After a few years of being a first time dog owner, we have learned a great many lessons along the way.

a double dog photo

Our puppies(dogs), Max and Bella celebrated their 2nd birthdays this past week. I thought it would be nice to reflect upon the lessons we have learned being proud parents of these two furry children.

 14 “Dog Parenting Lessons” we have learned so far:

1 – Unconditional love – Max and Bella are always excited to see us, snuggle with us and provide great companionship.

2 – Getting two dogs at the same time was a good idea. – At first everyone thought we were crazy and so did I, but they play nicely with each other (most of the time) and keep each other company when we are not home.

3 – Crating puppies is helpful for housetraining, general training and a safe way to transport your puppies. – We have not “crated” our dogs in a long time, but it was very helpful in the beginning. We now restrict them in an open pen/enclosed area when we are not home. It keeps them safe and out of mischief.

4 – Avoid certain foods and don’t give them too much food. – Never give them raisins, grapes, onions and chocolate. Until I had dogs, I had no idea these items (especially chocolate) could be very dangerous for them.

5 – Give them one or two toys at a time. – If you give them too many toys, they may not know your shoes are not a chew toy.

6 – Teaches kids great sense of responsibility – We all know who is doing most of the work (me!), but at least our daughters know they have to help with walking, feeding and taking the dogs to relieve themselves. They do what they can with a smile when asked.

7 – Favorite Dog Products 

Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray – taste deterrent which prevents destructive chewing

Kong Dog Toy – favorite chew toy which we usually fill with peanut butter and then put in the freezer. The frozen peanut butter will keep them busy for a longer period of time.

Nature’s Miracle Advanced Stain & Odor Remover – smells nice and helps prevent repeat accidents in the same place in your home.

8 – Puppies are like toddlers; you can’t leave them unattended. They may eat small items (erasers, pencils, etc. ). Be careful of the chewy toys which squeak because if they eat the “squeaker”, you may need an emergency visit at the vet. (Luckily, this has never happened us.)

9 – EST every dayExercise (walking the dogs), Socialization and Training are important for dogs, but this winter was a bit tough to keep up with regular exercise. Keep in mind walking dogs is regular built in exercise for you.

10 – You meet a lot of people in your neighborhood – it’s a great way to meet your neighbors!

11 – When dogs bark, there is usually a reason – We can now recognize by the sound of their bark if they are hungry, need to go to the bathroom or if someone is coming to the door before they ring the doorbell/leaving a package.

12- Dogs just want to please us and really enjoy belly rubs. – They like positive feedback and recognition – don’t we all?

13 – They love to get their rest, relax and play. We could probably all benefit from learning these “skills” from them.

14 –Travel requires more planning – While you lose flexibility to just get up and go away for longer periods of time, the love and affection we have received from Max and Bella is well worth it! Can’t imagine our lives without them!

Happy Birthday Max and Bella. We love you!

 

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Take your children to NYC museums. They foster learning and creativity.

Guggenheim Photo

If you live near New York City or are planning a trip to visit NY with kids (or without), I highly recommend visiting the museums. It’s so interesting to get your children’s perspective when they look at pieces of art, large skeletons of dinosaurs, etc. Very often the museums have activity guides for the kids. It also provides them with an appreciation for the arts.

These are some of our favorites: ( Highlighting tips with a star *)

1) Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka MET)

* Suggested general admission is $25 for adults and children under 12 are free.

* The museum is huge and family intinerary guides can help you manage your visit.

* When the weather is warmer, don’t forget the amazing rooftop garden which provides a great view of the city.

2) Museum of Modern Art (aka MOMA)

*  Admission is $25 for adults and children under 16 are free.

* Admission is free for all visitors during UNIQLO Free Friday Nights, held every Friday evening from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., but it is very crowded. I would avoid it.

* Andy Warhol, Picasso, Van Gogh’s Starry Night – kids loved these!

* They have an audio guide specifically with highlights for children.

3) Guggenheim Museum

* Admission is $25 for adults and children under 12 are free

* Pay what you wish Saturdays (5:45-7:45), but also very crowded

* Take the elevator to the 6th floor and walk down the spiral walkway. The shape and design of the museum is part of the fun!

* They have a wonderful activity guide for children.

4) American Museum of Natural History

* Suggested general admission is $22 and children are $12.50.

* Dinosaur exhibit and big blue whale are a must, but plan which other exhibits you want to see because you can’t see them all in one visit.

A few more general tips:

* If you are fortunate enough to work for a company which is part of a museum’s corporate membership program, you may even get in for free to many of the museums in New York City.

* Our local library in Long Island offers free museum passes to library card holders to the Cradle of Aviation, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum; Guggenheim Museum; Nassau County Museum of Art and Old Westbury Gardens.   You may want to check if your local NY library does the same.

* Remember to tell the kids not to touch items in these museums because the security guards will be telling (yelling at) them not to get too close.

There are so many museums in NYC. These are just a few of them. Explore and go on a fun adventure with your children. Great way to spur creative thinking and spend quality time with your family. Enjoy!

God works in mysterious ways. Miracles do happen.

Angels

I can’t remember the exact date, but it was 1999 and my mother had been diagnosed with colon cancer for the 2nd time. We met with the surgeon who said he could not operate because the cancer had metastasized. Chemotherapy for the rest of her life was the treatment. That seemed like a death sentence to me and I was determined to explore options.

After the meeting with the doctor, I went back into the city on the train. I was mentally drained and exhausted. When I looked up, I saw a friend from high school I had not seen in years. I truly feel God put this friend (angel) on the train for me to meet that day. That “chance” meeting is the reason my mother is still here and alive today.

Long story short, my friends’ coworker’s mother in law had a similar colon cancer diagnosis and suggested we get a 2nd opinion from Dr. Sugarbaker at the Washington Cancer Institute, Washington Hospital Center, in Washington, D.C. He had an innovative treatment which consisted of surgery and heated chemotherapy in the affected area where the cancer was. I won’t go into all of the details, but the point being she was a viable candidate for this surgery, the treatment worked and my mother is still here 15 years later. We are all extremely grateful.

I feel my mother’s situation was truly a miracle. When I meet someone who is impacted by cancer, I pray to God to help them find the best information/treatments for their situation. Had I not met my friend on the train that day, I don’t know if I ever would have found out about Dr. Sugarbaker.

I hope I can be that “angel” to help someone else some day. Miracles do happen.

 

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Be aware of your family medical history.

Did you know colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the US, the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined, can very often have no symptoms, but if detected early has a 90% cure rate?

It’s important to be aware of your family medical history. My mom is a two time colon cancer survivor and I already have a few colonoscopies under my belt. They are really not a big deal; the prep is far worse than the actual procedure. At age 50, everyone should treat themselves to a colonoscopy (even if you don’t have family history). No one wants to talk about “that area down there”, but if more people did we would have far fewer cases of colon cancer.

Your family history should not be ignored. It’s still going to be there even if you choose to ignore it. Preventive maintenance is key. Do it for yourself and your children.

The following information provides more details on colorectal cancer symptoms and was pulled from the Colon Cancer Alliance website. This organization provided my family with phenomenal patient support/information when we needed it 15+ years ago.

” Colorectal cancer first develops with few, if any, symptoms. It is important not to wait for symptoms before talking to your doctor about getting screened. However, if symptoms are present, they may include:

* A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool

* Feeling that your bowel does not empty completely, rectal bleeding, or finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool

* Finding your stools are narrower than usual

* Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas, pain, or feeling full or bloated

* Losing weight with no known reason

* Weakness or fatigue

* Having nausea or vomiting

These symptoms can also be associated with many other health conditions. Only your doctor can determine why you’re having these symptoms. Usually, early cancer does not cause pain. It is important not to wait to feel pain before seeing a doctor.”

Thanks for reading this post. It is all about awareness. If you or someone you know is 50+, please ask them to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. You could be saving someone else’ life or even your own.