Alma – Chapter 2

Ro’dan looked around the foyer as Alma closed the doors and bolted them. She quickly moved over to the windows to peek out them. Ro’dan was in awe of the large house. It’s grand stairs and large rooms that were open to the sides of the hall gave more merit to the high standing of this odd young lady. However, the rooms were completely bare but clean of any dust. She must be a street child like himself who happened to find an empty house that no one missed and had been using it as her own. Ro’dan thought on it for a moment more and realized that this new place could serve very well as a base. Allowing them to pull more elaborate cons on people. Maybe he could use this daft girl’s kindness to get her roped into letting him do as he pleased.

Alma pulled away from the window to face Ro’dan, “Well, it doesn’t seem to appear we were followed!” Alma looked at the boy as if taking in who he was for the first time. “Oh, um,” a sudden shyness appeared across her face. “I mean, I know I should have properly asked you over and had refreshments ready but I got so excited that I was going to meet a real life cutpurse that I just flew away with you.”

Ro’dan cocked his head to the side and smiled his most charming smile. This was going to be too easy. “Oh my dear, I can understand how excited you must have been to share this wonderful place with someone.” She seemed to shift her feet in thinking what to say next. “Did I remind you of an old lover? Perhaps of your father?”

Alma’s head quickly snapped up and she held rage in her eyes. “You would be nothing like Father. Never speak of him again.” and like that, the firm overtone and glare was gone and again replaced with the mousy looking girl again. “You didn’t remind me of anyone. I just got excited to meet someone I had only ever read about in Father’s books.”

Ro’dan smiled again. A learned girl huh? Not a street rat then. Even easier to fool. “Well, I don’t know much about books ma’am but I would be happy to help you, however, I can.”

Alma smiled brightly and nodded. “Yes, I think I could learn much from you. Come with me.” Alma turned and headed up the stairs. Ro’dan followed, keeping an eye out for anything that could be of value, but being sorely disappointed. This house was kept well clean but it lacked any kind of personal touch. He was almost ready to offer to bring Alma a chair when she grasped the handles to the closed off room at the top.

“This place means more to me than anything I could ever own. It stands to reason that, if you are foolish enough to harm, dirty, or steal anything in here, I will use all of my life in the pursuit of you and your kin for the rest of my days. I will haunt you from beyond my grave and I will lay claim to every generation that comes from your line. Do not test me, cutpurse, I know many a curse from wicked Voodoo priestesses from the swamps and dry lands. I will use them on you before you can blink.” With that, she waved a hand over his head and said a few odd words then spit on her thumb and touched the bottom of her shoe.

Ro’dan wasn’t sure if he really believed her but any man of his age knew better than to risk the eye of God or anything else that could ruin your life. She looked so determined that there was no doubt left in his mind that she meant every word she said. “I swear on my mother’s grave that no harm shall come to this house from myself.” He used his sweetest puppy dog eyes and that seemed to please the odd girl. She nodded and lead him into the room with a grand sweep of her arms.

“Welcome to the Library of Mr.Wonders.”

Izzy – Week 2

Rounding the corner I feel we have a better understanding of how the house runs. Izzy needs to potty, she gives us a few quiet whines then squats. I’ll tell you what, we are keeping our local HEB out of paper towels… SO MANY MESSES!

Besides the battle of the bladder, we have been working hard at getting Izzy ready for service dog training by working on some basic commands. I had thought to enroll her in a class at my local Petsmart but seeing as how I have limited time this summer to spend with my boys before they both start new adventures, (Kindergarten and Jr. High!) I figured I could work most of it out on my own and get help from books, videos and my hired trainer after we get started with her.

Here are some pictures of a training session with me and Izzy.

First up. Sit.

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I try and teach a hand sign with the words so that if for some reason I couldn’t talk or thought she couldn’t hear me, I could still clearly communicate with her what I expect her to do. For sit, I face one of my hands, normally the one holding the treat, with my palm up and fingers down then pull them up in a single motion as if beckoning someone to come near.

Being a large dog she won’t be sitting much. The trainer said that we should focus more on down and heel rather than sit. Which I get. However. I expect my dogs to sit before being fed or pet. I figure I can transition this to down easily enough since she is learning both.

Which means, next up is Down.

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You can kind of see my hand here because she is still very young, I sit on the floor and use my finger to directly point where I want her face to go. I have started to slowly change this to just a flat hand, palm downward and moving downward motion. However, for now, it is easiest to get her to follow the treat and go to the ground.

Down will be useful in general transportation, meeting new people, going to a restaurant, and just the normal everyday meeting of people. People tend to be least scared of dogs if they are seen in a resting pose such as down. With a big girl like Izzy, it will be best if she defaults to down when relaxing and not focusing on a task.

Speaking of tasks, Ready, Fetch and, Leave it.

Playing tug is one of Izzy’s favorite way to spend time with her humans. As such it provides a great chance to turn her favorite game into a learning chance. She loves to bound around and play tug with her lion, but if I wait and don’t play along she will drop the toy and wait to see what I will do next. I give her a treat and tell her good leave it. Then engage in play with her again. I start using the words leave it when I stop play. Then I get her focus on the treat and my face. The last picture up there she is looking at the treat but she was splitting her focus between me and the treat. Waiting to see if she was doing the right thing.

Fetch was pretty easy. I just tossed it far enough away from me that I could easily grab it again and engage in play. Then she caught on and started to try to get it faster than me. I started throwing it farther and farther and each time she picked it up praising her and clapping and calling for her to return to play.

This is one of her favorite things to do and will play with anyone who picks up one of her fetch toys.

Next up, a silly one. Bang, Bang.

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When having fun with her my brother commented that I should teach her a silly trick that the kids might think was cute or could help break the ice with new people who might be unsure about her. His suggestion was, and I quote, “Dog. Play dead where the tongue luls out of the mouth.” Well, this was quite a task. So breaking it down into smaller parts I knew I would need her to understand what I wanted her to do when I said the phrase “Bang, Bang.” I started by having her go to down then pulled the treat along her side toward her belly till she started to lay on her back. Then I would touch her ribs and say bang bang. Now she has gotten to the point where my 5-year-old can touch her ribs with his finger and say it and she instantly falls over to her side. It amused him to no end and I am sure she gained a full pound from the treats from him because of it.

Back to the practical. Touch, Paw and, Other Paw.

This one seemed to be something she did on her own. She pawed at me for a treat when waiting for another command. I took the opportunity to put a name to it and treat her for it. Touch isn’t anything difficult for Izzy but sometimes it takes her a minute to figure out if you want Paw or touch with the nose.

The hand sign I use is a pinched pointer and thumb holding the treat and three fingers upward for a surface for her to touch.

Lastly, but most practiced! Heel and watch me.

These two are insanely important for a service dog to do. They must be able to heel at a command and with anyone and watch their person for any signs or symptoms that problems are coming up. I personally have a few ticks that I never noticed but my husband has and pointed out to me. These are some of the things she will be trained to watch for, but first, she has to learn to watch!

She has always stuck very close to whichever human is of the highest rank in her chart that is with her. I come in first, then Kris and Nik, then Watson our roommate. (because he loves on her and talks sweetly to her and she only sees him rarely) She is a velcro puppy and I am using that to my advantage to teach her that walking with us is more rewarding than trying to rebel.

Update, The puppy nibbling has reached a slow down except for when she gets too worked up. A quick time out in her playpen for 5 to 10 mins helps her to understand that we don’t want to play with her or have her hang out with us if she is going to bite on us. Kisses have become much more common. Everyone in the house has been instructed to keep their hands away from her mouth and that if she does start to nibble to ignore her and walk away if possible.

She went to the vet for her Microchip and Rabies shot since she will be traveling out of town with me on Memorial day weekend. The bonus was we learned she has grown 4lbs since last week!

Welp, see you all next week!

The Grumpy Penguin

Kris here,

So some time ago while we were all hanging around and I was probably doing some manly dad things, like grilling outdoors or twisting off tight jar lids or something, when I had the bright idea “Hey Nik and I should write a story!” So I then said aloud “Hey Nik and I should write a story!”

Tina was totally down with this on account of it not including any work on her part, but Nikolai was apparently heartbroken. Do you know how long he’d waited to play with those toys? It might’ve been watching his tablet too but let’s go with the toys thing. He was yelling and crying and calling 911 and generally just making a ruckus that I don’t think was necessarily apt for the situation. So, of course, I sat down and started writing the story about him, out loud, while writing everything to paper. He gradually grew less and less fussy and started laughing because I’m the best and we all learned something at the end (dad had to google because he was making outlandish allegations that nobody was sure of.)

Right after we’d finished writing it down to paper, Nik and I read the story to Tina as a whole instead of the broken sentences I used while I was actually writing it down. Tina did that thing she does where she’s the best and there were suddenly illustrations! And now we have a brief and amusing story that still gets told before bed from time to time – we thought we’d post it on our blog here, in case anyone else was able to make their toddler giggle at the antics of The Grumpy Penguin.

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Izzy – Week 1

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So as Izzy joined our house we got her all the needed things. Tons of treats for training, things to chew on, a bed and crate, and a vet appointment for her first set of puppy shots.

We were all excited! Nik was so happy to have a little puppy he could play with until she nipped him. Yes, my amazing find of a pup had a big problem with using her mouth correctly. Not a great trait for a service dog to have. The risk of biting someone when upset or startled is too high if left unchecked. So, our laundry list of things to work on with her grew. Walking on a leash (for everyone, not just Tina), Not peeing in the house (or submissively to Kris, cause he is so scary!), and not using our mouth to show how happy and excited we are to play with or meet people.

 

I can say that this week we have seen a slow change of understanding that we prefer to be licked not bit and a clear understanding that she doesn’t want to leave my side for any reason. Which I guess is good but also a bit much with a 5-year-old and a puppy.

I have been up and about around the house more often. I am getting up when my husband goes downstairs so I can take care of Izzy and I have been using muscles that had been neglected and are sharing that via the soreness and pain I feel each night.

But I mean, really, look at this girl!

Also here is a little picture of the schedule that I have been trying with her. I am sure I will end up adjusting this as we get farther along.

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And a cute little gif of my pup learning toys are for mouth not hands.

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Well, that is all for this week, I will post a new Izzy weekly update next Saturday!

Intro to Izzy

I have PTSD, anxiety, & depression. I have been in therapy for around 6 months and I have also been seeing a Psychiatrist. All of this was a pile up on me and got worse because I had refused to seek help for it. After being asked by my Therapist Jane, what I was planning on doing when Nik started school I started to worry.

 

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Making me feel older each day!

 

Not able to think of anything and being fed up with taking pills that knocked me out when I had an anxiety attack, I started searching for other ways of dealing with it.

Did you know that when you search YouTube for PTSD anxiety and ways to deal with it, a large portion of videos come up that deal with service dogs. Most of them focused on veterans, but the information was out there. The more I started to search for service dogs the more I started thinking this was a great idea. I had trained several dogs before this point and figured that training my own service dog would be a great way to spend my time.

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So after talking to my therapist Jane I agreed with her and my psychiatrist that getting a service dog could be very beneficial to me. So I began to learn how to assess service dogs and how to figure out which dog would make a good service dog then my hunt for a service dog begin. So I began to learn how to assess service dogs and how to figure out which dog would make a good service dog then my hunt for a service dog begin. I contacted several different agencies to see if they would work with me and training a service dog however majority of them prefer to work with veterans and we would not work with me and had a waiting list of up to two years. So I found a local service that helps you train a dog you already have and is based in San Antonio just south of me so I signed up for it and went in search of a service dog.

The first dog I meant was named the doctor he was a great Dane who was a year and a half all he did really well on all of the tests that I performed with him. However, when it came to dealing with my husband he wanted nothing to do with him. His barking and hiding from my husband were a sure sign that he wouldn’t be acceptable as a service dog since he would need to interact with a variety of people on a daily basis.

Then off to see a sweet little girl Great Dane pup.

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First meeting the sweet puppy, I had to take a deep calming breath as I looked at this adorable little pup with honey colored eyes. Kris looked at me and raised one eyebrow, seeming to check on my mental state. I smiled at him and then explained to the woman what tests I would be doing and that it would take a little bit of time. Each and every test I put her way she seemed to know just what I wanted. I held her and checked out her ears and mouth and saw some fleas on her chest. Well… let me tell you. I have a huge problem with fleas. To the point that my husband, therapist, and psychiatrist all thought I might have OCD because of the way I react to them. Typically by scratching off my skin or boiling myself under unhealthily hot water.

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Even with that said, I couldn’t deny how she seemed to just gravitate toward me and sat with me when I got down on the ground. She even now is super close to me at all times. She loves to just sit next to me and chew on toys or hang out in the kitchen with me.

I felt she was going to be amazing as a service dog. Everything in me told me that this was going to be awesome. So we took her home.

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I am going to hold off here and have our first week with Izzy in another blog post on Saturday. Where I will post about Izzy each week and blog about our progress into becoming a fully-fledged Service Dog!

 

In which Kris does some idea… borrowing

Kris here,

Don’t tell my wife, but I’m super jealous she gets her own segment on our site with an acronym and everything. So in my own creative way, I’ve decided to…well copy her exactly. We’re married so it’s basically my idea already anyway right? I’ve decided to name my segment… let’s see “Kris’s really awesome project,” K.R.A-. Waaait a second. Let’s just call it a work in progress.

This week I’d like to discuss a small book series I read hundreds of years ago when I was just a lad, The Enchanted Forest chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede. A series of 4 books that are each pretty small, only 2-300 pages each, but is by far a favorite series of mine to be re-read at least every 2-3 years in its entirety. I’m relatively sure Patricia Wrede single-handedly sparked my interest in both humor and reading when I was about 7 or 8. The target audience here is definitely children to young adults but..well listen, don’t pretend you didn’t expect it knowing who’s writing the blog okay.

The series revolves around the Enchanted Forest in a world of her own, but with multiple (and hilarious) references to fairy tales that were pretty prevalent while I was growing up. I don’t want to spell the books out and ruin the fun or spoil it for anyone Googling the series, although to be honest, I think after 27 years your right to spoiler warnings is dissolved come on now.

Cimorene the princess would love to learn Latin, sword fighting and magic, but since she’s a princess, she gets to learn dancing and manners and embroidery. After running away to ask a dragon to capture her, she lives a good life chasing off princes and melting wizards with her dragon Kazul who likes having someone around to clean and make cherry’s jubilee. Some story happens and she goes on an adventure meeting a witch who keeps everything very clean and has a painted sign indicating that she’ll have none of your nonsense, a king of the Enchanted Forest and a poor dwarf who keeps spinning straw into gold in return for firstborns unless their parents can discover his name. Only no one ever guesses his name, so he keeps accumulating children, he even changed his name to Herman to be easier to guess and moved way out away from civilization but they keep finding him.

In short, if you ever get the chance – read these books. They’re relatively short, they’re light-hearted and the characters are hilarious and I love them. I’ve also read these to Nik as bedtime stories and hopefully one day…he’ll forget and I can read them to him again.

Big dreams & little buckets

Tina here.

You know, the problem I am realizing more and more as I get older each year is that I am a dreamer. I can come up with ideas and plans that are so fantastic and beautiful sounding. I can even come up with what needs to be done to make it happen. However, I am horrible at pushing forward with anything.

I wanna live in Japan. That had been a dream of mine since I was 12. I went to Japan for 3 months on the good graces and EXTREAM amounts of patience of my Uncle and his newly married wife, my sweet Aunt. I was 17 and earned the money to pay for the ticket all on my own. However, my money was already earned and burning a hole in my pocket. I fully aware that I would have spent the money on random nicknacks or books if it wasn’t about Japan.

I wanna be a Teacher. I was inspired by some of my Jr. High and High school teachers. History mostly. I wanted to teach. I loved working with other people and I loved helping my friends and peers. Hell, I was a peer to peer counselor! However, in my all knowing wisdom of so close to 18 I can taste it, I got pregnant. That in and of itself didn’t disqualify me from going to school and making my dreams come true, but overloading myself, not asking for help when I should have, and not seeing a problem for what he was doing. I have tried to go to school since but a large part of those attempts has been extremely difficult and with an onset of untreated PTSD, I developed extream anxiety and depression when it came to dealing with new people. Maybe if someone like my husband could go with me I could push along, but the problem with that is that one of us has to work. I want my husband to have the chance to go to school if that is what he wants. Hell, I am more than willing to do whatever I need to for him to follow his own dreams. However, one of us just hit our 10 years at a single job… It wasn’t me.

I want to live clean and get healthy. I am so sick and tired of people telling me what I already know. Yes, I am EXTREAMLY overweight, yes I know what that can do to my body, yes I am aware that I can’t continue to live this way without consequences. How about you come over and teach me everything you do and how to overcome my downfalls and self-hate to learn a new lifestyle. Oh, what’s that? You have your own life. Yeah well, stop trying to tell me how easy it is unless you understand the shit I have to wade past just to get into the freaking club. Eat healthier, I have, you know what happens, I loose about 15lbs, which at this size is so not hard to do, then I bounce back and/or don’t loose anymore. Oh, but don’t worry, I am told that when I REEEEEALLY want it I will make it happen…

I know way too much about Tiny houses, crafts, and visas. I have studied every single way that you can legally get a visa to live in Japan. Think you don’t qualify for one. You could be wrong but you have to meet some qualifications first. I have so much useless information about things I will most likely never do. I want to start my own company but my own lack of solid skill/commitment keeps me here, behind a keyboard telling no one how sad and pitiful I am.

Oh, and my latest dream, an RV. Why? Because I worry that my terrible habits are going to land my family without a home and at least with an RV we could travel and find a place to work with a home over us like turtles.

Wow, this blog turned into a bummer. Sorry guys, this was a much-needed rant.