Sunday, June 27, 2010

You had me at hello

I didn't mean to disappear. As Brando put it, now that I have a say in where I live for the first time in five years, I guess I just don't feel the need to escape anymore. That includes escaping to fun and interesting new getaways, events, and restaurants. Oh, don't worry, I'm still enjoying those things, but they're not the center of my life like they were for awhile. I'm enjoying my man, my boys, and (eek) home.

I'll be back soon though to show you a glimpse into my home. Floating at Barton Springs, long days at the pool, dates to see Jeff Dunham, friends' birthday celebrations, girls nights, volunteering, picnics at Zilker Hillside Theatre before Ballet Under the Stars, the list goes on amongst the every day wonders of teaching my boys to get along as siblings, summer youth group events for Justinbustin, enjoying dinners with my family, watching tv shows late into the night with Brando, and family movie nights.. Just give me a moment to enjoy this moment. Talk to you soon!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Apartment Living with Small Dogs

Excuse the deviation from the normal Austin love. I am just so darn proud of myself, I had to share this with you all. Oh, and, actually, it has a lot to do with Austin living with all the sky-rise condo apartments combined with small dog lovers we have downtown these days!

So, as I've discovered, one of the inconveniences of moving into an apartment from a house is having to do without the conveniences of a house. With little dogs, specifically this includes giving up the convenience of a backyard. As owners of little dogs know, a little dog equals a little bladder and thus many, many potty breaks. Those of us who have the unfortunate experience of owning a backyard, then owning none, or at least not living by the one you own, and discovering that their little doggie does not indeed like to do their duty on the leash are, in a word, screwed. After about two weeks of being here, and having accidents on the carpet, in the kennel, and in the sad little caged area we set up in the kitchen she ended up being confined to, especially when she'd never had an accident before save for one or two when we first adopted her, not to mention the constipation she had from trying very, very hard not to go in the house or on her leash, I'd had enough. I decided I was going to give her a backyard. Even if it was only approximately a 2' x 4' backyard. On our balcony, deck, patio, whatever you want to call it.

So I headed to Home Depot and picked up my supplies. My original intent was to create an all wood planter box with a plywood bottom. After discussion with the very helpful Home Depot employees, that plan deviated a tad to an acrylic bottom that would keep the bottom from rotting, cement bricks to elevate the bottom off the cement deck in order to hose underneath thus keeping the deck clean, and lower wood sides than I originally anticipated as we'd already raised the height with the cement bricks and I didn't want our little dog to hop the fence.
The boys and I then headed to the sod store to pick up our grass. Our first stop was a garden nursery, but with no luck there they very helpfully pointed us to a nearby turf store. At the turf store they generously gave us the four squares of sod we were looking for, and even more so gave us measurements for the sod and idea such as the plywood bottom in order to build what my original goal was. They even told me that there was a lady who sold these, but they no longer had her business card. Unfortunately after a little online research, I'm beginning to think she only sold fake grass ones, as I could not find any real grass "potty patches" online. However, I did find a fake grass one called the Potty Patch. After reading reviews, though, I realized the construction is a tad flimsy and shaky, sometimes scaring little dogs. Also, I didn't want to have to hose the pee off the fake grass.

So onward with creating my own real grass potty patch. First, I set down the cement blocks. Then, I placed the acrylic on top, and finally placed the wood pieces around the edge of the acrylic.
My nephew very sweetly came over and drilled eight screws, two in each end, into the wood to hold it together.
Brando drilled eight screws into the wood through the acrylic from the bottom in order to be able to transport it if need be one the soil was in. We poured in the self-feeding for four months soil, placed the grass sod in by cutting the pieces with a knife to fit, and wa-la!
One, REAL grass, potty patch.

As a precaution, we introduced her to the grass with a treat immediately after her feet touched it. Then enticed her to move to other parts of the grass by having her follow a treat in our hands. We enticed her to hop up, then sternly told her no, and gave her a treat once her feet were placed back on the grass to keep her from wanting to hop out. We placed the 24" Midwest black exercise pen around our grass patch
and placed her inside with another treat. Then we walked inside, opened the blinds, and peeked in on her to make sure we were at the ready to say no if she hopped out. She hopped off into the tiny space of cement, hopped back on, started sniffing and promptly did her duty!! I was so relieved, I almost cried!! Seriously. I thought the grass patch would work, but I wasn't totally convinced and if she was afraid of it or didn't like the texture there'd be no hope. So as soon as she was done I went outside and showered her with praise and a few more treats. I told Shawners that after he feeds her now he needs to wait five minutes then take her to the door to the deck and ask her if she wants to go outside. When she starts to spin circles like she does when she's saying yes she wants to go outside, take her to the grass patch and place her in and tell her to, "Go potty!" like we do. Then, the first few times, make sure to praise her immensely when she goes and give her a treat.

Oh my word, I am SOO relieved the grass patch worked instantly. The nice thing is, her little eight pound self's bladder is so tiny, the pee will soak right in - no need to worry about cleaning that off! Her number two duty can be instantly picked up with a duty bag and no smell! The grass can be watered and, now my only hope is, that it stays alive! Which leads to my next project - find a quick connect adapter for the sink faucet in order to be able to easily attach a hose to the sink and water our current garden
and new grass patch.
Read: easy for that one as I already have a faucet adaptor, but without an aerator it's not convenient to use as a sink faucet, and switching out the adaptor with the aerator is downright irritating. But that's for another post!

*30x36 clear acrylic sheet - or whatever size fits your needs
*1" x 4" interior/exterior wood, cut to fit by the hardware store - make sure this is NOT treated, as that can dangerous for your dog
*16 screws
*3 pieces of sod, 16' x 24', cut to fit - I believe ours is Bermuda grass, but I'm not positive
*1 bag of self-feeding soil for at least three months
*24" Midwest black exercise pen or similar

*Lay down cement blocks
*Place acrylic on top of cement blocks and adjust for maximum support
*Screw wood pieces together at ends to create a frame the size of your acrylic sheet
*Screw acrylic into the bottom of the frame by first drilling holes, then screwing in screws
*Fill with a 1"-2" layer of self-feeding soil
*Lay sod on top and cut to fit
*Enclose with an exercise pen
*Water until water drips from the sides
*Train your dog to like the new texture with treats
*Train your dog to do her duty by placing her in the pen, watching from out of sight, and rewarding immediately with treats as soon as she is completely done
*Wa-la! A real grass backyard for your little dog on your patio or deck!

My Account Was Hacked

If the previous post titled "hello" is in your reader please do NOT click on the link as I did NOT post it. A girlfriend told me a lot of her friends accounts have been hacked in a similar fashion, so please take this opportunity to change your password now to something a little more complicated. My own password is changed and all is right with the world! Especially with Google giving me the ISP of exactly who hacked it - just need to figure out how to report it now.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Kayaking Barton Springs

Justinbustin's special request for his birthday was to go kayaking with his dad so he could get his own kayak. On Memorial Day we decided to all go kayaking - and he still got his own kayak. Shawners still has a little while before we make him paddle on his own, especially since this was the first time he didn't absolutely refuse to go! If you haven't been already, kayaking is the perfect activity where you can be active, still stay cool, and relax when you want to.
Especially amongst the gorgeous scenery on the way to Town Lake via Barton Springs.
Zilker Park Boat Rentals is the perfect place to rent kayaks from. We've rented from other kayak rental places along Town Lake previously, but I fell in love with Zilker Park Boat Rentals. The guys are friendly and conversational but aren't too picky about what boat, lifejacket or paddle you choose, the location is perfect to ease you into the water without sending you into deep water immediately and let you play in it for a few minutes to cool off afterwards,
the current gives you an easy lift to the lake,
and from there you can head west

or east
and see an abundance of equally beautiful scenery either way. We chose west, but we made sure to get plenty of pictures with the skyline in the background that you would see closer up if you headed east. Not to mention the scenery on the way to and from the lake is absolutely stunning in and of itself.
One of my favorite things is the boat entry is perfectly shallow and non-scary. No having to hold the boat steady in case you fall overboard into twenty feet deep water or floating docks that waver as you walk on them to get there.
The best part is if you go on Monday-Friday or before noon on Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays aka before it gets too hot you can rent one boat and get one free, or rent one boat for an hour and get an hour free. Our entire hour and fifteen minutes trip cost us a measly $11.75! Can't beat that and the scenery!

What would a trip to Barton Springs be without a milkshake and a hamburger from P. Terry's to round it off? Even better, is running into Kiley there!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...