FACT: You can have children AND be the crazy cat lady.

I love cats, a lot.  I love them more than cheese fries and brownies and fried pickles and all the other things I secretly eat then feel guilty about later.  I love cats so much that as a young child I not only subscribed to “Cat Fancy” magazine, but I also had one of those t-shirts with a chorus line of cats coming and going (you know, whiskers on the front and poopers on the back). 
You wish you had one.

You wish you had one.

With total disregard for my lameness (not lame, totally cool, no one else got it) I proudly displayed my feline affection.  Oh cats, how I love thee…let me count the enormous stuffed animal (all cats) collection in my childhood bedroom to number the ways.  CATS ARE THE BEST.
 
We always had a small herd of cats growing up, and all of them were rescues.  When you’re raised in a small farming town, and a pet passes on to Pet Heaven, they get buried in the backyard (this is not weird, stop looking at me that way).  So when I tell you we had a multitude of cats through my childhood and teen years, realize that also equates to your furry best friends growing old and passing on to that great cat tree in the sky.  I have always imagined that if the current owners of my childhood home ever decided to put in a pool, and they dug up a certain corner of our backyard, they would be deeply concerned and/or horrified at the number of cat skeletons.  Maybe they’ve read Pet Sematary by the great and powerful Stephen King.  And maybe they moved out instead of putting in a pool.  That would make for a great novella one day, right?  Poltergeist meets Pet Sematary meets Cat Fancy.
 
Anyway.  Rescuing cats.  It’s a genetic trait for some of my family members, me especially.  I want to save all the cats.  In May of 2003, I moved into my first apartment.  Less than a month later, and with total disregard for my then-roommate’s cat allergy, I adopted a fat tabby cat.  His name, proudly displayed on the tag of his kennel, was Binky.  In my 19-year-old brain, I decided that Mai Tai was a much more suitable name.  He is most often called Pookie, because I’m one of those really awesome people who gives a pet a name, only to call them exclusively by a series of nicknames.  Pookie will be fourteen years old in May.  He has guaranteed he will live to be at least 30 years old, though.
MY FIRST LOVE.

MY FIRST LOVE.

 I am in the 90th percentile for Crazy Cat Lady potential.  People will tell you that this can be avoided by getting married.  WRONG.  People will also tell you this can be avoided by having children.  DOUBLE WRONG.  If you have the potential, it never leaves you.  Maybe that tiny, crazy voice is quieter at certain times (or being drowned out by the sound of your toddler sliding the dining room chairs all over the house) but the voice is there, lying in wait.
 
Three years ago, a sad looking  tortoiseshell cat started hanging out on our front porch.  Pookie was not amused, as he sat near the living room window, peering out at this ragamuffin.  I was intrigued.  We began feeding her (did you know all tri-color cats are female?  THANK YOU, CAT FANCY MAGAZINE).  A few days later, a gray and white ragamuffin showed up.  A week later, a black and white super sketch ragamuffin showed up.  I recall texting my husband after work one day with, “WE ARE SURROUNDED GET HOME NOW BEFORE THEY EAT MY FACE.”
 
After months of feeding them, getting them to accept my overwhelming love and then giving them names, we knew we had reached a crucial point: they needed to be spayed and neutered, and they need to be adopted.  Watching them out the front door window, all three snuggled up together on the giant dog bed we’d given them, I realized that these three siblings couldn’t be separated…and in my heart of hearts, I just knew that no one would adopt three cats (which we had affectionately dubbed “The Wild Bunch”).  And so, the decision was made for us by the furballs on the front porch.  We crated them (that is an awesomely insane story for another day) and took them to our local PAWS to have them all snipped, clipped, chipped and vaccinated.  WELCOME HOME, KITTIES.
Three fatties.

Three fatties: Blueberry, Patches and Frankie.

 Pookie adapted pretty well for an old dude.  We agreed that four cats was plenty, and we would adopt no more.  I avoid adoption days at PetsMart like the plague.  I will cry for the kitties waiting to find forever homes.  When those stupid ASPCA commercial with Sara McLaughlin singing come on, the channel cannot be changed fast enough.  I love the ASPCA and all they do, but my fragile emotional state and internal Crazy Cat Lady cannot handle the sads.
 
AND NOW…For the past week, two cats have been hanging out in the preserve across the street from our house.  Like the Wild Bunch we adopted three years ago, these two new cats have been sleeping in the culvert.  They are beautiful, obviously cared for, and clearly abandoned based on the length of time they’ve been here.  I cannot fathom abandoning a pet (okay, maybe my husband’s parrot, but Kiwi is the Winged Apocalypse) and I cannot believe that a person would leave two pretty babies to fend for themselves.  Heaven forbid I find the person who left them.  I hope they died peacefully in their sleep, and the cats escaped the house in search of food.  If they did not die peacefully in their sleep, the will die unpeacefully in their awakeness.  TRUTH.
 
I contacted a local no-kill shelter, only to find they only accept owner surrenders.  This breaks my heart, even though I understand situations arise in which pets cannot go with you.  And I am thankful a shelter exists that will take the pets.  And I am filled with rage that the owner of these two cats did not do a little research and take the cats to this shelter; now these babies aren’t eligible.  I then contacted our county’s animal services division, and was told that their hold time for abandoned pets has been reduced to one day.  This means that in 24 hours, if the owners haven’t claimed the pet, they are evaluated to either be euthanized or put up for adoption.  That’s not a lot of time; I would pray that the cats are put up for adoption, but the reality is that they’re cats, not kittens, and the likelihood of them being adopted is reduced, with the likelihood of them being euthanized is increased.  My head and heart cannot handle the guilt of that possibility.
 
Now what?  We have four cats.  Did I think having Miles would reduce or eliminate my affinity for saving the world?  Absolutely not.  Do I think six cats would be too much for our tiny home?  Well, for our tiny home, yes…but for our enormous hearts, there is plenty of room.
 
I have posted on Craigslist, hoping to find the owners.  But for now, we’re sneaking plates of turkey and cat food across the street (my kind and lovely neighbors, who take care of our own herd of cats when we’re out of town, have assured me we do not need more cats) in the cover of darkness to avoid any backlash.  They are friendly.  I will provide a photo as this relationship progresses.
 
Place your bets now on whether I enter the 95th percentile of Crazy Cat Lady potential.
If you buy me this shirt, I will wear it.

If you buy me this shirt, I will wear it.

Home delivery available.

Home delivery available.

WANT.

WANT.

We can google image search all night long,

K

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The Best Days, Ever.

Today is an exciting day in the Coke House…we are celebrating our eighth wedding anniversary!  Time flies when you’re having fun, right?  In honor of the special day, I thought I’d reflect back over the past 2,922 days.
Eight years ago, we were both in our 20s (some of us in our very early 20s!)  George W. was still in office.  None of our friends had children.  Facebook was an unknown.  Cadillac Williams still played for the Bucs, and we went 11-5 in our 2005 season.  Evan and I both had siblings still in high school.  Brad and Jennifer were still married.
Life has changed.  Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane…
Eight years and an undisclosed number of pounds ago…
We tied the knot at my home church in Pahokee, where I spent some of the best years of my life, and PFUMC will forever hold a special place in my heart.  Hurricane Wilma had ravaged both coasts just three weeks prior; we didn’t even know at the time if our wedding could happen, but God willing, it did.  We were forced to move our reception location due to damage at the Elk’s Lodge in Pahokee.  Our florist, Fran, went as far as Miami to find THE flowers we had picked out months earlier.  We patiently waited days and weeks for electricity to be restored.  It all came together in an imperfectly beautiful and wonderful celebration.

Mr. & Mrs. Coke

Happily Ever After

We honeymooned in Key West.  We literally crawled Duval.  I climbed on stage at Sloppy Joe’s and sang “I Wanna Be Sedated” with a punk band from Minneapolis.  We happy houred at Irish Kevin’s at 10am.  We pet six toed cats and sting rays.  Evan got food poisoning from a Cheeseburger in Paradise.
We traveled.  We fell in love with Western NC, and have returned half a dozen times.  We have hiked over 300 miles.  Evan grew a mountain man beard. We plan to continue visiting every year until I can convince Evan to buy a mountain and build a cabin.
 Downpour on the AT.

 Day hike to Siler’s Bald.

 Tubing on Deep Creek.

“…got to set down and take a rest on the porch.”
Nantahala
We took a 4,000 mile road trip from Cape Coral to Washington DC, then to New Jersey for Evan’s 10 year high school reunion, then north to Niagara Falls, and west to Fort Knox, KY.  We visited monuments, toured Radio City Music Hall, ate Thanksgiving dinner at a hoity toity restaurant in the Upper East Side.  Then we watched my brother graduate from Basic Training, and prayed for his new journey and career in life as a Combat Medic in the US Army.

 Rockefeller Plaza

 Top of the Rock.

 Cannoli time!

 Arlington

 Lincoln Memorial

 CPL Cameron M. Hatton

 Proud sister.

Deuces.
We survived several hurricanes, both of the meteorological and real-life variety (not to mention the number of hurricanes consumed on our honeymoon in Key West). 
Both my parents and Evan’s grandmother lost their homes in Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne.  We headed to the east coast to help salvage what was left.  We cried endless tears upon seeing the devastation.  We prayed for restoration.  And our families overcame the struggles.
We welcomed Maggie Mae in our lives.  Then Kiwi.  Then the “Wild Bunch”: Blueberry, Patches and Frankie, a litter of kittens abandoned in our neighborhood.  Mai Tai, my old tabby cat, remains my “first born” regardless of our ever growing family.

Mai Tai, my first born, adopted in 2003. 

Maggie Mae joined the fam in 2006. 

Kiwi 

The Wild Bunch, left to right: Blueberry, Patches and Frankie
We decorated eight Christmas trees.  The pets only knocked over one.
My baby brother got married in Germany, and I gained an amazing sister-in-law.
Jess and Cameron
We turned 30.  And then some.

We found CCFUMC.  We became members.  Our lives forever changed, for the better.
We made many, many friends.  Many friendships grew; few failed.  We have been immensely blessed by the people in our lives, who we consider an extension of family.  Some have moved on, and there is greater time and distance between us, but an unconditional love remains. 
We grew deeper in our faith.  I picked the bass guitar back up.  I discovered worship through music.  Evan discovered worship through the tech ministry and running the sound board.  Our lives were again forever changed, for the better.
We bought our first home.  We renovated one room at a time, and finished the interior remodeling earlier this year.  I am now ready to paint the dining room again.

My favorite renovation, by far.

 A space for Baby C.

Our surprise to be…

We started a small business.  We grew.  We bought another small business.  And we continue growing and persevering.  Evan is overly humble about his accomplishments.
We said goodbye to some of our greatest loves and supporters.

My Moosie.

With Grandpa Lee and Grandma Lil.


!!!!!THIS HAPPENED!!!!!


August 16, 2012

Eight weeks!

Announcing to the world…

39 weeks!  Only two (long) weeks to go…


We experienced the most awesome, incredible, amazing, sunshine and rainbows day of our lives when we welcomed Miles Clark to the world.  We did not know then the overwhelming love, joy and happiness that would now fill our home.  We became parents.  It still sounds funny when I say it out loud.  Miles does let us know we’re doing an awesome job, though.

That face still gets me, every time.

Love at first sight.

My boys.

One day old.

I did not think I could love Evan more; then, I saw him as a father, and I found a new love that I didn’t know existed.  And we both found that it was possible to have an enormous mountain of love for a teeny, tiny person.
The Cokes – October 2013

The past 2,922 days have been an unbelievable journey, and there is no single person on this planet I would have spent it with besides Evan.  We have journeyed, side by side and hand in hand, through peaks and valleys, good times and bad, tears of joy and tears of sadness, together.  

I am tremendously blessed with his love and friendship.  He is my rock, my best friend, my happy place, and the most amazing father in the entire world.  My heart still skips a beat when he enters a room, just like it did over 10 years ago when we first met.  

And I cannot wait to see what life has in store for us next.

I love you to the moon and back, and then some.

XOX,
K