TWO HUNDRED FIFTY…the puppy post

Has it really been September since I wrote my last blog post? Damn. I’m such a slacker. In my defense, we’ve had a lot going on. Many changes have occurred in the last 3 months.

The biggest change by far is the addition of two new furry members to our family.

Bones and Penny.

Our little 11 and 12 week old Boston Terriers. I’ve missed the companionship a dog brings to my life. I’m thrilled to report, over the past two weeks, I’ve gotten it back two-fold. I’m so in love.

Now I feel as if our family is complete.

So now, in addition to see how horribly we will screw up our beautiful girls, we will have to add our little furry family members to the mix. What can we do to screw up our furry side? I’m sure I’ll find ways in the next 15/20 years.

I’ve grown up with golden retrievers my whole life. In addition to golden’s my family also had mutts. Dogs are just a normal part of my life. I feel out of sorts when there’s not a canine around to cheer everyone up with their free unconditional love, goofy antics, sloppy kisses, and empathetic nature.

But then again, with three kids…homeschooling and working with one kid who is still having issues with the potty, I was a little stressed out about bringing home a new puppy.

So, in an effort to prepare, I read all the books again, researched the best breed for our family dynamic, drew up a monthly spending account for food, toys, vet visits…you name it, I researched it.

Greg and I had talked about it quite a bit and we decided that since the girls including Cecilia were going to be an integral part of the dogs upbringing, we wanted a breed that wouldn’t dominate them with their size…and we were all interested in a smaller breed. We are a mobile family and I thought it would be nice if we were able to take the dogs with us around town and wherever else we choose to venture.

And with that, our requirements began falling into place; we were looking for something smaller with moderate energy level, smart, gentle, playful, cuddly, great with kids… one who would enjoy long walks and be able to learn tricks, but definitely an indoor lap breed.  Boston Terriers it was. Then It hit me…we needed two puppies. Not one.

img_0964

So with that information, I set out to do a bit of research on having a puppy again. It has been quite a while since we had Bear as a puppy. I wanted to make sure I got the full scope on the hellacious journey we were about to embark. Has the research on puppy training really changed that drastically in the last 15 years that I NEEDED a refresher course? The simple answer is, no…not really.

Almost everything is the same as it was back when we first brought Bear home. BUT, it certainly helped me to feel more confident. There were some things I had forgotten. Really, it just made me feel more prepared.

The one thing that did change since Bear, was the new addition of “puppy pads”. Apparently taking the puppy to potty outside before their 4th round of shots is now frowned upon.

So you just have to be ready for the urine and poop smell to infiltrate your home. It’s now ok for puppies to pee in the home…on a pad…that’s not great at holding liquid…and that our puppies see as some sort of treat they can tear up. So, really, puppy pads are just another great way to arbitrarily spend money AND add more work.

And since we’re on the subject of adding my work to our my schedule, I’m envisioning the added work I will absorb when the puppies finally do get their 4th round of shots and we can start “re-training” them to go potty outside. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

In the meantime we have 4 more weeks to solidify their current “operation: go potty in the house” routine.

Hmmm.

For all the prep work and anxiety bringing home a new puppy caused, it hasn’t been as bad as I thought. Possibly because we got two. They were already sleeping in a crate so it wasn’t a major transition for them the day we brought them home.

I bought one of those metal pens that piece together making room for them to run and play during their first year. I’m trying to curtail destructive behavior as much as I can without causing any major aggression issues. With that destructive puppy behavior, I certainly don’t want them to have full access to our home. Especially those times we won’t be home.

But the particular piece-together pen was outgrown in one week. So on to the next purchase. The new one seems more sturdy and definitely gives them more room to play. Is it too much for me to hope it lasts for forever?

It’s official. I’m in love. And they’re not as calm as they seem in these pictures. I personally think Bones may have been exposed to speed in the womb and is consequently suffering long-term withdrawal effects. He has these short bursts of through-the-roof energy. And then he just passes out.

Penny is the sweet cuddle bug of the two. She just wants to be held, kissed, and given little biscuit treats all day. Twist my arm. She’s definitely my kind of dog.

Having Bones and Penny in time for the holidays makes everything a little sweeter this year. We are all in love with these two pups!! Welcome to our humble abode Bones and Penny!!!

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY-ONE…war of wills

As of today, the 31st of January, I am proud to say I have a 5-year-old who is day-time potty trained. SHEW. That was a long arduous battle. And, if I’m being honest, one I stressed over a little too much.

The Down Syndrome population is famous for their strong will and determination to succeed on their own terms. This will and determination is very prevalent early on. When I was nursing Cecilia in the hospital after her birth, I received many “helpful” hints that a child with DS is akin to a child having an extraordinary will. Somewhere in the fall of 2015, I kept hearing these stories of “How difficult it was to potty train a child with Down Syndrome” due to their “extraordinary will”.

At the time, I was proud of her for having that characteristic: Individuals with Down Syndrome are capable and able, but they want to succeed on their own terms. “Good for her”, I thought.

I had no idea.

m.jpg

Sometime in the fall of 2015 I joined  a  “Mom’s of special needs children” and “Moms of Children with Down Syndrome” online support groups. In each of the groups “Potty Training” had its very own page with thousands of stressful stories from parents around the country. Knowing my own limitations for potty training with my typically developing children and knowing Cecilia’s “will” at 4, I had a flash of what our future might look like if we didn’t do something about bathroom independence sooner rather than later. So suffice it to say, I was spooked.

Also during that time, I was taking a monthly class with my friend Amy about how to “help” and “advocate” for our children in the educational world. I was acutely aware of those parents who were at their wit’s end with their double-digit, not yet potty trained kids. This combined with my online support group’s Potty Training pages did more to exacerbate the stress I was already feeling. In fact, I allowed their stories to ignite a feeling of anxiety toward potty training Cecilia.

So Aug 2015 was the beginning of the long tumultuous road to bathroom independence. I was diligent in my efforts:  I had a plan of action which included songs, videos, books, a full arsenal of candy, mini-toys, potty charts with daily success stickers, and a kitchen timer with the loudest most annoying ring. Together, we embarked on a 6 month training period at 30 minute increments 7 days a week.

k.jpg

6 months. Every 30 minutes.7 days a week.

Needless to say, I began living life in half hour increments. It is very difficult to start and finish any task within that time period, but I was resolved. I kept repeating the mantra: patience, perseverance, consistency.  After 3 months, she became accustomed to releasing her bladder every 30 minutes regardless of whether we made it to the potty or not. But I was in the trenches. I couldn’t peek my head out to gauge the situation because I was buried so deep. We continued this crazy schedule for 3 more months.

Finally in February of 2016, we sold our house and began packing everything up. I decided the whole stressful ordeal of moving was only going to make potty training more stressful. Putting aside my pride, I had to admit to myself I couldn’t pack up, sell our belongings, give my children the attention they deserve, move across 3 state lines,  potty train, and maintain my sanity.

Something had to give.

Looking back with the knowledge and experience I have now, I have to forgive myself. It wasn’t a failure on her or my part. She simply….and if you know me and have read this blog for sometime, you may recognize a theme which keeps rearing its head around here…wasn’t ready.

She wasn’t ready.

o.jpg

No matter how “ready” I am, if she’s not ready, her stubbornness will butt heads with my stubbornness. At that point it becomes a war of wills. Children’s wills usually win. Especially when it comes to their little bodies. It is the one thing in their lives they have full control over…or in this 4 year-old’s case, it is the one thing she is trying to learn how to have full control over. I was not interested in breaking her spirit or our relationship, so I decided to walk away. I had to trust we would pick up our bathroom independence with full force when it was a little more convenient for everyone.

Just last week, I finished reading (for the second time in 2 weeks I might add) the most glorious self-help book I have ever read. The author is all about setting goals and future thinking. He encourages visiting the decisions one has made in the past to see if, “knowing what I know now, would I make the same choices”. If so, why?  If not, why not? The idea is supposed to encourage seeing your mistakes, admitting them or owning them, finding the lesson learned, not repeating them, and then letting it go or forgiving yourself.

So with that in mind, knowing what I know now, would I put all those arbitrary pressures and deadlines for potty training  on myself during that 6 month tug-of-war? The clear answer here is a resounding “HELL NO”.

So I put this story out here for those mothers of young children with Down Syndrome who may potentially be going through the same situations I was going through. Or maybe attempting to prepare to go through the potty training stage. Have patience. Don’t lose hope. Trust that your child wants to be potty trained, she might just need a little extra emotional support, your understanding, love, and encouragement.

n.jpg

On this beautiful Tuesday, I am proud and relieved to say she stays dry during the day and asks for help when going to the restroom. She still has the occasional accident, but it happens once every week, rather than once a day.

As I add another check to her major Developmental Milestone list, I have to say, I am visiting Pride Avenue today folks.

ONE HUNDRED NINETY…contemplating mommyhood

Gallery

This gallery contains 5 photos.

I have been lucky enough to have many mentally satisfying and physically challenging jobs. I have also had some really bad jobs. Even those jobs, I appreciate. They taught me something I still use today. But my most favorite job by far, is being a mother. I daresay it is the most mentally and emotionally challinging and physically straining jobs I have ever had. Continue reading

ONE HUNDRED FORTY FIVE…toddler inservice

Gallery

This gallery contains 6 photos.

I went to dinner the other night with some girlfriends. We were having a nice chat, a glass of wine, and we were able to carry on a conversation without being interrupted. It was glorious. Then I noticed a family … Continue reading