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Posts from the ‘Personal’ Category

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.

What’s Your Word for 2021?

I hope you had a nice Holiday. We had some down time with our girls, which was nice. I am still catching up on everything from the Holidays and the start of potty training, which is going well. And, I cannot believe our little girl is already two-and-a-half-years-old! She is growing in every way and she loves learning. Since COVID-19 has impacted her birthday last year, and likely again this year, we are celebrating half birthdays with Alex!

It is a new year, which means there has been much talk about fresh beginnings. For me, I keep things simple and I select a word for the year.

I have reflected on my word for this year: grace.  Last year I chose bliss; in 2019 the word embrace; in 2018 the word peace; in 2017 I chose relax; in 2016 I chose present; in 2015 I chose flow; in 2014 I chose trust; and in 2013 I chose the word create.  The idea of picking an intention has worked well over the past few years. 

I have nothing against resolutions (or goals, or plans, or to-do lists), but for me, I have found the most impactful way to embrace a new year is to pick a word — just one word — to keep in mind.

As 2020 came to an end, I kept thinking back to an Aristotle quote, “The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.” I know personally, we are making the best of our circumstances in light of COVID-19 and the current climate in our country. Many people lost a lot in 2020. I love this quote from Rumi, “Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” I am trusting that what we lost will come back in its own time, in a different form, when we are ready to receive it.

Currently, we are just doing our best to get through this seemingly long winter with a little person. So, I am giving myself more grace, as things have not been and are not typical right now for anyone. I believe grace meets you right where you are on your journey. We are so grateful for our health and that a COVID-19 vaccine is here. And, I have found that having a gratitude practice is invaluable right now — the smallest things bring such joy.

For me, it is an easy reminder to take whatever small steps I can to create clarity and feel better. For anyone similarly overwhelmed by resolutions, I recommend the practice of a New Year’s Word. Plus, since it is so simple, you can change it at any time.

Happy New Year!

Happy Pawlidays!

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

Happy Pawlidays! I wanted to thank you so very much for checking in over the past year — I am very grateful. I know it has been a year filled with much uncertainty.

Below is the front of our Pawliday card (the back of our card containing text is not pictured) along with our matching envelopes using little photo seals of our beautiful girls, Alex and Victory! Unfortunately, custom stamps are no longer permitted by the Post Office; and I know the mail is moving much slower this year. (You can view our previous Pawliday cards hereherehereherehereherehere, and here).  Sending our Pawliday card is one of my favorite parts of the Holiday season!   This is my way of sharing our Pawliday card with you.  Thank you for reading this blog for however long or short you have been reading.  I sincerely enjoy creating content for the blog to share with you.

I will be taking a break from the blog to enjoy some down time with our little family, and I plan to be back to the blog sometime early next year.  Meanwhile, if you are in a blog-reading mood, you are warmly invited to visit the archives — the links are shown below.  Warmest wishes to you for a safe and Happy Holidays!

Dog Related posts

Dog Rescue posts

‘Dog-Centric’ Artists Interviews

For Artists posts

Photography posts

Personal posts

Victory Related posts

Winter Solstice

Today is the shortest (darkest) day of the year in North America. For us, the sun will set at 4:48 p.m.

But, the good news is, the days will now get brighter each day for the rest of the winter. So, if you can make it through today, you will be all set!

Also, we recently came across these wonderful, premium dog treats by Give Pet that supports shelter dogs, and I wanted to share about them, so you can help shelter dogs as well.  We ordered three bags of these treats for Victory, and she loved them, and it helps a cause near and dear to our hearts!  So please support this brand and cause, especially during this pandemic, if you feel so inclined!

Creating a Christmas Memory Tree

While growing up, in my family, we each got an ornament every year through at least college, perhaps through graduate school, I cannot quite remember. I have started the same tradition in our family, creating a family memory tree — a live, living scrapbook. I love documenting our family in photographs, and I love the idea of documenting our life on our tree, creating lasting memories. Long before Alex was born, I have been collecting unique ornaments from the places we have traveled, while also just coming across unique ornaments over the years.

Since Alex was born, I have four types of ornaments I get each year for our Christmas tree: (1) one for Alex, and I try to get one with a date on it, marking each year; (2) one for our family, and I also try to get one with a date located on it; (3) one for Victory; and (4) one photo ornament of the girls together, usually with Santa, but a Santa visit is not happening this year, so I have a photo ornament of the girls together. It is actually a lot of fun, and there are so many places online to get unique ornaments. It does not take too much effort, but it is well worth the effort, for years to come, in my opinion. I usually get our ornaments in the fall each year, commemorating that year.

It is a fun endeavor, and I try to get ornaments that represent a theme for that year, if possible. This year, we got a personalized ornament of Alex swimming, since she really loved swimming this year; a personalized COVID-19 family ornament; a glass sheltie ornament for Victory; and a photo ornament of the girls together, all pictured below.

Alex is beginning to understand the concept of Christmas, and she loves doing the Advent calendar with Victory each evening; she really enjoyed helping us decorate our tree, and we got a larger tree this year, compared to previous Christmas trees; and it will be fun for Alex to pick out her own ornaments, as she grows older, which she will have to share with her kids someday. Most of all, it will be fun, for years to come, to pull out the ornaments, reminisce, and decorate our family tree, containing so many memories!

And, our little loves by our Christmas tree this year.

There has been so much change for Alex in a relatively short period of time — five months; seventeen months; and almost twenty-nine months, pictured below!

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.

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!