Leap Day!

Leap day really seems like it should be a holiday. I mean a whole extra day once every four years, it seems like everyone should be able to do something extra special on this day. I always thought that having a leap day birthday would be a super special thing and in fact one of the moms on base had a baby this morning and another was in labor at the hospital this afternoon! So fun!

30 Rock actually had a very funny leap day episode where leap day was a real holiday and nothing counted on leap day. I took that advice as one of our parents at work brought me in a bunch of cupcakes (so sweet!) and I ate three of them for lunch. They were delicious but oh my goodness, I felt terrible after eating them!

So happy leap day, hope you did something super exciting on this extra special free day you have!

Day tripping to Vejer de la Frontera

Our Fleet and Family Support Center offers tons of great information and help as well as FREE or low cost trips.  Sometimes I just don’t feel like driving or navigating a strange city and will hop along for a ride.

We did this for a quick day trip to Vejer de la Frontera, one of Spain’s famous pueblos blancos, or white villages.  Vejer is located about an hour from Rota (by bus – a bit faster by car).

Thankfully both kids remembered to pack a DS…

Vejer is situated on top of a hill and has beautiful views of the Spanish countryside.

M took this picture and was very proud of it!

Look at them so happy and full of energy. Just wait.

Because Vejer is on the top of a hill there is a lot of walking up and down hills. A LOT of walking up and down hills. It was a great workout, my calves were feeling it the next day.

Most of the streets looked very similar to this one...

Vejer has a much smaller version of Pamplona’s running of the bulls.  The town installs gates at all of these anchor points along the main streets and creates a running path for the bulls.  As military we are forbidden from participating in any running of the bull activity. Darn it, now I guess I have to skip it!

And now for a little Spanish history: The Moors conquered most of Spain a thousand or so years ago… they held it for 400 years and then the Christians pushed them out.  This area of Spain was one of the last holdouts for the Moors and you will see MANY Moorish style castles (and the prettiest one of all, The Alhambra) in the region.  It also explains the second half of many of the towns names – the  ‘de la frontera’ which means ‘the border’. These towns were all along the border between the two groups. Vejer de la Frontera actually had a very peaceful couple of hundred years where the Muslims, Jews and Christians all lived together in peace. See! It can be done!

One of the outer castle walls...

The ‘new’ part of the town.
Manuel Aleman (Manuel the German) our WONDERFUL tour guide!

Original stone floor inside of the castle, one of the few things that remain.
Garden inside the upper area of the castle.
Someone is getting tired and hungry!
A famous Vejer view.

Inside the ‘old’ cathedral. It still isn’t completed and has a Moorish tile bell tower (from when it was a mosque!) and a Star of David over the entrance!
Pretty stained glass light
M had to photobomb because O REFUSED to share a shot!

Vejer’s Plaza de Espana

Vejer has a Plaza de Espana that is reminiscent of Sevilla’s.  They used some of the same tiles that are present in the larger Plaza de Espana in Sevilla.  This plaza is also where they finish their running of the bulls (MUCH smaller than Pamplona!)

And after a full day of walking I promised the kiddos some treats so we backtracked really quickly to a bakery before we caught the bus back home.  It was pretty hard to choose but they picked out some yummy stuff, perfect with a cup of coffee!

These CRAZY caterpillars!

One of the nuisance animals in southern Spain is a caterpillar.

Not just any caterpillar.

We have one in particular called the Processional Pine Caterpillar.  Now this may come as a surprise but they live in pine trees (shocker!). The processional part of their of name is where it gets interesting.  The walk all together lined up in a little (or rather long) line.

It’s pretty interesting actually, they only come out during this time of year so you know when to look for them.  The funny thing is this I’ve lived here for 3 1/2 years and this was the first spring that I actually saw them!

Now as cool as they look the problem is that their little hairs cause lots of problems in people and pets if they are touched (or eaten by your dog!) They are super irritating and I’ve heard of people having them in a jar in the house and the hair still irritating their eyes. They are bad news, health wise!

Also if your dog gets the hairs in their mouth it can actually cause the tongue tissue to die! Crazy! Thankfully we have NO pine trees near our house, just palm trees with their own sets of problems!

If you happen to see any of these caterpillars, look but PLEASE don’t touch!

Why I feed my dog raw meat.

First and foremost I promise I am not crazy and that my dog’s health is EXTREMELY important to me!

This is going to be shocking and is going to go against everything you have ever been told about feeding dogs and what is and isn’t healthy, but just keep reading with an open mind!

Dog food has not been around forever. Believe it or not dogs used to eat food that wasn’t out of a bag or can!  Your dog, whether it is a husky, chihuahua or any other breed is descended from wolves.    In the few thousand years it took dogs to be domesticated, they did not somehow genetically change to start needing to eat grains or vegetables. Your dog is a carnivore and should be eating like a carnivore.

Hai! I iz a carnivore!

You may have seen evidence of this, more and more dog food companies are starting to push grain free dog foods. Why? Because there is NO reason that dogs should be eating corn as a staple in their diet (or in their diet at all).  Unfortunately pretty much everything anyone knows about dog nutrition they learned from a dog food company. Dog food companies work hand in hand with veterinary schools to educate vets.

Because of this people are buying their dogs food from whichever company had the best commercial or something that was recommended by the vet.  Even high end dog foods use carbs and fillers to help bind the food together.

All you need to know about dog nutrition is this: dogs eat raw meat. Yup, just like a wolf.  Now there are MANY different models of raw feeding out there, I follow whole prey model.  This is meant to mimic what your dog would be eating in the wild. Lots of big pieces meat, a little bone and a little organ.

And my dog LOVES it.

As of right now he eats a rotation of raw chicken, pork, turkey and rabbit.

Why do I feed raw? Because I truly feel like I am making the best choice for my dog. He is eating what he is naturally meant to eat. He looks awesome, his fur looks great, he has no health problems and his teeth are as white as a puppy’s.  Oh and the poop! It is half the size!

For me! (what good manners!) (1/2 cornish game hen)

But what about:

The bones! OMG don’t bones kill dogs? Especially chicken bones?

Nope, RAW UNCOOKED bones are safe and do not splinter the way that cooked bones do. However beef bones aren’t recommended as they are very dense and can crack teeth.

The germs! Raw meat is full of salmonella and e.coli!  

Dogs digestive systems are stronger than ours as well as shorter.  Bacteria does not have the chance to multiply because raw meat is digested  very quickly.  Also how many dog food recalls have you heard of in the past few years due to salmonella? Dozens! Kibble has lots of problems!

Raw meat will make my dog vicious!

Nope, not at all.

munch munch munch

Thinking about it? Here are some basic guidelines.  Aim to feed 2-3% of your dog’s IDEAL ADULT weight per day.  So if your dog is a puppy you still feed that amount but spread it out over 4 meals.  If your dog is overweight calculate using the ideal weight.  There is no need to grind the meat or do anything but give it to your dog. Don’t underestimate your dog! My boxer was crunching into chicken drumsticks at 6 weeks old!

Also how dogs eat raw can take some getting used to, it is crunch crunch gulp.  Basically break the bones down and then swallow fairly good sized pieces.

Chicken is the ideal meat to start out with as it is cheap and easy to digest.  My dog eats about 1.6-1.8lbs per day so when I buy a whole chicken I try to buy one that is about 4 days worth.  That way I can get it home quarter it and stick it in the fridge.

This was a smaller chicken only about two meals worth. So I gave it to him whole then traded him for a treat when he was about halfway through. Stored the rest in the fridge until the next day.

The rule of thumb for meat/bone/organ ratio is 80/10/10.  Of the 10% organ needed half should be from liver as it has some essential nutrients in it.  Items like gizzards, heart and tongue are considered meat not organ. Good for me as I just got 3 kilos of pig heart from a butcher! My dog is super excited to get one of those!

Watching as I unpack the pig hearts

So yes, people think I am a little bit crazy but my dog loves me and LOVES mealtime!

One super spoiled puppy.

Raw feeding information!

Raw Feeding FB page –  FULL of tons of information and support!

Prey Model Raw

Raw Fed

Got a question? Let me know!

Our ghetto dog park…

We don’t have a dog park on our base.  There is one off base but my Spanish isn’t good enough if there were some kind of incident with my dog.

So while we have tried to get the powers that be to built a dog park (never gonna happen) we just have decided to randomly take over a softball field that isn’t being used. (what are we going to do when softball season starts!?!)

We always follow the rules


Bowser was in heaven!


M had fun loving on all the puppies!


I love this dog!


All the dogs got along great except for one little scuffle between two boys that ended up with a cut lip.  There were 4 boxers there which was a lot of fun!

My love letter to my daughter’s lunchbox.

So. I am an Environmental Management major with a minor in Natural Science. I have really been inspired to try and eliminate as much trash as possible in our household.  As of right now we throw away one bag of trash about every 7-10 days for our family of four.  It’s not bad (at least compared to the average American) but I know we can do better.

This year when I was shopping for lunchboxes for my daughter I wanted to try to have her have as little trash as possible at school.  After searching for ages I finally found THE ONE.

The Goodbyn.

I love this lunchbox so very much.  It has 5 different compartments separated from each other and there is no need to have anything packed in plastic bags.

Here are some of her recent lunches:

Hawaii rolls and meat and cheese... and a dang granola bar, gotta get on making some of those!

This one is not the best example, I have a granola bar and a piece of leftover valentine candy in there.  Homemade granola bars are on my to do list! Fruit leather too, fruit snacks are the other thing killing me! Those plastic film packages aren’t recyclable!

Better… I did wrap the sandwich in a piece of parchment this day.

The square compartment fits a regular sandwich cut into halves perfectly. My daughter just prefers the hard Spanish bread for her sandwich.  It’s also nice that she packs a LOT more fruit and vegetables.

The middle spot holds a drink container but she prefers to just drink water at lunch.

Her favorite part is the stickers that it comes with to customize your lunch box….

The only downside is the fact that the original size (which this one is) is pretty big and does take up a lot of space in her backpack.  Also its up to me to remember to wash  it or at least wipe it out every day!

So while it isn’t necessary for you to go out and buy THIS lunchbox, try NOT using plastic bags for your lunch! There are SO many cute reusable products out there, get to it!