Welcome to Hardwick House

A Blessing and a Curse

Why are stem-mom’s always evil? Snow White, Cinderella, Enchanted even…poor beautiful girls abused by their evil stepmothers

I’m a step-mom. There I said it, can you see my horrible evil step-mom mole? Being a step-mom is hard. You have the same responsibilities, especially when the kids live with you full time and the real mother is never there or even when she is. But there is always that one factor that people throw at you – You’re not their mother. Yes, I know. But they are still mine.

I became a step-mom when I was 21 years old, having only moved in with my boyfriend/husband 1 year before. I hadn’t even met my husbands oldest son until the day he moved in, his mother dropped him off and didn’t come back. I didn’t know what to do with a 7 year old boy and 2 years later,  Michael’s younger son moved in when he was 7, his mother wanting him to go to a smaller school. I’d met him when he was only 4. Yes, they have two different mothers.

It’s hard dealing with women who know I’m raising their children, seeing three different kinds of mothers: Mom 1 has never really been there, Mom 2 willingly gave her son to his father for the good of the son, knowing it was what he needed, and me – the Step-mom, raising two boys like they are my own, thought I’ll never be their mother in their eyes.

I hope to share some of my joys and trials as a step-mom, and hope that others like me see that they are not alone. 🙂


Michael’s best friend comes over every other week to drink, hang out, and just have a good time. It’s always just the two of them while I sleep upstairs, buried under dogs. When his friend still lived in town, he’d leaved through the back gate of our fenced in yard, until one day he didn’t quite shut the gate. Michael woke me up at 2:30 am saying that all the dogs were gone. It’s was the puppies one year birthday exactly. I freaked. Though they were vacinated, none of them had collars, not even ID tags.

The older dogs, the girls Maggie and Baby, you could see from the house, sniffing around the neighbors trees. One yell and they came trotting back home like nothing had been wrong, “What momma? The gate was open.” The boys, however, were no where to be seen. They’d been out for an hour.

I jumped in the car and drove in the direction that Michael’s friend would have walked home, thinking maybe the boys had tried to follow him or his scent. I drove slow, really slow. About half way there, I thought I saw a dog in the center of a side road I passed but by the time I’d reversed to check it out, the figure was gone and I convinced myself it was my wishful imagination. Finishing the drive past the friends house, I went back the same way I’d come. What if that figure really was one of my dogs?!? I couldn’t just let it go. Right where I’d seen it last time, there it was, the shadowy figure of a dog but it was too dark to tell which one it was.

I pulled over and called both names. Nothing, and when I’d start to get close, the shadowy dog would skitter away. After about 15 minutes of chasing a dog, I finally got a glimpse of white reflecting the moon, it was Paulie. I went for him again, but he was terrified and not coming anywhere near me. I watched as he darted under a bush and an idea hit me. I plopped down on the curb and waited, continuing to gently call his name, my back to where I knew he was. Eventually I heard the soft shuffling and I carefully turned to look, he was coming towards me, crawling across the ground on his tummy, shaking. I turned back and continued to talk to him until I felt his nose bump into my rear. Reaching back I petted him, told him he was a good boy, then scooped him up and carried the already large dog to the car. He sat in the front see just like this – As though he couldn’t be more happy than to just sit in the car, relaxing after a long scary night all alone. My only question now was, where was his brother?

I called the pound and the local dispatch to report Puss missing since it was becoming daylight. I continued to look for him but never found him. Animal control called, saying they’d had a report of two boxers running around on the other side of our 15,000 population city. No way that was him, he was alone.

It poured rain, I cried. The sun came back out, I calmed down a little but was still worried about my boy. We didn’t find Puss right away. In fact, we didn’t find Puss until my husband Michael went to work that night at 5 o’clock. All the way on the other side of town, right where the pound had said he was, apparently Puss had found a friend during his escapade.

Michael pulled the car over at seeing my boy Puss drinking water still in the gutter from the rain that morning. One word – Puss – was all it took for my perky puppy to come running to his owner. So unlike his brother! Puss had loved his day of adventure and to this day I don’t know what he did or how he survived crossing one of the busiest streets in town with out getting hit.

That day I bought all four of them collars and some very cool personalized doggie tags off Ebay’s King Pet Tags – They are really cool and I got ALL of my information on them including full address and phone number. 🙂 So the Boy’s birthday present? Their very own great adventure, I don’t plan on letting them have another 🙂 I don’t think Paulie would want one!

So, since I’m still introducing myself to the world of blogging topics, I want to introduce The Jungle. Not only do I have 4 boxers and a cat, but this house holds many more surprises inside. Okay, it’s not really a jungle per say but that’s how I think of it. This is just a quick rundown , a small glimpse through a crack in the fence .  I’ll save the pics for later 😉

The Jungle I call a house has many animals and plant plus other living things to keep the more important living things alive. And I’m not just talking about crickets. That’s right, for any other reptile owners out there, we have roaches. Not your average EW GROSS! roaches but tropical  Dubia roaches. I’ll get to that later.

We have your typical bearded dragon. And an Iguana, which require more work than people realize and shouldn’t be purchased for children or teens as pets but again, another topic for another day. My husband still rescues abused Iguana, it’s a sensitive subject. We have crested geckos, which at one point were thought to be extinct, and we have the babies ours produced. We have Panther Chameleons and Leachianus Geckos, the largest geckos on earth reaching up to 15 inches in length for certain types. The leachie’s are almost old enough to breed. In the past we’ve owned a Savannah monitor that was 3 feet long we dontated to a real zoo and a  Mali Uromastyx that met an unfortunate end.  We’ve had Satanic Leaftailed geckos, Veiled Chameleons, and gave a poor water dragon that had been living in a 20 gallon tank with no water a full tank with lots of room to swim until he died, unable to recover from the damage already done.

We have 3 sugar gliders, though at one point we had 15. Another animal people think is easy to keep only to find out differently after purchase. That’s where we come in.

Along with our animal rescues,  my husband keeps and grows carnivorous plants. Let me tell you we don’t worry about flies in the house during the summer! He has all types out there like Butterworts, Cephalitis, Nepenthes, and Sundew. But the one you’ve all probably heard of is the Venus Fly Trap. Yep, we have those too. Not to mention the two HUGE ficus and schefflera trees we have in the living room. Michael, the hubby, is currently in school hoping to go into botany, but he’s also been offered the possibility of running the greenhouse that the school is looking to purchase. Let me tell you, even though he’s just now going to school, my man knows his stuff.

So, that is my jungle in a nutshell. I can’t tell you how glad I am to have married a man who love animals as much as I do and strives to better himself and other about them. I do my part, his assistant if you will.  I look forward to introducing and informing you about them all, one species at a time 🙂

My Boy Puss

” When you buy a pet, it is like purchasing a small tragedy”

– George Carlin

I plan on doing a lot of posts about my dogs. I figured they’re here, they’re fun, and entertaining so why not? However, there is one sad story I want to share right off the bat. That way, I don’t have to discuss it until….well, until he dies.

A few days after Thanksgiving, I was petting my boy, Puss, and felt odd lumps in his throat. After watching him closely the next few days, I noticed he looked skinny, was begging for food more than the others. Three days after discovering the bumps, I took him to the vet.  The doctor ran some test, but only to confirm what we both already knew. Puss had cancer. Lymphoma to be exact. We had two options.

  1. If we did nothing, no treatment and just let it go, he’d be dead by January.
  2. If we did treatment, with only 2% chance of remission, we could extend his life. but only for so long. A year or two at the most.

Michael and I do not agree with prolonging life just for his or my appeasement. This was about Puss, what was best for him. At the time he was lathargic and wasn’t eating or drinking.  Over the last six months he’d lost 15lbs, a lot for a dog. The hardest thing to hear was the vet saying “He knows he doesn’t feel good, but he doesn’t understand why.” No telling a dog he has cancer to explain away their pain. We asked a lot of questions, got a lot of answers, and decided to do the treatment. If it gave him a little longer to enjoy life pain free, it was worth it to us.

Because of his age and his level of activity he’s responded well. He’s a healthy dog, well, except for the cancer. The vet told us that after his  treatments he may be tired and not feel well for a day or so. Not my boy. He comes home every time ready to go outside and play.  We’ve finished the 8 week weekly treatments are are slowly getting down to the monthly. He thinks taking his pills is a treat since I stuff them in summer sausage. He’s active and back to his old self, even his lymph nodes have gone back to normal. He’s even gained back his weight.

Puss is only 4, 5 on March 31st. He’ll most likely be gone before he’s 6, definitely before he’s 7. The day he stops eating again and starts throwing up consistently signaling his body is shutting down, we’ll put him to sleep. We don’t want him to be in any pain.

It makes my heart hurt to think of losing my dog, especially when he was suppose to be my “replacement” for when his mom, Maggie, my first dog, went. When Puss dies, I fully intend to do an “in memory” for him, posting pics and what not, but until then life will go on as normal. He sleeps on the bed with me and we play. Yes, he still gets in trouble when he’s a bad dog. The best thing for a dog is consistency. If I’m upset all the time or always spoiling him, it wouldn’t be his normal happy life.  Though I know in my head I will soon lose him, I fully intend to make sure he enjoys what time he has left 🙂 My heart can suffer later, until then I want only joy for my boy.

What would you do?  Has anyone else lost a dog to cancer?

Beware of Boxers

 “Boxers are like potato chips, you can’t have just one.”

– Animal Plant, Dogs 101

I never liked dogs. In fact, I despised them, feared them.  I didn’t even pet the ones my friends owned which of course made them want to be around me all the more. Then, I met my husband. Shortly after moving in together, he started talking about getting a dog. But not just any dog. He wanted a Boxer. He swore I would love a Boxer, having owned a couple before we’d met. I wasn’t so sure.

Two weeks before Christmas, we drove 30 minutes to buy one of two puppies the seller had left. Looking at the two 5 month old females romping around the pen, my husband chose the one with the small white spot on the back of her neck. Maggie, my clearance puppy. The one who started it all.

On the way home, with Maggie in the back seat, we stopped at Petsmart to buy her a collar and leash.  My husband ended up carrying her out, collar on, leash attached. It took one week till she willingly got of the couch. Two weeks to get the courage to climb the stairs to our bedroom, but mere seconds for her to jump onto the bed. Potty training with Maggie was not what I’d call a fun experience but that’s a story for another day.

A month after Maggie’s arrival home, my husband calls me and said words I’d already come to know well, “I’m bringing something home for you.” I only needed to know one thing, “Is it living?”. Baby joined our family that night.

My husband had owned Baby once before but one day an ex gave her away while he was at work. Her current owners saw my husband, knowing that she’d been his once before, and asked if he wanted her back. They were moving and unable to keep her. How could he resist. And Baby made 2.

Many years later, hubby and I, deciding Maggie was simply too cute not to have puppies, we bread her with another Boxer. The plan was to keep the one that looked the most like Maggie, be it male or female though we both hoped for  a girl. Nine weeks later, Maggie gave birth to three beautiful boys. Of which we kept two. That’s right. Two.

 My boys, Puss(fawn) and Paulie(brindle). Yes, Puss. Both named after Soprano’s characters, Big Pussy and Paulie Walnuts were born in a birthing box we built from scratch. Puss first, Paulie last, they were fat little sausages. Maggie was an excellent mommy. They’ll be 5 March 31st.

So, Puss & Paulie make four. Four Boxers, ranging in weight from 55 to 91 lbs, wearing out sofas left and right, sliding on linoleum, and eating 100 lbs of food a month. Owning four dogs is an adventure, one I never thought I’d have. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Okay, that’s not true. I still want a Mastiff 😀

“Each month beginning March 1st, 2012, challenge members will read or re-read the title for that month. In addition, challenge members will either post a review, their reading experience, character castings or anything else related to that title. You have freedom to have fun with your monthly post so be creative! Seeing as this series is 13 novels long, this challenge will last 13 months.” – Moonlight Gleam’s Bookshelf

Ever since meeting my good friend Becca in highschool, she’s constantly bugged me to read. One fateful day in 2002, after telling her I’d gone to see Twilight she said “If you liked that movie, you have to read Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten.” She told me that Kelley’s books were for adults. Supernatural without all the swooning and while I enjoy a good chick flick now and again, teenage swooning is a little much for me. So, I gave in. I went to my local library to see if they had Bitten. Being a non reader, I refused to buy the book. By the fourth chapter I was hooked. My husband came home from work to a disastrous house, wanting an explanation. The sink was still full of dishes and we had no clean clothes. I hadn’t been able to put down my book. 🙂  I’ve gotten somewhat better since then. 😉

Ebay became my new best friend, allowing me to buy the whole series in one big lot. Then I found out that the series wasn’t even done! Living with the Dead was due out soon and I already couldn’t wait. I hadn’t even started Stolen yet.  To this day, I still go back, re-reading my favorite parts of my favorite Kelley books. Now, I’m waiting with great anticipation for Thirteen. It’s a bag of mixed emotions.

Kelley’s writing introduced me to the joys of reading and I’ve never turned back. Kim Harrison and Patricia Briggs have both joined Kelley on my favorites list. I even have Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series under my belt. I’ve never read books so thick!  There are many more who’s writing I’ve enjoyed all because of Kelley Armstrong and a little book called Bitten. Since then, I’ve also joined her OWG and started a bit of writing of my own.

This challenge is special to me. I’ve never gone back and re read the whole series as a whole. I can’t wait to find thing I’m sure I don’t remember from my first read through. I want to re-discover the characters lost to me. I’m going to go in looking to see more in the MC’s that never made it to my favorites list, watching everyone as they grow into who they are today. Re-reading the series, remembering why I fell in love with these books and reading as a whole, is the perfect tribute to Thirteen‘s release. Going back to the beginning, to immortalize the end.

So, are you in? If you haven’t read Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld, there’s no better time to start.

Or maybe you’ve already joined Moonlight Gleam’s Otherworld challenge. If so, what are you looking forward to most?

A confused mixture

My mass of hodgepodge has begun. I’m about to embark on a journey to which there is no end in site. I’m lost and confuse but will muddle through. I’m happy. I’m scared. What will does the future of this blog hold for me? Only time will tell.

I’m a married movie lover, book reader, game player, and rainbow obsessed. I’m an assistant keeper to reptiles and carnivorous plant waterer. I’m the taxicab, the DD, and the errand runner. I’m the house keeper. I started writing for fun, just to add one more thing to the mix. Oh, and I work full time.

So here’s to the future of my house of hodgepodge. Salud.