Monday, May 20, 2019

Do You Ever Need Someone To Turn On Your Switch?

Sometimes I forget what it is that helps me have a happy, healthy, and productive day. I need someone to turn my switch back on in order to get there. It can be reasons that are out of my control such as the weather. What is in my control is how I respond to it.

If you have been reading my blogs then you are aware that we now have two goldendoodles. One is only 3 months old, while the older one is 2 1/2 yrs. old. The older doodle does not like to go outside to do his business in the rain. Saturday night was more than just rain. It was a torrential downpour that lasted for quite some time. Of course, it was the time for the last call to do our nightly business and neither one of the furbabies would venture out in it. 

We had a choice. Put them in their crates and when they were uncomfortable and needed to go out, they would wake us at 2 or 3 A.M. - some ungodly hour. Or the puppy would just have an accident in her crate which we never want to happen. It never happened with the older one. The other choice was to wait up with them and stay up later than we wanted to. Both of us are at the stage in our lives that we NEED a certain amount of sleep to function happily! Being a dog family means there is not much sleeping in late so it requires us to go to bed earlier to achieve this goal.

Finally, the rain let up somewhat, and we were able to get them out, and managed to get soaking wet with them. Good news? They did their business and went on to bed. We got out of our wet clothes and went straight to bed.

Here is where my point is going. BOTH of us were miserable for a while on Sunday morning. We heard Maggie Mae at 7 (only because we stayed up so late with her to go out). I started to get up and so did Steve. He said for me to stay, then when I woke up and dressed, he would come back and sleep, then shower and dress. It was teamwork. Thank goodness we could do this because we had a fantastic Memphis Symphony Orchestra Concert to attend at 2:30. Neither one of us wanted to fall asleep when the lights went down and the music started.

When you need your switch turned on there are many ways to do this. Becoming overwhelmed and frustrated is not in this picture. For myself, I thought long and hard about the difference that the two of us make in each other's lives. We were able to turn what could have been a miserable day into a happy ending. According to Lou Holtz, "Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it."

Most days are happy days for me and I started to ask myself if there was an specific thing that I do in order for this to happen. I did come up with ideas that seem to take place on really good days. First of all I do like to have a quiet time to think about what I may be doing for the day that I am grateful about. For example, today I was so grateful that we were going to stop off and pick up some colorful plants for outside and our screened porch, referred to as our inside-out room. I have replayed in my mind what it will be like to finally be able to sit out in this beautiful room and have plants. Due to some health issues, we did not use it much at all, nor the swimming pool last year. Things are looking so much better in so many ways. 

Another thing that I noticed is as I am thinking about my day ahead, I need to be sure that I am accepting it for what it is and not wishing that it would be something different. Some errands/jobs are just not as glorious as others, yet they still must be done. It is all about trying to bring your best self to what is coming up. As Diana Ross said, "I can be a better me than anyone can." It works out a lot better and happier than wasting emotional energy on focusing on the down side.

While I am on the subject of acceptance, I think that kindness fits here very well. Kindness acts to others, as well as myself. It gives me a good feeling to experience an act of kindness from someone, but it actually feels even better to actually be the one doing something kind for someone else. It is a sure fire way to help brighten the day. It is amazing what a simple smile or a kind word can do for someone and for yourself. Kindness is contagious.

Self-care falls right into my next train of thought. It is not selfish to take care of yourself. It is a way of respecting not only yourself, but others. If you don't take care of you, mentally and physically, it is impossible to do a good job at taking care of others. It is treating yourself as a friend and we all need to think  about what we need to feel supported and nourished. Is it a friend or family member to be a sounding board? Or maybe just a hug from someone special will do it for you. It does not always need to cost money. 

Although, I must admit that a manicure/pedicure, massage or just a new pair of cute shoes is one form of self-care that I very much enjoy. It is more along the lines of self-care therapy. It is not the ONLY way to take care of oneself if you want happiness in your day.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Puppy Training 101

Let's get something clear right from the start. I am not any kind of professional puppy trainer. That is for sure! I am just feeling the need to get down on paper some of the things that I have learned (the hard way) so far about training puppies. There is no one specific right way! 

Here is the myth: as a new owner of a goldendoodle I believed that it was my responsibility to train her. This is so wrong on so many levels. Whatever breed of puppy that you choose, you need to know the characteristics of that particular dog. Let me explain to you that every puppy has their own special kind of intelligence, I know. I have had some very intelligent dogs. The thing about doodles is their level of intelligence mixed with their personalities puts them in a total different category. Our little one has shown us that on one level her nickname should be Miss Prissy, because that is what she does when she walks around us. It is sort of a sashay. Then again she could also be nicknamed Miss Piggy. She most definitely is one we will need to watch on how much food is given to her. She will eat hers and then her brother's bowl. He is more of a slow eater, grazing through the day usually some at noonish and again at 5. I have actually had to hold his bowl up for him to eat or else Maggie will be in it.

This category can be your worst nightmare if you do not read up on doodles and what to expect. From the moment that they decide to bond with you, they have a cunning plan on how best to train you. And get this? They don't even have a powerpoint presentation. Doods have it all worked out in their amazing minds. As the owner, you need all the knowledge that you can get your hands on to read to stay one step ahead. (If you are lucky!)

This blog is more or less sharing with you what I have learned on how to help your doodle train you so that you and your family can have a happy home.

You must have chosen a goldendoodle because like me, I fell in love with their teddy bear looks, their soft silky coat, wagging tails and soulful eyes. Who can resist? What you may not know is that these furbabies have distinctive behavior patterns that are hard-wired into their brains that make them very different.

Once you bring your puppy home, you will soon find out some of their special behaviors. In my opinion, the crate for house training is crucial. You really need to be able to give 2 -3 weeks of non-stop supervising and writing in a journal. We found a crate bedding that is anti-chew resistant. We know this from our older doodle. He chewed through every bed we ever purchased until I researched this company called  K-9 Ballistics. Never has he, nor our newest puppy, attempted to chew on it. Therefore making it safe to leave them overnight in the crate and knowing that they will not chew it up and ingest the stuffing. 

Our two have their own crates and Davis does not quite fit into Maggie's. As you can see, she just climbs on top of him. Where there is a will, there is a way.

As you can see in the second picture, they have their own crates, but many times Davis tries to take a nap on the cool hardwood floor and Maggie uses him as her table to chew on her bully stick.

If a blanket from their breeder is given to you, then use it in the crate too. Maggie actually has the red one from when Davis was a puppy in her crate. Helps with separation anxiety and if you have the right size crate, they will not want to soil it. Works like magic. Limit food after 5 and then only small amounts of water available if needed up till 8. Our bedtime is 10 so out the puppies go (one at a time to avoid distraction from one another at this stage) 

to do their last business of the night before taking them in and gently saying, "Go home." We point to their crates and in they go. It is not a punishment. In fact, their doors are left open during the day and they can roam in and out as freely as they wish. 

The usual alarm clock, Maggie Mae who is now 3 months old, starts with some gentle whimpers. One of us hears her and out she goes immediately. It is rather urgent usually, so don't waste time. We use jingle/tinkle bells on the doors in the day but for this case, it is out the door softly repeating, "Let's go out to the potty." Like clockwork, she takes care of business.

It is at this time that the new journal page begins. Date at the top of the page, put in the time and write # 1 or # 2 or both! It is also important to write feeding times, play times and napping times in between. We actually set a timer of 15 minutes and take her to the jingle bells, ring them and say to her that we are going out to potty. She needs to hear a comforting and loving voice. Communication is the key. As the day continues, every 15 minutes, the timer will go off and if she is not napping, eating or involved in heavy duty playtime, we ring the jingle bells and say to her that it is time to go potty. After a few days of writing in the journal, you will begin to see a pattern of when to expect # 1 and # 2, along with when she will be napping.

Now that she has been with us in our home for 4 weeks we are seeing that her bladder is getting larger to hold it longer and we are making it 30 minutes to an hour before having the need to go out. We are home with her and still set the timer for 15 minutes but usually end up canceling it due to the fact that she can go longer between trips.

In the beginning, we did have a few accidents. They were all because we were not paying attention to her signals. She is still learning to ring the bells. There are times that she does and other times she just goes to the gate or the door and sits. If we don't pay attention then we have, "Clean up on aisle 4!" to take care of. So always have paper towels, and swiffter mop with disinfectant spray on hand.

 Lucky for us, she has us trained to be on the look out. She even has her older doodle brother that has seen her at the gate, neither one of us noticing so he just rings the bells for her to get our attention. Now that is smart! Potty training is being consistent and using a happy voice with the same praises and rewards. It also helps to limit her access to spaces where you can't supervise. If you can't supervise, then she needs to be crated. 

Maggie learned by Day 2 that after she goes out to potty, if she goes to the special drawer and sits still, that magically, she will be given a small treat. Her brother taught her that one. Everything that he does, she does. If we say Davis sit, he does and she watches and then does the very same thing. One of Davis' games is ring around the rosy. He gets something that he should not have and he goes around the island in the kitchen or a breakfast table and just taunts us to chase him. Doodles love this game. Biggest mistake? Play it with him. It helps to have another person in the house to head him off. It also helps to teach the command to drop it. Usually, he does. 

Training to sit, shake, down and stay are fairly easy. Maggie just watches Davis. The trick that we are facing is the cheekiness in their personalities of not coming when called. This is a behavior that we are currently working on. When in puppy school, Davis was the star of the class when it came to this command. Get him home and outside when something caught his attention and he develops selective hearing. Maggie does the same thing. It is a little tough on the ego when you realize that you are not the center of their universe.

Then, there is something called "zoomies" with goldendoodles. Suddenly your precious little puppy seems to be possessed; running wildly at top speed and looking at you with wild eyes. At first, I actually thought that our dog was having a wild seizure. It is a perfectly normal behavior, noted especially in goldendoodles that can last 5 - 10 minutes. It is a way to get out built up energy. Also, it is a time for you to check if your doodle is getting enough exercise.

Moderate exercise is the best way to handle goldendoodles because of their ligaments and fragile joints that can lead to aggravating hip or elbow dysplasia later in life. This works out fine with us. No joggers here. In fact, if you see me running, you should start running too because it means something is chasing me.

One last item that I would like to bring up is due to the long legs of standard goldendoodles, they are excellent at counter surfing. In other words, whatever is left out on the counter top is fair game to them. Whether it is a plate of food or tea towels and napkins. There are ways to avoid this. Apparently, they actually sell counter shockers. This is the last approach that I would take. I did hear about stacking muffin trays and setting a trap whereas your doodle pulls on the tea towel and the stack of muffin trays fall the ground with a loud clang. I tried that once. It scared him. He learned not to go near that trap again. Problem was that I would have to set the traps every 12 inches across the kitchen counters. That wasn't going to happen. So our older doodle has us trained to not ever, ever put food out on the counter tops and to have all tea towels out of reach. 

I can say that two doodles are better than one. They thoroughly entertain one another. Sometimes, I believe that Maggie Mae thinks that her brother is just her own private giant toy. He puts up with it. The socialization skills that he learned at Walnut Grove Doggie Day Care helps him know the limits when playing with a smaller dog. He is a kind and gentle dog and once he has had enough of Maggie, he simply wraps his big front leg around her in a hug, as if to say, "Let's just chill out for a moment."

They are inseparable and we can't imagine our lives without the two of them.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

What Is Success

What exactly does it mean to experience success. It is my belief that each of us have our own definition of success. Only I can know what it is that truly makes me happy. I must be the one to set my goals, write them down and work on them in baby steps. That cliche that 'Rome was not built in a day' most definitely applies to being successful.

Now, of course, there are little things that keep me going in order to feel happy and successful, such as having a productive day decluttering, clearing the laundry or even making a delicious meal. These are the little things that lead to the big ones. I know that I am not happy if I do not stay on top of things. This is not being a hard nosed OCD kind of person. I just like to make my lists, prioritize what would make me the happiest if I achieved checking off items on my list. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. Usually, there is a very good reason why I don't. This is not a cop out. I have learned to be kind and realistic with myself. Nobody is perfect. I like to think of this as a motivation to become better instead of an excuse.

My biggest goal is to complete my novel. I am getting there; word by word, paragraph by paragraph, page by page and chapter by chapter. It is hard work. It is my hard work and it is something that I enjoy immensely. It is a matter of not comparing myself and my time frame to others. My life has other events taking place that I must change the priorities for the day. 

For example: I can't live in our home with dirty dishes in the sink, laundry piled up, dust balls rolling across the floor, mail piled up to go through and sort, etc. I have to take time to do these things and make the time to sit and write. Plus, I want to do other things such as read, write a blog each week, work on a crossword puzzle, attend a concert or see a movie with my husband, shop, and the list goes on and on. 

When I am working on my novel, it has to be a time that I can concentrate so that I get my time line of what is happening as the story unfolds in the right order. I actually learned this the hard way and had to go back and add a chapter in to pull my story together. I try not to look at it as a delay in my success but as a stepping stone toward my success.

Success is always under construction. It is not a simple black and white issue. I can visualize my success, no matter how large or how small each success may be, knowing that I am working on what makes me happy is a positive way to achieve my goals.

The last couple of weeks, my actual novel writing has slowed considerably due to adding a new member to our family.

Maggie Mae, our 2 1/2 month old new Goldendoodle, is entertainment in itself. And if you have ever gone through puppy training, it can be brutal for a few weeks. One really positive thing about this is that it is true: Two doodles are better than one. I say this because our 2 1/2 year old doodle is teaching her the ropes, in a good way I might add. 

Maggie has us trained on when to get her outside to do her business. This means that I can't be engrossed in my writing because I must keep a lookout for when she goes to the door or very gently rings the tinkle bells to go out. The exception to this rule is when she finally crashes out asleep for 1 - 2 hours. This usually happens once in the morning and once in the afternoon. And for the most part she sleeps through the night up until 5:30 AM. This means that a nap needs to happen for me and for my husband. It is a matter of team work. It is how we get things accomplished in our home. Luckily, he also does not like things to pile up so together we make it work. 

We can feel our success in all aspects of our lives. Eating healthier is a goal for both of us and we are losing weight at a steady, although a slow rate. It is a good thing to think big, however, this is not going to happen overnight and it is important to not let this weigh down our motivation to get to our goal. (yes, pun intended) Taking those bags of clothes that are way too big is definitely a big motivation.

There is no time for procrastination. It is a time for being persistent. It helps to reach milestones, even the small ones. Take deep breaths and even possibly rearrange your priorities for the day. Set up positive mantras that will see you through. 

Knowing that success in whatever your goals may be is just ahead. Reflect on what you desire, know your own personal limitations so that you don't set yourself up for failure. I know that I can't get my novel written by a specific date, so I am more open to setting small goals. With everything else going on in my life, I try to do a positive balancing act. I know that I can't change certain aspects of what is going on in my life at this moment in time. Each day brings a different view of how my day needs to flow. It is a matter of being flexible and staying positive. Most importantly it is crucial to always:

Remember, success is a journey not a destination. Words from Arthur Ashe ~

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Maggie Mae Has Something To Say

Maggie Mae here! I decided to help my owner and tell my story for her. It is not a long one because I am not quite 10 weeks old. When two humans, called Steve and DJ and their doodle came to my home, I knew that they were the ones for me. They each had soft voices and loving hands when they picked me up. Their dog, Davis, just let me nuzzle up to him and his tail was wagging as if he were so happy to have me giving him doggie kisses.

The drive to my forever home was exciting. Davis sat in the back seat while I was wrapped in my special blanket that Kim, my human Mom, aka breeder, gave to me. It smelled of all my litter mates and parents. I felt so safe in my new owner's lap.

Once we were at our home, I got to explore the outside and learned fast that this was the place that I need to take care of my business, if you know what I mean? They all 3 showed me these jingle bells hanging on the doors to ring and they said in a sing-song voice, "Time to go to the potty." I think I can remember that. Well, most of the time I have been able to. The good news is that my forever people seem to know that a puppy my age sleeps, plays, eats and drinks and poops and pees a lot!

Especially when I sneak amounts of water and food from my brother's tall water and food bowls. I have my own but his is so much better. At least it seems that way to me.

Steve and DJ are writers. When they are not busy taking Davis and me out (especially me) they are playing with us, although we do a pretty good job of that ourselves. We let them join in for the fun now and then.

Davis is like a giant play toy to me. He lets me jump over him and we share everything. He does seem to understand the golden rule that says what is mine is mine and what is his is mine. Our humans give us each an Oinksie or a bully stick and we are happy for a few moments, then it is time for me to go after what he has. Of course, that means that he will go over and get what I dropped out of my mouth to take his. We can go on for an hour like this. It is just so much fun!

We do eventually wear ourselves out and our humans also. Davis goes upstairs with Steve, to his office. I stay with DJ in her study. Usually, this is nap time for me. Some days, DJ likes to take a nap with me. There are days I just am not quite in the mood for a nap and I try to show her through doggie body language that a nap is not in the picture. I ask you, does this face tell the story that I am not in the mood for a nap?

Sometimes, I get this look back from DJ:

I do learn a lot from my big brother. I overheard DJ talking to Steve that Davis did not learn to jump up on the ottoman and then to the sofa for a couple of weeks after they brought him home. Plus he was older than I was when they did bring him home. All I do is watch him and follow his lead. When he is upstairs with Steve, I take his place on the back of the sofa. Just guarding the house and making sure that everything is okay!

He shows me how to sit, come, go home (to our crates) and that following those commands we get rewarded with little treats. They are especially worth listening to DJ and Steve. My favorite one is the little round sweet potato treat in the Doggie Trail Mix. We do everything together.

We get Steve and DJ up early and they are definitely getting lots of steps in on these little things on their wrists that they keep checking by taking us out all the time. Since 5:50 A.M. today, they have taken me outside 9 times and Davis out 4 times. It seems that if we go out together, Steve figured out that we distract each other. Maybe that will change when I get a bit older. 

Today, we finally crashed for our morning nap at about 8:30. My favorite spot is just to the left of DJ's study chair. That way, if she gets up for any reason, I will know it and be alerted to help her. That will in turn get Davis up to help us. We actually love helping her to write. I believe that we give her inspiration.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Davis Speaking Here!

Just so we have this clear, I am perfectly fine to write DJ's blog in my own voice. I believe that I have earned that right based on what my last week has been like. It has had ups and downs. Mostly ups. I just need to talk about it and share it with others.

Everything started when my Lola and Smiley started talking about getting me a sister or brother. I listened to them and I thought that maybe this would be a good thing. First of all, I know how much they love on me and I love them to the moon and back. And I thought to myself, what about another doodle in this family? How would that work? I believe that we all three have enough love in us to share it together.

On the positive side, I would have a sibling to play with, even when Lola and Smiley are all played out. Another positive note is that when they decided to go and check out the possibility, they went to where I was born at Goldendoodles by Kim's Design. Kim does know her stuff, so I was very happy to see her again. She took very good care of me while I was there before I found my forever home. Lola and Smiley were the ones that I chose to be with, even though one little sister kept butting in on my time with them while they were making their choice. Lucky for me, they picked me. I made very sure of that.

It has been wonderful ever since. A beautiful home, a special yard, lots of toys and special treats. I also have a vet, Dr. Taylor and her assistants, who love me madly. (saying this modestly, of course) Plus unbelievable fun in WGAC Doggie Day Care with Chris, Chaney, Michelle and Jessica. They encourage me to jump high toward them, plus as the weather gets warmer they put out my favorite thing in the whole world. Doggie swimming pools! I love this place. There is also a groomer, Amber, who takes good care of me and treats me with such care and respect. Only once did I come out looking more like a poodle than a doodle.  I forgave her. My Lola and Smiley did not make it clear to her what I liked to look like. She has more than made up for that one time. Nothing against poodles, it is just that I prefer to have more of the doodle look. Definitely it fits my personality. 

Now, let's move forward to going to Kim's kennel. Lola and Smiley took me with them. Imagine that? They took me to help in making the decision if there was a goldendoodle that would make a good little sister. I heard them talking that some owners thought that a sister may be better than a brother, simply based on the alpha male syndrome. (Whatever that is.)

Let me tell you something. This little sister seems to think that she is in charge. And, bless her heart, I just let her think that. I know that I am almost 60 pounds more than she is now. Probably will still be 20 pounds more when she is fully grown. So just let her believe her size matters. I can tell you that she is brutal. That is not being harsh. Just look at her pulling on my tail. 

This picture is when we went to pick up Maggie Mae. It had been only two weeks yet she seems to think that it is okay for her to come up to me and pull on my tail, which by the way is a very distinctive question mark shape. I just let her play. She runs all around my legs when I am standing and makes figure 8's. When we do rest, she loves to cuddle in to me and I must admit, this little sister is very loving and I will do my best to show her the way and teach her all the tricks of the trade. She is one smart little cookie and has already learned several in just a week.

I am truly happy being the big brother of a beautiful little sister. I know that she looks up to me. She follows me everywhere and although this can be annoying, it is a special compliment, also.

This was once only my roost. Just for me. Until:

One day while I was away at Doggie Day Care, Maggie Mae found my spot. Aggghhhh. I will learn to share. She is too cute not to share some. I really do love her. I feel like I need to show her the ropes. How to get to Lola and Smiley's hearts. This is important and vital information.

We do share. We share everything. I know exactly how much larger and stronger that I am than she is. I will admit that she is a bit rough on me though. Even when I am resting and not bothering her, she will come and try her best to rile me up. All in the name of puppy play.

Look at those eyes. I am totally taken my little sister. We play well together and when Lola and Smiley have to administer slurry meds to her for a parasite that was found, she does not like it. I just want to be there for her. She is not happy getting those meds, even though Lola and Smiley do it gently. 

When it is time to go out, and oh boy, does she need to go out to pee and poop a lot, I just wait patiently for her. On the other hand, she is such a little babe, that she does not wait as quietly as I do. She barks and howls for me because she misses me. I think that she will learn. I am her teacher. It is my job to show her the way.

She is in a loving home, with two owners who adore both of us and take good care of us and she has an awesome big brother who will never let her down. 

I am now signing off and handing over to Lola ( Back to my wonderful Lola who has the same hair color as Maggie Mae. (Who knew?)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Puppy Love X Two

Just to let you know that for sure getting our new puppy, Maggie Mae, for a little sister to our 2 1/2 year old was the right decision. She has already made her way into all of our hearts. She is a roly poly bouncing little bundle of joy, not only to Steve and me, but to Davis. Plus, as you can see, she believes that she is a writer also. Her thought bubble is saying, "Just let me get my paws on that keyboard and I will have a best seller."

The day before we picked her up, Steve told me that he wanted to ask me a serious question. He asked if I truly thought that we were doing the right thing by Davis. He had been number one and here we were bringing in another puppy. With all that I had read, two doodles are supposedly better than one. They entertain each other and give you twice the laughter with their entertaining antics. We discussed that we would always be very aware of keeping Davis as the number one older brother and he would continue to get all the love that he needed. As you can see from the picture on the first day we were home, they were inseparable. Davis seemed to be very protective of his little sister and Maggie Mae followed him everywhere. 

We had Davis involved from the get go. He went with us to his birthplace and to see his breeder and all of her new pups. We had one out at a time to see if we witnessed any bonding whatsoever. Maggie Mae immediately responded with a wagging tail, as did Davis. They even nestled their heads together. That cinched the deal. We had to wait almost two weeks before she would be old enough to come home with us.

On this occasion we had time to prepare. We were so not prepared for Davis when we picked him up. We had to stop off with him at Hollywood Feed to get some of the necessities for having a puppy. Like a water and food dish, a collar, a leash, and some little treats. Our daughter happened to be in the general area and brought our granddaughter into the store to meet Davis. Bailey Grace picked out a toy for him and it remains his favorite toy. All we had was the blankie that Kim gave us which had his parents and siblings scent on it and a small bag of the food that she had been feeding him. Since we had decided to crate train him, we had to take a wild guess at what size to get. Luckily, we did guess the right size. 

Now we were able to go into Hollywood and pick out the things that we would be able to have in place for when we went back to pick up Maggie Mae. Again, for the crate size we had to guess. We went one size down due to the fact that she is female and based on her mother's size, only time will tell. One of Davis' sisters surpassed not only their mother's weight, but the father's weight as well. She is a whopping 95 pounds, without an ounce of it fat. Davis is just 65. Our hopes are that this new pup will stay in the 40ish range. 

We ordered the chew-proof crate bed pad that was the only crate bed pad that our chewing Davis has not torn to shreds in 2 years now. So we do have experience and we knew that we would be ready to handle this. The hard days are in the very beginning. Some sleep deprivation, going outside with her every hour or sometimes even half hour. They tend to train their owners on when to get them out. It is "Puppy Owner: Beware."

New items for Maggie Mae were put out slowly to let Davis adjust to it all. The time had finally come to drive down the road and pick up our new bundle of joy. She and Davis continued their bonding. He was down on the floor and just let Maggie play with his long curly tail.

The drive home with Davis was so different than the drive home with Davis and Maggie Mae. Davis was of course, the only pup in the car and he slept all the way on his blankie in my lap. Maggie Mae, on the other hand, used me as a mountain to try to climb over to get to the back seat to see Davis. She really gave my arms a work out. Such an inquisitive little girl. Given her age, she did take a break and rest on the hour drive home ever so often.

She has only been with us starting on Day 4 and even through some trying times that we never expected, we know that we made the right decision. When you bring a puppy home, hopefully you know there will be some accidents now and then until totally house-trained. We were prepared. Trying to be vigilant on the timing to take her out, we avoided many accidents. After one night she slept through the night. In fact, Steve woke up at 5:30 to check on her. She had not had an accident and only woke when she saw and heard him. Smart man that he is...he got her out, along with Davis. Finally, the rain was not coming down in buckets like it was most of yesterday. 

Today, we can have a sense of humor about the major accident that took place yesterday. I will start just by saying that we RARELY take our eyes off Maggie and she is where we are. Somehow at one point she went into the kitchen and did a little puppy poo right at the gate that leads outside. Steve went up to do his workout time and passed by on the other side of the gate, never seeing it. I took advantage of no one in the kitchen and switched on our Roomba vacuum and kept the puppys with me in the Study. 

Steve came down and called me in while telling me that we had a problem. A problem!?!? We had poop tracked all over the floor. It was one of those moments that happen, and your mind is racing, what do you do first? 

  • get dogs out of the area and safely crated 
  • turn off the Roomba
  • go out to get the Swifter wet mop with throw away cleanser pads
  • in fact, get two boxes of them
  • pick up the Roomba and turn it over to check it out
  • wonder to yourself, "How in the hell will all of that poop clean off
  • roll up your sleeves and get to work
  • clean the floor first (and it did take two boxes)
  • take one last mop around all of the places that Roomba could get to until I had a clean throw away pad and I then walked behind the mop skating on two tea towels
  • start by wiping what I could off the bottom of the machine
  • work on taking apart the brush guard, brush mechanisms, and the front wheel and running water over them and spraying and wiping disinfectanting everything
  • having Steve take care of keeping the dogs was a huge help and he came in to take care of holding the bag to drop in all of the dirty paper towels and getting them out to the trash bin
Next step was to take the Roomba out to a neutral location to dry out. I would deal with trying to put it all back together tomorrow. 

The good news of this day was that our precious puppy rewarded us by sleeping through the night with no bathroom incidents. For now, our fingers are crossed that the Roomba, after me piecing all the parts back into their locations, will charge and work.

The deal is that we must remember those first few weeks of having Davis and to remain patient and keep our sense of humor. Really? Think about it...puppy poo and a Roomba. I am sure it is not the first time this has happened. We are just hoping that it will never occur again in this household.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

To Instant Pot or Not, That Is the Question

 Want to get a hot debate going? Ask people how they feel about the Instant Pot. Most are not ambiguous about their feelings. It is either, "Yeah, this is the best thing since sliced bread," or "What's the deal?"

As many people did, they heard about the wonders of the Instant Pot and after a while you start to question why in the world don't I own one? That was me. Basically, which is really not like me, I did not do much research. Just put it on my Christmas wish list.

Sure enough. There it was for me to open on Christmas Day. After the holidays were over and we were sorting our gifts, I sat down and took the time to read about my wonderful Instant Pot that was going to put dinner on the table in record time. The more that I read, the more fearful that I became of using it.

One of the papers that came with it was neon yellow so that the potential user would not miss it. It read like this:

Please pay attention to all WARNING LABELS before removing them from the pressure cooker. Read IMPORTANT SAFEGUARDS in the manual before using the pressure cooker. DO NOT place hands, face or unprotected skin over the steam release handle while cooker is in operation. DO NO force the lip open when the float valve is still up.

Now, I feel like I an a half-way intelligent human being, it is now time for me to go to the User Manual and find the illustrations that will tell me what and where the steam release handle is and also what the hell is a float valve? 

Found it, only after reading 4 more pages about the safeguards in more detail, plus an overview of how to install the "anti-block shield." This was like a whole new language of how to cook for me. As I looked over the picture of the Control Panel and all of the cooking program keys I was even more confused. "Have patience," is what I continued to tell myself.

It was not until page 15 that the manual talked about positioning the steam release handle to Sealing, as well as talking about using a natural release or a quick release. Let me add that on this page there is a picture of a man leaning over the cooker to try to find the dang steam release button and his face his beet red. There is a box on this picture with a red line drawn through it and a hand held up to indicate STOP. Also, it states that the quick release valve should always be closely attended.

I continued to read and continued to become more and more aggravated with myself for jumping on the bandwagon of wanting one of these small appliances. I found a place in the cupboard to store it until...Really, I was not sure when it would get used. At least it was out of sight for now. I am one that does not like a lot of clutter on the counter tops. Only what is necessary and used daily. The Instant Pot did not fit in this category. 

It was closely thereafter that I decided to try the Low-Carb/High Fat Program and as I started looking on line I was finding lots of recipes and many of them were for the Instant Pot. The ones that appealed to me and my husband were placed in a folder labeled Instant Pot Recipes. 

Finally, in April I came across a recipe that was a Cajun Gumbo, one of my husband's favorites. It was low carb. PERFECT. It looked easy enough. We had all of the ingredients. It stated Prep Time 15 minutes, Cook Time 10 minutes for a Total Time of 25 minutes. A serving was 340 calories and it had a total of 8.5 net carbs.

We followed the recipe to the letter. Aha! After the 10 minutes is up, the cooker goes automatically to Keep Warm. Then the recipe said to manually release the pressure by turning the release knob to its venting position.  When finished we were to uncover and transfer the chicken to a large plate and shred the meat using 2 forks, then add back into the pot and let the meat soak up all of the sauce. If we wanted it thicker, we were to press saute for 5 - 10 minutes. The venting went on for 20 more minutes. 

Because of the fact that there was not much sauce to thicken we opted to not saute. However, the chicken did not shred. It was most definitely cooked but the texture was not one that was going to be shredded. Get a knife and cut it. It was like rubber. The andouille sausage was not much better. 

Bless Steve's heart, he ate it. I told him that he did not have to. I would make him a piece of zero carb bread toast to spread peanut butter on if he so desired, but he remained a trooper. 

Just for the heck of it, I put on my FaceBook page all of my frustrations with the Instant Pot and our meal. I had no idea that I would get so many comments. It pretty much came out 50/50. Fifty percent said they had one too and were terrified of it and had not used it yet or did not even go buy one. While the other fifty percent could have been in the sales department for the company. It was entertaining. Others told me that I needed to give it time and get used to it. If I spend time cooking, then I want to be able to eat the results. The texture of what I cooked was not edible in my opinion.

So I researched some and I found out some interesting facts. Things that no one, much less the manual tells you. 
  • You must cook the meat longer than it tells you to or else the meat will turn out tough. In fact, one article said to double the time at the minimum.
  • Let it depressurize itself.
  • You need liquid, no matter what the recipe says. You can always use the saute button.
  • This is not the same as steaming your food. (Although, for me, this is what it tasted like.)
  • Never put milk or dairy products in because they will curdle. hmmmmm
Then I found a section on the pros and cons of using the Instant Pot.

PROS                                          CONS

saves you time, apparently     bubble buster: you will
is like a slow cooker on           not have dinner on the
steroids                                 table in 10 minutes

you can put frozen meat         using the microwave
straight in the Instant Pot       will work, just a few
                                            more minutes
you can make hard boiled       the pan or oven is so 
eggs in it                               easy to use instead 

There were many, many more. Why would I want to get my step stool out to drag out the Instant Pot to cook hard boiled eggs when I cook them so easily in the oven and the shells peel off like magic? 

In conclusion, we each have to cook the way that we are most comfortable with. My husband and I love to cook and love to try new recipes out. And, many we are walking into blindly, such as the tried and failed attempt at the Instant Pot. We know that we have great cookware and plan our meals to suit the time that we have available to cook.

The Instant Pot will be boxed up just in case our daughter or daughter in law needs to replace theirs. Or else, eventually it will go to Goodwill or a yard sale. Maybe, I am not being fair by not giving it another chance, but I know what we are comfortable with and the fact that we love to try new recipes. We will just keep on keeping on...