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We Are Back!

We are back! This was the longest break I have ever taken on the blog in 10 years! It was a much needed sabbatical; however, I did really miss writing in this little space, and it feels like now is the right time to return. And, I cannot believe it is already officially fall, our very favorite season! We have a lot of fun activities planned, this fall, including: celebrating Victory’s eleventh birthday; seeing the Van Gough Exhibit: Immersive Experience; going to the pumpkin patch; picking apples; celebrating fourteen years of marriage; visiting with friends; celebrating Halloween; and hosting Thanksgiving!

During my time away from the blog, I was able work on catching up on my photo editing, which I always seem to be playing catch up, and I am still currently playing catch up in this area, always! I was able to create family yearbooks from 2018 through 2021, along with creating a book containing Alex’s pre-school art! (Prior to this, I printed my favorite family photos, but I have so many, it was getting difficult to manage, so I decided it might be better to make archival, high quality photo books. I still print my favorite images to frame.) Alex loves creating art, and it was my way of capturing her art forever, and encouraging her to continue her creative projects, which she very much enjoys! She is still hard at work making her lovely cards and sending them out to friends and family! It was very gratifying to get these books finished and printed, and I plan to make a family yearbook for each subsequent year! And, I plan to continue to make books containing Alex’s artwork, a nice keepsake! It is my way of creating a legacy for our little family.

We spent a lot of time at the pool this summer; Alex is swimming, on her own, which is so great! She is a little fish in the water! She was very determined to swim on her own! She wants to continue swimming so we are joining an indoor pool. Alex also continues her horse riding lessons, and she enjoys the horse she is learning to ride named, “Storm,” which she affectionately refers to him as, “Stormy!” We have brought Victory with us a few times, and she loves the horses as well! Alex is trotting now, which is great progress!

We celebrated Alex’s birthday, and I cannot believe she is four, already! Since she turned one, it was the first time we were able to do a formal birthday party with family and friends due to the pandemic! It was great fun, which included face painting and a rainbow science show!

We went away to the beach for vacation, and it was really a nice time away, and we rented a different house this year, and it was perfect! Both of our girls love the beach so very much! We also took a trip to Michigan this summer as well, and we all survived the long drive! We had a lot of fun together! Alex is looking forward to flying on an airplane again later this year!

This fall, Alex started a new school, and she is transitioning well. It has been a big adjustment for everyone, attending an elementary school, but she continues to enjoy learning and she is so very curious, and I hope she never loses her curiosity and love of learning! Victory goes with us every morning for school drop off, it is so great, and we are so grateful for Victory’s good health, as she just had a wellness exam at the vet.

I hope that you had a great summer and that you are enjoying the cooler fall weather!

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall” —F. Scott Fitzgerald

Gone Fishing. . .

I hope that your spring is going well! We have been doing a lot of swimming; and Alex has been doing horse riding, which she loves. Victory just got over her urinary tract infection (UTI), thankfully, and she is doing well. I feel like the days are going by way too quickly.

I am taking a break from the blog for a couple weeks to see family; soak up our days together; rejuvenate; and to catch up on some photo editing, as it has been so busy lately. I want to thank you, as always, for being here. 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. 

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

Alex Related posts

Happy almost summer!

Summer Bucket List

Last year, I did our summer check list for the first time, and I am doing our summer bucket list this year. It is super, super hot outside here! It feels like summer. We spent the past several days at the pool, and Alex has loved every minute of it, especially diving for her rings and sharks!

So, on our bucket list is the following for this summer…

Swim. Enjoy a lot of swimming time at the pool together.

Play more games. Alex likes playing games, for the most part, and we are building her resilience as she does not like to lose, so we are working on building this ‘muscle’ with her. So we hope to play more family games such as Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and Bingo!

Grill more food. Doug is a really good cook, and we hope to use our Big Green Egg, more this summer, to enjoy more grilled foods!

Go fruit picking. We are going to pick strawberries soon, at a local farm, and we hope to pick some other fruits this summer. Alex loves fruit!

Go to the beach. We plan to take a trip to the beach, and Alex and Victory also love the beach, and we always have great memories together!

Visit Family. We plan to visit family this summer, which will be fun.

Do Fireworks. We plan to take a short trip to Pennsylvania to get some child-friendly fireworks for the Fourth of July!

Celebrate Alex’s Birthday. Alex has been unable to have a proper birthday party since she turned one, due to COVID, and she is very excited to have a birthday party this year, a rainbow themed party!

Go to Dutch Wonderland. Alex is quite tall, and she is excited to really enjoy her first theme park this summer, as she can get on most all the rides now!

Building in more down time. I literally feel like the time is flying by way too fast, and, at times, it is hard to keep up with. Sometimes, there is so much going on, that we do not plan enough down time, and I plan to do better about planning down time together.

Victory’s Bedtime Routine

Our fur girl, Victory, has a urinary tract infection (UTI). Thankfully, she is on an antibiotic, that seems to be working. Victory is integral to our bedtime routine in the evenings. We typically turn Alex’s bed down and Victory happily hops onto Alex’s bed and waits for Alex to finish her bath and getting ready for bed. After Alex’s bath, we have been reading and playing games like Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, and Bingo. Victory stays on the bed, during this time, and she occasionally gets off to get some treats, which we keep in Alex’s room. Alex has a butterfly pillow that she shares with Victory so that she can put her head down on it to rest, she’s so thoughtful! Victory and Alex usually play together, and Victory is so tolerant. Right before bed, Alex and I usually cuddle and talk, Alex is a pro at stretching out her bedtime, so she does not have to go to bed, and Victory stays with us until Alex gets into bed. We feel so grateful for Victory! She is a great fur sister, and our bedtime routine will never be the same without her!

Here is a video our girls together before bed.

Allow Something Every Day

I loved this excerpt from Lisa Congdon, which you might find inspiring, too!

“As human beings, we like to control things. It’s in our nature. But having to control everything all the time ultimately zaps our energy and causes anxiety, because it is simply not possible all of the time. So much of our stress is caused by wanting everything to go a certain way. That can be exhausting! Since the opposite of control is allowing, it can be helpful to consciously allow at least one thing every day. For example, allowing your day to unfold in a way you did not expect (which might also mean not finishing everything on your to-do list). Or allowing someone to have feelings or reactions you wish they didn’t have without having to fix them. Or allowing yourself to have painful feelings without burying them. Allowing requires surrender and a certain trust that everything will work out, which is tough. But when we consciously allow in moments where we feel a tight hold, peace settles in.”

Presidential Medal: Patron the Bomb Sniffing Dog

Have you recently heard about this tiny Jack Russell terrier that has won hearts and admirers for helping neutralize hundreds of Russian explosives in Ukraine? He has even won state honors, too.

Patron the bomb-sniffing dog — and his owner, Mykhailo Iliev of the Civil Protection Service— received a medal from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a news conference on Sunday, in recognition of their service to the country.

Patron, whose name means “ammo” in Ukrainian, is credited with detecting more than 200 undetonated explosive devices since the beginning of the war in late February, according to Reuters.

With his powerful snout and protective vest, Patron has become a fixture of Ukraine’s official social media channels and an international symbol of patriotism. He’s even inspired an outpouring of fan art in the form of illustrations (ranging from poignant to tongue-in-cheek) and knit plushies. His official Instagram page has more than 240,000 followers.

Zelenskyy handed out the award at a news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Kyiv, as Patron barked and wagged his tail enthusiastically. At one point, Trudeau laughed and pretended to check his pockets for treats. This is such a neat story, and you can watch the ceremony here.

Patron poses at an award ceremony in Kyiv, Ukraine on Sunday. The Jack Russell terrier is credited with detecting more than 200 Russian explosive devices since the start of the war. Photo Credit: Efrem Lukatsky/AP.

Loving: Spring 2022

1. Patchology Restoring Night Gels  — I love these Patchology night gels. They contain a dose of anti aging Retinol and Peptides to reduce wrinkles. They are very soothing, and I love them!

2. ILIA Serum Foundation — I came across this new line of makeup, ILIA, and I love it! The serum foundation is so wonderful, and it goes on so easily and it does not feel like you are wearing anything on your face; plus, it is a clean makeup. I highly recommend this makeup line!

3. Fromm Wet Dog Food — Victory loves this dog food, which we use in conjunction with her kibble. We have used it for years, and the quality of this food is excellent as well.

4. Minnow Swim Swim Suit — Alex loves these swim suits! They come in unique designs and cuts, and they hold up pretty well for a busy little girl!

5. The Power of Showing Up — This is an excellent book for any parent, especially of young children. I loved this book. I learned how important and crucial is is for parents to consistently show up meaningfully in their child’s life. And the research suggests that this is one of the best predictors for how a child turns out in terms of happiness, academic success, leadership skills, and meaningful relationships. Ultimately, this book is a wonderful guide to cultivating your child’s healthy emotional landscape and wiring.

6. Hanna Andersson Dress  — Alex’s favorite color is orange, and we love Hanna Andersson’s clothing! So, this was a perfect match! The fabric is light and airy and comfortable for enjoying play time!

You can view other things I love here!

Favorite Dog Quotes

Below are several quotes about lessons learned from our dogs. Victory is an integral part of our family and she goes with us everywhere and we are so blessed she is in our lives. She has taught me so much about life, one of my greatest teachers. And, Alex is learning greatly about love and animals through her experiences with Victory.

“We try to teach our dogs new tricks when there’s so much we can learn from them.” —Robert Coane

“Dogs are how people would be if the important stuff is all that mattered to us.” —Ashly Lorenzana

“If I could be half the person my dog is, I’d be twice the human I am.” —Charles Yu

“Everything I know, I learned from dogs.” —Nora Roberts

“No animal I know of can consistently be more of a friend and companion than a dog.” —Stanley Leinwoll

“Dogs. They are better than human beings because they know but they do not tell.” —Emily Dickenson

“Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love. They depart to teach us about loss. New dogs can never replace a former one — they merely expand the heart. If you have loved many dogs, your heart is very big.” —Author Unknown

“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” —M.K. Clinton

“Every once in a while a puppy enters your life and changes everything.” —Author Unknown

“I am convinced that petting a puppy is good luck.” —Meg Donohue

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace.” —Milan Kundera

“The dog has an absolutely uncanny knack of knowing what we are thinking, even of what we are feeling.” —Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald

“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.” —Dean Koontz

“In a perfect world, every dog would have a home and every home would have a dog.” —Author Unknown

“One could say that dogs see the world faster than we do, but what they really do is see just a bit more world in every second.” —Alexandra Horowitz

“When the world around me is going crazy and I am losing faith in humanity, I just have to take one look at my dog to know that good still exists.” —Author Unknown

“Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses.” —Elizabeth Taylor

“If I had a dollar for every time my dog made me smile, I would be a millionaire.” —Author Unknown

“Before you get a dog, you can’t quite imagine what living with one might be like; afterward, you can’t imagine living any other way.” —Caroline Knapp

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.” —Gilda Radner

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” —Josh Billings

Snapshot: Winter 2022

I know this blog post is a little late; however, I do my best to keep up with the editing our family images, which is not always so easy with everything going on! This winter felt a little long, at times, and we are so happy for the arrival of spring days that we have recently experienced, here and there! I think we are all ready to spend even more time outside in warmer temperatures!

This winter, we had a nice trip to Michigan for Christmas, and Alex had a great time visiting family! She also tried ice skating, while in Michigan, for the first time, but she was not a fan, and we may try again when she gets a little older. (This has been the first activity Alex has not liked, to date!) We spent as much time as we could outside this winter, and we enjoyed the snow and sledding! Alex and Victory had a nice Valentine’s Day together! And, right after Valentine’s Day, Alex moved into her new twin bed and we gave her bedroom a little facelift. Alex and Victory love story time together, in the evenings, in Alex’s new bed, with their Daddy! We also took a trip to the National Aquarium and the Maryland Zoo, with friends, which Alex loved, as she loves animals! Alex has been enjoying her time outside, on nice days, riding her scooter and playing with her new favorite rainbow ball! Alex loves rainbows! Alex also had her first manicure and pedicure in her favorite color, orange, at the spa! It was so fun! And, as of this winter, Alex is back in gymnastics class and she is also back on her horse. She is doing well in gymnastics; and she is doing really well and learning more how to use the reins to steer the horse, and she is riding on her own now! We are so proud of her progress!

A few images from this past winter is shown below!

(Look at the change! The second Christmas, Alex would not take a photo in front of our tree, so we have one with Santa that year!)

Here is Alex riding Storm!

Sending Art to Friends and Family!

Our sweet Alex has been busy at work making her art and sending it out to friends and family! She has been sending out a couple cards with her art work each week! Everyone has enjoyed receiving Alex’s art in the mail, and they send me photos, some are shown below, to share with Alex about displaying her art, which she loves! She decorates all of her envelopes with stamps and stickers! And, it seems, most all of her stickers have made it thought the mail in tact! I love that Alex loves sending cards as much as I do. I keep cards on hand for her to use, she loves picking cards out at the store, and Alex always comes to me with a new piece of her art and lets me know who she wants to send it to, and I address the envelopes for her, and then Alex works all of her decorating magic on the envelopes! It has been a lot of fun, while simultaneously making others pleasantly surprised and happy, too! And, Alex’s favorite part is placing the finished works in the mail all by herself! Then, Alex usually says to me, “Mommy, she is just going to love getting my card and art in the mail!” And, she is right, people are delighted!

I cannot believe we are in mid-April, already! The time is flying much too quickly! Wishing you a Happy Easter! Alex is so excited for the Easter Bunny to come visit her, and she is looking forward to her egg hunts!