Justin and I had been talking privately without the girls about keeping Kara verses bringing her back to the shelter where we originally found her.  The shelter was big about if the pet wasn’t a good fit within the first 30 days you could bring it back for a full refund.  I think they probably make this rule so that new owners don’t keep a pet out of money guilt when they know it’s a bad fit.  

So many emotions!  

After talking it over Justin and I determined that the choice we made to get her was an irresponsible one that deserved a lot more consideration than we gave it.  I’m not an animal hater but I’m not who you would call an animal lover either.  At least not having a pet of our own anyway.  However, for some reason Kara was different.  I can’t explain it but she was just a really sweet cute kitten.  For being a kitten she was fairly calm.  Her times of craziness were crazy indeed but they only lasted 20 minutes or so and then she would be snuggly for a long time after that.  She was also really good with the girls never seeking them out biting or scratching during her play which I have experienced in all other kittens I have been around.  Our littlest one did get scratched a couple times on her hand but it was because she stuck her hand between Kara and her toy during her crazy playful times.  Our youngest would always say, “I’m okay with her doing that.  We’re playing.”

All of this being said, Kara is still a kitten which means she does kitten things like climbing up our curtains, jumping up on everything and playing all night.  I just kept adding up the dozens of hours and the hundreds of dollars it was going to take for me to make new custom black out curtains that she was climbing up.  I trimmed her nails but a kitten is a kitten.  She was also keeping me up almost every night for the better portion of the night.  I have been sick for over a month and our youngest has been getting up in the night most nights as well so with the added stress of being kept up all night by a kitten was too much.

She usually slept on my chest at night but then she would randomly wake and pounce all over me and try to climb the curtains. In a bigger space you could just close the door to the bedrooms and it would be much more manageable.  But, when we are all living in the same swanky tin can, it’s impossible to block out.  On top of all of this, our little one continued to be allergic to Kara.  She had been doing such a good job washing her hands after she was done petting Kara but still her eyes were red and itchy on a daily basis and her little nose was runny and sneezy.  Justin and I determined that, with heavy hearts, we would have to give Kara a better home with someone else.  Now, to break this to the kids…

We had a family talk about the positives and negatives about Kara.  We talked about what it would look like without Kara as part of our family.  And finally, we asked the girls what we could do for them in exchange for letting Kara go.  Justin and I talked after this discussion and found that both of us were guessing they would ask for the same thing.  We were both sure that the girls would ask to go to Disney in exchange for letting Kara go.  And guess what?  We were going to say, “YES!”  We would have cancelled our Baja trip and made our way over to Florida for Disney.  After all, it was our bad judgment that got us into this mess so we owed them something big.  We had let them take a kitten into their arms, call it theirs, fall in love with it and then take it away!  

However, they did not ask to go to Disney as we had expected.  They asked to have apple cider donuts every day for a week!  While Justin and I were looking at each other with puzzled, relieved and astonished eyes the girls added that they also would like one jelly bean for a week as well.  What?!  This was the deal??  Deal!  

Justin and I had been confused by how calm and unconcerned the girls had been about Kara leaving us.  Turns out it took a day for them to process it.  The day after we made the decision we headed back up to Santa Fe to bring Kara back to the Humane Society Shelter.  We found that our little one thought we were bringing Kara to the shelter and then they were giving her back the next day.  Her poor little heart was broken when she found this not to be true.  She demanded, “no deal!”  Our oldest didn’t soak in the gravity of it all until we were saying our goodbyes just as she was leaving us.  Both girls were in tears, as were Justin and I over giving her back.  It was heartbreaking and even more so because we knew it was our poor parental choice that we made that created all this pain.  

The night before we took Kara back she kept me up for all but 2 hours in the night and had kept our oldest up for 3 hours as well.  On the morning that we took her back she attacked a toy as if it was her kill.  She acted as we had never seen her before.  She growled at us to not come near her “kill” and hissed at the toy.  It was so frightening and erratic that I had the girls both on the top bunk in Wobbles.  Let me tell you, I was up there too for a couple minutes.  There was no telling what she would do.  She was unpredictable and angry!  This just solidified the fact that this was too small of a space for a kitten and our family.  

Justin did the hard job of bringing sweet Kara in and donating all the cat things we had just bought with her.  It was a day full of emotions!  Our next stop was to Trader Joes to stock up at the donuts and jelly beans we had promised the girls.  

Day of the Dead Festival

A family that we met on the road who also have young kids told us about a Day of the Dead festival that was going on at the local art museum.  We decided to check it out as it sounded fun!  In the parking lot we were greeted by a group of sweet horses who’s riders were giving out treats to the kids.  The one horse even reached his head into the van to say hello as the girls were sitting in the fridge.  The girls were thrilled!  

The museum had an amazing play area!  There was a beautiful giant wooden play structure for figurines made from rough wood such as sticks and slabs of trees.  There were also dozens of books to read, a piece of artwork that reveled hidden treasures as you opened the doors and a puppet show stage equipped with dozens of soft cozy puppets for the kids to play with.  I was impressed!  I wished we had more time to take full advantage.

The girls also enjoyed taking part in the crafts that were offered.  Our youngest colored a beautiful Mexican mask while our oldest decorated a sugar skull with icing as an alter offering.  They were giving out samples of their Day of the Dead Bread and Mexican hot chocolate.  Both were delicious!  

My favorite part of the festival was the dancing show a local group put on.  Within the group there were kiddos as young as 1 1/2 years up to adults.  There was so much spirit and culture within the dances.  There was one dance that a group of ladies performed with glass vases containing lit candles on their heads!  Impressive and the dresses were just gorgeous!  So many yards of fabric!!  I would love to make or find a dress like that to buy while in Mexico.  The men and women were so talented with their tap dancing skills and the little ones were so brave to go out on stage and perform short skits to music or dances.  I was so glad we were all able to see the show!

Dinner at the Olive Garden

That evening we ended up going out to dinner at the Olive Garden.  It was getting pretty late to get back in time to make dinner so Justin found that there was an Olive Garden on our way half way home to camp.  I scoffed at this idea at first but we ended up having a delicious dinner with the never ending salad which we took full advantage of!  

I have just started to be aware of this so I’m pretty sure it’s a recent development…I don’t hate going out to dinner anymore.  Do you know why this is?  Because our kids don’t have meltdowns in the restaurants anymore.  Whenever we did go out previously we would order our meal and when it came we would immediately ask for our check since we knew we would have to make a fast break.  Meals out used to typically consist of one adult scarfing their food while the other was wrangling or calming down a child and then the adults would switch places and scarf while the other took on the same tiresome and anxiety provoking task.  It wasn’t fun in the slightest.  We would always leave a meal out thinking, “let’s not do this again for a long time!”  These days I am very thankful that this is no longer the routine!  For the most part, we are all able to enjoy our meals and have a good time.

Snow in Santa Fe

We ended up camping in the same place we stayed last time we camped in Santa Fe, not far from the animal shelter.  This time we met up with the family with kids (ages 2 and 6) that we had met at tent rocks.  Ironically, we have almost the same van!  That evening of our one camping night there it was bitter cold with very high winds.  We opted out of a campfire and all stayed warm inside our campers.  

Justin and I realized the people we have stayed in touch with and met while we were on the road have had similar vehicles to us.  I think the vehicles in common have started out as a thing we have in common and then a friendship formed from that.  Is this perhaps because certain stereotypes purchase certain vehicles and we are drawn to these same people who share common traits with us?  Not sure but it is interesting regardless.  

In the morning in Santa Fe we woke up to a surprise.  It had snowed and was still snowing!!  What fun!!

It was perfect that their 6 year old could play with our girls out in the snow.  The three of them had a blast!  They made snow/mud angels, ate snow (they were warned about yellow snow) and threw snowballs.

The girls eventually got chilled to the bone and came into Azul to warm up next to the heater.  We were warned by a local who was also camped there to either leave while there was still snow on the ground or plan to stay for a couple more days as the ground would turn to sticky soup once the snow melted making it nearly impossible to get out of without 4 wheel drive.  Luckily we had planned to drive to White Sands that day anyway but were glad he told us that for future reference.