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Trail, looking so very sweet and innocent. Hard to believe he ate a flip-flop for lunch.
Trail, looking so very sweet and innocent. Hard to believe he ate a flip-flop for lunch.

Got dog training advice? I'm all ears!

Last month, my family adopted a dog from the Wisconsin Humane Society. He’s a mountain cur mix and we named him Trail. He’s 4 months old now and, overall, a joy to have around.

Except, however, when he’s gnawing on one of my shoes or digging holes in the backyard.

We tried spraying bitter apple on items that we don’t want him to chew on, but he doesn’t seem to mind the flavor. As a big fan of Sour Patch Kids candy, I can relate. Also, we try to switch out the household item with one of his chew toys, but he seems much more interested in munching on wooden items. He is losing his baby teeth right now, so I know this will improve, but I'm still looking for an insta-cure for the chewies.

The hole digging is another issue. My husband read on the Internet that one way to stop hole digging is to bury their poop in the area where they like to dig. That sounds really gross, and we have not gone there, but might if we can’t remedy this via another plan. We are opposed to shock collars, but are trying spray bottles and voice commands.

My 7-year-old son and I signed up for a class at the Wisconsin Humane Society that starts in early January. Plus, we’re crate training Trail and doing our best to be consistent and clear with our voice commands.

It has been 14 years since we last trained a puppy, and we are doing our best to catch up on all the modern practices. I must admit that puppy rearing is a huge ordeal -- way more than I remember -- and not that much different from living with a toddler child.

It has been said before, but I must say it again: good thing they’re so damn cute.

The Snuggie: As seen on TV!
The Snuggie: As seen on TV!

A gift a day: The Snuggie

If you’re still sans Christmas gifts at this point, you’re a few hours away from being SOL. But wait, it’s not too late to run to Walgreens and score a Snuggie for anyone -- or any dog -- lingering on your gift list.

Even though the Snuggie was around last year, it seems like the blanket with arms is more popular than ever. And now, you can buy ‘em for your kids and pets. And they come with a book light.

You can get a Snuggie for about $15 at Walgreens or Wal-Mart. Kids’ Snuggies are $10.

I am hesitant to admit that my kids and I all own Snuggies. I like it, but I originally misunderstood its function, and I think a lot of people do, too. The Snuggie is simply to be used like a blanket: you throw it over yourself when you’re reading or watching TV on the couch. It’s not a robe, because the back is open, so if you try to wear it around the house, it will keep flapping open.

My mother-in-law actually sewed closed the back of my boys’ Snuggies so it’s more like a mini monk’s robe. I'm quite certain that, of all of us, my 6-year-old likes his fleece Snuggie most.

"It feels really good when I wear it with nothing underneath," he says.

Now there’s an effective tagline.

Your kid can blow his nose into a bracelet. Fashion meets function or just plain foul?
Your kid can blow his nose into a bracelet. Fashion meets function or just plain foul?
Gotta Go Mitts are a swing and a miss.
Gotta Go Mitts are a swing and a miss.

I do not recommend these gifts

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of a product invented by a mom. On many occasions, sheer brilliance has sprung from the minds of moms who were bored or broke at home and finally had that One Big Idea that changed everything. I’ll listen to that story over and over again and never get bored of it.

But that’s not to say all "mom products" are genius.

I get a lot of cool stuff sent to me -- one of the many perks of my job -- but this week, I received two products for children that were just a few nappies short of a pack. And, after weeks of recommending gifts ideas for kids, I am going to introduce two items that, in my opinion, would make stinky stocking stuffers.

Gotta-Go Mitts. Kids are supposed to wear these polyethylene, disposable mittens before using a public restroom to avoid germs. Also, it's recommended they wear them anywhere else in public that might contain germs. (Like, everywhere?) The problem is, this product plays into the hypochondriac-moms-addicted-to-hand-sanitizer phenomena, plus, the mitts are an awkward shape and they smell funny, like plastic. I really can’t see my kids agreeing to wear these, and if they did, I would feel badly sending them into a restroom dressed like little deli workers. (Maybe I should plop hairnets on their heads, too.) However, if this product sounds useful to you, by all means, check out the Web site. They come 20 to a pack and sell for a mere $3.99. The mommy who invented the Gotta-Go Mitts will appreciate your business.

Sniffle Buddies. The Sniffle Buddy looks like a hair "scrunchie" but it’s intended to be worn around the wrist. The wearer can sneeze into it or blow their nose directly into the plushy bracelet. It's made from organic bamboo and organic cotton fabric, which is cool, but it doesn’t seem particularly absorbent enough to collect all of winter’s nose goo and, call me crazy, but I don’t really want boogers loitering around my wrists -- or around the wrists of my children. Again, don’t let my …

The Aquapod Bottle Launcher is powered by water and air.
The Aquapod Bottle Launcher is powered by water and air.

A gift a day: Aquapod Bottle Launcher

The Aquapod launches plastic soda bottles up to 100 feet in the air. For most kids, this makes for an afternoon of sheer delight. At least it did for my two kids.

Made from plastic, the Aquapod needs a bicycle pump, plastic bottles and water to work. Best of all, it does not need batteries or assembly.

The Aquapod has a built-in safety valve that releases pressure slowly, to keep users safe from over-pressurizing. However, this product requires adult supervision at all times.

Unexpectedly, the Aquapod provided my kids with a lesson in picking up after themselves. I reiterated the importance of retrieving bottles after shooting them into space. Nobody likes a litterbug, right?

The Aquapod is made by a new, Virginia-based company called Great American Products and sells for $24.99. You can order it from the Web site.