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Transition: Integrating Your Furry Family Member

Before Alex arrived, Victory was our ‘only child’ for nearly five years!  I previously wrote a blog post about preparing your furry family member when a baby arrives.  However, this post, today, is about continuing to integrate your furry family member upon the arrival of a child and it can also be applied to a major life transition.

Even though our hearts expanded in every way, we are so, so grateful, and this is the best season of our lives, it was a big change for everyone when Alex arrived, including Victory.  Our overarching goal was to be sure that not too much changed for Victory, even though a whole lot changed, if that makes sense!  We are all in a groove now, getting sleep, figuring out things as we go, which is great for everyone!

First, we included Victory in Alex’s birth.  Victory was at the hospital, the day after the birth, and it was so lovely and memorable.  I am very grateful to the hospital staff for being so accommodating with our request.  Victory was a hit with the hospital staff, and she got right up into the hospital bed by with me, by my side, and she did not want to leave!  Our entire family was together, for the first time, and I will never forget that time together introducing the girls to each other.

Second, we always encourage Victory to be with us wherever we are in the house.  She knows that she has free reign of the house, but we wanted to be sure she knew that she was still, of course, a part of all family activities, and that would never change.  So, from the very beginning, she learned to go in Alex’s room and be apart of our daily routines, etc.  It is very special to hear Alex say, each morning, “Hi Tory!” and waive her hand to Victory with a big smile!  It warms my heart as Victory always follows me into Alex’s room each morning, even during the times when Alex’s room smells like a bathroom, if you get my drift!  Victory wants to be apart of everything, which is so great!  And, she has and continues to be extremely patient and tolerant of Alex since she was born.

Third, we encouraged the girls to bond.  We never kept Victory away from Alex (Victory has never been aggressive to anyone); in fact, we encouraged her to sniff and interact with Alex.  (There, however, have been times that we have had to keep Alex from Victory).  And, since Alex was quite sick, this winter, both girls have really bonded, and it is so great!  Victory loves licking Alex, and Alex knows not to pull on Victory’s fur or chase Victory, thank goodness.  So they reached some sort of mutual understanding, even with limited verbal communication, between them!  Victory knows so much, and is quite remarkable how in tune she is with everything and every person in our home.  Victory has been by our side meandering through mountain tops and valleys, and she is so loyal and she is always there for all of us, and we never take that for granted. We feel so grateful for her.

Fourth, we also continue to take Victory on outings, which she always loves, and Alex loves them, too!  Even in the dead of winter, when there are not too many options for places to take Victory to, there is always Lowes, on standby, which Victory and Alex love!  We also take Victory with Alex, year-round, to get soft-serve ice cream at TCBY, which is a hit with Victory!  We are very much looking forward to the spring, just around the corner, and the summer where there are a myriad of options for outings with our girls!  Victory loves outings and it is always a ‘morale boost,’ for Victory, especially during the winter when she can get cabin fever, at times.

Fifth, we continue to take Victory on vacation with us!  Even though it is not always easy to find a rental that accepts both a small dog and a small child, we make it work!  Doug is always really good about finding places for us to stay!  Victory has been on every single vacation with us since we adopted her in the fall of 2013!  We would not have it any other way!

Finally, most of all, our love never waivers with Victory, and we spend time with only Victory each day.  She loves her time with us!  She is our fur girl, forever!  And, she is such a great ‘big sister’ to Alex!  You can see their love reflected in the recent images, below.  Doug and I are so fortunate.  We love our girls with our whole hearts.

All of this said, if you take the time, and make a conscious effort, to include your furry family member during a big change or transition, such as adding another family member, it will work out for everyone in the long run!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artist Talk: Sally Mann

 

I recently came upon this very interesting and fascinating talk with one of my favorite artists since high school and college, Sally Mann.  In this talk, Sally Mann spoke with curators about her exhibition “A Thousand Crossings” at Jeu de Paume, Paris, that was on display through the fall of 2019.  During this talk, she also touches on being one of the first distinguished photographers who was both an artist and a mom.

For over forty years, Sally Mann has made experimental and haunting photographs that explore the overarching themes of existence: memory, desire, death, the bonds of family, and nature’s indifference to human endeavor.  What unites this broad body of work is that it is all bred of a place, the American South.

You can view a portion of the body of work that was on display, below.

 

 

Every Moment Matters

Today, in one of my daily readings, contained in this book by Cyndie Spiegel, gifted to me by a good friend, this quote, below, stood out to me and rings so true.  Especially now, I find the most precious moments in the in-between, ordinary moments.

“Every moment matters — not just the big ones, but also the small ones, the seemingly irrelevant ones and the quiet ones.  All of these moments add up to a life well lived.  Don’t take the presumably unimportant moments for granted.  Look for them and treasure them instead.  Listen for the words unspoken.  Notice the quick glance.  Feel the soft touch.  The long-held hugs.  The sadness.  The graciousness.  The in-between.  The magical sweet spots between tiny and massive moments are your life.  Don’t forget to pay attention to them.  In the end, that is really all we have.”

 

Tips: To Document Your Family

One of my favorite things to do since becoming a mom to a little human, is to document our everyday.  I am certainly not good at all ‘domestic mom things,’ but I enjoy documenting our family and it is really important to me.  It takes effort, but if you have a DSLR camera, here are a few tips that might help you document your everyday more easily versus always relying on your phone to take images.  (I still use my iphone to take images).  I want to remember these moments of our life, and I continually make family photo albums, which I cherish.  I print the images I love and I update the photo frames in our home regularly.  I am also working on the magnets on our fridge to reflect Alex’s second year, which has been fun, too!

Have a place where your camera lives.  I have my camera ready to go with a CF memory card loaded, battery charged, along with the lens attached, and it is always in the same place in my office, unless it is in the car as I have brought it somewhere.  So, if I see a moment I would like to capture, I will quickly get the DSLR camera out and it is all ready to go making things easier to use the DSLR camera.  Alex and Victory do not seem to mind the camera, and Doug is usually pretty cooperative, too.  In fact, looking back, Doug says to me sometimes, that he did not even remember Alex looking a certain way without the images as a reference.  Having the camera in the same place and ready to go makes it so much easier to utilize the DSLR camera.

Identify ‘good light’ in your home.  I know where we have good natural light in our house, and I take advantage of those places, which makes it easy to capture our little family.  Knowing where ‘good light’ exists during certain parts of the day, as the light changes, is also good to note.  I also take note of ‘good light’ outside when we are out and about.  So, it is good to know the places in your home where ‘good light’ exists and during what portions of the day that light exists.

Have a designated memory card for family images.  I always keep a large CF memory card in the camera so I am ready to go and hopefully do not miss the moment I hope to capture.  (And, I do my best not to let the CF memory card get full.)  Additionally, I do not take images of anything else on this family CF memory card outside of our family, which makes things much easier as other files/images are not commingled.

Have a designated external drive to save the images and edited images.  I have two large external drives where I keep our family images and edited images, which is organized by year and month, which makes it fairly easy to go back and find images.  I download the images from the camera usually weekly, or when I am able, in order to not fall too far behind on editing of the images.

Know when you have taken enough images.  As time goes on, and Alex gets older, I usually know when I have shot enough to capture what I want to put in a spread of our family photo albums.  And, with a toddler constantly on the go, the moment usually is defined.

Teach your spouse/partner how to use the camera.  I have taught Doug how to use our DSLR camera after setting the settings for him, so he can also help include me in family photos.  This has been very useful.

Remember that you do not have to be perfect.  I have learned that conditions are usually never ideal, but you do your best in order to document your family.  I rather have the images of our little family versus ‘perfect images.’  I love capturing our candid moments, which are so fleeting.

Below are a few images from Valentine’s Day morning with our little loves opening their Valentine’s gifts and cards together.  And, they are getting along again so well now; and I even got a few images of our little loves together now that Alex knows and she has learned that she cannot chase Victory and pull on her fur!  They love each other so much.  Victory is back to licking all over Alex and Alex approaches Victory gently with lots of treats, which makes life so much easier for everyone!

Happy Thursday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Heart Day!

Happy Heart Day!

“Love recognizes no barriers.  It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”  — Maya Angelou

 

Dog Rescue: Beer Cans

Have you heard about the recent heartwarming story about a dog, Hazel, shown in the blue bandana below, that was reunited with her family after being discovered on a beer can?

Hazel went missing in Iowa roughly three years ago.  She is reunited with her family after being featured on a beer can in Florida via Motorworks Brewing helping to raise money to build a local shelter in Manatee County.  Hazel, 7, was one of four dogs chosen to have their smiling profile picture featured on the beer cans at Motorworks Brewing in Bradenton, Florida, in hopes that they would get adopted.

Monica Mathis, who now lives in Minnesota, was scrolling through social media when she spotted a story about a Florida brewing company featuring adoptable dogs on their beer cans.  “I was looking at the dogs and I was like oh my gosh, that’s Hazel,” Mathis told CNN.

Hazel left the Mathis’ home one day in 2017.  “She was an escape artist; she was very good at getting loose,” Mathis told CNN.  Hazel known as “Day Day,” entered the shelter in March of 2019 as a stray, Hans Wohlgefahrt, with Manatee County Animal Services, told CNN.

Hazel did have a microchip, however, the contact information for her owner was outdated.  With no method of contacting Hazel’s owners and when no one came forward to claim her, Hazel went up for adoption.

Mathis submitted vet records and photos to the shelter and she was able to claim her long lost dog.  While it is unclear how Hazel made her journey to Florida from the Midwest, Wohlgefahrt said she is healthy and a very happy pup!

What a wonderful story and a unique way to promote dog rescue!

 

Eight Year Blogiversary!

Today is the eight-year Blogiversary of the blog!  It is really difficult to believe that eight years have already passed by so quickly!  Where has the time gone?  Many things have changed recently, but some things remain the same, fortunately.  I am grateful for this little space here.

If it were not for our beloved Biscuit, I am not sure I would have ever started blogging and I know that I would not have started my long-term photography project, which I am, finally, onto the final steps, for which Biscuit and Victory are my inspiration.  Biscuit was such a blessing and gift to us.  Biscuit permanently changed our lives in so many positive ways and Biscuit sent us our precious little rescue sheltie, Victory, who we adore and love, shown below!  And, coincidentally, Victory is as old as the blog!

Thank you for reading this blog for however long or short you have been visiting!  I truly enjoy creating content for the blog to share with all of you, and I hope that you continue to enjoy visiting and reading the blog!

Thank you so very much!

 

 

Finally, below are two recent videos of our girls, who love each other and who are forever bonded!

 

Loving: Winter 2020

Happy winter!  Below are a few things I have been recently loving this winter!  (And, we hope to have no more sickness in our house for awhile!)

 

 

1. Paperless Post — I have been using Paperless Post since this fall, when I discovered it.  I love sending paper cards, and I was saddened to hear, recently, that one of my favorite paper card stores, Papyrus, is closing.  (We got our custom wedding invitations from Papyrus.)  Anyway, Paperless Post is great!  I love it.  It is great for sending a card that you instantly want to be received by the recipient, whereas a card via mail would take too long, in some cases.  Especially if you have friends and/or family living abroad, for example.  The designs are beautiful and there is a large selection in many categories!  There is a small nominal fee to send these cards, but I think it is worth it!  I highly recommend, even though I have not given up sending paper cards!

2. Born Boots  — I love these boots!  They are simple in design and super comfortable with a nice lining to keep your legs warm!  I highly recommend them!

3. Peloton Tred — We recently got the Peloton Tred over the Holidays, and we love it.  We gave up our gym membership for the Peloton, and we are so happy.  We are able to use it daily, outside of the time we were all sick, and Doug and I trade off in order to get daily exercise, and Alex can remain at home with us, which makes everything easier.  The tred is very smooth to walk and run on, and the classes are great, too.  (And you do not have to have a Peloton to do the classes!)  It is so convenient and wish we had made the decision to get it sooner!

4. Instacart — Doug and I recently started using Instacart from our local Wegmans.  Doug really wanted to try it, so over the holidays, we gave it a try, and we have not gone back.  It is a huge time saver and we love it!  Doug and I work on the list together before placing our order, and pervious orders are saved, which is nice so you do not have to resubmit your list each week and you can modify the list as needed.  There have not been any mistakes, thus far; the shoppers all text with substitution approvals; and all of our order have been on time, except for one.  I was not so keen on doing it, initially, but it is really nice not to have to fight the crowds on the weekends and have a little bit more time, which feels like it is at a premium these days.

5. Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Balm Alex had had some patches of dry skin during these cooler months that we were unable to resolve.  The pediatrician recommended this balm, and it works great, and cleared everything in a few days, and Alex’s skin feels so, so soft!  It does not have a smell and it is not greasy, which we love!  I have even used it myself, and it works great!

6. Dog Sherpa Throw — For Victory’s birthday, we gave her a large sherpa throw for our bed, where she likes to lay during the day.  It is so soft, and it washes up well, too.  Then, for Christmas, we gave her the smaller sherpa throw to use in the car, which works really well, too!  I highly recommend it for any furry family member!  Victory loves it!

You can view other things I love here!

Happy Wednesday!

Victory: Trusted and Loyal Fur Sister

I do not have a blog post prepared this week.  Sickness hit our house recently, and Alex has been quite sick for almost a week with a terrible cold, double ear infection, and fever.  And, I caught strep and Doug is not feeling well either.  We have been in full caring and healing mode here.  Alex is getting better on her new antibiotic, thankfully.  Victory, as always, is always there for us.  During this time of sickness, there has been a silver lining — Victory and Alex have bonded.  Victory has given Alex lots of love to include licking all of the wet and dried mucus off of her nose and face.  (A short video is shown below.)  Alex does not seem to mind all of Victory’s affection.  Alex now holds her hand out gently for Victory to give her licks, ‘kisses,’ and she thinks it is great, which always brings a big smile to Alex’s face.  Alex is giving Victory loads of treats and she is now petting Victory gently on the head.

Victory means the world to us.  It is amazing to me how she always knows what is going on, even if she cannot express it in words to us.  She must know Alex is not feeling well.  (Typically, Victory is a bit timid about getting too close around Alex who is constantly in motion.)  Victory is such a smart, loving, loyal, and protective creature.  We are the lucky ones, and we are so glad that Victory is a part of our family.  Victory is such a great fur sister to Alex and she is always teaching us something about life.

 

Here is a video of Victory being such a loving fur sister.

Seventeen Month and Eighteen Month Snapshot: Alexandra

I completed the monthly snapshots of our beloved Alex during her first year.  Here is the snapshot of Alex’s seventeenth month and eighteenth month!  (You can view Alex’s thirteenth and fourteenth months here; and Alex’s fifteenth and sixteenth months here).  Alex is changing all of the time and she is still growing like a weed!

How is our little girl already eighteen months old!  The time is flying too quickly!  It has been a busy few months for us.  Alex is still busy as ever and curious as ever!  Alex is turning into a little girl right before our eyes.  Doug coined her name on her new easel, that she got for Christmas, as the following: A is for Active; L is for Lovable; E is for Energized; and X is for Xtraordinary!  Alex is talking more and saying more words, too.  She comprehends a good amount as well.  Alex is down to one nap a day these days, and we have not found anything Alex is not willing to try food wise, including brussels sprouts, go figure!  She has a lot of personality and she is her own strong little person who knows how she likes things — her way!  She loves running around the house in only her diaper!  Her hair is very pretty and it is getting longer with some blonde and red highlights, with lovely curls in the back!  She currently is obsessed with our remote control for the television and the baby monitor screen for her room.  She thinks they are her telephones, which she loves to pretend play with each day!  She also loves to go into my office and sit in my chair and ‘type’ on the computer, use the mouse, and talk to Victory who is usually sitting under my desk at home!  She even likes to help with laundry!  She, unprompted, likes to take our dirty clothes and put them in the laundry, and a short video is shown below!  She also likes to help throw trash away, too!  And, she is also pretty good about putting her toys away as well.  Overall, I think, she is a good little helper!

Additionally, she is exploring more in the house and interacts more with Victory all the time.  Her chasing of Victory has mitigated; and she is petting Victory more gently, and she loves to give Victory treats before ‘night night!’  It is so sweet.  A short video is below of our girls!  In a few more months, I think Alex will understand more about Victory.  Victory still joins us in Alex’s room in the mornings and always before Alex goes to bed!  We will say to Victory, “go see sissy,” and she immediately runs upstairs to Alex’s room!  Alex has stopped calling Victory ‘Lou Lou’ and she is now saying ‘Tory,’ which is so sweet.  She always says ‘hello’ to Victory every morning and tries, sometimes successfully, if Victory is up for it, to pet Victory!

Alex really loves to go out on outings with us as well, even if it is just to the local Lowes with Victory!  She can ware herself out running up and down the aisles, and she thinks it is fantastic!  We also went on another field trip with Alex’s school to the B&O Railroad Museum, which she enjoyed and the museum was decorated nicely for Christmas!  Doug loves trains, so it was really a fun day!  And, Alex loved the short train ride, too!  Alex still loves our neighborhood playground and loves to play with the chalk and go in the swing!  We found another large park that she loves to go to as well.  The weather has been pretty mild, so we have been able to get her out and about!  She also still likes to go on walks together.  For Christmas, she got a new trike, which she loves, and she eventually will be able to peddle the trike by herself!

Alex had a great Christmas and Thanksgiving.  (Their visit to Santa this year was memorable.)  She participated in her school Holiday Party!  She looked adorable and she did her best to sing along with the rest of her class!  On Christmas Eve, she decorated homemade eggnog sugar cookies with Doug and it was a lot of fun! (A short video is below.)  On Christmas morning, Alex and Victory wore matching pajamas, their Happy Hannas!  They looked so cute together, albeit, it was challenging to get a photo of them together, as Alex was excited on Christmas morning doing her own thing, but I managed to get one descent photo of the girls together!  By the end of the morning, after working hard opening gifts, Alex took a long nap.  I am not sure Alex fully understood the concept of Christmas, but she had fun!  She also loves her new personalized new chair, which is fitting as she had been and still says, ‘I sit’ frequently!  She also loves her Roadster for indoors as well!

Alex tried out the Peloton Tred, which we love, pictured below, that we got for Christmas.  Alex never really cared for the child care at the gym, which made it challenging for us to get to and use the gym regularly, so we decided to get a treadmill for the house.  We had to reconfigure two rooms of our house, but we got it all to work and we absolutely love having a treadmill in the house, which is so convenient and the classes are engaging and fun, too!  I wish we had done it sooner as we are now able to workout consistently!

With Alex’s long Holiday break, we took her on some outings, including a few trips to an indoor playground, which she loves.  She still loves Pump It Up, as well, which we also visited a few times over her break.  She had a few play dates, too.  We also took her to Enchant, in D.C., which we all loved.  The light display was beautiful.  We plan to go back next year, if it is still local.  (There were even a few dates, which we missed, that allows one’s pup to attend as well!)  We took Alex to D.C. and Northern Virginia for New Year’s Eve and we had a nice evening together!  We have a few more places on our list to try this winter with her, which we are looking forward to.

Alex still cuddles with me in her glider, right before bed.  She pulls down her blanket and crawls into my lap with her lovie (a burp cloth); and most of the time, she falls asleep during this time.  It is one of my favorite times of the day.  There is nothing like it.  I feel so fortunate.  It has been such as journey.  We are doing our best to embrace the now, the present.  We are so grateful and we are excited for this new year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few iphone images from Alex’s seventeenth month!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s seventeenth month — Alex doing laundry!

 

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

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 A few iphone images from Alex’s eighteenth month!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s eighteenth month — Alex decorating Christmas eggnog sugar cookies with Daddy and Victory!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s eighteenth month — Alex climbing with all of her might at Pump It Up!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s eighteenth month — Alex shooting balls at Mamma with Daddy!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s eighteenth month — Alex sitting with Victory!

 

Here is a video from Alex’s eighteenth month — Alex feeding Victory treats!

 

Finally, below is a look back, month-by-month, (via iphone images), of our sweet Alex over the past eighteen months!  There has been so much change in such a short period of time!  We are so grateful for our healthy little girl!