Friday, August 27, 2010

Tristen loves to dance :)

  This evening was Tristen's first dance class. I'd been stressing it all week long, the "opposite of optimistic" as I'd been explaining it to everyone else. I did my best to conceal my concerns from Tristen; I didn't want to set him up for failure because of my own reservations. But I was worried about how he'd handle it... IF he'd be able to handle it. After all, there are approximately 25 kids in that class, and Tristen has issues with social anxiety, especially when it concerns his peers. I even called Cathy (his dance teacher) the other night and talked with her for a bit, explaining my concerns and trying both to get the information I needed to prepare Tristen for what class was going to be like and preparing her for what Tristen is like.
  So I'd spent the last few days reminding Tristen that he would have to listen to Ms. Cathy. That he had to do as he was told. That he couldn't get mad and throw a fit. That he had to keep control of himself and not act out. That he needed to keep his hands and feet to himself. That he wasn't to touch anything that didn't belong to him. Oh goodness, the list goes on and on. When you are dealing with a child who has behavioral issues and is completely blind when it comes to social cues, you "leave no stone unturned." I spent hours upon hours dreaming up all sorts of possible things that might happen, and talking him through how to deal with each one. I prepared him the best I could.

  And he did fabulous!

  His class is broken up into three half-hour sessions: ballet, tap, and jazz. He made it through all three today, but Cathy suggested that we just start with ballet and tap this year. She said that he seemed to be getting tired after the first two. I think he was getting a bit overwhelmed too, and that's completely understandable. Shoot, I didn't figure he'd make it through the first half hour, let alone the whole thing! So we'll stick to an hour of dance once a week.
  To say I am proud of him doesn't even begin to describe how I feel. This was his idea, not mine. He expressed an interest and a desire to dance all on his own. He knew that it was up to him to show me he could do it. All I did was make the decision to let him try, and I finally got one right.
  I'll be calling tomorrow to price his dance shoes so he'll have them for class next week. He's earned them. I prayed that God would help him succeed at this. Now I'm praying for his success to continue.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Avon Fundraiser!

I want to give a big thank you to Angie Nesselrotte for helping us to organize an Avon Fundraiser to help raise money for our trip to 4 Paws! We will be officially selling products until September 13th, although I can squeeze in orders up until the 18th or so. Payment is required up front, and product will be delivered sometime between the 21st and 25th. The products are very affordable, and 40% of all sales go directly towards our trip! Contact me if you're interested in buying! Here's the flyer that shows the products we have for sale:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Yep, this is meant to be.

  Tristen asked me about "Dante Dog" today, and I told him that we would go get Dante in October. I told him that Dante was in Ohio in "school" just like Ajax was when we went to get him 2 years ago, and that in October we'd go to Ohio and stay in a hotel so Mommy could go to "school" with Dante for a few days. He said "Okay, we put it on calender." So we did:

I wrote "Go get Dante!" and Tristen took the marker and said "X marks the spot" and then drew a smiley face too :)

  Then he asked if we could look at pictures of Dante. I pulled up Karen's (4 Paws founder and Executive Director) Facebook page and saved the pics she had of Dante to my computer. Tristen had me print out his favorite to put in his room. Looks like I'm gonna be buying Dante a hat and some doggie-goggles to wear (Dante, I apologize in advance because I think you're gonna be wearing that hat a lot), because, and I quote, "Dante Dog look just like Tristen! Dante Dog have a hat! Dante Dog have glasses! Just like Tristen!" 
  Let's see what y'all think. Do they look alike?

All of this confirms for me that we've made the right decision here. This is meant to be. 
  When I emailed Karen to let her know that one way or the other we would be attending training in October, I just happened to read the quote at the bottom of my signature. It reads:

   Faith isn't the ability to believe long and far into the misty future.
It's simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step.
                                                                   - Joni Erickson Tada

That's how I'm approaching this whole thing. I can't see into the future, not even into October. I have no clue how this is going to work out. But I know that it will. Because God has never let me down. All He asks is that I trust Him and keep going.

One step at a time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Reservations have been made!

  We'll be staying at Homewood Suites. I booked the reservation today for October 20-29. The suite has two double beds, a kitchenette with a full size refrigerator/freezer, a microwave, stovetop, and dishwasher. No oven, but I think we can do without one for 9 days. We got the 4 Paws group rate of $98 a night (I think I said $89 before, but I had my numbers backward, lol), bringing the hotel bill to $992.25 after taxes.
  Homewood Suites offers a complimentary hot bar breakfast every morning, and dinner Monday-Thursday. That will help cut down on the food bill a bit. I also plan on packing lunch to take to training, trying to eat as cheap as possible. The kids won't have to go to training everyday, so most of their meals can be made in the suite.
  I still have no clue as to who to ask to go with me. I have to have someone to watch the kids while I focus on training. I've been racking my brain, and I'm still coming up blank. I know it's a tremendous amount to ask someone to take 9.5 days out of their life to travel out of state and help take care of someone else's kids. Add in the fact that one of those kids is disabled, and it's a whole new ballgame. Heck, I can't even find a sitter, how in the world am I gonna find someone to do this?!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I'm jumping in...

  And there's no turning back now. I'm committed to making this happen, or rather trusting God to make it happen. I'll be calling hotels to make reservations tomorrow. Our first choice will be Homewood Suites, as they give 4 Paws families a great rate of $89 a night, and also make a  donation to 4 Paws for every family who stays there. Hopefully with it being in October, they won't be completely booked.
  We'll be leaving on Wednesday October 20, and returning late on Friday the 29th. If possible I'd like to wait until Saturday morning to leave for home so I don't have to travel with tired, cranky kiddos, but hey, I'll take what I can get.
  I still have to find someone to go with me. I can't attend training and chase the kiddos around as well, so an additional person is a must. Actually, it's 4 Paws policy as well, I have to have someone to watch the kids. I have no idea who that person will be, but I'm trusting that God will take care of that too. He knows that it's something we can't do without, so I'm positive that he'll provide.
  We're looking at needing about $2000 for the trip. That will cover the hotel, food, and fuel. I'm saving every spare penny that I have (which honestly isn't much right now) and I'll be trying to come up with some fundraising ideas in the next few days.
  If anyone can help us, PLEASE contact me. You can send me a message on Facebook, or email me at And please keep us in your prayers, I'm feeling quite overwhelmed right now, lol.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A difficult decision...

     We've got a big decision to make, and I'm really at a loss of what to do. I'm actually more than a bit intimidated, because if we commit to this path, there's no turning back, and I've only got a couple of months to prepare. But it could make a difference for Tristen, and that's why I'm so torn.
     When we first applied for a service dog for Tristen, our needs were clear cut. It was mainly about safety: we needed the tethering skills, and the search and rescue was priceless. Ajax was the perfect match, a big teddy bear of a dog who was strong enough to hold his own while tethered, and who's eyes lit up at the mention of the word "track." It was a match made in Heaven, and I still believe this to be true. God sent us the very dog that Tristen needed.

     But needs change over time, and the needs of a little boy with autism are no different. Tristen has grown distant from Ajax, and although I try to push the relationship with everything I've got, I'm finally up to admitting that it's just not there anymore. I believe it's partly due to the fact that Ajax's main job was to help me keep Tristen safe, Tristen sees him as more of a protector than a friend. I also think that Ajax's massive size has had something to do with it.
     So lately Tristen has been asking for a dog to be his best friend. And it breaks my heart that he won't let Ajax be that. Ajax is forever my hero, and a part of our family. But like I said before, I can't force it. Tristen says he wants a little dog. 
     And now we've come to the decision part. We have the opportunity to retire Ajax and get a new service dog for Tristen (Ajax will stay with us, of course). A little dog who is trained in behavior disruption, and would be certified just like Ajax, able to accompany Tristen on outings. I have shown Tristen pictures, and he has fallen in love. His name is Dante:

     But here's the issue: We will have to make another trip to Ohio for training in mid-October. I can't just run up there and bring Dante home, we need to get to know him on his turf. And to work with him and pass the public access test required for certification.  That means a 12 day trip to Xenia, OH. 10 days for training, and then travel time (about 4.5-5 hours each way, leaving the day before training and returning the day after).
     There are two things that we need to make this happen. We need money to make the trip. With our recent move, our savings are depleted. We just don't have the funds. Even saving all our extra money between now and then won't cover the hotel room, gas, and food. I hate the thought of asking for donations once again, but I just don't see any other way to get the money we will need.
     I will also need to find someone to go with me to Ohio. I'm going to need help with the children, someone to watch them while I attend the training. I'll be 35 weeks pregnant when the training class starts, I won't be able to do this alone, and with the baby due to come so soon after, Nathan won't be able to take off work to come with us. This is what I'm most worried about; What if I can't find anyone to go with me?
     I've been praying that God would show me what to do, whether to take this leap or not, and all signs are pointing to us needing to do this. For Tristen.
     So please pray. I'm talking about a big leap of faith here. I'm asking for help (which if you know me well, you know this is something I don't do). If anyone can help us, financially or otherwise, please contact me. If you think you know someone who might be willing to help us, please pass them a link. The fact is, we can't do this alone. And I trust God that we won't be let down.