Tag Archives: improvements

Puppy Love

We were married for over five years before we had kids. Honestly, I’m not sure why it was that way other than it took me awhile to be ready. We traveled a lot and worked a lot. And the truth was… kids terrified me.

So of course to test our responsibility waters a bit before jumping to the chase, we did the only responsible thing a couple do … We got a puppy!

Now, Bailey was the cutest puppy ever. I know we were biased of course. But he really was. We did everything for and with him… he slept with us… he traveled with us … he had puppy play dates … daily walks… we played… we swore nothing would change!

Until kids came…

Recently, when I was reflecting back to those days, I started to get a bit sad about it all. He is still the first one to greet you beyond enthusiastically when you come home, even if it involves a bit of an aggressive butt sniff. He is still the one who comes over when you are upset to comfort you and he is the first one to greet you in the morning. I am not sure if that’s a positive thing being that he wakes at 4 am every day of the week looking for breakfast.

However, he was our first and although I must admit that when I’m unloading the groceries or when I’m unpacking and repacking backpacks while cooking dinner and I trip over Bailey rummaging for food, I do find myself getting annoyed. When the kids are screaming and insurance has you on hold again for the tenth time, it’s so easy to take out our frustration on the person or furry companion that we know will not judge us. It’s the truth and it’s why I promise myself I would put an end to it starting this week.

Sure, Bailey is a bit inappropriate with the butt sniff he greets everyone with. He barks up a storm for anyone who parks or walks near our street especially if they have a dog. He is constantly looking for food scraps and sure gets enough of them now that my kids have learned that. He may snore like it is his job. But he is a good dude… the perfect companion who will never judge us … and that is pure love!

Therefore, we’ve added in a few ways to show him our appreciation.

like always, we never leave without hugging and kissing him goodbye. And we never come home without doing the same. After the kids go to sleep, I spend some time just patting him and loving him up. When we make our stop at Petco every other week to look at the kittens, fish and other pets, we also pick up a special treat for Bailey, even if the chance of him destroying it within ten minutes is high.

I want to teach my kids the love of a pet so that they can carry that over into their grownup lives. So Bailey I do apologize if babies got my brain for a few years, but I promise you your time and that you will always get fed as soon as we get home from school/work even if it means the bags and lunches remain unpacked a little longer.

You’re a “Dump Truck”

Maybe I’m bias, but TJ has the cutest little voice. No matter what he says I just want to eat him up even if the words are not properly pronounced or if his story about school does not add up.

Likewise, watching and listening to a toddler first gain their voice is amazing and a learning experience in itself, even more than I thought it was…as I recently found out.

My daughter started to speak in sentences way before we remember my son doing so. Or at least, her delivery was much clearer. However, as parents for the first time, we had no idea what was “typical” and what wasn’t. (I say that loosely as no two children are alike.)

Sure, there were times, TJ got frustrated with us when we did not understand fully what he was trying to tell us. But then, we saw how clever he was to figure out how to give us clues to get us to understand.

“Mommy, you know what I mean.   It rhymes with pain and rain, and it is on your head.”

“Oh brain! How clever! Great problem-solving skills!

Plus, as a special education teacher I never wanted to over-analyze my own children when it wasn’t necessary. So we corrected him when needed and even had a good laugh the times that called for it… like the time he called to my brother-in-law,

“Hey! Uncle Frankie, you’re a dumb #$@%!” …

…aka dump truck.
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What a cute, hilarious scene at Christmas that year when TJ was 3.5.

But …

Fast forward to just after Christmas a year later…

when I received his preschool report card. He received all 4s out of 5s except for speaking in full sentences which he did for us. He got a 2!?!?! Then I turned to the back to read the note,

“TJ has a kind heart and is nice to everyone. He gets frustrated when his friends can’t understand him. I love his art!”

What!?!? “He gets frustrated when his friends can’t understand him.”

Okay, maybe there was more to this than we knew. After I started to panic, how could we have missed this? Or overlooked it? Did we not read enough books? Would he get picked on or bullied in kindergarten? Did we teach him all wrong? Did we fail him? What other trauma did we cause him? What did I do wrong? And a million other questions….

But then I reminded myself …. breath … pray… breath …

So, I spoke to a close friend at work who works part time at another facility for speech and she calmed me down, suggesting I take him there for an evaluation.   She also mentioned that sometimes problems with eating and speaking are related which got me thinking some more.

A week later, I took TJ to get evaluated and sure enough, he needed speech. Interestingly enough, we learned that some of the problem letters like g and k that were causing him to not be understood were due to lack of muscle strength in his mouth. All related to feeding too!!!

Now, anyone who knows us and knows TJ, knows how we have spent his whole life asking him to chew or eat…. reminding him to chew and eat.

“TJ, what are you eating? TJ, chew your food. TJ, eat. TJ, EEAAATTT!!!!!”

He has always been such a sloooooooooooooooow eater and now we knew part of a reason why….

He mainly uses his front teeth.

So, we had a couple added challenges. But wherever there are problems, there can be solutions as well. Thank God for that!

Therefore, we started using bite blocks and a chewy tube to strengthen his back mouth muscles while also practicing letters and words that he knows how to say but has started to form bad habits with.  This is in addition to speech/feeding class thirty minutes a week.

So while our dining room table now has even more clutter on it with our speech tools and worksheets on it, at least we won’t let any dump trucks trip us up anymore.