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Gone Fishing . . .

 

We are headed out, very soon, for our first vacation with Alex and Victory to commemorate our first year together along with celebrating Alex’s first birthday, as a family, which is difficult to believe is already nearly here!  I am taking an extended break from the blog to rest and rejuvenate; and I plan to be back, to the blog, later in August with weekly posts first highlighting our twelfth month together with Alex; our vacation; and Alex’s first birthday celebration!  Thank you all, so very much, for reading the blog.  Whether you are a recent reader or have been following the blog for awhile, I am honored you take time to read the blog.  I am truly grateful.  Finally, as I take this brief break for rest and rejuvenation, I hope you find periods of rest for yourself as well.

Meanwhile, if you are in a blog-reading mood, you are warmly invited to visit the archives — the links are shown below.

Dog Related posts

Dog Rescue posts

‘Dog-Centric’ Artists Interviews

For Artists posts

Photography posts

Personal posts

Victory Related posts

Baby Alex Related posts

Tips for planning and vacationing with your furry family member

Additionally, if you are interested, here are some links to some of our previous vacations — Nova Scotia, 2011Nova Scotia, 2012Vermont, 2013Vermont and Québec, 2014Vermont and Québec City, 2015Lake Michigan, 2016; Charleston, 2017; and Charleston 2018!

Happy Summer!

 

Lessons Learned: Creative Endeavor

 

I have been working on my long-term photography project for a really long time.  I am in the midst of finishing the final phase of revisions, after much work.  Recently, during this time, I have reflected upon the process, thus far, of bringing forth this work to fruition; and below are some lessons I have learned.

1.  Have the courage to start your project.  I found fear always showed itself, and continues, at every stage of creating this work.  You can let the fear be present, with you, but you should not surrender to it.  The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a great read on this subject.  There were many times that I felt fear, I do still feel fear, but I did and do my best to convince myself that I can keep going even though I do not know what lies on the other side.  So, if you love doing the work, mastering your craft, find the courage to do the work and remain passionate and curious.

2. Be Open.  When you start a creative endeavor, you may have one idea on how you think the work will take shape; however, be open and see where the work takes and guides you, which might be different.  For me, the work expanded in ways that I could not initially foresee at first.  I also found that there are many unanticipated twists and turns you need to navigate, which you cannot anticipate at the outset of starting a creative endeavor.  While creating this work, there were many twists and turns that presented themselves that I had to figure out and overcome to finish the body of work.  Thus, I learned that I had to be creative and determined to press on, no matter what.

3. Everything takes more time than you think.  I have been working on this body of work for over six years.  (I think most people likely would have given up long ago!)  Life happens all the while, and we experienced multiple life events during this time, including: selling a house; building a house; two moves; losing our beloved Biscuit; adopting our rescue, Victory, who joined our family; experiencing great loss; and welcoming our biggest collaboration, the addition of our baby Alex!  As a result, I would have thought going into this that I would have been done long ago.  However, I learned that things take much longer than you might initially anticipate, and it is good to know this going into any creative project.  I also find it helpful not to focus on the time and to have the mantra, in this final stage, “to take it a day at a time and an image at a time.”  And, there seems to be endless revisions, but then you finally settle at the place where you know the work is done, and I cannot wait to reach this place!

4. Mistakes happen.  Invariably, mistakes happen while undertaking a large project.  I certainly had my share, I likely still will, and I had to learn either how to work with them or how to improve to cure the ‘mistakes.’  Additionally, I learned that everything is ‘figureoutable,’ no matter what.

5. Find trustworthy people to review your work.  I have found that it has been invaluable to me to obtain feedback on my work, at various stages, in order to continue to refine and revise the body of work.

6. Allow the muse show up.  There were times when I was working, trying to figure something out, and when I worked too hard or when I agonized, I was unable to resolve the issue, which was extremely frustrating.  However, when I stepped back, asked the Universe for help — the muse showed up during times where I had no idea how I was able to get the image where it needed to be — it was magical and I was able to resolve the issue at hand in no time.  These are moments of pure bliss.

7. Push yourself.  Inspiration does not come knocking every day, as we all know.  You have to keep going at it yourself, too.  In order to pursue something creative, you must also work at it unassisted by inspiration and push yourself and your boundaries.  I dedicate time in my schedule, almost weekly, to work on this body of work.  There were, along the way, periods of rest, too.  I worked bit by bit, little by little, for a really long time, which I continue.  What I keep in mind, is that if you work like this consistently, the work quickly adds up– and finally one day the revisions are done and you are finished, the greatest gift.  One of my favorite quotes by Sally Mann, “There is a great quote from a female writer.  She said, ‘If you don’t break out in a sweat of fear when you write, you are not writing well enough.’   I tend to agree.  I think my best pictures come when I push myself.”

8. Be persistent.  If you are going to do any long-term project, you must be persistent, and not give up.  As mentioned above, life happens, and things, for me, are even more challenging getting this work finished with a baby; however, it is not impossible.  You have to find a way to keep going in the midst of it all and not let life or setbacks stop you from finishing.  Creating this body of work is so challenging and rewarding simultaneously.  I found that creating this body of work was much more difficult than attending law school, in so many ways.  In fact, it is one of the most challenging undertakings I have done.  At the inception of this project, I was incredibly naive about how involved this project would actually become.  Looking back, I suppose this was a blessing at the time.

9. Choose to trust.  You must have faith and trust while working on any creative endeavor, which, I know, is easier said than done.  It is like having a daily a blind faith and optimism that things will somehow work out, while still enjoying the process and the journey, while living in the unknown.

10. Let go of a specific outcome of the work.  The idea for this project came to me during the summer of 2012.  I will never forget the day the idea came to me, prior to leaving for our trip with Biscuit to Nova Scotia, and I thought I might actually be able to create this body of work.  I am not sure of the specific outcome, but finishing is the greatest reward for me right now.

This, outlined above, is what I have learned, thus far; I am sure there will be many more lessons learned in the next phase of this process and journey.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.  The hunt to uncover those jewels — that’s creative living.  The courage to go on that hunt in the first place — that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.  The often surprising result of that hunt — that’s what I call Big Magic.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

Loving Summer 2019

Happy summer!  We are excited that it is officially summer and we are enjoying time together!  Below are some items I am currently loving!

 

 

1. Lululemon Tank — I recently got this new Lululemon tank for the summer, and I love it.  It breathes well and it is extremely comfortable!

2. Bogg Bag —  I love the Bogg Bag!  It is great for taking to the pool or beach, as it is waterproof!  It is also easy to find your gear within the bag itself, which is an added plus!

3. Apple Watch — I am probably late to the game with the Apple Watch, but Doug just got me one for Mother’s Day, and I love it!

4. Satya’s Mother’s Love Necklace — I love the Satya line, and I was recently gifted this beautiful necklace, which I love.

5. Frames  — We have picture frames all over our house.  I especially love these simple silver frames.

6. Doen Tote Bag — It seems we are always in need of a tote bag.  I absolutely love this Doen tote bag, which is also quite pretty, with little roses printed on the fabric!

Happy Summer!

You can view other things I love here!

New Study: Dogs can feel stress from humans

I recently read a really interesting study involving shelties, our favorite breed of dog!  If you have not already heard about this study, please feel free to keep reading!

In a recent study, it is hypothesized that dogs can feel what their human companions feel.  “When dog owners go through a stressful period, they’re not alone in feeling the pressure – their dogs feel it too, a new study suggests.”  The Swedish researchers focused on 58 people who own border collies or Shetland sheepdogs.  They examined hair from the dog owners and their respective dogs, looking at the concentration of a hormone called cortisol, a chemical released into the bloodstream and absorbed by hair follicles in response to stress.  Lina Roth of Linkoping University in Sweden found that patterns of cortisol levels in the hair of dog owners closely matched that found in their dogs in both winter and summer months, indicating their stress levels were in fact in sync.  She [Roth] thinks owners are influencing the dogs rather than the other way around because several human personality traits appear to impact canine cortisol levels.

The researchers do not know specifically what causes the synchronization in cortisol levels between humans and their furry family members.  But why do people influence their dogs rather than vice versa?  Perhaps people are “a more central part of the dog’s life, whereas we humans also have other social networks,” Roth said.  The study results are no surprise, said Alicia Buttner, director of animal behavior with the Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha.  “New evidence is continually emerging, showing that people and their dogs have incredibly close bonds that resemble the ones that parents share with their children,” she said in an email.  But she said there isn’t enough evidence to assume that the influence goes only one way; it may go both ways.

Roth and her team plan to investigate whether other dog breeds will react to their owners the same way.  In the meantime, she [Roth] offered advice to minimize how much stress dog owners may be causing their pets.  Dogs that play more show fewer signs of being stressed, she said.  So “just be with your dog and have fun,” Roth said, which is excellent advice, for sure. 

Our beloved Victory has been with us through so much, a constant loyal family member.  We hope that she will continue to thrive and not experience too much stress; she has been a real trooper this year as she has warmly added Alex to her pack and she has adjusted really well!  A few images of our beloved Victory are shown below from this past year!  We love her so very much!

 

Eleven Month Snapshot: Alexandra

I cannot believe it is, again, already time to do another post, Alex’s eleven month blog post!  The days are flying by too quickly these days!  The theme this month, summed up in one word, is thriving.  Alex is now a two-footed mobile little person who is saying a few words such as ‘mamma,’ ‘dadda,’ and ‘uh oh!’  Alex started balancing herself, without assistance, in early April, and then she took her first steps in May, around Mother’s Day, and by the end of May, at ten months old, after she figured it out, she was walking on her own and she walks a little farther in distance each day.  (A short video is shown below.)  Alex is so proud of herself when she walks and she was so determined to figure out how to walk!  We also got Alex her first pair of shoes recently from Stride Rite, the place where I got my shoes as a kid, and Alex has now mastered walking in shoes!  It is crazy to think that only 11 months ago, Alex could only hold her head up (she was born with very strong neck control) and she now is walking and starting to say a few words!  My little baby is turning into a little girl before our very eyes!  We think Victory prefers her on two feet instead of Alex charging Victory while crawling!  Alex is really progressing and coming into her own, and we are so grateful!  She is truly a gift and a ray of light!  Alex loves to walk laps around our kitchen island and take all of the magnets off the refrigerator — what was I thinking?!  She loves playing, and each morning she occupies herself, for a little bit, while she gets out almost every book from her bookshelf, pulls out every stuffed animal friend, and pulls out almost every toy she has in her nursery and she then plays.  Victory still joins Alex in the mornings and evenings in Alex’s nursery.  One of Alex’s favorite things to do is she still loves crawling all over us, treating us like her ‘human jungle gym!’  I think both Doug and I are covered in bruises, as a result!

Currently, Doug and I aim for one date night a month, hopefully more frequently, as Alex gets older.  This month, we took Victory out on her own for one of our date nights, as we wanted her to have some time alone with us!  We took her to one of her favorite barbecue restaurants and then we went for gelato together!  Victory had a grand time; and she was so tired from her outing she spent the following day resting in our bed!  We plan to give Victory her own time with us more often, especially during good weather.

This month we also introduced Alex to the pool, at the end of May, when our pool opened, and she seems to really enjoy it!  (A short video of Alex’s first time to the pool along with two short videos from last week’s pool visit are shown below!)  Alex can now even walk in the shallow water!  Alex has been under water a few times without crying; and she has put her face in the water all on her own!  She is also really social with the other kids at the pool — she does not seem shy, at all, as she goes right up to the other kids, without hesitation!  We had planned to start swim lessons with Alex this past winter, but with her, what seemed like forever, pneumonia, things did not work out as we had hoped.  So, we will plan to do swim lessons with her soon since she really seems to be a water baby!

Alex is also quite curious and she is quick moving.  She gets into everything, and she especially loves to go into my nightstand and pull everything out along with going into my purse where she crinkles paper, plays with my keys, and plays with my iphone.  She is doing a little better playing on her own this month, but she has her moments where she cries and cries in her ‘baby jail,’ and the moment one of us goes in there with her, she is, suddenly, all smiles.  Victory still helps us in a pinch by being in the room or in the ‘baby jail’ with Alex.  Alex still enjoys outings and seeing new things.  In addition to the pool, Alex likes to go out to eat with us; she likes the neighborhood park; and she still loves to go on walks in her stroller.  We are planning some summer outings with Alex and we are also looking forward to celebrating Alex’s first birthday next month while we are on vacation!  We cannot believe she is turning one so soon!  It should literally be an adventure for all four of us!

Alex is still physically big!  However, her eating has slowed down a bit, and she has two more teeth coming in along with her molars, which has been no fun!  In fact, she has run a fever, this month, due to the teething, poor girl!  So, she has eight visible teeth right now, (four on the top, and four on the bottom, with more on the way.)  Alex is sleeping through the night, most nights, after we started sleep training this month, as everyone needs and requires rest!  (Although, there are times we regress with the teething in full swing.)

We look forward to enjoying our first summer together as a family of four.  Importantly, we look forward to celebrating our first Father’s Day as a family of four this weekend!  It will be fun!  This month has been full of some really exciting changes and Alex will, for sure, continue to really keep us on our toes.  We love our girls and we are embracing it all, and we feel extremely blessed!

A few highlights from Alex’s tenth month include:

-she started walking, which is exciting and terrifying at the same time!  It is quite amazing seeing a little person walking around our home!

-she is saying a few words such as ‘mamma,’ ‘dadda,’ and her favorite right now, ‘uh oh,’ along with making a lot of different sounds!

-she loves the pool!

-she loves to clap her hands!

-she loves making a clicking sound with her tongue!

-she still loves getting into everything in sight!

-she is sleeping through the night, most nights, after some sleep training!

-she loves being with her fur sister, Victory, and loves when Victory joins her for a meal, while Alex eats in her high chair.  Alex creates lots of ‘droppings’ that Victory helps herself to!

-she still loves going for stroller rides outside!

-she still loves her bed time routine and Doug usually plays with her, gets her ready for bed, and reads a few stories, which Alex loves!

-she likes bath time more and loves to splash in the water and play with her toys in the water!  We transitioned her bath time to the regular bath tub, as she pretty much outgrew her little whale bath tub!

-she is eating well, but some days she does not eat as much.

-she is still very alert, curious, and observant!  She still loves to interact with other kids and observe them, and she is still enjoying her play school!

 

A few highlights I would like to remember:

-photographing and making videos of Alex — I want to remember and capture as much as I can!

-remembering her really walking for the first time!

-remembering her saying her first word, ‘mamma!’

-remembering her first time to the pool!

-remembering her sweet kisses and hugs!

-remembering how she loves to play in her nursery and pull out all of her books, stuffed animals, and toys!

-remembering how Alex still loves to crawl all over us, like we are her ‘human jungle gym.’

-remembering our walks together around the neighborhood in her Bugaboo, which she loves!

-remembering how we say, “It’s time for sleepy time,” and then Alex makes the biggest smile!

-remembering how on most days Alex does not like to have her hair combed or brushed!

-watching her explore her environment — which has grown ten-fold for her because she is really on the move now, and I am not sure we are ready!

-watching her ride on her Daddy’s shoulders in the pool, which never gets old!

-watching her interact with Victory!

-greeting Alex in her nursery each morning, as she is ready to start her day early no matter whether it is a week day or morning!

-loving how she smells after her baths!

-loving how her hair is so fluffy and soft against my skin!  It keeps growing and growing and she is getting a little bit of wave and a little curl in her hair in the back!

-loving on her long, velvety and smooth body!

-loving her giggles!

-marveling at her smile — she has the most wonderful smile that melts our hearts, and now we can see all six of her teeth!

-admiring her eyes — they are the prettiest deep blue eyes I have ever seen!

-loving her long and lovely dark eye lashes!

-knowing on the days that I feel totally exhausted, that I will someday really miss these early days, and I need to remind myself, at times of this fact.  The daily exhaustion is improving, some.

-still asking myself what will I miss about this time of my life when it’s all gone?  This question keeps everything in perspective.

-most of all, we are cherishing getting to be Alex’s parents!

Doug and I are very grateful for our little girl and our little family!  We feel so fortunate and our hearts have grown so much since Alex’s arrival.  We look forward to seeing Alex’s little personality continue to develop and unfold.  Below are a few images: Alex’s monthly portrait; Alex and Victory’s monthly portrait; followed by photos of Alex throughout this month; and some iphone images during her eleventh month with us!  You can read our birth story along with viewing images from Alex’s birth here; you can read Alex’s one month snapshot here; her two month snapshot here; her three month snapshot here; her four month snapshot here; her five month snapshot here; her six month snapshot here; her seven month snapshot here; her eight month snapshot here; her nine month post here; and her ten month post here.

(The monthly photos are still tricky; Alex is in her laundry basket again this month because she kept walking away and trying to pet Victory who then began to also walk away!  I just have to find a way to capture Alex and Victory for one more month in order to make it to a year, chronicling this special year via this photo series!)

This month I have also been working hard on finishing further revisions on my long-term photography project with my mentor in between everything; and it is quite a bit of work keeping up with Alex’s monthly photos; printing of the images; creating her photo book for her first year; creating blog posts; and writing Promptly Journal entries.  However, this time will only happen once, and we want to record and remember it, so we are going to keep going with this process through the first year, where so many changes occur, sometimes seemingly over night!  I will always continue to photograph our little family to document our time together, but I am not, yet, sure how that will look for us after the first year with Alex!

 

 

See how much Alex has grown as compared to last month!

 

 

See how much Alex has grown as compared to last month!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few iphone images from this month!

 

 

 

Here is a video of Alex walking!

 

Here is a video of Alex at the pool for the first time!

 

Here is another video of Alex at the pool last week!

 

Here is another video of Alex at the pool last week!

Basic Phone Guidelines – Leading to Greater Fulfillment

 

I did not get my first cell phone until I was in my early twenties while in law school.  I did not get my first iphone until 2014, and we were likely the last ones of our peers to get an iphone/smart phone.  However, with the great convenience, the phone can be addictive at times, even with little time.  Here are some simple guidelines, shown below, which I have implemented, leading to greater joy and fulfillment.

Guideline #1: Be present with Alex, Doug, and Victory

The first guideline came about when Alex was born, when my life initially felt very disorienting with such a big change.  Every mom told me to enjoy my maternity leave and that the time with Alex would go by way too fast, which is very true.  I limited and continue to limit my iphone usage to be present, as this time only happens once with Alex and I do not want to miss it.  During the times I am with Alex, other than using my iphone to snap a few photos or take a few short videos, I put my phone away.  In fact, I learned my lesson as Alex recently got hold of my iphone and disabled it and put it in German!  Yikes!  She thinks the iphone and ipad are very captivating.  Also, when Doug and I actually get to spend some uninterrupted time together, we put the phones away, which is really nice and liberating.  Putting the phone away has really allowed me to focus on the moment and to be fully present.

Guideline #2: Be Bored from Time to Time

There is not a lot of time to be bored these days, but there are instances where it is really easy to grab the iphone and start checking email, social media, etc.  So, I try to let myself be bored from time to time.  Whenever I am waiting in a line, waiting for an appointment, or waiting for anything in general, my immediate compulsion is to take out my iphone and go through my email, social media, etc., which is what most others are doing as well.  During those moments of not being occupied by anything else, I see things and I take an opportunity to just rest and be.

Guideline #3: Have Fun and be Present on Vacations

During vacations, outside of taking some quick photos on the iphone, which is sometimes easier versus bringing out my camera, I severely limit my iphone use during vacations as well.  It really is a delightful break from everything and allows you to really enjoy your vacation and be present.

Guideline #4: Give My iphone an Early Bedtime in a Different Room

My final guideline is very life changing.  When I get ready for bed myself, in the evening, I put my phone away in my office and do not check it until the morning.  I find that it makes for much better sleep and a much needed break; and I usually try and read, edit photos, watch a TV show, or visit with Doug before bed.  I am previously guilty of getting sucked into looking at email and social media before bed, and before I knew it, an hour had passed, which I wasted.  Additionally, the light of our phones suppresses melatonin, which makes falling asleep more challenging, too.  Also, most mornings, Alex and Doug are usually my alarm clock to get up; and I actually have an alarm clock instead of relying on the phone’s alarm, in order to keep the phones out of the bedroom.

I hope these guidelines might help you!

Happy Tuesday!

Choosing Imperfection

 

Life has changed in so many ways from when I started this blog back in the winter of 2012.  Since Alex’s arrival, life has dramatically changed, for the better.  I am a “doer” and I like to get things done and off my to do list.  However, I cannot get through my to do list at the pace I used to, and do everything the way that I used to, before a little human entered our lives, who depends on us for literally everything.  This year, I have been embracing everything and taking nothing for granted as this time in our lives will only happen once.  So, instead of getting discouraged about not being able to get everything done the way I used to, I have shifted to “choosing imperfection.”  Some things get put off a little bit until we are able to get to them.  We still manage to get what we must get done, while taking care of Alex.  Doug and I work as a team, the best ever, because we have to rely on each other to do this life and take care of our girls; and it is working well.  We do have a really good intuitive feel of the other, so we just adjust and help each other.  We now also somewhat have a routine to our days, for the most part, with Alex, which makes things a bit more predictable, compared to the early days, thankfully.  However, everything takes so much more planning, coordination, and time, which we have become accustomed to now.  So, I choose to embrace the imperfection knowing that we have much less time to do things, everything takes longer, and life is overall more unpredictable than it used to be.  There are so many wonderful, fortuitous moments I have experienced with Alex and Victory, which I am so grateful, as I have had the fortunate opportunity to spend a lot of time with Alex during her first year.

Having Alex has really made me/us prioritize everything, and I use most pockets of time, when then come around, utilizing the Pomodoro Technique.  Not having much time has forced me to utilize the time I do have to its utmost, including trying to get more sleep and rest.  I think I am actually more productive than ever using less time.  We have also shed those things that were no longer serving us, as we just do not have the time!  I know, in a future season, there will be more time, but for now, we do the best that we can to be present.

Most of the time, I still feel scattered, as my mind constantly jumps from one thing to the next.  I suppose now, I am just more used to feeling like this.  As a result, I am constantly making lists and emailing myself reminders so that I will not forget things.  And, it always seems like we are in need of ordering something for either Alex and Victory!  Thank goodness we live in an age with the convenience of Amazon Prime, which is so nice!

We have also learned that it is really important to set aside date nights so we can actually visit and talk uninterrupted, as most days, especially during the week, there is not much time to visit, as we are off to bed early most nights, as our little Alex is ready to start her day very early the next morning!  We covet those times together.  We also have learned it is a necessity to have help.  We are so fortunate and grateful to have a wonderful teacher, care givers, and sitters for Alex!  We would be lost without them and we would be even more tired than we already are!

Most of all, life is good.  Time has taken on a whole new meaning — it does not move too fast or too slow.  It moves at the proper pace, allowing our hearts to hold more love than we ever knew possible.  I am so grateful to have Alex and our little family.  Our girls have changed me forever and I hope that I am a better person for it.  It has been so much fun witnessing our little Alex learning and figuring out how walk and to recently hear her say her first word!  She is coming into her own little person — she has her own little strong personality and she knows how she likes things; and she will always lets you know how she feels!  Life is really sweet and imperfectly beautiful!

“Being happy does not mean that everything is perfect.  It means you decided to look beyond the imperfections.”  — Unknown

Information: Adopting a Rescue Dog

This blog would never have existed if it has not been for our sweet dear Biscuit.  He changed our lives and he brought us our beloved Victory, who we absolutely adore, as well.  Doug and I cannot imagine our lives without a furry family member, and we will always choose to rescue a dog in honor of Biscuit and Victory.  However and importantly, we hope to not be in the position to rescue another dog for quite some time — we absolutely love our sweet Victory and we cannot ever imagine life without her.  Alex and Victory love each other, too, and I am so grateful that Alex gets to grow up with Victory!  Below are some ideas and considerations for those of you looking to possibly adopt a dog who truly needs a home.  I am also excited to share my long-term photography project, inspired by Biscuit, on the topic of dog rescue, hopefully in the near future.  The revisions are finally close to completion!

Start looking on Instagram or online: There are thousands of stray and abandoned dogs all over the country that need homes.  Looking at rescue organizations on Instagram or online will help provide a sense of the landscape of the rescue dogs available for adoption.  If you see some dogs you are interested in, you can usually meet them in person at regular adoption events.

Go straight to a shelter:  There are shelters all over the country where many dogs are available for adoption.  Shelters are usually the only open-admission facility, so space can be at a premium for these dogs.  As a result, some of these dogs are facing being euthanized, so remember that time is of the essence for these dogs.

Go straight to a rescue: There are also many dog rescue organizations all over the country.  There are breed specific dog rescues as well all over the country, especially if you have your heart set on a particular breed of dog.

Do not be swayed by the “cutest” dogs: Many times some of the more “sad” looking dogs just need to get cleaned up with a good bath and grooming along with receiving some much needed love.  Also, a lot of these dogs are in cages for the first time in their lives.  Thus, it is important to keep this in mind.  It also takes a while for these dogs to really come out of their shells.  This was the case for both Biscuit and Victory.  Once they knew they were in a safe environment, they both blossomed physically and emotionally.  Now, Victory and Alex literally run our household!  Doug and I are constantly providing ‘cherub care and support!’

Ask Questions:  When you are contemplating adopting a rescue dog, ask the shelter/rescue many questions.  For example, Are they good on a leash?  How do they respond to children?  How do they respond to strangers?  Do they enjoy being petted?  How do they react to other dogs?  Do they like to play?  Do they show any aggressive behavior(s)?  Do they respond differently to men versus women?  Ask anything that you believe is important for you to know.  Of course, after asking your questions, if you are interested, it is best to meet the potential rescue dog in person to see how you feel and connect with the dog.  Many times, people have told me that they just felt a connection with a particular rescue dog and knew that the particular rescue dog was meant to be adopted by them.  Or, alternatively, others have told me that a particular rescue dog  reminded them of another dog they lost.  It is all very interesting how animals come into our lives.

Consider a senior dog: Puppies, like babies, are a lot of work!  Older dogs have benefits because they are calmer and usually potty trained and socialized, depending upon the dog.  Many older dogs need homes and need people to take a chance on them.  Our beloved Biscuit was an older rescue dog, likely older than what we were told, but we had the best two-and-a-half years with him, and we would never trade our time with Biscuit for anything.

Prepare to sell yourself: Rescue organizations, in particular, will want to know your living situation: Who lives with you, and how old are they?  They will want to know your dog history, and if you have one, they may want to speak to your vet.  They will call references and ask if you have a plan to walk the dog while you work.  They are looking to see that you are not a fair-weather dog parent.  A good way to convey that you are not is to ask a lot questions.  Later there will likely be a home visit, at which point the rescue group will want to know how you will treat your new dog by asking you questions and providing possible scenarios to gauge your responses.

Prepare for your new rescue dog: It is important that you find a good vet that you like and trust; purchase a leash and the requisite dog gear for your new furry family member; consider pet insurance; register your new rescue dog with your local health department/government agency; and most of all, get ready for your life to change in a wonderful way!  You will save a dog’s life and in turn, your life will be equally enriched.

Most of all, I hope, that if you are interested in getting a dog, that you consider dog rescue!  Our sweet Victory and Alex are pictured together below!

 

Ten Month Snapshot: Alexandra

I cannot believe it is already time once again to do another post, Alex’s ten month blog post!  It has been a busy month, and it is not always easy to keep up with everything, but we are doing our best!  The theme this month, summed up in one word, is affection.  Alex is now giving us kisses and hugs regularly.  It is the sweetest — she crawls up on us and then stands up to get herself level with our faces and then she opens her mouth wide and then leans her lips onto our lips!  Then, she giggles and thinks it is just too funny.  She is giving us lots of hugs, too.  She can even ‘high five!’ and she can shake one’s hand as well.  She also really enjoys her story time.  As pictured below, in the evenings, Doug places her in her crib and then reads to her with Alex standing up, perched over her crib looking at the pictures.  Otherwise, if she is in our lap, when we read to her, she just wants to eat the books and grab all of the pages!  So, this has become a nightly ritual at bed time!

Alex likes her gated play area containing some of her toys, which we affectionately refer to as her ‘baby jail’ comprised of this gate and this play mat.  She loves to play with her toys, (she is really into balls right now and she is playing more with her toys instead of immediately putting the toys and everything in sight in her mouth), and she likes it even more when one of us plays with her, and she often demands one of us be with her playing!  If we are in a pinch, Victory will serve as her ‘play buddy’ in her ‘baby jail’ or in her nursery, buying us a little time to get some things done around the house.  Victory, fortunately, will cooperate!  Alex is still very aware and into Victory!  I think that Alex wishes that Victory would just sit still and literally play with her!  We are trying to teach Alex, as much as we can, to be gentle with her fur sister, Victory.  Hopefully, when Alex can understand more, she will be able to be a little more gentle with Victory.  Victory is not too keen on Alex ‘charging’ her, even though Alex means well.  Alex is currently learning what ‘no’ means.  Victory has been incredibly tolerant with Alex, which we are very thankful.  Alex is still growing like a weed and she was literally off the charts with her size when she was at her nine-month doctor’s appointment.  She is healthy, thankfully, and she is doing really well.  She had two more teeth crack through her gums this month, with more on the imminent way.   Alex is crawling all over and she really likes to and prefers to be standing vertical.  She is curious and loves to get into everything in sight!  She is balancing herself on her own more and for longer periods; and, just before Mother’s Day, Alex took her first step just before plopping down!  She literally seems to be moving right along.

Also, during this month, we celebrated our first Easter together, and it was fun.  Alex also had her first Easter Egg Hunt at her play school, which was fun, too — we helped her of course!  Both Alex and Victory got their own Easter baskets on Easter morning and they seemed to enjoy their Easter morning together!  We also just celebrated our first Mother’s Day as a family of four, which was really special!  Doug and I had a date night this month, which was nice.  We aim for one date night a month right now, if we are lucky!  Also, this month, Doug and I somehow finished getting our gardening and decks ready for the spring and summer months; and Alex and Victory are enjoy going out on the deck together overlooking their neighborhood!  Doug is also currently finishing some more baby proofing, which seems to never end!

We are looking forward to enjoying our spring and summer with Alex and Victory!  We cannot believe Alex turns one so soon!  This month has been full of some exciting changes and Alex will continue to keep us on our toes.  We love our girls and we are embracing it all, and we feel extremely blessed!

A few highlights from Alex’s tenth month include:

-she took her first step this month, which was exciting!

-she is standing and balancing herself more each day!

-she still loves crawling and getting into everything in sight!

-she is sleeping well in her crib in her sleep sack, while she is still getting up one time a night to eat most nights — we really hope to get her sleeping through the night soon, as we are very tired!

-she loves being with her fur sister, Victory, and loves when Victory joins her for a meal, while Alex eats in her high chair.  Alex creates lots of ‘droppings’ that Victory helps herself to!

-she is making lots of different sounds and she is getting louder with her sounds!  She still likes to laugh and giggle, too!

-she is very ticklish and she lets out the cutest giggles as a result!

-she still loves going for stroller rides outside!

-she loves her bed time routine and Doug usually plays with her, gets her ready for bed, and reads a few stories, which Alex loves!

-she likes bath time more and loves to splash in the water and play with her toys in the water!

-she is eating well and cheese was introduced this month, and she absolutely loves it, along with Victory, of course!

-she is still very alert, curious, and observant!  She still loves to interact with other kids and observe them!

 

A few highlights I would like to remember:

-photographing and making videos of Alex — I want to remember and capture as much as I can!

-remembering her taking her first step!

-remembering her sweet kisses and hugs!

-remembering her giving us some ‘high fives!’

-remembering how intrigued she is with my buttons on my clothing and necklaces that I wear.

-remembering how Alex likes to close her bedroom door continuously.

-remembering how Alex loves to crawl all over us, like we are her ‘human jungle gym.’

-remembering that she likes to have her back rubbed once we put her in her crib to help get her settled.

-remembering how she giggles so hard when she is tickled behind her ears!  She finds this hysterical!

-remembering our walks together around the neighborhood in her Bugaboo, which she loves!

-remembering how we say, “It’s time for sleepy time,” and then Alex makes the biggest smile!

-watching her explore her environment — which has grown ten-fold for her because she is really on the move!

-watching her ride on her Daddy’s shoulders, which never gets old!

-watching her try to chase Victory in order to try to grab/pet Victory’s fur!

-greeting Alex in her nursery each morning, as she is ready to start her day early no matter whether it is a week day or morning!

-loving how she smells after her baths!

-loving how her hair is so fluffy and soft against my skin!  It keeps growing and growing and she is getting a little bit of wave in her hair in the back!  It will be neat if she gets some curls, but we will have to see.

-loving on her long, velvety and smooth body!

-loving her giggles!

-marveling at her smile — she has the most wonderful smile that melts our hearts, and now we can see all six of her teeth!

-admiring her eyes — they are the prettiest deep blue eyes I have ever seen!

-loving her long and lovely dark eye lashes!

-knowing on the days that I feel totally exhausted, that I will someday really miss these early days, and I need to remind myself, at times of this fact.  The daily exhaustion is improving, some.

-still asking myself what will I miss about this time of my life when it’s all gone?  This question keeps everything in perspective.

-most of all, we are cherishing getting to be Alex’s parents!

Doug and I are very grateful for our little girl and our little family!  We feel so fortunate and our hearts have grown so much since Alex’s arrival.  We look forward to seeing Alex’s little personality continue to develop and unfold.  Below are a few images: Alex’s monthly portrait; Alex and Victory’s monthly portrait; followed by photos of Alex throughout this month; and some iphone images during her tenth month with us!  You can read our birth story along with viewing images from Alex’s birth here; you can read Alex’s one month snapshot here; her two month snapshot here; her three month snapshot here; her four month snapshot here; her five month snapshot here; her six month snapshot here; her seven month snapshot here; her eight month snapshot here; and her nine month post here.

(The monthly photos are still tricky; Alex is in her laundry basket again this month because she kept crawling away.  I just have to find a way to capture Alex and Victory for a couple more months in order to make it to a year, chronicling this special year via this photo series!)

This month I have also been working hard on further revisions on my long-term photography project with my mentor in between everything; and it is quite a bit of work keeping up with Alex’s monthly photos; printing of the images; creating her photo book for her first year; creating blog posts; and writing Promptly Journal entries.  However, this time will only happen once, and we want to record and remember it, so we are going to keep going with this process through the first year, where so many changes occur, sometimes seemingly over night!  I will always continue to photograph our little family to document our time together, but I am not, yet, sure how that will look for us after the first year with Alex!

 

 

See how much Alex has grown as compared to last month!

 

 

See how much Alex has grown as compared to last month!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few iphone images from this month!

(The images immediately shown below capture our first Mother’s Day together).

 

 

 

Thoughts: Mother’s Day

 

I cannot believe Mother’s Day is already upon us.  All mothers and mother figures deserve to be celebrated on Sunday.  Mothers that have been blessed with babies; mothers who’s babies left too soon; mothers who are waiting to meet their special baby; mothers who are yearning to become a mom; fur moms; and those who are mother figures.  We need all types of mothers to help us through this life.  The journey towards motherhood is not always freshly paved.  The path towards parenthood, for us, was filed with unexpected twists and turns, which made for a long and complicated journey.  There were previous Mother’s Days where our hearts ached after experiencing loss.  As a result, we are so very grateful for Alex and Victory and for this season together.  This is our first Mother’s Day as a family of four and my heart will never be the same.  I feel so thankful that I have the privilege of being a mom, which I never take for granted.  So wherever you are in your journey, you are worthy of every celebration held in your honor.  Happy Mother’s Day, to every type of mamma out there!

“In all the world, there is  no heart for me like yours.  In all the world, there is no love for you like mine.” — Maya Angelou