I become a bit crazy about getting a dog.I keep a journal of my experience as if the puppy were a baby in gestation. I read several books on border terriers and order a puppy from a reputable breeder. I save a thousand dollars over the course of a year and throw a puppy shower when she arrives so that all of our friends can meet her. I serve hot dogs for lunch. I completely delete this puppy shower from my memory and only recall it when I discover the guest list six years later. Then, I find it very weird. 

I meet Marie and Olivia, six doors down, who have a cairn terrier pup named Tamsin. I visit them a few times a week in the evening, amazed that my kids finally accept their father so I can slip away on my own for an hour or two. Marie and Olivia offer me wine and mixed drinks, stimulating discussion about books and people, and an adorable dog to play with. I forever think of them as my angels-in-hard-times.

A seven-year-old boy from down the street comes to our house every afternoon.He tells me about his day at school and eats a snack.I don’t know who his parents are or why they never seem to be home. The boy tells me that our neighbor Ben Blakeman, two doors down on the alley, has proposed that they sail to Hawaii together.I think it’s wonderful that another adult is nurturing this urchin with me.I wonder if I can join them.

I notice that the grocery store aisles look like racetracks—long and straight.In the fruit section, I lose my children completely.They are not grabbing at fruit; they are laughing and playing. I move on past the freezer section, elbows on the cart handle, and they finally look up, see I am missing, and go in search. I recover the boys effortlessly, but later an older woman announces loudly to her husband that she has finally found the mother of “those children who were lost in the produce department.” I explain quietly that I like to give them the opportunity to pay attention to their surroundings and where their safety net is. “Are you sure that’s the message you want to give them?” she snaps at me.I shake my head in wonder that she will judge me as a parent based on this one experience.I smile thinking she doesn’t know that people pay me to teach parenting classes.

Fred launches his own business as a house designer and builder. He acquires tools and a commercial van from a friend going out of business. We name the van “Hope,” and within a month, Fred has garnered enough clients to work full time.

Together, our family paints each room of our home in bright pastel and earth tones.It takes months to accomplish.The backside of the front door is a golden “Denver Omelet” with the handprints of each member of our family in a different panel and color. We sign them all. 

My dear friend Anna gets married in Germany and invites us to attend the ceremony. She and her husband sponsor our travel so that we may be a part of their celebration. Our children are flower boys and, during the reception, Sam discovers sparkling water. After drinking a liter of it, he also discovers he can find his own way to the restroom on the next floor down via the glass elevator. Anna asks about Fred’s battle of the sexes. I tell her it is remarkably over, and we are free.