Stacking practice

Dare got some practice being stacked. She looks pretty good for four months old.

dare stacked 4 months

Natural History

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A Fun First Day of Kindergarten Questionnaire

A Fun First Day of Kindergarten Questionnaire

Over the past couple of years, I have put together a fun ‘interview’ with questions to ask my daughter on the first day of school. I then ask the same questions on the last day of school to see how her answers have changed. It’s such a cool way to see how her interests evolve and also see how she grows in her vocabulary and articulation!

I have been sharing the questionnaire (and Essley’s answers) here for the past two years, and the posts are always one of our most pinned on Pinterest, so I decided to share again. Many of you have commented and messaged me sharing your kids’ answers, which I absolutely love to read! (Keep them coming!)

Essley’s first day of Kindergarten answers are admittedly not as funny as they were back at the beginning of these surveys when she was only 3, but it’s wonderfully endearing (and bittersweet) to see how she is learning and growing.

1. What is your name? Essley.
2. What grade are you in? Kindergarten.
3. How old are you? 5-1/2.
4. What is your favorite color? Pink and purple.
5. What is your favorite thing to do at school? Writing and learning.  
6. What is your favorite activity outside of school? Dance.
7. What do you want to be when you grow up? A dance teacher and an inventor.
8. What is your favorite food? Tacos.
9. How old is your mommy? 29. (I’ll take it!)
10. What is her job? Being a blog poster.
11. What is mommy’s favorite food? Salad. (I wish!)
12. How old is your daddy? I think 80. (Bahahaha.)
13. What is his job? Stage Manager.
14. What is daddy’s favorite food? A mozzarella pizza.
15. What do mommy and daddy like to do? Play with us.
16. If you have brothers or sisters, what are their names? I have a baby brother and his name is Emmett.
17. How old is your brother(s) (and/or sisters)? 3 1/2.
18. What is your brother(s) (and/or sisters) favorite food? Pizza.
19. What is your favorite toy? Rosie (doll) and Owly (her favorite owl toy since she was a baby).
20. Where do you live? Chicagoland.
21. What is your favorite thing to do? Go to the pool.  
22. What is your favorite place you’ve ever been? The zoo.
23. Who is your best friend? (She went on and on with an endless lists of friends here; too many to type.)
24. What is your favorite animal? Dog.
25. If you could have anything you wished for, what would it be? A pet unicorn that I could ride and that would do magic spells.

I’ll share Emmett’s (his first day of school is next week) soon. I have a feeling his answers will be delightfully hilarious. (Super cute chalkboard signs we used for our photos purchased from this awesome Etsy shop.)


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Our Special Back-to-School Shoe Shopping Adventure

Thank you to Famous Footwear for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

As you guys probably know by my constant gushing here and on my Instagram, my daughter started Kindergarten a couple of weeks ago. I won’t get into the myriad of emotions that have gone along with this, but I will say that I am so proud of her and incredibly excited for the adventures she’s going to have. And she is downright thrilled with the whole experience so far. Even though it’s bittersweet to watch your baby head off to big kid school for the first time, all independent and growing in countless ways, I truly couldn’t be happier for her.

To celebrate her starting school, I decided to encourage her excitement by taking her to pick out a brand new pair of school shoes. (I mean, new shoes are pretty much the best way to get pumped for anything, right?) So two of us headed to Famous Footwear for what Essley called “our back-to-school shoe shopping adventure.” She was completely mesmerized by all of the choices, and, as anyone who knows her would assume, immediately gravitated toward any pink shoe she could find.

We took our time browsing, trying on her favorite styles (there were a lot of them), and asking the (super helpful and friendly) Famous Footwear associates all sorts of questions. While we shopped, we talked about her first day and the things she was most looking forward to, the things she was nervous about, and everything in between. After a while, she finally chose the perfect pair for her first day. (Okay, okay, so it ended up being two pairs. She was too smitten with both to just choose one, and I don’t blame her.)

She was so excited about her special first day of school shoes that she asked me to change into them as soon as we walked outside of the store, requested that I take her picture, and jumped up and down with a huge smile on her face right under the Famous Footwear sign. If shoes can make her feel that happy and confident, I knew she’d do just great on her first day. (Spoiler: She did.)

I’m so grateful that Essley and I were able to have that special shoe shopping date to pick out a pair for her very first day of Kindergarten. Her walk to the bus stop was done with a pretty flower print dress, a ballerina backpack (filled with her first real school lunch), and her new school shoes from Famous Footwear. Most importantly, it was also done with a huge smile. I couldn’t possibly ask for more than that. 


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sharing Isn’t Always By Choice

But it’s MY bed! Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Dog Blog

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Tofu Chocolate Pudding (Our New Favorite After School Snack)

Tofu Chocolate Pudding

Thank you House Foods for sponsoring this post.

It is official: I have a Kindergartener. Essley started preschool when she was two, so school itself isn’t new for us. But the whole drop her off at the bus stop and watch it drive off with her somewhere inside, then spend all day everyday at school thing feels like a whole new world. So far, Essley absolutely loves every minute of it. It’s still an adjustment though, and she is definitely more tired, more hungry, and more in need of snuggle time with mama when she gets home than she ever was during preschool.

One of the things I most remember about elementary school afternoons from my own childhood was coming home and making after school snacks with my mom. There was something truly comforting about it, and I decided this was just the thing Essley and I needed to start doing after her long days at Kindergarten.

Yesterday, we decided to make a recipe we hadn’t tried yet from the children’s ebook The Tales of Tofu from House Foods, for Tofu Chocolate Pudding. The Tales of Tofu is an endearing story about a superfood named Tofu who learns about how he can be anything he wants to be (by easily mixing with other foods), and we love to read it together. (You can download it yourself for free right here!) The Strawberry Papaya Tofu Smoothie recipe from the book is a regular in our house, and I can already tell the Tofu Chocolate Pudding will be as well. It’s easy to make, delicious to eat, and it’s packed full of plant-based protein thanks to the tofu (a favorite in our family that we incorporate into many meals and snacks). Making (and eating!) it together is also a wonderful way for us to spend quality time together after school.

Tofu Chocolate Pudding

SERVES: 6 | PREP TIME: 10 min | COOK TIME: 0 min

1 pkg. House Foods Tofu Medium Firm
1 cup chocolate chips
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
¼ cup soy milk

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or microwave until chocolate is smooth and silky. (If using a microwave, microwave chocolate chips for approximately 15 seconds at a time, stirring frequently in between, until smooth). While chocolate melts, add the tofu, vanilla, and maple syrup to a food processor and blender, and blend until smooth. Slowly add in the chocolate and soy milk and blend until mixture is well combined and smooth. Divide among bowls or pudding jars and refrigerate for at least one to two hours before serving. Top with whip cream, chocolate shavings, or your choice of toppings.

We eat tofu several times a week in our house, in everything from tacos to stir fry to breakfast scrambles to smoothies. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 15 years old, and it’s always been my favorite (and the yummiest) way to get protein. It’s truly one of the most versatile ingredients, and because it can so easily and quickly be prepared and incorporated into so many different recipes, it’s a staple in our fridge. Tofu is also something that my kids both love to eat and to help prepare, which makes it a lifesaver during back-to-school season when things are especially hectic. We’ve especially been loving the recipes from The Tales of Tofu (which House Foods partnered with Melissa Rauch to create!). The book itself is so wonderful to read together, thanks to its empowering story and the fact that it so creatively shows little ones the endless way that a truly good for you food can be prepared and combined with other foods to make everything from snacks to meals. Tofu forever!

Tofu Chocolate Pudding

If you try this seriously scrumptious Tofu Chocolate Pudding, I’d love to hear what you think. If your little ones are in a new school year or heading back soon, it’s the perfect after school snack to make together. Enjoy!


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The origins of melanism in Eastern gray squirrels

black squrrel

As long-time readers of this blog know, the black coloration seen in North America and Italian wolves and in coyotes originated in domestic dogs. Indeed, the black coloration in North American wolves originated from a single introgression of a black domestic dog in the Northwest Territories or the Yukon between 1,598 and 7,248 years ago.  Of course, we now know that there is significant gene flow between dogs and certain populations of gray wolf and that this gene flow has been going on for some time.

I have often wondered about color genetics and gene flow between species. One species that is particularly beguiling for speculation for me was always the origin of melanism in Eastern gray squirrels. Melanistic Eastern gray squirrels are more common in Ontario, Quebec, and Michigan, but there are isolated populations south of these locations.

A new paper just published in BMC Biology revealed that melanism in Eastern gray squirrels most likely had its origins from hybridization with the fox squirrel.

Melanism has evolved twice in fox squirrels. The melanistic ones in the Southeast have a mutation called ASIP A3.  Melanistic Western fox squirrels have a mutation that causes a deletion in the MC1R. This allele is called MC1R∆24.

What is interesting is that melanistic Eastern gray squirrel have the same mutation.

The authors contend that the most likely explanation for this shared mutation is hybridization between fox and Eastern gray squirrels, although ancestral polymorphisms and earlier hybridization between gray squirrels and fox squirrels cannot be ruled out as possible origins either. However, The authors think it originated in fox squirrels because it resembles other fox squirrel MC1R haplotypes.

This finding is pretty interesting because I live where both species are common, and I use to live where there were lots of black gray squirrels.  I had read accounts of fox squirrels mating with gray ones, but the accounts I read said that no offspring resulted from the mating.

I assumed that the two species could not hybridize, and I still have not seen any literature that even suggests hybridization could occur until I read this paper.

More work is going to be needed to see exactly how this mutation originated and if there are other traits that originated in one species that now are found in the other.

And yes, there is that old wives’ tail that says that gray squirrels castrate fox squirrels to reduce the competition. What actually happens is that when squirrels are hunted in the early part of the season, the testicles shrink in size, so that they appear to have been castrated.

But I have never heard of these two species hybridizing. Indeed, it may be that the hybridization that transferred that particular mutation onto Eastern gray squirrels happened far back in the evolutionary history of both species, when they were still chemically interfertile.

However, they might still be able to hybridize. It is just that no one has ever documented a true hybrid between the two species.

But I am certainly open to the possibility.

So it is likely that black gray squirrels resulted from introgression, just as black wolves and coyotes do.

Natural History

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pretty Girl

dare pretty girl

dare pretty

pretty dare.jpg

Natural History

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Taking Your Dog to the Beach: Tips for a Successful 1st Trip

Sun, sand, surf—and Spot: all the ingredients for a great summer getaway–and there’s still time in these dog days of summer to squeeze in a beach trip! Your dog’s first beach vacation is…

[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Deadly Blue Green Algae: Keeping Your Dog Safe

This week has been hotter than hot here in Texas–so, of course, nothing is more fun than to take the dogs for a swim. Sadly, this week has been tragic for several pet families due to dog deaths…

[[ This is a summary only. Click the title for the full post, photos, videos, giveaways, and more! ]]


Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Keeping the lines going

erika on the lawn

Greyhound racing in the United States is on its way out. Florida was the last large state that had lots of tracks going, but in the 2018 general election, Florida voters decided to phase out professional greyhound racing.

In the short run, these dogs are going to filter their way into rescues. The vast majority of them will find homes. And every single one of them will be neutered.

Because only a handful of states will have racing, it is very unlikely that thousands of racing greyhounds will be bred every year. When this generation of adopted out greyhounds dies, the greyhound owning public will not have many options.

Yes, they can buy a show-bred greyhound, go out West and get a coursing dog, or they get a whippet or borzoi.  I suspect that galgos from Spain will be imported over here in very high numbers.

But if they want a sport-bred greyhound that derives from racing lines, they will essentially be out of luck.  However, they won’t be.

Several of us are close enough to forward-thinking racing dog owners to get our hands on intact racing greyhounds that we will be breeding. Erika is scheduled to be bred on her next heat, and we already have the sire picked out. Stay tuned for updates on him.

And we will do what we can to keep the American racing greyhound lines alive the best we can. We already have lots of homes lined up for this coming litter, so the demand for these dogs is quite high. The litter will be AKC-registered, so they can enter the “legit” greyhound population and do AKC-sanctioned events.

We will be helping these lines see a future beyond greyhound racing, and I have to say that I’m proud be part of this project.

So yeah, I’m deep in show dogs now, but we are working on keeping some nice working lines of a breed going into the future.

I’m pretty excited about it.



Natural History

Posted in Pet Care Articles | Tagged , , | Leave a comment