Monday, April 30, 2012

Bus Rides & the Big City

Today was another first for Banyan on his journey to become a service dog for Jeremy. We decided today was the day to take a bus with Banyan from Lakewood, WA up to Seattle. It was a little over an hour ride to & from Seattle. Banyan did AMAZING! He walked right on the bus like he was suppose to be there. He fell asleep after the first ten minutes on the way to Seattle.

He laid down right at my feet and kept them nice & toasty for me!

After we arrived in Seattle he looked around a lot at all the people & vehicles. But he stayed with me and his two trainers at all times. At one point when we three ladies split up to look at different things he actually became slightly distressed. I think he thought he was protecting all three of us from the big bad city people. We had fun seeing the oldest Starbucks around.

Then we walked over to eat lunch at a wonderful little place that made the most amazing macaroni & cheese I had ever tasted. I only had a small portion since it was not on my diet, but so glad I ate it- so yummy! Banyan laid by  my feet during the quick meal. Then off we went to walk down to Pike Place Market. The crowds where not to bad but definitely  a lot of foot traffic. He handled it like a pro! He got a little excited when we had a Chihuahua on one side of us & a Seattle Guide Pup in training on the other. But he never pulled to go visit just really wanted to look at them both! His favorite part of the day was watching the "tossing of the fish" when someone placed an order. He loved it!
Here is a quick snap shot of some of the pretty flowers we saw.

Soon we made our way into the shopping mall with the glass elevator. Banyan did his up & pushed the elevator button with his paw to open the door. Usually we would want his nose to do the pushing but we where super excited as this was his first attempt at doing this task. He didn't seem to mind the glass elevator as we have ridden in one before. As we trotted through Nordstroms one of his trainers thought that Banyan could carry her Starbucks bag for her. We gave it to him & off he went with her coffee! He loved doing this! We called him back & he handed it to me very gently- super pup! Stephanie was able to get a short video on her phone. I hope she can upload to our FB page later. After shopping it was time to head back to the bus stop & our ride home. We where all worn out from the very windy day. We lucked out and got the larger bus with room to spread out. He laid down and fell promptly to sleep. 

Over all for his first experience at city life he did so great! I hope to repeat this at least once a month now so he becomes a lot more familiar with crowds & public transportation. Banyan needs to be super comfortable with all these things. Jeremy will never drive a car & most likely at some point when he is older rely on the bus to get around town. Our biggest thing to work on is most definitely ignoring other dogs. Today there was no pulling but he was wearing his gentle leader. I know he will get it in time with age. I am just so glad to check another big task off our list! We conquered the bus & Seattle.

Resting outside the cutest little store we found full of doggie goodies.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy First Birthday!

We had a really fun day yesterday celebrating with Banyan his first birthday. A friend from Cake Creations by Christina made an amazing cake for Banyan to share with Panzer & his friend Liberty who is also in training. We decorated with some balloons and made the humans cupcakes as well to enjoy. Liberty arrived after school & Jeremy along with the other boys where super excited. We started off playing with the bubbles a good friend to Jeremy named Devon had given Banyan. Then it was cake time! Liberty enjoyed a lot of the cake as Banyan ate very nicely & Panzer had to be fed the cake-haha He wasn't sure he was allowed to eat it I think. Next was present time from Liberty & his mom. They gave him a great Jolly Ball in red- his favorite color! He also received a great birthday surprise in the mail from Loula & Bear " The Service Pups" & their boys. A great red ball to chew as well as a nice new book for Jeremy to read. Everyone was so nice to him on his special day.

Liberty's mom had plans for the evening so we let Liberty have a birthday sleep over & the boys played until bed time. Then they popped up bright and early to play some more. It was a great first birthday & we are so proud of Banyan. He is making great progress with his training. He deserved a fun afternoon off to play & celebrate. We are really blessed to have him in our lives.


This is Liberty with the new ball

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pounds Gained, Then Lost

Yesterday we had what was suppose to be a quick check-up for Jeremy with his Neurologist. Notice I said was suppose to be quick-haha Nothing is ever super fast at Madigan but yesterday seemed every place we had to go was backed up. Three and half hours later we where done. But not before Jeremy had to give up six viles of his blood. He did pretty well & Banyan was amazing!

Jeremy was so excited that his bandage matched Banyans! This was the first time Banyan had been around for a blood draw and he laid at Jeremy's feet with out moving for the whole time. I was very pleased. Next off to get vitals where Banyan pretty much let the nurse know he was not waiting in the doorway like she asked. He scooted right in under Jeremy's chair while her back was turned, then I swear he smiled at me! This is where the good & bad news starts. Height was great he grew 2 3/4 inches since October-YAY!! So we where optimistic about his weight. Nope, the whole 3 pounds he had gained where GONE! he had lost them  :0( All the hard work & weeks of stuffing him until I thought he'd explode gone just like that. Now we are back into what is causing this??

We are now booked with an endocrinologist in two weeks for more blood work & a look to see if his seizure medications are halting his growth. His doctor has researched the  effects of long term use of Tegrotal. It can cause thyroid issues.  In the mean time we have upped his dose of medication at night for appetite stimulant. I have tried and tried today to get him to eat. Sometimes he would others it was a huge battle of wills. He is also dehydrated, low vitamin D,B, & iron. Geez... so bring on more vitamins. Anyway hopefully we can get some weight on my young man. I call him little guy, but folks he will be twelve in October so he is really not so little anymore. Just small on the outside.  Pray that we can figure it all out & that no drastic measure need to be taken. Jeremy has been through a lot in his short life I really hope we don't have to take him on another journey that is evasive so he get's the nutrition his body needs. But I am fully prepared to take that step if we must.

 For now we are all excited to celebrate Banyan's birthday on Thursday. A friend is making him a cake for the dogs to eat. His friend Liberty is staying the night for a sleep over- yes he is just a dog folks. But he is a very loved & treasured dog who is changing Jeremy's world. Stay tuned for pictures!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cute Puppies Go Vote Please

We entered Mr. Banyan in a contest on Facebook over at City Dog Country Dog. If you have a Facebook account please go look at all the pictures see how super cute they all are, then Please Vote for Banyan-LOL He has a chewing problem & we just found him finishing off a brand new flip-flop from Aeropostle we just purchased last week- naughty pup! The prize is a chew toy from Mr. Chewy's so that would be perfect! Plus it's his first birthday next week! What a great birthday present for him & mom! Help save our flip-flops & click "LIKE" under his picture. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Being Bold

Ok so if you don't want to hear a few of the plain hard facts & truths of how this momma is feeling right now here is your WARNING: LEAVE THIS BLOG NOW!!

Taking a page from a great blogger over at My Camo Kids who decided to tell it like it is about her recent new deployment . I am right there with her at the moment only mine is the tail end of the deployment phase. Here goes hang on folks you may hear things you don't like but guess what ? It's the truth & the way I feel at the moment so deal with it please like grown - ups. Only leave comments that won't get you yelled at & possibly beat up by this tired Army wife & mom.

 First yes I know I should be excited that I am now mere weeks away from seeing my husband after ten long months- but NO that does not make it any easier now then it did when he left. As a matter of fact I'm even more exhausted & tired! Why you may ask because the four boys have now declared WAR on eachother- NON- STOP!! They apparently have used up all their good moods/ manners at school . When they arrive home they argue, fight, yell all night or day long! I'm tired of playing referee!

Second just because your husband is just starting a deployment does not mean my deployment experience is any less valid because my husband will be home . EXCUSE ME- he has been gone ten months while your husband was still home with you & your kids! Please get over yourself and realize we are all going through deployment hell together so shouldn't we all be supporting eachother not comparing who has it worse?

Third stop thinking you are coming to Homecoming with my family if I haven't asked you. This time is so emotional for my boys & me that we can barely make it through by ourselves let alone with others present. We always have one person who I take who is a friend of mine to take pictures. But she stays back quietly we never know she is there. She leaves in her own car & gives me the pictures later. Homecoming is special, private time filled with extreme emotions that unless you've been through it you can't possibly understand so please don't pretend you can. Don't expect because your a friend you get to come. Reintegration to me is THE HARDEST part of a deployment cycle. In our home we barely had Paul home for five months before orders dropped again- so we never really even bonded again before he left. We have a long hard road ahead. He has missed three consecutive birthdays of Jeremy's. his kids have grown, changed not only physically but emotionally- BACK OFF let us get to know each other again. This time would include the first few weeks he is home as well. Call say hello, leave a Welcome Home on Facebook- but please don't be offended if we aren't running to invite you over.

Fourth did I mention I'm exhausted! Maybe even more so then when this started- sleep what is sleep?? So if I act like I'm fine just know asking is a super loaded question so be prepared. You could possibly get the nice " I'm fine" or you could get the total break down in tears me. Emotions are running high- so suck it up & ask with caution then be prepared to accept you may not like what you hear.

Anyway that's my vent for the day- I'm hanging on to my rope for six more weeks. I am on what I call the steep downhill slope of the roller coaster ride from Hell!! We all go through phases this is my phase at the moment. This is my life & I'm Ok with it, but I'm SOOOOO ready for it to be OVER!

** Edit**
Thank you to all my close friends who have read this then chose to send me some outrageously funny emails. You've made me laugh so hard- for that I am grateful ** 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Dancing Through the Post Office

I bet you never would have thought that anyone would be doing a Happy Dance in the post office?? Well this girl did today! We have lived in the same military town for the last three deployments so I know the employees at our local post office. A couple who always chat with me & ask about Paul are super great! I got one of those ladies today as I slung a heavy care package up on her scale. She smiled & asked what I packed this time for Paul? I smiled a huge smile & told her it has all the favorites he requested because it's HIS LAST CARE PACKAGE of this deployment!!

That's right folks we have finally made it through almost 10 months of this fourth deployment. We found out a couple weeks ago my husband's unit will be home one month early- so I only have to hold on to my sanity six more weeks! I can do this I CAN!! Six weeks is a heck of a lot shorter then when we started back on July 5, 2011! It takes his boxes about ten to fourteen days to arrive so I won't mail anymore. I hate that he is spending his big 40th Birthday over there but we can celebrate when he returns. Now is time to buckle down and get all those projects done I said I would finish ten months ago,oooppps. I can barely wrap my brain around the fact that we have almost done it, we have almost kicked this fourth deployment in the booty! I pray it is our last, but who knows what God & the Army have in store for our family. I just had to share with everyone. I hope you all who are just starting your journey can read this & realize eventually they come to an end. Just hang on tight with both hands & go along for the ride!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spring Break Getaway

The boys & I had the chance to head off for a quick getaway to Newport, Oregon for the last few days of their Spring Break. I had so much fun even in the van on the drive. The boys laughed , fought, & played all the things siblings do but in the end we had FUN! Banyan did great for his first long car trip. He slept with out his kennel in the hotel & was fine. We had my best friend Sam & her gang with us which made it even more special. Here are some of my favorite pictures, I hope you enjoy. I am off to rest then tackle all the dirty laundry.

Last stop was Tillamook Cheese Factory- seems Banyan was just as interested as the boys.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Where Does It All Go ?

Today after doing the books I realized we are already super low on funds for Banyan's training, uggg. It seems like we have the fundraisers & all the generous donations, then it just evaporates so fast. Where does it all go you ask? We spent $192.33 just on dog food alone in February. No he didn't eat that much in one month-lol He'd be one fat pup! But our Blue Buffalo coupons where expiring so we had to use them. Then the puppy treats, they do add up. Just this week the last trip to Pet Smart we left $48 lighter. Banyan still get's treats a lot for his rewards. Every new task he learns requires affirmations & treats. Plus you add in training sessions & gas to get to those sessions, yep folks it all adds up fast!
With that being said as much as I hate to do it we have to start fundraising again now before something comes up we can't afford. I set up an easy link for friends & family to be able to donate even $5 helps. I can now understand how the average service dog costs $10,000 dollars if they come fully trained. We are blessed with amazing trainers from All American Dogs  as well as the Chelsea Hutchison Foundation who are currently raising funds for several special children to get seizure alert dogs. But like anyone else they all rely on donations & if the money isn't there then we must help raise funds ourselves. So all I am asking is if your called to help then by all means please go to the link above to donate any amount you feel placed on your heart. But if you aren't able please help spread Jeremy's link & story so that if anyone out there is looking for a great way to help or donate they have options. They can choose to donate directly to the Chelsea Hutchinson Foundation or to All American Dogs , or to Team Jeremy & Banyan . Any of these great choices all lead down the path to helping our family & many others who are working tirelessly to provide a safety net for their child. Banyan is not only Jeremy's constant companion but he one day could save his life. To me that is priceless & I will find the way to make it happen. Thanks for checking in & please help spread the word.

We won't Give Up.....

Monday, April 9, 2012


We decided to go on a walk today and enjoy our rare 70 degree afternoon. By we I  mean Jeremy, Banyan, & I. Everyone else was too busy playing silly video games or at a friends home. Off we go & the first special moment came when Jeremy asked to walk Banyan by himself. We have never done this before but Banyan was being pretty cooperative. I handed over the leash & off they went!

Banyan never hesitated just went right off when Jeremy said "Let's go". I was so excited! A car soon came and they stopped to wait on me & then Banyan was content to walk in between us for awhile.

Now the story  takes a funny turn. As we get to the lake I let Banyan loose with his leash dangling. He decides to help Jeremy dig in the sand for a bit. Then when Jeremy would go fill up a bucket with water Banyan would wonder over to watch very curious.

This is where it got a little funny for mom at least. Jeremy dropped his bucket in the water. As he leans over I watch it happen in slow motion, SPLASH! In fell Jeremy! I didn't jump up because I was maybe 3 feet away & the water was only about 3 feet deep. But Banyan jumped whined then ran over to me. it was hilarious, poor Banyan wanted Jeremy out NOW! At this point Jeremy is giggling & I am laughing so Banyan settled down. But I am sure our handsome boy thinks we are both a little nuts! 

We decided to pack it up and head home at this point in our story. Jeremy was a real trooper walking about 1/2 mile soaking wet. At one point we must go up a very steep hill to reach our road. Jeremy grabbed on to Banyan's vest & you could see Banyan help him walk up the hill. Jeremy mentioned during this time how it was hard to walk with the extra weight of the water. You must remember that even though Jeremy is 11 years old he only weighs 57 pounds. He is pretty thin & thank goodness Banyan knew his job was to help. He did it & did it well for an 11 month old pup. All in all it was a fun afternoon adventure we won't soon forget.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday Sunshine

We woke up to SUNSHINE!! We have been so deprived here in the Pacific NorthWest we almost forgot what that bright globe in the sky really was.....YAY!! It made for a perfect day for me to get out and get my walk in with Banyan. Then we all got ready to head to the lake for the neighborhood Easter Celebration. We had fun getting a balloon sword for Jeremy and coloring pictures with Miss. Valerie. Banyan was happy to be there even though there was a ton of distractions from little dogs to food lying on the ground. He did really well considering the chaos of so many people in one small place. Jeremy was disappointed that he didn't find any eggs as he was out run by the older faster kids  :0/ But some super sweet children he knew from school stopped by to say HI. When they realized he did not get any eggs they gladly gave him three each of their own! Let me tell you Jeremy didn't ask them for eggs nor did their parents suggest this- they just gave them freely. Sure made this mom's heart happy because it made Jeremy's whole afternoon better. The egg hunt was the only thing he was super excited about and to not get any eggs was very sad. Thank you to those lovely children who gave away their eggs with candy today for my little guy. I hope everyone else enjoyed a great Saturday & has a very blessed Easter Sunday.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Won't Give Up

It's funny because I keep hearing this new song everywhere this week. I really love the words. I feel like God has me listening to it over & over this week so I know I can do all the things that are set before me on my overflowing plate at the moment. I have the four boys going in all different directions in their lives. I always feel like I'm missing something where they ae concerned because there is only one grown-up in the house at the moment. I get so exhausted at times and hate when I hear myself saying "later I'll do such & such later with you". But yesterday at their parent teacher conferences all I heard was compliments on everything from their behaviors to their school work. I heard that my youngest is beyond smart & social. He is making huge strides in his behaviors this year. I learned that Jeremy for the first time EVER had conquered all his Occupational therapy goals!!-WHOO-HOO!! His OT thinks he could even not need her next year if his progress continues! This is HUGE as he has been going since he was 5 years old.

Then when I went to my oldest son's conference he presented an amazing Powerpoint presentation full of animation. He already has his future mapped out through to his graduation of Law school to passing the BAR. WOW! I look back and remember I was the same way only I just wanted to graduate from four years of college with a teaching degree. His schedule for his sophomore year is hard & he picked his classes all himself. He is so excited & enthusiastic still about school that I prayed last night God let's him succeed so his enthusiasm remains. His grades where good & his teachers love him-YAY Next came son number two who has always been the one to know which of my buttons to push. He has struggled the last two deployments only at home with me & his behavior. At times I want to scream at the top of my lungs "why why do I get all the sarcastic rude comments but you behave for everyone else?". I know this is just part of his anger about his dad being gone alot as well as his personality. He came out screaming & has never looked back. But his teachers where giving him high marks and praise. His English teacher who gave him an A actually told him " You could do better if you paid closer attention". That made my day to know she thought he could get an A+ as he has to work his tail off for his good grades unlike son #1 & #4 who are just naturally good at school. I left all the conferences thinking maybe I wasn't doing such a horrific job with the boys these past ten months on my own after all- thank you Jesus!

Then came time for the puppy- the wonderful ball of soft squishy golden fur who demands almost all my time. It was time to head to puppy class where I honestly never know how Banyan will  behave. It's gotten to the point where I was dreading Wednesday  night class every week. Last night Banyan showed up with his best service dog brain WORKING!! He did everything I asked the first time & even shocked his teacher. I train him everyday all the time. He is rarely not learning something. Even when he was swimming this week at the lake. At one point I had him come sit & wait by me while he had to watch Panzer swim. He was shaking with excitement it was very hard for him. He did so good last night it gave me hope that I am not messing up the dog either.

It's hard as a single parent even for just one year every other year lately to not get overwhelmed. I have about eight different balls I'm juggling & if one falls they all seem to crash. As I heard this song played every time I turned on the radio this week , I sang along. I realized if I just breathe and keep plugging along never give up on the kids, the dogs, the friends, or myself we will be just fine. That I have to try and be more positive when I hear other wives complain or whine (because that's what it sounds like to me ) when they only have one or two children who are ALL Healthy about how hard their life is at the moment. That this moment to them is hard!  I have to stop thinking "lady try living in my world for a day- you would not be complaining". I have to stop thinking like that so I can keep going and realize even though I have a whole big bundle of things on my plate- God knows I can handle it if I just trust him. That he has sent people into my life this year to help  me along my path if I just let them. Which I admit is hard for me to do, I hate asking for help. Another thing I think multiple deployments has made me, very overly independent. It's not a bad thing just something I need to work on for myself to not feel so overwhelmed. 
Anyway back to the song, I love the words and the sound. It makes me teary every-time because it reminds me so much of all the struggles as a wife & mom I go through while Paul is away. That I know I won't give up- I can't because I love my family to much.

I live for my family & they ask for a lot in return my love- oh wait that isn't hard to give. The boys love me no matter what kind of day I'm having. Even the dogs love me when I'm exhausted and the tears flow. They know mom's good she won't give up on us, even though the skies have gotten rough. She never has before & she never will.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Learning to Swim

Banyan got his first chance today to hit the lake with Panzer our three year old Weimaraner. He had no service vest or leash on & was full of excitement! It took him a while to figure out it was ok to go in the water but when he did I thought I would never get him out! We uploaded some video to YouTube- not sure why they cut the sound. But he had fun & we look forward to more fun lake days.

Wet puppy after he learned to swim!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dog-Gone Cold Easter Egg Hunt

All American Dogs that helps with Banyan's training attended the annual Dog-Gone Easter Egg hunt in Lacey, WA. They asked if we could join them to show off our handsome boy & explain how they have helped our family. Here are a few fun pictures. We really froze to death with the wind it felt like it was 20 degrees instead of the 43 my van reading showed. We stayed about four hours before we had to call it a day so we could all warm up- our fingers where numb! But we had fun & Banyan did a great job hunting for eggs!

This was as we where leaving- the only sun all day.

Me with Banyan - Liberty & Jean. Jean is one of our  AWESOME Trainers.

Our great poster about Banyan & Jeremy that we made.

Jeremy fell in love with this Handsome guy who came to see our booth.

Jeremy's other friend.

The kennel the boys stayed in while we talked with people .

Setting everything up for our booth.

We did have fun hunting eggs & seeing all the beautiful dogs. But the cold finally won out & we left very cold. Banyan is worn out & has slept the whole time we've been home. We hope to be able to attend future events for All American Dogs 

Jeremy & Banyan "Our Journey" 

This is where you can find us on Facebook to keep up with all our daily activities.