CONAN + NEW PET OWNER TIPS

Conan is here! We are in love! He is seriously the best addition to our Newton family, and a little chocolate teddy bear. It was the best decision we could have made to get a Labradoodle.

I wanted to share some of our experience with our new dog, and some must haves for your new pet. Plus I had to show new pictures be he is the cutest and I absolutely love his face.ha! It has been great seeing the boys interact with their dog. 
 Cameron just got back from visiting family in Michigan, and met Conan for the first time.  His reaction was priceless!  Now Calvin on the other hand....well he has turned into a puppy.  He is going around the house on all fours and barking at the dog.  Not to mention, he constantly is having wet toes from stepping in the dog bowl. Ugh! I would say if you have a young child with a new dog, really start preparing them months in advance.  Maybe you will avoid wet toes and a toddler attempting to eat dog food. 


We are all adjusting well to the new addition. There has been some definite adjustments with adding a dog. I believe the biggest thing is just the altering your time schedule to remember to take the puppy out, as he has to go out almost every hour.  Everything else has been great, the kids love him, and have been nonstop playing with him.  I have to keep telling Calvin to let him sleep or eat, because he is constantly hovering over Conan. Now that Cameron is back we have another hand to help with taking him outside, which is helpful. Rick, is definitely not an animal lover naturally haha.  However, he has been enjoying Conan.  What he loves the most is the lack of shedding.  Again, if you are wanting a dog but not the shedding definitely consider a hypoallergenic dog! 

I've already posted a blog to provide tips to anyone considering getting a dog, but I also wanted to provide some must-have products and services that have helped us this past week.  I feel like there is always a long list of products everyone says you'll need, and some which can be costly.  You have to sift through it all, and get what is applicable for your life, puppy, and most importantly your budget. I am sharing the items we have purchased and services we have used to hopefully help with your new puppy. 


Essentials: If you don't get anything else make sure to get great dog food.  If you are purchasing from a breeder find out what type they are feeding him, so you can make the transition easier for the puppy.  You could run into stomach issues if you abruptly change their diet. Invest in a great dog food! In addition, dog bowls, food container, toys, leash, and collar. For your dog bowls make sure to get one that is size appropriate for your dog, and if you have a puppy try to avoid plastic as they may chew. With our previous dog we purchase the steel dog bowl, and they ended up rusting.  So if that type of bowl is your preference make sure it is rust-free, this will save you the money for having to buy another later. 

Crate: We are crate training Conan, I purchased a crate from Groupon.  You will find crates at all different price ranges, and they will basically look the exact same.  If you are trying to keep cost low consider buying one from Walmart, Groupon, or Target.  The one we got was $40 more in a pet store.  Just make sure to read the reviews.  Once I saw the item on Groupon had pretty good reviews, I got it without hesitation.  I will say that the only difference I see is that bars of the crate don't seem as sturdy.  Also, to make them feel that the crate is not a punishment, make it comfy for them and purchase a crate bed.  I got mine from Groupon for $20! 

Crate training for us is a must for a couple different reasons.  First, we both work full-time and we need to know that the dog is secure any not hurting himself or damaging the home. Secondly, there may be occasions when we have company that are not dog people. So it's nice having a secure place for the dog when needed.  We will probably always keep our crate, but the goal is to get a point where we can trust the dog to roam free during the work day and at night. Long way to get there, but we are well on our way. He wimpered for about 15 minutes the first night and its decreased every night since. 


Pupbox: This time around as pet owners I really want to make sure that I giving our puppy great food and toys.  I felt with our last dog I just got the basics, and this time around I am wanting to be a better pet owner.  Pet items can get costly, so when I was searching pet items on Instagram I came across Pupbox. It is a monthly subscription box to try products and every month you get something new.  For us this is perfect, we have the opportunity to find out what Conan likes and doesn't like.  Saves me a trip to the pet store as it gets ship directly to you.  If you are a new pet owner and overwhelmed with the thousands of pet items consider trying Pupbox.  They will send you items that best fit your dog. 

Extras: I wanted to get all of Conan's items upfront, so I didn't have to do it later.  I got him a personalized dog tag, and states that he is microchipped. Our breeder microchipped Conan, I highly recommend doing it, because if he gets lost and someone brings him to a vet they will likely scan him.  Then your personal information will come up.  Personalized food mat, because he is a puppy and is messy around his dog bowl. Dog bed, although I am seriously wondering why I even bought it because he almost never sleeps on it. :( Of course, bandanas! I am not the type to put dogs in clothes, as it always looked kind of weird to me.  However, I do love a great bandana.  We got Conan a Camouflage leash and collar, so naturally I had to match it with a Camo bandana also. If you are wanted to do something different for your dog, pick one of these up I got mine for $10 on Etsy. 

That in summary is everything that has gotten us started without first week with Conan.  You will find what you specifically need for your dog and household.  Just remember to shop around, because in most cases you can find the items cheaper somewhere. 


The first week with our new puppy has been successful.  We took him to the vet, and got a clean bill of health (Great news!). Tip: If you purchased a dog from a breeder and have a dog wellness warranty, make sure to be aware of how quickly you need to bring your puppy to be seen by a vet.  For our warranty to be valid we had to take our puppy to the vet within 72 hours. We are also getting him on flea and heart worm medicine this upcoming month. Our midday dog walker started coming, and has been working out great.  We decided to pay for this service for the first few months as puppies have a hard time holding their bladders that long while we are at work. She comes twice a week for us. Next on our list is puppy training, as we want to start early so no bad habits start to form. 

Oh, I forgot to talk about potty training. He has had MANY accidents unfortunately, even with us always taking him out.  We know that is all part of the process. We do not use puppy pads as we don't want him to associate at all that it is ok to use the bathroom in the home. (Personal preference) I just bought a pet-friendly carpet cleaner, and just going to remain consistent. Once we are out of the woods with potty training, we are going to have a professional carpet cleaner come in.  If you have a puppy just be patient, and really pay attention to when they are drinking and eating.  Because the moment you forget that is when you will see a nice little surprise on your carpet. I am not going to lie and say I don't mind because of course it is frustrating, but I know this is only temporary. And I can't ever be mad at that cute chocolate face. 


The overall entire process of getting him has been so much fun.  We planned months on the decision to get Conan, to finding out the mom was expecting, getting the birth announcement, driving to pick him out, and then finally bringing him home.  It has been great to do as a family. As always I love sharing pictures of our cute pup, but also want to provide practical advice to anyone with a new dog.  I will continue to provide updates on our pup and family adjusting to Conan.

POM POMS SUMMER MUST HAVE





Top: Express | Shoes: Chinese Laundry | Shorts: American Eagle Purse: Tory Burch Earrings: Nordstrom| Ring: Tory Burch SOLD OUT similar here |Bracelet: Bauble Bar & Bauble Bar  | Watch: Michael Kors | Necklace: Bauble Bar | 

This season the Pom Pom trend has been in full effect! I can't say I take part in all trends, but this one I happily accepted. I saw these sandals and knew they would be perfect this summer.  They have almost every color I wear during the summertime.  I tend to buy shoes that I can get many wears and different outfit combinations.  I already know 3 different other ways that I can wear these sandals in completely different looks. 

My next purchase will likely be a Pom Pom clutch, because I get so tired of running out to get a different color clutch to match my outfit.  A Pom Pom solves that problem because it has all of those bright colors you would ever think to wear in the summer.

If you are really looking to save some cost consider making these too! I am completely not a DIY person, but I have seen people make a look similar to this! So if you are crafty run out and get you some Pom Poms, glue gun, and go to work!  

I love my sandals and they will be on repeat with different outfit variations! If you want to get my pair move quick, because they often sell out! 

Happy Styling! 

INSTAGRAM LATELY

Black and White- BodysuitNaked Wardrobe | Skirt: Bebe | Shoes: Asos | Clutch: Aldo exact color sold out online, similar color here |Necklace: Bauble Bar (sold out), similar here |

Beachwear - Swimsuit: Mara HoffmanShoes: Tory Burch | Purse: Aldo
(sold out), similar here 
|
 Tumbler: Ban.do

All Black - Dress:Go Jane | Shoes: Tory Burch | Purse: Tory Burch (sold out), similar here | Watch: Michael Kors Bracelets: Bauble Bar |Ring: BP | Sunglasses:Prada

Black and White Casual- Shirt: J.Crew | Shorts: American Eagle | Watch: Michael Kors Bracelets: Bauble Bar |Ring: BP

Leopard - Romper: HM (sold out), similar here | Belt: Express| Watch: Michael Kors Bracelets: Bauble Bar |Ring: BP | Purse: Tory Burch (sold out), similar here 


Coral - Shirt: Lush (color sold out), similar here | Earrings:Nordstrom | Necklace: Love Always |


White and Yellow - Top: Lush | JeansExpress | Purse: Rebecca Minkoff | Watch: Timex Bracelets: Purple Peridot | NecklacePurple Peridot | Shoes: Agaci (sold out), same print here


Shoes - All BlackLowell | Brown: Jolie | Black and Gold: Reva | Navy: Sold out, similar here | Light Pink: my style sold out, similar here | Dark Brown
my style sold out, similar here  

*Sidenote: Sorry some of my shoe styles are no longer available.  I capitalize when Tory burch is having a sale and try to stock up on shoes at that time.  However, their sale items go fast and will quickly no longer be on the site.  Be on the look out for TB sales because that is the best time to shop shoes! 

Pink and Yellow - DressH&M  | Purse: Aldo | Heels: Steve Madden (sold out), similar here


I love shopping deals, with most of my outfits I will get my inspiration from IG.  If they are out of my price range I start searching coupon codes, or find similar styles that are more cost efficient. My wardrobe seriously is a mixture of all different price ranges.  You have to know when to go budget and when to splurge. I try to keep that consistent with all my outfits. 

 Again, that is why some of my items may no longer be available.  I tend to gravitate towards sales, but that means items go quickly.  If my exact item is not available there will be a one similar linked. 

Make sure to follow me in on Instagram!

MINT + TWO PIECE





Dress Set: Boohoo | Shoes: Aldo (sold out), almost exact here | Purse: Etsy shop | Necklace: Bauble Bar Earrings: Boutique (sold out), similar here |Ring: BP | BanglesCharming Charlie 

I love anything mint color! It instantly freshens up an entire outfit.  I hope this color never goes out of trend, I probably will still wear it regardless.Ha!  Matching mint with other pastels is a personal favorite and gold accessories. 

Now let's talk two piece dress sets...When this trend came out a couple years ago, I wasn't sure how I felt about.  After all I am a wife and mom of 2 so didn't want to be too revealing.  I searched around for a set that didn't show too much of the mid drift, and still tasteful.  I wore a black two piece set for my 28th birthday. I loved it.  So I decided to try the look again. I don't wear this style often, but still love it. If done correctly it can be a very fun and feminine look. 

I fell in love with this mint set.  It gave a small peekaboo, but then added the glam with the flared skirt.  I felt that color brought a fun look to the two piece set, which made it a must have. 

Are you looking to pull off a two piece set? Here are a few things to remember:

1. Make sure the top is large enough to cover your entire chest. You could have some spillage at the bottom (which is definitely not a good look) and/or your bra will show.  If you are not the same size as you are bottom, shop two piece sets that you can order the top separately from the bottom. If you are unsure wear it around the house for a few minutes and then check a mirror.  Or photograph your self to see what shows in pictures.

2. To continue with the sizing talk. I know sometimes we women try to squeeze into something, but for this look order size appropriate.  Ordering a smaller skirt than actually needed can cause those most hated love handles given no other option than to spill out, which creates a bulge at the peekaboo area.  The last thing you want is to have the peekaboo section look like your spilling out of it.  Shop true to size on this one to save you problem. Know what works for your body.  Sometimes I think you have to just be real with yourself. If a certain two-piece set is not fitting right, doesn't mean all will. Find one that works for you!

3. If you don't want it to be too revealing try finding a set that has only about a 1 to 2 inch peekaboo and the bottom is midi length. If you are looking to ease into the two piece look consider getting a set like mine that is pictured.  My peekaboo was very minimum, and would be a great way if you are not all the way comfortable with sets. 

I love midi lengths! It brings such a feminine flair! If you love finishing off your look with Spanx, plan accordingly.  With two piece sets you cannot wear the normal style of Spanx as it will show in the peekaboo.  You will have to get a high waisted brief, if you choose to wear one.  Even still, you may consider ditching them as sometimes they can show quite a bit through skirt.

It's almost summertime, so I say have some fun! Step outside of the box and try different looks. There is definitely a way to achieve a two piece set and still be tasteful.  Remember pick a fun color and sizing is key! 

Happy styling!

HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL IN TARGET







ME- Dress: Target | Purse: Tory Burch exact style sold out, similar here | Shoes: Tory Burch | Bracelets: Kendra ScottBauble Bar | Earrings: Kendra Scott | Necklace: Kendra Scott  Ring: BP | Watch: Michael Kors | Sunglasses: Prada
Calvin- Top: Static Grey Shorts: Target | Shoes: Adidas (sold out), similar here  

I love Target, but honestly what woman doesn't? I think we have all fallen in the trap of going in for 1 item leaving out with a cart full! It has gotten so bad that my oldest son Cameron says "oh no, not Target, we are gonna be in here for hours!" HA! 

How perfect is this shirt Calvin has on? When I saw it I instantly laughed! We women can get really serious about Target.  If you want this shirt for your daughter or son, head to Static Grey.  Use coupon code TARYN10 to get 10% off!

Being a frequent customer at Target I have learned what are some must-have purchases and what you should just walk away from! It's easy to get sucked in and just start throwing everything in your cart, sometimes you just have to say NO! I don't know about you but whenever I see the Target red clearance tag, it instantly intrigues me. Here are some of my Target musts and passes! 

TARGET MUST-HAVES

1. TARGET BRAND DIAPERS: We have two boys and both of them exclusively wore Target brand diapers. Calvin is still using them! This is a must for my family! Yes, I know they're not Pampers or Huggies, but they have never failed me.  I love them for a couple reasons.  First, they are priced cheaper than major brands.  I can get a large case for about $25-$30 dollars! They used to be even cheaper until they hiked up the price about a year ago.  I think Target realized their diapers were a hot commodity. That was definitely a sad day! Even with the price increase they are still cheaper.  Secondly, they never give us any problems with absorbance or comfort! I have been very impressed with how much these diapers can hold! So if you have a little one in diapers, strongly considered this they have been great and saved my family money! 

2. KIDS MATCHABLES: My boys are rough on clothes and grow like trees! I swear Cameron is always coming home with a hole in his pants. Ugh! I started taking advantage of Target's matchables section.  They have a variety of tops and bottoms that you can mix and match.  I will always stock up on their play clothes when Target is running a sale making them $3 and $4 dollars. I pretty much buy every color of shorts and almost all tops. It's a great way to get a variety in your children's wardrobe for everyday wear. Although, lately Cameron has been thinking he is a professional athlete and has been wanting all Nike apparel. Well, unless he is going to be paying Nike money for his clothes, I still keep some of his every day clothes from Target. 

3. HOME DECOR: I love how over the years Target has really upgraded their decor section.  I feel like most times it looks like something you could buy from Pier 1 or Home goods. I love going by and picking up an extra item to add to my house decor. Target really pushes their home decor online, I don't think I have seen a time where online is not 10% or 20% off home items. 

4. SEASONAL ITEMS: Target has saved me quite a bit of times when I have needed either an Easter basket, Valentine's day cards, or Christmas decor.  We moved to Dallas from Michigan, we did not bring our Christmas decorations, and of course didn't realize it until when we decided to purchase our tree.  I happened to have a coupon for $20 off $100 for Christmas decorations and we stocked up. What I love about all of their seasonal items is they are cost effective without looking cheap. 

5. WOMEN'S APPAREL: I love getting cute every day dresses, camisoles, and cardigans from Target! I would say those are the major 3 items I get from them. Their cardigans always have cute prints, and hold up pretty well.  I mostly wear them to work and church. I love my off the shoulder black dress, and what I love even more is it was less than $30! Target seems to come through when I need to get a quick cute dress or something to wear for an event. I stock up on their camisoles and basic tees when they are running a sale for $5. However, I have seen some clothing items be close to $50, and on those items I pass. At Target I can't justify paying that for any of their clothing items. Especially if you wait another month and it will probably be 30% off. 

WHAT TO PASS ON

1. WOMEN'S FITNESS APPAREL: I rarely get my fitness apparel from Target.  Unless they are running a special or sale. Regular price I feel they are priced closely to name brand companies like Nike or Under Armour. Example: Some of their sports bras are $25-$27.  I can get a Nike sports bra at that price.  Most of their active wear is priced within dollars to some name brands, so unless it is saving me a ton I normally pass on it and go with Nike. Again, make sure you keep your eye out for specials, because that is when you will see a large price difference.

2. JEWELRY: There are a couple different reasons I don't shop Target's jewelry too much.  The biggest reason is I don't often see jewelry that I love. I just recently bought some jewelry from Target, but it was the first time in a while that I had. Next, their prices aren't that cheap for the type of jewelry I would be getting for the quality. I would prefer to head to H&M if I am wanting a cost efficient option. 

3. TARGET ROOM ESSENTIAL BATH TOWELS: Very specific I know, haha. I bought a bunch of these for the boys bathroom.  Honestly, I haven't been impressed with the wear on them.  I feel that you truly are getting what you pay for with their towels.  Although, they are priced cheaper, they do not hold up well.  I end up throwing them out after a few months because they are not fluffy and have a ton of snags. 

4: ELECTRONICS: Well sort of...if you are eyeing a new TV or iPad try waiting to get it around holiday time. Target has the best deals for electronics around that time. We bought the boys an iPad for Christmas and received a $75 dollar gift card, which we used to get more Christmas gifts. If you can, try saving that big purchase until the holiday season.  

5. MEN'S CLOTHING: My husband is really not a fan of Target apparel for men, which I tend to agree.  The only time I have gotten him something from the men's section is if I didn't have a chance to order it and didn't want to go to mall.  I've never been impressed with their clothing styles for men, and neither has my husband.  For the price it makes more sense to head to the Gap or Old navy.

Of course there are many more things that I love about Target, but these are some of my personal favorites. If you are on a budget, try to make a detailed list of what you need, and ONLY visit those sections of the store. That has helped me not wander too much in Target.  I truly have figured out what Target is great for and what to pass on, and when it's best to purchase items, which in turn has help save me quite a bit of money and time. :)



Comment below with some of your best buys from Target!


3 REASONS TO OWN A ROMPER




Romper: Boohoo | Shoes: Jessica Simpson | Purse: Tory Burch SOLD OUT, similar here Earrings:Target | Ring: Tory Burch SOLD OUT similar here |Bracelet: Bauble Bar Ring: BP | Watch: Michael Kors Sunglasses: Kate Spade | 

The clothing item I am in 80% of the time between April-September is definitely rompers. The versatility of rompers allows me to wear them
for date night or running errands. When I am running late (which is sadly more often than not) I can quickly throw on a romper and still look great. 

3 key reasons you should add rompers to your wardrobe

1. Rompers can be a budget friendly item.  When I am looking for a new outfit, but not trying to break the bank I first search for a cute romper.  Searching for skirts and a top or even a dress can sometimes get pricey.  I've found that you can go almost anywhere and find a cute romper at a great price.  Rompers are an entire outfit, so it decreases the expense of buying separate items.  Case and point, this cute denim romper was $20 dollars after a coupon code I used!! 

2. Comfort over everything. For me I am past the point where I desire to be in something uncomfortable just to look cute.  When I am out and in an uncomfortable outfit it effects my mood, and pictures! Ha! I have not found a romper that I don't feel comfortable in.  One thing I will say is make sure you always try on your romper prior to the day you are wearing it.  Sometimes rompers can be very boxy, and it may require you to pair it with a belt to give it more shape. Another not so great detail about rompers is they can give you that long butt look. Ugh! Again belts can help with that and provide shape.  

3. You can wear Rompers with different style combinations.  With almost all of my rompers I could wear them with flat sandals or dress them up with heels.  Rompers are completely a day to night outfit staple. Not to mention, you can pair them with different shoes and accessories and wear it on multiple occasions. You can even add a blazer to your romper to give it an entirely different look. 

Rompers are a key item in my wardrobe. I stock up before summer hits.  A few stores that never fails me with cute rompers is H&M, Boohoo, and Francesca's. At H&M you can count on paying no more than $20 for one and it be really cute! I love this denim romper, its perfect for dinner and drinks. I will be wearing it again with cute gladiators sandals to dress it down again. 

Happy styling! 

MEET CONAN + HELPFUL TIPS

Meet our adorable puppy Conan the Bar-BEAR-ian, he will be joining our family in two weeks. My heart is so full with love for this little guy. Yesterday we took a road trip for visiting day at the breeders residence.  If you have the opportunity to visit/pick your puppy in person, DO IT! The experience was great.  The kids loved having the entire litter at their feet.  We loved spending time with our puppy to make sure it was a perfect match for our family. My son Cameron is seriously counting down the minutes until we can take him home for good.  Although, I am slightly freaking out inside with the thought of having to potty train my toddler and puppy, I am still very excited!
Conan is an Australian Multi-Generation chocolate Labradoodle, he will be a standard size so he will grow to be about 50 to 60 pounds, and has a curly fleece coat.  I wanted to share my experience just in case you are considering getting a puppy and/or you just wanted to see some adorable pup pictures. I'm sharing our dog journey in hopes that your family will avoid some of the mistakes we have experienced in the past. 

WHY WE CHOSE TO GET A DOG
 I LOVE animals! I blame my mom lol, she allowed my sisters and I to have as many pets as we wanted.  We started with having a black Shih Tzu.  He was named after the Ewok Wickett from Star Wars.  We grew up together, and he lived until he was 16 (we were devastated when we had to put him down). Throughout our years my sisters had hamsters and I had two cats.  Then later my sister and I rescued an abused dog (long story), and he still lives with my mom. Needless to say my love for animals started from the beginning. I knew that I wanted to give my children the opportunity for the same experience. 
In contrast, my husband did not grow up with animals and actually would be completely happy never owning a pet. He believes if you do have a pet they should strictly be outside, while me on the other hand I am trying to figure out how to fit myself, husband, and the dog all in the bed together. HAHA! Rick doesn't necessarily like animals but he knows his wife and children love them.  He definitely compromised, and wanted to make us happy which we appreciate. 


OUR PREVIOUS TRIAL AND ERRORS 
We actually had 3 dogs prior to Conan. It has been an interesting dog journey to say the least. I got my first dog when I was a Sophomore in college. He was a pure bred Alaskan Husky that I had absolutely no business getting. It was very impulsive, and I was not in the season of my life where I could handle the responsibility of a dog and especially that breed.  Huskies require a lot of exercise, and you run the risk of them acting out if they don't receive it.  He would destroy my apartment. One time he chewed through the carpet all the way down to the cement. Not to mention, the financial responsibility and trying to be a full-time student.  It was not a good fit, so I found a family that could take him. 
Our second dog, was a chocolate lab.  I loved him, we surprised Cameron with him for Christmas. However, at just 4 months Cody was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD).  We tried to treat it but it was so aggressive we lost him within one week after being diagnosed. DEVASTATING! After that the breeder we got Cody from felt so bad she wanted to give us another puppy from another breeder. This is when we got Cooper the yellow Lab. In hindsight I don't believe our family was mentally or emotionally ready for it. I think we should have taken some time to regroup. Cooper was about 120lbs, wild and rambunctious.  We were never really able to fully connect with him, which is crazy because I love animals.  Even after dog training he was just always so obnoxious, and Cam and him did not mesh well together. 
 The opportunity for us to move to Texas came along and we had some hard decisions to make. We would be in a transitional period, when we first moved down we were staying at my sisters as we searched for a home. Then we knew that we wanted to be in an apartment for the first year as we made the adjustment to living in Dallas. All that to say we started interviewing families that wanted to a new dog. We found him a home, for a family that actually was surprising their son and they lived on over 2 acres.  They still periodically will send us pictures of him! It was a hard decision, but the best for our family and Cooper. 
What I have learned through our ups and downs of pet ownership is most importantly do not make an impulsive decision to get a pet. Take your time and research the breed, assess your life, and finances. Ask yourself is your family ready for a pet? Do you have the time, to give your pet the attention they deserve? If so, start making a list of what qualities you want in a dog. You want to make sure you can truly give your pet a great life, and that you will enjoy them. This time around we took about 6 months to prepare, research, and pray on this decision. We wanted this time around to be a permanent decision and perfect match.  Dogs are work and they are an extra responsibility, so if you don't think you are ready for that consider another type of pets that is lower maintenance. Do what works best for your life!  


WHY WE CHOSE TO GET AN AUSTRALIAN MULTI-GENERATION LABRADOODLE
We have researched the breed for a while, and we have talked many times on the decision to get a dog.  We really wanted to get one that was perfect for our lifestyle and family. It took months to finally decide on the best breed.  From my own personal experience, take your time to research the breed and the breeder.  Don't just go based on cuteness, because I made that mistake.  Learn the breed! You want to fully know what you are committing to and definitely want to get your dog from a reputable breeder. 
With our previous Labrador we felt that his size was just too large for our family.  He was 120lbs and wild. We wanted a dog smaller than our last, but not a toy sized dog. My husband has allergies and one of his major complaints with our previous dog was the shedding. We would vacuum and less than an hour later tons of hair again. We tried everything.  With my husband not being a dog lover this was a tough adjustment for him. That led us to start considering a hypoallergenic dog.  They have minimum shedding and great for people with allergies. We picked chocolate because I have always loved chocolate labs.  My best friend in middle school had a chocolate lab and I loved her, and it always stuck with me.  Labradoodles are known to be great family dogs and easy to train. Not to mention, I feel like I am getting a live chocolate teddy bear!! 
Please know that getting a Labradoodle is an investment, as they can be a bit pricey depending on the breeder. If you find a low cost Labradoodle breeder verify their accreditation and breeding methods. An example of the consequences of getting a dupe is you could end up getting a normal shedding dog. Research is key! 

PICKING THE RIGHT BREEDER
We searched many breeders, there were not many that bred Australian Multi-generation Labradoodles and were accredited.  Due to this the waiting lists for some breeders can be quite long.  We actually put down a deposit for one breeder and later got a refund because it was disclosed that we were #41 on this list!!! Yikes! We then decided to go with Lonestar Labradoodles which I love! Their dogs were beautiful, and I love what they included.  They have been in this business for 12 years and were very professional.  
 
Almost all breeders require you to put down a deposit and then make the final payment about 1-2 weeks before the puppy comes home. We were #3 on the waiting list for this particular litter, so we got to pick third on visiting day. The breeder was 3 hours from us, but it is well worth it.  I came into the visit already having an idea of the one I wanted.  However, we still spent an hour interacting with all puppies to help us decide.  Another thing I loved about this breeder is they microchip and neuter your dog before they come home to you.  Which is one less thing I have to worry about, and they include a 2-year health guarantee. 


PREPARING THE FAMILY
When we decided to get a dog we knew that having a dog would require the effort from EACH family member. Once Rick and I made the decision, we decided to tell Cameron so he could feel part of this process. We called a family meeting, and made the announcement!  Cameron was so excited he started break dancing! HAHA! However, we brought him back to reality and got a little serious.  
We explained to him this would also be his responsibility, and explained what that meant for him.
  We asked him to let us know if he wanted this major job, which he obviously said he was ready. To make sure he was serious about the decision we gave Cameron a project.  He had to research all about Labradoodles, along with finding 10 facts about how to take care of a dog.  Next step, he had to make a presentation about what he learned and educate the family on his findings. This was our way of getting Cameron committed and understanding the responsibility. Also educating him on a dog's needs. 
Well, for Calvin we are just praying he doesn't consume too much dog food.  We have been leaving Conan's dog bowls out so Calvin can get use to them being a part of daily life.  Also, just talking to him about the new dog.  We will just really be monitoring Calvin with him to make sure he understands this is a REAL ANIMAL! During the visit Calvin did great with the puppies.  He absolutely loved when they would give him kisses, and just kept running after them.  I am hopeful.  I will basically be having 2 toddlers at one time, so we will all be working together to make the adjustment to the dog not a one man job.

I have been extremely long winded with this, but I wanted to share my experience to hopefully help another family planning to start on the same journey. This is truly just my own personal experience. You may not be pressed on pure bred or prefer to adopt.  Everyone's experience will be unique for them. Just make sure to plan properly for whichever route you choose.  I will do another post soon on the what to get for your new puppy, along with more pictures of him!