Thanks for the advise. I will leave the crate out of the Xpen and just put her bed in there.
I'll experiment on when to feed her. I prefer to feed her in her xpen at 6:30. My DH will be there at that time so he can sit with her but neither he or I am going to hand feed her. I get ready for the day at 6:45 and I have to be back down stairs by 7:15.
I do before and after school care in my home and the first child arrives at 7:15. Don't worry. The kids will not be allowed to maul Ivy. They are good kids but I will be supervising their play/interactions with Ivy very closely.
I really hope this schedule works as I don't have a lot of flexibility. But I believe that the puppy adapts to our life and not the other way around.....within reason.
Play it by ear with the crate. Some dogs REALLY prefer the close feeling of the crate for their "den". (Kodi is one of those) You also don't want to get to the point where the puppy no longer accepts a crate, because it can be very important to settle happily in a crate as certain times.
As long as you supervise things carefully with the kids, the fact that you do before and after school care can be a WONDERFUL socialization opportunity for your puppy. I had a day care next door when Kodi was a puppy, and I regularly took him over there, had the kids sit in a circle in the grass, and take turns calling him too them for a little stroking and a cookie. The kids LOVED this, and he got VERY used to (well mannered) little children as a result!
You are right, the puppy will adapt to your schedule, and you to the puppy. You will all work it out. Like with children, a schedule is a good thing, but being to rigid isn't. You have to figure out what schedule best fits you AND the puppy as you go along.
And as far as the hand feeding is concerned... I'm with you. Unless the puppy was sick, there's no way I'd fall into that trap. The puppy will eat if she gets hungry enough. Put it down, stay close if she needs some support in the first few days, and pick it up, finished or not, after 15 minutes. (at MOST! A dog with a good appetite will scoff down their meal in 30 seconds!!!
) I didn't fuss with my kids over food and I refuse to fuss with healthy animals over food.