Friday, January 29, 2010

Pooches: B is for Bulldozer

Though Mr. B is six years old, he still acts like a little puppy. He is really excitable and highly spastic. He'll run around the living room and pushing all of our furniture all over the place. Before we adopted him, he was adopted by this family that had a young child. Apparently Mr. B was returned because he ran full force into the child and stepped on the child. Mr. B has not changed that much since then. He still runs full force around the house and will even try to push us out of the way. He is most excited when either A or I come home and we release him and Ms. M from their teepee and crate. Mr. B will run as fast as he can out his teepee and in the past he would slam Ms. M against her crate. Ms. M has gotten wise and now waits until Mr. B passes by before she steps out. We have thought about changing Mr. B's name to Butkus, Singletary or even Urlacher.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Doggystyle: Dogs and Rugs

It may just be that it's dark outside, and we've been cooped up all winter, but I've started thinking of adding to our decor. Last spring we added hardwood floors in both the bedrooms, and I thought it might be nice to add another rug in the bedroom.
We put a lot of thought into getting the rugs we currently have. The rug in the main room is perfect because it's dark enough that it can take a lot of use.
We also have some FLOR tiles that are hardy, dog resistant, and can be easily replaced should anything happen.So right now it's super-easy to sweep up dog hair, and we have our amazing vacuum that cleans everything up, so I don't know if it's a bad idea to get a rug. I'm really liking this rug, in winter sky or slate, for our bedroom:
We saw it in the store and it's really soft, and would be perfect underfoot for these cold winters. Since we get free gift cards from our Citibank Rewards Account, it would be practically free. It seems like our bedroom is lacking something, but I'm not sure if this would be a bad idea with dog hair?
I'm also really liking this rug from West Elm. Maybe it's the dreary winter days, but I really like this bright yellow.
Though it may not be the most realistic, or gender-neutral, choice for us. So what are your thoughts? Is it worth it to get that rug for the bedroom? How do you choose rugs? Or do you go sans rug?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pooches: Miss M. the Bad Sport

Miss M. can be very charming. When I first saw her at the adoption event, laying in the Whole Foods parking lot, I was drawn in by her over-attention and "beautiful smile". When we go on our daily walks people find her quite captivating, and she acts like the perfect pooch as she makes new friends. The friendliness and circus-dog training is why we love pitties, but Miss M. also has a bit too much of the "Bully Breed" in her. She is a terrible sport and always tries to bully us to get her way. She is quick to let us know when she doesn't like our decor:
She is always invading Mr. B's space and using him as furniture. Doesn't Mr. B look miserable?When she has guests over she invades their crate and uses them as furniture. Doesn't her friend look miserable?She had a great time at the pooches Halloween Party and was mugging it up for the camera:
But, she threw a tantrum when I told her it was time to go home.And she pouted when she had to share the limelight with Mr. B.
Overall, she's just not a sporty dog.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chicagoing: Big Dogs in Little Spaces

A lot of people believe they can't have a big dog unless they have a big place or a yard. We don't think this is true. I really think having a smaller space forces us to have a greater connection with the dogs. When I was growing up and we had a house and a yard, we could just mindlessly open the door to let the dogs out, and we didn't really have to interact with them at all. Now we're forced to walk the dogs and spend time training and interacting with them. We have successfully been able to have our 2 pooches in our 2-bedroom condo.
The pooches have more than enough places to sleep. Although they love sharing a crate, they have tons of floor pillows, rugs, and places to just flop on the floor.
We go on long daily walks twice a day. These walks are good for all: the dogs get exercise so they're calm at home, it gets us out of the house, and we get to explore our neighborhood and meet our neighbors. Plus, they're not too time consuming. During the schoolyear, I walk the pooches in the morning, and E walks them at night. Plus we have a dogwalker for all the times we can't make it home.If the dogs still have too much energy at home, we take them to the "secret dog park". We don't go to the typical dog parks, these parks are overcrowded and often accidents waiting to happen. The park we go to is typically empty. We go on off hours and play fetch. During the winter the pooches go to daycare. We also give them kongs, which are like mental stimulation puzzles as they try to get the food out from the inside. Apparently thinking is quite exhausting for the pooches.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pooches: Mr. B the stalker

Mr. B has a stalking problem. He tends to follow me all over the house. Even if I run into our second bedroom for a quick task, he'll be there getting all nice and cozy on the sherpa floor rug and as soon as I leave, he'll get up and follow me to my next destination. If I'm in the halls, he'll just follow behind me in the hall and stop when I stop, look up at me and then continue to follow me. Sometimes in the morning, he'll sit right by our bathroom watching us get ready for the day. A says that Mr. B is always waiting right in front of the bathroom every morning as she gets ready for work. When I use the second bathroom, he is usually waiting right outside to greet me.I can't even lay on the sofa, without a gigantic face in my face.Just like Ms. M, he likes to stick his head on the bed and watch us wake up. Its funny b/c he's a lot shorter than Ms. M. When I leave for work in the morning, Mr. B is there watching me as I take off on my bike. Though it could get annoying at times, I would not have it any other way. I love how Mr. B is loyal and wants to be with me throughout the day. However, at night it is a different story. When he's tired he'll just retire into the nest in our bedroom with Ms. M and not give A or me another thought.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

DoggyStyle: Leash hooks

I'm always in a rush in the morning to walk the pooches before I head out for work, so we started a whole organizational system to keep things quick. We wanted to find a permanent place to hang their leashes, so we were looking for some nice looking coat hooks. We really liked these flip hook racks by umbra. We bought two of the racks and hung them together to make one big hook. I like that they flip up and down, plus they match our dog storage boxes.In the morning I just have to grab each leash, and depending on the weather, the pooches hang their coats there also--that would be Miss M's fluffy pink coat, not mine.
I didn't know pooches required so much stuff. What are your secrets for organizing everything?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pooches: Movie Night

We don't have a television, but we do have a projector and a Netflix account; we watch our movies on the blank wall above the second couch. Miss M. especially loves watching movies. She'll perch herself, on the ground, between us on the couch, sit up really proud, and actually watch the action on the screen.
With the cold weather, we've all been trapped inside watching movies. Here are some of our recommendations:

A's List--I tend to like movies from other countries that you still think about even when you're done watching.
1) City of God--A Brazilian movie about life in the hillside slums of Rio de Janiro. The story is riveting. The cinematography is amazing. And many of the actors are real kids from la favela. And the best doesn't end. They actually continued the movie into a 3 season series that was just as amazing as the original movie.

2) Waltz with Bashir--It's hard to truly capture the impact of this Oscar-nominated film. Told as a documentary it uses animation to tell the tale of a former Israeli solider trying recollect events of the 1983 invasion of Lebanon. The first sequence is captivating showing a nightmare where he is being chased by a pack of rabid dogs; it is so terrifying and realistic you forget it's animation. It leaves you thinking about personal responsibility and moral obligations. If you're a fan of The Things they Carried then this is a must see.

3)Happy Accidents--This little known romantic comedy stars Marissa Tomei as a girl unlucky in love. She finally meets the perfect man, except he tells her he's a time traveler from 2439 sent back in time to save her from an uncertain death. Is this just another deal breaker? Or could it be possible it could really be true? It is actually much better than this storyline implies--think The Time Travelers Wife.E's List--E likes things on the lighter side:
1) Definitely, Maybe--This underrated romantic comedy is like the movie version of How I Met Your Mother. It's entertaining, non-formulaic...and you even get to find out who the mother is at the end.

2)Studio Ghibli Movies: Howl's Moving Castle , Grave of the Fireflies, and Spirited Away. This Oscar-winning Japanese film studio produces engaging animae films for adult audiences. These films don't follow typical story lines; E and I watched Spirited Away on one of our first dates.

3) I Love You, Man--Another underrated comedy, E was laughing so hard through this one I was woken several times from my movie-induced sleep.

Mr. B's List: Any Youtube video featuring screeching cats.

Miss M's List: Being narcissistic, she likes watching herself in home movies. Though when she watches this one she actually gets confused and starts putting all of her toys away again.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pooches: Miss M's Over-Attention Problem

Some dogs don't listen enough. But, with Miss M., she listens too much. She seems to have an over-attention problem.
I initially thought it was charming. She literally caught my eye at the adoption event and I thought I had found the perfect dog for me. Little did I realize, I couldn't relax in my own home anymore. There was always someone watching and listening.
She even does this to other people when we go for walks. In our old neighborhood, people found her quite menacing. They would cross the street because they thought she wanted to eat them.

On the other hand, it is this over-attention that has made her so trainable. I wouldn't say she's especially smart, but because she pays such close attention she has actually learned human language. She knows the difference between "go to daycare" (running and jumping around) and "go take a bath" (backing up and leaving the room). She knows certain friends names, and responds to an array of commands. So even though she looks like a cartoon, she keeps the scary people on the streets away from us, and can keep us entertained as a circus dog.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

DoggyStyle: Really Cold Cold-Weather Gear

It has been super-cold here in Chicago. Unfortunately, the winter is just starting; February and March are the most brutal months.
We posted before about fashionable winter weather, but in these subzero temperatures we need to kick it up a notch. Mr. B. still wears his Ruff Wear Overcoat, but Miss M., who is more susceptible to the cold weather, bundles up in her Old Navy Ski Team Parka. We bought ours last year, but right now they have this one. I don't think it's really that much warmer for her; she's more into making a fashion statement.Miss M. also has dainty, delicate feet. Right now the sidewalks are filled with ice and salt which can be really painful when it gets between her webbed toes. We bought her these Muttluk dog boots. They are actually kind of annoying. They take time to put on, and sometimes one falls off when we're on the walk. But it's kind of worth it to keep her feet from bleeding and to see her walk like a duck.
The walks are really not that terrible if you're dressed appropriately. Being a snowboarder, and winter bike-rider, E knows the best cold-weather gear. Every winter, E pulls out these Columbia Bugaboot boots, the same pair he has worn since college. They have yet to leak and they keep his toes nice and toasty during the winter months.
For this season, E bought the REI Taku pants as his overall biking and dog walking pants. They are not as baggy as his snowboarding pants, so they are easier to bike with and he does not have to worry about tripping over them or getting them caught in his bike chain.
On top, E pretty wears the same gear when he goes snowboarding. He wears the Burton LTD Down Jacket which keeps his core warm and the Burton Superpipe gloves are warm, but not bulky so it makes picking up after Ms. M and Mr. B an easy task. I have Burton's Guardian Down Jacket. It's the perfect sleek jacket that has all of the warmth without the puffiness. We actually bought last season's jacket online during the summer; we were able to get it for 1/2 price. And much like Miss M., I have big, fluffy headgear. I jumped on the trapper hat bandwagon. I bought mine at Target, but it still has enough fluffy insides to keep my ears and face warm.
I still like my Merrell Spire Peak Waterproof boots, but I also pull out the Merrell Encore Boots. I prefer my older version, which are even half the price, and you can still find by googling online.
Even with all of our gear, our walks are much shorter. Hopefully we'll have a short winter so we can get back to our Chicagoing.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dog Training: Our Secret Cleaning Weapon

Except for the fact we have two 75 pound pitbulls lying around, people often marvel at how clean we're able to keep our home. While we do have a couple of strategies, but we still have one secret weapon.
Cinderella used to have beautiful birds and butterflies helping her clean; we have the lovely and talented Miss M:
Just check her out in action where she actually puts her own toys away:

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Schwang Manor: The Winterized Home

We weren't very happy to return from San Francisco to subzero temperatures; plus, there's a huge winter storm set to take over Chicago. Seeing as we could be snowed in for a bit, I've been adding things to keep our home warm and cozy. These Ikea Rens Sheepskin have been a favorite of the pooches. We also like how thick and warm they are, so we picked up some extras to texturize our chair and sofa. I like how they keep our home from looking too summery in the middle of winter.
Mr. B. nonchalantly modeling the sofa sheepskin:
While Miss M. is very protective of her special rug:
It's so cold that the thermostat is having problems keeping up. We picked up some flannel sheets from the Target Home Collection for only $15! They pill a bit, but they are super warm, and are nearly as comfortable as the expensive West Elm sheet set.
But the best part is the fire. We started a Sunday morning tradition of eating flights of grilled cheese with tomato soup and admiring a roaring fire, now it's fun to have it in the middle of the week.
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