An Ah-Ha Moment

Attention pet lovers! As “Mom” to two adorable furbabies – Zoey and Ryder – I’ve realized that the core concept of why I started this site (slowing down and not taking life for granted) is actually often achieved through my dogs. At the end of the day, my dogs are the ones who really help to bring balance to my life by reminding me to have fun and look at the beautiful world by its simple and humble moments. Try it: think like a dog one day—eat, play, sleep, repeat—it’s that easy and feels great.

furbabies

As you can see from the sidebar on this page, my last blog post was over 9 months ago. In my usual obsessive fashion, I became super excited about an idea and hit the ground running (full-speed) and opened up an online children’s shop PLUS started a blog, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook account. I soon found myself spending hours upon hours browsing the Internet looking for hilarious kid photos and topics for blog inspiration. Suddenly something that was supposed to be a fun outlet to help me relax suddenly became a chore, and the engagement on my social pages waned.

One thing I did notice was spikes in interest when I included pets in the conversation: people responded well when I shared photos, tips, memes and more, about my dogs. This sparked another idea (which usually occurs about 2am when I’ve accidentally consumed caffeine that afternoon) which drove my obsessive mind to change my @LittleRoadies twitter handle into the voice of my dog Ryder on a whim, and I began engaging with the pet community. I was instantly in love; realizing pet people are my kind of people. I (technically Ryder) quickly made many Twitter friends and it was really fun, not like a chore. I didn’t need to browse the Internet for content (I already have a gazillion photos and videos of my pets), and two-way conversation followed naturally, without effort. My secret? I unlocked something that I was truly genuinely passionate about; in fact a bit fanatical you could say.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not some crazy dog lady who owns a thousand dogs and taste tests their food before allowing them to eat it (although I realize that talking as your dog on Twitter is not exactly normal), but I am obsessed with animals and love them to my very core – always have, always will. And thus, overtime, you may begin to see this blog transform with more and more posts about pets, dedicated to the furbabies who make our lives better just by being around. Stay tuned!

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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Life is too short to worry about things that are out of our control… here’s a nice reminder not to sweat the small stuff.

don't worry be happy

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Who Really Needs a Vacation: Kids or Parents?

Feeling overworked and exhausted? You’re not alone – according to a recent study of children ages 6 to 17, 71% of kids reported they needed a vacation because school and homework has “got them down.”

If you’re one of the many overworked parents reading this right now, planning a family road trip with your “little energy machines” might sound like the last thing you want to do, but HomeAway.com has put together this fantastic little infographic with tips and tricks to plan a relaxing, refreshing vacation that both parents and kids can enjoy.

Where’s the best or worst place you’ve traveled with the kids? Share your thoughts below!

kid vacation

Image Via HomeAway.com

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See the World in the Eyes of a Child

Oh, to see the world in the eyes of a child!

see the world as a child

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Teach your dog to play hide and seek with your kids

Hide and seek has always been one of my favorite games. It’s also a great way to entertain both your kids and your dog!

So HOW do you train a dog to play hide and seek? Follow the steps below and soon you’ll have a new family activity to help keep everyone–including your furbaby—active and entertained.

*IMPORTANT TIP* Set aside time after your kids go to bed to practice with your dog by yourself first. It will be difficult to do this while the kids are awake, creating distractions for your eager pup.

hide and seek with dog

step1

Ask your dog to SIT and reward him with a treat upon doing so. Make him see that you have an additional treat (or his favorite toy) and ask him to STAY.

step2Tell him to STAY  walk away towards another room. If your dog starts to follow you, bring him back to the starting point and try again. Walk away backwards so he knows you’re watching him… (just like kids, hehe.)

step3

Once you have made it to another room while your dog stays, call him to you. Be sure to reward him with treats and praise when he finds you! Then, bring him back to his original “counting place” and start again. As your dog gets more practice, try hiding in more difficult places like behind a door or under a blanket to make him hunt for you.

Now… the best part! Once your pet gets the hang of it, teach your kids the above steps and they can play with the dog while you relax.

If you’re lookdog plays hide and seeking for more training games for your pet, check out this fantastic article from Kidzworld.com here.

Additionally, the steps above assume your pet has already mastered basic training commands including SIT and STAY. If your dog still needs to learn these, read this helpful article by clicking here.

Reality Check: Remember there are some dogs that simply won’t play hide and seek no matter how hard you try. Like kids, sometimes they just don’t want to do it and there comes a point where you need to listen to your gut and decide what’s best for them. 

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Perspective: Children, Dreams & Home

An interesting take on perspective…

childhood dreams

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DIY Photo Booth: Be Silly and Have Fun

One of the things I love the best about children is that they remind us to be silly and have fun! What better way to do so than to create your very own photo booth? Whether for your next party or just some fun around the house, here’s the scoop on how to do it without having to shell out a small fortune to rent one.

What You Will Need:DIY Photo Booth

  1. Laptop with a built-in camera
  2. Dress-up accessories (glasses, hats, costumes, etc.)
  3. Photo backdrop (can be as simple as a white bed sheet)

Step 1: Download the free Sparkbooth app onto your computer.  Test the program ahead of time to make sure it works correctly (upgrade to full version to remove watermark). If you have a Mac, you can simply use the Mac Photo Booth software that’s already on your computer. If you’re having any trouble, read this article from MommyPoppins.com for tips and alternative program options. She also has tips on how to do it using your iPad with Pocketbooth ($0.99).

Step 2: Hang the photo backdrop against a wall where the kids will be taking photos. Set your laptop on a table or chair and make sure the lens is positioned correctly to capture the kids’ faces in the photos.

Step 3: Fill a basket with the props and costumes so that the kids can pick and choose what they want to wear. Need some help with prop ideas? Click here for free print-outs from OhHappyDay.com.

Step 4: Appoint an adult to supervise the laptop (and to help run the photo booth program for the kids) and then it’s SHOWTIME!

As always, make sure children are supervised to prevent any “accidents” with your coveted tech devices.

Oh, and don’t forget to say cheese!

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Eat the Rainbow

Do you have a picky eater? The secret to getting your little one to eat may be to introduce more color to their meals.

According to a recent study from Cornell University, kids find plates of food with six colors the most appealing while adults prefer just three colors. Interestingly, the study found that colorful food appeals to children more than adults. Specifically, children preferred food plates with seven different items and six colors, while adults preferred food plates with only three different items and three colors.

Need some recipe ideas? Check out this fantastic post from Chickabug on how your family can eat the rainbow! Click here: Savory Rainbow Recipes.

rainbow pizza

Photo Credit: Rainbow pizza byTablespoon

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K9s in the Classroom? How Dogs are Helping Schools

We’ve all heard about companies who let you bring your dog to work, but it turns out that even schools are realizing the positive effect they can have within the classroom. From behavioral issues, social development and even reading programs, read the inspiring ways that dogs are being put to work in education.

This post is kindly reposted below with the permission of Halie Hartman at OnlineColleges.net. To view the original post, please click HERE.

1. Putting an End to Bullying
Stop BullyingBullying is a problem in so many classrooms, with children anxious about school for fear of taunting and abuse. But in some schools, dogs are making a difference in the fight against bullies. Through programs like Kansas City’s No More Bullies, volunteers and dogs visit schools to teach kids about compassion and fairness. Developers of the program report that kids can identify with animals, and with empathy for the dog, can better understand how classmates may feel. Jo Dean Hearn of No More Bullies shares, “it’s easy for them to transition when we ask them to consider how an animal feels (if ill treated) to how the kid sitting near them feels (if poorly treated).” The programs sure seem to work, with a long waiting list for No More Bullies. In a study of a similar program, Healing Species, it was found that violent behavior in participating students declined by 55%, and general aggression went down 62%.

2. Autism Service Dogs
Autism Service DogsChildren with autism typically have trouble with concentration and interaction at school and beyond. With the help of a service dog, students may be able to increase their abilities and do better in the classroom. First grader Jake Barry puts his service dog Quincy to work at school, helping him with his concentration and socialization, as well as helping him keep calm. Jake’s mother Angela indicates that he’s done well with the dog, increasing his focus and ability to sit down and work for longer periods. Additionally, Barry reports, “he’s calmer, more accepting and much more on target,” all things that help Jake do better in school. Quincy also helps Jake slow down and be happier, because “he has to slow down and stay at Quincy’s pace,” so Jake is less anxious and less rigid; when he gets upset, he’s less likely to have a tantrum.

3. Solving Truancy Problems
Truancy Problems At Tonaganixie Middle School in Kansas, principal Steve Woolf found himself facing Mandy, a special needs student with an extreme case of truancy. When Woolf met Mandy, she had been absent for 40 days of the school year, and was in truancy court. Faced with the problem of figuring out how to keep Mandy in school, Woolf enlisted the help of River, a service dog. Woolf got Mandy back in school with the promise of a surprise, and River was it, telling her that “if she didn’t come to school to care for him, he wouldn’t get walks, water or love.” With the incentive of caring for River, Mandy came to school almost every day for the rest of the year, only missing two days.

4. Managing Behavior Problems
behavior problems Behavior problems are serious in school, and as many as one in 10 children suffers from a behavior disorder bad enough to interfere with learning and development. Some schools are using dogs to improve behavior problems, promoting positive behavior in students. In a controlled study, students were found to have fewer disciplinary referrals than classrooms without animals. Students’ behavior improved toward teachers, and students also showed more confidence and responsibility. Additionally, parents reported that children seemed more interested in school as a result of having the animals around.

5. Promoting Reading
Dogs-Promote-Reading It might seem a bit silly to read to a dog, but canine reading programs are doing wonders for young students. Children who might be embarrassed to read aloud to the class or even adults are likely to be less scared to read to a dog. In Childhood Education, Mary Renck Jalongo points out, “It might be less stressful for a child to read aloud to a dog than to a teacher or a peer. After all, a dog won’t judge or correct you.” With the Reading Education Assistance Dogs program, also known as READ, dogs are used to encourage struggling readers to practice reading aloud. With the presence of a “calm and well-trained dog,” students find social support and peer interaction. On top of spending time with a favorite therapy dog, students are offered incentives, including “pawtographed” books. After reading 10 books, students earn a book stamped with the paw print of their favorite therapy dog. In other programs reading to dogs is the incentive, allowing students to read to therapy dogs if they met their literacy goals.

6. Social Development
Child Social Development Dogs in school offer an opportunity for improving social development at nearly every stage, from elementary age children to teens. They are especially useful for teaching students social skills and responsibility. Specifically, schools are using dogs to help tweens build self esteem, learn about positive and negative reinforcement, responsibility, and boundaries. Older kids and teens use dogs to help communicate, teach kindness, and empower students through dog training programs.

7. Researching Disease
Dog Research DiseaseDogs have been used to detect drugs for years, but Auburn University is using the detection skills of dogs for a different purpose: fighting pine tree disease. The school has created an EcoDogs program, using dogs to detect deadly fungus in pine tree roots that has led to “Southern pine decline,” which affects more than a million acres in the southeastern US. The detector dogs are being trained to snuff out the fungi that are attacking tree roots. The dogs offer a particular advantage as they are noninvasive, do not disturb the beetles, or spread the fungus. Before using EcoDogs, land owners and researchers had to dig up roots to inspect the trees, causing them to release stress chemicals that can attract more beetles. Researchers believe that using dogs to stop pine tree disease is a very positive step to advancing the management of pine plantations and stopping the disease.

8. Teaching Responsibility
Dogs Teach Responsibility With a dog in the classroom, students have the opportunity to learn how to care for the animal. This includes walking, grooming, and feeding the dog, chores which can be distributed among the class. Trainers report that involving students in the daily care of classroom dogs is a positive experience, promoting their own daily care, like brushing their teeth at home. The students also learn about responsibility, caring, and sharing when helping each other take care of a dog at school.

9. Allergy Detection
Child-Allergy-DetectionJust as dogs can be used to detect drugs, bombs, and even pine tree fungus, they can also be used to detect allergens, which is especially helpful for students with life threatening allergies, especially peanut allergies. Although schools often enact policies designed to help students avoid the allergens that can cause severe problems for them, it’s not always possible, and mistakes can happen. With the help of allergy alert dogs, students with life threatening allergies can be alerted to the presence of substances that may harm them. For students with severe allergies, these dogs can be life saving.

These are just some of many more reasons to love man’s best friend.

What do you think: should more schools allow dogs in the classroom?

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Laughter is the best medicine

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”

Quote by Bill Cosby

child laughter

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