I would like to thank Davidh for this wonderful opportunity to share my family’s life with you. I think you will be sorry you asked a Speech-Language Pathologist to do this…. we get paid to talk!
Where to begin…….
Well, my name is Jen. I grew up in South Jersey all my life. I am 32, but when you read this I will be a few weeks away from 33! Just a little about my hobbies. I like to bake and cook, from scratch. I enjoy taking pictures, being outdoors, traveling, ballroom dancing and sports. My husband and I are also training for a 5K Zombie run in October.
I am the youngest of two. My brother is 22 months older than me and has been serving our country in the Army for the past 16 years. He is currently stationed in Alaska and is a Black Hawk Helicopter Pilot.
I graduated high school in 1997 and began college at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. I started out as pre-med, but when I started taking classes I still had senioritis from high school and didn’t want to be in school the rest of my life, so I switched to undecided. While in my second semester I was serving as a volunteer on our township ambulance squad. This is where I met my first serious boyfriend and 9 months after being together, SURPRISE, I found out I was pregnant. I just turned 19 and was scared to death to tell my parents. After the initial disappointment and shock everyone became excited. Babies are a blessing and my parents LOVE babies. Not to mention this would be their first grandchild. The only thing my parents insisted on was that I finish school. If it wasn’t for the support of my parents I wouldn’t be where I am today!
I found out I was pregnant in September, so I had a whole year of classes before I would become a mommy. I realized that I needed to get my act together and figure out my life because my life was no longer mine. I took a course in Speech Science and eventually declared a major in Speech-Pathology and Audiology. I really didn’t know about Speech Therapists, but what I was discovering by taking these classes I was enjoying. I was due on May 15th
that year and scheduled to take my finals on May 4th
, but low and behold my little one decided to make an entrance on May 3rd
. Yes, the day before my finals. I had to take incompletes and scheduled to make up the finals 3 weeks after I had my daughter. Well, during those 3 weeks I was recovering from a c-section, trying to learn how to be a mom and dealing with NO sleep whatsoever due to the fact that I was blessed with a baby who NEVER slept. I failed my finals and receive my first and only D I ever got in my life. My other teacher lost my test and just gave me a B in the class…LOL. I’ll take it.
I have been blessed with a wonderful little girl who I have watched grow into a beautiful young lady. My daughter recognized all of her letters before she was 2 and started reading completely on her own when she was 3. When I sent her to Kindergarten at 5, I was approached by the district curriculum supervisor asking why she was in Kindergarten. My response, “she’s 5!?” I was told that she scored the highest possible score on the Kindergarten screening, she was finishing her work in class and going around helping the other students and reading elaborate signs placed throughout the school meant for the teachers. She was given an evaluation that they give kids at the end of 1st
grade to see if they are ready for second and she blew the test away. After three weeks in Kindergarten and a lot of stressing, I decided to move her up to 1st
grade. Since then she has been placed in all advanced classes and has score advanced proficient on state exams. My little one is beginning high school in the fall. She had to apply to this high school. She was accepted into their environmental science, magnet program. By participating in this program she will be obtaining college credits and graduate with a high school and college transcript! After reading that I don’t want you to think my daughter is prefect because she has her flaws. One being, since everything came easy to her she waits until the last minute to do anything, she does as little as possible to get by and it drives me CRAZY! But I guess that is what teenagers are supposed to do!
The Christmas before my daughter was born, her father proposed. Everything was going fine until after the baby. I could say that he completely changed, but actually he didn’t change. He didn’t grow up and he didn’t step up as a father. As mentioned, my baby didn’t sleep. She took one 20 minute nap a day from the time she came home from the hospital and then it was pulling teeth to get her to bed at night, which usually wouldn’t happen until 11-12 at night. Then she was up 5-6 times a night. Her father never got up with her through the night and would flop on the bed as soon as he got home from work. We were living with my parents at that time, so while I was home during the day I was taking care of the house and then my parents would watch my daughter when I was in school at night and then I would be back on mommy duty as soon as I walked in the door. Her dad didn’t do anything and it was weighing on my already frayed nerves. I confronted him about all of this when my daughter was 8 months old, but instead of talking/working things out, he walked out and didn’t come back until after work the next night. It was at that point I decided I couldn’t do that anymore. I was raising 2 kids, not one. There were years of ugly court battles and such, but I have to say that we are at a very good place right now. It took him a while to grow up, but I think he is finally there, or kinda….he is dating a girl who was 13 when I had my daughter….lol. I just think that is really funny!
I finally graduated from college in 2002 after 5 years. I had my bachelor’s degree in Speech-Pathology and Audiology. My little one just turned 3. A year before I graduated I realized I HAD to get my master’s degree. I headed off to West Chester University in Pennsylvania. I was lucky enough to be accepted to a satellite program, so I didn’t need to make the drive up to campus. Grad school was the most grueling, stressful experience I have ever been through. I finally graduated grad school in 2006 when my little one turned 7. It was then I realized how stressful this was on her too. She made a comment stating she was happy I didn’t have to go to school anymore!
While I was in graduate school I was also working full-time as a Speech-Language Pathologist in a school. Now that I was fully certified I got another job working with children in their homes providing early intervention services. During this time, I was still living with my parents. Things weren’t always the greatest between us because there were too many ‘parents’ trying to raise one child. We didn’t always see eye to eye. My parents spoiled/spoil the heck out of my daughter and that was the topic of a lot of arguments. I eventually had enough and thought the only way to regain a relationship with my parents was too find a place on my own and move out. So, on my own, I went looking for a house and purchased my first home in June of 2007. It is small and needed some work, but again my parents helped out and we did all of the work ourselves.
Six months after being in my house a friend of mine had a get together. It was nice because I never got out (school and being a 19 year old mommy), but she has kids too, so it was a nice adult and kid get together. I knew most of the people there, but there is one person that I didn’t know. Through conversation I found out that he went to school with my brother and I, graduated with my brother and hung out with him, but I had no idea who he was. I never met him before. The next week we had another get together at the same friend’s house and all of the same people were there, including this mystery man. That night we exchanged numbers. He texted me that same night to let me know that he had a great time. The next night we made arrangements to hang out at my house because I was decorating for Christmas. He came over to help out and to have dinner. We have a joke that he came over for dinner that night and never left! He proposed in front of my family in November, 2008 and we were married on board the Disney Wonder in January, 2010. At times, he drives me completely nuts, but I couldn’t imagine my life with anyone else. He takes me as I am, the good and the bad, the healthy and the sick. He may cause a lot of the stress in my life, but he is always there for me, he is my rock.
I recently left my school job after 9 years of hating the administration I had to work under. I work solely at my Early Intervention job and LOVE IT! I get to work with little ones all day and play!
Now, how Tubs became part of our family. My daughter watched the movie, “The Game Plan”, and fell in love with the bulldog in the movie. There was another one in the movie, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”. She was bringing it up all the time. I eventually told her that if she wanted a bulldog that she would have to do her research. My dad is a hunter, so he had hunting dogs all his life and at this point they had a yellow lab, Sadie, who recently passed on 4/2/12.
I knew nothing about bulldogs. I took my daughter to the book store and we got 4 different books on bulldogs. We both read the books and while learning about bulldogs I was doing my research on finding a reputable breeder. I eventually found a breeder, 2 hours away, who just had a litter of puppies. I contacted her right away and made arrangements to go up and take a look at the puppies. I told my daughter that we were just going to take a look at the puppies, but I knew that we weren’t going to be able to go up there and look at those puppies and not pick one out! When we walked in I immediately picked Tubs up and fell in love. He was the fattest, laziest puppy out of the litter.
I knew, from past experiences, that I wanted a laid back puppy. I handed Tubs to my daughter. I asked her if she liked him and she said “yes”. It was October, so I said “Merry Christmas”! She was so excited. She eventually came up with the name, “Two Ton Tubs”. It was very fitting for our big boy. It was hard leaving him, but we went back 2 weeks later to see him again.
We were leaving to visit my brother in Alaska for Christmas around the time we were able to bring Tubs home with us. I was nervous about bringing him home and then leaving him with someone right off the bat. Our breeder was so wonderful that she allowed us to keep him there until we got back. We went up to visit him one more time before we left for Alaska. The flight to and from Alaska was rough, but we got in the car the very next morning when we returned to go and pick up our baby boy!
He was wonderful from the time we brought him home. He slept all the time, even at night. My husband was great because he got up with him through the night. Something I was not use to from my previous baby experience! Tubs was a wonderful addition to our family. He made everyone smile and laugh from all of his antics. He even warmed my heart. I had always wanted more kids, but that just doesn’t seem to be in my cards. My husband’s mom passed away from Kuff’s disease, which is hereditary. We don’t know if my husband has it or not, but he has a 50/50 chance of passing it on to his kids. He has a son from a previous relationship, but he was “neutered” shortly after. I know Tubs is technically my daughter’s dog, but he was filling a void for me. He is my baby. Since I have been the only one really taking care of him, he follows me around everywhere. He even has a bit of separation anxiety when I leave. I still have my ache for another baby, but I know that won’t happen, so I focus on taking care of my baby boy. I was seeing how happy he was making, not only me, but everyone who came in contact with him. I really wanted to get him certified as a Therapy Dog, so we could expose him to so many more people and brighten their days. I did a lot of research trying to find a class in my area. I couldn’t find anything in my area, but I did see that he needed to complete basic obedience before he could take the Therapy Dog Certification course. I found a Puppy class for Tubs in our area. He completed the class with flying colors and was certified as a S.T.A.R Puppy through the AKC.
We started the basic obedience course at the same location, but we never completed it. This class had more people/dogs. They were also going over everything that we already did in the Puppy class. However, the final straw was the fact that everyone was picking on and making fun of Tubs. I had enough and only went to 3 of the classes. I have a friend who lives an hour away from me, who had her dog certified as a therapy dog. She was very happy with the course and the trainer. The only thing keeping me from attending that class was the hour drive in one direction. I was still looking for a class, but couldn’t find one, so I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for these classes. We had a wonderful experience in both, basic obedience and therapy dog certification classes. He graduated first in his class for basic obedience and he was LOVED by his trainer. He doted on him the entire 8 weeks!
Everyone there was was wonderful. They allowed us to start the therapy classes 3 weeks before we finished the basic obedience classes, so we could be finished before the temperature got too hot for him. It was so nice to be able to find people who knew about all breeds and who are understanding and accommodating to their limitations. Tubs is now a fully certified as a Therapy Dog. We are also working on getting certified as a R.E.A.D (Reading Education Assistance Dog) Team. Once we have that certification we are looking forward to visiting schools and libraries to help children to become better, more confident readers. We are also planning on visiting rehab. facilities, nursing homes and hospitals. We are excited to get started with our visits. He has such a great personality and will make so many people happy! Just like he has with us!
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