Jack-O is . . . a punk rocker!

Jack left for school this morning with a big smile on his face and a large mohawk on his head. By all accounts he rocked his way through the halls of Horizon High School and returned home with the “Most Creative Costume” award.

Any time you are feeling sorry for Jack and his complicated life, look at this picture.



Love, Jess



Last Friday I found myself at the veterinarians office explaining to the woman behind the desk that NOTHING could happen to Keegan, “Seriously. He’s not just my son’s assistance dog, he’s family.

Keegan is an exceptionally well-trained dog but, as we were told again and again in team training (the 2 week boot camp Jack and I attended before bringing Keegan home), dogs are dogs and we need to make sure they don’t get into anything they shouldn’t. I lost my focus last week and Keegan ate a “foreign object”.

At first I didn’t think too much about it. Finn (our pet dog who also goes by the name “Bad Dog”) eats things all the time and he’s managed to live longer than his breeder promised — I mean, estimated. But, when Keegan started vomiting I took him directly to his veterinarian. X-rays and sonograms determined that he’d done a number on his stomach but he’d managed to expel the majority of the the object and he should pass the remainder. He was given IV fluids and we were sent home with special food and instructions to closely monitor him and sort threw his elimination. I assured his doctors that I was well versed in both monitoring and elimination.

“Monitoring” translated into lots of middle of the night check ins, and “sorting through his elimination” was especially interesting with limited sleep. It was a tough few days before he bounced back, but we were willing to do anything for Keegan. I  knew how important he was for Jack, but until last week I hadn’t appreciated how important our furry friend is to our entire family. He keeps me company while Jack’s at school. He’s my walking partner and my sounding board. He knows all of Anna’s secrets. He allows Dan and I to sleep comfortably, knowing that Jack has his buddy cuddling next to him in bed. And, Keegan warms all of our hearts with his ability to entice people into approaching Jack – people otherwise intimidated by his quirkiness.

I’m often asked what Keegan does as an assistance dog and I’ve always answered with the same explanation, “He’s Jack’s best friend – his constant companion”. Now I know that Keegan is much more than Jack’s dog; he belongs to all of us. He’s a big, hairy piece of duct tape.

Love, Jess

If you would like to learn more about assistance dogs (or make a donation), please check out http://www.cci.org

Thank you Jack


Everyone has challenges. We’re all burdened with regrets from our past, struggles in the present and concerns for the future. Often burying ourselves under a pile of worries. While I’m not suggesting that any of us has the ability to walk away from our pile, sometimes it’s important to put things in perspective and live in the moment.

I’ve been feeling a little stuck lately. Overwhelmed by everything from finances to parenting challenges to what to make for dinner. Yesterday, I was sitting with a stack of bills in the den and found myself watching Jack and wishing that his mood were contagious.

Jack was sitting on the couch watching a movie with one hand resting on Keegan and the other firmly in his mouth (he’s a chewer). His expression was one of pure joy. JOY is Jack’s usual expression. His mouth falls naturally upward and his eyes literally glow. Whether he’s watching television, eating or spending time with friends, Jack is completely present and happy. Although he can’t speak, Jack clearly understands everything around him. Spend an afternoon (or even a meal) with him and you will see that he is following every bit of the conversation. And, don’t let his juvenile behaviors trick you. Jack is a 16-year-old boy – he likes loud music, pretty girls and fart jokes.

As I watched Jack yesterday, I marveled at his beautiful and relaxed expression. His life is complicated but he always manages to find his peace. It occurred to me yesterday that his challenges provide him the excuse (that’s not really the right word, but you get the idea) of not needing to worry about things like paying bills, making dinner or doing homework. His sole responsibility is to live. He has a solid team caring for his needs allowing him to simply enjoy each moment. He knows that his sister will find him a good movie to watch, food will be provided when he is hungry and he will be changed if his clothes get wet.

While I have my pile of worries, I realized yesterday that, like Jack, I’m surrounded by a team to help manage my pile. I can’t rely on my team to do everything, but I don’t need to do any of it alone. Suddenly, I felt my shoulders relax, I put down the bills, announced that we were ordering in dinner, grabbed a pillow and found a spot on the couch next to my boy.

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, stop by and spend a little time with Jack. I can promise you that you will walk away feeling a little lighter. It’s like yoga without all the stretching.


Love, Jess

Bad Aunt


I woke up on Sunday morning under a cozy down comforter. I was in a quiet guestroom feeling quite wonderful (far better than the previous morning – long story – don’t ask). Such a luxury to wake up to no alarm, licking dog or smelly diaper. I just threw on some sweatpants, brushed my teeth and strolled downstairs to enjoy the company of old friends and greasy sausage. It was a great end to a perfect weekend.

The relaxation managed to linger with me the first couple days of this week. It wasn’t until today that I realized that things fall through the cracks when I lose my structure.

Generally I’m pretty organized. Not if you look at the piles on my desk (or behind the sofa in the living room), but if you peek around my house the beds are made, the closets are arranged, and dishes are never left in the sink. I need to credit Maria and Lilly (babysitting/housekeeping/duct tape) for some of the organization, but even without their help our home is fairly structured.

I need this structure. Without it I get lost. I’m someone who get’s easily distracted and if my environment becomes chaotic, I start to fall apart. I can’t concentrate on making dinner if the fridge is overflowing, I can’t get dressed if the bedroom floor is littered with garments and I can’t remember anything without the help of my screens.

Thanks to Apple I’ve managed to create a life that is tightly managed through my imac, iphone and ipad. I start each day by turning off my alarm and opening my icalendar. I rarely miss a thing.

Until Sunday.

Without my trusty screens, I missed my nephew’s, birthday. I didn’t call or send a note. I didn’t even remember to put a shout-out on Facebook. Worst Aunt EVER!

Now, looking at my icalender I’m noticing I also missed an appointment with a plumber – or did he forget – and I forgot to send a writing assignment to my writing group. Is it possible that one weekend away totally messed up my structure?

Love, Jess

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AIDAN! You are an incredible young man and I adore you!!