Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How We Prepared Our Dogs for Baby

Dogs and babies can be a beautiful thing but they can also be a scary thing. This is why some people were surprised when we adopted a dog during the second trimester of y pregnancy. Then shortly after that, the wife's dog came to live with us. We adopted our dog prior to having our baby so that we could focus on training him before our hands were filled with baby snuggles.

I would love to say that both of our dogs ate perfect angels, but they're not. In fact, Mr. Gibbs  (who we adopted in September) can be quite the wild card at times. Ella, on the other hand, is quite calm but leary of new people.

This is why we did certain things to prepare the dogs for our new addition. They've adjusted quite well and I definitely think part of that is due to the steps we took early on. Today, we're sharing a few of the steps we took to help our dogs adjust.

We involved them in the nursery set up.
We don't believe in crating dogs or making things off limits unless we have to. We have a baby gate for the moments when we don't want the dogs in the nursery but for the most part, I don't mind if they follow us in there during a diaper change or for bedtime routine. As long as they stay out of the way, they are welcome to join us. This is why we involved them in the set up of the nursery. When we were putting toys and clothes away, the door was open and the dogs were often exploring. This gave us the perfect opportunity to set some expectations and boundaries before the baby ever came home.

We taught them expectations.
When the dogs would come into the nursery, we allowed them to explore. We reinforced good behavior and gave a stern "no" when they put their nose where it didn't belong. Both of our dogs love to jump when they see you. It's their way of showing their excitement that you're home. This is a habit we've worked on breaking them of because we don't want them jumping on strangers or when we have baby in our arms.

We worked on boundaries.
One of the biggest obstacles of having dogs and a baby under the same roof is toys. Baby toys and dog toys have way too many similarities. I was shocked to discover some of Baby Coastie's toys even squeak like a dog toy! This is one of the boundaries we set from the very beginning when the dogs would explore the nursery. When they would stick their nose in the toy bin, we reminded them with a "no those are for baby." For the most part, they stick to their own toys. We also worked with the baby gate prior to bringing Baby Coastie home. We would put it up while working on various things so that the dogs could get used to it serving as a boundary. We haven't used it much since bringing the baby home but he's also not exploring the house yet.

The husband brought home the baby blanket.
When the husband got ready to head home to let the dogs out after the baby was born, our nurse handed him the baby blanket and told him to take it home so that the dogs could become familiar with the smell. I don't believe the blankets are supposed to leave the hospital but she had a kid and dogs of her own and was sharing her knowledge. (Have I mentioned that we had phenomenal nurses?) So, the husband brought the blanket home and let the dogs sniff to their content. (You could always bring your own receiving blanket to the hospital and wrap baby in it for a while for this same purpose.)

We allowed the dogs near baby from the beginning.
When we brought the baby home, we didn't restrict the dogs in any way. We reminded them of their boundaries and expectations as needed but we also allowed them to sniff the baby. This was always supervised since the baby wasn't left alone any during those first few weeks. (He's still not much but there are the occasional trips to the bathroom...) This allowed the dogs to see that he is an addition to the family and that they are still a part of the family.

Our dogs are fantastic with our baby, but we still don't leave them unsupervised wiyh him. Any dog has the potential to snap as its in their nature. There are still obstacles that arise when raising a baby and two dogs - like barking during naptime or everyone wanting food at the same time - but overall, our dogs have adjusted quite well thanks to the prep work we did before baby came home.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

He Said She Said: Cat Edition

We're back with another edition of He Said She Said! This one is special in two ways though - it's features the cats of Random Crafty Georgia Girl and is actually a "She Said, She Said" since both of her cats are girls. So, let's have a little fun and see what the cats have to share with us today!

And here are the responses from Ollie and Peachy to our He Said She Said questions!

Do you have a nickname?
Ollie said: Well my name is Olive Belle but Mommy has called me Ollie since she got me for Christmas way back in 1999. Here's some of the names I am called. There's Olive, Olivey, Olivey Belle, Miss Belle , Baby girl, kitten, Belle (Mommy is the only one that calls me this one and is the only one I will respond to when called this).
Daddy calls me Oliver, Little Lion, Moose, Olive

Peachy said: My name is Peaches Nicole. I honestly have no idea why in the world Mommy gave me the middle name of Nicole, but I was doing something one day that was more than likely mischievous. It just came out and it stuck so now Mommy calls me me Peachy Cat, Peachy Cole, Miss Peach, Peacher. I only get called Peaches Nicole when I'm causing trouble.
Daddy calls me Peachy, Peach-a-roo, Peach Pie, anything to do with Peach food actually (this is usually when he's hungry!) Little Lion, Baby Peach

What is your favorite time of day?

Ollie said: Every night before we go to bed I get a small piece of roast beef. I also like hyper time! I run out of mommy and daddy's bedroom a half an hour after mommy wakes up for the day and run all crazy laps around the apartment!

Peachy said: I like when Daddy comes home from work! I get to come out and play. I usually hang out in our cat fort while Mommy and Daddy have dinner and relax after the long day. Our cat fort is a chair with a fleece blanket over it. Ollie and I love hiding under the chair and curling up to take a nap!

What's your favorite treat?
Ollie said: I have never met a food I didn't like. My favorite would be tuna though. Although strawberry ice cream is right up there too! I don't get people food all the time though. Mainly just as a small snack. I really love my Naturals Temptations treats and my Blue Buffalo brand treats.

Peachy said: I'm perfectly content with my cat food and cat treats. Sometimes Mommy gives me a couple of tiny pieces of roast beef at bedtime.

What is your favorite toy?
Ollie said: balls with bells in them, balls with ribbons or feathers, ribbons, feathers! Mainly balls. I love throwing them around and then chasing them across the room! Stuffed toys. We don't have a lot of catnip toys. Mommy sprays any catnip toys with Lysol before we get them because she says it's like a drug to cats.

Peachy said: Undercover mouse. It's this motorized feather wand that has a cover on it. Daddy bought several of them before we moved to Savannah because I wore them out so much in Atlanta! We go through batteries pretty hard because of that toy! I also like feathers and ribbons. My favorite toy during the holiday season is the Christmas tree. Mommy and Daddy won't let me play with it though. I don't understand why the thing is in the house if I can't climb it or eat it! Why did you bring it in if I can't play with it!

What is your favorite thing to do during the day?

Ollie said: Hanging out watching Netflix with Mommy, taking naps on her pillows, waiting for Daddy to come home from work, hanging out on the balcony, running laps around the apartment

Peachy said: We have a condo that sits right in front of the bedroom window. I love getting into the window and waiting for Daddy to come home from work. It took Mommy five months to get a picture of me from the outside.

Do you have a pet that would like to answer these questions and be featured? Contact thecoastiewife@gmail.com to get the details of how your pet can be featured on the blog!

About the Cats

Ollie is seventeen years old and has been part of the family since she was a very small kitten. She is very spoiled and knows it. If she had a voice she would probably sound like Brain from Pinky and the Brain, but in a more feminine tone.

Peachy is eight years old and found us when she was about six months old. She wasn't getting along with some other cats in the neighborhood and decided that we needed her. The rest is history! Her voice would be Phoebe from Friends.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Once Upon a Time in Thailand

I'm excited to say that we're getting back to things after taking a break to enjoy Coastie Baby and our family that came to visit. We kept things casual in February with the #LoveBlog challenge, but we'll soon be getting back to our regular posting schedule. In fact, we'd love a little feedback - what would you like to see on the blog for the rest of the year? Travel is top on our list as we still have a lot of places and photos to share with you, including today's guest post from Lindsay.

My husband and I are frequent travelers of the world. We are lucky to have experienced many different cultures, customs, and places together. It was a big dream of ours to pack bags and go- and so we have.

Our most frequently asked question from fellow travelers and curious hopefuls is:

What has been your favorite place?

That one stumped me for a while, perhaps because I see favorite as too grand a term to live up to. But my husband knew. He had a favorite: Thailand.

As soon as the word was whispered from his lips, I could smell the incense. I could see the purple orchids everywhere, the monks in their brilliant orange robes. My tongue burned by the sweet, smooth blend of coconut curries. Our bodies walked on and bended furiously in a Thai massage. Visiting the open markets and delighting in the assault of fragrances: spice, sweat, motor oil, animal droppings, and dust. Swinging from zip lines and looking over to see the gibbons naturally doing the same feats.

Mr. B (my husband) was almost crushed by an elephant as we washed them in a rescue camp. The joyful beast made up for it later by allowing B onto his back, bending down majestically so he could find a foothold on the elephants leg and clamber up. Our story kept unfurling as we sailed out to sea caves in kayaks. The plankton in the water reacted to sunlight, and in the evening you could trace your fingers through the water. It lit up like a million fireflies. Flying down the roads on our rented mopeds, only stopping to purchase another liter of gas, the fuel filled to the brim in an old coke bottle. Learning to bow and say “thank you”. Buddha, Buddha: everywhere.

It was a magical trip for us. It was made of favorite moments, a traveler’s dream experience. Thailand wrapped up all five of our senses and touched our lives. We can say it is our favorite because we would go back, in a heartbeat.

But it was not just the magic of the place that makes it fall to favorite. It is who we were there. We found ourselves free of the weight of the previous months. We had just taken travel a step further and moved overseas for B’s work. The Thailand trip was the light at the end of a long, stressful tunnel. I didn’t even tell him what we’d be doing there. I just worked on the trip until the wee hours of the morning: planning, researching, hoping he would love it and be able to relax.

The day we got on the plane, we grabbed hands and I felt like we could breathe again. The move had been everything we thought it would be. Challenging, hard…and now amazing because we were doing the main motivation for it: see all the Asia we could in the process.

Those amazing Thailand memories are what they are because of traveling with him by my side. It came after a tough season that we weathered together. His laughing eyes are what I saw swinging through the trees on the zip line by the gibbons. His strong arms paddling the kayak with me, my arms around his waist riding on the back of the moped. Clinking his glass in “cheers” as we ate smooth curries. Staring up at the stars and finding hope again for the days ahead.

Thailand is a fairytale. But sharing it with my spouse is what makes it a favorite for me. Once upon a time in Thailand we fell a little more in love.

About the Author

Lindsay is a military wife, mom, and writer. As a former professional dancer you can find her doing pirouettes in the kitchen whilst also flipping pancakes. She finds solace in hearing the sound of her sewing machine and a hot cup of coffee. A journal with scribbles is never far from her side, and being outdoors lifts her soul. She’s lived and traveled all over the world but believes there is always more to experience. Her blog Uplifting Anchor encourages mothers and military spouses.

Uplifting Anchor | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Reflection on #LoveBlog

It's the last day of #LoveBlog and I have to say that I'm sad to see it go. Today's topic is "reflection," so I'll be going into more detail below on why I'm sad to see it go. Before we get to that, I want to say a big thank you to Brita for hosting and that I hope to see it back again next year.

When Brita first posted the details for #LoveBlog, I got excited. Then I realized that there was no way I could participate in all of the prompts this year. (I attempted all of the prompts last year but fell a little short.) With a baby due in February, I had too much on my plate for #LoveBlog. So, I settled on cohosting a few days and picking out a prompt here and there.

I decided to selectively participate and I was happy with that decision. Until February 1 came and I found myself writing a post for the first prompt and then the second prompt. I'm not sure what exactly caused the shift but somewhere between writing the first and second post, I decided that I was going to attempt #LoveBlog after all. I even hired a VA to link up my posts each day.

Our little one arrived a whole week early which meant I didn't get ahead on the #LoveBlog posts like I planned. However, I was determined to participate and set out to blog when I had the chance...during naps, while breastfeeding, and at other random moments when I found the time.

There were several times when I felt like I wouldn't succeed but I kept trying anyways and I'm glad that I did because #LoveBlog has taught me a few things. It taught me to enjoy the process of blogging again without worrying about getting ahead. It also taught me a few tricks for blogging with a newborn (more on those later).

And most importantly - it showed me that blogging is a part of who I am. I managed to be ahead enough on posts that I could have gone through February without touching my blog once. While this is a great thing, #LoveBlog showed me that it's not who I am. Blogging is a stress reliever for me and without it, I'm sure this month would have been even more stressful.

So, once again - thank you Brita for hosting this month long blogging event. I'm excited to say that I wrote a post for every prompt this time and learned a lot about myself and how to adjust my blogging process for life as a mommy.

Have you ever participated in a blogging challenge? What was your experience?

Monday, February 27, 2017

Then and Now: Why I Blog

Last week, I shared a new type of post that I'll be doing from time to time on the blog (In Pictures). Today, I'm sharing another new type of post - then and now. Today's topic for #LoveBlog is "bloggers" and I thought it was the perfect topic for me to introduce the "then and now" feature.

Time changes things. It can make things take on a new meaning. It can also alter the way we look at things. Time and how it changes things is a big reason for this new "then and now" series where I share how things in our lives have changed over time. I'm going to be kicking off this new series by focusing on the topic of blogging in today's post.

When I first started blogging, it was a hobby to pass the time as we started the long distance portion of our relationship. It was summer, so I wasn't working (perk of being a teacher) and knew that I'd need a distraction. Writing seemed like the perfect distraction. I started simple, knowing nothing about blogging and never expecting it to go further than a few posts. I predicted that I'd be done by the start of the school year. Instead, I discovered a community of bloggers and started to enjoy the social side of blogging - which is what kept me writing three years ago.

Now, I blog for different reasons. The social side is still important to me and some of my best friends are online. It's not the only reason I blog though. Now, I'm working towards pursuing blogging as a business endeavor. It's one small part of my plan for staying at home with our little one. I'll be sharing the rest of my plan soon enough but today's prompt seemed like the perfect time to reflect on my "why" for blogging.

In a nutshell, my "why" for blogging is to help others and being in a little extra income for my growing family.

Why do you blog? I'd love to hear your why in the comments below.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Being Present in the Moment

Today's prompt for #LoveBlog is "past, present, and future." When I first read the prompt, I immediately thought of Scrooge and the ghosts that visit him in the classic holiday story. Then, my mind started thonking about how someone should do a Valentine's version of that story. Then, I realized I was getting distracted and I decided to come back to the prompt and to use my distraction as inspiration. Today, I'm going to share how I try to stay present in the moment so that I don't miss out on the special little things that happen.

I have a little challenge for you. It involves being a bit more observant. The next time that you're out to eat, I want you to take a look around and see how many people are engrossed in their phone even with someone else sitting at the table. (You get a free pass in my book to be on your phone if you're dining alone.)

Why do I bring this up? I wanted to mention this because I've noticed a growing trend of families going out to eat and everyone - parents and kids - spending time on their electronics rather than being present in the moment. It makes me wonder whatever happened to family meal time and discussion. The nose in devices trend is one that I hope to avoid when our son gets older. (Right now it's all sleep, eat, and potty...)

Here are a few goals I have for the future that will hopefully help me be present in the moments that we spend as a family:

1. No electronics at the dinner table.

2. Spend time each week unplugged from my phone and social media.

3. Make family time a regular thing that doesn't always revolve around technology.

I know these may seem idealistic and that you may be rolling your eyes and saying "Just watch - you'll cave more than you think." This may or may not be true, but I'm allowed to dream and plan and hope that things turn out the way I'd like.

Our days as a family around the dinner table aren't here yet (unless nursing counts as a dinner table). So, in the meantime, I'd love to hear how you try to stay present in the moment.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dear Son: I Want You to Know

Today's prompt for #LoveBlog is role models. I have always had a hard time picking out who my role models are so this was a bit of a difficult prompt for me - until I realized that I'm now in the position to be a role model for my son. I've always known what I would want to teach a daughter (to be strong and independent), but I'd never really thought about what I would want to teach a son. So, I thought I'd use this post as an opportunity to reflect on what I want my son to know about life and how to navigate it with kindness.

Dear Son,

I want you to know that I'll always be there for you. I won't always do things for you because I believe in independence but I will be there to cheer you on and support you in your endeavors.

I want you to know how to respect others no matter how different they may seem. Skin color and gender shouldn't influence your opinion of a person. Rather, I want you to make judgements about people based on their morals and actions. You're not always going to get along with everyone but I do hope you'll give everyone a fair shot at earning your respect.

I want you to know how to be kind and caring towards those you love - whether they are human or animal. I hope you'll understand the importance of always showing this love as well. You're better to show too much love than to let someone pass through your life because they never knew their importance.

I want you to have values and inner morals that guide you in making decisions. I hope to set a good example in this area since I know that I'm your first (and possibly one of your most important) role models.

I want you to know that you are loved and will always be my little boy - no matter how old you get. There will always be a special place for you in my heart and in my life.

Your Momma