Friday, April 30, 2010

No pictures (and don't whine about it)

Things that have happened this week with Maya:
-She stood (on her own!!!!!) for about 4 seconds (4 real Mississippi seconds)
-She is constantly delighted by Parker
-She stood (on her own!!!!!) for about 4 seconds
-She now will "sing" if you ask her to
-Great week in feeding therapy
-She stood (on her own!!!!!) for about 4 seconds

Things that have happened this week with Parker:
-Puppy play group (no joke) Monday night
-Puppy obedience class Weds night
-Trips to the dog park (where he was initially terrified, but now has a great time)
-Training and conditioning

Things that have happened this week with me:
-several close-call anxiety attacks early in the week
-My patience has been brought to an entirely different level
-I straddled and guarded a pile of poop on a sidewalk for what felt like an eternity

More to come when I have some (ha) free time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Can't think straight and a camera cap

I would love to have the energy to do a full post right now, but I feel like a new mom (people with 2 kids might disagree, but I swear that getting a puppy is like adding a toddler to the family).  Last night Maya was babbling at 3 (why? I have no idea) which woke up Parker.  Then he had to pee (luckily we have pads out on the terrace, so I could just bring him down the hallway).  Then he thought it was playtime and was bummed to go back into the crate, so he was whimpery.  And Maya kept making noise on and off.  And I am so. tired.

But I know you people only care about pictures anyway, so here:

An aerial view of the living room dog run:

Sometimes Maya is on the outside, trying to chew her way in:

But if I leave the gate open, she quickly wants to be inside, opening & closing the gate.  Open. Close.  Open.  Close.

Well, this is just ridiculous:

This was so funny.  Maya found the lens cap for the camera on the table as she was cruising along.  As with anything she finds, she picked it up and threw it on the floor.  Parker needed to investigate, and decided the quickest path to the cap was through Maya's legs.  Of course, she squealed and giggled :)

How cute is that?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 1

Last night was tiring, but easy.  We picked him up and had a good car ride home, and he slept through the night like a champ. 

This morning we realized that bringing a puppy home is exactly like having a second child.  I was glad that Maya slept in so that we could start the day by spending some quality time with Parker (ignore our sleep deprived appearances). 

(We're sitting in Parker's fenced off "safe" area in the living room.  We moved a couch and table into the "guest room" (or garage, as I like to call it) and cleared out a big section for him.)

When Maya woke up, we were psyched to bring in Parker.  She is delighted when she sees him, but seems to quickly forget he exists.  She obviously cares, though, because it took about 5 minutes for her to learn his name.  Now if you say "Maya, where's Parker?"  she looks at him with a big smile :)

Come back here, Parker!
Oh, doggie, you make me giggle :)

Someday we'll be best friends.  For now, we will sit at a distance.

We went to the park in the morning, just the 4 of us, and hung out as a bigger, better, more improved family :)

Parker's spent his life (until last night) in the comfort of a lovely home and big enclosed backyard, frolicking with his brothers and mom.  So, this morning when he encountered sidewalks, streets, traffic, bikes, strollers, dogs walking, etc he was a bit terrified.  But he's an amazingly quick learn, and by tonight he happily trotted along next to me while I pushed Maya in the stroller (yep, I took them both out all by myself!).  We took lots of breaks to practice sitting and Maya gave him little treats for being such a good dog.  Here are 2 pics from earlier in the day while he was on the leash (FYI, Dave was correcting him, we don't usually keep the leash so tight).

Despite some anxiety breakdowns (on my part, but that's a post for some other time when I have more energy) it's been a good day, and he's a really sweet dog :) 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Meet Parker!

This was the only picture we managed to get tonight, after hours in the car and a melting down Maya.  Parker (so named because Maya is developing pa-pa-pa, which is one of the easiest sounds to make, and because I like dogs with people names, and also his breeder's last name starte with Pa, so that was nice) is a 13 week old standard poodle.  He's adorable, right?  Maya's kind of in the dark, although she was delighted to see a dog walking behind us in the hallway when we got home.  More pictures and video are sure to come tomorrow :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The puppy plan

I've spent the past 3-4 weeks immersed in dog madness.   The idea of a service dog (too long of a wait) morphed into the idea of a service dog drop-out (wrong breeds, too long of a wait), which morphed into the idea of adopting an older dog which morphed into the idea of getting a puppy.   I've done an enormous amount of research and paperwork (with a stack of books and a million bookmarked websites to prove it), and we've settled on a plan.  Well, probably . . . you know, nothing is set in stone until it happens, but here's the idea.

We're going to get a Standard Poodle puppy.  We have on in mind, he is 13 weeks old, is at a breeder in CT and we are going to see him (and possibly bring him home) on Friday night.  (!!!!!)

I realize this might seem rather sudden, and you might have some questions.  Sometimes people blurt out questions without thinking, so allow me to address your question, while providing you with some helpful rephrasings:

1. A puppy!?  Are you freaking crazy?!  What I think you might mean is "Wow, puppies are a lot of work.  Why did you choose a puppy over an older dog?"
Puppies are a lot of work.  I'm fully aware, and in getting a puppy I'm basically saying that I hate having free time and I would like to spend every moment of the next 4 (10?) months either working with Maya, working with the puppy, or banging my head against a wall.  That being said, a puppy and a toddler are a good (supervised) combination.  The puppy learns that it ranks below the child quickly, and they grow and bond together.  With Maya's clumsiness, I think I would always worry that even the best behaved adult dog might snap if she fell unpredictably towards the dog.  I also like the moldability of a puppy, the fact that (even though it's more work) we can control his socialization, etc.

2.  Oh . . . you're going to get a puppy from a breeder (sigh).  What I think you might mean is "I know that you really care about animals, and the shelters are so full.  Why did you choose to call breeders?"

If our situation were different I would be at a shelter.  But we've got high hopes for this dog.  We need him to be a purebred hypoallergenic dog.  We hope to avoid major health issues or hip problems as the dog ages, and breeders choose their pairings carefully to avoid these potential problems.  Good breeders breed for temperaments, and can evaluate the personalities of their puppies young . . . we need a calm, slightly submissive puppy who is smart and ready to learn.  Good breeders guarantee their pups.  Good breeders take the time to socialize the puppies with other people and animals, stimulating them mentally and physically, laying a foundation for housebreaking, crate training, and leash training.

3. A poodle?!?!  What I think you might mean is "A poodle?!?"

I know, they seem (at first glance) to be kind of froofy fancy-pants dogs.  Truth is, the breed is a perfect fit.  Big enough that Maya can lean on it.  Active enough to enjoy the walks we like to go on, but calm enough indoors to be happy in an apartment.  Smart, smart, smart (the 2nd smartest dog breed), incrediably trainable.  Hypoallergenic.  Good with kids.  They are often used as service/therapy dogs.

I think that sums it up :)  I would post his picture, but I don't want to jinx anything.  Tomorrow Maya has the allergist, and thenI finish cleaning the apartment and finsihing as many projects as possible.  Tomorrow night we do a big prep trip at Petco.  Friday we have therapy as usual, and then we head to CT as soon as Dave gets home.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dog approved :)

Speaking with breeders, speaking with trainers, looking at puppy classes, etc.


The board meeting was last night

You know, the meeting where they should have discussed Maya's potential dog. I'm trying to wait (impatiently) until a reasonable hour to call the head of the board and find out what (if anything) they decided.

Somehow I got all twisted up yesterday and did something stupid . . . I had told myself "Wait until the board meeting before you start researching dogs or emailing breeders" and I waited, patiently, until yesterday. Then I guess I figured "Ok, it's the day of the meeting---woo hoo!---you made it!---go crazy!" and started emailing breeders.

Now I have an inbox full of responses: who has puppies now, who will have puppies in a few weeks, etc. With pictures. Of puppies. How could I not get all excited?

But I have a rock in the pit of my stomach of anxiety . . . nervous nervous nervous nervous. We head into the city in a few hours for therapy, so at least that will keep me busy.

Cross your everythings that we're approved and ready to dive in.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Boy did we have fun

visiting the Sedey family tonight :)

Maya thought that Gavin (who is 5) was pretty much the coolest kid ever, and he did a great job keeping her entertained :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Free coffee at Starbucks today!

Bring a reusable cup to Starbucks, get a free coffee*

*offer good only while supplies last.

What does that even mean?  Aren't the "supplies" coffee?  How would Starbucks run out of coffee?

Anyway, it really is free coffee day.  Google it for details, or if you don't believe me :)

Packet is finished!

We have recommendation letters from her physical therapist, special instructor, and pediatrician.  I have mini-summaries of a bunch of articles from several different journals, highlighting the benefits of dogs working with special needs children.  A wrote up a mini-biography about Maya, and printed a list of therapeutic goals that dogs can help with.

Do you have a special needs child who would benefit from a dog?  Do you need to petition someone for permission?  Need help drafting reference letters?  Are you just someone we know who is nosy and wants to see our packet?  ;)

Email me and I'll be happy to send stuff along:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The past two weeks have been really draining. We've been busy at home, Maya's been really cranky (teething? terrible twos arrive early?), I've been doing more remote work for KIPP, I have a million (ok, 4 or 5) doctor appointments that I need to schedule for Maya, and some friends/family have been having emotionally turbulent times, which tugs at me subconsciously. We also have a few larger projects looming, each requiring a lot of work. So, without further ado, here's one:

We've been working on kind of a big secret project over here, but I've been hesitant to blog about it because I wasn't sure where it was going to lead (although some family folks and one or two message boards have listened to me thinking through various parts of the process). But now I feel like we're up to our elbows in it, so it's time to put it out there.

We're trying to get Maya a dog.

(not this one)

A DOGGIE! Can you imagine her unbridled enthusiasm? (If you're having trouble visualizing, just click on the "dogs" tag to your right---->

The idea started because Maya's feeding/speech therapist has her dog (a very small, calm toy poodle/poodle mix) at her sessions. And when Maya gets cranky during therapy, I can point out the dog and she'll smile and sit up and refocus (ish). So Dave & I joked that we should get Maya a threapy dog. And then we thought about it more and more, and it seemed less like a joke and more like a potentially amazing idea.

Long story short---we applied to service dog organizations, and although we qualify, the wait is very long. Since the dog could actually help Maya to progress with her therapies we really don't want to wait a year (or longer) to get one. Our building is not typically dog friendly, but we are asking the board to waive the regulation for us, since the dog is recommended by her therapists and doctor . . . the board meeting is on Monday night and I've been busy amassing recommendation letters and working on a packet to give them. So, ideally, we could have "permission" to get a dog as early as Monday night. Then we would begin researching breeds, possibly trainers, etc. Very exciting :)

After I finish the package for the board I'll copy and paste some stuff up here so that you all can see the sort of stuff that we're hoping the dog will help with.

Oh, and that pregnant rat had 11 babies this morning.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Here are rat, there 8 rats, soon more rats

Rat recap:

From the first litter of babies (back in January), we still have Mom, Girl 1, Girl 2, Boy 1, Boy 2. (5 adults total).

Last weekend, Girl 1 had one baby. It's pretty weird to only have one baby, but fine by us. The brings us to 5 adults, 1 baby.

Yesterday, Girl 2 had eight babies. Here they are:

See that weird white splotch on the baby near the top? That's a stomach full of milk. Crazy, right?! They're basically translucent for the first week of so of life.

So that brings us to 5 adults, 9 babies. Check out the developmental differences between a 1 day old rat and a 9 day old rat:

Today I was looking at the Mom rat, and she's definitely pregnant too. Amazingly, I could actually see the babies moving around in her body while she was sleeping. Take a look:

You can see a little flicker at 0:06; a kick at 0:26. 1:13 is where the action really starts---there are definitely a wiggly bunch in there. If you make it until 2:16, don't get scared when the other rat pops up in front!
Projects: I've got a writing project on the back burner right now, and also a big project for Maya, those will hopefully come soon.
Oh, and thanks for the comments, keep them coming (even anti-rodent comments are welcome, I'm equal opportunity.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Let's do "Welcome to Holland"

When you become a parent of a special needs child, everyone talks about "Welcome to Holland". I assumed that everyone knew what it was (I read it many years before Maya), but when I mentioned it to Dave a few weeks ago he had never seen it. Here you go:


I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

My two cents:

1. Good, right? My favorite part is the bit about other people going and coming from Italy. I love "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." Yesterday a Facebook friend posted "*Name of child* just walked across the living room." Now, it's not that I want to go knock other people's kids down or anything, but . . . some days it's no sweat to toss out a "hooray!" . . . some days it would get a sigh and walking away from the computer. Some days a few tears. Luckily, those days are the least common. (And that doesn't mean that you should keep your kids' amazing things from me---please, let me know their newest tricks, I really do care and want to be a supportive friend/family member. It's just that sometimes they sting a little.)

2. Do you think that the nation of Holland collectively read this and said "Did this lady just call us slow?" Clearly, they're the "special" kid in this analogy. She calls them slower paced, and the best compliment she can offer is that they have windmills? Do you think that they're bothered that "Welcome to Holland" now is a euphemism for "Now that you're in the special needs world . . ."? I picture some happy couple, tulips on their table, wearing their wooden shoes, reading this in a newspaper when it first came out . . . nodding, nodding . . . and they they would look up and go "wait---what, now?"

Anyway, we have a lot going on over here. A few ideas in the works, but none ready for public discussion yet.

As a side note, Dave thinks more people should comment on the blog. He says that he likes to log in and view the comments, because he wonders who is out there. There must be a good handful of you readers, because the ticker keeps going up, up, up (and I think my mom only view the page like 27 times a day). So whenever you have the urge to comment, just got right ahead :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter :)

with cousin Emerson, aka Maya's biggest fan

The Shuff crew brought a parachute to play with!

Emerson & Collin

Whoa-this parachute is amazing.

Do not even think about bouncing me out of here. I've got my eye on you.

Cousin love :)

I love this picture, even though Maya's trying to cast a spell on my mom as she takes it :)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Foot in mouth

So my rhyming-titled post was all like, Maya had a little bug, but she's over it, went to the zoo, diaper explosion, ha ha, whatever. Then we all got sick. Really sick. We spent Friday laying in bed (all three of us, in a row) with a little alarm set to wake up every 15 mins and give Maya littles syringe-fuls of Pedialyte. Then we moved to the living room and layed on the floor:

(that black strip down the right side are my pants)

The next day we went to the park, where Maya met a dog named Polly who magically cured all of her leftover yucky feelings:

And then I bounced her around to shake out any last viruses:

We got better in time for Easter, but still have occasional stomach issues. I'm not feeling up to doing an Easter post tonight, but the pictures are uploaded, so it will be soon! Also, Maya got some big girl sneakers today, so look out for a picture of those soon, too.

(Are you on the edge of your seat yet?)

(I thought so.)

Will update soon, here's an Easter peek:

Maya & Gus enjoy the NJ sunshine on Easter :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Went right through, trip to the zoo, took a giant poo (sorry for that) & threw up a few times too

Feeling better this morning (stomach virus yesterday brought us our first vomit experience). Our OT brought a tunnel, and Maya went right through!

Then we headed in to the Central Park Zoo . . . where Maya encountered a scarier looking tunnel.

No going through that one. But we had fun :)

"Daddy, why do those kids run so much when they could just hang in the sun like us? They're missing out on the good life."

Despite all of the super cute animals . . .

Only one pair made Maya giggle today . . .

Then we met Grandma Lainey for lunch, which ended with a dramatic diaper blowout (that we luckily noticed as we left the restaurant). The car was a short walk away, and it was the Worst.
Diaper. Ever. I'll spare you the details, but here was the end result. Maya, naked (but keeping her legs together, very ladylike) in the back of the car.

I want to help clean up too!
(how fortuitous that we were too lazy to unload the box of baby wipes that's been bouncing around the trunk)

I'll just wipe my hands like this:
(notice the huge pile of debris on the ground)
And I'll throw this on the pile!

It was cute . . . she watched us wiping and dropping stuff on the pile, and just wanted to chip in. She threw 2 wipes before we convinced her to stop playing around and put new clothes on.
After we returned home the afternoon went downhill, filled with vomit and other grossness. The best puking part was when she threw up in her bedroom, while Dave was holding her next to the dresser, and she threw up into her open sock drawer. Filled with clean sock, mittens, tights, etc.
What a mess.
We're crossing our fingers for a healthier little girl in the morning.