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.