He immediately crumbled it on the beautifully gleaming hardwood floor. Clean doesn't last long in our house. Oh well. I went back to get a rag and when I returned, AJ had found my address labels and stuck a dozen or so of them on the floor about 3 inches from where I had just steam mopped the last batch off. Those things stick like nothing I have ever seen!

Our friend, Judy, was supposed to arrive at around 6:30 so I thought it would be great to take AJ outside for a little activity before dinner. We had a great time looking at the flowers and she found a group of birds that she decided to chase. And chase she did. Around the neighbor's lot (with the long native grass and mud), down to the lake and back into our yard. Of course, I followed her through the grass, by the lake and back to our yard. By then, my shoes and legs had mud and grass seeds on them and my pants were dirty from AJ's shoes where they hit when I picked her up. At that point, I heard the dogs barking. Our friend has arrived! No time to change clothes.  I hope she's prepared!

We hustled up the hill and through the gate to the front door where Judy was standing patiently listening to the dogs go wild as if there were a dozen rabbits on the front step waiting to be chased. We took our friend through the back gate and Issac ran up to greet her (did I mention that he weighs 104 pounds?). She took it all in stride and commented on the beautiful serene setting. I noted to myself what a dramatic contrast the setting is to the chaos of our family.

We sat out on the deck enjoying a drink and appetizers - for about 2 minutes. My little AJ, who will usually play with her water toys on the deck and be entertained, decided to run inside the house for "chase me". I had to chase. This went on for quite some time with me trying to convince her to come outside and play and her letting me know that she was the center of attention. Finally, I went to my failsafe last resort - the dreaded "show". We put on "Bubble Guppies" which is my go to when I MUST get something done and have no help to watch my curious little wonder. Even that didn't work. AJ now began crying and screaming. She wasn't used to sharing Mommie with anyone. And I needed to get dinner ready for our patient guest.

I finally asked Judy if she would mind playing with AJ for a few minutes while I got the food on. "It will be fast, I promise." I was serving a wonderful stir fry chicken with asparagus for which I had almost everything ready - it just needed to quickly be cooked. Judy was wonderful and played with AJ and her little pink truck, her books, and her blocks. Oh, and the big Issac as well. He also likes to be the center of attention. Judy earned her supper that night. I was able to get the food ready. I had planned for us to eat out on the deck with candles listening to the birds and watching the water. Instead, we wound up first trying to eat at the counter while I held AJ (she wouldn't stop crying). Our little cat Missy jumped on the counter and decided to sample Judy's chicken. (Fortunately, Judy has cats and didn't mind). We finally ended up eating on the sofa watching AJ's show with her. I never did get to finish my food; however, I did manage a half a piece of key lime pie for dessert. Issac sat on the floor mooing because Judy wasn't patting him, AJ was crying, Teddie was barking at the neighbor dog, Maxine; and the cats were meowing loudly because I hadn't given them their evening food. At that point, Judy smiled and said, "Your house is so full of . . . . she paused for a long time . . . I filled in the blank mentally with "noise, chaos, interruption....distraction, love" when she said, "LIFE!"

I smiled and said "you're right!" And I was right too - noise, chaos, interruption, distraction, love and LIFE! I wouldn't have it any other way.

Judy had to leave because it was getting late - and AJ was ready for bed.  We gave her a hug.  She gave everyone on 4 legs a pat.  Even though it didn't go as I had planned, it was a wonderful evening full of life.  I hope Judy comes back!


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