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Family: Integrating Your Furry Family Member

So Victory’s life (as well as ours) got turned upside down when Baby Alex entered our lives.  We knew everything would change, but we really did not know what that change would feel like until Alex got here.  We are now starting to get the hang of things, even though Alex is constantly changing.  Doug and I always were aware and wanted to be sure that Victory was not left out, as she is a family member, and she was here before Alex.  So, we have done our very best to keep Victory involved and included, like she always has been for the five years she has been with us since rescuing her prior to Alex.  We wanted to be sure Victory felt like her place was still her place, if that makes sense.  What has worked for Victory during this life transition is always keeping Victory included and involved in our daily living; not making too many changes with her routine; making time for just Victory without Alex; and loving her as always.

I think Victory knows she is included, even though things have changed for everyone.  Victory now crosses the bridge in our neighborhood when we go on walks with Alex; prior, Victory refused and we carried her over the bridge each day, for our walks, for the past five years, so we think Victory wants to be included and not left out whatsoever!  (In the past, we hired trainers that came to the house, and nothing worked to get Victory to go over the bridge using her own legs except for Alex!)  Victory still always loves to be in the photos, which is great, and we always give her the choice to stay for photos!  She has adapted well, and she is very tolerant of Alex, thankfully!  As shown in the image below, Alex is getting to know her sister well, even picking up her front paw!  Normally, Victory would not allow another person outside of Doug and I to do that, so we consider this progress, as Victory knows how she likes things and she can be very particular at times!  (For example, each time it snows, Doug has to dig out a potty pad for Victory so she will go potty; otherwise, we will walk around for what seems like forever, as she does not want her body to hit the snow during potty — who can blame her, right!)

Victory has even learned the word “sister” and she knows that Alex is her sister and she will go running to her when we tell her to go see her sister!  Alex lights up, smiles, and chuckles each time she sees Victory whether that be when she spots Victory from her high chair or when Victory enters her nursery, etc.!  As a daily ritual, Alex loves to give and Victory loves taking little treats from Alex whether that be from the palm of her hand or from her tummy!  We really are looking forward to the spring and summer for some outings and adventures together, as the weather here has not been conducive for taking the two of them out together this winter; and spring, fortunately, is only about a month away, thank goodness!  So, we feel really fortunate and we are delighted that our cherubs love each other, Victory appears to be integrated with everyone in our family, and it will be fun to witness their relationship continue to develop!  Who knows, at some point, when Alex is in a toddler bed, Victory might even want to sleep with her some day!

 

 

 

Happy Heart Day!

Happy Heart Day from our beloved cherubs, who make quite the pair!

To celebrate, we are going to dinner!  I got cards and a few small gifts for each of our cherubs!  I cannot believe it is our fifteenth heart day together for Doug and I!  I still remember (unbeknownst to us) giving each other the same Valentine’s card on our first Valentine’s Day fifteen years ago, which I saved, of course!  Anyway, hope you have a wonderful day with the people you love!

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller

 

 

 

 

Seven Month Snapshot: Alexandra

I cannot believe it is already time again to do another post, Alex’s seventh month blog post!  Our little girl is literally growing and changing overnight and she is looking older these days, too!  The theme summed up in one word this month, however, is ailment.  Alex caught her first bad cold and cough, and Doug had an incredibly vile flu-like virus, where he was sick for half a month.  We did everything possible so that Alex and I did not catch what Doug had and, fortunately, it worked!  We are happy to be on the road to recovery with everyone in our house!  Due to the sickness in our home, I did not get to photograph as much as usual, as I was the full-time provider for Alex, when I was home, and we did not leave the house as much, as a result.  Fortunately, Alex is sleeping the best that she ever has!  She is no longer in the Dock-A-Tot and she is not using any swaddles!  She is now using a sleep sack!  She is rolling and spinning around all over her crib, and we lowered her crib mattress recently!  She seems to be a tummy sleeper, too, and she even sleeps with her bottom in the air!  She is sleeping through the night for the most part; and she is only getting up about once to eat and to get her diaper changed, periodically.  She is doing pretty well with her sleep, thankfully, and it is really helping us to get more rest at night, which we really need!  She is sitting up on her own and she is moving right along with her eating as well.  She really loves vanilla yogurt, her teething crackers, and she is trying a variety of new foods!

She is doing really well at her play school, which we are extremely pleased about!  Alex has had some fun ‘play dates’ as well this month!  She is also enjoying her ‘big girl’ stroller seat and footmuff on her Bugaboo Fox!  We were able to get out for a few stroller rides, this month, when the weather was nice, which she enjoyed and she even fell asleep most of the time!  She still loves her Ergo, too, although she is getting heavy for me to carry on long walks in her Ergo!  Since Alex is so long, growing like a weed, we ordered her ‘big girl’ car seats!  Alex and Victory are bonding more, and they are quite the pair!  Alex is more aware of Victory and she lights up each time she sees Victory!  Alex especially loves to give Victory treats, and she loves to hug and pet Victory!  Victory is pretty tolerant most of the time, thankfully!  Victory still comes into Alex’s nursery each morning and evening to check on Alex and get some treats, of course!  Victory knows the word ‘sister’ and, consequently, she knows that Alex is her sister!  We love our girls and we are embracing it all, and we feel extremely blessed!

A few highlights from Alex’s seventh month include:

-she is sleeping in her crib in her sleep sack, and she is doing pretty well putting herself to sleep and back to sleep!

-she is sitting up on her own and grabbing everything in sight and putting objects into her mouth!

-we have started the baby proofing process in our house; and have most of the baby proofing gear picked out and ready to finish ordering.

-she is still making lots of different sounds and she loves to talk to herself in her crib in the evenings and in the mornings!

-she is ‘throwing raspberries’ constantly, and she thinks it is hilarious!

-she has learned to take her paci in and out of her mouth on her own!

-she still loves to be read to each day!

-she loves listening to music!

-she still finds the mirror to be very captivating and intriguing!

-she loves to play with her toys and loves when her Daddy builds her a tower, which she quickly knocks down!

-she is enjoying eating and trying new foods and she is learning how to chew/eat her teething crackers!

-she loves her jumper and we had to change the height on it recently because she is growing so quickly!

-she is still very alert and observant!  She loves to play with other kids and observe them!

-she still loves her swing, and she takes at least one nap in it daily, typically!  (I am not sure what we are going to do when she outgrows her swing — just a few pounds to go!)

 

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!

-enjoying Alex’s laugh/chuckle!  She always laughs when she is tickled or when she is thrown up in the air and caught — she loves this!

-enjoying picking Alex up from her play school and having Alex give me my first hug from her at a recent pick up!

-enjoying cuddling with Alex right before bed in the evenings!

-greeting Alex in her nursery in the mornings!  One of my favorite times, and Victory always joins us!

-looking forward to our first Valentine’s Day with Alex and Victory!

-loving on her long, velvety soft and smooth body!

-loving how she smells after a bath!

-loving how her hair is so fluffy and soft against my skin!  It keeps growing and it looks like it is going to be relatively thick!

-watching her ride, with a big smile, on her Daddy’s shoulders, which she loves!

-watching her eat her first foods, which has been fun to witness!

-watching her greet Victory in the morning and her Daddy in the evenings during the week after work!

-watching her explore her environment!

-remembering how intrigued Alex is with my face — she loves to look at it and touch it, along with pulling on my hair.

-remembering (this was not funny at the time for us) when Alex took a big poop in her jumper and I found her literally covered in and jumping in her poop!  What a sight and a big mess to clean up!  Alex was still smiling, though!

-remembering that she loves (prefers) to be naked, in her diaper, at home!

-remembering her sticking her tongue out to feel her two lower chompers!

-remembering while she has a bottle how she loves to run her hands through her hair!

-remembering how peaceful she looks while she is sleeping, and how she loves to sleep on her tummy with her bottom in the air!

-remembering how she likes to dance while holding our hands to keep her balance!

-giving her a bath without her being so upset, although she still is not in love with bath time!

-enjoying our morning time consisting of: play time and story tine together, a time when baby Alex is very animated and she is generally in a really good mood, and now Victory joins us, which makes it even better!

-marveling at her smile — she has the most wonderful smile that melts our hearts, and her little lower chompers now show when she smiles!

-admiring her eyes — they are the prettiest deep blue eyes I have ever seen!

-loving her long and lovely dark eye lashes!

-loving her rosy red cheeks!

-enjoying the beautiful morning light in Alex’s nursery each morning!

-staying in our pajamas for days, not leaving the house!

-knowing how much our little Victory affectionately loves her ‘little sister!’

-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.

-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.  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 seventh month with us!  You can read our birth story along with viewing images from Alex’s birth here; you can read Alex’s first month snapshot here; her second month snapshot here; her third month snapshot here; her fourth month snapshot here; her five month snapshot here; and her sixth month snapshot here.

It has been 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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

A fun video!

 

Seven Year Blogiversary!

Yesterday was the seven-year Blogiversary of the blog!  It is really difficult to believe that seven 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 is finally finished, and I am currently working on the next 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!

 

Thoughts on Becoming a Mom

 

I am only a little over six months in to being a new mom to a little human who relies on us for everything, and I have recently reflected on how my life has changed, literally over night.  The biggest change I have experienced has been learning to plan on the unexpected, always.  Our little baby runs our entire house these days!  There is becoming a little more predictability to our days, but most days our lives are pretty unpredictable and we have learned to adjust and go with our little baby’s flow.  Honesty, it was difficult at first, but really learning to let go and surrender is easier than having resistance to something you cannot change.

Everything in our lives takes more planning and coordination.  We were so used to picking up and going wherever whenever, and just going to the gym, the grocery store, or even taking a shower is more involved these days.  Doug and I have learned to tag-team so that we can still get some things done, while one of us cares for the baby.  It just take a bit more forethought on our part!

We do not get as much done as we used to because caring for a baby takes a lot of time and work.  As a result, everything takes much longer to complete these days.  We do the best that we can, and “our best” can vary from day to day, and that is okay.  When we are not so tired, we take advantage of chunks of time during her naps and while she is asleep for the night, to get some things done, when we can.  We have learned to be really efficient with these pockets of time.  The baby just recently started sleeping through the night after we let her cry it out for several nights since the pediatrician said she is more than capable, as she is six month old and the size of an average 10 month old girl!  (This Zen Sack has been great for he sleep, too.  It feels like she is being hugged at night, since she is outgrowing the swaddles.)  It was hard to do, but we all need sleep and rest!  It is amazing, to me, how much these little beings know and can predict!  I think when we all are getting consistent good sleep at night, we will all feel better and more well rested, too!

Time has taken on a while new meaning for us.  Life is going slower and much faster simultaneously, if that makes any sense.  There are periods where things feel slow; and in contrast, there are periods when the time is flying by all of a sudden.  It is pretty neat to see our little cherub change from literally one day to the next.  For instance, she was sitting a little wabbly for several days and then suddenly, she was sitting on her own unassisted consistently about a week and a half ago!  It is very neat to witness.  It was also fun to see her eat her first foods and get her first teeth, especially once they cracked the gums!  We also discovered the other night that she is extremely ticklish and she has the most wonderful laugh!  Alex and I could not stop laughing while I ticked her little arm pits — she thought it was hysterical!  There is so much change that occurs in a very short amount of time.  Our baby is constantly changing, and so are we as a result.  I cannot do it all, but I have committed to photographing our little baby and family on a regular basis along with completing the Promptly Journal, which I love, and think it will be neat to read and look at with her someday!  I want to have a record of this time, as it is fleeting, and will only happen once.  So I do my best to photograph and write about it, so I will remember.

I have learned to be more patient.  Doug has always been extremely patient and he is so good with our baby!  Our baby is teaching me to be more patient in many ways.  She has made me bend in ways I never knew, and I am sure this will continue!  My brain is constantly going, and I have learned to focus and change gears on a dime.  After delivery, my doctor told me the “mom brain” is a real thing — your brain actually physically changes when you have a baby.  I never knew this to be true, but it is and I have felt like I have had “mom brain” many times!

Importantly, we have learned to make time for each other and self-care, which is not always easy.  We found a couple of great sitters to watch Alex, and we aim for a date night once a month right now!  It is nice to have some uninterrupted time to ourselves, even for a little while!  We also have more help with our baby now, which has been life-changing for us.  (There were many days I felt like an exhausted zombie from lack of sleep and providing constant, round the clock care.)  Additionally, Doug and I try to give each other breaks, when we can, so we can each have a little bit of time to do things we like to do on our own.

We are having fun!  Each day is quite literally an adventure and we are embracing it all.  When we are with Alex, we are present.  Time is our currency, as we will never get this time back with her.  Most of all, I have a new perspective, I am constantly learning, and my heart has grown so much; I love our baby to the moon and back and I love our little family!  I especially love our baby’s smile, her laugh, her eyes, and how she lights up when she sees her Daddy and sister, Victory!  We are staying present and look forward to seeing our little baby grow up right before our eyes.  Motherhood is an exciting adventure, that I am so thankful to have, and I would not trade anything.  I do not take anything for granted.  Although it is too early to tell, I think she is going to be strong.  She knows how she likes things, but she is pretty content most of the time!  We waited a long time to meet her, and she arrived at just the right time!  We are incredibly grateful to have a healthy, thriving, and beautiful baby who loves her sister, Victory!  We are extremely blessed, and it is a privilege to be Alex’s Mamma!

 

 

Loving Winter 2019

Happy winter!  Winter is not one of our favorite seasons of the year, with less day light and colder temperatures, but we are embracing our time together!  Below are a few things I have been recently loving this winter!

 

 

1. Gathre World Mat — We gave Alex this play mat for Christmas, and we love it, and she loves it, too!  It works really well, by creating a smooth surface, for playing!  We also have Gathre bibs, changing mats, and a mat for the high chair, that we love!

2. Matimati Bibs —  Since the teething has been in full swing with Alex, we discovered these bibs and they work really well to keep the drool off of her clothing.  They also wash up quite nicely, too!

3. Nuby Massaging Brush — We love the Nuby massage brush/teether!  Alex especially loves it, as she uses it each day!

4. Steve Antony Panda Books — We read to Alex daily, and we fell in love with Steve Antony’s panda books that we fortuitously discovered this fall!  They are wonderful.  We have one more to order, and then we will have all of these panda books, that are available right now!  (Steve Antony also has other wonderful books, too!)

5. Inheritance, by Dani Shapiro  — I love Dani Shapiro’s books.  I have read all of her books, except for one, I believe!  I love reading memoirs, and this was a very interesting and moving memoir.  This memoir explores such questions: What makes us who we are?  What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?  It is a fascinating read, and Dani also has a new forthcoming podcast coming out next month.

6. Orvis Dog Leash — This leash is back at Orvis, which we had monogrammed for our beloved Biscuit!  We recently got this same leash with Victory’s name engraved on it, like Biscuit’s leash.

Happy winter!

You can view other things I love here!

Six Month Snapshot: Alexandra

We made it half a year, six months, outside the womb, together, and baby Alex had her very first half birthday, recently!  How is our baby Alex already six months old!  So much has happened this month!  The theme for this month summed up in one word is transition.  Baby Alex is changing all the time.  In fact, she got her first two teeth, which are coming in, the two located in the lower middle of her mouth, which we have affectionately named, “chomper” and “pointy!”  She was quite fussy during the later part of December, just prior to her teeth cracking through the gums.  Her sleep was pretty erratic, during this time, and we were both pretty tired, and we still are tired, imagine that!  Her sleep is slowly improving, but it is still erratic with the teething. The drool is also quite real with the teething!  We really love these bibs, which help preserve her clothes during teething due to all of the drool!  It is hard to believe she will have 16 teeth by the time she is two!  We are wiping these little teeth stumps (“chomper” and “pointy”) daily, per my dentist’s recommendation, to help keep them clean!  Our baby girl is eating solids for mostly for dinner this month after really not liking the rice cereal, and she also is not a fan of the oatmeal!  So far, she likes squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, mango, avocado, and pears!

She has also moved to her ‘big girl’ stroller seat on her Bugaboo Fox!  We finally have the swaddle down for sleeping, it only took us six months to figure this out!  We use two swaddles concurrently: this arm swaddle and the Ollie Swaddle!  Baby Alex cannot escape wearing these two swaddles, finally, which helps prevent her from waking up!  We hope that we get down to only getting up one time a night or not getting up at all during the night, but the teething has not made things easy at night, recently.  She still really loves to roll around on her tummy and she can spin and roll around like a pro.  She can get into the crawling position, and we anticipate her to be mobile soon, which is a scary prospect!  We already started to baby proof our home.  This month our baby girl also started going to her play school a few days a week and, so far, it is going well!  She did, however, get sick, with a fever, for the first time, which was difficult, likely due to teething.  She is doing and feeling better now, thankfully.  During Alex’s sixth month, we also celebrated her first Christmas and New Years together!  We had a great time together celebrating with friends!  Alex also experienced her first snow recently!  She continues to grow and grow!  We are biased, but we think she just gets more beautiful each month!  We go to the pediatrician later this week for her sixth-month check-up; and we hope at, some point, she slows down with her physical growing!  She is very long and we are going through clothes like they are literally going out of style!  She is wearing mostly 18 month sized clothes, depending on how the clothes fit!  Victory is still doing well in her ‘big sister’ role!  She loves greeting Alex each morning while licking her from head to toe, a morning ritual, which we have coined, “Victory doing her morning rounds!”  We have some evening time, mostly at night with Victory, and I think she really enjoys this alone time with us!  We love our girls and we are embracing it all, and we feel so blessed beyond words!

A few highlights from Alex’s sixth month include:

-this arm swaddle has really helped us with sleeping during the day and night!  I highly recommend it!

-the teething has not made Alex too happy!  As a result, she has been up a lot at night the past few weeks, which has not been fun for anyone!

-she still loves to grab her feet and grab anything in sight and put it in her mouth!  We are still using the teething glove!  She has managed to get into Victory’s water bowl recently!  We have taken the first steps to baby proofing our home.

-she makes lots of sounds and she says, “agee;” “hey;” and “atoy toy.”  We have no idea what these words mean, but she repeats them!

-she loves to give her vocal cords a work out, at times, while screeching quite loudly!

-she is learning to swallow without sucking first!  We are working on introducing more types of foods, each week!

-she loves to give Victory treats!  We open up Alex’s hand and then Victory comes over and licks the treat from the palm of Alex’s hand, and Alex thinks it is the funniest thing, as she chuckles and smiles!  Alex does love to stroke Victory’s fur and she does not seem to mind Victory’s daily licks all over he body!

-she loves to play and she loves to be read to!  We are a fan of these books!

-she still finds the mirror very captivating!

-she has learned how to spit and thinks it is fantastic!  Sometimes, we even find her spitting in her crib in the mornings and she thinks it is so funny!

-she is sometimes holding her bottle on her own!

-on a daily basis Doug asks Alex where she is hiding her cookies, which is very important, based upon this video!

-she is still very alert and observant!  She is still going to the gym with us sometimes in the evenings, and she seems to like the care center, so far, when our favorite care provider, Lynn, is there to care for her, so we can get a work out in several times a week!  We plan to take her swimming soon, when it gets a bit warmer outside!

-she still loves her Ergo, and we have done some walks together, despite the colder temperatures!

-she still loves her swing, and she takes at least one nap in it daily, typically!  (I am not sure what we are going to do when she outgrows her swing!)

 

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!

-enjoying our first Christmas and New Year together as a family of four!

-greeting Alex in her nursery in the mornings!  One of my favorite times, and Victory always joins us!

-loving on her long, velvety soft and smooth body!

-loving how she smells after a bath!

-loving how her hair is so fluffy and soft against my skin!  It keeps growing!

-loving her chuckle, which is so adorable.

-watching her ride on her Daddy’s shoulders around the house, which she loves!

-watching her eat her first foods, which has been fun to witness!

-watching her greet Victory in the morning and her Daddy in the evenings during the week after work!

-watching her explore her environment!

-remembering that she loves (prefers) to be naked, in her diaper, at home!

-remembering her sticking her tongue out to feel her chompers!

-remembering how peaceful she looks while she is sleeping!

-remembering how she likes to dance while holding our hands to keep her balance!

-watching her meeting and interacting with new people — right now, she is open to other people and does not seem to mind being in the company of others!

-remembering her getting sick for the very first time.

-giving her a bath without her being so upset, although she still is not loving bath time!

-enjoying our morning time consisting of: play time and story tine together, a time when baby Alex is very animated and she is generally in a really good mood, and now Victory joins us, which makes it even better!

-rocking Alex to sleep at night in her swaddle!

-marveling at her smile — she has the most wonderful smile that melts our hearts!

-admiring her eyes — they are the prettiest deep blue eyes I have ever seen!  We think she is going to keep those beautiful blue eyes!

-loving her long, dark eye lashes!

-enjoying the beautiful morning light in Alex’s nursery each morning!

-staying in our pajamas for days, not leaving the house!

-knowing how much our little Victory affectionately loves her ‘little sister!’

-watching Alex play with her Daddy!

-having our first real date night this month, which we hope to do one to two times a month!

-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.

-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.  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 sixth month with us!  You can read our birth story along with viewing images from Alex’s birth here; you can read Alex’s first month snapshot here; her second month snapshot here; her third month snapshot here; her fourth month snapshot here; and her five month snapshot here.

It has been 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!

 

 

 

 

 

You can see the extraordinary change in only six months, below!

 

 

 

 

You can see the the change over a six month period, immediately below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few iphone images from this month!

 

 

 

Good Read: Rest


 

Recently between feedings, naps, and reading before bed, when I can, I recently finished reading, Rest by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang.  It was a good read and also enlightening and insightful, especially entering this year, 2019, where I hope to make more time for rest, despite having a baby, where things always seem quite busy.  The premise of the book is how rest and work are integrally connected and that you actually can be more creative and efficient when one gets proper rest.  I highly recommend it, for all, especially creative persons!  It certainly changed my perspective on rest, work, and creativity.  I think dogs have a great perspective on rest that we can learn from as well!  Some favorite quotes from this book are shown below!

“…it is not constant effort that delivers results but a kind of constant, patient, unhurried focus that organizes the investigator’s attention when at work and is present but watchful during periods of ease.  Devoting yourself only to the first and neglecting the second might make you more productive in the short run but will make your work less profound in the long run.”

“Figures as different as Charles Dickens, Henri Poincaré, and Ingmar Bergman, working in disparate fields in different times, all shared a passion for their work, a terrific ambition to succeed, and an almost super human capacity to focus.  Yet when you look closely at their daily lives, they only spent a few hours a day doing what we would recognize as their most important work.  The rest of the time, they were hiking mountains, taking naps, going on walks with friends, or just sitting and thinking.  Their creativity and productivity, in other words, were not the result of endless hours of toil.  Their touring creative achievements result from modest ‘working’ hours.”

“We think of routine as the opposite of creativity: things done by routine require little thought and leave no room for creative interpretation of flexibility.  In reality, German sociologists Sandra Ohly, Sabine Sonnentag, and Franziska Pluntke argue, routines can enhance creativity.”

“A combination of routine and freedom, a world laid out to support creative work while reducing unnecessary distractions and peripheral decisions, nicely describes the world that focused moorings and routines make.  And if creativity is supported by routine, rest is absolutely dependent on it.”

“In order to keep rest from being invaded by work or crowded our of your day by a long to-do list, you need to use your routine like a fortification to protect your time.  That same routine also lets you get more done and makes you more creative.  It’s another example of how work and rest are subtly connected and mutually reinforcing.”

“Naps can provide an opportunity to have new ideas.  The studies show that you can learn to time your nap to increase the creative boost that it provides, make it more physically restorative, or probe the traffic between the conscious mind and unconscious mind.  Napping, in other words, turns out to be a skill.”

“Frank Lloyd Wright likewise advised architecture students that in the afternoon ‘a short nap was a must,’ as it ‘divided one day into two and helped to refuel the creative spirit.'”

“Dalí argues that the real work of painting happens while the artist sleeps, particularly in the nights before starting a new painting.  He urges readers not to regard this sleep as a period of ‘inactivity and indifference.’  To the contrary: ‘It’s precisely during this sleep,’ he says, ‘that you will secretly in the very depths of your spirit, solve most of its subtle and complicated technical problems, which in your state of waking consciousness you would never be humanly capable of solving.’  It is in the dream that ‘the principal part — that is to say the sleep — of the work is already done.'”

“Naps are powerful tools for recovering our energy and focus.  We can even learn to tailor them to give us more of a creative boost, or provide more physical benefit, or explore the ideas that emerge at the boundary between consciousness and sleep.”

“The deliberate stop also makes you more productive over the long run.  Many writers start their careers believing that the best work is done in bursts of inspiration only to discover that they do higher-quality work and get more done if they pace themselves.”

“Creative work is a marathon, not a sprint, as writer (and marathoner) Haruki Murakami put it.  In both running and writing, ‘once you set the pace, the rest will follow,’ Murakami says.  ‘The problem is getting the flywheel to spin at a set speed — and get to that point takes as much concentration and effort as you can manage.”‘

“Whether they’ve looked at memories of creative people or measured the effectiveness of breaks on performance on divergence tests, they’ve found that breaks provide a fairly consistent boost to creative thinking.”

“But you don’t do great work by sprinting to the finish; you’re more likely to accomplish great things by stopping at a strategic point and continuing the next day.”

“Sleep turns out to be important for the maintenance of the brain’s physical health and the growth of new brain cells.  It’s essential for the consolidation of memories and processing of new skills, and for the interpretation of experiences.”

“Sabbaticals give creative people a chance to reanimate their creative lives, explore new interests, and make life-changing breakthroughs.  Together, they help intelligent, ambitious people stay curious, engaged, and productive, and help them lead long creative lives.”

“At first, researchers mainly investigated the benefits of exercise for healthy aging, but studies now show that for people of any age, gender, or athletic ability, exercise can increase brain power, boost intelligence, and provide the stamina and psychological resilience necessary to do creative work.”

“Exercise generally has indirect but positive effects on creativity.”

“Workaholics are more likely than other people to feel anxiety about work when they’re out of the office, and exercise provides an outlet for nervous energy and a different focus for mental energy.”

“We shouldn’t be surprised that people manage to be physically active and do world-class work.  We should recognize that they do world-class work because they are physically active.”

“Because play is voluntary, intrinsically rewarding, mentally and physically engaging, and imaginative, it’s often absorbing and effortless; even when it’s physically challenging or uncomfortable, it’s not difficult in the same way a hard day at work is.”

“Deep play is a critical form of deliberate rest and an essential part of the lives of creative people.  It provides a way to unify what might otherwise be disparate and scattered activities into a unified whole, a life that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

“For creative and prolific people, seeing outside activities as expressions of the same interests that guide their professional lives builds a bridge between the worlds of work and rest and help turn these activities into deep play.”

“Deep play is also striking because even if it speaks to the same profound interests and uses common skills, it also establishes clear boundaries between work and play.”

“Sabbaticals can also play a critical but easily overlooked role in one’s intellectual development.  These don’t have to be the scheduled well-organized sabbaticals that are a prized feature of academic life.  Some of the most powerful life-changing sabbaticals are relatively short.”

“The most fruitful sabbaticals, like other forms of deliberate rest, are active.”

“Yet a weeklong sabbatical can be restorative when done skillfully, and even a monthlong sabbatical can be life-changing.”

“A life that takes rest seriously is not only a more creative life.  When we take the right to rest, when we make rest fulfilling, and when we practice rest through our days and years, we also make our lives richer and more fulfilling.”

“Taking rest seriously requires recognizing its importance, claiming our right to rest, and carving out and defending space for rest in our daily lives.”

“Deliberate rest is not a negative space defined by the absence work or something that we hope to get sometime.  It is something positive, something worth cultivating in its own right.”

“Deliberate rest help organize your life.  It also helps calm your life.”

“Deliberate rest helps cultivate calm.  It deepens your capacity to focus, which helps you complete urgent tasks while driving off anxiety.  It encourages you to work steadily rather than wait for a burst of inspiration.”

“Deliberate rest also gives you more time.  At an everyday level, deliberate rest helps you work more effectively.  It frees time in your calendar by helping you maintain stricter boundaries between work and rest time, and use your leisure time in more fulfilling ways.  By helping you find forms of rest that don’t compete with work, deep play and deliberate rest reduces your sense of time pressure.”

“Finally, deliberate rest helps you live a good life.”

“Rest is not idleness.  When we treat rest as work’s equal and partner, recognize it as a playground for the creative mind and springboard for new ideas, and we see it as an activity that we can practice and improve, we elevate rest into something that can help calm our days, organize our lives, give us more time, and help us achieve more while working less.”

2019 Word of the Year: Embrace

 

Happy New Year!  We had a wonderful time over the Holidays and we hope that you did, too!  We are back from taking a break over the Holidays and we are getting caught up and back into the swing of things!  Many people write new year resolutions.  I concurrently write down my goals for the year, which I recently finished, while also reflecting upon last year, a life changing year, but I have found it more helpful to have a word, an intention, to focus on throughout the year.

This year, after reflection, I decided the word embrace would be my word for 2019.  Last year I chose 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.

Embrace defined: /əmˈbrās/ noun 1. an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically.

I decided that I want to absolutely embrace this year.  We waited a long time for this season to arrive and I plan to fully embrace and be present through it all.  We are truly excited to see what this year has in store for us!

Are you considering selecting a word for yourself (or letting one find you)?  There is no right or wrong.  The main thing to remember is that this is your word.

And what do you do with this one little word?  You live with it.  You invite it into your life.  You let it speak to you.  You might even follow where it leads.  There are so many possibilities.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

Happy Pawlidays!

“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased.  It is no small gift.”  — Mary Oliver

Happy Pawlidays!  Thank you so much for a wonderful and remarkable year!  I am very grateful to my readers!  Thank you so very much for reading the blog — it means so much to me.

Below is the front of our Pawliday card (the back of our card containing text is not pictured) along with our matching envelopes using custom stamps and little photo seals of our beautiful Baby Alex and little Victory!  (You can view our previous Pawliday cards herehereherehere, here, 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 all of our blog friends!  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.  We hope that you have a wonderful Holiday!

 

 

 

 

And, here is our top nine images for 2018 from Instagram, shown below!

 

 

Over the Holidays, I will be taking a brief break from the blog to enjoy some down time with our little family.  I will return to the blog in January 2019.  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

Happy Pawlidays!