Guinea Pig Care for Beginners

As much as we wanted a dog, it just wasn’t time due to my daughter’s severe allergies. She seems to even be allergic to allergy free dogs. But, if it weren’t for her allergies, we never would have met our little guinea pig Jack, or “Jackie” as we like to call him.

I grew up taking care of 6 hamsters. Not all at once. Some we bought in a “pair” and the other hamsters were alone. One thing they all had in common was that they eventually passed away and were buried in our childhood backyard. Hamsters made a great first pet but they weren’t personal with you. They were small, nippy little things. I just knew that my girls wanted more out of a pet.

After looking for information online for a nice starter pet, I came across the guinea pig. I saw that guinea pigs could be trained and they liked vegetables. They even liked to be taken out of their cage daily! Seemed like a nice “in between” pet experience to try.

When I began my search to find the best guinea pig I realized it was not easy to find the little guy. An animal lover friend of mine said it’s always best to rescue a pet if you can. Therefore we did not attempt to purchase from a pet store. I searched local animal shelters and on websites such as Marilyn’s Voice. Almost every guinea pig that I came across had either just been adopted or was about to be picked up for adoption. Feeling somewhat defeated, I decided to try Craig’s List. As I looked on the site it wasn’t long before the cutest little guinea pig was staring back at me. I emailed the seller and she was available!

The day came to pick up our new animal friend. We ordered a large cage because guinea pigs love, love, love a large space. You can also look on Pinterest if you want to attempt to build your own.

As we pulled up to the house to pick up our guinea I realized we truly were doing a great thing by “rescuing” him. The poor little pig lived in a house with over 20 cats, ferrets, and dogs. The owner (a young teenager) said that she never had time to play with it let alone feed it properly. She gave us a bag of timothy hay (more on that later) and his favorite toy. While walking down the driveway she yells, “Don’t forget to cut his nails!” I look down and sure enough his long claws had darkened and curled over like a witch. Well, he was ours now. We headed to the pet store to begin our new adventure.

All guinea pigs are different, but here are some basics to get you started and help your guinea pig transition into your loving home.

Personality

Most guinea pigs love to hide all day, so it is important to have a cave or burrow for them to run away and hide in. It takes quite sometime for your guinea to get comfortable with you, so don’t be dismayed if they only come out of their cave to eat or drink when you are NOT around. As the weeks go by, they will soon feel comfortable enough to take food from your hand and not run away so quickly when you walk by. Although some experts recommend that your guinea pig have a partner for companionship, keeping the cage in a main social area of the home will do the trick. Do not keep your guinea in a bedroom or office tucked away with the door closed or less frequented areas of the home. This will leave the guinea sad and lonely if they do not have a partner in the cage with them. Once the jitters start to subside guinea’s love to be picked up and socialize with you on your lap or on the floor. Little Jackie now calls for me as soon as I walk in from work and in the morning when he knows it’s time to eat again.

Cage

JACKIE CAGE2

Be sure to have a large enough cage for the guinea pig. Keep in mind that guinea pigs are larger and need breathable room than hamsters so an aquarium just will not do. You can find a cage similar to the one we purchased at Wal-Mart for about $39.99.

Bedding

The safest bedding for a guinea is either using fleece or absorbable paper crumbles found at a pet store. Please avoid using pine chips for bedding. Although less expensive, they are extremely toxic to our guinea pig friends. In our cage we line the bottom of the cage with recycled brown bags from the grocery store. Next, we layer with my husband’s old t-shirts or buy $1 bedding from a thrift store. Finally, we pour a few paper crumble shreds from the pet store to help capture any waste. We change the cage every week in half by wrapping up the bags and bedding and placing in a trash bag. I have read that some people choose to wash their bedding. I personally don’t want to do that.

Food

A guinea’s #1 food source should come from timothy hay. When buying timothy hay make sure that your are buying only timothy hay and not alfalfa timothy hay. We wondered why my guinea stopped eating his beloved hay one day only to find out I had purchased the wrong mixture.

JACKIE EATING

Guinea’s love raw fruits and vegetables! This is where they get their daily dose of vitamin C. Be sure they receive at least 1 cup of vegetables per day. Usually we split up half a cup in the morning and half a cup in the evening. Here is a sample of what our guinea’s favorite fresh foods are: broccoli leaves, kale, cabbage, carrots, purple lettuce, arugula, apples, watermelon rinds, pears, blueberries. Another great time to feed veggies is during out of cage play time or nail cutting.

Finally, always have dried “kibble” food in the dish and keep that water bottle filled to the brim! You will need to experiment with what dried food your guinea likes best. Guinea pigs definitely have a preference. Just like any other pet would.

Hygiene

After having our guinea pig after a month I thought that it might be time to give him a bath. Upon looking further into the cleaning we decided against it. I read several places that guinea skin carries a natural oil and they clean their skin similar to cats. Bathing the guinea strips them of their natural oil and can lead to pneumonia or other skin ailments. Our guinea has never carried any odor on the fur. Again, very similar to caring for a cat.

JACKIE NAILS2

For nail cutting things can get a little tricky. We have gone through experimenting with several cutters, all the way down to one that “glows” right at the line so you can see what is called the “quick.” What has worked best for us are baby nail clippers. Hold your guinea in your lap wrapped in a blanket so they feel “cavy.” Have a helper shine a small flash light on the area. Feed the guinea some fresh fruit or veggies so that they are distracted. We try to clip the nails every time we clean out the cage.

Guinea pigs are loveable little pets to have around your children! Enjoy!

JACKIEANILIL

 

 

 

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You deserve an Instant Miracle

Imagine leaving your life behind for 3 days. No rushing off to work, no reading texts, no posting on social media, no children crying for your attention. These next 3 days are all about you. Yes, you! Hi, you! Did you forget about you? What you like, what your hopes and dreams are. Do you still dare to dream? Or was that only when you were a child “growing up.”

Most adults can say they have an extremely busy life. Whether you work full-time, are a stay-at-home parent, or in your retirement taking care of your parents. Maybe you just suffered a terrible lost in your life or a major set back. Daily life can be stressful to us all. Many choose to decompress by exercising their body, drinking, reading (just to name a few). But, have you ever considered exercising your mind?

That is exactly what having an Instant Miracle Experience is all about. Exercising your mind is similar to the same way you exercise your body. Think of lifting weights. As you use your muscle in your arm you begin to strengthen or tighten the area that you are focusing on. Translate that into working the mind muscle – you could meditate focusing on positive outcomes that you want to achieve, or reading positive books to manifest your desires. In both scenarios, over time, the particular area you are focused on is exercised, either physically (body) or mentally (brain) and you will produce a positive result.

Where can one find such “zen”?

One warm day in San Diego, I accompanied my husband to attend the 3-day Instant Miracle Experience. I don’t want to say I was skeptical because I have an open mind and love trying new things, however, I thought I was going to another boring self-help seminar that are literally given everywhere. Upon entering the auditorium I was immediately met with hugs, smiles, how are you and love energy. It was as if I left the “real world” full of judgements and frustrations. For those full 3 days my focus became all about myself. Not what my children are doing, not the latest news story.

It is so important to think about yourself in a world where we are always taught to look outwards. We could be helping our employer, helping our spouse, helping our kids. We are exhausting our own mental capacities. What about you? Is tuning into you being selfish? Absolutely not.  It’s time you start reflecting on your past (we all have underlying issues that need to be healed) and where we are now and where we want to go. How are your past issues truly affecting how you are reacting to situations today?

You are deserving of self love and so much more. You deserve a breather from this hectic fast paced life.

Imagine if we all were able to step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It is possible if you want it to be. Be selfish and make it happen.

You deserve an Instant Miracle.

If you are interested in attending or learning more about an Instant Miracle Experience by Christian Mickelsen you can find out more information about this life changing event here: Instant Miracle Experience

Teach your children to Give, Save and Spend

There are 3 simple, yet important foundations that we can teach our children at a very young age about money. Regardless of how money comes and goes in our lives it can always be allocated into 3 main categories: give, save, and spend. When you think about those three categories you realize that you are either fully aware money is transacting like this at all times, or you soon realize how frivolous you are being with your own thoughts on money.

It is important to acknowledge your money and give it value. And the best time to start teaching this philosophy is as soon as possible!

Let me give you an honest example. In my latter parenting years, I have become one of those parents who believe in compensating my children for chores and other household projects. I didn’t always believe in this teaching, however. When I was a single mom raising my youngest child who is now 16, I pretty much catered to her every need. I served her decorative breakfast, lunch and dinner plates then collected the mess when she was done. I would yell, “Clean your room!,” only to come in 10 minutes later and find her watching TV. I would then retreat to cleaning the entire room. I picked out her clothes, helped her get dressed (yeah I know, insane!). How I came to do this without blinking was easy. I loved my daughter, I didn’t mind doing it, and I simply thought by doing these things that I was showing her how much I was a caring mother.

Little did I realize –  what I was doing was setting her up for laziness, entitlement and lack of responsibility. But how would she ever learn to not only take care of herself, but also humble herself to helping others? As a parent, it can be hard to go from taking care of your child’s every need to wanting them take on more responsibilities. The later you start your child down the road of having less responsibility around the house, the harder it becomes for both of you to correct the behavior later. Thinking back, I don’t beat myself up about it. When you start knowing better, you start doing better. I promised myself with my next two children that I was not heading down that long road again.

ANAKA DISHES

As soon as my youngest turned 5 and my middle child turned 7, my husband and I were introduced to an audio book teaching that inspired us so much that we wanted all of our children to learn this simple lesson of being responsible with their money. It’s called Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey. This audiobook has not only changed my life and how my children perceive chores and saving money, but their maturity has grown by leaps and bounds. Who thought that yelling “go clean your room” would be met with fast runs upstairs to see who can get there first?!

LILLIE MONEY

Before I get into greater detail on what we do in our household, here is some background on Dave Ramsey’s course. Dave Ramsey is a dad best known for starting a course for adults called Financial Peace University. It is an awesome course for any income level or educational background. Just be ready to live like no one else, so you can live like no one else when stepping into it! Along with allocating your income and giving every dollar a name, Dave was soon inspired to create the same idea for his growing children. Here is his take on “commissioning your children:’ We never gave our children an allowance because I don’t like the word. We gave our kids a commission. Commission is, “Work, get paid. Don’t work, don’t get paid.” It’s kind of like the real world. Allowance sounds like welfare to me. I just don’t like the word. Words are powerful. You have to be careful with them. We called ours commissions, and if you didn’t do your work, by the way, you didn’t get paid. That’s how this works.

After listening to the audiobook Smart Money Smart Kids, my husband and I anxiously got started. To make it fun we had the girls decorate envelopes and later as the envelopes got full, switched the money into jars and so forth. As we had the girls label each envelope and jar with give, save, and spend they understood that for every dollar earned, it would go into one of the allocated areas. They further understood what they would be compensated for each chore and that some jobs would be worth a dollar (i.e. washing dishes), some would be worth a quarter (i.e. feeding the pets), and that some chores did not warrant any money (i.e. putting your dish in the sink).

You will have fun creatively coming up with your own pay scale and chore list as a family. Don’t forget – it is necessary to clearly lay out all house rules because children will try to get over on you. Here are some of our amazing results so far:

SAVE

We are into about 3 months dedication with implementing Smart Money Smart Kids.  Our daughters age 5 and 7 have saved enough money to purchase their first big splurge – an Android tablet. And yes, they diligently have earned every hardworking penny.

 

GIVE

My daughter’s recently gave a small donation to a special cause of their choosing.

 

SPEND

Spending has taken on such fun experience for the girls. We go to either the dollar tree or five below and mommy and daddy no longer reach in their pocket. Toys and little trinkets no longer are just carelessly thrown or lost right away. The kids seem to be proud and take more pride in their purchases.

 

WORK

This process can continue to repeat itself throughout childhood, teenage years and into adulthood. As the children get older, it’s a great opportunity to introduce investments and making their own money to give, save and spend with.

In case you are wondering about my 16 year old, well of course it’s not easy to get her to comply  as the young ones have. However, we are taking her passion for art and making it into her own business. From that she is able to give, spend, and save. And, yes she does try to keep up with her room and other household chores, lol. Good luck all!!

Dave Ramsey has a plethora of  courses or audiobooks to choose from. You can find out more information here

ANAKA MONEY

 

 

Caterpillar Fruit Snack Kabobs

Parents – you know at least a few times a year we are given the lovely opportunity to bring in a treat for our child’s class. It could be for a birthday, Halloween party, or an after school snack just to name a few.

Nevertheless, you know you have some choices to make. Do you resort immediately to the sugar rush of cupcakes and icing? Or, will you be a little more creative and healthier this time around?

Many parents are choosing the latter decision for good reason. Last I checked, white refined sugar is not the best ingredient to put in our bodies. Let alone our children’s bodies!

In place of the new normal, parents are coming up with are some pretty creative ideas with fruit. Fruit is versatile and can be made into several shapes and designs. The sky is the limit!

In my search for a healthier snack alternative for my daughter’s class, I came across the recipe for a cool caterpillar looking fruit idea on Pinterest by musthavemoms.com.

The possibilities are endless with what you can put on a kabob. So let your imagination run wild!

Below is the recipe for what I used. And don’t forget to have some little helpers help you…

2 cartons of organic strawberries

1 bunch of organic red seedless grapes

1 bunch of organic green seedless grapes

Cake pop sticks

Round black sprinkles (for eyes)

Wash all fruit thoroughly and pat dry. Prep strawberries by cutting off the green stem. Take one grape color at a time and place on kabob switching alternative colors. At the tip of kabob put strawberry on as the head and place two black sprinkles on strawberry as eyes.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help your Garden this Spring by making a simple Mason Bee House.

Did you know there are well over 500 different species of bees in the State of Ohio alone? The mason bee is often less talked about in comparison to our friend the honey bee, but just as important nonetheless. Although, mason bees help pollinate our fruit and vegetable reproduction, they do not produce honey like the honey bee. Mason bees are always looking for shelter each spring to lay their eggs. Why not take a moment this spring to give these little friends some help? One simple way is to provide the Mason bee some shelter for its eggs. In exchange they can aid with any growing backyard garden.

What is a Mason bee and how do they differ from the Honey bee?

Although honey bees are the most common bee type, have you ever really gotten to know the mason bee? Mason bees are docile male and female workers that carry pollen on their abdomen whereas, the honey bee carry on their hind legs. For this reason mason bees are able to pollinate 100x more! Mason bees are docile because they don’t have a hive or a queen bee to defend like the honey bee. The females do carry a stinger like the female honey bee, however the sting is similar to that of a mosquito bite.

Another way they are different from the honey bee is their natural blue hue color. At times they have often been mistaken for a pesty house fly.  Their main purpose from March (they peak in the Spring when the temperature is a steady 50 degrees or higher) to June is to help pollinate flowers, especially fruit trees and fruit bushes. Their average life span is about 8 to 10 weeks. Whereas, the honey bee works year around.

Finally, Mason bees only fly a few hundred feet away from their nests. The honey bee will travel up to 3 foot ball fields away in search of pollen.

How can I make a Mason Bee House?

Mason bee houses are simple to make at home or at local workshop in your area. They are even simple enough to make alone, or with your kids, and are a great way to help out your garden and give shelter to some of the most awesome pollinators on the planet.

Starting in the month of March, female mason bees look for shelter to lay their eggs. You will definitely want to have the house prepared ahead of time. If made with cedar wood (as I will explain below), the houses can easily be stored away at the end of June until the following Spring.
To start measure and cut four pieces of cedar wood as follows:
dimensions
wood
Drill 2 to 3 holes either side with 1inch screws:
drill3 house
You should have the shape of a house
house
Mount the house to the last slab of wood by drilling holes in the back
LILLIE DRILL
Roll approximately 40 to 50 tubes of newspaper each 6 inches long to be laid within the house.
ROLL
This is where the females will lay the eggs. A cool fact: female eggs will be laid towards the back of the house and male eggs will be laid towards front. This is to protect the female from predators such as woodpeckers.
packing

Once your house is complete follow these steps to insure your Mason Bees have a proper set up:

  1. Hang your house on a building, garage, post or tree that stands at least 3 to 6 feet tall.
  2.  The house should face east towards the rising sun each morning.

3. Make sure that mud is easily accessible for the bees to grab. You can easily dig a small mud patch near the house. Mason bees use the mud to securely pack and seal their eggs in the tubes.

4. Having your fruits and vegetables nearby the house helps since mason bees do not travel far.

Sources: Information gathered from The Mason Bee Workshop at the Shaker Lakes Nature Center in Ohio