Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas presents :)

   So it's that time of year again. We love Christmas time around here, but I do have to admit that it's rather stressful for Mama at times, lol! This year Tristen only has two things on his wish list: the Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash racetrack, and the Lego Harry Potter game for his Nintendo DS. Rebecka wants a Baby All Gone and the Littlest Pet Shop game for her "to play on Tristen's Nintendo DS." Little does she know that we ordered her a DS of her own, and yes, it's pink ;) I found almost everything on, but the Baby All Gone and the Hot Wheels racetrack were out of stock, so I had to hope that I could find them in one of the stores. We met my mom and her husband this morning, and they took the kids to pick out new winter coats (their old ones were getting a bit short in the arms, lol) while I went to the toy department. I managed to find both of the things I was looking for, and they are in the back of my van as I type this. Now I just have to trek down the hill to get them. Yeah, not really looking forward to that...
   I have to admit, I got my Christmas present early this year. He will be four weeks old tomorrow, and he's still just as cute as he was on day one :) I love all my kids equally and dearly, but oh how I love the newborn stage! I'm soaking it up; I know it will be gone all too soon. God has truly blessed me with a wonderful family. Yes, we have our challenges, but I wouldn't trade it for the world :)
  Speaking of blessings, I have the awesome opportunity to be a blessing to another family. I've made no secret of the fact that I have been pumping and freezing my excess milk, looking to donate it to an infant in need. Well, I have found one :) His mom is getting ready to send me the insulated boxes I'll be using to ship the frozen milk. She is supposed to send me a picture soon. I'll be asking her permission to put it on here, as well as my Facebook. Hopefully I'll be able to share more details, but even if I'm not, it's still a wonderful feeling to know that I'll be able to help another mama provide for her child :)
  Seriously, who could ask for a better Christmas present than that? :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sweet Baby James

  Yeah, I know I dropped the ball (again) by not posting for so long. But at least I have a good reason this time, lol! I had the baby!
  I went into labor on Monday, November 8th, on the way to Tristen's occupational therapy. My midwife was meeting me there for my 38 week appointment, so I thought the timing was pretty good. Nathan wasn't too far away from home, so he was able to make it back in plenty of time. We weren't able to reach the birth assistant, however. Luckily there was another midwife, Dorothy, who agreed to come to help with the birth. Honestly, I'm glad it worked out the way it did. I was so comfortable with Angy and Dorothy here, and I wouldn't change a thing. With help from the Lord, and my two wonderful midwives, I was able to have the home birth that I so badly wanted.
  James Alvin Putnam was born into his Daddy's arms on Tuesday, November 9th at 12:10am. He weighed 8lbs. 12oz. and was 20 3/4 inches long. He is about as close to perfect as you can get :) His big brother and big sister are absolutely in love with him; Rebecka isn't even disappointed that he isn't the baby sister that she wanted ;)
  I feel really bad for not realizing that we didn't get pictures of Angy holding James :( Heck , I didn't get one of Dorothy holding him until she came to the house to check up on us Saturday evening. I made sure to fix that, and hopefully I'll get a few good ones of him and Angy when she stops by the house this coming weekend. I'll be sure to post a pic of the two of them just as soon as I can. Here are a few of my favorites so far:

This was taken about half an hour after he was born:

And we took this one the next morning:

Dorothy holding James :)

Dorothy, James, and I (geez I look tired, lol!):

We sure do love our midwives :)

I'm in love all over again :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What a week!

  This past week has been hard on all of us. It's difficult to come back after a week and a half and jump right back into the routine. But that's what we've done, easy or not. We spent the weekend relaxing and spending time with Nathan, we missed him so much while we were gone. I made an honest attempt to get everything unpacked and put away, but it ended up taking me until Tuesday to get it all done. I had forgotten just how exhausting the training is, and had absolutely no energy whatsoever this week. Being 37 weeks pregnant doesn't help, I'm sure, lol!
  We had a full schedule Monday. First up was an appointment with Tristen's psychiatrist. I really didn't feel like going, but we needed to get Tristen's prescription changed back to pill form instead of the liquid, so I got everyone ready and into the van. Dante came with us, of course. I want to take him with us as much as I can to help the bond between him and Tristen. He wasn't too happy about wearing his vest, but he perked up after Tristen gave him a few treats.
   The psychiatrist was definitely impressed with Dante, and Tristen's behavior due to having Dante there with him. Tristen sat in the floor and I had Dante "lap" on him. Tristen sat and petted Dante the entire time we were in the office, he never even tried to get up. He has NEVER sat down in the psychiatrist's office, not even for a second! He was also maintaining a conversation with her. Granted, it was about Dante and training, but he was actually answering her questions and staying on topic! Dante behaved perfectly the whole time, he definitely knows his job well. I was so very proud of both of them :)
   Then it was off to occupational therapy. I'm not training Tristen's therapists (or anyone else, for that matter) to handle Dante, so he stayed in the waiting room with Rebecka and I while Tristen went to his therapy session. I think he enjoyed the opportunity to take a nap :)  Tristen's OT said that Tristen did extremely well, which is typical since he loves Amanda (his therapist). She did say, however, that he seemed calmer and more focused than normal.
   We met up with Angie (my midwife) after OT so she could give me the birth pool that we're renting. I'm hoping to have a water birth, if I have time to get the pool set up, lol! I need to take it out of the box sometime this week and do a "dry run" to make sure I know how to set it up. It would be really bad to be in labor and have to try to figure out how to set it up!
   Rebecka had dance class Monday evening. I've decided to leave Dante at home during dance class for now. There are so many kids there, and I'm hesitant to take him into that scenario. I keep remembering how awful it was taking Ajax into the school when I'd pick up Tristen. The kids just wouldn't leave us alone, and Tristen would end up getting overwhelmed. Even our "no petting" policy didn't really help, since few of the other adults would help me enforce it. While I know that the parents at dance class would help enforce the "no petting" rule, I'm just not comfortable trying it just yet. I want to give Dante more time to bond with Tristen before throwing him into a situation like that.
   Wednesday, Tristen got to introduce Dante to Julie, his speech therapist. He did incredibly well, especially considering that I had to "drop him off" and take Rebecka back outside for about 20 minutes. She seems to be having trouble adjusting to being back home, and has thrown some of the worst tantrums this week. I figured that Tristen would be the one to have the most trouble getting back into the swing of things, but he's doing remarkably well. Rebecka on the other hand... well, not so much. I know it's just a matter of time though, so we're hanging in there.
   Dante and Daisy are getting along well, they play together a lot. Dante and Ajax are also getting along well. Ajax and Daisy? Yeah, that's gonna take some work. See, I hadn't really thought about Ajax's cat issues for a while now. He got used to having Bella around, and they're like best friends, so it never occurred to me that he would go nuts having a kitten in the house. He just wants to play with her, but he scares her and she hisses at him. I can't say that I blame her, he is so much bigger than she is. So for now (until everyone has a bit more time to get comfortable with each other) we're keeping him gated to one side of the house, and he sits and whines and whines because she won't come play with him. Bella and Dante don't exactly get along either. I hadn't thought that Bella would have a problem, since he and Ajax get along so well, but he walked up and swatted at Dante the first time he saw him. Hopefully with time everyone will chill out and get along. Until then, I just have to be vigilant when I take Dante outside so he doesn't get ambushed ( BTW, Bella is bigger than he is).
   We took Dante to church with us for the first time this morning. He did wonderful, of course, and most of the congregation didn't even realize that he was there until after service was over. He laid at my feet while Tristen went to Sunday school and children's church. I'm hoping that with Dante's help I'll eventually be able to take the kids to church on Sunday and/or Wednesday evenings. It would be really good for me, I know that.
   Well, I am off to bed. Tomorrow starts another week! Hopefully I'll manage to get a bit more sleep than I did last week. But I'm not holding my breath...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

4 Paws Graduation!

    I was going to post as soon as we got home, but it was way too late. I should have known that it would be, but I held on to the illusion of getting the kids in bed before midnight all the way up until around 11 or so, lol! The kids were excited that Daddy was waiting up for us. I was happy to see him too after being apart for two weeks :)
    Anyway, yesterday started with our public access test! I volunteered to go first, since I still hadn't decided if we were going to stay for the graduation ceremony or had home early. We had to be at the mall at 9:30am to begin our test. Jeremy met us there and quickly reviewed the requirements with me. We had to walk through the mall, including at least one store, and incorporate all of the obedience commands that we had been working on. The dogs had to show that they would "sit," "down," and "heel" on command. At one point we were required to drop the leash and then pick it back up, to show that the dogs would stay with us. We also had to put the dogs into a "down," walk a short distance away, and call the dogs to us to show that they would come. The dogs had to be comfortable moving past people, and objects such as a stroller or shopping cart. I also had to walk Dante past another dog (Smores, who was also in our class) to show that he wouldn't be distracted.
    Dante did well during this part of the test. Then we had to go into the Food Court for the "dining" part of the test, where Dante had to go under the table and lie down, and stay there until I was ready to leave (I didn't have to actually order any food, just sit there for 30 minutes). Dante went right under, but was a bit reluctant to sit down until I was seated. Jeremy said that he might have gotten bumped with a chair sometime in the past, but since he did obey me that it was alright. He said just to make sure that we practice with really good treats when there are chairs involved :)
    Once we passed the public access test, I went back to the hotel to get Brianna and the kids. We quickly packed the rest of our stuff into the van (it only took an hour! yes, that's quick for us, lol!) and headed over to 4 Paws to complete our paperwork. Once everything was signed, Dante received his new tags and ID cards:

    Then we took the kids outside to play and have some lunch. 4 Paws has an awesome outdoor area for the kids and dogs to play. It is completely fenced in, so we were able to let Dante off leash for some play time.

    Once all the other families had completed (and passed!) their public access tests, and completed their paperwork, we all took turns signing the 4 Paws Graduates canvas:


    Then it was time for the graduation ceremony! Here is the class of October 2010:
Tristen and Dante!
Kameryn and Nestle!
Henna and Leo!
Andrew and Carina!
Emily and Cammy!
Alyssa and Cassidy!
Adeline and Smores!

    After the ceremony, we enjoyed cake and chips. Then most of the kids went outside to play together one last time. Some of us were leaving for home, some going back to the hotel, but I think all of us felt a little bittersweet about saying goodbye. It was an amazing experience, and we made some wonderful new friends :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Training Day 8

    Today was the last day of training! Tomorrow morning Dante and I have our public access test, and then it's off to 4 Paws for paperwork and then Graduation! We are going first, so we have to be at the mall at 9:30am. We'll finish testing around 10:30, and then we'll be going back to the hotel to pick up Brianna and the kids before heading to 4 Paws.
    It seems like yesterday that we were leaving to come up here, and now it's almost time to go home. It might not have been a long time, but it has definitely been tiring. I feel like I'm about to drop from sheer exhaustion. The kids are tired too. Tristen had a rough day today, and Rebecka has been getting whinier and whinier. I haven't had much patience these past couple of days either. We're definitely looking forward to going home.
    This morning we did our usual basic obedience practice drills. The afternoon was spent listening to Jeremy go over information about taking the dogs home. We talked about how to introduce them to other pets, how to keep them safe in and around the home, and how to incorporate them into our daily lives, among other things. We have to keep in mind that the dogs will be in a totally new environment, and the only thing that will be constant for them is us. It will take time for them to get used to their new home, and it's important that we are consistent with them. This means daily obedience drills, and reinforcing the "rules" with them. They have to realize that they have to listen and obey regardless of where they are. It is perfectly normal for the dogs to test the boundaries once we return home after graduation. After all, they have been around the trainers at 4 Paws for so long, and then one day they look around and think "Okay, I haven't seen Jeremy (or Jennifer, Jessa, Christie, or the other trainers) at all for several days now, I wonder if the rules still apply..." It is our job to let them know that Yes, the rules still apply.
    After class Jessa helped me give Dante a bath. I was a bit intimidated by his hair. I didn't want to end up getting it tangled, but Jessa told me that the only thing I could really do was brush it out good before wetting him down, and then brushing him again once he was completely dry. The other dogs were bathed in the dog tub that they have in one of the restrooms, but Dante fit into one of the sinks, lol! Once I toweled him off a bit we used the dog blow dryer on him. He didn't like it at all. I'm hoping he will take better to our dryer at home, or at least learn to tolerate it. At least he is small enough that he can't really put up too much of a fight. Not like Ajax who has to be manhandled into a bath, lol!
    I am packing up most of our stuff tonight and getting it loaded into the van. The more I can get done tonight, the less I will have to do in the morning. I really don't want to have to get up any earlier than absolutely necessary, so I'm fairly motivated ;)  We look forward to seeing all of our friends soon :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Training Day 7

    Only 2 days left to go! Well, technically only one, since Friday we aren't in class but taking our public access tests. This morning was spent practicing the same things that we've been working on all along. If we want to form the working relationship with the dogs that we need to be an effective team we must practice, practice, practice. Dante and I are doing pretty well, we're definitely bonding, and more and more he's looking to me for direction and reassurance instead of the trainers. He is still a bit skittish when Tristen makes sudden movements, but I can't say that I blame him; Tristen is a pretty intense kid at times ;)  He does know that Tristen has the best treats, and Tristen is the "keeper of the toys", so they are bonding well too. I don't play with Dante, I will pet him and give him love, but if he wants to play he has to seek out Tristen. This is one thing that will really help them bond; Dante absolutely loves his ball, and Tristen loves throwing it :)
    Karen came in and talked with us about some of the legal aspects of public access. She also shared some of her personal experiences with her service dogs. There were several amusing stories, as well as tales of struggles and challenges. It's really important for us to understand that there will be times that we are challenged, and to know the best ways to deal with those times. It's a tight-rope walk of sorts: you can't allow your child's civil rights to be violated, but at the same time we are ambassadors for service dogs everywhere, and want people to have positive experiences with us and the dogs. We need to educate the public whenever possible.
    After lunch we went back to the mall for more practice. Dante did a lot better heeling today. He is getting more confident each time we go out. He did especially well ignoring all the distractions at the mall. The area where we meet is right by the food court and the children's play area, so there's no shortage of distractions, lol! It's incredible just how many people will try to get a dog's attention when they see them out and about. It feels like I'm constantly hearing "Oh what a pretty dog!", "Come here pretty dog!", or sometimes people will just make smooching noises or even bark at the dog (little old men and teenage boys are especially bad about this). I get pretty proud of Dante for ignoring all of it :)
    Once class was over, Dante and I stopped at Wal*Mart to pick up a few things. Dante was perfectly behaved :) He heeled perfectly, he sat perfectly, he was just awesome :) Of course, everyone was staring at us in there too. There were a few negative comments about him being in the store, from customers, not associates, but I just ignored them. I did hear this one woman say "THAT'S A DOG! A DOG!" in a really disgusted manner. I was really tempted to look at Dante and say "Don't let her fool you, you know you're a cat," but I was a good girl and held my tongue. I can already tell that it's going to be a lot different taking Dante with us than it was taking Ajax. Many people don't seem to believe that such a little dog can be a real service dog. But yes, he is a real service dog, and he knows his job and does it well :)
    The kids and I went back to the training center after dinner for some playtime. It has become part of our routine here, and I'm so glad that we are able to go over there! It definitely helps for the kids, and Dante, to get some of that energy out. Rebecka played with Daisy while we were there. She is so excited that Daddy agreed to let her bring Daisy home :) When it was time to leave, she gave her a hug and a kiss goodbye and said "Bye Daisy! I love you, and will take you home with me on Friday!" It was so cute :)

Training Day 6

    Okay, okay, I know... I skipped days 4 and 5. But in all honesty I have been absolutely exhausted, and I've had homework to do as well. I finally finished all of my statistics homework at about 12:30am, so it was a half an hour late. Hopefully my professor won't hold it against me, seeing as how it's not like she's grading our work at 12:30am, lol.
    We practiced our basic obedience this morning. We heeled the dogs around the room while Jennifer (one of the trainers) threw out distractions like humongous piles of treats and different toys that the dogs like. Then we put our dogs in a down and walked around the room, watching them to make sure they stayed put. Dante did really well. He still has a tendency to stand up whenever someone (or another dog) walks too close to him, but I don't think it's disobedience so much as self-preservation, lol.
    This afternoon we went to the mall to practice working the dogs in public. Dante and I worked especially hard on heeling, as he likes to try to walk in front of me instead of beside me at the mall. Everywhere else he does great heeling, but I think he's a bit intimidated in the mall with all the people. Honestly, I can't say that I blame the little guy. Jeremy told me that there would be certain times and situations where it would just be best for me to pick Dante up and carry him to prevent him from being stepped on. I can totally see me doing that from time to time. But he has to walk in the mall during our public access test on Friday, so we'll continue practicing. I think we'll do just fine :)
    After dinner, we went to the training center to let the kids, and Dante, run off some energy. Rebecka spent the entire time there holding her kitty. She has named her Daisy.

    Daisy has really taken to Rebecka. She saw Rebecka walk up to the kennel and practically crawled over top of the other kittens to get to her :)  She was licking Rebecka's face and fingers, and was perfectly content to sit in Rebecka's lap or ride in her arms :)
    Good news! Nathan told Rebecka that she could bring Daisy home! I think he knew that it was going to happen one way or the other, but I'm so glad that he agreed to it willingly :)  He did say that she had to stay outside, but I think we'll be able to work around that too ;) 
    Well, it's 1am and I'm tired, so I'm going to bed. I'll do my best to not miss any more days :)