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Posts from the ‘Personal’ Category

How Will You Stay Cheerful this Winter?

The other day, I was talking with Doug, and we noticed that you can really feel it in the air that winter is approaching. It feels like it will be a long and dark winter this year. During COVID-19, we have had the luxury of pretty good weather, for the most part, which has allowed us to be outside for a good bit of time. We have recently ordered new winter coats, gloves, and hats, for everyone, as going outside with Alex (and Victory) will really be our only outlet for activity, outside our home, due to COVID-19.

Since we do not feel comfortable being indoors outside of our home, this winter will test our limits and force us to become really creative. Here are a few ideas to help get through the winter, outlined below.

1. Take a steaming bath.  During the colder months, I take a bath just to warm my body — and then another one before bed. I love this bubble bath.

2. Light candles everywhere. Keep candles flickering in your bedroom, living room, home office, and dinner table, whether they are scented numbers or classic tapers. Since we are home much more, I always have candles burning, and I especially love these.

3. Host a virtual group. My friends and I have been doing Zoom and FaceTime, since we are not able to get together in person due to COVID. It is a nice way to actually see and catch up with friends and family, and it is usually fairly easy to find a time that works for everyone.

4. Walk, walk, walk. It is amazing how moving your body actually makes you feel better, even when you initially don’t feel up for it! I try to walk either outside or on our Peloton tread most days, and it really makes a difference in how I feel.

5. Keep an open mind. During this time, it is amazing how flexible and open you must become. So, staying flexible makes everything easier versus resisting.

What else do you do to keep your spirits up? What’s your winter vision? Please share any tips below!

Snapshot: Fall 2020

It has been a busy fall here, despite COVID-19. We have been taking advantage of the fall weather to get out and about, in a safe manner, before it gets too cold and winter really sets in! And, I am doing my best to stay on top of editing our photos, which is not so easy, but it will be my gift to Alex someday.

Alex got a new balance bike as a gift, this fall, from her Grandma and Grandpa, which she enjoys! We also got her a big wheel type bike, which she can peddle. Alex is a very active little girl! We are doing yoga with her, which she throughly enjoys, and she does a great downward dog!

We made multiple trips to the Maryland Zoo and the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve, which Alex loves! She greatly enjoys seeing and naming the animals, and she especially loves feeding the animals! Now, when we read her books, she tells us all the animals she has seen at the zoo! We also went to the apple orchard to pick apples, which Alex enjoyed! We took Alex back to the petting farm, and she enjoyed all of the animals and activities, including riding a horse! We, of course, went to the pumpkin patch, and annual tradition, with our fur girl, Victory! We also took the girls, recently, to a contactless dinosaur exhibit, which was a great hit with Alex, and it was so fun to bring Victory with us, too!

Additionally, this fall, Doug designed and built a custom train table to run his Lionel trains! He did a great job! It has been a long-awaited goal, which has, finally, come to fruition! Doug can continue to share his love of trains with Alex!

We also celebrated Victory’s ninth birthday! We celebrated Halloween with the girls, and they were matching Crayola red crayons! Doug carved our annual Halloween pumpkin, and Alex did “contactless trick-or-treating” in our neighborhood! She walked for two hours straight! She was a trooper! Alex had no idea what she was finding, the candy at the houses, which we tossed when we got home! She had fun on her Halloween scavenger hunt, nonetheless!

I cannot believe it is the end of November already! Doug is cooking our Thanksgiving dinner — I am sure Alex will help prepare our dinner, which she affectionately refers to as “cookin!” Over Thanksgiving, we are planning to also put up and decorate our Christmas tree, including putting up other Holiday decorations! Alex is learning about Christmas, so this is our first Christmas together where she is beginning to understand this concept! We got advent calendars for both of our girls: one is filled with little pieces of chocolate; and the other contains little dog treats! So, I know that will be a hit with the girls next month as they count down to Christmas!

Alex is changing all of the time, and it is amazing to witness! She is becoming an independent little girl who is dressing herself and putting on her shoes and coat all by herself! Alex and Victory are each living their best life! We hope that you have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving! We are grateful for our many blessings, even though things look and feel a lot different this year.

A few photos from our fall are shown below!

Happy Halloween from our Crayola red crayons!

Happy Halloween!  I cannot believe how quickly the time is flying by that it is already time for Halloween, one of our favorite times of the year!  We love the fall season!  It is Alex’s third Halloween!  Victory is a Crayola red crayon this year for Halloween along with her little sister, Alex, shown below!  We think they look pretty adorable!  Victory (along with Alex) was Super Woman last year; a unicorn (with Alex) two years ago; Wonder Woman three years ago; a fifties girl four years ago; a lioness five years ago; a butterfly six years ago; and a ladybug for her first Halloween, seven years ago.

(It is still somewhat tricky to get the girls to sit together; and everyone’s patience was at capacity, as we took these photos after celebrating Victory’s birthday! I did my best, shown below!)

Doug spent roughly five hours, the other day, so earnestly working on carving our Halloween pumpkin, featuring a ghost trick-or-treater in honor of Alex and Victory!  He did a wonderful job! A short video of our lit carved pumpkin is also shown below.  A few photos are shown below of the girls with the pumpkin Doug diligently carved! 

Additionally, here are links to other pumpkins carved by Doug: last yeartwo years agothree years agofour years agofive years agosix years agoseven years ago; and eight years ago!

Alex has greatly enjoyed going on daily walks (and drives) spotting pumpkins, which she affectionately refers to as “punkies!”

Here is a short video of the lit pumpkin Doug carved for us this year!

We hope that you all have a wonderful and safe Halloween!

Since this has been a trying time for kids, during COVID-19, we believe Halloween is an opportunity to celebrate since it takes place outside. We plan to set out candy and take Alex trick-or-treating, weather permitting!

Here is a look back at Victory and Alex over the years on Halloween!

Twelve Years In

12 years of marriage.  16 years together.  2 years of parenting a little human together. You are my favorite human being. You are always by my side, and supportive through everything.  You are the greatest gift of my life, and each day spent with you is truly a gift.  I look forward to many, many more years together, knowing that we can get through anything together, as a team, which has definitely been the case during this very different year we have experienced. Most of all, I have enjoyed witnessing you become an incredible Daddy to our girls! We are so blessed.  I am truly grateful for you. Happy twelfth anniversary!

Snapshot: Summer 2020

I took a break from the blog this summer to spend time with our little family and to complete my proposal for my photography project and finish the copyright process, which are done, finally, after much work!

Fall is here, one of our favorite seasons, which we are fully embracing before the winter sets in. Even though we are in the time of COVID-19, we did our best to make things as normal as possible for Alex (and Victory) this summer. We enjoyed a lot of time together at the outdoor pool, and Alex still has the tan lines from her swim suits to prove it! Alex loves the water and she can even tread on her own for a few seconds; she is a pro at maneuvering all over the pool on her buoy; she loves jumping into the water; and, by the end of the summer, she was wearing her speedo goggles! Alex is fearless and she will be swimming on her own in no time! This summer Alex also acquired two Big Joe floats: an angel fish and a frog, which we affectionately named, “Big Joe” and “Froggie Joe,” respectively! We were so grateful our pool opened, albeit late, but it opened, with safety rules, as we were desperate for safe activities for Alex during this strange time! We also went to a variety of parks with Alex; and, to close out the summer, we took Alex go-carting, which she loved! We have a lot of good memories from this summer, despite COVID-19. It is definitely a summer I will never forget for many reasons. A few photos from our summer are shown below!

Gone Fishing . . .

 

I am taking a break from the blog for the remainder of the summer to soak up our days together; rejuvenate; and continue working on completing the final step of my photography project!  I plan to be back, to the blog, sometime this fall.  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 break for rest and rejuvenation, I hope you find periods of rest for yourself as well.  Stay safe.

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 Summer!

 

Twenty Three Month and Twenty Fourth Month Snapshot: Alexandra

I completed the monthly snapshots of our beloved Alex during her first year.  Here is the snapshot of Alex’s twenty third month and twenty fourth month!  Alex is two, already!  We cannot believe it!  (You can view Alex’s thirteenth and fourteenth months here; Alex’s fifteenth and sixteenth months here; Alex’s seventeenth and eighteenth months here; Alex’s nineteenth and twentieth months here; and Alex’s twenty first and twenty second months here).

“You will never have this day with your children again.  Tomorrow, they will be a little bigger than they are today.  This day is a gift.  Breathe and notice.  Smell and touch them.  Study their faces and little feet and pay attention.  Relish the charms of the present.  Enjoy today.  It will be over before you know it.” — Jen Hatmaker

This above quote is so true.  Our time with Alex is flying by.  Babies do not keep — Alex is turning into a little girl before our eyes.  This year has been really fun with Alex, and we have done our best to keep things as normal as possible for her during this time, as the last third of her second year has been impacted by COVID.  However, COVID has not stopped Alex.  She loves her books, and she goes to sleep with them and she wakes up with them in her crib.  She is still very curious about everything!  I think her favorite phrases are, “Help please,” and “What’s that?”  She has a big personality and is so strong in every way!  This spring we got rid of Alex’s paci, for good, cold turkey, after making it through quarantine/lock down!  For the first week, she would say, to us, “Where’s ‘pat pat!’  We told her that ‘pat pat’ went to help another child.  Then, she seemed to have forgotten about it, thankfully!  She also got her first hair trim this spring, and I kept a few locks of her hair for her Promptly Journal, which I do my best to keep up with.  Alex also loves to pick out her clothes, socks, and shoes each morning!  Alex’s car seats are now forward facing, and she seems to enjoy her car rides more, as a result, along with having more space for her legs and feet!  We also are transitioning her to the Stokke chair, as she is getting too big for her high chair.  She is also, currently, cutting her two-year molars, which is no fun.  We were able to get her into the dentist this month, as her spring appointment was rescheduled due to COVID.  She did fairly well, and her teeth are looking good, thank goodness, and I hope she got Doug’s teeth and not mine!  Before we know it, she will have all 20 of her baby teeth!  We have her two-year doctor’s appointment coming up — I am sure she will be off the charts, again, with her measurements!  We are already transitioning into size seven Pampers!

This spring, we got a small pool as our pool was not open, and Alex loves to play in it!  However, our pool did open late, with many restrictions and limitations, due to COVID.  Alex loves going to the pool — she has absolutely no fear of the water!  She is a little fish!  (A few videos of her in the pool are shown below!)  So, we get Alex to the pool several times a week, to take advantage of this time, so she can do some swimming, and we recently even got her to wear her goggles for a period of time.  She is learning to tread water a bit, currently, and she loves to jump in the pool!  Alex also really loves music, and she especially loves to dance to music, which she asks us to put on for her everyday!  This is still her favorite song, which we listen to daily!  She also loves art, especially painting!  She also loves to build with her Legos and Magna-Tiles with her Dada!  But her favorite thing to do is to look at books and spot objects, letters, numbers, and colors, etc.  She is recognizing more colors, letters, and objects everyday it seems!

Additionally, we celebrated Father’s Day at the end of June at home!  Doug set up Alex’s pool that day, and we all had fun!  Alex loved opening Doug’s Father’s Day gift we picked out for him, of course!  We also celebrated the Fourth of July at home.  Doug got Alex some sparklers, but they were not a big hit with Alex this year.  During this time, on these hot summer days, we have enjoyed taking the girls to get ice cream at Vaccaro’s and Rita’s, which they both truly love (and we eat our ice cream together in the car)!

Importantly, during this time, we celebrated Alex’s second birthday!  We cannot believe she is two-years-old, already!  It was quite a journey to parenthood, so we will always celebrate Alex’s birthday, as it is a very special day for us!  This year, due to COVID, we had Alex’s birthday celebration at home with the four of us followed by a trip to the pool, and take out for dinner!  Alex had a great day and we all had a nice time together!  She loved her rose cupcake we got her, as she ate it all up!  We had Alex’s second birthday cake, a butterfly cake, made at the same place as last year, on a smaller scale.  And, we also got Victory an unfrosted vanilla cupcake, which she loved, too!  (We were supposed to be on vacation this past week, over Alex’s birthday; perhaps, we can try again next year.)  And, we just finished putting all of the magnets on our fridge capturing Alex’s second year!

Alex is her own little person, and the time is going by so quickly, especially this second year.  Even though this pandemic is awful, it has been nice to have this period of time together that we would not have otherwise.  Alex is changing all of the time.  My favorite time of the day is putting her to bed at night after she is done playing.  We sit together in the glider and read books, and she spots letters, colors, and objects.  Then, she will cuddle before I put her in her crib.  I know this time will pass, but it is simply the best holding her in my arms, with her head pressed against my chest and I can feel her smooth, soft skin along with her damp curly hair.  I know one day, she will be too big for this, so I savor our present.

We are so grateful for this journey.  We are incredibly fortunate that we get to be Alex’s parents — it is the best job ever!  She is a bright, beautiful, amazing little girl!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few iphone images from Alex’s twenty third month!

 

 

Here is a video from Alex’s twenty third month — Alex watering our plants!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s twenty third month — Alex swinging!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s twenty third month — Alex and Doug talking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some iphone images from Alex’s second birthday celebration!

 

 

 

 

There has been so much change in a year’s time!

 

 

 

Here we all are at age two!

 

 

Here is a video from Alex’s twenty fourth month, her second birthday — Alex on her birthday surprised with her gifts!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s twenty fourth month, her second birthday — Alex and Victory together on Alex’s birthday — Alex feeding Victory treats!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s twenty fourth month, her second birthday — Alex having her cupcake on her birthday (she was not a fan of the candles lit!)

 

A few iphone images from Alex’s twenty fourth month!

 

 

 

Here is a video from Alex’s twenty fourth month — Alex swinging on a bar with all of her strength!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s twenty fourth month — Alex swimming with no fear!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s twenty fourth month — Alex jumping into the deep end of the pool!

What’s Bringing You Joy Right Now?

 

Due to COVID, this summer looks a bit different than past summers.  Presently, we are enjoying the pool that Doug set up for Alex, on Father’s Day, as our neighborhood pool has been closed, including the pool where Alex took her swimming lessons prior to COVID.  So, we are making due with this pool, for now; and, fortunately, Alex really loves it!  She especially loves getting in and out of the pool, while playing with her toys!  It entertains her for hours, which is so great!  And, it is even big enough for her to lay down on her tummy and move around the little pool!  So, we are enjoying the small things together.  Due to COVID, we have all been home, together, and we have all bonded even more.  Alex really loves her Dada, who is her favorite person right now, who she wakes up asking for, who plays with Alex for hours and reads all of Alex’s book requests on demand!  During these challenging times, these little things matter more than ever.

What have your silver linings been these days?  What has brought you moments of joy?

How Have You Been?

How have you been?  So much is really happening in our world right now.  It is really unbelievable.

I cannot believe summer is already officially upon us.  It is going to be a really different summer for us as we continue to navigate our way through this unchartered time we all find ourselves in presently.  This time is much different than our ‘normal.’  This summer there will likely be no trips, trips to the pool, play dates, or regular outings and activities.  Despite this, there have been gifts during this time as well.  Time has taken on a whole new meaning.  We no longer rush around; and we have all had time together that ordinarily would have never happened, given the circumstances.  I have also been able to finish my project and proposal during this time, which has felt like an enormous feat.  A lot of growth has occurred, even on days where we feel so exhausted juggling everything.  We have had the opportunity to witness Alex’s growth — she is growing like a weed and changing daily.  (We have also had the opportunity to work on listening, with Alex!  She loves to do everything on her terms with Mama and Dada!)  She is turning into a little girl, and I cannot believe she is turning two so soon!  She is so strong in every sense of the word.  Her name suits her well, we have found!

We did, however, have our first dinner out recently, while trying to figure out how to be as normal as we can, while being safe.  We did a picnic in the parking lot at Victory’s favorite BBQ place!  Victory was in great need of a morale boost!  It definitely has been a change for her as well!  We packed up the car, along with Alex’s high chair, and chairs for us, and we all had a great time together!  We have done lots of ice cream trips with the girls as well, which Victory really loves!  We are making the best of things, even though we do miss the ordinary spring/summer days we had prior to this virus.  Each day really is a gift.  I will never forget this time; and we will continue to persevere.

“All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike.” — Maya Angelou

 

Some Happy News…

I have some happy news . . . I finally finished my long-term dog photography project after seven years of work, including a year of revisions!  I am very elated to have finished this body of work inspired by our sweet dear Biscuit, who changed my life forever.  It is just a feat to finish.  It was one of the hardest endeavors I have ever undertaken.  There were so many times I thought I would never finish; many times where I encountered problems that I had to figure out and resolve; many times I experienced intense fear; many times I felt like my revisions would never end; and there were many times where the path felt uncertain.  However, my desire to finish this body of work outweighed everything else, and I really learned to trust the process and journey.  I, ultimately, learned to have blind faith through this process.  I am ecstatic to be on the other side, which, often times, felt like I would never reach this point, during this process.  I learned so much about myself during this process, while seeing this project though to the end, through think and thin, which is the only way to make dreams happen.  (I previously wrote a blog post about what I learned during this creative endeavor, here.)  I am really proud of this body of work, and I hope that it will positively impact others; and, importantly, helps other dogs like Biscuit and Victory.  My blad and proposal are nearly complete, and I am excited to move onto the next steps of shepherding this work out into the world.

So, if there is something you really want to accomplish, it is possible, and I encourage you to try.  The Universe will always support you.  I am so sincerely grateful to my mentor, Deborah Samuel, who has helped shape my path and provides countless advice, feedback, encouragement, and support.

“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

 

 

(Image credit: Morgan Harper Nichols).