We found a sweet spot

Well, it’s Christmas Eve. We are getting a handle on this puppy potty-training, thanks to some great advice from Matt Libbenga at stillnothousetrained.com. I was so impressed with his write-up, I bought the book. I’m only half-way through it and it’s already been the best $15 I ever spent.

So it is 10 am and I am nestled in the recliner with my knit afghan and last cup of coffee. Both kids are next to me, snuggled together on the couch under a cozy fleece blanket, watching Home Alone. And Piper? She is passed out in her crate in the kitchen. Voluntarily, I might add. We keep her tethered with a leash so she can’t roam the house, and it’s working amazingly well. It keeps her confined to smaller areas at a time, but still with plenty of room to move around. And she loves her crate.

We don’t have much going on today. The kids and I plan to make some Rice Krispy treats and brownies later. Presents are all wrapped. Mike is working today, which sucks, but we are thankful he has a job that provides for our family. He’ll take us driving around tonight to look at Christmas lights. That’s been something we like to do every year, even before we had kids.

I’m looking forward to Christmas day. I’m happy to be where I am, even though it’s not necessarily a life I would have chosen. It’s still a life I wouldn’t trade for anything. I am blessed with a wonderful husband, amazing kids, and wonderful extended family and friends. And Jesus. He is, above all else, my strength and hope. He is my everything. I shudder to think where I would be without Him. Any of us, really. He is truly the best gift, and tomorrow we remember and celebrate that. Happy birthday Jesus, and a Merry Christmas to all.

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Hoping no one dies

I’m sorry. I haven’t been able to blog because I’m losing my mind taking care of this new puppy and with the kids home for Christmas break. At least 2 out of 3 are potty-trained.

And that is the biggest challenge. Piper is young, 9 weeks now, but I know it’s possible to have her housebroken. It will take some 24/7 commitment and patience, but she will get there. If it kills me. And at times it feels like it will. Kill me, that is. I suppose that’s better than me killing someone else.

Okay, so really we’re just hoping no one dies in this process.

I am still happy we got this puppy, and while she’s adorable when she’s not peeing all over the place, I’m most excited at how she will be when she is full-grown. I think she has some great qualities tucked away that will just shine once she can get the basic rules of the house down.

No, seriously, that’s all I have this week. I may have more to write in the days to come, but it’s not likely I’ll have time to get it down on “paper”, since Christmas is only two days away (gah!!).

Ich liebe dich

Oh these days are flying by. Puppy care is ongoing (she never stops leaving puddles on the floor). Some days are better than others. Some have both good and bad. My attempt at cleaning up my language went out the window. At least I’ll have the children’s assistance for the next two weeks while they are home for the holidays. Luke is a big help with taking her out to go potty, and they are both great at playing with her, as well as showing me where she piddles (the nature of my vision loss makes it nearly impossible for me to see that type of thing).

I think evening will end up becoming my new writing ritual time, if I can manage to pull out the laptop before checking up on my Words with Friends games (Did you realize you can  ave like, a zillion games going at once? And still have zero chance of winning?). I had planned to write about where I went this afternoon, before getting all pissed off at the dog who pees everywhere. But now that I got that griping out of my system, I’ll move on with that original plan.

I thank you kindly for staying with me this far.

This afternoon we went to a family Christmas gathering for my stepmom’s family. I’ve known them since I was 9, so they are just as much family as my blood relatives. We didn’t make it out last year, what with all the health issues I was dealing with at the time. So I wanted to see them, but I had been saying we weren’t going to go, because it’s a huge family, and though my cochlear implant is a miraculous thing in small, quiet settings, I knew it wouldn’t do so well in a house full of umpteen loud Germans and their offspring. I just figured it would be too depressing for me to be with all these people I loved but couldn’t interact very well with.

Read those last few sentences again. Notice a trend? My cochlear implant… depressing for me… I couldn’t… Me, me, me. After giving it more thought and discussing it with my husband, I realized how selfish I was being in refusing to go. I was making it all about MY experience, and to hell with my kids or my husband, and never mind that my extended family loves us all and wants to see us.

So, we went, and even though I did not plan well with the battery situation and it died just before we left to go home (had to let the puppy out), we all had a wonderful time. I was able to have one-on-one conversations by reading lips and using the special *battery-draining* UltraZoom program on my CI. I forget that conversations go both ways. Just as I want to hear and understand what someone is saying, they want to hear what I am saying as well, which is totally possible with or without a CI. Just being with family, seeing them laughing and having a good time was such a gift – a gift I was almost selfish enough to pass up. Just another lesson in seizing the day, I suppose, and in cherishing every moment. Hug your loved ones, people. Go!

Forced relaxation

I know, that’s sort of an oxymoron. Let me explain.

Within the past year of changes and adjustments, you could say I had grown a bit obsessive, perhaps even compulsive, about keeping our house clean and clutter-free. Which is nice, but is not without some underlying stress. Because when that order is disrupted in any way, Momma has been known to blow a gasket. So I had been working hard at not blowing gaskets, and it wasn’t really working all that well. Because the pressure is always still there, building and growing under the surface. Holding it all in proves to be very exhausting.

But now we have this puppy. This puppy that I wanted, and am determined to love the way she deserves to be loved. But this puppy is, as puppies typically are, a handful. Piper is actually rather laid back, probably more so than your typical puppy, but she still loves to chew and she is not yet potty trained. So she requires nearly constant attention. And that interferes with my previously established housekeeping routines. Which is hard for me to accept, but I have not once forgotten that having a puppy was something I chose. I signed up for this, and I am determined to make it work.

I’ve been walking around full of anxiety since we brought her home on Sunday, afraid of what would happen if she pooped in the house. Do you know she pooped in the hallway this morning and the house did not come crashing down? In fact, my vision of feces smeared all over the walls and floors – and who knows what else – did not become a reality. Everything was okay. If she poops, she poops. Clean it up and move on.

See, each new day gets a smidge better, for two reasons. One, she is learning what is acceptable here in her new home. Two, I am becoming more comfortable with imperfection. That’s a big one for me, because I thought I WAS comfortable with imperfection, but what I’ve seen of myself these past few days is that it was all a lie. It was only true on the surface. Deep down I still craved perfection, and was deeply unnerved when I didn’t have it.

That deep unnerving, that inner irritation, the precursor to every blown gasket, is slow torture, and it does no one any good. It makes for a miserable me, and then I end up taking it out on my family. They don’t deserve the miserable me. The tense, wound up, nagging woman has to go. I want my house  to be a peaceful place  to come home to. This new adjustment, this life with a new puppy, is forcing me to be okay with a little imperfection. Thanks to Piper, I think we’re headed in the right direction.

I didn’t even study!

Today I went to the audiologist for a special balance test, to make sure a second cochlear implant would not be detrimental. I am pleased to report that I passed my electronystagmogram with flying colors (well, actually just the one… a red dot). Also referred to as an ENG, it measures your eye movements, while you wear some pretty gnarly goggles and follow a moving red light with your eyes. But that’s not the best part. The best part is when they lay you back and blow hot and cold air, alternatively, into your ears. Meanwhile, all that is required of you is to keep your eyes open. And since you are not permitted to consume caffeine 48 hours prior to the test, this proved rather difficult for me. Thankfully the audiologist let me keep my current implant on, so I could hear her instructions. And her constant reminders to keep my eyes open.

After the test they brought me to an exam room to get my blood pressure and talk to the surgeon. The nurse asked how the test went, and I told her it went pretty well, though it was a challenge keeping my eyes open, not having been allowed to have caffeine. She didn’t realize that was a requirement for the test, and sympathized with me immediately. In fact, she was helpful enough to tell me of the coffee shop down the hall. This turned out to be extremely helpful news, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve had a cup of coffee so delicious. But maybe it was just that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Either way, I was extremely thankful for it.

So the conclusion of the day is that the surgeon and audiologist have both given their approval, and we are just waiting for insurance to offer theirs as well. Two out of three so far, and hopefully soon we’ll be scheduled surgery. I will say I am still a smidge nervous about getting a second implant, but am confident that this will be a good thing. I’ve heard from many other bilateral CI recipients and all of them have wonderful things to say about it. It only gets better from here!

Puppy Life

I posted previously an announcement – by way of haiku – that we bought a puppy. This is life altering for all of us. We had cats when the kids were younger, but it was the cats who were here first, so the kids never experienced the arrival of a new pet. And for that matter, I am kind of new at this too. Bringing home a kitten is much different than bringing home a puppy. We had dogs growing up, but I’ve never been much of a “dog person”. And I’ve never had a puppy. Puppies are messy, right? They certainly aren’t potty-trained, and that gives me great anxiety. I follow her around just waiting for her to tinkle or worse all over my clean floors. Great anxiety, I tell you. But then I keep telling myself it’s okay, and these are just messes that can be cleaned up. I really need to learn to relax, and this puppy is certainly giving me opportunity to practice that.

You see, I’m learning that sometimes change is good. And so far, this change has been good. Granted, it’s only been 20 hours, but already I sense positive change. When my family is home, they are far more interested in playing with the puppy, petting the puppy, staring at the puppy, than playing video games or otherwise vegging out in front of a tv or computer screen. Everyone loves the puppy. And who wouldn’t? She’s adorable. She has these dark, soulful eyes that melt your heart. And she is bonding so quickly with us. Of course she loves Luke the best, clearly, and we are all kind of okay with that. It’s an unspoken knowing, that she belongs to him. A boy and his dog. It’s a precious thing to see. He and Natalie have chosen the name Piper, which I believe Mike and I have agreed to keep (Ruger was our first choice) simply because the kids chose it and it gives them a sense of pride and ownership.

We took Piper with us to the bus stop this morning, and the bus driver was very excited to meet our new family member. I think it broke Natalie’s heart to say goodbye, but I’m sure it will get easier as the days go on. I loved walking back to the house with her, as it removed that empty, lonely feeling I’m usually left with. And then bringing her into the house brought back the anxiety as I tried to keep an eye on her as I fixed my breakfast and coffee. I was worried she would crawl off in another room and either relieve herself – yet again – or chew up the rug. I quickly discovered I didn’t have much to worry about because she wanted to stay right by me. Until she didn’t, and walked away while I finished putting the jam on my English muffin. That’s when I found her in the living room, napping peacefully.

And there she has been, the entire time I’ve been writing this. Oh my sweet heavens, this is even better than I thought it would be.