I told you, denizens: Once upon a time, we had a pet squirrel. My dad discovered this little tiny baby squirrel in our front yard. She was so small, her eyes hadn’t even opened, yet by some miracle of universal proportions, she survived without a scratch a fall that would have left a human with at least several broken bones.

When she finally opened her eyes, I named her “Peepers.” Not the most brilliant name imaginable, but cut me a break…I was 7 years old. We’d always let Peepers run free whenever we were in the kitchen. I’m sure that most people probably cringe at the thought of a little wild animal, running about in an area where food is prepared and eaten. What can I say, we’re hopeless pet lovers. Besides, how can you not think this is adorable?

My mother adored Peepers. It seems to me that if Peepers wasn’t in her cage, she was on my mom’s shoulder. I know that’s not completely true, but that’s just the image I have stuck in my mind. It’s no surprise, then, that this is one of my favorite pictures of my mom: