Training Kids and Dogs

I’ve seen a lot of great information floating around the internet lately about children interacting with dogs. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of not-so-good information out there as well. This is an issue that is very near and dear to my heart, as I have two beautiful dogs who are part of our family, but we are also expecting our first child in just 11 short weeks. My husband and I have discussed at length how we plan to train both our dogs AND our children to interact with one another.

And there it is. I said it. Yes, I plan on training my child. Many parents don’t like that term, though I’m not entirely sure why. That is what a parent does on a daily basis, whether they use that term or not. Maybe it’s just the word “train”. That’s what you do to an animal, not a child. Let me replace the word train with the word teach and maybe I’ll get some of you back. It is not uncommon to hear talk of dogs “being good with kids” and how to teach a dog to do so. So dog training will not be the topic of this post, but the intent here is to open the eyes of those who see it as a one-way street – where the dog is the only one who needs training teaching, and those who believe that the dog is the source of any problems that arise between children and k9.

Before going any deeper, I want to ask two simple questions.

Question 1: Is it fair to expect a dog to respectfully interact with children, but not teach a child how to respectfully interact with dogs?

Question 2: How difficult would it be to keep your cool in a situation where someone came at you in a threatening manner and was was disrespectful of your personal space? Maybe they even touched you in an uncomfortable spot, hit you, or roughed you up… would you be upset?

If someone, whether that person was a stranger or not, interacted with you in a way similar to that outlined in question 2, you would obviously be upset. Now, you may not lash out at the person… but then again, what if you were having a bad day? What if you were in pain and that person touched you in a way that caused discomfort? Chances are, you would do or say something. You would also be thinking about how rude that person had been, how they had no manners.

Now let’s translate this into an interaction between a dog and a child (or any human being, really, but for the purpose of this post, we will talk about children). The interaction can go either way, the dog can show a lack of manners towards the child, or the child can show a lack of manners towards the dog. Many people think it’s acceptable to teach their dog to “behave” (i.e. accept anything a child does to him/her) around children, but not teach their children how to act around dogs. I’m not sure where this mentality comes from… I suspect it’s a form of the “kids will be kids” mindset. But does anyone really expect a dog, no matter how friendly, to remain polite and tolerant in a situation where his space is crowded, he is being touched in uncomfortable ways, hit, or having pain caused to him (even unintentionally)? I think the answer to this question is pretty well answered by how YOU would answer that question about yourself. Would you remain polite and tolerant? I sure as heck would not.

As cute as this may be to some:

baby-sitting-on-dog

For me, this photo brings on a mild anxiety attack. Imagine how uncomfortable this would be for the dog… now imagine if this dog’s hips were bothering him that day. There are so many horrible things that could happen here, I don’t even want to think about it.

So folks, my point here is this: YES, it is important to train (or teach, if you prefer) your children how to act around dogs. And not only if you have a family pet. Think about how many situations there are in which a child could come in close contact with a dog: while on a walk in the park or around your neighborhood, a situation in which a stray dog approaches, when visiting a friend or family member’s house… etc. Kids and dogs will interact and it is best for everyone to know how to do so safely. I have seen FAR too many circumstances involving children and dogs recently that have sent my stomach into my throat to watch. Children chasing dogs, jumping on dogs, hitting them, pulling their hair, pulling their tails, sitting on them, “petting” them roughly (AKA smacking the dog)…

Parents, COME ON! No matter how “nice the doggy is”, a dog in any of the above situations is NOT happy and it is only a matter of time before he or she gets frustrated enough to let your child know. It may take years for the family pet to reach that point, but just because your dog handles it so well doesn’t mean you should continue to let it happen. It is imperative to teach children to treat dogs with respect, just as we teach them to treat other children and adults with respect. The consequences can be devastating, even fatal, for both the child and the dog – yes, we have to think about the dog in the unfortunate circumstances of a dog bite as well. It’s not just the child who will suffer. RARELY does a dog bite without being provoked, yet it will be the dog who pays the ultimate price of euthanasia in the end.

Here is a link to a great blog post on dog bite statistics and prevention:

http://thesciencedog.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/the-kids-are-alright/

And parents, some very important ground rules for children when interacting with dogs:

Never let a child do any of the following: Sit on a dog, chase a dog, corner a dog, take a toy or food from a dog (this is always an adult’s job), pull a dog’s hair, play with a dog’s lips or any other part of the dog’s face, lay on a dog, hit a dog (YES, this includes rough petting), pull or grab a dog’s tail, approach a strange dog without asking his or her owner, or do anything to a dog that you might even slightly consider aversive to the dog.

Parents: please, please learn about dog bite prevention and teach your children how to properly interact with dogs. There is so much information out there. Do some research, it truly could save a life. So many people are completely unaware of this issue, even in their own homes (likely because their dog has yet to lash out. Remember, this doesn’t mean he/she won’t. Just that it hasn’t happened to date). If just ONE person decides that it’s important to teach their child how to responsibly behave around dogs because of this post, it will be worth it.

For further reading on the subject, please do a bit of research on:

- How to safely introduce your dogs to children and vice versa

- Canine body language

- Bite prevention and dog safety

25 Weeks

Wow… time flies. I didn’t even realize that I’d missed my 24 week post because it felt like it had only been a few days. I’m starting to feel the we-only-have-3-more-months-to-prepare pressure. It’s daunting and thrilling all at once. There are still so many things to do, things to learn, and things we need, but I’m confident that it will all come together.

25weekscauliflower

This week, baby is 13-15 inches long and between 1.5 to 2.5 lbs! It differs between sources, so that’s the range. I can’t believe how big he is getting! This week, he will begin to open his eyes and respond more to stimuli such as light, sound, and touch now that his nervous system is more advanced. Wow! His lungs are producing lots of surfactant in preparation to breathe air. He is packing on baby fat over his lean figure and gaining weight rapidly.

It’s amazing how quickly he’s developing now. I remember reading about development at 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 10 weeks… baby was so tiny and barely looked human. Now he looks like this:

25 week babyIt’s not only baby that’s growing these days:

25 weeks

We had a bit of a “scare” last week and ended up in Labor and Delivery. I had some abdominal pain and the contraction monitor revealed that I was having regular, mild contractions. After a shot to stop them (which didn’t work), an ultrasound to make sure everything was ok, and a few hours more of monitoring, we were discharged with instructions to rest. The contractions remained for a couple more days, but they were unproductive (yay) so I just restricted my activity for a few days and now we’re good as new.

This morning we went to a cloth diapering seminar to learn a bit more and help us make our decision between cloth and disposable. I’m glad we went – we learned a lot and now have a valuable resource should we decide to go that route.

How far along: 25 weeks!

Total Weight Gain/Loss: +12 lbs (Finally hit 130… and 131… That was a bit hard to see, but I am coming to terms with it. lol)

Maternity clothes: Nothing. Fits. I don’t like ANYTHING on my belly, so I wear the loosest clothing possible and can’t wait for sundress weather again.

Stretch marks: Any day now. I can feel it.

Sleep: I sleep fine, but it’s very broken sleep. I have to move from side to side about once an hour and get comfortable again with my pillows and whatnot. My back and ribs begin to hurt if I stay on once side for longer than an hour.

Best moment last week: The baby dancing in Josh’s hand. He put his hand under my belly while I was laying on my side and baby was “standing” on his hand, jumping around. Josh could feel it all and we both just had a good time with it :)

Movement: If I sit still and watch my belly, it jumps, rolls, and random protrusions appear and disappear on a regular basis. Baby has officially gained access to my ribcage and likes to sit propped up against my lower right ribs. Uncomfortable! It’ll only get worse from here. But no matter how uncomfortable it gets, I can’t help but smile.

Food cravings: This week I’ve had a major sweet tooth. Argh. I don’t control that very well, so I’m hoping this sweets thing doesn’t last too long.

Belly button – in or out? It’s almost flat with the rest of my belly now, so I’m sure it won’t be long before it’s a full-on outie. Band-aids on hand.

What I miss: Not feeling fat and heavy… it’s worth it but I can’t wait to get back into shape.

What I am looking forward to: Holding this sweet baby boy.

Milestones: Last week was considered “viability” – when baby would have a decent chance of survival in the unfortunate event of preterm birth. Chances go up each week after 24 weeks. While reassuring after our little event last week, baby and I have discussed that he is to stay put much longer.

Well, that’s all folks!

23 Week Update

And so it begins… This is the first week that my body is really starting to feel different. It’s like I’m pregnant or something. Up until now, my belly hasn’t been big enough to make it difficult to bend over fully, stand up from the couch, or sit up from lying down. But I guess I’m finally at that point. I popped into a prenatal yoga class this week just to have some fun and I was astonished when for the first time in my life, I couldn’t touch my toes. I noticed that when lying on my back in bed, I can’t sit up without rolling over and using my arms first. (So I guess technically, I can’t do a sit-up.) When I put my shoes on, I have to use the flamingo-leg to bring my foot closer to my body first. Deep breaths? Forget about it. My lung capacity feels like it’s at 50%. Big meals? No thanks. No room for that either. Heck, I worry about exploding after a glass of water.

What’s amazing is that I’m really not even that big yet! It’s only downhill from here. And this happened so quickly. I went from feeling fairly normal, not restricted at all, to feeling like this in a matter of days. Oh dear.

I had to snap this photo when I was in the car the other day because it still catches me by surprise sometimes when I look down and see this:

23 week

Baby: This week, baby is about 1.25 lbs and over a foot long, head to toe. He is STRONG and his hearing is getting clearer by the day. His sense of touch is developing rapidly and he spends time feeling around the womb, grasping the umbilical cord, kicking, and sucking his thumb. His lungs are developing rapidly as well, and hiccups are becoming a common occurrence. So cool!

How far along: 23 weeks!

Total Weight Gain/Loss: No gain this past week and we finally replaced our scale. +9lbs total as of yesterday.

Maternity clothes: Clothes in general are uncomfortable. Is it socially acceptable to go out in a bath robe?

Stretch marks: Not yet, but I can definitely feel my skin stretching.

Sleep: Heartburn has been keeping me up way past my bedtime because I have to sit up to relieve it. I also can’t seem to get comfortable for more than a few minutes at a time, so lots of position changing throughout the night. The dark circles under my eyes are a fashion statement, really.

Best moment last week: Every single kick, somersault, hiccup… each one is the new best moment.

Movement: Those kicks are getting HARD. Every once in a while, they’re borderline painful.

Food cravings: Unfortunately, macaroni and cheese. I don’t give in too often, but I’m going to need to find a recipe for some at least fairly healthy macaroni. If anyone knows of a good one, feel free to let me know. (Has to be creamy)

Gender: This really doesn’t need to be in every week’s questionnaire because (hopefully) it’s not changing. lol

Belly button – in or out? It’s definitely working its way out. I’ve tried reasoning with it, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

What I miss: My master bedroom, bed, and bathroom. Can someone PLEASE come fix my house already?

What I am looking forward to: I keep having dreams about holding my son for the first time and I’m honestly really, really anxious for that day to come. The weeks are going by so quickly that I feel like it’s really not that far off!

Milestones: Feeling pregnant. Hooray?

I really didn’t want to post this photo because well… I look like crap with the bags under my eyes, raptor claw holding my shirt up, and I need a haircut too badly to wear my hair in any way that doesn’t make me look like a teenage boy. But I’ve been promising photos for weeks with no follow through, so here goes. *hides in shame* I wish I were one of those adorable pregnant ladies with a cute little bump that sticks out so perfectly in front, but instead my entire midsection just gets rounder. (And by midsection, I really mean my whole body.)

23 weeks

I really wish I had another method of taking photos, but an iphone is all I’ve got. One day I’ll have a real camera. ;)

Crafting Fun: Canvas Wall Flower

I went on a craft kick yesterday and decided to begin making some nursery decor. I set out with the intention of making some no-sew curtains and a few cute wall hangings to add some color to the room, since we’re not painting. I knew that scrapbook paper would be a good way to incorporate some color and fun patterns, so after some pin-spiration (pinterest, duh), I headed out to the craft store. I was unable to find the right fabric for curtains, so those will have to wait. But I did make a wall hanging that I was fairly happy with. It’s not very masculine, but I quite like the gender neutrality of it. We chose a light teal and grey color scheme for the nursery for a few reasons:

1. It’s pretty

2. It’s pretty

3. It can be used for a boy or a girl, so we won’t have to re-do it all if we have another baby. If the next one is a girl, we’ll simply add in a few pops of coral or pink and it’s instantly transformed. Teal/coral is a stunning color combo.

4. I hate the standard “baby blue”. *gag*

The final product:

wall flower

What I love most about this project is this:

16″ x 20″ Canvas: $2.50

Scrapbook paper – 5 sheets: $1.00 ($0.20 each)

Paint: $0.69

Hot glue (2 sticks): $0.40

Total cost: $4.59

What’s even more awesome is that it would go perfectly in our living room as well, so if we don’t end up using it for the nursery – no harm done. This is an awesome gift idea for anyone who enjoys crafting. All you need to know is the color scheme of a room in someone’s house! I’ll be making more of these in the future, for sure.

I also got a neat wooden crate from Michaels for a few bucks that I plan on painting and filling with diapers/wipes. I’ll probably do one for the nursery and one for the living room. I’ll update with photos when I’m done… if I like how it turns out. ;)

22 Week Update

Wow… time is going by ridiculously fast. I feel like every time I blink, another week has passed. I can’t believe our little munchkin is over 1 lb now and about a foot long! (Ok, I can believe that part – I felt kicks in my ribs for the first time this morning, so those legs MUST be getting long.)

papaya

I’ve been horrible about taking photos, but I promise I’ll post one in the next couple days. Life has been total chaos this week. Monday afternoon, our house flooded due to a clog of the main drain from the house. Had we known, we wouldn’t have done laundry, dishes, and each taken a shower all within a span of 30 minutes or so… bad plan. So our house is completely torn apart, carpet torn up, drywall cut out, baseboards torn up… it’s a mess. We can’t use the master bedroom, so I’ve been sleeping on an air mattress in the nursery or on the rock hard guest bed. Josh had a work meeting in Orlando Thursday and Firday, so to escape and catch my breath I tagged along and put my feet up in a hotel room for a day and a half. That was nice, but coming back home to this mess has not been. Hopefully this will all be behind us in a few days once everything gets fixed up.

Anyway, back to the point of this post:

How far along: 22 weeks!

Total Weight Gain/Loss: I think around +11 lbs (oh dear) but our scale was a victim of The Great Flood of 2014, so that’s just an estimate based on last week’s weight of +9 lbs. I feel like I’ve gained more than my usual 1lb this week.

Maternity clothes: It’s official, no pre-pregnancy pants fit. Not even sweatpants – the waistbands feel too tight around my belly. Yoga pants and leggings are where it’s at.

Stretch marks: Not yet, but I’m sure they’re not too far off. Baby will be gaining about 1/4 lb per week for the next few weeks, then start gaining 1/2 lb per week for a few weeks. That’s a far cry from the mere 0.5-2 ounces per week he’s put on so far… when baby’s growth speeds up, so does momma’s. lol

Sleep: Still sleeping ok, but nighttime heartburn has been AWFUL and making it difficult to lay down and get comfortable at night.

Best moment last week: Spending an entire day in a king size bed in a quiet hotel with my feet propped up. I needed that.

Movement: This boy doesn’t stop! I love it. Though I could live without the jabs to the bladder and uhh… other parts. I go from not having to pee at all to suddenly bolting to the bathroom when he decides to use my bladder as a trampoline. I love to sit and stare at my moving belly… Josh says I look creepy, but it’s just so mesmerizing to watch my tummy squirming around like it’s full of aliens.

Food cravings: Still fruit. Pineapple, grapes, melon… Publix fruit salad NOW please!

Gender: Baby boy, baby!

Labor signs: Nada and let’s keep it that way. My body has been practicing regularly though with Braxton Hicks contractions several times a day. Those are an odd sensation, let me tell you. Kind of neat though because it makes it easy to palpate where my uterus is and it’s feels like there’s a cantaloupe in my belly when it’s contracted. I can only imagine what my insides look like – I feel like they’re squished up into my chest already and I can only eat about 1/2 of what I usually do without feeling like I’m going to pop. Still have 18 more weeks of growth and I am already feeling like there’s not much room left in there. lol!

Belly button – in or out? Still in, but it looks so strange to me. “That is NOT my bellybutton!”

What I miss: A clean, orderly house. But that has nothing to do with pregnancy. Honestly, I’m on such a high over how much I love our little boy that I can’t even think about missing anything.

What I am looking forward to: Things are different every day – new sensations, new growth, more love… I look forward to every day that I get to share my body with our sweet boy.

Milestones: I don’t know!

Product Review: Nine Naturals

I forgot to do my 21 week pregnancy update on Saturday. I’m just going to skip this week and resume on Saturday with 22 weeks. Anyway, the samples of shampoo and conditioner I ordered from Nine Naturals arrived yesterday. I’ve been excited to try these products because I’ve been looking for safer, more natural hair care products that actually do something good for my hair.

Nine Naturals is a smaller company focused on skin and hair care products formulated with pregnant women in mind. I think this is a fabulous idea, as many women don’t give much thought to the toxins present in their skin and hair care products until a baby enters the equation. I’ve experienced this first-hand: scrambling to do as much research as possible to find products that will be safe for both me and my developing baby. It’s time-consuming, stressful, and overwhelming. There are so many products on the market with varying degrees of safety/toxicity ratings and finding the right ones has proven to be quite challenging. To have found a line of products that are specially formulated for women in this situation really got me excited. And for good reason, all of their products are sulfate, paraben, phthalate, DEA, synthetic fragrance, and petrochemical free.

http://www.ninenaturals.com/

I didn’t want to commit to purchasing entire bottles of product in case I didn’t like it, so I was thrilled to see that they offer samples of their shampoo and conditioner for $5. When you order the samples, they also send a coupon for $5 off your next order. So if you like the product, you essentially get the samples for free. Smart! Anyway, onto my review:

Nine Naturals Citrus + Mint Shampoo: The first thing that hit me was the smell… HEAVENLY. The entire bathroom became a citrus and mint infused sauna within seconds of putting the product in my hair. Then came the lather – so many “natural” products just don’t cut it when it comes to getting a satisfying lather. This was not one of those products. Upon rinsing, my hair felt and smelled clean, but not dried out and stripped. I give this shampoo 5 stars for sure.

Nine Naturals Citrus + Mint Conditioner: Again with the smell. Amazing. The conditioner did not feel like so many of those “flat” natural conditioners… you know what I’m talking about. When you put conditioner in your hair, you want the satisfaction of being able to run your fingers through it without hitting any snags. Just smooth, sleek, moisturized locks. That’s where so many natural conditioners fail. Not this one!

Today, my hair feels soft and healthy. Though I did end up having the conditioner in my hair for almost an hour due to a uhh… mid-shower adventure. Just after conditioning and lathering up with body wash, Josh comes running in telling me the house is flooding. WHAT?! Sure enough, water was coming out of every drain and pipe in the bathroom and Josh had to grab his soapy, slippery wife out of the shower and carry me to safety after turning off the water to the whole house. After we got a plumber and water extraction team on the job, I ran over to a friend’s house to finish my shower. Unfortunately, a lot of soap sat on my skin for an extended period of time, leaving my skin dried out and a bit itchy…

So it’s a good thing that the folks at Nine Naturals threw in samples of their Body Cream and Belly Butter!! I didn’t see samples of those on their website and planned to shoot them an email to see if they had a way to sample them, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Samples Samples2

Nine Naturals Vanilla + Geranium Regenerative Belly Butter: This cream has a nice, light scent. It’s thick and creamy, but not in an oily way. I love that it rubs in quickly and doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy or sticky. I am a FREAK about lotions because I hate the way most of them don’t rub in completely, leaving a residue of whatever ingredients your skin didn’t want to absorb. But with the belly butter, it was like my tummy just soaked it up with minimal rubbing and my skin was baby-butt smooth.

Nine Naturals Moisturizing Body Cream: The above review describes this product pretty well. It’s unscented, but felt just as nice as the belly butter.

As far as natural products go, Nine Naturals gets two thumbs up from me and I think my search is finally over. So our house may look and feel like a disaster zone with  fans and dehumidifiers all over the house, carpets pulled up, and drywall torn out… but at least my hair and skin feel nice.

Reflections of a Worry-Wart

I can officially say that I’ve had my first mommy freak-out (other than a few emotional meltdowns in the first trimester about all that could go wrong).

For about 3 weeks now, our baby boy has been moving regularly enough for me to know when he will be active and when he will be sleeping. First thing in the morning, he rolls around and gives a few hard “good morning” kicks, then relaxes while I get myself ready for the day and eat breakfast. Throughout the day, I can expect regular movement for periods of 5-15 minutes every 1-2 hours. Finally, when I get in bed at night, he is most active and kicks around HARD for a solid 30 minutes or so. I don’t log his movements, I don’t count kicks (yet), I simply pay attention because it’s such a beautiful feeling and I don’t want to miss any of it.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to no kicks. No big deal, I got up a bit later than usual so I probably missed them while I was sleeping. I went through my morning routine and around 11:00 had still not felt baby. I sat down for a few minutes, thinking that he would make his presence known before long… nope. He must be sleeping. I was feeling pretty worn out myself yesterday, so maybe he was resting for the both of us. Got up, brought lunch to Josh at work, came home and did a few things around the house, popped over to a friend’s house for dinner, then came home and hit the hay. Throughout the day, I’d only felt a couple very weak kicks at around 4:00. It took lying in bed for almost an hour before I felt even the slightest movement. But there it was, a little roll and a few little taps on the belly. When I awoke to no movement again this morning, I began to worry that something wasn’t quite right.

After talking to Josh about it, we decided I should go ahead and call the doctor just to see what he thinks about it. We have an appointment on Monday anyway, so we’ll just see what they say. Now I know what some of you are thinking – “at barely 21 weeks, movement isn’t considered regular and a day without is nothing to worry about.” Yeah, I’ve read it. I know that’s what “they say”, but when it comes to your baby – the being that is growing inside your body – ‘normal’ doesn’t quite cut it anymore. After 3 weeks of the same routine day in and day out, it really was concerning me.

The moment Josh and I agreed that we should give our doctor a call, BAM. This little jumping bean decided it was time to wake up and make up for lost time! I could breathe again and I just wanted to sit still for the rest of the day to feel all of his punches, kicks, and squirms. After the initial feeling of relief, all I could think was that he is in there laughing and thinking “GOTCHA!” I’m beginning to think we’ve got a little prankster on our hands. I guess we should prepare for years of whoopee cushions, glue in places it should never be found, and squirt guns filled with various substances.

Then again, maybe it was just a growth spurt… I was utterly exhausted yesterday for no real reason at all, so could it be that we were both just tired from all the growing going on? I’m going to hope that’s what it was.

In all seriousness though, every little kick today has come close to bringing tears to my eyes. Our sweet baby boy is dancing away and I can’t count the number of times I have told those little feet on my belly that I love them. How is it possible to love something so abstract SO much? I thought that feelings like this could only come from something tangible – something you can hold, see, touch. Boy was I wrong. I’ve never seen my son’s face, heard his voice, held his hand… yet here I am overflowing with love for this unborn child.

(There I go again with the sappy stuff that I told myself I wouldn’t do… at least publicly. Sorry folks. Over and out.)