After a week-long vacation, you don't want to be late for the first day back at work, do you? Wouldn't look good. Enter Marabelle...

Although she will be turning only two years old come September, she acts as if she's been in charge of the house for the last twenty years. When we, no, let's make that: when she picked us out at the Animal Refuge League, they believed her to be a "patch-work tabby", another stray left behind with no discernable back-story, but she was obviously mega-cutesy with the personality to match and we happily signed off on her and brought her home.

Which brings us to Marabelle, the Alarm Clock. Turns out she's a bonafide Maine Coon Cat, no doubt about it, a perfect textbook photocopy example that "Looks like lion!" according to my wife's co-worker.

Without fail (and quite bizarrely, without doing it on the weekends when we do sleep in a little bit), she has decided that 5:45 am is "Wake Up 'N Play Time!!!". She chooses one of her favorite toys -- either the aluminum-foil ball or one of those colored plastic drinking straws -- then gets into the bathtub (in the right-next-door-to-the-bedroom bathroom, of course) where she proceeds to transform herself into some kind of Tasmanian Devil-child, going absolutely, totally beyond beserk: tossing, leaping, meowing, wrestling, tearing...like she's got her own squash-court or something. The energy level is insane.

And yes, this is how we start every weekday. You're forced to get up and actually ask the cat what she thinks she's doing. Well, we were supposed to be getting up anyway...