Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Tucker

Today is Tucker's birthday. Tucker is not one of my sons. He is, however, my first "baby." Tucker is our oldest pug dog. He turns 12 years old today.

Actually, today is technically only the day we celebrate Tucker's birthday. Much like Christ's birthday, we don't know the actual day Tucker was born. When he joined our family, he was determined to be 6 weeks old. That placed his birth sometime in late January. HoneyBear's birthday is August 27, so we used the day--27--to make a celebration day for Tucker's birthday, so his birthday became January 27.

When Tucker joined our family, he was tiny! HoneyBear and his mom had a Ford Thunderbird with a center console that wasn't very big, but was almost empty. HoneyBear often drove with Tucker inside the console--a perfect little fit for the little puppy.

He is a pug mix, and we rescued him from the animal shelter because his mom was not supposed to have anything but purebred pugs, so a mixed litter of puppies was not allowed. There were several to choose from, and I still don't know how we picked him, but it was just as likely that he picked us. What he's mixed with is also unknown; he looks just like a "puggle," but we've always been told he has some terrier, and he's not as large as a beagle or puggle would be.

We've also believed he's part terrier because of the energy he had as a puppy. Now that we have another puppy, we're remembering some of Tucker's early days. It may be that we're not remembering exactly the way things were, or we may just be working better with the new puppy, but Roly-Poly is much less excitable than we remember Tucker being.

When he was a puppy, Tucker would play and play until he just collapsed into sleep. He "tuckered out"--which is how he got his name.

When he was a puppy, Tucker chewed everything in sight. When he was almost 8 months old, HoneyBear and I got married (we adopted Tucker just after we got engaged.)  Nana and Papa stayed in my apartment with Tucker after the wedding and took him home with them while we were on our honeymoon. While they were at my apartment, Tucker apparently chewed up several of Nana's shoes. They remember buying a bag of pigs ears to keep Tucker entertained on the way to their house--and he went through several.

When he was a puppy, Tucker ate anything. We found that he had eaten foil, rubber bands, and the little ball on the top of HoneyBear's hats. It's hard to think of what might still be inside that dog's belly!

When he was a puppy, Tucker loved Pup-peroni treats. We got some as part of his adoption kit. He ate the first one almost without chewing, and it was longer than he was! While we ran into Wal-Mart on the way home after adopting him to pick up a collar, food and water dishes, and food, he found the bag of Pup-peroni. We're not sure how he didn't get sick, but he finished off the entire bag--as a tiny puppy.

We didn't really celebrate Tucker's birthday this year. We had kid's choir and Bible study, plus Shawn's therapy after school, so Wednesdays are very long days for us. But we got him a bag of Pup-peroni for his very own, and he got one tonight. He'll cuddle with me until bedtime, then cuddle up against me under the covers when we go to bed, so that I'm sandwiched warm and toasty between my two pugs, Tucker and Roly.

He's my first baby, and a cherished part of our family. Happy birthday, Tucker-puppy!

If you have pets, do you celebrate their birthdays? Do you know the date, or is it a guess?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Being Reminded

As a wife and mother, I spend a lot of time reminding people of things.

"Don't forget your backpack."

"Remember to feed the dogs."

"Don't forget we have karate tonight."

"Can you please put your keys where you can remember where they are?"

Some might call these reminders closer to nagging, but in our case it's the way we can actually get things done. The problem is, I am not as good at reminding myself of things. I know this is normal. What may not be normal, though, is how easily my disease takes over and causes me to forget things that I should have no problem remembering.

More importantly, when things are going well for me it's easy me to forget how quickly my health can go bad. The past few weeks I've had a strong reminder of how important it is for me to be careful with my disease.

It started with just a little too much activity. I did too much bending to plug in equipment. I did a little too much fast walking, rushing to get things fixed for a meeting already in progress. I had a little too much worry, spending a lot of time concerned about things I couldn't really control.

Then I had my medicine.

My medicine is a miracle drug for me. I believe strongly that I would not be as mobile and active as I am, even with my limitations, were I not able to take this medicine. It is a pretty strong drug, though, and must be carefully monitored. With the monitoring, the IV infusion takes about 3 hours. I usually miss about an hour and a half of work each month for the medicine. Although I make it up by working late throughout the month, and just getting my projects done in general, I am still out of the building when teachers and students are not. I typically try to have the infusions on Friday afternoons, since that's a time during the week that tends to have the fewest things missed if I am out of the building.

This month, though, I opted to have my infusion on a Monday. We were out of school for a holiday, and I thought it would be good to avoid missing any work and take advantage of the day away from school.

No one reminded me of how much this drug affects me.

Since I typically have the infusion on Friday afternoons, I rest over the weekend. Resting on Saturday or Sunday afternoons is a part of our adaptation to having multiple sclerosis; in our family this is a normal, necessary part of life. So even though I know that after having my meds I'm more tired than usual, I usually think of the day of the infusion as a day I need to rest--about 4 hours after it's over, actually.

While this is true, and my body shuts down to deal with the medicine about 4 hours after the infusion, I've been reminded that two days after I have my medicine I am forced to rest. This is not just a case of being tired. Multiple sclerosis laughs at "tired." It laughs at "exhausted," even. The term used most frequently is "fatigued"--as in MS fatigue, which is one of the potentially debilitating affects of the disease.

After my medicine, my body took MS fatigue to a new level. The boys got to stay home, because Mommy couldn't get out of bed (Tyler was also dealing with the after-effects of a migraine and Shawn was feeling poorly, so staying home was actually a good thing for them, but when I'm being honest they stayed home because I had to). Mommy couldn't move. Mommy absolutely, no-questions-asked, do-not-pass-go-do-not-collect-$200 had to rest. With the drugs doing their thing, my body told me it was out of order while the repairs were taking place. Because I had tried to force it without that rest, they had more work to do, and I had a harder time recovering.

As the day drew to a close, I returned to normal. The fatigue lessened, and I was able to get out of bed. We didn't make it to choir, but were able to get back into routine the next day. By the weekend, I was feeling great again.

I've rescheduled my next medicine, though. We may be off on a Monday the week of my February medicine, but I'm not taking any chances; I'll have my medicine on a Friday afternoon.

Hopefully, I've gotten all the reminder I need to rest 4 hours after and again 2 days after my miracle drug. If not, I'm open to being nagged/reminded in the future.

Have you ever had a time where you were strongly reminded of something the hard way?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snow Dogs

While the boys made snow angels and had snowball fights on their January 4 snow day, they did not get to build a snowman. We got carrots when we picked up new hats and gloves, so we were ready, but it was just too cold.

Of course, we did not actually plan to build a snowman. We decided we would build a snow DOG! It originally was going to be laying on its belly with little sticks for legs sprawled out. As we talked about it, Shawn decided he wanted it to have something special. He was determined it should have a "weiney." Actually, it should have 8 weineys. Plus, they had to be black.

As a little bit of background, a stray dog had been spending time at Nana and Papa's house before Christmas. This dog was very pregnant, and probably gave birth during the holiday. In preparation for the birth, the teats on the dog were quite large--and they were black.

Apparently, it's time for more of a "talk" between Daddy and Shawn!

Though it was too cold to build our snow dog, with or without correct anatomy, our real dogs did spend some time in the snow.

Tucker did not enjoy it very much, but did sniff a bit before he came back to the front door and waited to be allowed back inside.

Roly was more adventurous, though only slightly.

Daddy asked us where our snow dog was when he got home that night, since we'd told him we would build one. We showed him the real snow dogs, and enjoyed time inside for the evening, so we could all return to school and work the next day.

(For the record, I would not have allowed any private anatomy to be added to our snow creature, disappointed children or not!)

Have you ever built a snow creature other than a snow man?

Snow Days 1

This winter we've already gotten more snow than we typically do. Though we missed most of it while we were at Nana and Papa's house, we technically had a white Christmas, something I'm not accustomed to. Of course, as a child we celebrated Christmas in south Arkansas, in Magnolia and Camden. Most Christmases could be spent in t-shirts.

Since we missed the Christmas snow, the boys were very happy when it snowed again New Year's weekend, especially when it meant that the Monday we would have gone back to school turned into a snow day! The snow was not easy to work with, and it was incredibly cold, but that didn't stop the boys from having some fun--for brief moments at a time.

They started with my personal favorite snow activity, snow angels. The snow was only deep enough for the snow-angel-making to sweep the snow from the ground in those spot, but the boys enjoyed it.

Since boys will be boys, the next order of business became a snowball fight!

Shawn had to check on the snow sticking to his glove,

While Tyler hammed it up for the camera.

Since it was incredibly cold, with a steady wind, that was about all the boys could take.

After Shawn took one last look around at...something....we all headed inside to warm up and play video games.

Wonderful snow days...

What's your favorite snow play activity?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

When Senses Don't Make Sense

We've finally started sensory therapy with Shawn this week. So far he seems to be doing well.

We're already learning some things to try with him. His sensory issues revolve around his brain not seeming to process the sensory stimulation he's already getting, so he craves more. He wants to jump and bounce and roll around. He usually wants something in his mouth, whether it's his thumb, his fingers, the caps to markers in his classroom, or anything else. In some ways he's like the puppy, and in fact he and not the dog is responsible for chewing on the Wii controller. The therapy process is at least confirming that these are legitimate issues, though, and not just disobedience.

One thing we've learned this week involves deep pressure when he's touched. For example, when we or his teachers need his attention he rarely responds if he's just touched gently, say on his shoulder or arm. If we press a bit harder so it's more at the muscle rather than just the skin, though, he tends to have a better response. We'll continue to try this and see if it helps at home and school.

We're also going to get him to try some coping techniques on his own. When he is upset or gets over excited we'll be asking him to try a trick the therapist taught him. He's to put his arms on his lap (if he's sitting) and put his palms together. With palms pressed together, he's to squeeze his hands together as hard as he can. It's supposed to give him the sensation of pressure on his palms and thighs plus make his arms and shoulders work to squeeze his hands.

I'm pleased with our first week of therapy, and hope things continue to go well. Now we just need a fun name for our little hand squeeze we'll be asking him to do.

Any thoughts on a fun name a 6-year-old might like for the little squeeze your hands together trick we'll be working on?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Oh What a Night

We don't really have any New Year's Eve traditions in our family. Each year has very different circumstances surrounding the day, so it's not really possible to create traditions for the family. There are many years that HoneyBear and I celebrate my birthday on New Year's Eve, in fact. We have had some pretty special New Year's Eve events in years past, though.

I remember our first New Year's Eve after we were married. I volunteered for a shift at First Night, Fayetteville's New Year's Eve celebration, which was held on the downtown square at the time. HoneyBear joined me while I directed people to bathrooms, etc. Once my shift ended, we did a little walking around, but it was pretty cold (not surprising for Northwest Arkansas in December/January) and it was getting a bit crowded, so we wouldn't have a good view of the fireworks. I think I had worked that day as well, so I was getting tired--though I was not yet diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We went back to our townhouse just before midnight and just enjoyed time together as a new family for the new year.

Another year, when Tyler was just a year old, we spent New Year's Eve at my parents' house in Little Rock. My mom's twin sister and her husband came over, along with my cousin and her boyfriend (now husband). We played games and just had a fun time together. I don't remember the exact questions, but some of the game's questions were about relationships and physical aspects, which were especially funny with the dating couple. Tyler had a lot of fun with the decorations, hats, and balloons that year!

In 2006 HoneyBear and I actually went to a New Year's Eve event for the first time. We had a chance to get away just the two of us, and decided to stay in Hot Springs. The hotel where we were staying had a party downstairs, so we had dinner and listened to music there. The good thing about it being in the hotel was that we could slip up to our room during the evening--the Chicago Bears were playing that night, and we were trying to keep up with the game!

Last year we had a great gathering with HoneyBear's family at his grandmother's house for New Year's Eve. HoneyBear's uncle's family, with almost all 7 of his children, were in town before the uncle was deployed to Baghdad for another tour (his promotion moved him to a new unit, whose deployment required him to go over again). Another uncle's family, who live only a short distance away, also came over bringing some friends. We ate, watched Wall-E, ate some more, and played games. HoneyBear and I were pretty tired, so we left just after midnight to get some sleep, but the boys spent the night to have more time with their cousins. They tried to "stay up all night," but I don't think they were successful. (I don't have permission to post pictures of the cousins at this time, so I'm not going to post pictures, though we do have some of the younger cousins all together.)

This year was another new event, but was special for us as we spent time with new friends. Since HoneyBear worked during the day both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, the evening had to be relaxed, and we couldn't plan on a late night. While he worked, I took the boys bowling with Tyler's new best friend. He moved with his family from Cincinnati at the beginning of the school year, and it's been nice seeing them develop their friendship. None of the boys were especially good at bowling, but they did have fun.

A few years ago we went bowling over Christmas break with one of Tyler's friends, and after bowling we played pool at the gaming area in the bowling alley. Since that time the boys always want to play pool when we bowl, though they really don't play well. I'm not very good at pool, either, so showing them how to hold the pool cue didn't work out so well!

After trying for a while, we decided to play without the cues, based upon a little billiard ball game at our church. We called it bowling pool because they used the cue ball with their hands to knock into the balls. It still took a while, but was a lot less frustrating for the boys.

After bowling, we returned to the friend's house. His mom had spent the day cooking a delicious meal for us all. HoneyBear was even able to join us after work, so he and I enjoyed an adult dinner with Tyler's friend's parents and college-aged sister, while Tyler and Shawn had a wonderful time playing Pokemon, Lego, and various video games with their friend. Tyler was not able to choose a favorite part of the day, as usual. He loved the time with his friend and just having fun.

That night we let the boys "stay up all night" again. I'm sure they're not the only ones who want to do this all the time, so I try to find times to let them when there's a chance. Tyler's had the opportunity for his last two birthdays, and of course they did so last year for New Year's Eve with their cousins. They never have made it all night, though. After we all emerged this morning we discovered that Shawn had fallen asleep in the chair in the living room with a blanket covering him from head to toe early in the evening, even before midnight we think. Tyler made it to late morning before he went on back to bed. He shared with me later that he was trying to play his Nintendo DS after he went to bed, but it kept getting heavy and he couldn't hold it up away from his face, so he finally just went to sleep!

HoneyBear had to get up for work about 5:30, and took the sleeping Shawn back to bed then, where he slept until about 10:00. Tyler's adventure wore him out enough that he slept in until after 1:00 in the afternoon! Maybe we should do this more often when we're on break, and I could sleep in later guilt-free!

The evening did inspire the boys to want to be more involved in Pokemon cards, so New Year's Day was spent sleeping in, going to a late lunch with the boys, then getting binders and trading card inserts for the boys new interest.

I expect 2010 to be filled with friends and Pokemon-at least for the boys!