31 December 2009

On this New Year's Eve...

Please be safe, healthy, and happy.

May you all live long and prosper in 2010!

28 December 2009

Turducken Express

Aside the bird breasts not being entirely the size I expected, our Turducken Christmas Eve dinner was indeed a success. Enjoy the photos!
Flattened meat chilling in our walk-in freeze (aka outside deck)

The kitchen counter about half-way through the process

Searing all sides

The final product, carved and on display (after Kathy sorta dropped it)

This photo post wouldn't be complete without this last photo. I had some extra turkey breast already pounded flat, so I added some stuffing(NJ folk)/dressing(WI folk), rolled it up just like the turducken, and then rolled it in chopped walnuts before searing and baking for Aidan.

He LOVED it!

19 December 2009

Happy Christmas Photos!

Aidan Ryan in red (17.5 months) and cousin Alan Robert in green (21 months).

With the help of my wonderful husband and our four very food-driven cats (the source of many smiles and giggles), these were the best out of 123 photos taken in my little make-shift studio. By the end of the photo shoot, Alan clearly thought I had gone mad, and began looking to Chad for guidance as to how to react to this *new* Tia. Even Aidan, who is generally used to me acting like an idiot whenever I bring out the camera (which is....often), was probably beginning to wonder if perhaps this time I'd gone over the deep end for good.

But at least the pictures are done, printed, and should (hopefully) be arriving in the mail on Wednesday, in time to be Grandma & Grandpa's Christmas presents. :)

But it's a surprise so SHHHHHH!

AND one more from last year of the kitties, because it's the best I've ever gotten of all 4 of them together.

18 December 2009

Taylor Pugh: a double standard

How pathetic are we that the length of one little boy's hair could cause such issue? I'm sorry, but I just can't help commenting on this article. The child is four. He's a boy. His hair is longer than what would be considered "normal" for a boy. Get over it! On a girl, we would call this style short. Why is it we care when a boy grows his hair long, when we so much more readily accept a short hairstyle on a girl? Not that I'm complaining, mind, since I spent the better part of a decade with short hair. Still, the double-standard irks me. Just because I generally prefer to see boys with short hair doesn't mean I would ever consider forcing my preference on someone else.

And as for my son, well, he'll have to take up his hairstyles with Grandma (a la Hair Addition - River Falls, WI). I'm sure I'll have far more worthier battles to fight than the style of his hair.

15 December 2009

Turducken Express

This is my plan for Christmas Eve:


I am VERY excited!

01 December 2009

Well done, Kerry Bishe and Scrubs!

Tonight, for the first time in my life, I watched a TV show called Scrubs. Better late than never, right?

Normally not my thing, but I must say I greatly enjoyed myself.

And the best part? Kerry Bishe's performance as Lucy. Her character is sweet and instantly likable. I may, of course, be biased. You see, I went to middle and high school with Kerry, though I knew her older brother, Bryan, much better (he was in my year). Odd, calling him Bryan. Back then we had two Bryans in our group of friends, so we always called them each by their surnames (Bishe, and Witmer, respectively). Her father was my 7th grade homeroom teacher and 8th grade History teacher. Watching the show, I couldn't help but see the Kerry I knew in school, right down to the facial expressions.

In any event, Kerry gave an absolutely spectacular performance and I will definitely be tuning in week after week!

Well done, Kerry!

24 November 2009

Making Muffins

I'm not sure what possessed me to invite Aidan to help me make muffins, but it was definitely a whole lot of fun! He didn't entirely *get* what was going on, but enjoyed himself nonetheless. I even let him *help* me wash dishes, which of course resulted in a small lake forming below my sink.

Can you believe he's not even 17 months old yet?! I swear he grew several inches over last weekend while I was recovering. These will be great photos if he ever becomes a world-class chef.

In other news, we have our 7th tooth now, bottom right-side, next to the two he already has. So far he's getting them in exactly the same order as Alan...just much, much later.

20 November 2009

After surgery

I am home and recovering with Chad while Aidan stays one more night with Grandma. Assuming I'm feeling ok and stop peeing acid every 20 minutes, we'll probably go pick him up tomorrow. I'm still having a bit of flank pain so I'm hoping this doesn't mean the surgery didn't take...

This is the 6th time I've been under general anesthesia in my lifetime and the third time in less than 18 months. I do hope this doesn't become a habit.

In the meantime, since I'm still awake, here are some photos from the last month

Outdoor cat pens are quite useful for sunning out diapers.

Embrace the rainbow

Still riding rear-facing in his new Radian 65SL.

18 November 2009


Candles and hot, gas furnaces are not fast friends. Storing combustibles beside gas furnaces is not advisable.

I'm thankful my house hasn't exploded...

13 November 2009

Surgery is a go!

I am scheduled for surgery this coming Friday at Mayo. The doctor believes it is in my best interest to repair my reflux (take THAT MetroUrology), and gave me two options:
1. a tried-and-true invastive procedure that would involve excizing my c-section scar, removing the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder, and then reimplanting it in a better location
2. A non-invasive procedure called deflux that basically just inserts a polymer into the tube to make the inside diameter smaller. It is a newer procedure (the last decade or so).

Apparently, the pressure in the bladder is greatest at just the moment you begin to void. In most people, that pressure collapses the tube and thus prevents urine from backing up into the kidneys. If the tube is in the wrong place or too large, the tube doesn't collapse and urine backs up into the kidney (reflux).

Since most of these surgeries are done only in children there isn't a whole lot of data on the outcome in adults, but both work well in children. The doctor suggested I choose the less invasive option so that is what I am going to do. My appointment is for Friday! I am so excited to have found a doctor willing to treat me!

12 November 2009

At Mayo Clinic Rochester...

...done with tests and awaiting my consult tomorrow morning. The VCUG didn't go so well, so I really hope they got the info they needed. I swear if there was ever a test meant more to torment than to diagnose...without going into much detail, let us say that I had a bit of a problem...performing for the camera...

At least Chad and Aidan are having a FANTASTIC time at the MOST AWESOME pool here at the hotel. It's nice to get away from home now and again. Considering I'm probably going to be paying for this entire trip out of pocket (damn insurance) at least the boys got a holiday out of the deal.

BTW, I think Mayo Clinic is improperly named. Perhaps Mayo Universe. Seriously, this place is huge...I swear it takes up half the city!

Best part: the "Quiet Room". I had time in-between tests and took a pleasently long nap in a reasonably comfortable recliner. Oh bless them...

27 October 2009

Boys will be boys!

First the hematoma, and now five stitches. Yup, he's a boy!

30 September 2009

To Do List

1. Get back on my prenatal vitamins and daily aspirin. No, I am not pregnant, nor are we even considering another right now, but I truly feel that I was feeling better while taking them.

2. Continue evening exercise routine - I'm down to 135 and feel like I could loose 5 more.

3. Be a better wife and mother (always).

4. Be kinder to family members, especially when they frustrate me.

5. Work on being more patient (any tips? because, I'm a bit overwhelmed on this one...)

6. Make the garage more toddler-safe to give Aidan (and Alan, when he's here) another place to burn off energy when the weather is too crappy to go outside.

7. Finish paying off the HELOC and then save at least $10,000 ($20,000 would be better) so we can buy a new house/build our dream house.

8. Be gracious.

Ok, working on it...

Oh, and in other news, my 15 month old poked two top teeth, and the other two top ones appear close. :)

28 September 2009


Apparently my desire to update ebbs and flows like the tides. Anyway...

In regards to flying with a 14.5 month old:
1. If you get a competent, understanding flight attendant (as we did on our way home) your life for the duration of the flight will be infinitely better, no matter how many meltdowns or hematomas your child sustains. If, on the other hand, you end up with a young, narrow-minded cow with no concept of what it means to have a young toddler, prepare to be royally screwed. Nothing Chad or I could do to make Aidan happy on our way to NJ was good enough for this woman. It's a testament to how flipped out Aidan was that he eventually fell asleep on my shoulder (which he hasn't done since he was 5 months old) for nearly an hour. He would have slept longer, but our oh-so considerate pilot elected to inform us that we "might" be 5 minutes early (and I care....why...exactly?). Aidan didn't sleep a wink on the way back, but just having a friendly flight attendant (plus an indulgent, pretty little 4 year old girl two seats up) made all the difference. And the hematoma? Though the first, I'm sure it will not be his last. It looked far worse than it was.
2. Airplanes are no place for toddler children who are incapable of sitting still for more than 20 seconds at a time and who are too young to be bribed.
3. No matter how bad it is...the flight WILL eventually end.

In regards to spending a week in NJ:
1. Aidan loved swimming in the pool and following his uncle everywhere around the house. He behaved well, slept reasonably well, and had so much fun I wonder if he really wanted to come home. Added bonus: the look on Mimi's face when he jumped head-first into the pool right in front of her...priceless! Mimi was already in the pool just inches from him, so no big issue there...but I think she nearly had a heart attack! Nevermind that I warned her repeatedly that he was going to jump...
2. I have awesome friends. Jon drove all the way from Troy to visit me for the night, and endured many frightfully hyper young children. I was only sorry that Em couldn't join us. Tatjana, Laura, and Mink also came down one afternoon to play, which was great fun! And finally, the hero of the trip...Max! Poor Max drove all the way from Providence to see me, only to breakdown on the Turnpike about 10 miles from where we were supposed to meet. We rescued him and brought him home with us for some sushi, good wine, and conversation.
3. My family is awesome and accommodating: we wanted for nothing whilst in NJ. My grandparents even cooked me steak and lobster and allowed my son to destroy their kitchen! My cousins still think I'm cool, which is a refreshing ego boost now that I'm no longer interesting to my sisters. I wish I had spent more time with Dulce, but at least I got to steal Katie for a while. It was also nice to see my aunt and uncle, who graciously bought us (and Max) dinner :).
4. It was refreshing to see Aidan thrive in an environment where he wasn't constantly being compared to a slightly older cousin or being called spoiled every time he whines about a nap or asks to be held.
5. Only people like me get tickets for doing in frustration (illegal left turn) what millions of other people do on a daily basis without a second thought.

And on a final note:
The notion that we as Americans have any true rights to privacy is fallacy. Anyone here who thinks their lives are private need only receive a ticket in NJ and wait 7 days to begin receiving solicitations from lawyers promising to reduce the violation or get him out of paying the fine entirely. That's right: my name and un-listed address made public for all the world to see and use as they see fit (gotta love the First Amendment, right?).

Until next year...I am happy to be home and back with my kitties :).

04 September 2009

Simple Gifts

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come out right.

'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,

When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come out right.

'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.
(Originally by Elder Joseph Brackett)

Aidan at 14 months old.

02 September 2009

Flu update

Apparently none of the hospitals in the area are testing for h1n1 any longer: they assume if you have flu-like symptoms, then you have swine flu.


Aidan seems fine now, and I'm starting to feel better as well. Chad, unfortunately, is taking a bit longer to get well. Hopefully being sick now means we'll be spared the mad rush of flu this winter.

I can dream, can't I?

We'll be back in NJ in a week and I'm excited! I swear I'm not going to stress about the flight. No, not me! I just keep telling myself: it's 3 hours...no matter how bad it is, it WILL end.

26 August 2009

A bit early for the flu?

Really, I thought August was way too early for the flu (or whatever it is we have), but apparently not. Stay far, far away from my house unless you want to catch: pink eyes, sore throat, cough, runny nose, fever, aches all over, general grumpiness, etc etc etc. Oh, and did you know that when your son gets pink eye, you're actually supposed to take him into the doc and obtain antibiotic eye drops (torture devices?)? Silly me! The one time that I don't go running to the doc at the first sign of a runny nose, and there's actually something I can do to treat it? What was I thinking?! Apparently I wasn't, according to 3 different sets of neighbors. I swear when I was a kid we just had to buck it up and deal with it until it ran its course.

In other news, my weight seems to have leveled off at 137...not bad, but I'm still hoping to shave a bit more off. I'm really a very tiny person under all this skin, though I still maintain that I am 5'4". The scale at RFMC is clearly off by a quarter inch.

And with that I shall return to my bed where I can continue to cough up my lungs.

(Above photo taken before we all contracted this recent menace; isn't he a cutie?!).

11 August 2009

Score one for my immune system

In 2007 my titer for ANA was 1:320, which is considered high positive.

Nearly 2 years later, my titer came back negative (which means 1:80 or less).

I'm not nearly optimistic enough to believe my body completely eliminated whatever autoimmune issue is brewing, but at least this one, small battle is won.

For now.

ANA titers can vary with time for a variety of reasons that I may never understand. For now, though, I'll take what I can get.

And in the meantime, work on ridding my body of this obnoxious kidney infection. After over a year respite, I'd quite pleasantly forgotten how horrid they can be. ::sigh::

07 August 2009

The Laundry Basket

Once upon a time, we put Aidan to sleep for naps atop a pillow in a laundry basket. After spending sometimes 3 hours walking around town with him in my Mei Tai, I would carefully remove him and lay him down. Sometimes he would stay sleeping, and other times he would wake up...but it was always cute to see him lying there.

Early August 2008

Fast forward approximately one year, and Aidan is certainly no longer willing (or able) to nap in our laundry basket. It does, however, often make a comfy lounge chair :-)

Early August 2009

03 August 2009

In Noctem, from the Half-Blood Prince soundtrack

Presenting, In Noctem from the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince soundtrack, as per the original sheet music (Thank you www.musicbooksplus.com!). Perhaps someone with better Latin than I can offer up an official translation, but I do believe the latin part is simply a direct translation of the English portion of the song.

Carry my soul into the night.
May the stars light my way.
I glory in the sight, as darkness takes the day.

Ferte in noctem animam meam
Ilustrent stellae viam meam
Aspectu illo glorior, Dum capit nox diem

Cantate vitae canticum
Sine dolore actae

Sing a song
(Dicite eis quos amabam)
a song of life, lived without regret
(Me numquam obliturum)

Tell the ones, the ones I loved
I never will forget,
never will forget.

Love, love LOVE this!!!!

29 July 2009

Early Life Lessons

Let me preface this post by saying that I enjoy nothing more than spending time with my son: playing with him, teaching him, sharing in his wonder of each new discovery. I still carry him often throughout the day, and will continue to do so for as long as he will allow it (unless my back starts rebelling again...). Equally entertaining is watching the interaction between my son and my nephew. At their age they more play AT each other, rather than WITH each other.

That said, I also understand the need for my son to learn how to spend time and play by himself. I cannot possibly spend every waking moment of my life entertaining my son, and to try and do so would inevitably fail.

I also understand the value of children learning to work things out for themselves, rather than expect others (a parent, professor, etc) to referee their lives. I know that I'm the sort of mom who could easily become a helicopter parent, and I don't want that for my son.

I play with my son, as well as with him and my nephew. We sing songs, dance, go to the park, talk, and play in the sprinklers. But for much of the day, I encourage them to interact with each other as much as one should expect of two young toddlers (usually about 10 minutes at a time, but sometimes as much as half an hour when they get interested in something). When they steal toys from each other, I don't jump in to interfere. I've yet to get the feeling that one is intentionally picking on the other, so unless someone is hurt or about to get hurt, I try not to interfere - at least not right away. We are working to teach Aidan that though life doesn't always go the way he wants it to, there are things he can do to make it better. If he can't work something out, the appropriate response is to leave and go elsewhere, rather than to harm or scream, and then to tell me what happened later so we can discuss it.

So obviously these lessons are works in progress, but it's what we focus on day in and day out. I have so many hopes and dreams for my son, but the most important of all is that he grows to be a caring, confident, and intelligent individual.

27 July 2009

BEYOND annoyed

Whomever decided to hack my website and add a malware script to every one of my 300+ index.html files should consider his or her life forfeit if I EVER find out who you are...

23 June 2009

Happy Midsummer!

I haven't written much thus far this spring, mostly because several things have happened that all contributed to increasing the amount of sleep I'm getting.

1. I found out that 11 month old boys need a WHOLE lot more food than I thought. Apparently maintaining one's percentile and reaching milestones at appropriate times is not, necessarily, an indicator of proper nutrition. In Aidan's case, his attention span is not quite wide enough to fill his belly at each meal, so without several snacks between meals, he was always left starving in the middle of the night. Case in point: Aidan was getting up twice per night to eat, taking 6-8oz of formula at each feeding. Then one day we were busy and, in an effort to keep Aidan entertained, we fed him about a billion Cheerios right before bed. He slept through the night for the first time since he was 4.5 months old! We repeated the Cheerios the following night with exactly the same result. Nighttime sleep issues solved, with nary a tear in the process! Sleep-deprived parents learn quickly. He now sleeps 9-11 hours per night and rarely wakes up.

2. I dispensed with my gall bladder. After a HIDA scan determined it was only working at 15% (30-80% is normal), and finding out that at least half a dozen of my relatives also removed theirs, I decided that it was worth a try. It may or may not solve all my digestive issues, but it certainly won't hurt. Four weeks later: no lost love for the offending organ.

3. Weight loss is coming more easily. I'm sure having surgery helped with this one, as it has kept me honest about what and how much I eat. I'm down 10 pounds, and hoping for 10 more by winter. If I succeed, it will bring me back to a manageable weight of 130-135.

4. The days are longer and the weather is better. I find spring and early summer very uplifting. Late summer is a different story, but I consider it a mere speed bump towards my favourite season of all: autumn.

In other news, Chad got called back into work, which is a huge blessing for us. He may not love his job, but we could definitely use the paycheck. The best part: no more working weekends!

So anyways, that's what's new in a nutshell. Before I sign off, though, I have to add one more VERY important bit of news:

My almost-1 year old boy is WALKING as of 6/20/2009!

10 May 2009

My First Official Mother's Day!

Wishing everyone a Happy Mother's Day! I'm finally going to get to enjoy my first official Mother's day as a mommy! The best part is I have a sweet 10 month old son who absolutely adores me :). Unfortunately, said boy also came down with roseola, so he's not in the best of moods. Still, given the choice between roseola and all the other weird viruses he got this winter, I'd take ten roseolas LOL! He's tolerating pretty well, and I'm so proud of him!

Yay for rights of passage!

23 April 2009

Renew Chuck for Season 3!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled (or, not) post for a very important message:

I absolutely love this show. The characters are great, the storyline keeps me entertained, and the theme song is just so darn catchy! Even my almost-10-month-old rocks out every time he hears it...

...which is really often, since I've been watching Chuck vs. the Colonel at least twice a day on hulu.com since it aired.

02 April 2009


My sweet companion growing up. I still miss her, and hope one day my son will share a similar bond with a pet. 

01 March 2009

Aidan Ryan, the fiery little king himself!

Twelve tests later (ranging from viral to genetic), and I at least had some answers. The first was that my progesterone levels were unusually low, which can cause miscarriages early in the first trimester. The second came in the form of an autoimmune disorder called ANA (Anti-Nucleic Antibody). A positive ANA can be indicative of lupus or RA, but my titers were low and so I have neither, though I can still develop them in the future. ANA is also known to cause blood clots in the placenta and cord, which starves the fetus and results in miscarriage. The third involves an unfortunately named enzyme called MTHFR, which breaks down folic acid into a form the body can use. I have one defective copy of the gene that codes for this enzyme, so I need to consume much more folic acid than someone with two normal copies in order to get enough of it. The lack of folic acid can cause nural tube defects and a whole host of other problems that may result in miscarriage. Like ANA, MTHFR is also a blood clotting disorder.

With these test results we were able to develop a plan. In September 2007 I began taking a baby aspirin each day, as well as injecting 10,000units of heparin subq. Then late in October, following a weekend in Iowa with Chad, I awoke the morning of 29 October at 5am with, shall we say, a strange urge to pee on a stick. It was positive - we were pregnant again! Doctors put me on progesterone suppositories 2x/day and monitored my hcg hormones until they were high enough for an ultrasound. My hcg hormones sky rocketed, and at around 6 weeks we saw a healthy heartbeat on ultrasound. It was exciting and frightening all at once.

My pregnancy wasn't a particularly easy one, though compared to some I suppose I was quite lucky. I bled on and off pretty much the whole first trimester and half of the second. When the bleeding stopped, the Braxton-Hicks began. Not a month went by that I didn't have some scare or another that I was either miscarrying or going into preterm labor, but no matter how bad things got for me, the baby was just fine.

I traveled a surprising bit considering my pregnancy. In late December I returned to NJ to visit family for Christmas. By then I was already showing enough for people to give up their subway seats for me (which I milked for all that was good and holy). I was horribly morning sick until around 14 weeks, and often wondered why, indeed, it was called *morning* sickness when I was sick *all* the time. Then at around 17 weeks, Chad and I went to Florida with his parents for some R&R. We even got to see the Atlantis launch from Coco Beach, which was totally awesome! No one could deny my belly bump by then, and I learned that a pregnant woman as the right to use any available toilet regardless of whether it is maintained for staff only. I'm convinced that Aidan was using my bladder as a pillow and my ribs as a foot rest, because he was constantly kicking me in the ribs, and not an hour went by, day or night, that I didn't have to run to an empty toilet to pee. Ah, the privilege to be pregnant.

Though I had a total of 20 ultrasounds during the course of my pregnancy, my favourite was definitely the 4D ultrasounds, and the best one we got was at 18 weeks. After that point, Aidan turned head-down and stayed there, so it was increasingly difficult to get a picture of his face. He measured on track or slightly ahead the whole time, and kept a nice and steady heart beat. At around 22 weeks I started getting impatient to feel him kick, so I bought a fetal doppler so I could at least hear him. That little machine proved to be my saving grace, and I highly suggest it to any pregnant woman in need of a little extra assurance. The placenta was anterior so I didn't really feel Aidan kick until 24-25 weeks.

Anyways, the only pregnancy symptom I didn't get too badly was heartburn, but I was forever short of breath and crampy from the Braxton-Hicks. I have a pretty short torso so there wasn't really anywhere for Aidan to grow except straight up and out. By 38 weeks I was a blimp and ready to be done. I gained 42ish pounds and had the darkest linea nigra ever (which, btw, is still not gone 8 months later).

My induction started out really well. The nurse stripped my membranes and put some gell in my cervix to soften it, bringing me immediately into early labor. When given the option of going home to labor a while, or to have my water broken at 3cm, I should have just gone home. Instead, I let them break my water. I was terrified of loosing Aidan during labor and giving birth to a stillborn baby. Women with blood clotting disorders have a much higher risk of stillbirth, and I was practically sick with worry. Of course with the breaking of the water came pitosin (which I didn't want), and an epidural (because I wasn't willing to have one without the other). I then proceeded to spend the next 14 hours on my back in relative comfort. It was boring, though. Everything I had wanted to do during labor (especially walk) was made impossible by the epidural. Then around 11pm, after being checked by the nurse for what seemed like the hundredth time (8.5cm) my epidural failed, and thus began 6 hours of excruciating pain and useless contractions. I did eventually make it to 10cm and pushed and pushed and pushed and succeeded in doing nothing other than further misshape my son's head. At 5am my doctor released me from my torture and did a c-section. Aidan was born at 5:40am, 28 June 2008, on the morning of my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary. He was 7lb 3.6oz and 21" long with huge hands and feet and a cone head like you wouldn't believe. He was completely stuck sunny-side up in my pelvis, so had I delivered him vaginally in that position it would have been quite traumatic for the both of us. At least with the c-section, it was only traumatic for me :P.

I should probably mention right now that while there is no right or wrong way to have a baby, I do not recommend a c-section unless it's your last chance...particularly after being in excruciating pain for 6 hours. I wouldn't go numb so I had to be put totally under. I woke up still in pain and horribly confused. With the after contractions I thought I was still pregnant. I also had a really hard time seeing or focusing on anything.

But Aidan was healthy and so it was totally worth it. Welcome to the world, baby boy. This last picture was actually taken day 2, when I was much, much more with it all and less heavily drugged :).

28 February 2009

Memory of a Lost Soul

I just wanted to take a moment to remember a lost soul. In June of 2007 I got my first positive pregnancy test. Chad and I had been trying since I went off birth control in January, and it took me until May just to get a period...so that first BFP (big fat positive) was a real blessing. I went to the the doctor to confirm my hCG hormone levels, and received the results while spending the weekend at Dana's family farm. That weekend I went fishing for the first time, and actually caught a fish! Needless to say, it was quite the happy weekend.

Sore boobs and a monsterous appitite abounded. I was a little nausious, but so long as I ate constantly it wasn't really too bad. My face glowed, and I found myself touching my stomach all the time, just thinking about what was growing in there. A few weeks later, I even got a peek. Baby had a healthy heartbeat and was growing on schedule. My official due date was March 4th, but I was hoping for a leap year baby. So around this time, we would have been celebrating said child's first birthday.

In late July I spent a weekend in Texas visiting my good friend Corey. We had a great weekend on the boat and just chillin. That Sunday morning I noticed I wasn't as hungry as usual and my boobs didn't hurt, but didn't think much of it. I had the tiniest little bit of blood, but assumed it was implantation blood. Still, I was horribly worried. Something just didn't feel right. Monday was fine. Tuesday I had another spot of blood and nearly flew to the doctor. Ultrasound confirmed my fears: my uterus was empty. My baby was gone. The miscarriage was one of the most emotionally draining and physically painful experiences I have ever had to indure. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

08 February 2009

Fur Daughters: Aurora and Jasmine

Really, I should have stopped with just two cats. Two cats is the perfect number. But of course, two wasn't enough, and so soon there were three. Aurora is an F6 silver spotted bengal cat from my good friend Karen Soeteber.

Aurora was nothing like Athena and Gaia. Even as a kitten she was extremely dominant - a trait she's maintained to this day. At 5 years old, Aurora is 12 pounds and a total mama's girl. She's the only one of my cats that truly seems jealous of the baby, and if we forget to close the door to his bedroom she will sneak in there and meow as loudly as possible until Aidan wakes up and starts wailing. I can't fathom why she does this except that she finds it amusing. It's like having an eternal toddler living in the house who can and does get into everything. Aurora is by far the smartest and the naughtiest of my fur daughters. She can open all the doors and knows just how to get our attention when she feels ignored. She gets on my nerves sometimes, but I love her all the same. She's cuddled with me every chance she gets, and usually ignores everyone else (unless they have food, of course). She also owns everything in the house...except the ottoman, which clearly belongs to Athena. I, of course, own nothing.

You can imagine her annoyance when I got a laptop, and Chad got a flat screen monitor. No more heating pad to sleep on (aka SRT monitor)! Fortunately (for them) all the cats have recently discovered just how warm the top of the fish tank is, and we gave up trying to keep them off (pick your battles, right?). During the winter they also spend a good amount of time on top of the fireplace.

And last but certainly not least is Jazzy Jasmine, the cat I'm not supposed to have :). Jazzy is a silver marble bengal cat who's so far removed from her ALC heritage I can't even count the Fs, and is also from Karen. Jazzy is unique in many ways: she is my only cat with the marbled pattern, and she is the only cat I obtained with the explicit intent of breeding.

Jazzy is as submissive as Aurora is dominant (they are actually related: niece/aunt). When she first arrived, all the cats went into their normal hissy fit and I was bogged down in preparation for it to last at least a month, as it had with prior additions. Within two days it became clear, though, that Jazzy was very, very different. Jazzy is one of those pure soul beings incapable of any unkind thoughts. When the other cats would hiss at her, she would just purr and rub against them. "I'm so cute and sweet, surely you must all love me". And more quickly than I could have ever imagined, they did.

When Jazzy was a bit over a year old we sent her out to stud for a week, and fortunately for us, she came back pregnant! Her six kittens were some of the most fun I've had. They were born in May 2006 right in time for my birthday, and by September they were all sold and in their new homes. I still get e-mails from kitten buyers on occasion and love hearing how well everyone is doing. I loved raising kittens but Chad did not. He did have a valid point, though: our townhouse is tiny, so there's really no escape from the cats when there are so many (4 adults + 6 kittens = 10 cats in my house). Part of me would love to do it again some day...but that day will not come for a LONG time. In the meantime, I am happy with my four fur daughters.

One final note about Jazzy: technically, she was supposed to be rehomed when I was done breeding her. This was an agreement Chad and I originally made before she came home. Maybe I would have rehomed her, but she's such a sweet cat that I just couldn't bring myself to part with her. She never causes any trouble in the house, so Chad agreed that she could stay. I do feel badly that I let her get terribly overweight after she was spayed, but we're working on that now! She was up to 13 pounds (which is HUGE on the frame of a cat that was 8 pounds when she got pregnant), but we have her down to about 10.5 pounds now, and she's doing really well on her diet. I hope to get her to at least the 9 pound mark, but we'll see. My neighbors joked that she had postpartum depression from missing her kittens. I think she just enjoyed all her gourmet meals and didn't want to give them up. C'est la vie.

We actually put everyone on a diet here, which didn't make them too happy...but they're healthier for it and making due. Trust me kitties, I know how you feel!

So there you have it: my four furdaughters! I love them like my own kids and wouldn't part with them for anything! I do feel a bit bad that they haven't gotten as much attention as they're used to since Aidan was born, but I fully intend to rectify that this summer. Come hell or high water, they're getting their outdoor playpen this year!

Next up...Aidan Ryan, the fiery little king himself!

Fur Daughters: Athena and Gaia

I've always had an obsession with cats, and late into my senior year of high school I happened to discover a new breed that fascinated me: bengal cats! What could be better than an outgoing cat that looks wild but acts domestic? I was totally sold.

But then I moved to Manhattan to attend NYU, survived 9/11, and decided (for many reasons that I won't get into) that I needed to get FAR away from home. My first thought was to go abroad, and to this day I'm really not sure why I didn't. Ultimately, I ended up in the middle of Minnesota, as one of only 7 transfer students at Carleton College, having never before visited the college or the state. What an adventure!

At this point I'm going to skip over a lot of history. Ultimately what you should know is in May of 2003 I drove over 1000 miles and returned with a 7 week old, furry little being I named Athena.

Chad conveniently failed to mention to his parents until I was, oh, about 20 minutes from this house, that not only was I coming to live with them for the summer, but I was bringing along a furry little intruder. After a couple of bumps, Athena settled in fine and became the best cat anyone could ever ask for. She took easily to walking on a leash, learned how to sit, stay, and beg (for food), and is just generally a sweetheart of a cat...with just enough naughtiness to keep us on our toes. She's been everywhere with us, and is quite simply awesome.

Athena is a brown spotted F5 bengal cat. She was purchased as a show alter but decided after her first cat show that she wasn't cut out for the show hall. At nearly 6 years old she weighs about 12 pounds and will eat *almost* anything. Her favourite pastimes are playing in the bathtub (she loves water), playing with strings, and taking walks outside. I know it sounds odd, but she even smells good. Athena was supposed to be MY cat, but decided she usually prefers Chad. Really, she likes everyone though, so that's fine with me. My Athena-teena-beena even joins me under the covers after her morning meal to snuggle. She is probably the most well adjusted cat I've ever met, and I truly don't know what we'd ever do without her.

Then along came Gaia the F3 savannah cat. Gaia was supposed to be Chad's cat, but decided she'd prefer to me my cat. For the longest time she wouldn't go near anyone else. She bonded to me and to Athena, and that was the way life was supposed to be. Though she is actually 2 weeks older than Athena, Gaia came to us at 5 months old, and it took many years and thousands of hours to get her to come out of her shell. Over the years we also discovered that she had several food allergies. Within days of changing her food, she became a totally different cat, and has only continued to improve with years.

Gaia has a very sensitive soul and loves to be scratched on her nose and chin. Also 6 years old, she weighs 10 pounds and is very tall and lean. In the last few years she's decided that taking long walks outside on a leash is great fun, but riding on the back of mom's shoulders is even MORE fun. I really should get a picture of that. In the meantime, here she is being sweet.