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Posts from the ‘Personal’ Category

Gone Fishing…

I hope that your summer is going well! We have been doing a lot of swimming; and Alex has been doing horse riding, which she loves. Victory just received a clean bill of health from our vet, thank goodness, per her annual exam! We have been hitting our very low-key summer checklist! And, how has this happened, already — Alex recently started to take Victory for potty, with supervision, of course! Alex is getting so independent these days, and I cannot believe she is three already! I feel like the days are going by way too quickly.

I am taking a break from the blog for a couple weeks to go on vacation; soak up our days together; rejuvenate; and to catch up on some photo editing, as it has been so busy lately, that it has fallen to the wayside. 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 Summer!

Making Your Child and Dog Feel Noticed and Loved

Toni Morrison’s words are so accurate that one sentence can bring you to your knees or set you free. Her words have really resonated with me.

Toni Morrison was on Oprah talking about her book, The Bluest Eye. Oprah said, “Toni says a beautiful thing about the messages that we get about who we are when a child first walks into a room,” and she asked her to talk about it.

Toni Morrison explained that it’s interesting to watch what happens when a child walks into a room. She asked, “Does your face light up?”

She explained, “When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What’s wrong now?”

Her advice was simple, but so powerful. She said:

“Let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?” I think of this advice every day, and it has become a practice. I want to light up. And, I never would have thought about it had it not been for the wisdom of Toni Morrison. And, importantly, I also use this practice our older daughter, our fur girl, Victory, who is very keenly aware of non-verbal body language, and it works really well with her, too!

What about you? Have you ever thought about this? It’s one of those little things that feels really important and children and dogs really notice.

A Very Low-Key Summer Checklist

What is on your summer checklist? I work full time, but we love lazy summer weekends with nothing on the schedule except to go swimming and enjoying meals together. Here are 10 low-key things we are hoping to do this summer…

Swim. Enjoy the pool. Jump in the pool and don’t care about what you look like because no one else does. Go to the beach or lake and be the first one to jump in and make fun memories together.

Try a new-to-you ice cream flavor. We recently have discovered two new ice cream places near us, and we all love going for an ice cream run in the evenings and trying new flavors!

Do Fireworks. We all recently took a short trip to Pennsylvania to get some child-friendly fireworks for the Fourth of July! We even found a place that welcomed our little Victory, too! It should be a lot of fun!

Give your child disposable camera. I remember these from my childhood. What a fun way to introduce kids to photography; and it is magical to get the film developed together to see what your child created on their own!

Play games. We like to play goldfish and memory games together, along with hide and seek, which Alex loves!

One night, throw bedtime to the wolves and let your child stay up as late as he/she can. Since summer is officially here, we have been more relaxed with bedtime. The sun, after all, is out until nearly 9:00 p.m. here! Alex loves stretching out her bedtime routine. And, I love holding her and cuddling with her, as one day she will be too big to sit in my lap. Each night we look at her baby videos, as she is in love with looking at her younger self!

Read a great book. Time always feels so fleeting, but I am going to try to read an entire book this summer. I am sure most nights, I will fall asleep while reading.

Leave your phone at home. Sometimes it is really nice to leave you phone at home so you are not tempted to check email, etc., and you can therefore be really present with your people.

Make cookies. Alex loves to bake with Doug. They recently made strawberry crepes and chocolate chip waffles together for breakfast over Father’s Day weekend. We always love making these go-to cookies together!

Stay inside and do not feel bad about it. We have been trying to have more down time on the weekends so everyone gets a chance to really rest without rushing around to one place or another.

Snapshot: Spring 2021

We welcomed this spring with wide open arms, after what felt like a really long winter this year. We are so grateful to have the COVID-19 vaccine, and we cannot wait until Alex is eligible to get hers. It has been so nice having warmer weather. This spring we celebrated Easter together and Alex loved dying Easter eggs; her and Victory each enjoyed their Easter baskets; and we spent Easter day go-carting together! We also did and continue to do a lot of swimming, which Alex loves! We celebrated Mother’s Day together, which was a really nice day! I feel incredibly grateful to be a human and dog mama! We also enjoyed strawberry picking together, which Alex really wanted to do this year, and she would like to return to pick more fruits this summer and this fall as well! Additionally, Alex is fully day and night potty trained, we are so elated! Alex moved into her toddler bed earlier this spring, and she also had her first “big girl hair trim” at the salon! Interestingly, Alex loves the cicadas! She enjoys putting them on her hand and she is not afraid of them at all, whereas Doug and I are not fans of the cicadas! It is difficult to believe she will be nearly 20 years old when they return!

Additionally, after receiving our vaccines, we all took a road trip to Lexington, Kentucky, and we survived our first long drive together! It was fun visiting Keeneland and the Kentucky Horse Park! Even Victory was welcome at the Kentucky Horse Park! The girls had a ball! And, Alex loved riding Tini, a pony, several times! Doug introduced Alex to some of his favorite restaurants via take out! As a result of our trip, Alex has fully embraced horses, as she is taking horse riding lessons and she is doing really well! Alex just continues to blossom and keep us on our toes. We think she is growing in every way, day by day! Alex especially loves looking at videos of her younger self! She asks me every night to “see the baby videos!” And, she loves “reading” to Victory in the mornings! It is so endearing.

Victory is doing well, too. She has fully embraced Alex; and she has really come out of her shell, as a result. Victory is fully ensconced into our little family and we are so, so grateful she appears to be in good health per the vet. Victory has a big birthday coming up this fall, which we will celebrate! Alex frequently tells us that, “Victory is the best puppy, ever!” And it is so true. I cannot believe how fast the time is going, the days continue to fly by way too quickly. It is all going too fast. I am grateful to be able to document this time with our little family. I just wish the time would slow down, some! We are looking forward to a fun summer! Alex cannot wait to return to the beach! A few photos from our spring together are shown below!

On Happiness and Wholeness

The other day, I read this passage online, and it has stuck with me and it has also provided some relief…

I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don’t mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep” and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness.” Ask yourself, “Is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.

—Hugh MacKay, author of The Good Life

Mother’s Day Wish

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 filled with unexpected twists and turns, which made for a long and complicated journey.  We thankfully got our “one,” and she is certainly “the one.” 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. 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 mama 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

Below is Alex and I together on our first and second Mother’s Day together.

A Year of Resiliance

It has been quite a year! I will never forget on March 13, 2020, Alex was sent home from school, and Doug was sent home early from work and we felt so unsure of everything. And, at that time, we had no idea what was in store for us all collectively. COVID-19 has impacted all of us in some way. Sadly, so many thousands of people have died from COVID-19. Even though it has been a tough year, with a lot of shifting living with this virus and the uncertainty of it all, some good things have come from this year. And, it feels like, with spring coming soon, along with the vaccines, that there will be a new sense of freedom without the fear of getting really sick.

During this time, we have been able to spend more time with Alex and our fur girl, Victory! Even on days Doug and I are incredibly tired from the juggle, it has been really nice to have this time together, which I will never forget. We have been able to spend a lot of time outdoors together since we had to readjust from our normal outings. Doug and I have been able to spend more time together as well, which has been really nice.

Victory seems to love us being home. She is even more attuned to us and she loves to go out with us, even in the snow this year, where she pranced around like a puppy! (Usually, during past winters, she was not a fan of the snow!) We love her so very much and she has been a real sense of comfort for us all, a constant and steady presence in our lives.

Alex has enjoyed the the extra family time together. And, she has changed in so many ways, this past year, just look at the physical changes, not to mention all of the developmental change, shown below! I cannot believe we were working on getting rid fo the paci last March! My baby girl has blossomed into a beautiful little girl! (Also, here is a link to the video of the girls, below.) We even started doing yoga together in the evenings, and Alex really enjoys it. She does a mean warrior pose, tree pose, and downward dog pose! When things are deemed “safe,” we plan to sign Alex up for some fun classes!

We have learned to live with this great uncertainty for quite awhile, and we still do not really know how things are going to look, post-COVID, as our previous normal, that we were accustomed to, will not be quite the same, I imagine. It has taught me to really readjust expectations and not really have any expectations.

This time has definitely forced us to slow down more and be more present; and I have learned not to take anything for granted. Our oven, dishwasher, and Peloton all broke during COVID. It took months to get parts and replacements due to COVID! I will never take anything for granted, even the simple things that seem so ordinary.

This time has also provided me time to finish my long-term photography project, get the images copyrighted, and to finish my proposal in preparation for submission. And, due to the pandemic, Doug was able to review everything for me, which has been incredibly helpful and insightful.

Overall, I think 2020 has forced us to consider the idea that life as we know it can shift; it can change; it can be re-imagined. And most of all, we have learned and have been forced to be resilient through it all. And, someday we will be able to share this time with Alex through photos, videos, and our memories!

March 13, 2020

March 13, 2021

Snapshot: Winter 2021

It has been a long winter for us due to COVID, and we have greatly missed our weekend family outings together to various places this winter. We knew that this winter would be the toughest season, with a little one, due to COVID, and having limited options in order for us to all stay safe. We have made the most of our time with our little family and we spent a lot of time outside in nature and at various play grounds, trying to keep things as normal as possible. Overall, Alex and Victory have been doing well, despite limitations due to COVID. Alex is growing in every way. We have played many games in the house, which Alex loves. She loves this memory game, and she has a great memory and she has won games against Doug and myself! She also loves ‘hide and go seek!’ Alex sometimes gets impatient, while hiding, that by the time we count to 10, she is running out saying, “Find me! Find me!” It is adorable! Alex loves her books and she loves “practicing her letter and numbers,” as she calls it! This has also been the perfect time for potty training, which Alex is getting close to being fully potty trained! In addition to Alex enjoying the snow and her new sled, Victory has enjoyed the snow this year, and there appears to be a spring in her step and an “inner puppy” within her at the age of nine, as in past winters she has not really enjoyed the snow! We always shovel the snow so that Victory has a “pee pad” in the grass for her to go potty that prevents her from touching the snow! Victory is always up for an outing, as she comes running down are stairs to join us, which has been great!

I think we all are ready for spring weather, longer sunlight filled days, and our COVID vaccine! Below is a snapshot of our winter, which included celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Alex’s half birthday, and Valentine’s Day together, along with various outdoor outings and indoor games, doing our best to make the best of this COVID winter. We look forward to getting out and about more with spring weather coming soon, we hope!

Little People and the Passage of Time

I love documenting our little family; and Alex, someday, will have a treasure trove of photographs (including books of photographs) and videos to revisit and relive. She now understands, very well, that the iphone is used to take photos and videos. Currently, while I try and take a video, Alex tells me, “I want to see! I want to see!” and she also says, “No photos today, Mama!” making it difficult to take videos and photos of her even though Alex thoroughly enjoys looking at videos and photographs of herself. I am grateful to be able to document this time together, especially during this pandemic, that seemingly feels endless some days, especially during this winter.

Recently, I was looking back at photos of Alex when she was a baby. It seemed so long ago, but not so long ago all at once. (I am not sure if there is a term for this feeling.) At the time, the sleepless nights seemed endless, the teething seemed like it would last forever…and then poof, it was over. All of these little physical, development, cognitive, and emotional changes happen right before our very eyes, but we cannot always see the changes until we look back. Similar to how things in life somehow make more sense after we look back and reflect on them. Something heartbreaking that I realized, too, is that as your child grows, those past versions of them fade away. While we are so fortunate and very grateful to have a healthy child, who is developing and growing up, each day, month, and year with her feels like a gift and theft simultaneously. So, all we can do is savor these moments. Being present in it all, is the best, even during the really rough days, which we have had our fair share of during this pandemic, especially this winter. I find that I almost can take a photograph in my mind of those moments that I want to remember forever. It is quite a journey, and I would not trade it for anything.

A few images of the girls over the past two-and-a-half-years are shown below.

A Splendid Song About Parenting

Have you heard the Abba song ‘My Love, My Life’? It was originally written as a love song, but in the movie, a mother and daughter sing it to each other. (The first stanza is sung from a new mother to her baby girl; and at the end, it’s sung from the same mother, who had died, to her now-adult daughter.)

I never felt this strong
I’m invincible, how could this go wrong
Now, here, here’s where we belong
I see a road ahead
I never thought I would dear to tread

Like an image passing by, my love, my life
In the mirror of your eyes, my love, my life
I can see it all so clearly
All our love so dearly
Images passing by
Like reflections of your mind, my love, my life
Are the words you try to find, my love, my life
But I know I don’t possess you
With all my heart, God bless you
You will be my love and my life
You’re my one and only

I held you close to me
Felt your heartbeat and I thought I am free
Oh yes, and as one are we
In the now I’ll be found
Nothing and no one can break this bond

Like an image passing by, my love, my life
In the mirror of your eyes, my love, my life
I can see it all so clearly
All our love so dearly
Images passing by
Like reflections of your mind, my love, my life
Are the words I try to find, my love, my life
But I know I don’t possess you
With all my heart, God bless you
You are still my love and my life

Yes, I know I don’t possess you
With all my heart, God bless you
You are still my love and my life
You’re my one and only.

The words that especially move me are, “I know I don’t possess you; with all my heart, God bless you.” Parenting embodies that knowledge that, in the end, you must let them go but always love them so deeply.