Perhaps now would be a good time to introduce you to the residents of Aleighopolis. The cast of characters (and I do mean characters) are listed in the order they first appeared in my life.
First and foremost, my husband of almost 17 years. He loves me despite all my flaws. Not that I'm admitting to any. I call him Big Daddy, and if you've ever seen him, you know why. 6'6", broad shoulders and a heart the size of a zamboni. We crack each other up and piss each other off on a daily basis. Co-dependency at it's finest. He's worked for the same company for about a year longer than we've been married (loyal like a pup), and his promotions are the reason behind our many moves. He promises me it will all be worth it one day. I think everyday has been worth it - but don't tell him that. His Catholic guilt is working for me.
ZuZu is our oldest and only daughter. For about 5 minutes, we considered naming her Zuzu Petals "Blahzlahski" (being huge fans of "It's a Wonderful Life" as we are), but who could be that cruel (other than a slew of Hollywood's finest)? Instead, she's always been ZuZu to me, "my little gingersnap" as George Bailey referred to his daughter. ZuZu is teetering on the edge of teendom. She's a little mini-me, cursed with her father's near-sightedness, but blessed with his long, thin and toned legs. Although she looks more like me, her personality is more like Big Daddy's. Reserved and almost shy in big crowds, but a leader and a clown amongst her closest peers. She wishes only good for all people. All people, except her oldest brother.....
Enter Deuce (because "Little Daddy" just ain't right). Born 15 months after ZuZu, and always clipping her heels. Hence, the resentment. I'd feel a little sorry for him if he wasn't such a pot-stirrer on the homefront. He knows how to get in ZuZu's kitchen - and mine. But the truth is, he's an amazing young man. Such a gentleman...always gives his best and excels at everything...rule-follower...good grades...the stuff that annoying Christmas letters are made of. That's my Deuce. He wants to play football for Notre Dame one day. I tell him, don't bother. Go straight into the workforce and make that million by your 21st birthday. It's your destiny! (Translation: we can't afford Notre Dame)
And now, my swan song, MT. He was the easiest baby - almost like he had heard all the commotion in utero and decided, "I'm gonna give this poor lady a break." At nine months, he could keep himself occupied for hours with McDonald's happy meal toys and binder clips. At age nine, he still can. He has a huge imagination and the quickest wit of all of them. He does have a serious temper, though. Big Daddy would say, "If MT is mad at you, sleep with one eye open." We were sure he would find that rusty old axe with the hollow handle and do us in in our sleep. He never did, though. In fact, he's the one that gives the most sincere "sorrys," and the best hugs and kisses as repentence. His cheeks still carry a little baby fat, which I'm so thankful for. I get to plant my lips on those cheeks every night at bedtime. And then I go hide the knives.
Last but not least, our freakin' dog. One late summer day in 2003, Big Daddy and Deuce went to a Notre Dame football game and came home with a puppy. They tried to convince me it was "giveaway day" at the stadium. But I'm no fool. The adorable little mutt looked exactly like the 6-month old I had met a few weeks earlier at our friends' house. The friends who earlier that spring had thought they were losing one of two pet Pomeranians, and had a gorgeous little baby. The same friends who found out, "IT'S A MIRACLE! YOUR DOG IS GOING TO LIVE," and "CONGRATULATIONS! YOU'RE PREGNANT WITH BABY NUMBER 2!" within a week of adopting said pooch. My 4 1/2-year old son was wise beyond his years. He knew he'd hit paydirt. He was skipping town with low-dog on the totem pole. Our Rox. Half toy Poodle, half Chihuahua. He's like a baby poodle on espresso. He's had some work done....but I'll save that story for another day.
So there you have it. My own little party of five plus pooch (Poo-Chi, to be exact). I thought it was fitting to formally introduce them, as I suspect they will make many appearances in Aleighopolis. My husband, my children, my freakin' dog. At any given time, they can be the meaning of my life, or the bane of my existence. But with every heartbeat, they are my world.