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Posts from the ‘Personal’ Category

Thirteen Month and Fourteen Month Snapshot: Alexandra

I completed the monthly snapshots of our beloved Alex during her first year.  I am still not, for sure, how I am going to share Alex’s second year.  In any event, here is the snapshot of Alex’s thirteenth month and fourteenth month!  Alex is just changing all of the time and she is growing like a weed!

Alex is a busy, busy, busy girl!  She is always doing something, always!  She loves exploring and she is quite curious.  One of her favorite things to do is to stack things, particularly the stacking cups!  She also thoroughly loves stacking while taking a long soak in the bath tub!  She loves her bath time!

Alex started saying “hi,” “bye,” “yeah,” and “yes!”  She is constantly babbling away, while starting to mimic words she hears!

Alex’s teeth continue to come in!  We go to the dentist in a few weeks for her first dental visit!

Alex remains very strong-willed and full of personality!  She is her own little person who is always up for a new adventure!

We enjoyed many trips to our park and pool during these two months, which Alex loves!  Alex is now jumping into the water, floating on her back (with assistance), and going underwater, without issue, on her own!  It is so neat to watch!  She is a little fish who is now signed up for swim lessons, which begin this weekend and we got her some goggles to try!

We also took multiple trips to the book store!  She keeps us on our toes every time and Doug and I usually leave exhausted from chasing her up and down the book aisles!  She is too fast!  She is currently reading this series before bed.

Alex loves our bubble whale machine!  We have fun with Alex and Victory with the bubble machine on our deck.  Alex attempts to catch the bubbles!

Alex started her first day of ‘big girl’ school!  We cannot believe it!  She loves school and she is thriving!  We framed her first piece of art, a water color painting, shown below!

Alex and I were on our own for several days while Doug was away on travel for work.  Alex, Victory, and I made it through okay!  Doug started a new position, which he is enjoying, and we are all acclimating to a new rhythm, as a result!

Alex took her first trip on an airplane!  Alex and I flew to Michigan where she met some extended family for the first time.  Alex did well on the plane.  I was, honestly, a bit nervous flying by myself with her, for the first time, but she did well.  She, fortunately, slept during the entire flight back to Maryland in my arms.  On our way back to Maryland, the gate attendant was so kind — she let us have a row to ourselves, which was wonderful, which provided a small area for Alex to roam prior to take off!  (Alex did well on flight to Michigan as well, she was awake for the entire flight!  And, Victory had a lot of ‘daddy time’ while we were away!  Victory went out to eat each evening!)

During this time, we enjoyed dinners out with Alex and Victory!  And, Victory went on two date nights with us.  Doug and I just celebrated 15 years together since our first date!  Where has the time gone — so much has changed; while, simultaneously, so much has remained the same, fortunately.  I feel so grateful for it all.

Additionally, Alex is interacting more and more with Victory.  Alex really wants to give Victory food, shown in a short video, below — Alex just has to learn to let go of the food so Victory can eat it!  We are looking forward to some outings this fall, which likely will include: Pups in the Park; the petting farm; a Navy football game; the pumpkin patch, and celebrating Halloween — the girls have their costumes ready!  We love the fall season and we cannot believe it will officially be fall so soon!

In between everything, I have continued to work on the revisions to my long-term photography project, which, hopefully, should wrap up this fall, I hope!  It has been a really long journey, but the work is taking shape, and I look forward to staring the next steps going forward.

Life is so full and so good — each month just gets better!  Doug and I are truly grateful for this journey.  We love our girls so very much.  I am savoring our early morning and evening snuggles with Alex rocking in the glider in her room, as they will not last forever.  Importantly, Alex is living her best life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Technically, during Alex’s thirteenth month, we went on vacation, which I previously shared here; and we celebrated Alex’s first birthday celebration during her thirteenth month as well, which I also previously shared here.)

 

 

A few iphone images from Alex’s thirteenth month!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s thirteenth month — Alex in the pool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few iphone images from Alex’s fourteenth month!

 

 

Here is a video from Alex’s fourteenth month — first time on an airplane!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s fourteenth month — Alex trying to share with Victory!

Date Night with Your Pup!

Doug and I aim to have one date night a month, which we covet!  (We, thankfully, have a few sitters that we use for Alex!)  However, this summer, it was Doug’s idea to start bringing Victory with us on our date nights for as long as the weather holds!  Victory has adjusted really well since Alex’s arrival and Victory is fully enveloped in our lives as we are in her life.  What we have found is that Victory is in seventh heaven on these date nights!  She is a smart sheltie girl, and we believe she knows that these are special times being spent with her!  We took Victory recently to an Italian restaurant, and she loved sitting on the chair next to us, during dinner, pictured below!  We then took her with us for gelato, which she also relished!  She truly loved being the ‘only child’ for an evening, like old times!  We love this time with our fur girl, Victory, too!  So, if you have a pup, I am sure he/she would love to go out on a date night with you, especially if he/she has other ‘siblings!’  At least it is may be an idea to consider . . .

 

 

 

Our girls riding in the car together, pictured below.

 

And One More Thing Before You Go . . .

My good friend recently shared this book with me, And One More Thing Before You Go …by Maria Shriver, and I absolutely loved it!  This little book grew out of a speech Maria gave at a mother-daughter luncheon.  A few of my favorite quotes from this book are shown below.  I hope that they provide some inspiration for you!

“Well trust me on this: it’s okay to be scared.  And not only is fear okay, its a good thing.  Our fear gives us wisdom.  It lets us know we’re confronting something new.”

“So even if you don’t plan on making history, remember: Fear is normal.  Fear is common.  And it keeps coming back.”

“As you dive into your own future, remember this: If you feel afraid, it means you’re alive.  That good.  Now use it.”

“Don’t lock yourself up and throw away the key.  Don’t be so rigid that you can’t change your plans.  Be willing to change your plans.  Be willing to change, to adapt.  Be willing to switch direction and strike out on a new path if you want.  Or if, like me, you have to.”

“The sad truth is, girls and women often think they’re not allowed to screw up.  They think they have to be perfect.  Let me tell you another thing: Perfectionism doesn’t make you perfect.  It only makes you feel bad about yourself, because no one can ever be perfect, including you.”

“Don’t sell yourself short by being so afraid of failure you don’t dare to make any mistakes.  Make your mistakes and learn from them.  And remember — no matter how many mistakes you make, your mother always loves you!”

“And if you think about it, most of the people you admire — people you know, people you’ve studied, those who’ve changed the world — have also suffered and struggled and fought with great courage to overcome obstacles.”

“Believe me, it’s fair.  It’s not only fair, it’s the way life is.  First you’re happy, and then you go through a time of struggle.  And then there’s smooth sailing, and then the rough ride begins again.  Over and over again.  That’s the way a good life is meant to be.”

“Along with love, courage is what you need more than anything in this life.  In tough times it tells you, ‘I can go through this!’  Even when it feels like you can’t.”

“When you feel down, when you’re having tough times, when you think you simply don’t have the strength and courage to go through something or just to press on — think about your mother or any Important Woman in your life.  Think of her strength and her courage and what she’s had to go through in her life.”

“Balance means weighing and measuring your priorities to put together a life that fulfills you on your own terms, not society’s expectations of you, one way or the other.  And balance also means recalibrating your priorities when you need and want to. ”

“Weigh out your competing priorities and see how you can fulfill them over time, without making yourself insane with guilt.  If you achieve that balance, that’ll make all of us older women envious of you — and proud.”

“Gratitude lifts your spirit.  It takes you right out of yourself and into a different plane.”

“When you’re stuck in self-pity or envy or worry, try getting grateful for something in your life.  It’s good for the soul.”

“Mentors are generous with their time and wisdom because they see in you something of themselves, and they want to help it flower.”

“Keep part of your childhood alive in you — the part that is curious, asks questions, and is willing to find and cultivate relationships with the people who can answer them.”

“Everyone of us can make a difference.  Everyone can be the difference in the lives of someone else.  And when we are — trust me, it feels like a million bucks.”

“Oh, and one more thing before you go: Have fun, laugh, and enjoy yourself.  It’ll be a blast.”

 

Photographs: Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach

In July, we took our first vacation together as a family of four!  We did not want to go too far from home due to traveling with a little one, Alex, so we decided to go to Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach over Alex’s first birthday to celebrate our first year together and our metamorphosis as a family of four!  Doug, fortunately, found one of the only beach houses to rent that would allow a baby and a furry family member!  We were only a few blocks from both beaches!  We did not have high expectations as we knew this vacation would be different, more like a trip rather than a vacation.  Additionally, we also were not sure how Alex would like the beach and ocean, and we had no idea how long she would last at the beach.  Surprisingly, Alex did really well, better than we initially thought — she lasted at the beach for about three to four hours each morning, which we thought was pretty good all considering.  Alex was not afraid of the water, and by the end of the week, she was walking and swimming in the ocean!  We bought her a puddle jumper, which she did not like at all, so we held her tight in the water and we did not go too far out into the ocean with her.

So, after our first day at Rehoboth, we figured out a pattern to our days, which seemed to work, which went something like this: we woke up when Alex got us up, which was early; we all had breakfast; got our swimsuits and sunscreen on and packed up and headed to Rehoboth Beach where we stayed three to four hours; we had lunch; we got Alex bathed and down for a long nap; we got ourselves cleaned up and took a nap; then, when Alex got up from her nap, we all got ready and headed out to dinner at one of our two favorite places — Dewey Beer Co. or the Iron Hill Brewery; then we got Victory and we all went to Dewey Beach for a long walk (Alex was mostly on my back in her Ergo), and sometimes we stopped for rolled ice cream, which Victory loved; then we came home and got Alex to bed; and, we rested for a little bit after getting Alex to bed; however, most nights, were were so tired we were back in bed with Victory, too!

We were not permitted to take Victory to Rehoboth Beach, but she could still go to Dewey beach, thankfully, in the early mornings and evenings!  So it worked out perfectly!  Victory has been to Dewey Beach several times before, and we think she remembered this beach!  Victory was absolutely in seventh heaven on the beach!  She loved it!  It was interesting because anyone who has met Victory knows she is not an alpha dog.  She is much more docile and regal.  However, on the beach, if another dog approached Alex, Victory stood in front of Alex immediately.  So, I think it is safe to say that Victory has adopted her sister, Alex, into her pack!  It was really neat to witness!  Alex and Victory did sit by each other on the beach (without either one running away), which was sweet, and a short video of our beloved cherubs is shown below along with a few other short videos!  Alex loved roaming freely around our beach house rental and she was into the lower cabinets pulling out everything throughout the house!  In fact, Alex fell in love with two mixing bowls, which she carried all over the house!  So, considering everything, it went really well!  We were also very fortunate for good weather — we had no rain the entire trip!

Some images from our trip are below!  We are really grateful for our time away together with our girls!  We have many wonderful memories of our first vacation as a family of four!  Doug is currently looking for places to go next year!  We want to try some place a bit father away, for next year, but we may end up at the beach again!  (Alex is taking her first trip on an airplane soon, so we will see how she does to consider trips, in the future, that are farther away, where Alex and I can fly and Doug can drive with Victory and then meet together at our destination, as Alex cannot yet handle long drives in the car, and Victory is too big in size to fly in the airplane cabin — and we would never put Victory in the belly of a plane with the cargo for a flight!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few favorite iphone images from our vacation!

 

 

 

Here is a video of Alex and Victory together at the beach!

 

Here is a video of Alex dipping her toes in the ocean at the beach!

 

Here is a video of me and Alex together at the beach!

 

Twelve Month Snapshot: Alexandra

We made it through the first year!  Alex is officially a one-year-old!  We are so thrilled and elated!  The time keeps going by more quickly and more quickly.  (This post is delayed, as we have been away on vacation and I recently took a break from the blog.)  The theme this month, summed up in one word, is grateful.  We are so grateful that we made it through the first year, a feat.  Most of all, we are so incredibly grateful for Alex, our long-awaited rainbow baby.  Our lives will never be the same and we are extremely grateful to have a healthy child!  The first year felt long, at times, but short simultaneously, if that makes any sense.  There were days that I felt so utterly exhausted, for what felt like days on end, in contrast to days that were filled with great joy and everything else in between!  I did my best to be (and continue to be) present in it all.  The moments, after all, are so fleeting.

Most importantly, our baby Alex is turning into a little girl, before our very eyes, which seems difficult to fathom.  Alex is literally running these days!  She loves to explore, climb stairs, go through our lower cabinets, nightstands, dressers, and carry bowls around the house, etc.  (We still have some kitchen baby proofing to finish!)  She always loves to have something in her hands while she explores.  Her favorite toy is her play phone, which she loves!  She really loves all toys that play music!  She currently says: ‘mamma,’ ‘dada,’ ‘uh oh’, ‘cuckoo’ (Korean for peek-a-boo) and ‘umma’ (Korean for mom).  She does lots of babbling as well.  One of her favorite things to do is dance.  She loves music, including the ABC song, and most any song.  She understands rhythm; and she wiggles her whole body, and it is just hilarious and heart-warming to witness!  I frequently gaze back at her in the car and she is wiggling her body to the music playing!  Alex also loves the park.  We take Alex and Victory to the park, frequently, and Alex loves carrying her toys around and picking up everything off the ground!  She likes the swing and the slide, too!  She also still loves going to the pool and she floated, with assistance, recently, on her back!  Alex also loves to go to the bookstore where she loves to explore!  We are looking into a dance class that might take one-year-olds and we will start her in swim lessons this fall since she continues to like the water and she loves bath time more than ever these days!  Doug has coined it her ‘long soak!’  Overall, Alex is a busy bee and she is living her best life.

At the beginning of this month we also celebrated Doug’s first Father’s Day and, some images, documenting that special day, are shown below as well.  Doug (and Alex) opened gifts that morning and we all went out to lunch and spent the day together followed by ice cream in the evening with Victory!  Alex also had her first Fourth of July celebration this year!  She looked really cute in her spirit-themed outfit!  We also had a great date night this month — we saw the Rolling Stones!  Additionally, we had a painting made, which now hangs in our home, shown below, of our beloved cherubs made by the talented artist, Chelsey Luster.  We are so pleased with the painting of our girls.  Victory, of course, is still involved and integrated more than ever; and she is still an attentive ‘big sister.’  She still joins Alex in the early mornings and waits in Alex’s nursery for Alex to come in after bath time for ‘night-night’ in the evenings!  It is absolutely adorable.  They sit next to each other in the car — I imagine Victory knows that Alex is strapped into her car seat!  Alex is still learning not to grab Victory’s fur — Alex tries to chase her, but Victory is way too fast!  It is hilarious to watch!

Alex recently had her one-year doctor’s appointment and she is, again, off the charts with her size!  Alex has almost already out grown her Bugaboo Fox!  If we had known, we would have got the Bob stroller off the bat.  So, we will have to get the Bob stroller next, and that should be our final stroller for Alex!  She continues to work on getting her molars and two more teeth on the top and bottom, two of which has cracked her gums.  She will go to the dentist for the first time soon!  She started eating meat for the first time this month — she likes turkey and chicken.  She is now also drinking only whole milk and water.  She still loves yogurt and fruit.  She is sleeping through the night as of the eleventh month, and it has been so helpful for us.  It took us awhile to get here, but, alas, it has been so nice to sleep.  She is still up really early in the mornings and she occasionally gets up with her teething, but she is sleeping through the majority of nights, thankfully.  Also, we recently had her first parent-teacher conference at her play school, which went really well.  Alex is thriving and her teacher described Alex as: bold, adventurous, curious, and stubborn!  We think these adjectives do describe her well right now!  She is a strong person in personality and physical strength!

Notably, we celebrated Alex’s first birthday this month!  The morning of Alex’s birthday, we celebrated her birthday at home, as a family, just prior to leaving for our vacation to the beach that day!  We decorated her room where we opened gifts together; Victory also joined us, of course!  Then, Alex and Victory each had a vanilla cupcake, minus the icing for Victory!  I am not sure if Alex knew what to make of the cupcake, but she did smash it up pretty well, with some help, and we stripped her down to her diaper in short order!  We then had a birthday dinner with Alex in Rehoboth Beach!  Some images from her actual birthday are shown below, a day I will never forget!  She loves her climber that my parents gave to her along with her first baby doll that we gave her, Wee Baby Stella, whom she affectionately sleeps with!  She loves her other various toys she received from us, friends, and family!

Additionally, soon after returning from vacation, we had a first birthday celebration for Alex with friends and family!  A good time was had by all!  We had a pink and gold themed birthday for Alex’s first birthday.  I had the most fun designing Alex’s cake that was in keeping with the theme of Alex and Victory’s monthly photos along with our first vacation together, shown below!  And, the cake decorator, Rachel, did a truly wonderful job bringing my vision to fruition, which came to me earlier this year!  Doug and I were really pleased and everyone loved the cake!  The birthday cake features Alex and Victory at the beach atop the cake along with water color butterflies painted along the perimeter of the cake, which ties into the invitations, while also representing the metamorphosis of our family this year, along with beautiful, life like, roses, as “Rose” is Alex’s middle name after Doug’s beloved Grandma Rose.  (Water color roses were also painted on Alex’s swim suit.)  We served our favorite ice cream with the cake — Jeni’s ice cream!  Alex enjoyed her cupcake with a fondant butterfly coordinating with her birthday cake; and, overall, Alex had a nice time at her party and she looked adorable!  We are so very grateful that we were able to celebrate this special time!  A few images from Alex’s birthday celebration are below along with a video from this special day.

We also recently took our first vacation together as a family of four!  Doug literally found one of the only places to rent at Rehoboth Beach that permitted a baby and furry family member!  We had so much gear to pack for our trip, we thought initially that we were going to have to take two cars!  It took a long time to pack, but, fortunately, we really did not forget any items, and Doug managed, somehow, to get everything in one car along with Alex, Victory, and I in the back seat.  Due to traffic and the Bay Bridge back up, it took us over four hours to get to the beach, much longer than usual; Alex did pretty well, but she definitely is not a fan of being in her car seat for any long periods of time!  But, we made it!  And, we got both of our cherubs to the beach in the evenings, which was no small feat!  Alex loved the ocean; she walked on the beach; and she even went swimming in the ocean!  It was really nice to get away together and we all love the ocean!  We have many wonderful memories!  I will do a separate blog post pertaining to our vacation, in the near future, but a few images, providing a snapshot, are shown below.

This month, while celebrating a big milestone, 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 twelfth month include:

-she is all over our house into everything!  It is really unbelievable!

-she is climbing the stairs on her own, which is a little terrifying!

-she still loves the pool!

-she loved her trip to the ocean and she did really well!

-she loves to clap her hands and wiggle her body to songs, especially the ABC song!

-she is sleeping through the night, most nights!  We are so, so grateful!

-she is tolerating us brushing her teeth!

-she loves being with other kids and interacting with them!

-she is being a little more adventurous with food — she is trying more things!  She had ice cream for the first time this month and she liked it!

-she still likes going for stroller rides and she loves going to the park where she walks around!

-she loves bath time more than ever these days!  she has a lot of bath toys that she plays with and she loves standing up in the bath and walking around in the water.  Her new favorite thing to do is to play a game where she turns the water on, and I turn it off, and it just continues.  I suppose we will have to break this at some point soon!

-she is still very alert, curious, observant, and she loves for things to be her way!  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 our first vacation together.

-remembering Alex’s first visit to the ocean!

-remembering Alex enjoying the pool!

-remembering Alex giving the biggest kisses ever!

-remembering how Alex loves to have her burp cloth over her eyes when she takes her bottle before her nap and bedtime.

-remembering how Alex sticks out her tongue slightly when she concentrates like her Daddy!

-remembering her curiosity and determination.

-remembering Alex climbing the stairs for the first time on her own!

-she loves her toys and she still loves to pull them all out and play!

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

-remembering greeting Alex each morning.  Some mornings, I swear, she has grown over night!

-remembering Alex’s curls — her hair is growing at a pretty rapid rate!

-remembering that Alex is always up for a new adventure!

-remembering how Doug turns Alex upside down like a bat and Alex just giggles and giggles!

-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 interact with Victory!  Alex loves to try to capture Victory to no avail!

-loving how she smells after her baths!

-loving on her long, velvety and smooth body!

-marveling at her smile — she has the most wonderful smile that melts our hearts, and now we can see all nine 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 twelfth 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; her ten month post here; and her eleven month post here.

(I finally completed the series of monthly photos with Alex and Victory to chronicle this first year together full of so many changes in such a short duration of time!  It was not so easy!)

This month I have continued to work on finishing further revisions on my long-term photography project with my mentor in between everything.  I am getting close to finishing revisions, an endless process, it seems.  I will continue to photograph and take videos of Alex and our little family; however, I will likely not share them in this monthly format that I shared over Alex’s first year.  I will continue print images of our family; make photo books of our family via Artifact Uprising, each year, chronicling our time together; and I will continue to write in Alex’s Promptly Journal.  This is my attempt to capture and preserve our present and past for our future reflection.

 

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

 

 

Above, you can see the extraordinary change in only twelve months!

 

 

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

 

 

Above, you can see the extraordinary change in only twelve months!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few iphone images from this month!

 

 

The painting of our cherubs.

 

 

 

Here is a video of Alex in the swing at the park!

 

Here is a video of Alex swimming with mamma!

 

Here is a video of Alex swimming with daddy!

 

Here is a video of Alex on her actual birthday!

 

 

Here are several favorite images from Alex’s first birthday celebration!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a video of Alex from her first birthday celebration!

 

Here is Alex’s first birthday cake inspiration board!

 

Here are a few favorite images from our recent vacation to Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a video of Alex and Victory together at the beach!

 

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

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 eleventh 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 eight 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