Ladybugs in my Christmas Tree

Every year we go out to the tree farm and cut our own Christmas tree. It is a beautiful area with a stream running through it and I’ve always hoped that they can sell enough trees to keep it as beautiful as it is.

This year when we took the tree off of the car, we noticed quite a few ladybugs at the base of the stump. We left it outside for a little while for them to find a new home. I love how the ladybugs take care of the aphids in my garden in the spring, so I was hoping they would stick around.

Then we brought the tree in the house and within ten minutes of being in the warm environment, thousands of ladybugs thought it was spring! They were all hiding close in to the trunk, but the warmth of the house brought them out to the branches ready to launch into the warm air! We grabbed the tree and put it outside, but have been chasing ladybugs around the house ever since.

I did some research on the web to try and figure out how to give them a good place to overwinter, but from everything I’m reading, they would prefer to be in the house. It makes me think that putting that tree just outside the door was not a good move. Here are some of the sites I found on Ladybugs:

Summer vacation with Grizzlies

If you love to vacation in the wilderness, and want a safe way to explore grizzly bear territory, this binder will offer you some excellent resources.  Included is an article by the Wall Street Journal regarding these grizzly guide companies that provide a safe way to view grizzlies and learn about them in their habitat.  

Just click on the link below to open the binder.  You can view the different grizzly vacation websites by clicking on the tabs at the top of the binder page.


The wrong dog – Part II

I wrote a post back in February on the trials of my rescue dog Toah. Part Pit bull, Toah is a scary looking dog with yellow eyes and serious issues – he was extremely afraid of people and aggressive toward other dogs.

But my problem with Toah wasn’t him, he wasn’t the wrong dog, I was just the wrong owner. I needed some serious obedience classes.

My core issue was that you cannot be passive or lazy when you have a dog with issues. Through my friend Beverly Ulbrich, the Pooch Coach, and through reading all the resources on the web, I learned how important it was to establish the hierarchy in our “pack” (our family). I also learned how incredibly important it is to consistently reinforce that he was on the bottom of that hierarchy – below the children. Once Toah realized his place in the pack, he became so much more comfortable!

Today Toah has made wonderful progress and will stand quietly next to strangers – though he still tries to run if they try to pet him. He plays well with other dogs and is never aggressive on the leash. I no longer worry about him when people come over to the house. He comes right up to them with me. But I never give up the training. It is the consistency that makes him aware of his place and that is what makes him comfortable.

Since Toah is in such good shape, there is more time for fun, so here is a binder with some fun puppy sites:

One fun thing about Toah is that in addition to Pit Bull, he is part Corgi with short little legs that make him look like a pocket-sized pit. This is my binder (that I still refer to occasionally) on dog training. It also has some additional pictures of Toah.

Aerial Pesticide spraying this Summer in Bay Area

If any of you live in the San Francisco Bay Area – you might want to check out these news stories concerning the Light Brown Apple Moth Pesticide spraying that will occur in the Bay Area this summer. Somehow it has gone unnoticed by the community until recently and it is causing an uproar by local residents concerned for their health. This includes a group of mothers who are lobbying to change the spraying, but it might be impossible to do at this late notice.

If you click on the binder link below – it has the latest articles, and websites that can help you find out more information on what to protect yourself if you are stuck in the area during the aerial spraying. Everything is organized by tabs and sub-tabs just click on them to view the websites.

Fostering an orphaned elephant

Our kids received a great gift a couple of years ago – instead of the usual gift card or plastic toy – our daughters were given an orphaned elephant named Makena. Makena lives on the David Sheldrick Wild Life Reserve in Kenya, Africa. The foster donation lasts for a year and you receive monthly reports about the reserve, any new additions to the reservation and the monthly goings on concerning the elephant, or rhino you are fostering. They send you pictures from the website and a digital image of a water color of the animal you are fostering. I believe the water colors are painted by David Sheldrick’s daughter.

The stories are charming – some heart breaking – and your donations make you feel like you can make the world just a little bit better. It’s also great to engage your children – my kids would love to visit the reserve!

Take a look at the website in the binder below – I’ve included some of their photos, the monthly reports since 2007 and also some interesting stories regarding the rescue of a rhino and some recent baby elephants.

To open click on the link below!


Amazing Horses

I grew up with horses and have always found communication with them extremely easy and satisfying. They are beautiful, majestic animals that are so willing to work with us.

Well, at least most of them are. My sister had a Paso that was more interested in figuring out how to work against anyone who got in his way. Toby was an amazing horse who could open gates with his lips and scare the life out of any rider brave enough to take him on! He refused to tie-up to a hitching post – he would just pull back and break whatever was holding him. One day I thought I would “cure” him of this nasty habit and tied him up with two halters and three lead ropes to a post that wouldn’t move. After fighting as if his life depended on it for a while, he finally gave up and stood quietly. I approached him confidently, knowing that I had won this round and untied him. Silly me! I couldn’t get that horse within four feet of a fence or anything that I could possibly tie him to after that! I just hate being outsmarted by a horse!

But most horses are not like Toby. Sundance was my first horse. He was a mustang that had been severely abused. Blind in one eye, he had a fear of what he could see with his good eye and was absolutely terrified of what he couldn’t see with his blind eye. But as an awkward teenager, he was my dearest friend and confidant. We won many a gymkhana event and enjoyed many long days just hanging out together in the warm California sunshine. I miss him to this day!

Once a horse person – always a horse person. But these days I get my horse fix by collecting fun horse videos. Click on the binder below to sit back and be amazed!

The Wrong Dog?

The humane societies are full of pit bulls and pit bull crosses available for adoption. So when we went looking for a dog, I thought it was important to consider these often looked-over animals. I’ve had a wide variety of dogs over the years, but the best one by far was a corgi/rottweiler cross from the humane society. So when we saw Toah, a corgi/pit bull cross we thought we would give him a home.

This was a mistake. Don”t get me wrong – Toah is a good dog – well trained, loves the kids, loves a good car ride, behaves well on his walks, and he doesn’t chew or dig. But he was not socialized young, is afraid of strangers, and is naturally an aggressive dog.

When you have an aggressive dog, training is imperative. You must be extremely disciplined and keep your dog in line constantly. As a result, it is a lot of work for someone who is lazy like me.

I believe this is where pit bulls get a bad name. You can be lazy with a tiny dog and let it yap and even nip and people will just think it is obnoxious. But you can’t be lazy with an animal that has been bred to do harm.

I was lucky enough to have a good friend who is a dog trainer who trained me to train Toah. There are also some great dog training resources on the web that I keep in this binder. You can make a copy of this binder for yourself and add to it or delete the ones you don’t like.