Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Mighty Roo

Luka Grizzlefrizz was laid peacefully to rest on December 20th at the age of 13 years old. 

He had many names:  Rooka Roo, the Mighty Roo, Frizz, RooTah, FrizzFuzz, Salt N Peppah Frizz, oh you know how it goes.  He was essentially a rescue.  Matt and I had been living together for a short time just after graduating from college.  I had D'Artagnan, my applehead Siamese mix/partner in crime and began campaigning that we get him a buddy.

Matt had wanted a Russian Blue or similarly colored cat but at some point after visiting a few shelters and the Humane Society we turned to the news papers.  We found an ad and followed up.  There were actually two kittens, and to this day we wish we had grabbed Luka's brother as well.  They were small and covered in fleas.  Their mother was a mix and there were cats wandering here and there.  The kittens were being toted around by smallish kids and the woman wanted to make sure that Matt and I weren't taking the kitten for some "Fraternity or Sorority thing."  I'm not exactly sure what her fear was for this tiny kitten as she wasn't exactly caring properly for him anyway. 

Regardless, we scooped him up and absconded with this wee flea bitten kitten. 

He and D'artagnan got along like two peas in a pod.  D'Ar was pretty easy going and I think Luka was thankful for the peaceful environment.  Matt picked out his first name and I chose his middle name (from a children's book - Hooway for Wodney Wat.)  He was adopted in Florida, moved twice with us in Maryland, twice with us in Maine and finally ended up in Vermont.  He lived for 1 year and 10 days in Vermont and I'm pretty sure he loved it here too.  Along the way (and over the years,) we adopted Cricket Weenog  and so our furry children count grew to 3.  Later we added two guinea pigs (weeeeeek!)  Then we lost the guinea pigs and D'Artagnan.  But gained a Baxter Rufus.  Then I had to go liven things up by bringing two rambunctious boys into the house.  Through it all, Luka was a trooper.

He was a love.  A huge ball of fluffy love and my heart just breaks in a million pieces that I'll never get a head butt from him again.  But that is okay.  I have memories and pictures and I'll always carry him in my heart.

I am so thankful you are at peace, Luka, I'm so sorry for any discomfort you went through while mommy had to try to beat that nasty cancer.  But, you know, I had to try.  I would have never forgiven myself if I hadn't tried for those "extra 2 years" that chemo usually gives cats with small cell lymphoma.  So, it didn't give you any extra time . . . I'm not okay with it to be honest, but I'm okay with you being at peace. 

Luka GrizzleFrizz's first day.  Mommy insisted on a flea bath!
All dried off and relaxing on his first day home with us.
At first, D'Artagnan wasn't so sure about this lil' rascal . . .
But they became fast friends!
Friends forever.
Luka was the King of Inventive Sleeping!
Also the King of Hiding Places . . .
Although some places weren't so hidden . . .
And then there was a Cricket Weenog . . .
She was a bit of a scruffy urchin kitten . . .
But they became fast friends as well.
In his prime!
Sweetest pink nose I know . . .
Along came Baxter after we said goodbye to D'Artagnan . . .
He was a little stinker but Luka loved every minute!
And then I brought home something different!
But Luka loved him too . . .
He put up with all of my shenanigans . . .
I always imagined that Luka was the King, Cricket was the Queen and Baxter was the Jester . . . . (D'Artagnan was a Prince of course!)
He lived for 13 long years . . . but it didn't feel long enough.
His last day on this earth.  He was so very loved.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The "I'm Still Alive" roundup!

The month of December has been a bit rough thus far.  Hence the silence on my part . . . not wanting to be Debbie Downer.  So instead I remained silent.  Through sickness and disappointment we arrive a week before Christmas ill prepared.  But, I have a tree up!!!  Woot!  In a very un-Jennifer-like move it is a fake tree.  There are many reasons for this . . .

- Toby (18 month old)

-  Baxter Rufus (Brother FourPaws the rowdy Maine Coon)


Maybe in a few years when I don't feel like I'm constantly drowning and being resuscitated weekly then we'll get a real (and gorgeous) tree.  But this'll do for now. 

Luka Grizzlefrizz is not doing well, I guess cancer sort of does that to cats and others similarly afflicted.  I was hoping he would perk up before the holidays but he just seems worse by the day.  I can't adequately describe how deeply this pains and affects me and I'm loathe to say goodbye.  It is one of our greatest burdens as caretakers of furry children to have to make a decision at the end of their lives. 

Ethan is amazing - bright and talkative and astoundingly astute.  I love these sponge years and hope that I am doing him justice.  I hear tell from my sister-in-law that he is about to get spoiled mercilessly this Christmas and I'm hoping he doesn't let it go to his head!

Toby weaned himself.  BOOM.  Just. Like. That.  Cold frickin' turkey.  It was amidst a stomach plague that descended upon us and the whole week was quite nightmarish.  On top of the emotional blow, I'm battling some pretty heinous clogs that are quite tenacious.  I have ordered some No More Milk tea and so hopefully that will help me dry up.  As far as my fears for soothing him?  Unfounded.  He goes down just as well without nursing (*sniff sniff*) and doesn't seem to miss it in the least.  I'm fairly certain it still hasn't sunk in for me!

I have so many pictures just chilling on my camera, I vow to upload them and share them soon!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

She did it again . . .

Kathleen from North Photography has once again wielded her mad Kung Fu skills in wrangling the Jeans clan into some gorgeous photos.  One evening in the fall, we crashed the backyard of a neighbor, waded through some weeds and wrangled some seriously fussy boys and yet . . . and yet . . . MAGIC.  I was there, people, I saw what we looked like . . . true MAGIC.  Thank you again Kathleen!

This is the one we will be hanging in our living room!

At this point the boys were done.  So opened a can o' Mommy Silliness and got them to laugh a bit!

Monday, December 2, 2013

4 years ago yesterday . . .

(I had written this a few days ago and forgot to post it on his birthday!  D'oh!  In my defense, I forgot because I was out of my mind crazy busy with his birthday party but still . . .)

It is hard to imagine that Ethan has been on this earth for 4 whole years and yet it is hard to imagine life without this brilliant child.

Now, I'm not saying he is a genius or anything (even if I think he is pretty bright) but he is BRILLIANT.  His energy, his attitude, his love and cuddles.  I take pride in the fact that together, as a team, Matt and I have helped to nurture the good and tried very hard to steer him away from the bad.

Being present and aware as a parent doesn't seem to be the norm these days.  How many parents have I heard say, "I just don't know what to do/say/treat him or her!"  In this day and age of information it seems to me that maybe they just don't want to change.  I am not perfect, as I'm fond of mentioning, but I feel like I'm trying very hard to be present for my children.  To respect them and know who they are.  Not bend them to my will, not ignore them or brush off their questions.  I absolutely lose my patience sometimes and have to give myself time outs.  But at the same time I want my kids to know that I have their backs.

Even when I'm disciplining them or being especially stubborn.  I want them to know why I'm acting the way that I am.  Sharing my feelings and emotions is important to me.  I know that not every parent does this and I've received criticism for being so "open" with my kids.  But that is okay.  Because no one lives in my world except my family.  So, how can anyone judge?  See what I did there?  Just the paragraph previous to this I judged other parents.  Despite our best efforts to be open minded it is just plain impossible not to see another situation and feel judgment based upon your experiences and knowledge.

But I digress . . . my Ethan Alexander Charles is the most amazing 4 year old I know.  I can only hope that years from now I look back on this birthday as a milestone.  We survived thus far, we survived the third year with all of its changes and struggles.  New brother, new house, new state, new school.  He was a wild one.  A lot of what we experienced was completely normal, a lot of it was the aforementioned changes, but all of that boundary testing helped to forge who he is.

He is an amazing brother.

He has a love for nature and a curiosity that is boundless and I'm so darned proud of that.  He loves the pursuit of knowledge, just like his father and mother do and I can only hope that carries through his whole life.

He loves to question everything and I do my best to answer in a quick but truthful manner.

He is attune with emotions and feelings and is the most affectionate lil' boy, always quick for a cuddle.

He loves his friends and is in his element amongst the hordes of other toddlers.  No shrinking violet, he is quite the social butterfly.

He is just the most special Ethan I know.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

When I am 4 . . .

Lately Ethan has been reassuring me he will do/eat all sorts of things, "When I am 4 years old." 

Well, I tried to tell him that his birthday is 2 weeks away and then he'll have to eat my pasta (or insert any other food item that isn't fish sticks, carrots and apples.)  But you know, that whole pesky concept of time thingie just hasn't sunk in yet. 

Tonight I made burritos.  I had 3 different proteins, rice and various veggies.  I knew going into it that Ethan would be resistant.  But I also KNOW they do similar things at his school.  And yes, I also know that he eats certain things ONLY at school . . . like cheese pizza for example.  Note to self: find out how they make their cheese pizzas.

So yea, my kid went to bed hungry.  Because even though he constructed his burrito.  He refused to eat it.  It made me sad, it made him sad, but I couldn't waver.  I can't keep making him a separate meal when I have Toby over there, chubby hands wrapped around a whole frickin' burrito om-noming it down.  There was no fight, just a little crying and a lot of reassurance from me that the food was safe and that I didn't want him to go to bed hungry . . . but he still did.  And I feel like the worst mom in the world. 

Even though I sang him a special dragon song, found him the dragon "with wings only MOM," and gave him so many hugs and kisses he asked me to leave . . . he didn't eat dinner.  I know, logically, that he will be okay but it is hard to think past the "failure" alarm going off in my head. 

I am thankful that my kids are so brilliant and resilient that they can persevere despite my hiccups.  I can only hope that I stay on the right track at the right time to support them . . . always.

Ethan's birthday is coming up and I've chosen to have no presents at his party.  Birthdays are not about presents.  They are about celebrating someone and having fun with family and friends.  So, even though he will have presents at home, hopefully no one will bring any to his party.  At Ethan's age, he doesn't understand that presents, gifts and treats shouldn't be expected and shouldn't be the highlight of a visit or event.  It is time with people.  The hugs, playtime and fun that you have . . . not THINGS.  I truly hope that I can instill him a value that doesn't focus on WHAT he has but WHO he has that loves him.  I am not; however, made of stone . . . I did get him several gifts for his birthday, despite the fact we have so much crap . . . er . . . toys in our play room that I could probably stock a day care.  Time to purge?  Maybe when I'm 4 :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


So, in the past month, I've been blessed with two visitors.  My dear friend Charity swooped in for a 4 day whirlwind visit and it was awesome.  Now, my momma is here.  She has less than a week left in her visit and I'm finding that I don't want her to go.  I think having her here right now has been a life saver.  Not only is my "fairy" doing my laundry, dishes and cat boxes . . . on top of wrangling children, but she has given me the confidence to muck out my Room of Doom. Hopefully, when she leaves I will be more caught up . . . if nothing else having this support right now has been a balm to my nerves.

But in another realm, this past month has been devastatingly eye opening.  My dad is very, very sick.  Knowing that people don't live forever and being faced with said mortality are two very different beasts.  As my sisters and I deal with the reality of the situation our physical distance from one another feels razor sharp.  I'm doing what I can from thousands of miles away but Christmas plans are on hold (after they were completely dashed not too long ago) and I'm torn between wanting to enjoy my time with my momma and running back down to Florida to see my dad.

This time that my mom is experiencing in my "zone" with my precious boys is once in a lifetime.  Toby is growing so fast.  Every day it seems to be a new word or "trick."  Ethan is an amazing little boy . . . so full of questions it can be mind boggling. 

I have planned Ethan's birthday party for December 1st (his actual birthday) but haven't sent out the invites or even started planning it yet . . . STRESSOMGSTRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  But I'll get there.  I will get invites out this week (yes I will . . . somehow) and then I will figure out a menu and hopefully get it all done before the birthday!!

So many things, my head is spinning.  So many emotions . . . so much to be thankful for right now. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013


So . . . these past few weeks have not been "fun."  Plans for the holidays have been in upheaval, Luka was diagnosed with cancer and 3/4 of the Jeans' clan have been sick with the plague that spread through Ethan's preschool like wildfiiiiiiiiiire.

But I did send Ethan to school on Thursday for the Halloween party.  He still had a slight fever but so did every other frickin' kid that was there.  They all sounded the same as well, sniffles and coughs amidst the dressed up creatures.  His teachers (of whom one had been taken out by said plague) were understanding and glad to see him.

Needless to say, having both boys home (SICK) with me all week was um . . . not fun.  I couldn't take them any place because Toby was having a tough time cutting a tooth on top of being a feverish snotty mess.  (Thanks Universe.)

Anyway, my momma arrives in about 3 hours to help me out for 2 weeks and I'm so excited.  Pure, no strings attached, help and quality gramma time.  Woot woot.

Now excuse me while I go take a hot shower and try to cough up some more yummy phlegm.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Montshire Madness

This past Sunday I hit a goal.  When we first moved here I had a list of places to visit (or things to do) with the boys.  There were a few places that I had to nix after speaking with other moms and realizing the boys were a tad too young, but overall I think we did pretty well!

Montshire Museum of Science has been on my "list" since we moved to Vermont . . . A KID'S MUSEUM!!!!  In addition, I've been trying to devise a way to meet up with friends from down southways for quite some time.  Kismet.

Also, Matt came with us!  Truly I don't think I could have done it alone.  The minute we set foot in the museum both boys were off at a dead run . . . in opposite directions!  It was 3+ hours of Ooohhs and Ahhhs and Look At DIS! and two parents trying to wrangle two kids (sounds easy, right?)  Also, I was trying to take all the pictures in the world because every millisecond Ethan was doing something cute or Toby was being adorkable.  And to make things even better, the lighting in there was strange - flash was too bright, no flash meant fuzzy pictures.  Yea, um.  Well, you will see.

So, here goes:  A picture story of our first (of many) visit(s) to Montshire Museum!
Gorgeous fall day in Norwich, Vermont!
In the door for 5 seconds and they are already touching everything . . . good thing that is exactly what they are supposed to do!
See this?  This is what Ethan looked like bouncing around like a ping pong ball completely overstimulated with all the SCIENCE!
Tiniest snapping turtles you ever did see.
So wee!
Brudders and fish!  (Mommy clearly forgot to use the flash.)
Toby was in fish heaven.
Not-so-little Toby Wee.
Ethan educating Toby on the species of fish in the tank.
I'm still not clear on the purpose of this exhibit but Ethan sure loved it!
The closest I got to getting him to hold still for a picture!
Clearly he was miserable.  Look!  I can blow air in mommy's face!
Cutest windmaker I know.
Using the hose the "right way."
Meanwhile, over at the fog machine.  A cute munchkin hanging out with daddy!
So many things to turn . . .
Best seat in the house for the turtle feeding and info talk!
And then he got to feed turtles!  (not pictured.)
And this is what Toby looked like the whole time . . . ZOOOOOOOM
Spying out crayfish with daddy.  *ahem* Or Fodder as he has been referred to as lately by Ethan Wee.  (For the record I'm known as Mudder.)
More fish Mudder!
AND THEN OUR FRIENDS ARRIVED!  (Idella and her daddy, John!)
Ethan showing Idella the ropes.
Must show them the tiniest snapping turtles in the world!  (Erin is holding Madelyn and Ethan is showing Idella the wee creatures!)

Look!  All 4 in one frame!  *flex*
Clearly Madelyn was still skeptical of me.
Ethan did it his own way and blew some of the best bubbles!!
Action shot!
BEES!  This exhibit was pretty awesome.  They had a tube (which you can sort of see on the left part of the photo) so they could come and go as they pleased.
Leafcutter ants exhibit.  It was mindblowingly awesome.  Seriously.  And Idella is manning a small camera that zoomed in on the ants in real time.  Those soldier ants were crazy buff!
Fossils!  (well, sort of . . .)
Drawers of awesomeness!  This one had some very well preserved snakes in it.  Very kid friendly except maybe the squashed finger hazard.  But Ethan was very careful!
Ethan and the girls checking out some turtle shells.
Curious minds!
Gila Monster skin!  Ethan was quite taken with the snake eggs preserved to show the snakes inside. 
Almost as tall as a dinosaur bone!
A million different types of nests.  Ethan was in heaven.
Pretty sure he is dreaming about how he wants these drawers full of wonder in his bedroom.
Smile!  Errrr, or just stay still!
Diversionary tactics!  (Toby had run out of steam at this point!)
Amazing butterfly exhibit.  I didn't capture all the other bug exhibits . . . but there were so many that Ethan never wanted to leave.
View from the top of the museum.
Gorgeous day in lovely Vermont.
Looking down from the tower.  Goodbye Montshire!  See you soon!