a job, a dad, and a beard

beard family

Big day here at 26 Clinton Avenue, and I’m not referring to the snow day. Today, after seven months at home, Dan went to work.

Working in finance it’s almost expected that you will be let go, downsized or simply fired at some point in your career. Its often not a reflection of your work ethic or knowledge base, it’s just that companies change their strategies or decide that someone is easily replaced with a cheaper version. Dan and I have both known it was a possibility, but have always been lucky to enjoy the security of consistent paychecks, fun bonuses and good medical insurance.

When Dan first got let go, it did take me a little while to put it in perspective. Our family has certainly had worse days (heard worse news), but the news of Dan losing his job shook my foundation. Dan’s job has always been a stable structure in our percarious house of cards. We’re not so well off that we aren’t aware of money, but it’s something we don’t need to worry about often. We have enough. Enough to pay bills, enjoy vacations and pay for help that allows me to breathe. Money makes our lives easier. I know this, because I know many families with complicated lives that don’t have any. It makes difficult circumstances, more difficult.

Although those first few days after hearing the news I did feel the unease of not knowing what to expect and feared the possibility of losing our security, I wasn’t as panicked as I would have imagined. My confidence in Dan, our families resilience and our savings allowed me to keep my perspective. Dan put me further at ease when he explained the generous package that his company had offered. Not a “golden parachute”, but solid silver. And, a package that included a “garden leave”.

Although Dan managed to secure his next job quickly, this “garden leave” required him to stay out of his industry for a period of time. “Garden leave” protects companies from having their ex employees hitting the market quickly. It meant Dan got to enjoy all the perks of working (salary, benefits, etc) without working. And, he got to spend the last seven months going through our family weekday routine – a routine that he has never had the opportunity to truly witness. I thought it would be tough adding Dan to our days, but it’s been wonderful. He’s been great company, had meaningful time with the kids, and has enjoyed hiking, reading and growing his beard.

After seven months, it was strange to see him put on a suite this morning, and kiss my forehead with his freshly shaved face. Strange having breakfast without him. The house seems oddly empty without his music playing and offers to do the grocery shopping (and shoveling). It’s going to be an adjustment, but we’re ready and grateful that we had this break. I’m so glad I didn’t waste too much time worrying.
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