Monday, September 24, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Sam loves to trace things right now. I have him tracing the alphabet, and he's proven that he can color little things in. His OT has me giving him the broken crayons, because the really short crayons force him to hold them more correctly instead of in his fist. As he does the different tasks I give him, we talk about each page, what is happening, and describing everything. Lately he seems to be on a huge learning curve that is swinging upward very quickly.
The magazine he's working in is one I got instead of Family Fun. About a year ago I subscribed to Family Fun magazine. It wasn't very appropriate for the preschool crowd; only one or two activities per issue. So I didn't renew it and instead chose something that was supposed to be preschool appropriate. Well, I'm not too happy with it either, but I'll use it. Sam seems to like it. It's called Preschool Playroom, and it's just a giant ad for children's TV shows. There are a few really great learning activities in it, and Sam was able to work his way through the entire magazine in about an hour. This is something that is published about 8 times in a year, and costs $40/year. I don't think I'll get it again either. For that much money, it should be twice a month, especially since it's cover-to-cover advertising. There is NOTHING generic in it. Learn letters with Barney, color with Curious George, Read with Doodlebops (don't ask, it's worse than Mr. Rogers and less educational), Oh, I forgot the Arthur story (for learning reading comprehension) and I have no idea who Zula Patrol is. Considering that we don't get satelite TV so that we don't have to shovel all this pap at our children, I feel rather ripped off that it's been snuck into my house, and I actually paid for it. I'm seriously considering cancelling it. Part of me wants to wait to see what the next issue brings. I'm sure it will be something like Bob the Builder, but it does engage Sam. Of course, there are other alternatives, like printing out activities off of web sites.
Awyn has an after-bath/shower ritual. She wants us to swaddle her with the towel, rock her like a baby, and sing the Baby Signing Time theme song, only we have to alter the words to "Baby, baby, baby Awyn K." If I leave part of the song out or stop singing, she'll fill in whatever I missed. This time Sam decided that he should get to be the baby too.
Awyn has officially graduated to the big girl bed. We were fairly certain she could have climbed out of her crib at any point for the last 9 months, so it came as no surprise that she figured it out. Sam taught her how to climb into the crib; such a short leap of logic to climb back out. She mastered it in the course of about an hour, and the next day Eric took the side off the crib and put on the toddler rails. He's converted this crib a few times and hopes never to need to do so again. We've kept all the pieces - sometime hopefully in the near future when we can get her a real bed I'll find this crib a new home. There are always babies showing up somewhere unexpectedly, and this is a nice crib. Theoretically it converts to a full-sized headboard, albeit an ugly one. Not sure why anyone would bother. Still, it's held up well, not bad for a Wal-mart cheapie. Of course, seeing this crib in toddler-bed form makes me long for the beautiful crib that Alicia gave me. Silly me decided that I couldn't fix it and I gave it to someone else who could.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
November 1994 - September 7, 2007
Tasha was a wonderful dog. We will miss her very much. In her memory, I'm going to write Tasha's story.
Eric and I married very young. I was 19 and he was 21. We knew that we didn't want to have children for a long time. Both of us grew up having pets. I can't remember a time when I didn't have a dog, nor could he. As we approached our first anniversary and our first Christmas so far away from home, separated from our immediate family by more than 2000 miles, I started looking through the newspaper at all of those 'free puppy to good home' ads. I pestered Eric and pestered Eric. Give me a puppy, I can take out any mommy instinct out on a dog. Please, see they are free, they need good homes. Please please please. I wore him down. I don't know how much nudging or begging I actually needed to do. One evening, a couple of days before Christmas, I talked him into driving out to a farm outside of Victoria, Kansas.
There were five or seven puppies, only two of them were girls. The boys were all black with cute white tips on their tails, paws, and noses, and the girls were both white with tan splotches all over them. They ran for the tractor, and the girls hid very well. One of the farmer's sons went under the tractor and got one of the females and handed her to me. I wanted a girl, even though I sort of liked the black and white dogs looks. The puppy licked at me, wiggled a bunch, and then burrowed into my hair on my shoulder. I was in love. We had to bring her home with us. It was Christmas Eve Eve, so she was our present we got to unwrap early. We named her Natasha, with the idea of eventually getting a cat and naming him Boris. We called her Tasha for short, bringing in a bit of Star Trek.
Raising a puppy brought on a whole new dimension to our marriage. We fought over how to train a puppy, punishment vs. rewards, and we learned about more than puppies. Tasha started out as an indoor dog, though she was kicked out of the house for a few months after she chewed a hole in our rental house carpet. A friend came over and helped Eric build a fence in the yard for Tasha, and we bought her a dog house.
Moving to Arkansas was hard for her, losing a yard to play in, having to become an apartment dog, but she made the adjustment fairly well, climbing the stairs several times a day despite her fear of heights, grates, open spaces on the road, and yes, stairs. We taught Tasha the best trick a dog could know, to kill Barney. Tasha could pick Barney out of a line-up of stuffed animals. She never harmed any toy we didn't give her, and even unwrapped a Barney we'd set under the Christmas tree. I guess she knew that box was hers.
Tasha was a very quiet dog who seldom barked. She never snarled or snapped at people, and was gentle with kids. Well, a little too enthusiastic during her puppy hood, but she calmed down after a few years. She never did learn to walk properly on a leash, doing much better with a harness and not pulling quite so hard. Tasha befriended all of our friends, never knowing a stranger. She loved men in uniform, especially a Park Ranger uniform. Simply wearing that uniform gained you admission to the house, family, and lots of white fur deposited on your green pants.
While we lived in Arkansas, I brought home a Pomeranian puppy, Pandora. Tasha did not take to this little furball and did try to eat her a couple of times. Eventually they became friends, and were inseparable. Both wanted to be alpha dogs, which caused some problems, but nothing Tasha couldn't handle. She out massed Pandora by 45 lbs, and just took it when Pandora would chew on her legs, ears, mouth, tail, etc. Then they'd play tag around the couch, and eventually go take naps together. After Pandora died, Tasha was less playful, and more inclined to nap most of her day away. Perhaps this was her missing Pandora, or maybe Pandora simply kept Tasha more active than she otherwise might have been. I will say this, Tasha was a great puppy trainer. She helped housebreak Pandora, and she's definitely responsible for teaching a Pomeranian not to bark. I've never met a non-yappy Pom before, and I give full credit to Tasha for that one.
Sam was born a few months after we lost Pandora. Tasha wasn't too sure about this addition to the family. I followed some advice on how to adjust a dog's routine to having a baby, and we started mostly ignoring Tasha unless it was positive interaction with the baby. Oh, she still went for walks, and was well loved, but we had to pay a little less attention to the dog and far more attention to the baby.
Sam's first words, interchangeably, were Daddy and Doggy. Then he learned to say Tasha. He learned to pull himself up using the dog. Tasha developed a knack for knocking him over, by simply shifting her weight sideways. Sam learned to compensate for this, and learned to stand and walk holding onto Tasha. His first steps were not to Mama or Daddy, but to Tasha.
Having another baby put Tasha even further to the background as a well-loved dog who needed naps. We were careful to give her a spot she could call her own, where the kids needed to leave her alone. As she got older, it did hurt when the kids were too rough. Still, she never growled, snapped, or used any aggressive behavior with Sam and Awyn, even when I couldn't save her in time from being hurt. Like Sam, Awyn also learned to walk with Tasha's unwilling help. Tasha almost seemed more patient, but more likely she was just that much slower and had a harder time avoiding Awyn.
In the last year Tasha's arthritis got worse. She started showing much stiffness and was occasionally limp with one leg or another. Our vet was fantastic about helping us keep Tasha from being in too much pain. Tasha slept more and more. Thursday morning Tasha couldn't stand up without help. By lunch time I had to carry her down the steps. By evening she could no longer walk, even with assistance. She stopped eating and drinking. Eric and I had a very long talk that evening, and we decided I would take her to the vet up in Alpine. We both knew it was probably 'The Long Drive'. I left Sam and Awyn at Lily's house Friday morning. I lifted Tasha out of the van and carried her to the door of the Vet Clinic. She stood there while I opened the door, and walked in. She walked through the door, and when the lady at the desk asked if I needed a leash, I shook my head. Tasha wasn't about to run a race. She was also determined that I wouldn't carry her any farther. Our vet examined Tasha, and gave me several options, but said that all of them had low probabilities of helping her at all. She said she couldn't fix Tasha. Tasha layed down on the floor, and the vet went and got a soft blanket, and lifted her onto it so she wouldn't have to lay on the hard linoleum. I held her and stroked her as she slowly went to sleep, and stopped breathing.
Sam and Awyn have asked where Tasha is. We are telling them that she's gone. I suppose we will have to talk to Sam about death, and this is a good way to teach him. It is hard, though, to turn this into a teachable moment. We all miss her. It is very hard to say goodbye to a dog like Tasha. She is unforgettable.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
We attempted to camp Monday night. It was a last-minute whim. We loaded up and headed out there in time for supper. Right about the time supper was ready it started to rain. So Eric and the kids sat in the tent to wait for supper. We moved into the jeep to eat. (Food in tent is bad for avoiding wildlife encounters) Then we cleaned up a little, took a short walk during a lull in the rain. When we got back to camp, it started raining again, so we took to the tent. Awyn wouldn't settle down. We tried, we really tried. From 8:30 to 11:00 pm we tried. It kept raining. So when the rain let up for a few minutes, we packed up and headed back to the house. It turned out to be a good thing, as Sam had dance and OT yesterday, and we didn't know about the OT until 2 hours before it was supposed to start.
Monday, September 03, 2007
When I went into the room to tuck Samuel in, Awyn was snuggled into her blankie and kitty. I'm amazed she didn't have Rowdy involved. This morning she played doctor for Kiki the Kitty and Rowdy the dog. Sam kept giving the animals shots, and Awyn kept listening to them with a stethoscope and using the blood pressure cuff. Then she'd slap a bandaid on them and 'fix' them. Kiki got her bandaid on a paw, and Rowdy's kept going on the tail. Sam was pretty good with the otoscope as well. Too bad I didn't take any pictures!
Yes, we've had a few fun sleep pictures. This was yesterday when the kids decided that they should sleep in our bed. Whenever one of us gets up first, the kids hop right on in to take over. Of course, they're so squirrely that no actual sleeping can take place.