A Blog About a Dog (Warning: Hoards of Photos)

photo 10After all the regular check-ups at Lola’s annual vet appointment, and getting a clean bill of health, he turned to me and said “Wow, are you ever lucky that you’re getting those bonus years.”

For a breed that usually maxes out at eight or nine years, we are lucky to have had 10 – a milestone birthday Lola is marking today.


Lola joined Tyler and I when she was already over two years old, and had two litters of pups behind her. Her “family” was done using her for breeding, so she was retired from her matronly duties. After seeing her partner – an all-white hefty, burly bully – am sure she has since been ever grateful to us.


She was our first “kid.” She came with me to work on a daily basis, we went on long walks in the field together, she came to the drive-in, and family dinners. Sometimes on a lazy morning she was even allowed to sneak on to the bed.


Less than a year later, Jack was born. While most families fret about how the dog will react to the new infant, or how you’d make time for both, I never had any fears. I trusted her with my new boy, and we now had a little bundle to take on our walks together.

Lola became Jack’s first best friend.


And of course she became his protector.


When Noah came along she added him to her brood willingly even though that meant less frequent walks, interrupted sleep, and more little fingers poking and pulling at her wrinkles. She took it all with grace and good humour.

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Lola has always been a good sport even when the laughs were at her expense.

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As she’s aged over the years we’ve seen her face grow a little greyer, and a little longer. We’ve seen her move a little slower, and a little stiffer. But she’s certainly no sad sack senior.

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We are lucky to have had 10 years. Ten years of farting, drooling, snoring, chewing toys, destroying water bottles and balls. Ten years of being the most loyal friend, family protector, source of humour, and constant companion. Ten years, two kids, two cats, and a lot of memories. Ten years, and more to come – those bonus years.

Happy 10th Birthday Lola.

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Minecraft – The Birthday Realm

When Jack told me he wanted a Minecraft theme for his sixth birthday I have to admit I had to turn to Google to find out even what that meant. Turns out about the majority of boys ages eight to 13 seemed to have had a party based on the popular video game in the last year so there were a lot of blogs and Pinterest pages to nab ideas from. Granted I’m not that crafty I think I, along with the help of child-wrangler Tyler, pulled off a pretty sweet party.

I tried my hand at an iron sword from a great YouTube tutorial, as well as a Steve head from the same poster. The printables can be found here and here.


I ended up realizing making seven swords, or seven Steve heads might be a little more than time consuming, so I made one of each and integrated them as party props. The rest of the guests got creeper masks simply made with a green gift bag and some black tape.


What I gather about this game from the small bit of research is that along with battling creepers, and creating things from pixelated looking blocks of wood/brick/wool, you’re looking to collect things. Diamonds are considered one of the most valuable items, so we thought kids could win diamonds for completing games, and then trade them for other “supplies” later on (candy blocks, chocolate rocks, “gold” or TNT, which was red licorice).


With two hours to kill and seven boys to entertain we decided we needed several games to keep them happy and moving.


The first game with pin the tail on the pig (you can collect livestock in the game). Players had to wear a Steve head while trying to place their tails. The three closest players got a diamond.


The next game was creeper toss. Players had to throw an object through one of three different size holes for points. Yes, we used rolled up socks, but no one seemed to mind – they were clean.



The third game was something Tyler and Jack came up with – creeper smash. What six year old boy doesn’t like to destroy things?


Basically we built a creeper out of boxes and everyone had to throw a ball to see if they could knock it down. If you did you got a point. The team with the most points got diamonds, of course.



The final game, which was probably THEE most popular and THEE easiest, was tower build. After the creeper was destroyed we divided the boxes, or “blocks” amongst two teams and they had to build a tower using all the items. Whichever team got theirs built first won – you guessed it – diamonds.


The kids had to great creative as most of them were too short for the final block. But they finally found things to stand on for that last level.



By this time everyone had a few diamonds (we made sure everyone was even), and they lined up to trade their jewels for candy. I was quite surprised that most of them wanted to keep the blue plastic diamonds instead of taking the candy. I guess the other parents would appreciate that choice as well.


Luckily after all the playing the boys were ready for pizza, and juice in creeper cups. A lot of blogs/Pinterest pages have amazing food tables with signs for each food item (see here, and here), but we realized a pile of grade oners just wanna get through the food and back to playing so we went the simple route.


Now, no matter the birthday theme we’ve made it a tradition to have a piñata. Kids usually take a few wacks with the mask on, but these ones from The Bulk Barn are pretty strong and usually require mask-less hard hits. It’s always fun to see them scramble when the candy comes flying out.


With all the candy from the trade-in table and out of the piñata, no one really wanted cake. They just wanted to play.


So I nabbed one photo before they went wild. And, luckily that was only 10 minutes before parents came to pick them up.


One Mom’s Treasure Is Another Mom’s Trash?

Confession time – how much of your kid’s artwork do you really keep? I’m not talking about the carefully folded Mother’s Day cards, or special Christmas ornaments. I’m talking about the five pictures of Star Wars battles that came home from school; the egg carton caterpillar; the paper plate wreath with only one petal glued to it. You get the idea.


Of course when you have kids a good amount of clutter and chaos will occur. This is something I’ve been learning to deal with for the past 6 years (some days I still lust for pre-child minimalism). But what I can’t handle is when paper spills from the craft table and it finds its way on to the fridge, jams drawers, hangs loosely from bedroom doors, and even gets tacked to office walls because there’s no where else for it to go.


So about every two weeks I do a secret sweep where piles of papers with layers of stickers, and coloured shapes get put in the recycling bin. It’s not that I don’t value their art. For each and every piece that is handed to me I take the time to admire and acknowledge the work that went in to it. It’s just when that piece is quickly replaced by another, and then another, it’s like being consumed by a Crayola tsunami.


One solution to show appreciation, but keep from drowning in paper, is the kid art wall in our playroom, which is currently featuring “The Ninja Series” by Jack Archer Walsh. This lets the kids pick their favourite pieces for display, and gives mom some peace of mind. Admission is free by the way.