Disney Dates: Beauty and the Beast

16e076e56aacf18bb2b727de1bca00b3My husband and I are huge Disney fans, and Disney has always been a major theme in our relationship: the first time we said “I love you” was at Disney World (where we also had our honeymoon), last year we celebrated our first anniversary at Disneyland Paris, and for one of our first dates Matt took me to see Beauty and the Beast the musical.

Beauty and the Beast is special for us, and we both fell in love with the film years before even meeting each other. When I was in 9th or 10th grade I finally came to embrace Disney love stories (before that I wasn’t a fan of sappy romances, and my favorite movie had been The Jungle Book because it was “all about friendship”), and I remember watching Beauty and the Beast at least once a night for weeks (I am not exaggerating) and I really came to identify with Belle.  Matt had always loved Belle, and when he was younger he even vowed that he would marry her one day… *awwww*

So last week, when we finally arrived at Beauty and the Beast in our Disney marathon (since we got married we have been watching all of the full-length animated Disney movies. Currently there are 52, with #53 Frozen coming out next month), we decided to make it into a date night. Ever since the Be Our Guest Restaurant opened at Disney World, we have been really wanting to visit, and since we haven’t been able to do that yet, we decided to bring the magic to our home by having a themed dinner and movie night à la Belle et la Bête.


I made a three course meal, with the appetizer, main course, and dessert all coming from the Be Our Guest Restaurant menu:

  • French Onion Soup: This recipe is easily the best recipe for French Onion Soup I have ever tasted. I cut out some of the spices simply because I didn’t have any in my kitchen, but I really loved the flavor that the balsamic vinegar added (I love balsamic vinegar).


  • Chicken Provençal: This recipe was incredibly simple to make, and I only cut out the mushrooms because I can’t stand them. Originally I was planning on serving this with green beans, but after I got back from the grocery store I realized we didn’t have any so I served it with pasta instead. The extra sauce went well with that. And the marinade for the chicken was so delicious and simple that I will probably be using that for my chicken from now on!


  • “The Grey Stuff”: This is basically cookies and cream pudding. I used this recipe from The Disney Diner, with some alterations…mainly I had to substitute the Cool Whip (which we don’t have in France) for homemade Chantilly (whip cream). I also used canned Mont Blanc crème dessert à la vanille because they also do not have boxed pudding mix here. Therefore the dish came out more of a brownish-grey as opposed to a true grey color, but it was still delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I forgot to take a picture before digging in.


Of course my husband, who loves presentation, did some quick decorating and rearranging of the furniture to replicate the ballroom look from the movie:



Mickey & Minnie and Rapunzel & Flynn also joined us;)

And he even brought me home a single rose to complete the theme :)

Having themed dinner and movie nights is something I want to do with our children one day, so this also served as a test run for that (a very, very, very early test run). I got inspired after finding this post from a super-cool mom who hosted Disney movie nights for her kids.

The next movie on our Disney marathon list is Aladdin! Maybe we’ll turn that into another themed dinner night ;) Mmm… For now, let me leave you with my favorite B&B meme ever:


Hahahaha, I seriously never get tired of this one.

Life in St. Ismier!

So…I’m horrible at blogging, or at least I’m horrible at keeping up with it. I know it’s been 2 months since my last post, but FINALLY, here are some pictures from our new apartment (disclaimer: Solo photo bombed most of these pictures):

Let’s start with the terrace! There’s not much out there, but I absolutely love being able to read outside and put the laundry out to dry (it’s funny how I used to hate when my dad made us hang out laundry outside when I was younger…now I prefer it). And I know Solo loves laying out there, too.

I just love being able to keep these doors open all day! It will look even lovelier outside once the grass is put it.


Our little camping chairs… When we have the money, we’re going to buy a wooden table and chairs to stick out here for summer barbecues!!


Our neighbors on the other side of the terrace also have a dog, and he likes to bark and get Solo riled up.


And this is our view! Of course it will look much prettier after they install the grass, but it’s already MUCH better than the view from our last apartment (and it’s also much quieter out here too!)

Next, the kitchen:

I love the lights under the cabinets, but they get HOT! I’ve burned myself a couple of times while trying to turn them off.

The messier side of our kitchen, with the bag of recyclables I still need to take out. Also featured is artwork from our 18-month-old niece.

The living room:

I have been longing for a red couch for years! I was unbelievably excited when Matt brought this one home, and it came with an ottoman that we can store all of our DVDs in.

Our entertainment center is currently working as a shelf, until we’re able to afford a TV. And for anyone wondering, I did have my tea and chocolate right after taking these photos.

Solo insisted on being apart of this picture. This is part of our living room/entry way. Fun fact: those two wicker chairs, which we plan on painting this weekend, belonged to Matt’s great-grandmother! We pretty much placed make-shift pillows on them, ha!

Another view of the hallway. I just love Solo’s creepiness here…

The entryway, featuring a hopeful puppy: “Are ya gonna take me out now?!”

The bathroom:

Although it’s hard to tell in these pictures, our bathroom is pretty large. And it’s “American-styled,” meaning the toilet is with the shower. And yes, there are Mickey/Minnie accents in every single room.

I just love that our bathroom airs out after every shower. Our last bathroom had no ventilation, so it smelled like a humid locker room all the time (but more like a ladies locker room as opposed to a football team’s).

This is Solo’s corner. He literally whined at me because he wasn’t in the pictures, so I had to snap this one to satisfy him.

And lastly, our bedroom. I still have some decorative things to put up on the wall above the bed, but I’ll save that for another time:

Our bedroom is very spacious, also, but it was hard to show that with the pictures. Here’s the view from our bedroom door.

The bedroom and some of Matt’s clothes. When we first moved in he had all of his shirts hanging up on that rack and early one morning, just after he left for work, the entire thing fell on top of me in my sleep. Now all of his shirts are in the closet with my clothes…
And before anyone starts freaking out, yes that is a baby crib and changing table. It’s for when I babysit my niece, not for our baby that we didn’t tell you about (there’s no baby on the way!).

Of course Solo had to get into this picture, too. And, while I was uploading these pictures from the bedroom, Matt came home, grabbed a drink, and then proceeded to spill it on the bed while he was sitting next to me. So, it’s back to the flowery comforter…

And here is the view from our bedroom window:

It’s not the best view of the mountains, but I’ll take it! And look at that treeeeee! Those cherry blossom trees are all over our neighborhood.

Yes, that is a ski station!

I’ve already told Matt that one day we will have a nice, large yard and these trees in front of every window!

We still have some things to do around here, like paint our coffee table and our two wicker chairs, and hopefully, now that it is officially spring, the grass will be put in soon!!! I am incredibly excited about that, and about grilling hamburgers and eating on our future patio furniture. My mom sent me some herb seeds so sometime this week I will also be planting those! I have always wanted a little garden, and now I’m finally going to do it!

Can’t wait to start growing these!

So Spring is my favorite season, although in 6 months I will be saying the same thing about Autumn. But it is SO NICE to be able to have the windows and doors open all day, to be able to hear the birds singing and see flowers everywhere, and it is also nice to not have to wear a jacket 24/7! In Florida spring lasts maybe 2 weeks, and then it’s full on summer until Thanksgiving; but here we actually have 3 months of each season!

Later this week, I will post some more springtime photos. And I promise when I say “later this week” I do mean this week and not two months from now =P

Updates, Updates, Updates!

I never posted about New Years Eve, even though I had written up nearly an entire post, but now it just seems too late to post it. HOWEVER, I have some exciting news: WE ARE MOVING! No, not back to the U.S. (not yet, at least). We’re moving to a bigger apartment in a nearby town called Saint Ismier.

We have been really blessed by our current apartment in La Tronche. Matt found it within a week of moving back to France. It was brand new, completely furnished, and in a really nice location. We are in tram or walking distance to everything we need, which was perfect before we had a car. And we live right along the river (plus for Solo) which has a gorgeous view of the mountains (plus for everyone!). Unfortunately, we feel we have outgrown this little studio apartment. While having a dog is a big part of that, I feel that even if it was just the two of us we would still feel the same. It has become a pain having to roll up and pull a cover over our bed every-single-day. It takes “making the bed” to a whole new level. And our new apartment has a small yard so no more having to get dressed and bundled up to take Solo to the park every morning (you can’t just walk out in pajamas here in France…).

So our new place! Here are all the details:

  • It has a kitchen, living/dining area, separate bedroom, hall closet, and an “American style” bathroom (I call it that because the shower and the toilet are together. Usually over here they are separate).
  • THERE IS A DISHWASHER! I hate washing dishes. Matt usually does them because he likes to, but if there are any dirty dishes hanging out in the kitchen I feel like the whole place is a disaster zone. So with a dishwasher I shouldn’t have to worry about that anymore.
  • As I already said, there is a small yard and a nice sized terrace, which is covered.
  • The apartment is completely brand new. They are still doing construction on the outside buildings, and they haven’t put the grass in the yards yet.
  • Although we will no longer live within walking distance of Grenoble/the trams, there are plenty of buses around.
  • There is a grocery store (and a boulangerie) just around the corner, and that’s even better than here because right now I have to walk/ride the tram for 30 minutes to get to the store.
  • We get the keys on February 20th! I know it’s pretty soon; we found out a few weeks ago but I am just now getting around to blogging and telling everyone about it.

And here are some pictures! The ones from the agency aren’t very good quality but you get the idea.

The kitchen! It comes with a stove/oven and a dishwasher (it’s the small “cabinet” on the far left). Matt’s parents are giving us their old refrigerator too, which will go against the wall on the left.

The front of the apartment. There’s the front door and the hallway, the bathroom door is on the far left, and then you can see most of the living/dining space.

Bedroom picture 1: it’s pretty big! About half the size of our current studio apartment.

Bedroom picture 2: the window…pretty self-explanatory.

Bedroom picture 3: featuring my adorable niece!

Bathroom! There is also a lot of space in front of where the toilet is, and I love the brown tiles (it’s one of our favorite colors).

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Another bathroom picture, so you can see the sink area.

photo 3 (4)

A view of the living area and terrace. I am really excited about that door and the yard, and pretty much everything else here too!

A view of the back of the apartment from the yard. They have not yet put the grass in, probably because it’s winter. I’m hoping it will be there in the spring, though.

View of the left side of our yard. If you can make out that white thing near the bottom left of the picture, that’s about where the yard will end. They are going to install some dividing fences soon.

Sorry for the over exposure, but here is a view of the other side of our yard. If you can make out those baby trees, that’s where the other divider fence will be. So it’s a nice little yard!!

And, lastly, here is a view from our building. Like I said they are still doing construction. Everything is brand new!

I will definitely be posting more pictures and apartment updates within the next few weeks, once we’re settled and all. We are so thankful for all that God has provided us with and we are really excited about moving!

Christmas in France

I know this post is a little overdue, but Matt finally started his new job so I have actually been a bit busy getting back into the routine of things and recovering from all the traveling we did last month. But here is how our Christmas went!

Literally 2 days (more like 36 hours) after getting home from our trip to Disney, we were off to spend a week in St. Sorlin with Matt’s family and with our sister-in-law’s family. Depending on how you celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas in the States, Christmas in France is pretty different. Normally, Matt’s family opens their presents on the 24th (my family does it late Christmas morning), but because some of us didn’t arrive until almost 9pm that night, we waited until the 25th. Instead we ate lots of French finger foods (veggies and small pieces of toast with olives, charcuterie, salmon, and foie gras…not my favorite things) and then played a gag gift exchange game that is sort of like Telephone, but you alternate between writing a sentence and drawing a picture to pass on. It was a lot of fun and since there were 11 of us playing, things were pretty crazy. We voted at the end for “best” gag gift, and the one Matt and I picked out won! It was hideous. The two gifts we got placed second, and we kept them because I love them!


Christmas Eve treats


Christmas ice cream logs


Ok, the top is a deer head magnet, and we hung the ugly ornament around the deer’s antlers. It is currently, and proudly, hanging on our fridge!

We didn’t get to bed until around 1am and then–thanks to our 1-year-old niece–we were up before 6:30…yay! By 8am everyone was up and ready to start opening presents, which took up half of the tiny cabin space. My family, since there are only 5 of us, each take turns opening a present so that everyone can see. I prefer that way, or else I miss out on people’s gifts and reactions and it feels like half the fun is gone! But since there were so many of us, we only went one time around opening one present each and then it was noise and paper everywhere. Matt says that’s how they usually do things, but we take at least 45 minutes to open everything.


Christmas with 12 people = tons of presents!

Some of our gifts: Matt finally got his 3DS that he’d been wanting all year and I got a Monet puzzle with a roll-up matt, a gift card for new clothes (which I desperately need!), some movies, and a snowglobe/music box that Matt bought be from Disney. It plays “I See the Light” from Tangled, which was the song Matt and I danced to at our wedding.


And he forgot about his other presents after he opened this one…


Our niece pushing around the Tigger toy we got her in her brand new stroller! So cute.

It snowed in St. Sorlin, but not nearly as much as in Bourg d’Oisans a month ago, and it was pretty warm so it started turning into slush…but Solo still had a lot of fun! We went sleigh riding, which Solo does not like. Something about us speeding away from him gets him all worked up! We also went skiing a little, and I picked it back up more than I thought I would.

After our week at St. Sorlin we went to visit Matt’s uncle’s family in Gap, where we also went skiing and I had a blast! We went up to where there weren’t many people and where the snow was great and it was the best time I have had while skiing so far. The first couple of times were no fun, but this time was great.


Gorgeous! (Photo credit goes to Matt)

It was hard being away from my family for Christmas, that was the most difficult thing for me, especially since I haven’t seen them since May. But next year we are already planning on being in the States for Christmas! Hope you all had a wonderful time with your families, celebrating your own traditions and having fun spending time with loved ones!


Our 2nd Christmas together!


Some of you may know, but for our 1st anniversary and Christmas, my parents paid for us to stay at Disneyland Paris for 3 days!! We’re both really big Disney geeks and I hadn’t been to this park yet so I was very excited to see it. It’s not as big as Walt Disney World, but there are some unique attractions there that I absolutely loved. So brace yourselves because this will probably be my longest blog yet (but there will be lots of pictures, too!).

So Paris is about 6 hours north of where we live, which is A LOT of driving time for natives here. In the U.S. 6 hours is nothing. It took 5 hours just to get from FSU to my home in Palm Bay, and I would visit just for the weekends. Taking the train would have been the more time reasonable option, but it is SUPER expensive to take the train: so driving it was! We left just before 7am and arrived at our hotel at 12:30pm. We stayed at a western-themed hotel called Hotel Cheyenne, and it wasn’t bad actually. It hasn’t been renovated in a while, but nothing was falling apart or anything. One of my favorite things about the resorts here in Paris is that they had breakfast that you had to make reservations for, so this actually made us get up early enough to make Extra Magic Hours at 8am. But every night we were so exhausted, we were sleeping by 10:30 at the latest. We stayed in the Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge when we went to WDW for our honeymoon, but they don’t have breakfast since it’s one of the villas.

You can sort of make out the  Christmas decorations.

You can sort of make out the Christmas decorations.

The parks closed between 6 and 7pm the days we were there, so that gave us about 2 and a half days in the park total. The first day we spent at Disneyland Park, which is just like Magic Kingdom except Tomorrowland is called Discoveryland and they have Sleeping Beauty’s castle instead of Cinderella’s. It rained most of the time we were there but not too hard and Disney is still fun even in the rain. It wasn’t as packed at WDW is at this time of year, so we were able to do our favorite rides multiple times (like Buzz, which we did 5 times!). The castle is gorgeous. It’s smaller but I think it’s prettier than Cinderella’s castle.


Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland Paris

Here is a list of some of the most memorable moments for me:

Stitch Live! I didn’t want to talk about this one first, but it was my favorite thing and I can’t hold back! For those of you who have been to Turtle Talk with Crush at EPCOT, this is basically the same thing except with Stitch from Lilo & Stitch. He talks to adults as much as he talks to the kids, and he picked on me and Matt while we were there! It was hilarious–first he told me I was pretty and then when he found out I’m married he said, “Stand up, Maggie’s husband,” and made Matt get up and fight for me. But Stitch won because Matt couldn’t make two arms pop out from his sides haha. Then Stitch said, “Maggie and Stitch for-ever,” and later when he was leaving he stuck his tongue out at Matt and said that he loved me! It was so much fun, I love those type of attractions.

Not a good picture but the only one I had of Lilo & Stitch was from the cars parade.

Not a good picture but the only one I had of Lilo & Stitch was from the cars parade.

Crush’s Coaster This was their Finding Nemo ride and it was a lot like Space Mountain. First you ride by Nemo and some friends and then you go through the boat with the sharks before you shoot out into the EAC, which is all dark and you twist around in your turtle shell. It was a lot of fun and definitely one of the biggest attractions.


We sat in the back both times that we rode this ride.

RC Racer This is basically a pirate ship ride but with the race car from Toy Story. I usually hate those rides but this time you’re harnessed in so you don’t move around as much. Even in the rain it was fun!


This was so much fun! We even sat in the front row the second time.

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle you can actually go into the castle where they tell the story of Sleeping beauty with stained glass and tapestry. They also have a dragon’s lair in the dungeon where you can see Maleficent.

Stained glass windows inside the castle.

Stained glass windows inside the castle.

The Sleeping Beauty tapestry had lights that twinkled and faded away!

The Sleeping Beauty tapestry had lights that twinkled and faded away!

Star Tours it’s the original ride which was nice to experience again even though the new one in Orlando is incredible.

On our way to Endor!

On our way to Endor!

It’s a Small World this ride was amazing. It’s newer so it’s prettier and they had it Christmas themed as well. The good thing about Disneyland Paris is that everything is very colorful because it rains a lot here, especially in the wintertime.

Colorful even at nighttime!

Colorful even at nighttime!

Pirates of the Caribbean this is Matt’s favorite ride and it’s better than the one in Orlando because they have two drops and it goes through the Blue Lagoon restaurant which we were able to eat lunch at on Wednesday. There’s no Jack Sparrow cameo, but they have him at a character spot nearby.

I just love the look he makes here.

I just love the look he makes here.

Matt and Captain Hook.

Matt and Captain Hook.

Disney Dreams light show this doesn’t compete with Wishes, but it was amazing in its own way. They are not allowed to do a lot of fireworks here (because the Parisians don’t like it), so they do a mixture with fireworks and a water/light show similar to Fantasmic. It was really nice to see because they do a lot of different songs that they don’t do at WDW, like songs from Hunchback of Notre Dame, Princess and the Frog, Mary Poppins, etc. And Peter Pan and Tinker Bell are the main characters for the park so Pan’s shadow was all over the place. We watched it twice but left while it was starting Thursday night.

It's blurry, but this is when they were prelighting the castle before the show started.

It’s blurry, but this is when they were prelighting the castle before the show started.

I loved the twinkling stars all over the place.

I loved the twinkling stars all over the place.

During "I've Got Friends On the Other Side" - there were gears turning everywhere.

During “I’ve Got Friends On the Other Side” – there were gears turning everywhere.

Not the best picture but I really like the fireworks here.

Not the best picture but I really like the fireworks here.

It's the 20th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris this year.

It’s the 20th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris this year.

All in all it was a magical trip and even the downsides (like the awful smelling popcorn that I won’t even write about) were overwhelmed by the fun things (like crepes and being flirted on by Stitch). It was a great vacation and we already started planning our next trip!

Minnie was there for Extra Magic Hours!

Minnie was there for Extra Magic Hours! I loved her dress.

Matt and I in the teacups.

Matt and I in the teacups.

It’s Been a Long Time Coming!

So…I’ve been slacking on updating! I have a big problem with procrastination, but here’s a little update of my life!

We bought a car!

New Car

Since we live in one of France’s bigger cities, there’s a tram here. And also, nearly everything in France is a lot closer together than things are in the U.S., so it’s easier to get around without a car. But since we’ve adopted Solo and since we do a lot of back and forth traveling between here and Matt’s parents’ house in Valence, buying a car became one of our biggest desires. And now we have one! It’s a used 2008 Peugeot (French brand with a Lion logo–roar!) with a nice sized trunk and a sun roof and we absolutely love it! We’re very thankful to have it.

Speaking of traveling, last month we visited Matt’s grandmother in Montbéliard, which is in the east of France, very close to Germany. While we were there we visited Chateau Haut-Koenigsbourg (isn’t that a mouthful? Don’t worry, they only pronounce half the letters in French), a once German-owned castle. The day we went it was pouring, but I was still able to take a few decent photos, so enjoy!

P.S. I promise to update again soon! Tomorrow I’m going to visit Lyon for the first time (no airport this time!) and to see Hillsong in concert so stay tuned!

Chateau Haut-Koenigsbourg

August Getaway: La Rochelle

Since Matt’s new job doesn’t start until next month, we’ve had a lot of free time this summer to travel and visit many different things. Besides going to St. Sorlin, another annual summer trip Matt’s family makes is to La Rochelle, a touristic beach city eight hours away on the Atlantic. The last time that either one of us was there was in August 2010, the first time I visited France. This time we went there for Matt’s aunt’s wedding, which was especially nice because Matt’s family from Canada came as well and I was finally able to meet them. Matt’s grandmother owns a little piece of land right on the beach in an adjacent town to La Rochelle called Angoulins. For about two weeks we “roughed it” while French camping, although technically we were camping since we stayed in a tent while everyone else had a camper. This was very luxurious camping: showers, electricity, a kitchen, a covered place to eat and hang out, a washing machine, etc. But after two weeks staying there we were quite ready to come back home to our cozy little apartment. Solo, on the other hand, did not want to leave!

We did enjoy our time there, though. The first time I visited La Rochelle and Angoulins we saw a lot! This time we did more relaxing things, but we still took a day to do my favorite activity there: go on a bike ride around Ile d’Aix! I love bike rides and I really miss having a bike. After Matt starts working again I hope we’ll be able to buy a bike for me, but until then I’ll just keep hinting at wanting one! For those of you who read my last post, remember when I said we bring Solo everywhere? Well this was the day Solo went on his first boat ride and his first bike ride. He’s still a puppy and isn’t supposed to run too much, and he’s a mountain dog, not a beach dog, so he’s also not supposed to be outside in the hot sun all day (and he knows it too, that’s why whenever he’s in the sun he immediately finds the closet spot of shade and plops himself down!). So to make things easier for all of us, we rented one of those little children’s bike trailers and buckled Solo in behind us while we rode around the island. At first I was pretty nervous about it, because Solo clearly did not want to be in there. But after a few trials he finally stayed put and seemed to relax a lot. I already feel that we treat Solo as our own baby, but that day proved it! My brother- and sister-in-law rented a trailer for Timéa and Matt’s cousins from Canada also rented one for their two-year old, making it even funnier that we put Solo in a trailer of his own!

Also during our trip we visited the old city of La Rochelle, which is beautiful and is Matt’s favorite place in France (I still haven’t asked him if he prefers it over Disney World so I can’t say if it’s his favorite place ever!). The main landmark in the city is the old fort that’s surrounded by dozens of street merchants and so many delicious restaurants, one of which served the most delicious duck leg I’ve ever had…just thinking about it makes me hungry! Next time we visit I would really like to spend more time in the old city, because it is simply gorgeous and there are so many shops and things to visit.

The hardest parts about visiting La Rochelle and Angoulins, however, are the eight-hour car rides and the lack of the amazing foods from this side of France. Unsurprisingly they eat a lot of seafood over there, but where we live most meals are made with cheese and potatoes! Mmm! Overall, though, it was a very fun trip and we can’t wait to go camping again…and this time I mean real camping!

Some snapshots from our trip to La Rochelle in August. The “mountains” in the middle of the bottom row are actually extinct volcanoes in Clermont-Ferrand!

Discovering Grenoble: An English Cafe in France!

A couple of months ago Matt and I passed by this cute looking cafe called The Bookworm Cafe. It was closed for the summer, like many French businesses are, so we decided to come back in September when it reopened. The other day we wanted to go somewhere to study Romans together, and we walked by the cafe to see if it was any good.

It. Was. Amazing. I felt like I had walked into London when I walked through the door, and I’ve never even been to London. Right away the lady working there greeted us in this lovely, stereotypical English accent and offered us tea, scones, carrot cake, and many other delicious things. Apparently the cafe is also a secondhand bookstore, and you can come to read or buy the books (90% of them are English…classics, fiction, crime and thriller, science fiction, children’s, reference, etc.), have tea time, and they also have monthly book clubs which I am looking forward to learning more about.

We spent about an hour and a half there and can’t wait to go back often. Not only were the employees very nice but the atmosphere was like a dream; very romantic and basically everything I’ve ever wanted in a cafe/bookstore.

An instagram collage of our visit to the Bookworm Cafe.

Adventures in Puppy-hood

We’ve had our Australian Shepherd puppy Solo for three months now and we’ve been wanting to sign him up for some puppy classes. We train him on our own but there are a few things, such as light biting, jumping on strangers, pulling on a leash, and not always obeying us, that we want help in improving.

In Grenoble they offer free lessons with a trainer who we went to see two weeks ago. The only thing they ask in return is for dog owners to help keep the city clean by picking up dog poop; easy enough since we already do that. From the moment we met the trainer I was already getting a weird vibe from him, and then I found out why. He’s an older man who believes in negative reinforcement when it comes to dog training. That’s not how we’ve been training Solo and I haven’t read anything encouraging owners to train that way. The only lesson we had was leash training, and his method was to walk with the dog and when he strays too far from you you yank the leash back until the dog is at your side. One time he did this too harshly with Solo and he yelped. I don’t see how that is good for the dog’s neck or how that’s supposed to encourage the dog to trust you or obey you when he’s not on the leash. Needless to say, we decided right when we left that we were not returning.

So this past week we contacted another trainer, who owns an Australian Shepherd herself and who uses clicker training coupled with positive reinforcement. She came over to our apartment to meet us and Solo and she gave us a lot of helpful information. Solo, like with every other living thing he encounters, liked the trainer right away, especially after she gave him lots of treats! We’ll be meeting with her once a week now and hopefully Solo will be able to do everything that the trainer’s own dogs do (the trainer’s website had demonstration videos with her Aussie walking at her side all over town, crossing the street when told instead of darting across, and even waiting outside by herself while the trainer was in the bank)!

She was impressed with Solo–mainly his size!–when she met him, since he already knows quite a few commands. He’s a smart dog and Aussies are a smart breed so we know he’ll benefit from puppy training a lot. One thing is for sure: owning a puppy requires a lot of patience! Having Solo is definitely helping us prepare for parenthood one day.

Our 5 month old Australian Shepherd puppy, Han Solo. We call him Solo for short.