Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Summer Vacay Week 3

The first daycare week with puppy Zeus. He was the highlight of the week and also the result of a BIG learning curve for the kids. We had to switch some rules about toys being on the floor, not putting food or other things a dog shouldn't have away from the floor, and how to play with a puppy in the middle of everything. Mostly, it was about establishing a new normal. Needless to say, it was quite a memorable week!

For the most part, Zeus had been a pretty quiet pup, but as soon as there was a house full of kids, he broke out of his shell.

The bigs LOVE word puzzles and finds. We've been doing a lot of social studies themed sheets where they have to Google some of the answers in order to fill them in. 

Zeus quickly figured out where to get pets...and food.

Every year our neighbor's mulberry trees drop the berries into our yard. The kids have gotten an earfull about eating them off of the ground, but they know crushing them and using them in the mud kitchen in fair game. This time they were "frosting" for their mud cakes.

Our garden is amazing this year! Once or twice a week the kids have gotten to cut the butter lettuce to eat with lunches. I can't wait for our carrots, snap peas, cucumbers, and peppers!

The first nap time was confusing (for a puppy). When a couple of children laid down, he assumed they were playing but was told "no!" for jumping on them. So, Zeus went into his kennel to observe what was happening. He figured it out, curled up next to the sleeping kids and napped himself. This is the scene every afternoon now. As soon as he hears the "nap time music" (The Lumineers station on Amazon Music), he goes into the living room and curls up with the kids. Everyone is happy.

The mulberries were also used as "tattoos" and "make up" for a few kids. While I love and appreciate their creativity, I had to stop them from using it as eye shadow on their eyelids.

Art Wednesday's. The kids love painting, but I want them to try different things. So, I set up our  paints in a pool and let them do splatter painting. No mess to clean up at the end for me and very cool pictures for them!

A hair train while they watched a movie.

I carefully chose the toys to have out for Zeus's first week at daycare. The fairies made the cut but have to be played with on a table top. I'm impressed with the fairy villages the kids have built. They don't always play with it, they mostly take the time to set it up perfectly, take time to admire their work, and then go outside to play. Then the next child comes along, redesigns it, and the whole thing starts over again.

A walk for the dog after daycare hours. The big kids are dying to take Zeus for a walk, so we need to practice a bit before the kids can take him on their own!

Yard games in the backyard. The minis got so many fun yard games for their birthdays and we have many games we don't play nearly enough. We put them to use one morning! Yard darts, giant checkers, giant Jenga, the trampoline, and bowling kept the kids busy all morning before they cooled off in the pools.

I wrote out ALL the rules so there could be no question about them later on. As long as I tell the kids the rules up front, they tend to listen A LOT better and work hard to follow them.

Zeus tried to play too.

Bowling was set up in the driveway.

Yogurt parfaits have been a go-to breakfast or morning snack item this summer. Sadly, due to the pandemic, I can't do the kid's favorite frozen mixed berries or fruit trays for morning snack (I typically just served them outside while they played) so yogurt parfaits have become the new favorite.

I'm reminded a lot to stop, take a breath, and calmly ask what's happening. I heard the Jenga blocks being dropped and I told them to stop messing around. The kids apologized, but then I looked at the scene in front of me. They were cleaning up (the kid version of it at least) because they wanted to watch an episode of Pokemon and knew the yard needed to be cleaned up first. I apologized to them and then gave them specific directions so they could actually clean up instead of shoving it in a pile under the swing set.

Also up were the small Waffle Blocks. The kids really got creative in what they built. We had a lot of castles, cabins, and an amsusement park.

Pools and sprinklers with a puppy is interesting. He really wants to go in the big pool with the kids and he mostly just likes to drink from the sprinkler.

All eyes were on the (small) tree being cut down in the backyard in preparation for the new fence that we're building.

I love our morning ritual of watching the morning news (although I could do without the 5:30 a.m. wake up calls), coffee, and cuddles while he peacefully naps.

I failed to take a picture of the way cute Father's Day gfits the kids made (check them out here), but I did let them all go through the candy to choose their Dad's favorites. One child asked me for a banana to add to it.

The kids did a few craft kits and built with Lego's all morning long. I finally grabbed the kids Lego Ideas book, so they put it to use!

Their afternoon challenge was to build a ball wall using tubes, pool noodles, and masking tape. It didn't hold up the best because a certain puppy kept biting at it and pulling it down.

The week may have been slightly insane since having a puppy is like having a baby and toddler put together in the same being plus teaching kids how to deal with and take care of a puppy, but overall it was wonderful. We quickly realized the dog functions best with constant things to do around him and the kids have just as much fun. This might just be the best thing I've done in a while.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

To My Oldest On Your 12th Birthday

My Maxie,

As I sit writing this, I'm watching you out of our dining room windows. You'ven taken your new puppy out to play (and pee) and I see you freely and carelessly dancing on the teeter totter. Making your own music in your head on doubt.

I laughed, recorded a video, and came back to write that I'm so incredibly proud of you.

You've stepped up in big ways these last four months. Not only do you do your chores without (much) complaint, you help whenever it's needed. Whether it's a quick "watch the kids" while I make a stop at the bathroom in the middle of the day or helping the kids with anything, to making sure the house runs smoothly. Not only am I proud of how you've handled taking care of Zeus, but I'm impressed beyond belief.

You've done late nights and early mornings, shown concern when needed, kept track of feedings, toys, picking up poop, and keeping the yard clean. It's safe to say we wouldn't have a dog if it weren't for you! I wasn't exactly sure what I thought getting a dog would teach you, but it's given you a sense of responsibility and you've knocked it out of the park for a newly turned 12 year old.

I'm constantly touched and amazed at your kindness, patience, caring, and carefree self. You have huge shoes and fill them fully (literally and figuratively) with the high goals you set yourself. You don't care what others think and make no apologies for who you are. You forever keep me wanting to better myself because of your own drive.

Your current favorites are Pokemon, Zoom calls with friends, reading, Prodigy, Pokemon, watching the news, and....oh yeah, Pokemon. You are Pokemon obsessed if that wasn't evident. You eat anything, you're adventurous, and love to travel. I love many, many things about you, but your love for travel and exploring new places is inspiring. I've watched you learn about different cultures, cities, and ways of life, take it all in and apply that knowledge to your daily life and beliefs.

I'm lucky to be your mom and I thank you for always making me a better person. You've been doing that since the day you were born and I hope you never stop teaching me.

Here's to year 12!! I'm unsure of what it will bring, but I can guarantee we'll make the best of it! Thank you for letting me and the rest of us continue to be a big part of your journey. The fact that you still want me to help you make the best of your life is not lost on me nor is its privilege. I love you forever and always!


Pictures that depict your special, silly self.

Friday, June 26, 2020

My Favorite Puppy-ish Things

Since we brought our fur ball home, we've been introduced to a whole new world: the dog world. My new favorite things have to do with dogs and things to do at home. Not shocking since we've been spending quite a bit of time at home...that's not really dog related, but more pandemic related. We've learned a lot in our two weeks of dog ownership. The biggest surprise for me is how much like a baby AND a toddler a puppy is. I feel it's like shadowing a toddler who won't listen, as I constantly say things like, "no bite!" "Leave it!" "stay there!" "Good job going potty! Yay!!"

Anyways, here's my list of things we've been loving. If you have any recommendations please share!

1.) We managed to teach Zeus his name and sit within a few days with Zuke's salmon treats. We're working on potty training, walking on a leash, and 'leave it' now. The treats come in handy.

2.) Hot days at home call for a sprinkler. The minis got this one for their birthday's. Kids and dog alike love this one.

3.) Also a birthday gift is the mini trampoline. The kids have a blast just jumping on it (one at a time). It's small and easily stored. How does a puppy fit into this one, you ask? Ah, yes, he likes to lay under it when no one is jumping.

4.) Since nearly all public pools are closed for the season, we've hit up local lake beaches. They're by far not my favorite, but they're something. Since we anticipate spending quite a bit of time at the beaches, we purchased a beach umbrella. It was great this past weekend when our all black puppy was ready to get out of the sun while the kids played in the water. Next time I may set it up halfway in the water, so I can cool off too!

5.) I didn't realize how important fish oil is for dogs (at least for labs). I quickly purchased a pump bottle of salmon oil. After price comparing several places, Amazon was by far the cheapest and best place to purchase.

6.) My bleach cleaner recipe is getting a work out since daycare fully re-opened after the shutdown. We use Nature's Miracle for cat pukes and doggie accidents (it works great!), but the bleach cleaner is used on all surfaces. Here is the recipe I've used for the past several years to help during cold and flu season especially.

7.) A good game on the cell phone to pass the time while the puppy learns to use the yard is much needed. I downloaded Word Tiles and have played it at 4 a.m., 2 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. Basically, you can play it anytime, anywhere.

8.) We started to watch Homeland while we were up on puppy duty. We haven't made it past the first season because kids + dog = takes forever to finish things, but it is great!

9.) Quick and easy dinners have always been a must for us, but especially the last couple of weeks. We've been relying a lot on GrubHub and sheet pan dinners.

10.) After a few rounds of bad blisters and a round of cellulitis in my small toe, I opted for new hiking shoes. Ironically, I haven't worn them hiking yet because it's rather difficult to hike with a puppy who doesn't know how to go on a walk yet, but I wore them on our beach outing and around the house. The Merrell Trail Gloves are amazingly comfortable with no breaking in required. I'm in love. They'll be perfect for summer hiking, but I'll definitely have to get a new pair of hiking boots for fall, winter, and spring.

11.) My new favorite drinks is Corona Refresca. Delicious plus how appropriate that it's Corona--the whole reason we're home so much anyways!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Zeus's First Weekend Home

We got a dog. A real life, the kid's finally talked me into it, puppy. And we love him! I took a couple of days off to get used to our new family member (and so he could get used to us), so we had an extra long, but busy weekend. I had to get used to middle of the night wake up calls, keeping shoes picked up, and spending a lot of time walking around my backyard saying, "go potty." I usually do this plenty in the bathroom with littles at daycare, but it's a first for saying this in my backyard. My neighbors admitted they giggle every morning when they hear us out there at 5 a.m.

In between the middle of the night potty breaks, we threw in a vet visit, baking nearly 100 cookies, and throwing a birthday bash for the minis. I was REALLY happy I had a long weekend so I could nap when the puppy napped!

Nobody was sure what to do on our way home. Zeus was exhausted and totally not sure about us, every time he moved the kids freaked "omg, what do we do? He's walking on us?" It was a memorable night to say the least, but I'll never forget being the first one to hold him as he was handed over to us with his soft fur and puppy breath.

We walked in the door as the cats greeted us (as usual). They were incredibly curious about this thing we brought home. They're still very curious, but they also spend time away from him because they don't like the way he attempts to play with them!


One of my favorite pictures from the weekend: the cat wondering why this thing is still here (top) and checking out all of his toys and watching him as he slept in his kennel (bottom).

The kids didn't want Zeus to be by himself, so they insisted on a living room slumber party. That lasted until about 12:30 a.m. when Zeus couldn't stop crying because he saw the kids and wanted to be with them. We've since figured out how he sleeps best--which is not in view of anyone.

As if we didn't have enough going, we threw the minis a drive by birthday bash. Read about it here.

Zeus got A LOT of attention all weekend long.

We had cookies leftover from the Birthday Bash, so we turned them into ice cream sandwiches for dessert one night.

The kids then decided they should be in charge of him one night. Around 1 a.m. they realized how much he wakes up at night and handed night duty back to me. They are also amazed at how much he sleeps during the day.

Since we were home all weekend, we spent a good amount of time in the backyard running through sprinklers and playing in little pools so Zeus could play too.

Sitting on the dining room table as if it's a normal thing.

Now for the funniest part of the weekend: to try to get Zeus to learn his name and come to us, we broke out the treats. Zeus wasn't interested at first, but the cat was. She realized they were salmon flavored treats and comes, sits down in front of however is holding the bag, and waits for her treat. So, I guess we trained the 14 year old cat instead of the puppy.