How I Met Kat

When I was just a puppy, I wound up in a shelter but I didn’t feel very sheltered. Mostly I was scared and I hid in the back of my crate, waiting for Kat to find me. Kat’s my mom. I don’t remember where I came from. All I know is that wherever it was, it caused me to be afraid of storms, wind, men in hats, and men holding things like hoses or guns.

I can still remember the first time I saw Kat. She was at the shelter by herself, and she bent down to look into my crate. It was hard to see me because there was another crate stacked on top of mine, and I was hiding in the back. She peered at me and said, “Well, hello there.” Then she read the card on the outside of my crate and looked at me for a few seconds in silence. As she walked away, my heart dropped. I thought that I had seen something in her eyes but I guessed that I was wrong.

Then a few hours later she was back with Grandma. (I LOVE Grandma! She always pets me, and scratches behind my ears and talks to me!) Kat was describing a cat that she wanted Grandma to see as they passed but she stopped and said, “And then there’s this one here.” She and Grandma crouched down and looked at me. “Hello again,” she said softly. And then they were gone.

But then there she was again, bent down looking at me. She stuck her finger through the bars and I inched closer to give it a tentative taste. I saw her eyes stray back to the card that held all of my information. Grandma asked, “What does it say?”

Kat read the card, “Female, 9 months.”

“What’s her name?”

” ‘No Name’ ”

I heard a strange sound in her voice that matched that look that I thought I had seen in her eye.

There was a brief conversation that I did not pay attention to because my hope was fading away. My head drooped and my heart dropped as they walked away. I hoped Kat would come back again. In my heart, I just knew she just had to come back for me! I had been waiting for her to come for such a long time—-all the way since they had brought me into the shelter the day before.

When a worker came to get me, I panicked. I didn’t have time for a potty break right now! What if Kat came back and I wasn’t there? There were so many other dogs here at the shelter and she might end up taking the wrong dog home!!!

Instead of outside, I was brought to a small room and much to my surprise, there were Kat and Grandma. Kat sat down on the floor and I immediately crawled into her lap, curled up into a ball and drifted off to sleep.


ari paw print



The Great Book of Lists: Chapter 2.3- The Soundtrack of Your Life

This week’s list is The Soundtrack of Your Life.

Time in a Bottle- Jim Croce My husband and I danced to this song at our wedding. Need I say anymore?

I Am Your Child– Barry Manilow  My kids mean the world to me and this song always brings tears to my eyes.

Across the Universe- The Beatles At a very difficult point in my life, this song became my anthem. I listened to both Let it Be and Abbey Road endlessly during that time. Those albums continue to be my go-to music when I need to ground myself.

Romeo and Juliet- Dance of the Knights- Sergei Prokofiev This is one of my favorite movements of my favorite writing music. The entire piece is special because my youngest son, Andrew, played this piece when he was younger.

Freckles- Natasha Bedingfield  Growing up, my freckles were the bane of my existence. I have grown to love them and even forget that they are there but for the longest time, I wished they weren’t.  This song reminds me of my two favorite freckle faces- Michael and Kris!

You can find out more at The Great Book of Lists.

Family · Gender


It’s funny how things can change in a split second. One second you think you know the world you’re living in and just like that- it has changed.

That is exactly what happened when my middle child, Kris, came out as transgender. If you aren’t familiar with Kris’s background, you can read about it HERE to catch up.

Not only was I trying to understand what was going on with my kid, but I also had almost every person in my life reacting to this news and sharing their every thought, feeling and opinion on it with me. Needless to say, it was overwhelming and didn’t leave much time for me to deal with my own stuff.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, but was actually a much longer process, we weeded out, pared down, lost and reshaped our family dynamics. When all was said and done, our circle of trusted people was very small.

As a mother, I absolutely refused to surround Kris with people who were not fully and openly supportive of him as he transitioned and/or figured out who he was. Regardless of how “okay” he seemed on any given day, I knew that he was at risk. I knew that with every text he sent me that expressed how he truly felt about himself and the world, there were millions of those thoughts swirling around in his head.

And just last week he had texted something that made my heart miss a beat. As I was texting back “Do I have to call 9-1-1?” I was moving around the house, mentally planning on how quickly I could get to him…… (I panicked but it made me realize how close to the surface that constant fear lives inside me.)

Our lives took on a different feeling and we got used to being a small tribe. We did not tolerate transphobic and homophobic people.

We knew who we could trust- or so we thought.

And then— just like that—– from inside our circle, Kris was attacked. By one of our own. As the conversation, through text, unfolded, Kris was sending me screenshots.


Was this for real? When I saw this text, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was reeling, standing there in shock, and I could not imagine what Kris was feeling.

I have to give Kris a lot of credit because his responses were amazing. Although he was feeling betrayed, hurt and attacked, he never lost his cool. His texts remained rational and relevant to the conversation. At that point, I can’t say that I would have been able to do the same.


Until the exact moment that Kris sent me the first screenshot of this conversation, I would have sworn that there was no one in the world that I would tolerate saying these things. And then this happened. And it was probably the ONLY person, due to circumstances beyond my control, that I couldn’t cut lose. text2

I did not speak to LC, other than when necessary, for days. I was afraid of what might come out if I was to try to talk about this. There were people who were no longer part of our lives having said or done a lot less.

I shared this article on Facebook, hoping to reach some inner part of them. –If I Have Gay Children (Four Promises From a Christian Pastor and Parent) by John Pavlovitz. It’s a beautifully written article and I thought maybe by reading it, they might take a closer look at what they were saying. Instead, to my horror, LC shared the article with a challenge for people to have the courage to speak their minds on this matter… support their homophobic platform. After a few more homophobic posts, LC deactivated their Facebook account.

This person could not understand why everyone (in our small family unit) was mad at them and why no one was speaking to them. And they were quite offended that terms like homophobic and transphobic were being tossed their direction.

I’ll be honest with you. I shut down and closed ranks. I only spoke to my children and my husband. I didn’t trust anyone except my four people. I can’t go into the details of why it wasn’t as simple as cutting this person loose (after giving them a very thorough tongue lashing with a side of raking over the coals). I had conversations with both of Kris’s brothers and as expected, they are furious. Michael and Andrew are very protective of Kris. Andrew is Kris’s best friend and Michael takes his role as the oldest sibling very seriously. (I am so freaking lucky to have such loving and loyal kids!)

I’m not protecting LC’s privacy but that of one of my four. Please trust me when I tell you that this would make a great movie.

Kris and Andrew, my college kids, are away at school but due back for spring break so it was up to those of us who were here to talk to LC and get an idea what they were thinking. Did they really believe the things they said? Did they actually have a problem with Kris being transgender? And how the hell were we going to figure this out? Regardless, this person needed to know that Kris would be Kris and never again asked to be anyone or anything else.

I’m sure I can guess what you’re thinking. That talk must have been a doozy! Did I tear their head off? Shake some sense into them? Did anyone storm out of the room? Nope. That’s it. Just nope. LC said very little, did not seem too apologetic or the least bit remorseful. I explained why this entire incident was so harmful for Kris. They did say they supported Kris and didn’t mean for all of this to happen but when asked about the texts and the Facebook incidents, they remained silent.

I’ve given this much thought since we had that “conversation” with LC. I walked away from it feeling that nothing was resolved. That is because it would have required something from LC that was not coming. I’m not sure what I expected and I’m not sure what would make things better.

I do know that Kris and Andrew will be home in a few short weeks and we will all be sitting down once again to talk about this. LC had better step up. And I continue to be angry and frustrated and fed up.

To be continued…

jane howard


Family · Photography Challenges

Season Now

I never knew what the name of this song- The Circle Game by Joni Mitchell-  was and I had forgotten it until now when I was searching for appropriate music to accompany this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons.

beej and star wars

I find myself in a season I had not anticipated. 15 months ago when Beej was born and the baby equipment slowly overtook our house, I found myself plunged head first into the world of a newborn once again. Because Beej is my son’s child, I was experiencing it from the new perspective as grandparent. Watching this little guy, who looks so much like his daddy- but opposite in coloring, grow from infant to toddler these last 15 months has been been amazing.

beej and ari on ari's bed

He is a curious mixture. He is the living embodiment of his dad in so many ways. He is very curious about how things work and spends much of his time examining his toys, discovering all the secrets they hold. He was born with a larger than life personality, just like his dad. He is always smiling and looking for the humor in every situation. And if there is no humor to be found, he will find his own, often laughing hysterically at things only he finds amusing. That really is his daddy all over again.

Beej reading

My son and his family moved in a few months ago while waiting to move in to their new house. I have been granted the gift of seeing this little guy daily. I am so grateful for this time. Because he was here, I was able to build on his interest in books. He has an extensive board book library and every day he spends hours either looking at his books, examining each picture or flipping through to simply look at his favorite pages. On any given day, we read the same book 5-10 times. One day, we estimated that between me, my son and my husband, Beej heard Goodnight Moon 20 times.

beej and ari reading

He loves Ari and she loves him in return. She has endless patience with him and he adores her. He loves to cozy up against her when she’s in her bed, usually holding one of his dog books- either Baby Einstein’s Dogs or Go Dog Go.

Whether it is reading his favorite books, stacking blocks or rocking in my chair listening to our favorite songs at nap time, I will cherish this season in our lives as the special gift it has been.


Challenges · Words to Live By

The Great Book of Lists: Chapter 2.2- Words That Matter

This week’s topic for the Great Book of Lists: Chapter 2.2- Words That Matter

Words, as simple as they may seem, possess power. Once spoken, you cannot take them back. Once said, it’ll be either white or black.
So today, let’s make a list of those words that has pushed you forward, to do good, to be glad. Words that kept you standing. Words that encouraged you to keep moving. Words that picked you up. Words that lit you up. Words that introduced you to an unknown world. Words that explained you the meaning of life, even beyond earth.
Those words deserve to be shared, so let’s share them today.

For this week’s chapter I chose some of my favorite quotes from past posts. What I love about this challenge is that so many times I’ve looked at the topic and thought- there are so many things I could list! It really makes me think about what matters most. 🙂


What are some of your favorite words?