We are still here! Between Christmas excitement and then sickness hitting our home after sadly you have all been left hanging. To make up for it we have a lot of fun pictures to share with everyone.
Christmas was amazing. The highlight for Deeds was the giant Sock Monkey holding the stocking from Santa and the handmade Sock Monkey blanket my cousin made for us complete with hood and built in mittens. We went to church with Grandma and Grandpa and then enjoyed Christmas dinner over at their house. The kids did fantastic and Jeremy and I were really happy about how well the entire day went. When we got home that afternoon I sat with Deeds and did the new puzzles he got. He was a BIG fan and we already picked up another new one for his birthday in 2 weeks. (SHH DON’T TELL)
Super Why! Puzzle
Deeds and Magpie listening to the chior at church
Sock Monkey Blankie
Giant Sock Monkey from Santa
Eating crackers, watching a movie and wearing the awesome new shirts!
The next day is when the over-stimulation and meltdowns hit hard. He’d calmed down a bit by that afternoon but we had another family dinner and it took almost the entire time for Deeds to relax and interact with people. It was even family he knew well and usually adores to be around. The low point was when his uncle said hi to him and he screamed and curled up under a chair. Thank goodness for Magpie, the iPad and wonderful family.
Now we are getting things cleaned up and all the Christmas decorations are being put away. I think our little guy will be happy to have things organized again.
Today was a pretty relaxing day. We let Deeds open a present from his cousin this afternoon and then this evening he got some jammies and books from Grandma and Grandpa. All my siblings were with their in laws this year and since Jeremy’s family lives in Houston (WE MISS YOU) we spent a very quiet evening with grandma’s and grandpa’s. Deeds Great Grandma even helped him decorate his cookies for Santa.
When we got home a special package had arrived in the mail for Deeds and Gwen. Mommy quickly wrapped what was inside and let the kids unwrap this special gift before bed.
I love how at the end of the video he says “Magpie that’s you and that’s me.”
Thank you to the amazing Animated Woman for not only doing the original for deeds but for updating the picture to include our miracle Magpie. It was wonderful of you to take the time to do that and he is SO proud of his new shirt. (PS if you guys haven’t seen her blog before it is a lot of fun, you really should go check it out.)
Tonight before bed we drove around and looked at Christmas lights. Deeds even told me that there were so many because “Santa turned them all on.”
Could it be, did my little guy with autism actually grasp the whole Santa thing? I mean we watched a nativity story tonight and he understands who baby Jesus is and he knows Santa is someone who you sit on their lap and gives you candy but that’s about it. I explained that we open presents from Santa to celebrate Jesus’ birthday and a he understood that. Birthdays are something he has always adored. I’m just worried tomorrow he is going to ask where the cake is.
Watching the Nativity Story
When we got home he would not go to bed so Jeremy found a link to make a personalized video from Santa. We did it and played it for Deeds and it actually worked. It was so cheesy we tried not to laugh too hard while he watched it. I think at first he thought he was in trouble when Santa called him Jacob. Honestly I couldn’t get it to say JD or Deeds and since his first name is actually Jacob we went with that. He changed the milk we left out to chocolate milk and then went RIGHT TO BED because he wanted a surprise.
Sometimes things surprise me. Tonight was one of those times, I never would have thought he would react like that. It was pretty awesome.
I mentioned before that with Christmas we have learned that Deeds opening presents with everyone Christmas morning leads to an entire day of meltdowns, stimming, and over-stimulation. This year we are doing presents slowly and one at a time.
Today a box came for Deeds from a dear friend in Ohio. He was very excited when I told him he could open the wrapped gift inside and proclaimed “It’s my birthday, I’m 4!” I had to chuckle since I can tell he is more excited for his birthday in a few weeks than Christmas. I explained that he is still 3 and it’s a Christmas present but at that point he just wanted to open it. I took a video of it so that our friends could see how excited he was. I was trying to help Gwen and film at the same time so it’s a bit shaky but thanks to YouTube’s editing features I tried to stabilize it a bit.
He sat an played it a dozen times before nap time and it was perfect for him. I love our new plan for Christmas of doing it slowly. Sometimes you just have to find the right balance to make things work out.
This picture cracks me up. He was saying "cheese" while making that face.
Time to play!
I’ve already mentioned how hard the holidays can be for us, and many families that have children with special needs in them. Changes of routine, over stimulation everywhere, lots of visitors, outings, parties, presents… you get the idea. With school being out we’ve been trying to keep Deeds occupied at home, some days are better than others. Thankfully he actually enjoyed himself at a Christmas party the other day. A friend of mine invited us up to have waffles and share Christmas stories.
Jeremy had to work so I got the kids and Magpie ready to go and we headed up to the party. It was about an hour from home and Deeds decided to spend that hour screaming. Once I got to the party we sat in the car for a good 5 minutes while I decided if I really wanted to go in with both kids and Magpie by myself or just go back home. I decided to at least go in and say hello and was pleasantly surprised when Deeds calmed down. At one point I heard him talking quite a bit to some people there. I walked over and asked if he was talking about Little Big Planet and they told me he was. It wasn’t hard to guess since he was actually conversing with them what the topic would be. Little Big Planet, Angry Birds or the alphabet are all his favorite topics to talk about right now. Catch him at a good time and ask him about one of those things and he may start talking your ear off. Catch him at a bad time and well, he’ll yell. We are working on it.
Magpie sleeping by the Christmas Tree during the party.
My friend let me know that Santa was going to be stopping by. I let Deeds know and he wasn’t so keen on seeing Santa again. This Santa however was different. It was the first time he’d seen a black Santa and he was so much more comfortable with him than any other Santa we had seen (including Grandpa Claus). Even little sister sat on Santa’s lap. The day before she literally made Santa toss her the candy he had for her since she wouldn’t get too close to him. What a change.
Even mommy had to sit on Santa's lap.
Deeds being such a good boy. He's on the nice list for sure.
Little sister is ready for that candy!
We stayed much longer than I expected too, Deeds even laid down with his blankie and Magpie at one point to listen to some stories. Feeling the normalcy of the evening after hearing him scream all the way up there was wonderful. I’m so glad I didn’t turn around and go back home. I’m thankful for loving friends who open their homes to us and take us as we are. When an entire roll of toilet paper was found unwound (we still aren’t sure who’s child was the culprit) she didn’t even bat an eye as she wrapped it around the tree to make it look like ribbon. Even Magpie got a warm reception. Thank you. It was a fantastic evening.
Deeds inspecting the toilet paper ribbon on the tree.
Yesterday we made a trip to Ikea with some family. This is one of the stores that used to cause huge meltdowns with Deeds. Let’s face it, Ikea can be overestimating for most adults.
When we stopped for some lunch at their restaurant my mom and sister-in-law started to talk about how easy the store had been so far with Deeds. When we first walked in he was attached to Magpie but he wanted to be able to play with his cousins so I unhooked him. There were three adults so we kept a close eye on him and he loved being able to walk with the big kids.
Fifteen minutes later as we were walking through the last half of the store I turned around and Deeds was gone. We called for him and got no response so we split up to find him. I took Magpie to the last place we saw him. We haven’t had to do a real track with her, just practice and we haven’t even practiced since she came home from the animal hospital. I was nervous and didn’t start the track properly so she was confused at first. I started to walk back the way we came and she picked up a scent and started to pull me. My heart sank when she tracked back to a hair bow that fell out of Gwen’s hair and sat down. I had lead her the wrong way instead of paying attention to her at the beginning. I rushed back the other direction and looking back now I realize she started to pull me but I was so panicked at this point I didn’t pay attention.
When we caught up to him he was just coloring on some paper with an employee next to him on the phone. Calling his name had no effect on him. It wasn’t until I snapped his harness onto Magpie that he even realized I was there.
The employee was so amazing. Once when we were there they wouldn’t let us leave because a child Deeds age was missing, once they found the child we could go so I knew they handed these situations well. Even knowing how well they train their employees I was terrified. This is the first wandering incident we have had since we have been home and I was really hoping he was outgrowing it.
I learned a lot of things. I need to not panic and trust Magpie. She would have found him much faster if I would have remembered our training. I also know now she is ready to get back into full practice sessions.
Deeds was not happy to be hooked back to Magpie. I tried to explain that he can not wander off but he still doesn’t understand why it’s a problem. My sweet nephews heard Deeds screaming because I hooked him back up and they came to my rescue. We pulled out every extra lead and teather we had and the boys all walked with Magpie so Deeds would stop screaming. It was quite the sight.
When we we’re all getting in the car my seven year old nephew told his mom “I’m so glad we found JD. That really sucked.”
It scared us all, and I was so thankful for our miracle Magpie!
Yesterday we started working with Magpie full time again and she is doing fantastic. She was very tired at the end of the evening but we couldn’t be happier with her recovery and willingness to get back to work with Deeds. It’s warmed my heart every day when Deeds gets home that he gives her a hug when he sees her waiting at the door for him.
Magpie watching over the back of the rental car.
As this coming week approaches we wish we could share the love in our hearts and home with all of you. It is a Christmas we will never forget and has shown us the amazing spirits in this world that we are honored to know, and that we have just met. Thank you. From our home to yours, may your days be merry and bright. If you are alone this holiday season please know we are thinking of you and you are forever in our prayers.
Yesterday Magpie had her checkup with the vet to see how she is healing from last week. We are thrilled to report that her liver function is back to normal! We have started to do obedience training with her again to see make sure she hasn’t suffered any memory loss and so far things are going great. This week we plan on starting tracking practices with her again and we are optimistic she will be able to everything like a champion.
Thank you one more time for the countless prayers, words of support and unwavering love for our family. In a sea of rough news this past week you were all our beacon of light and happiness.
Santa Claus is a staple for many who celebrate Christmas and yet can be a nightmare those of us with special needs kids. Lets be honest most small children are terrified by the jolly man in the bright red suit. The holidays in general can be something that families with special needs children plan months for and know will be an adventure regardless your best efforts.
Over our past couple holiday seasons we have learned some things.
- Never attend any kind of holiday party without giving Deeds a 2 day notice and constant reminders.
- Once at said party make sure you have his blankie so if he wants to disappear he can hide underneath it.
- If he finds a quiet corner do NOT make him come join the “fun” or no one will have any fun.
- Remember to have a phone or his iPad fully charged for when he becomes overstimulated from the chaos.
- Do NOT attempt to open all presents at once. Even if each child only has two this will be too much stimulation. Instead either do a present a day leading up to the holiday or set a timer for every hour or two the day of Christmas and open one present when it goes off, one person at a time. Even this method can cause stress for our poor little dude.
- DO NOT under any circumstances attempt to get Deeds (or little sister for that matter) within 25 feet of Santa. It will not be a pretty picture.
This year we had been more daring with staying at holiday functions because Magpie calmed Deeds down and he could lay next to her when starting to get over stimulated by the festivities. This past Saturday was our annual family Christmas party and we were worried about attempting it without Magpie. Thankfully she’s been doing so well we took her with and used it as a test run to get her back in public. She did wonderfully. She’s gotten out of the habit of listening to us give her commands so it will be something we are going to have to work on again but she really was fantastic.
The highlight for all the kids was when Santa made a surprise appearance. Now this wasn’t any normal Santa, I called him Grandpa Claus because it was my father. When Deeds saw him he took off for the door. I snatched him up and through the screaming I told him (I know, I ruined the magic) that it was just Grandpa helping Santa. We waited in line and I’ve never had my son hug me so tightly. I joked with my sister that I was going to have everyone go in front of us so that I could keep getting hugs from Deeds. I knew it was because he was stressed so I didn’t, but it was awesome while it was happening.
Magpie and Deeds approached Grandpa Claus and Mag’s sniffed at him and then curled up at his feet. Deeds took this as a good sign and let me put him down. When my dad started to talk Deeds relaxed even more and was thrilled when he walked away with a candy cane.
All night he told me that Santa gave him a candy cane.
Thanks Dad, you made this mommy really thrilled that her little guy got a chance to participate in a popular Christmas tradition.
Can't forget little Gwen
Magpie's brother Mason sent her this get well message from across the country this week.
One of the students at the University of Kentucky, where Magpie was fostered for a while, shared some uplifting words with us when Magpie was so ill. She told us that she remembered Magpie as a being one of the smallest dogs in the training program at the school but she was always the first to start the puppy wrestling matches. The student then pointed out that it was that fighting, spunky spirit that would pull Magpie through.
While Mags has gotten significantly better and we could tell she was happy to be home with Deeds some of that spirit and spunk seemed to be lacking, until last night.
I walked in the door after being gone for just an hour at a church function. When Magpie heard me in the hallway she came bounding around the corner full of life and doing this cute little prancy run towards me. It was the first time I felt like she was truly going to be herself again after all the stress of the week. I laughed and told her she was such a good girl and gave her velvet ears a quick rub. Satisfied that I loved her she went back to sitting next to Deeds.
Later she started to play again with our family pet Daisy, a Jack Russell Terrier. I’m more optimistic than ever that she is overcoming a lot of what has been going on. I’m hoping to start slowly working the obedience training with her again starting this weekend to make sure she still remembers everything. Later in the week depending on how she is doing and what the vet says we want to try tracking too and see if she can still find her boy by scent.
I want all those students at the University of Kentucky that help 4 Paws by fostering the service dogs in training to know how much we appreciate your love and concern during this week. I know many of you were dealing with finals just like me and we are thankful for the time you took to send all your messages and pictures to us. Hope you guys aced all your classes and can continue doing the amazing things you do with these dogs.
A huge and special thank you to our dear friend Caitie who fostered Magpie at the University for so many months.
We know how much you miss Magpie. You did an amazing job fostering her and we wish Kentucky weren’t so far from Utah so you could come visit her sometime because we are sure she misses you also! We love you and are honored to have gotten to know you. To love these dogs and aid in training them, only to have to give them away and start over is an amazing thing and we hope you are proud of your girl. She is our Miracle Magpie and part of the miracle is you. You are ingrained in our hearts forever and hopefully one day we can take you out for a better thank you dinner than stale hotdogs. I know this past week has been as hard on you as it was on us and we only hope that you had someone to hug you and let you cry when you needed it. Thank you for your prayers, thank you for befriending us, and thank you for being one of the people who helped make Magpie the amazing service dog she is.
Love, The Mauss Family
Caitie, Magpie and Deeds
Magpie loving Caitie
Now that Magpie is back home with Deeds I’ve been frantically trying to study for the finals I have to take this weekend so I’m sorry this isn’t much of an update.
Amazing news is that not only did Deeds go right to bed last night but when I checked on him in the middle of the night Magpie was keeping watch over her boy. This is the first night all week Deeds has not come into our room during the night. Not even once. Just being able to have everyone get a full nights sleep has been fantastic. He also didn’t cry when the bus came today but got right on after saying goodbye to Magpie. Hopefully things will swing back into a routine with him. A routine if vital to how well Deeds can handle things are we are all much happier when our little guy is happy.
Magpie is still on 2 medications and we are keeping a close eye on her. Her next vet appointment is set and we are anxious to see how he says she is doing. At first she was kind of wabbly but she actually jumped off and on Deeds bed last night when I went to check on him with no problem. Even 2 year old little sister was so excited to see Magpie when she got home.
Got the car looked at today and I’m so thankful we have good insurance and it is fixable. Hopefully it will only take around 4 days to fix. I’m feeling some effects of the accident today and Doctor says there is some injury but I’m SO thankful that everything is turning out okay and could have been so much worse. We have been very blessed this week but are ready to put all the trials behind us and get back into our version of normalcy and celebrating the Christmas season. We have been so touched to hear from so many people that have gone through their homes and cleaned out anything that could be harmful to their pets, and this warms our heart that hopefully Magpie’s plight will serve as a warning to others.