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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!

Christmas Time: Visiting Santa

This past weekend we took Baby Alex and  Victory to visit Santa, an annual tradition!  The girls were both very good!  Of course, Santa and his helpers remembered our beloved little fur girl, as this is Victory’s fifth time visiting Santa!  Santa also welcomed Baby Alex with open arms, too, celebrating her very first visit to see Santa!  This is the only Santa in our area that welcomes both of our girls!  You can see Victory’s previous trips to visit Santa hereherehere, and here.  Victory wore her Holiday velvet ruff and Baby Alex wore a burgundy dress to coordinate for their visit with Santa!  All proceeds from visiting Santa are donated to a local dog rescue, a very good cause near and dear to our hearts as Biscuit and Victory are rescues.  If you are interested, be sure to check with and visit your local pet stores to see if there is a Santa in your area that specializes in furry family members!

A few images from Baby Alex’s and Victory’s first visit together with Santa are shown below along with images of Victory from the previous four years’ visits with Santa!  The time really does fly by too quickly!  We are so grateful for our fur girl, Victory!

Additionally, each year, I have a photo ornament made with Victory and Santa for our Christmas tree!  This year, I made an ornament of our Baby Alex and Victory together visiting Santa; and one of Victory visiting Santa!

Other images include our decorated little live Christmas tree from Maine that we order online each year, along with a few images of Baby Alex and Victory in their matching red outfits by our Christmas tree, including our personalized Christmas stockings!

We have so much to be grateful for this year!  We are looking forward to celebrating our first Christmas together with both of our girls!

We hope that you are enjoying the Holiday season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Gift: Fur Mammas and Human Mammas

We fortuitously and recently came across Le Papier Studio, where we designed a necklace with custom engraved stencil charms of our Baby Alex and beloved Victory!  The stencil of Baby Alex is based on an image from when she was three months old; and the stencil of Victory is based on an image from earlier this past spring while we were on our babymoon!  I took an iphone image of our Baby Alex, in profile, which was no small feat, and I found an image of Victory, in profile, facing the same direction, shown immediately below.  I then placed my order with the images and provided a facing forward image of Baby Alex for reference.  A few weeks later, I received a mock-up along with the actual size of the charms engraved with the girls’ nicknames, “Alex” and “Tory,” shown below; and then I recently received the finished product in the mail, also shown below!  The whole process took about a month.  I love my necklace so much with our ‘girls’ and it is a really neat keepsake that I will cherish forever!  This makes a wonderful gift for any fur mamma and/or human mamma!

 

Images:

 

 

Mock-Up:

 

Finished Product:

#FindYourFido: Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

It is the #FindYourFido Adopt a Shelter Dog Month via the ASPCA!  Approximately 3.3 million dogs enter the U.S. shelters each year.  Anyone who has been reading this blog, for any length of time, knows that dog rescue is near and dear to our hearts.  Victory is a rescue and Biscuit was a rescue.  So, when the ASPCA asked if we could share in this campaign, we were happy to participate and help spread the word about this important topic.

How can you get involved?  The public can get involved by visiting here and by using the hashtag, #FindYourFido, to promote shelter dogs, and searching for local adoptable dogs across the country.  Please consider adopting a dog who needs a forever home.  I can attest that you will not only change the life of a dog forever, but your life will also, simultaneously, be forever changed in an extremely positive way that you cannot even imagine!  Biscuit and Victory have changed our lives for the better forever!  We cannot imagine life any other way!  A few images of the transformation of our precious Biscuit and Victory are shown below!

 

 

 

 

The extraordinary transformation of our rescue dogs, Biscuit and Victory, are shown immediately below!

 

Biscuit and Victory are integral family members!

 

Victory is recently now a “big sister” and she is my “co-mamma!”  She has grown so much and loves taking care of her baby Alex!  You can watch a very short video of Victory taking care of her sister, baby Alex, here!

Are You in the Photos?

Prior to having baby Alex, I was the person always taking the photos, and while I appeared in some images, I did not appear in too many overall.  Now, having a baby, I want to have some images where Doug and I are photographed with our baby girl!  A few times in the past two weeks, we took a look at the weather and then did some impromptu photo shoots together.  (I just made sure to dry my hair, which is a treat these days!)  It is easy and it does not require much time or planning!  We hope to take advantage of the weather through the fall and take some more photos together, as our baby Alex is not going to be small for too long, and we want to be able to capture this time with her in our arms, to hold onto forever!

I even think when we are out and about, we will start asking people, even strangers, to take photos of us with Alex and Victory.  I want to have Doug and I represented more in our camera roll!

I still do impromptu photo shoot with Victory and baby Alex, a few of those recent images appear below, too!  I try to always keep my camera on hand, especially when I think, “I want to remember this moment!”  It is always fun to capture the everyday, the moments we are most likely to remember versus only capturing the “big” events and milestones.  Play time in the mornings is a favorite for baby Alex and Victory, who is now fully integrated with her sister!  Victory joins play time and story time each morning and Victory licks baby Alex literally from head to toe, including every fold and roll!  It is adorable and I think Victory knows that she is a ‘big sister’ or a ‘co-mamma!’  It has been really wonderful to witness Victory’s love for her sister!  Baby Alex is aware of Victory, but she has not yet fully ‘discovered’ Victory — we can’t wait until this happens!

Happy Tuesday!

 

 

 

 

 

Update: Our Fur Girl, Victory!

I thought that I would provide an update on our fur girl, Victory!  Victory is now officially a ‘big sister!’  It is very difficult to believe, at times!  We are so grateful!  We are all doing better overall with more rest, and a little time together under our belts!  We have been giving Victory lots of love and reassurance!  The first month was a major adjustment period for all of us, including our fur girl, Victory!  (We are still adjusting; but our new normal feels more normal!)  I wrote this post to help prepare other similarly situated dogs welcoming a human sibling!  Victory, along with us, is doing pretty well.  In addition to the items/ideas contained in that post, we have been doing the following, below, to help Victory during this big transition.

We have transitioned baby Alex into her nursery in her Dock-A-Tot, which has been helpful for all, especially Victory — baby Alex is a noisy sleeper, often times at night!  Victory now has Doug and I to herself in our bed, the way it had always been, which she loves along with her tuck-ins at night — a favorite time and ritual with her, which Victory loves!  Before bed we have been staying up a little later with just Victory to give her some time by herself after putting baby Alex to bed.  This has really helped Victory.

Our house now has just the four of us, which is the way Victory likes it — she prefers not to have visitors!  This has helped Victory as well!  We are now able to consistently implement her morning routine, which she likes, which consists of the following: potty; back to bed to rest; potty again; breakfast; teeth brushing; and then she goes up to my office and waits for me, just the way she likes it and she rests for the remainder of the day with more potty trots!  She is now giving me my morning ‘feet washing,’ while I sit at my desk, the way she always used to do prior to baby Alex!

We have been taking Victory on outings with us, which she loves, even though the weather has been extremely hot and humid along with a lot of rain recently!  We have been going out for ice cream and a few dinners together, which have all gone well!  This has definitely helped her morale, immensely!  (We are looking forward to the fall, which has officially arrived, filled with cooler temperatures and fun outings planned with our girls!)

When I feed baby Alex, I have started to give Victory some treats to keep her feel included, which she likes!  Victory even licks baby Alex’s little feet and legs — it is quite adorable!

When we read to baby Alex, we include Victory in story time, and she seems to enjoy it!  Victory is even coming into the nursery on her own more often now!

During the day, I make sure I talk to Victory and tell her that we love her and that she is doing a great job, and her little sister is going to absolutely adore her when she gets a little older and discovers our fur girl!

We are making progress on this front and we are doing our best to keep things as normal as possible for Victory; somedays are easier than others!  Overall, Victory is doing quite well and she has been a great ‘big sister!’  We are very grateful for our girls!

Below are a few snapshots of our girls, Alex and Victory!

 

 

Alex and Victory are pictured together, below, recently on the first day of fall!

 

Loving: Baby Edition, Summer 2018

Happy summer, what is technically left of summer, anyway!  We are only several weeks into being parents, however, below are some items that we have really loved since baby Alex came home from the hospital!

 

 

1. Bugaboo Fox – We love this stroller!  Baby Alex loves going for rides in her buggy and we look forward to using the toddler seat, shown above, when she gets a bit older!

2. Uppababy Mesa Car Seat – We really love this car seat!  Baby Alex typically falls asleep in this car seat very easily, which is great!

3. Ergo Carrier – We love the Ergo, and we even have one for Victory!  baby Alex usually falls asleep while in the Ergo and it is great for walks and also for getting things around the house, if needed!

4. Glider – This glider is wonderful and very comfortable!  It is great for nursing and feedings along with story time!

5. Swing – We love this swing and so does baby Alex!  She takes at least one good nap a day in it!  We also love that it has a puppy on it, plus the fact that it is electric and plugs in so there is no need to worry about the swing running out of juice!

6. Dock-A-Tot – We absolutely love the Dock-A-Tot!  It saved us!  Because of it, baby Alex began to sleep at night!  We will likely get her the Grand Dock-A-Tot when she outgrows the Deluxe Dock-A-Tot!

7. Swaddle Wraps  – These are fantastic!  They also saved us!  Baby Alex began to sleep at night and naps during the day when she was unable to escape these velcro swaddles!

8. Muslin Swaddle Blankets – These muslin swaddle blankets are wonderful and they are breathable and not too heavy — they are great for just about anything — stroller rides, car seat rides, and wrapping up your baby, etc.

9. White Noise Machine – The white noise machine has been great at night since, which helps keep baby Alex asleep at night.

10. Spectra Breast Pump – I really like this breast pump.  It does not cause pain while using it and it is very quiet and efficient, along with it being rechargeable so it is portable, which is very convenient.

11. Burp Cloths – We really like these burp clothes — they are very soft and they wash up nicely.

12. Pacifier  – Through a recommendation of a friend, this was the pacifier that baby Alex can actually keep in her mouth!  It works really well!

13. Fish Bath – This soft bath worked really well while baby Alex was really small.  It was soft and held her head and body well while we bathed her via sponge baths in the kitchen!

14. Whale Bath – We have moved to this bath now, which has three seating positions, which fits in our tub.  It works really well and will work for a while as baby Alex grows!

15. Johnson’s Sleepy Time Bath Kit – We really like the lavender, sleepy-time, bath kit!  Baby Alex smells really wonderful after her baths.

16. Pampers Swaddlers Daipers – We really like these diapers — they are super absorbent and baby Alex seems to like them and she has not had any diaper rashes!

17. Pampers Wipes – These wipes work quite well!

18. A and D Ointment – This ointment works really well to prevent diaper rash.  Baby Alex has not had any diaper rash since we have used this A and D Ointment in conjunction with the Pampers Swaddlers and wipes.

19. Nancy Tillman Books – We love these books!  We have about four of the Nancy Tillman books, thus far!  I highly recommend them.  The paintings are beautiful in these books that augment the wonderful stories.

20. What to Expect the First Year Book – This book is great to look things up quickly or read along as your child grows!  I highly recommend it!

You can view other things I love here!

The Importance of Memory Keeping

 

Since becoming a Mamma, I have been thinking even more about memory keeping, especially since our baby Alex is growing like a weed and changing daily; and our beloved fur girl, Victory, will not always be with us physically.  (Victory is well and she is doing well and we hope to have many, many more years with her, as we cannot imagine life without her!)  We are throughly enjoying our time with our girls!  Therefore, I want to preserve as many fleeting moments as I am able.  I am a visual person and it brings us joy to have tangible ways to preserve moments.  Below are a few ways that I preserve and plan to preserve our memories.

1. Baby Hand Print and Foot Prints — I purchased this kit prior to going to the hospital.  Soon after coming home, with the help of my Mom, we made Alex’s newborn hand and foot prints!  They are so tiny!  I am really glad that we did this to capture an impression of her hand print and foot print as a newborn.  We also did this in a similar way with our fur girl, Victory — see here and here.

2. Promptly Journal – I love making photo books; however,  I wanted to find a simple way to capture this time in our lives so I purchased a childhood promptly journal, which helps you capture your child’s complete history from your pregnancy until your child is 18 years old.  There are pages for your to document your pregnancy; pages month for the first year of your baby’s life; and then there are pages for each birthday until age 18.  Each section has places to document your child’s favorite things and then it has questions that help prompt you with what to say.  Additionally, there are places to add photographs, and there are even places to write letters to your child.  So far, it has been manageable to keep up with; and I have had fun completing this book and inserting tangible items to capture memories, and it will hopefully be a nice keepsake for Alex enjoys when she is older.

3. Birth Story – I wrote a more detailed and personal birth story for Alex for when she is older augmented by images of her birth sharing the entire experience with her, while it was fresh in my mind.  (I keep a folder on my computer where I save such documents in one place, which helps keep things organized.)

4. Pregnancy Announcement and Baby Announcement – I designed our pregnancy announcement and our baby announcement that we mailed out to friends and family along with using a custom stamp and seal for both announcements.  It is a nice way to memorialize this type of exciting news in a tangible format!

5. Monthly Portraits (first year) – I am going to do my best to take monthly portraits of Alex and Victory and Alex together to capture what Alex looks like each month during the first year.  Then, I will likely move to yearly portraits!  Of course, I will always do impromptu photo shoots!

6. Monthly Blog Posts (first year) – I plan to do monthly blog posts sharing thoughts and highlights from that month as a way to remember each month with Alex during the first year!

7. Photo Books – I have made a photo book from our wedding, honeymoon, and our annual vacations together since 2011!  I love them!  I have also made a baby book for Alex leading up to and through her birth.  I plan to make another photo book capturing her first year and I plan to subsequently make yearly photo books of Alex, including our fur girl, Victory, of course!

8. Annual Calendar  – I have made an annual calendar for us for at least the past five years and we really love them!  They also make great gifts and they are the perfect size for a desk!  I plan to continue this yearly tradition!

9. Photo Magnets – I like to make photo magnets for our refrigerator of our favorite images!  Our refrigerator is covered in images, photo magnets and quotable magnets which can easily be swapped out, etc.  They also make great gifts, too!

10. Prints – I have always made a point to print our images as I edit them, and then frame them around the house.  Since having Alex, I have even more images from my phone and ‘big camera.’  So, in order to keep up on everything, each week, I download the images from my iphone (I usually edit the images from my iphone on my phone as I take them) and from my CF card on my camera and cull and edit the images and save them on my computer in two places as a back up.  Then, each month, I print these images.  (I have to do this process somewhat consistently, or else it become unmanageable to keep up with.)  Further, there are a variety of places to get prints made online.  I try to document our everyday as it unfolds in images, which typically turn out to be the best images that occur spontaneously.

11. Albums – After I print the images each month, I put them in a photo album.  I know that this may be outdated, but I really like having our images in chronological order and organized in tangible form.  I have been doing this since Doug and I met and it is nice to have some semblance of our images.  Plus, it is always nice, sometimes, to go through images from the past and reminisce.  I also have started a photo album for Alex, which contain images specific to her.

12. Frame Prints – I make fine art prints of the images that I frame to put around our house.  It brings us joy to have our images around the house to actually look at versus having hundreds of images on a phone or computer!  I try to update prints in our frames throughout the year, on multiple occasions, with the images that we especially love and want to see each day!  I use simple frames for the wall and I also use simple frames for around the house for those frames that are not hung on the wall.

I hope that this helps give some ideas for preserving the fleeting moments that go by much too quickly!