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Thursday, July 31, 2014

5 'must-haves' for your new pup (besides food!)

(Disclosure: Affiliate links usedCrate & Bed / Collar & Leash  / Toys: Kong Nature's Miracle Spray / Training treats

It's been a long time since either Beau or I have had a puppy. I was in junior high the last time I had a 'real' puppy and Beau was about that age as well. Honey almost doesn't count as a puppy because she was between 4-5 months old and was pretty much trained, house-broken and didn't play with toys. So I came up with my 5 must-haves for the puppy stage so far.

1. A crate - this is a serious must have. Crate training aids in house-breaking, gives the pup a safe spot to call their own. (Diesel already is comfortable to go lay in his with the door open when he wants a break or a place to lay down and chew his toys) It also gives you a safe spot to leave your pup when you leave the house or just when you can't keep a 100% eye on them so you don't come back to chewed up furniture and potty accidents in your den. We also use the crate as a time-out spot when the pup and children start winding each other up and they need a break from each other (a spot for the pups time out not to put the children in!) We also have a crate mat to put inside the crate to give him something comfy to lay down on.

2. A collar and leash - mostly a no-brainer. This collar is just adorable though! We also just purchased a gentle leader for Diesel that will eliminate his pulling. He isn't too bad now but he's soon to outweigh most of the family so this will be a big deal later and I want to prevent him from learning bad habits.

3. Toys! My favorite saying is "a tired puppy is a good puppy." Plus you want to give your pup a safe option of something to chew on that isn't your furniture or shoes. The first week Diesel would try to chew on whatever he could get his mouth on, we'd quickly re-direct him to a toy and praise him for chewing on his own toy. I love these kongs because you can fill them with a treat and they'll keep the pup's attention for longer. Other good options - a squeaker toy, ropes, dog bones and balls to play fetch with.

4. A spray cleaner - because there will be a few accidents no matter how good ya'll both are.

5. Treats - I love the treats in the mini-size because they are perfect for training so you aren't giving him a huge treat each time your pup sits when you tell him too or having to tear a larger treat into small pieces.

Of course you also need food and water/food dishes but I figured that went without saying.

What are things you found you couldn't have done without at the puppy stage?

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Diesel the Daniff

Losing Honey was hard… for Beau and I she'd been with us for a long time - since before we were married. The kids had never known not having a dog. Even when Honey wasn't playful, she was there for a good cuddle or being near by while the kids were playing outside. One of the first things out of Abby's mouth after hearing the news about Honey, "was when can we get another puppy?" (But that's not totally new as she would ask about getting a new puppy before that and any time we would see pet adoptions) Beau didn't think he was ready but the home sure felt empty.  I, meanwhile, was contemplating something different, a lapdog that could easily travel with us, live inside without taking up half the room.

Then the neighbor came home from his friends with a litter of Great Dane/Mastiff pups. He knowing the news about our mastiff and Beau's feelings on big dogs - of course texted Beau about them.  Beau woke me up from naptime (yes I took a nap with Lexie since Beau was working from home) holding a little ball of fluff. Well little is a relative term here I supposed.  (My aunt nearly nailed in on the head pointing out a Cavalier telling my mom that's what I would want but Beau wouldn't go for it as he would want a big dog)

And thus we had a new member of the family. Meet Diesel the Daniff.

He's a clutzy, handful of a pup but the kids and Beau love him regardless. He's not a huge fan of car rides but we've taken him to the dog park and Petsmart a couple times for socialization.
 Daddy let him get up on the couch… Mean mommy put a stop on this - dogs who are going to be bigger than me don't get to take up residence on the couch! Check out those paws! He'll be bigger than Micah by the end of the month for sure!

He's now 14 weeks old and probably about 25 lbs. (Update: He was 31lbs at his last appt) He's going to be a huge! The first picture up top was the week we got him and this is this week. He's already over doubled in size.

He's a goofball, with spurts of energy but still many naps as he's growing so much. He is growing so much we can't get him to look like he has any meat on his bones because he gets bigger before he can get fatter. He likes to play 'soccer,' and sometimes fetch, treats (especially puppy ice cream) and is building up some stamina to make it on a walk around the block. The first walk he wound up in the bottom of the stroller because he got tired and it was only a mile loop or so.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

San Antonio Zoo - National Zoo Keepers Week

Last week the San Antonio Zoo invited us to visit for the first time in about a year. We hadn't renewed our season past last year since with preschool and Abby in school now and I felt a little bad if I just took Lexie all the time, or that Abby would miss out since we rarely went on weekends. The zoo invited us to come and check out the animals and also to learn from some of their keepers in honor of National Zoo Keeper Appreciation Week.

The first thing Micah wanted to see was the snake house. Seriously - what's up with my kids and reptiles? First Abby's obsession with alligators, then frog hunts, now the snake house. Reptiles or not I'll take the air conditioning. I love how many of the widows were low enough that I didn't have to lift both kids to see into each exhibit.

Next Micah wanted to see the cheetah but to get there we would pass a lot of animals so we took our time through Africa Live to get to the cheetahs.  Of course we would find the giant frog on our way. 

Lexie wanted to have a say on where we went as well and loved looking at the map with colorful animal pictures. Even if she did keep calling the tiger a cheetah. She ought to know better! 

Pass the monkeys in Africa live where we were able to see a baby monkey being quite playful, the elephant and then we made it to the cheetahs. They were smart though hanging out in the shade in some bushes so they were hard to spot. We did catch one of the tigers snoozing in the stairwell. 

The zebras were out eating lunch and the rhino looked like he was about to take a nap. I'm grateful for the new added bars on the rhino exhibit - I always felt like that wall was low for little ones!

Then we met up with some of our blogger friends and the keepers brought out some of the animals to show us. 

We learned about Pierre the Possum. This little just turned one year old guy is fed a diet of dog food and banana biscuits. Possums also have the most teeth of any mammal. He was a lot more active than a normal possum would have been during the day since he's been raised that way but most are nocturnal. 
A bird in the Tucan family. I can't remember his name because it was at this point that Lexie realized she was starving and needed everyone to know she needed a snack. 
Ivan the legless lizard - not a snake. Still a reptile.
And King the Skink - he's got a prehensile tail.
All the littles seemed to enjoy learning about these animals up close and finding out more about what the zoo keepers do at the zoo.  

To finish off our afternoon at the zoo (before we dissolved in a puddle of sweat from the heat!) we took a ride on the newly completed carousel. Micah *had* to ride on the dragon or I think despite all the other great things we saw he would have been totally bummed -  luckily it wasn't too crowded and we waited one extra turn until we were at the beginning of the line. Lexie was super excited to pick out a zebra to ride on. The carousel is really beautiful with loads of different animals to pick from to ride on. 
Thank you SA Zoo for a great day learning about the animals and the great zoo keepers that take care of them. 

*disclosure: We recieved free admission to the zoo for the day to enjoy the grounds and meet the keepers. 

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Nature Walk

Gigi and Pops seem to have a theme going with their neighborhoods. They know how much Abby loves alligators so they seem to choose places with ponds that have alligators in them. Ha! Okay maybe not but they again have alligators in their pond even though they aren't in Louisina living off the ship canal anymore.
While we were visiting, we of course took an evening to head out on a nature walk                                                to the new boardwalks in the neighborhood. Looking for both more of the larger frogs and trying to spot the alligator.  We immediately spotted lots of ducks sitting on the boardwalk. 

There were lots of different overlooks to walk between and see all the animals and the alligator in the pond. Notice Micah has his frog catcher at the ready. 
We were able to spot the alligator pretty quickly! He was a little tricky to see since he was far away and his head was hiding in the reeds but we were able to see him for a minute. Abby has her frog catcher as well.
We walked on down to see if we could spot him better from the second overlook.
We weren't able to see him any better from the second one but we were able to see some more ducks.
On our way back we also spotted a nest hiding in the grass. Duck? Snake? Turtle? I'm not sure… maybe I should ask google? There were baby ducks around so we are thinking probably a duck nest.
There was a contest going on for best family photo on the boardwalk…. think this is a winner? Ha! They were too busy wanting to search for frogs to look at me!
Other than mosquitos it was a nice little nature walk with lots of animals seen and the nest. 

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

We're going on a frog hunt….

For both the 4th of July and the Nordstroms sale, we headed a few hours away to spend time with my parents and so Gigi and I could have a shopping day hitting the sale together (because that's always more fun - though Pops might not let us go again… so many shoes but they are for back to school so it's a need right? Plus great deals!)

Gigi and Pops have an awesome pool in their backyard - which is always the first thing the kids want to do and who can blame them?
Lexie was a pro at swimming all around the pool in her puddle jumper by the end of the first day in Gigi's pool. She hardly ever said 'help me, help me' like she does at the Y pool when she gets further away from me than arms reach. 

Of course it's not just the pool that has captured their attention at Gigi's house. It's also the frogs that have seemed to make it their home. All the landscaping plus the pond right behind their house has seemed to be sending out an invitation for baby frogs to come and jump in the pool. Gigi at one point found 7 of them all piled on a tiny (no bigger than you palm) plastic toy dinosaur floating in the skimmer basket. 
Abby's second cousin also caught a bigger frog at her grandparents house (right down the road) and had brought it along when they all came over for dinner and swimming. Abby loved this big frog. (yuck!) 

Both Abby and Micah became pros at catching the frogs and loved to play with them…. a little much for my liking!
Micah tortured his frog a couple times jumping in with them… he also did great with his swimming while we were there. He made it the long ways with using his big arms a couple times. A little more practice and he just might be able to pass the swim test at the Y this summer and be able to go down the slides. 
Who knew a few little frogs could keep kids so entertained? It's the first thing they wanted to do the second time we came - right before getting in the pool to swim. They would barely stay inside the house if we didn't tell them they couldn't be outside without a grown-up. I guess I shouldn't be too shocked. My parents do have a picture of me with a teeny tiny frog like Micah was holding on my nose.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Royal Canvas

A couple weeks ago, a friend from our Church had taken her girls to paint at The Royal Canvas and mentioned there was a groupon out for it. My littles love doing art projects but I haven't been as good at getting the art supplies out lately as I had been in the past so I knew they'd love this. I browsed the list of classes  and decided on what week I thought both kids would like painting they were doing. I love that they offer both a 4-6 and a 7-12 age group class at the same time. I've seen other kids painting classes else where they had both age groups but they were at very different times and discouraged bringing a child that wasn't painting along. For me that would be complicated to work out two different times to bring only one child so being able to bring both at the same time was a big plus! 

I didn't realize quite how far across town it was from us as I don't venture across town that often so we arrived 5 minutes late but the instructors were so nice and helped get the kids set up and painting with their classes in no time.  

The instructors take it step by step and show the kids where and with what color to outline each thing as they go and they trace along the pencil lines that are already drawn on the canvas. They add the colors of paint to the plates as they go so the kids aren't overwhelmed by colors either. In Abby's they even blended a couple colors to create some shading/highlights. 

Micah was done in just a little over an hour and Abby's class took the whole hour and 1/2 but Micah didn't mind waiting too much.
Both kids were so happy with their paintings they made! I just got an email this week saying it's groupon time again (the one I got was an older one) which means I can score another one and take the kids again when I find another weekend that works with paintings both kids will enjoy. I think this time I might get groupon for myself as well. I've never done the painting studio thing before but I after seeing how step by step they go with the kids I'm thinking maybe just maybe I could manage to make one look decent.
I was super pleased with the instructors at The Royal Canvas and the overall experience. The littles are loving having their canvas paintings art hanging in their rooms! 

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