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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from our cherubs, Alex and Victory!  Alex had her first Easter Egg Hunt yesterday at her play school; she is pictured below just after we finished her egg hunt and we were on our way to dinner!  (Doug and I helped Alex find some eggs.)  She had a good time and she received a sweet Easter basket after the egg hunt!  The Easter Bunny is ready to visit our cherubs on Sunday, and we are excited to celebrate Alex’s first Easter!  Wishing you a wonderful Easter weekend!

By the way, I am taking a spring break from the blog next week, and I plan to be back the following week!

“It is spring again.  The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

Happy Friday!

 

Do you have a Nickname?

Do you have a fun nickname?  Funnily enough, our baby Alex already has a nickname!  About two months after Alex was born, Doug came home from work and, while I held Alex, Doug greeted her and he proceeded to pull Alex’s pants at the waist band, (Alex was wearing a cotton onesie with matching cotton pants with an elastic waist band), and she subsequently let out the loudest cry, her face became beat red, and she was very, very upset, as a result.  Ever sense, Doug has referred to Alex as “britches,” and the nickname has stuck!  What an unlikely nickname!  Also, Victory has a couple of nicknames, “Tory” and “Ms. T.”  Victory knows her nicknames very well, and she always responds to in kind!  I sometimes catch myself mixing up their names, especially when I am tired.

Doug also has a nickname for me, “Big Cheetah,” which has stuck for the past almost fifteen years!  And, Doug is my “Panda.”  The ‘cheetah and panda’ is a metaphor for our relationship, and we even had a cheetah and panda displayed atop our wedding cake!  We also have a collection, that has been put away, due to Alex’s arrival, comprising a menagerie of cheetahs and pandas that we have acquired over the past fifteen years!  Maybe Alex will like to play with them some day, as some of the cheetahs and pandas now reside in her nursery!  We are not sure what animal metaphor represents Alex, yet, but she seems, thus far, not to be a “panda,” but time will tell . . .

 

Loving Spring 2019

Happy spring!  We hope that it will actually feel more and more like spring on a consistent basis soon!  We have, however, had a few beautiful days here that we have really enjoyed outside!  Below are some items I am loving!

 

 

1. Justin’s Peanut Butter — I recently tried this peanut butter, and it is really great — I highly recommend it!  Victory loves it, too!  (Victory recently had a dental and lost two teeth, poor girl, and we used this peanut butter to give her pain and inflammation medicine, and it worked!)

2. Journal —  I have been using this journal, and I really love it.  It has wonderful inspirational quotes included as well!

3. Tommy John’s Air Brief — These are my new favorite undies that Doug got for me recently!  (Doug also got a pair, to try, and he loves them, too!)  (My past favorite undies here and here are, unfortunately, no longer made.)

4. Dare to Lead — This book was a great read!  It is a wonderful actionable handbook on creating a space for better work and more fulfilled people.  Brown writes, “One of the most important findings of my career is that daring leadership is a collection of four skill sets that are 100 percent teachable, observable, and measurable.  It’s learning and unlearning that requires brave work, tough conversations, and showing up with your whole heart.  Easy?  No.  Because choosing courage over comfort is not always our default.  Worth it?  Always.  We want to be brave with our lives and our work. It’s why we’re here.”

5. Diono Car Seat  — We love our Diono car seats, and, importantly, Alex seems to love them, too!  These should last us a good while, unlike our infant car seat!

6. Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion— I really love this lotion!  It is wonderful and I use it everyday after I shower.  There is no scent, no oily residue, and it keeps my skin really hydrated!  I highly recommend it!

Happy Spring!

You can view other things I love here!

Memories: Photo Magnets

Happy Friday and Happy Spring!  This is how Alex feels about it being Friday and officially spring, shown immediately below!  She, thankfully, appears to finally be feeling better and she is hopefully on the mend.

We recently redid all of the magnets on our refrigerator, shown below.  Victory even made a quick appearance!  I took everything off of our refrigerator and started fresh, while Doug made sure my first rows were level to keep everything lined up well.  We started in the upper left corner with photo magnets beginning from when we found our we were pregnant with Alex and chronologically we are currently at the lower right through month eight with Alex — we are clearly running out of room, as there is only room for one more row of photo magnets!  If you like photo magnets, I highly recommend Fox Print.  The photo magnets hold up well, we get them printed in color and black and white, depending upon the image, and it is fun because you can easily keep things current, as they are easy to remove and move the photo magnets around on a magnetic surface!  Currently, I have my favorite images printed once a month.  It is also neat to see the progression visually, in one spot, highlighting our time with Alex and Victory!  It is always a great conversation starter in our home as well!  (When I go through a big update again, I will keep the photo magnets for Alex to have some day; and, I will not go as low with the photo magnets, as she is starting to go after them — why I did not foresee this, I have no idea other than pure exhaustion.)

Happy Friday!

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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!

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!