An Ode To Gus, The Suburban Gangster Cat

Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty, Don’t Suffocate Me With Your Fur

Oh, kitty. Sweet kitty. As you lie here upon my belly, smacking my face with your paw when I stop petting you, I wonder just how much of a giant baby you really are. Remember, kitty, how I accidentally left the front door wide open for hours when I took the children to the supermarket? Do you recall when my hubby arrived back home and you were gone? How I cried when he called me. Gus got outside, I thought. I’ll never see him again! How we laughed when we found you upstairs hiding!

In the moment of shame that stemmed from you turning tail from your freedom and hiding in the closet, you did not concern yourself with our teasing laughter and name calling.

“Big fat chicken.” We said. “What a big old fat baby!” We said.

You did not care, sweet kitty, you were happy to have your humans home. You are a cat beyond description. No other cat in the world would sit in the middle of the chaos that is my three young children playing nomadic torture games all around you. Not only do you tolerate and absorb their anarchy, you lovingly rub your head on them if they glance near. If they ever do accidentally step on your tail, you give them a soft verbal reprimand “meooow” and retreat to a safer place nearby where you can still keep your watchful eye on them, or more likely, catch a snooze with some part of your body on some part of one of our bodies.

Gus, you have a knack for being the biggest baby in the house. We found you under a dumpster, we saved you from some chicken owners who probably would not have appreciated you sneaking into their chicken coop. Since the moment you walked in the door… you’ve been afraid to be in a different room from me. I love you, sweet Gus Gus. I will forever rub your belly, My babies will forever thrill at your fly catching skills. As always, when you get scared at the top of the stairs, up there all by yourself, and start meowing for help from the humans, I will always reassuringly call out to you.. “Come on down here, you big scaredy cat.”, and oh, how you’ll trot your chunky mountain lion physique down the stairs, sounding like a small child with your footfalls.

You make our family complete Mister Gustavo, and we will always love you and your awesome ability to annoy the hubby, whether it be rubbing on him while he’s trying to pop his back, licking yourself in his presence (we know you think it’s as funny as we do) and also running between his legs as he goes up and down the stairs EVERY SINGLE TIME.



Joanie Montileone is a contributing writer to the Sisters Curious, as well as the co-founder. She loves her Italian husband and babies, and spends her free time… wait, she doesn’t have any!



Parenting the Gifted


I find myself extremely lucky to have three highly developed children with above average abilities in intelligence as well as motor skills and emotions. The defining trait of my two boys and my little girl is consistently empathy. They are all emotionally and academically intelligent. Their abilities far surpass my ability to fill their brains up with the knowledge that they crave. I spend all of my time trying to do just that. It’s been this way since the day my first son was born. He’s been read to almost every day of his life. He’s been told, shown, and taught to the best of my abilities what is right and wrong, and how to handle different situations properly. His siblings have received the same treatment to the best of my abilities. Motherhood was not a difficult task for me as I took to it in a way that I considered a lifelong plan to develop his and his siblings’ character and their minds. It was all wine and roses watching him develop so profoundly. When he started to have a closer eye on him by pre-kindergarten professionals, by way of PARENTS AS TEACHERS, I started to realize that the massive intelligence we had on our hands was not the norm for most preschool parents.


The DIAL testing they do through parents as teachers is the assessment they use to gauge the kindergarten readiness of a preschool aged child. My son received a 99/100. The highest score possible. This is when everything started to come into light. I was dealing with what the MAPS assessment defined as possibly an actual genius. But with  great knowledge comes great sensitivity.


Day to day living with my son, you wouldn’t really think anything of his superior intelligence, until he opened his mouth. His vocabulary is astounding. His empathy is unmatched by the greater majority of the human population. His calculations, both mathematical and strategic are incredible to watch unwind before you. When you look at the boy, you see the spark of intelligence in his eyes. He has the ability to learn from other people’s lessons and build upon it. As NEIL DeGRASSE TYSON stated on his series “COSMOS”, the unique quality of the human mind that sets it apart from other life on Earth is the ability to recognize patterns. This is what helps us build upon knowledge we have organized in our minds and build upon it. By the standards of my own personal experience, and with no actual bias, believe me when I say that my son is in the upper crust of that trait that sets us apart.


If there is anything to the phrase “the smarter you are, the less happy you are”, my household is the most unhappy. There is a real and true love that we bestow as well as show on a daily basis. They are loved and cared for. The only trouble is, when my son has a problem, there is an obsessive focus on negative outcome possibilities. He is constantly troubled by the possibility of a meteoric event, volcanic activity, tornadic storms, or even the spontaneous combustion of a household appliance in the night. Another troubling faction of the gift of high intelligence at such a young age is the inability to express the thoughts going through your head in a way that your speech can keep up with. There are so many hysterical instances where my son cannot explain the way that he is feeling and with the inability to arrange his feelings in a productive way, he is left feeling helpless or out of control of things that happen to him. That is a defining trait of a gifted child. Asynchronous development. His reading level is at about 7th grade, his mathematical ability is about 5th grade, and his emotional processing is at a kindergarten level at times. The amplification of the non-emotional surplus is a serious factor in making the emotional capabilities seem even more lagging than they are.


My son spends his time cataloging the health points, levels and attack power of different Pokémon. The catalog is in his head. If you have time, and want to learn about Pokémon, he has made videos on YouTube. He is an amazing conversationalist. A true empath at heart he really connects with parables, as well as with plights of his younger siblings. On the flip side, he also has to have ample warning of any events such as turning off a game, getting ready for bed, leaving for an outing. If there is not enough warning on any event he will not be able to adjust in the way he needs to and will become hysterical. He likes to build electronics with a snap circuit kit he received for his birthday. He fills dozens of notebooks with his drawings, writing and highly detailed Pokémon cards he designs himself.


Things are getting better for my son. The things that used to be a huge obstacle, such as getting his hair washed or cut, being examined at the doctor’s office, or using a mechanical pencil, they have all become old news. We made the proper adjustments and gave a proper warning for years, and finally, after 6 years, he has overcome most of these things. He does still have a deathly and hysterical fear of insects. He gets inconsolable when he imagines scenarios in which the fire alarm goes off in the house. But we accept his quirks, we adjust our plans to help him cope and proceed as we always have, and I am happy to say that although he does still need insect repellent bracelets to go to the zoo, and I am most likely going to have to do a smoke alarm fire drill to make sure he gets any sleep tonight. I don’t mind adjusting his needs, I never did. But now I can breathe a little easier now that I know, whatever comes this too shall pass.

Human Connection: A Must for the Modern Child



The dynamic of a family is no longer based upon the love and support of a caring set of parents or a single parent striving to make a better life for their children. It is centered around whoever thinks they deserve the most attention within the family unit at the time. Parents are letting their children grow up without a human connection on a deeper level that most humans crave. A deep connection and understanding with one parent or sibling can mean the difference between good and bad mental health in a young child as well as into their adulthood.


The family life of any given unit of individuals can usually be predicted as a race to be the most preoccupied with the greatest amount of electronic devices possible. Children are given tablets to keep them occupied. The electronics of today have become the basis for the personality of our children, as well as having become the primary caregiver of many children in the US today.


All of this seems to be, to the perusing reader, merely a complaint, and commentary on the sadness of what things have come to in the last ten years as far as attention towards younglings and involved parenting goes. However, I can assure you there is more to it than that. In fact, this is my way of asking you, the reader, if you will stay with me, because I love my babies, you love your babies, and we want what is best for them. to please look your children in the eyes when you speak to them. Set time aside in your day, every day to enjoy your time with them and make it a special point to know that you value their opinions and you are always there for them to talk to. It is so important for a human person to have human connections to maintain their mental health.


Please look your children in the eyes when you speak to them. Set time aside in your day, every day to enjoy your time with them and make it a special point to know that you value their opinions and you are always there for them to talk to. It is so important for a human person to have human connections to maintain their mental health.


Think back to your childhood. Were you all alone all of the time? Did you have anyone to look up to? Did you have anyone that understood you and looked at you as though they wanted nothing else but to be there with you, and who, when they hugged you, you knew they meant it and that they were to be trusted? Most people, even the loneliest and most poorly treated people have someone who they look up to as a child and grow up to want to model themselves after. For myself, I was lucky enough to have a personal investment of a few people, especially my big brother and sister who talked to me like they cared about me, and made me feel loved.When you have someone that you can be emotionally intimate with, you are able to access and process your emotion and thereby learn to handle them.


Does your child have that? Have you been that person for them? For most people, I would guess that the answer is no. It’s true that everyone has a life and everyone stays busy, in my house this is especially true. The difference in my house is that although we are very busy, I always, always set aside a special time with each of my babies so that they know they are special to me. So that they know that I love them and that I find them far more important than a video game, or an email, or what’s on television that I don’t want to miss. It’s true that we are busy but we are sure to show each other that each of us is more interested in our family than the hustle and bustle that we have to attend to.


Have I been guilty of neglect in this area from time to time? PLEASE! It took us ages to get our acts cleaned up and focus on what’s important. The primary thing to remember is that it’s never too late to improve the lives of your children by increasing your one on one time. There is always time to improve your relationship with them. All it takes is for you to do little things to show that they are important. Get up early and make them breakfast. Surprise them by waiting for them to get off the bus. If you work late, wake them up for a snuggle and a little talk. Take advantage of the little opportunities, and you will see the benefit it does to their mental and emotional health.



12654633_10156473963715147_3170224069259108172_nJoanie stays up late at night wondering if she’s “Mommied” properly that day. She loves her hubs and has an oddly mistaken idea that the weekend still means she gets to sleep in.




Writing Contest: From Our Family to Yours

Family is a touchy issue for a lot of people. Some don’t get along. Some people don’t even have a family to speak of (unfathomable!). We love to hear about family matters that inspire or even anger. As long as your family is invested in you, it doesn’t matter if they’re happy with you or angry at you, because as long as they feel something towards you, that’s how you can know that they care. The worst thing we can think of is not having family at all.

Beautiful sisters that we are, we pride ourselves in our family roots. The attractive throng of stubborn and hard working individuals that we are descended from are a matter of pride and a feeling of superior exemption in our heart of hearts. How many times have we been accused of being as obstinate as a Doss, or acting like a Hancock. There are Haffers, there are long lost Whitecottons and all kinds of quirky and interesting people along the way. The foundations of our very souls are grounded in the treatment by and tales of our very strong, very amazing family.

There is the matron supreme, the mama of all mamas, the rock in a turbulent world that each of her 6 children have always been able to depend on and look up to. Not a shred of mistreatment ever occurred to one of her children by her hand. She dealt with a couple different horribly mean men and came out stronger and a special favorite of all of her children. On my part, I look up to my mother’s temperance in times of need when I feel that I am not being fair and even tempered with my children, as she always was able to be.

Then come the big bad 3 sisters. The character and imagination of these ladies is a topic of true inspiration for their 2 younger sisters (namely, Nancy and I). Our eldest was out of the house before we were born, she was always the grown up and married one. She served as an inspiration and excursion destination to us whenever our Mommy simply worked too much to keep up with us. We used to love her house so much we’d hide keys or purses to keep from having to leave. Nevermind the fact that she had two daughters not more than 5 years younger than we are. We became best friends and did some of our most ridiculously stupid things that we could think of, and we did them together.

Our next eldest sister was the dark, brooding, middle child, and she was so freaking cool! (yes, I still think so). She has a poetic soul, a troubled mind, and a heart that cried out to help little sisters that were not always treated very nicely by a very depressed and somewhat unstable father. For a while she was our champion, taking care to see that we were treated fairly. When she moved out I think that my whole life came crashing down around me at the tender age of 5, and I slept in her Guns’N’Roses every night because of how much I missed her.

Our next eldest sister was the one that lived with us the longest, (we graduated ten years apart), but she stayed at home for quite some time after, and she became the scapegoat for any problems Nancy and I had, because she did not like our defiance, which in all honesty, we cannot help but dish out to anyone that is bothered by it, still. We love her dearly, and she was a source of great fun and playtimes with her creative stories we would bring to life, as well as playing a Hogwarts-esque type of boarding school game.

Now before I bring up the next in line, I want anyone related to me to settle down, and if you’re not, be prepared because he is the one male in any of his sisters’ (or his mom’s) life that was good to them. He is the standard for each of his sisters that anyone they are involved with can never live up to. The Marine, the police officer and the all around badass big brother. Being the special favorite of everyone related to him isn’t as easy as it sounds. For his sisters, he has to act as a sort of a father figure fill-in. For his mother, he is everything that she has tried to instill in her children, and somehow failed in everyone except him. He is the golden child, and I would say it bothers me, but he is very awesome and I would be a great person if I was half as awesome, responsible and just generally badass as he is.

Then there’s us. The dorks. The young ones. The impressionable, eccentric, and slightly bi-polar little sisters. Growing up with bad haircuts and low self-esteem. A lot of times we only had each other and we fought. A lot. At one point I was convinced that Nancy was actually trying to kill me due to the violence of her emotions. As well as her biting. We have blossomed into slightly more self-aware weirdos and our awkwardness is only overshadowed by our amazingly eccentric personalities, as well as our very high highs and resoundingly low lows.

We love our family. We worry about them when they are having a hard time and we always miss the old days when we were all closer.
We know that our family, good times or bad, is what has shaped us into who we are today and the stories we have, funny, sad, meaningful, or all three mean everything to us.

We can never forget when our big brother rode home from California on his motorcycle to visit. All of our nieces and nephews being born, how whiney our sisters were when they were pregnant. There were so many petty fights, and so many really messed up incidents that did not result in nearly as much punishment as it warranted. (No one would ever believe the degree to which Nancy’s habit of anger-biting effected my life.)

We want to hear about your families. We want to hear what makes you tick. What makes you happy or angry about them? Do you have any crazy stories? These things are important, because after all, if a girl didn’t have a family, who would they cry to? (Or yell at?)

Please send a parable that is humorous or meaningful about your family that you would like to share, and we will choose one lucky submission and publish it on our blog, with you, lucky winner, as a guest writer for The Sisters Curious!


Joanie quite flawlessly locates four-leaf clovers, and enjoys

endlessly barraging her husband with a babbling brook of questions about nonsense she has no intention of letting him speak long enough to answer.

Breaking Up With a Friend

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     Friendships are a lovely and delicate creature. The experiences we all have with friends live on in our brains until the end of our days, and is something to cherish. We’re all enthusiastically trudging through a meadow of wildflowers now, you the reader, and I, and my sister Joanie is calling after us telling us we’re “crazy” and “idiots” and “give me that twenty dollars you owe me”. She’s just crazy, ahem. We’re arm in arm singing about the glories of friendship. Little do we know, we’ve stomped on a family of mice, and old Mother Mouse is recently divorced and now you’ve killed all of her children.

I suppose what I’m getting at is some friendships are not so rosy as they appear. As you merrily adventure along with the other person in your friendship, you begin to see them as they truly are. Sometimes this only adds to your love for them, but sometimes being around this person starts to turn your own life into a stressful jumble of emotional turmoil and you just want to scream at everyone around you and cry until your tear ducts dry up and pop out.

I had an unfortunate experience where this exact situation arose. I went along with a friend I had known since I met my husband almost ten years ago. That friend and I slowly became good friends, and we began to hang out more frequently. As we talked more and more about ourselves, I started noticing a trend with said friend.

  • Everything my friend talked about was negative
  • This person would trash other people, people considered to be this person’s friends, in our conversations and say intimate details about them
  • I began to doubt the trust I thought was there, because if my friend talked so much about other people, what then would keep this person from telling my secrets to others?
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My darkest fears were realized when I learned from an unexpected source that this person had told a rumor about me concerning one of my husband’s best friends. An inappropriate act had supposedly transpired- okay you get it. Now, being a sane person, I decided to think about the situation. Big mistake. I said to myself, “Okay, so my friend said this about me. Okay, what would make this person say that? Did I ever allude to anything of that nature?” Deep in my very heart of hearts, I knew I had not and this rumor was founded on absolutely bupkus.

Thus began my boiling, seething anger. Hah, no that’s a lie. I cried my eyes out that very night, like a little baby girl, wondering and wondering why a friend would say something like that. Then, after my girlish weeping had subsided and I finally let my cat run away from my arms, who I had elected to hold while the sobbing commenced (he’s such a sweetie, flailing and mewing to distract me from my pain), I phrased the correct phrasery: “A friend would not say something like that”, and I made plans to end things with this person.

I was emotional, and I could not even talk to my spouse without almost crying, so I knew I would not be able to end things with my friend the way I needed to. I wanted to be strong and say what  I needed to say (the John Mayer song entered my head several times during this event). So I wrote a letter. The items in the bulleted list above made it into my letter, but I left out the part about the rumor. As I drove to this person’s house, I began feeling ill. I almost had to pull my car over to the side of the road because I felt the need to vomit. However, nothing spewed out of my mouth, and when I got there, I knocked on the door and my friend opened it.

Nicole Kidman as a grieving mother in Rabbit Hole
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After giving my friend the letter, I expected a series of questions or perhaps yelling. None of this happened. No emotion was shown, not even anger. So I left, and cried my eyes out in my blazing hot car before driving home. I thought everything was over, and I began to feel bittersweet relief. The plot thickens…

I expected to be unfriended, unfollowed, unliked, unsubscribed, and every other social media un-, but I did not expect what happened next. My friend went to social media, and ranted about why they thought they had lost a friend, and it was a complete lie. I was shocked, but when I thought about it, about the ways this person had talked about other people, people I thought they cared about, it made me realize I should not have been surprised. I felt sick the rest of the day after reading that rant. The next day, I also felt sick when I woke up. But, a beautiful thing happened. I thought about all the people I love, and why I love them. I knew the answer. Friends are there to love you, and support you. Significant others are there for the same reason. You see, I loved my friend, and I still do. It’s just that sometimes you have to let people you love go because the hurt they’ve caused is too much. That means you have to cause some hurt too.

Breaking up with a friend was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Respecting other people is important, but respecting yourself and your values is of the utmost importance, no matter how much it hurts to do that.

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DSC03471Nancy enjoys long walks and fluffy, fat cats.