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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!

Is There a Word for This?

This winter and spring I have been busy making archival family photo yearbooks from 2018 through 2021, and I am just about done proofing them and getting them printed, a feat! And, as a result, I have been revisiting these past years and memories via viewing many photographs. There has been so much change in a relatively short amount of time. This exercise has made it very clear that as you watch your child grow, those past versions of him/her fade away, and that brings a certain heartbreak, I feel. It does not quite feel like nostalgia, but something else, but I am not quite sure of the word to describe this feeling. While we are so fortunate that our little girl is growing up and developing well, each year passing is both a gift and a theft. So we must truly enjoy each day, take nothing for granted, and truly be present in our lives, as the moments are all so fleeting. A few images of our girls together, over the years, are shown below.

The Empty Bucket

I love this passage from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book entitled, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. It really boils down to feeling your fear and anxiety, while creating your work, and moving forward, anyway. These words really resonated with me.

“Over the years of devotional work, though, I found that if I just stayed with the process and didn’t panic, I could pass safely through each stage of anxiety and on to the next level. I heartened myself with reminders that these fears were completely natural human reactions to interaction with the unknown. If I could convince myself that I was supposed to be there–that we are meant to engage with inspiration and that inspiration wants to work with us–then I could usually get through my emotional minefield without blowing myself up before the project was finished.

At such times, I could almost hear creativity talking to me while I spun off into fear and doubt.

Stay with me, it would say. Come back to me. Trust me.

I decided to trust it.

My single greatest expression of stubborn gladness has been the endurance of that trust.

A particularly elegant commentary on this instinct came from the Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, who said that–when one is learning how to write poetry–one should not expect it to be immediately good. The aspiring poet is constantly lowering a bucket only halfway down a well, coming up time and again with nothing but empty air. The frustration is immense. But you must keep doing it, anyway.

After many years of practice, Heaney explained, ‘the chain draws unexpectedly tight and you have dipped into waters that will continue to entice you back. You’ll have broken the skin on the pool of yourself.'”

A Silver Lining of the Pandemic

How are you doing these days? The news is heavy.  Reports from Ukraine are horrifying, and the pandemic rages on, while so many people are suffering in this world.

The pandemic has definitely had it challenges, and it has especially had a toll and great impact on parents and children. Despite all of the challenges, I have been fortunate to be able to spend more time with our rescue sheltie, Victory! Victory and I have spent the most time together out of everyone in our little family over these past two plus years, and it has truly been a gift. I never take the time we have with Victory for granted, and it has been so wonderful to have her with me, each day, sitting under my desk while I work, a trusted companion, who is always on the look out for treats. I always look forward to our cuddles during the day! It has also been helpful to be able to walk her and take her potty as many times as she needs, without relying on a neighbor or dog walker, especially since she is prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs). And, since the weather is finally feeling spring like and it is now officially spring, thank goodness, I have been able to take her for rides in her Hound About, and it has been great, she loves it, and I love seeing her big smile!

Being home more, due to the pandemic, I have certainly had my share of cabin fever, especially during the cold winter months, so we are sure to get Victory out and about as much as we can, which she loves! I will always cherish this special time time together. And, as a byproduct of the pandemic, our fur girl, has come out of her shell even more in her senior years, which has been wonderful to witness. Victory has been more flexible, even letting Alex taker her on walks; and Victory is now jumping into Alex’s big girl bed at night for story time, while Doug reads his girls Curious George books! She literally has found her ‘inner-puppy’ later in life! I am so grateful for our beloved and precious fur girl!

Inspiring Kids to Play on Their Own

I have read many articles that say that boredom is good for kids. And I agree — being constantly entertained is not realistic or even fun. When Alex has time on her own, she often falls into a zone that is happy and engaged. But sometimes she still cannot quite get there and seem restless and ends up saying, “Mommy, can I have your phone to watch a song?” or “I’m super hungry.” So, I was grateful to learn this tip…

I always figured that the experts who recommended boredom just let their children loose in their homes and said, “Goodbye and good luck,” and trusted they would find something to play with. Maybe so? But Alex sometimes needs a little help getting started.

Then, recently, I read this article about how to help little ones “enjoy pottering.” I was most interested in how the author suggested putting basic materials around the home to help inspire imaginative play.

Parents do have a role… children need the adults around them to understand that creating their own pastimes requires space, time and the possibility of making a mess (within limits – and to be cleared up afterwards by the children themselves).

They will need some materials too, but these need not be sophisticated – simple things are often more versatile. We’ve all heard of the toddler ignoring the expensive present and playing with the box it came in instead. For older children, a magnifying glass, some planks of wood, a basket of wool, and so on, might be the start of many happily occupied hours…

If a child has run out of ideas, giving them some kind of challenge can prompt them to continue to amuse themselves imaginatively. This could range from asking them to find out what kind of food their toy dinosaurs enjoy in the garden to going off and creating a picture story with some friends and a digital camera.

Nowadays, at home, we try to help Alex by having just a few simple imaginative toys out and visible along with some (washable) art supplies. Alex loves playing vet and dress up! Most all of her patients either have a fever or a broken bone, and she does a good job treating her patients. And, Alex loves making her art, and she usually sings a song while she makes her art, which we proudly display in our home! And she has recently been decorating envelopes and cards to send out, which are decorated with her stamps, stickers, and coloring, and people love getting them in the mail!

What imaginative toys/materials do you like? Legos and Magna-Tiles are a hot ticket in our house these days.