Based on some earlier columns I did this summer, I wanted to provide closing remarks, updates if you will, before we head into fall. The first is about the kitten some readers were worried wouldn't be alive as of today's date, and the other is about a great, heaving mess. Oh, and my sons are up to their usual crazy, but that will never be a closing remark.

Kitty tales, part deux: With a little bit of instruction and an occasional reminder, my sons have come to view their critter as the live, breathing being the rest of us know he is. In fact, it's a veritable love fest between them and the kitty. The cat patiently waits by the door for them to return from school each day, jumping in their arms and licking their noses. He even chooses to take naps on their beds, most preferably on their little drool-ridden pillows. It's sweet little moments like that where I'm glad the cat likes them better than he does me.

At any rate, the battle with the kitty is no longer between him and the boys; it's now with him and my husband. Charles thinks he can train the cat to stay off the kitchen counter. (Enter canned laughter here.) I guess it's possible with some cats. Never mind, no, I don't think it's possible. But, Charles does. He's very vigilante when he's home, but since he's at work most of the time ...

When the kitty decides to be blatant and hop on the counter when the master is home, I'm blamed for the feline's insolence. Why, you ask? Because I'm at home more than the husband is, so I should be more mindful of when the cat is on the counter. I tried to relay to Charles that he's not fully grasping the bounty of my daily obligations, the least of which is perpetually walking the perimeter of the countertop, armed with a can full of pennies.

My reasoning didn't persuade him. Thus, I tried a different approach. Rather than spending a good chunk of my day trying to scare the cat off the counter, I take pictures of the cat lounging on such, emailing them to Charles while he's at work. I find it additionally apropos to add captions. One, for example, read, "I'm on the counter. What are you going to do about it? Oh yeah, nothing, because you're at work."

I'm waiting for that quintessential grooming shot. I'm sure Charles will adore that one. I even have the caption in mind.


The great clean up, part deux, too: Back in May, I wrote about revamping my backyard because it had turned into a trash heap, what with all the boys' toys and Charles' collection of other people's discards that he says he'll eventually find a use for. The backyard still looks good after all our hard work. The inside of the house, however ...

It's wrong to think like this, but sometimes I wonder if a small fire or flood might do the trick. In essence, I think about 80 percent of the stuff we have should go. I made this very comment to the rest of my family -- about getting rid of 80 percent -- and they all started convulsing. In unison.

Of course, I had no problem leading by example, but I don't seem to have any followers. As of now, both Goodwill and the trash can have loads of Heather stuff, but nothing from any of the males in my house. Well, except for the stuff I round up and steal when they're sleeping. Shh!

I'm considering going to a major airport's TSA school so I can get hardcore and viciously screen each and every object that tries to get through my front door. (They can continue to trash the cars. Pick your battles, right?)

Perhaps I'll even require see-through, plastic backpacks so I can quickly ascertain whether they intend to bring home a bunch of stuff that should line a bird's cage. "The teacher said I can have these scraps of paper to color on! I got 20!"

The security alarm will go off. There will be a cavity search.


I had a few extra minutes before I left for work one morning and spied on my children playing in the dining room. They were talking softly, handling a pile of Legos lying between them. The older one looked down at his younger brother, passing a mischievous yet heartfelt smile along. A few more whispers, a gentle nod, and little brother returned the sentiment.

It was at that moment I realized two things: My boys love one another, and at some point during the day, property damage was going to occur.

What can I say? My house is a mess, the cat is putting his rear on the kitchen counter, and my children are planning The Great Destruction. Such are the blessings of life. Truly.

-- Heather Ijames is one of three community columnists whose work appears here every Saturday. These are the opinions of Ijames, not necessarily The Californian. You can send email to her at Next week: Inga Barks.