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Two Month Snapshot: Alexandra

How is our baby Alex already two months old!  The time is going by so very quickly.  We are savoring each day and fleeting moment!  Overall, things have been a bit easier this month as compared to our first month together!  The theme for this month summed up in one word is rhythm.  We are finding our rhythm and grove with Alex!  We figured out what paci finally worked for Alex, one that would stay in her mouth, thanks to a recommendation by a friend!  Most importantly, Alex is finally sleeping, as compared to the first month, which is monumental.  She gives us about four to five hour stretches at night, six and seven hours on occasion, which has been so nice!  She is the most animated and interactive in the mornings after waking up and in the evenings right before bed time.  She is interacting with us and we love to see her smile, it melts our hearts!  And, she is taking about one to two long naps a day, on average, which has been great!  The Dock-A-Tot, paci, white noise machine, and velcro swaddles have helped immensely with her sleep!  We have learned what her cries mean, for the most part, we are trying to anticipate her needs, and we are getting a rhythm to our days, all the while she is constantly changing and growing.  Speaking of which, recently, to make more room in Alex’s closet and dresser, I packed away her clothes that no longer fit!  It was bittersweet.  Some clothes, she only wore one time, as she is constantly growing!  Overall, our life feels so much simpler since her arrival, all the while our life is more complicated simultaneously.  Most of all, we enjoy and love our baby Alex immensely!

Doug and I have also found our rhythm together.  We tag team to care for Alex and Victory.  We have become very efficient at getting things accomplished!  The element of time has a whole new meaning for us.  We have managed to even work out a schedule whereby we can both go to the gym multiple times a week, which is a feat with a little one!  I have managed to be able to see and visit with some friends, which has been really nice as well!

Victory is even doing better, too.  Last month, she would, sometimes, retreat to our bedroom when the baby cried and when we had visitors.  Now, she is staying with the baby and I even more.  I think it takes some time for everyone to somewhat acclimate.  We tell Victory each day that she is going to have a little sister that absolutely adores her in the coming months when Alex is able to understand and really discover Victory.  Victory is very gentle and kind with Alex, and we are very fortunate for this.  They are even nap buddies!  We have been able to get out for some outings, dinners and ice cream with Alex and Victory!   You can see below, Victory and Alex pictured at each of their gils’ dinners together this month!

A few highlights from Alex’s second month include:

-she is sleeping!  We are so elated!  We are all feeling a little more rested, but we are both tired!

-she is staying swaddled at night, with her velcro swaddles, which has helped immensely with her sleep and our sleep!

-she is a loud sleeper and she grunts, like a wild boar, which is apparently normal!  As a result, we moved her at seven weeks in her Dock-A-Tot to her crib in her nursery, down the hall, where she is now sleeping at night.

-she found her fingers and hands!  She sucks on her fingers and fists sometimes.  She is still looking for that thumb, possibly!

-she gave us some big smiles!  It was wonderful to witness!  She is starting to interact with us, which is neat!

-she loves her play yard!  She is mesmerized by all of the hanging objects and sounds!

-she loves her swing, and she takes at least one nap in it daily, usually!

-she has had several ‘blow outs’ that necessitated an immediate bath!  Thankfully, Doug handled most of the clean up during these instances and I gave Alex her baths following each ‘blow out!’

-she is tolerating bath time and we have moved to a larger bath tub for her, as she is growing like a weed!

-she and Victory like to be read to in the evenings before bed!

-she is still enjoying taking walks in her Bugaboo and Ergo!  Fortunately, she was born at a nice time of year so we can get outside, despite the rain and hot and humid temperatures, recently!

-she loves to eat and nurse!  She always let’s us know when it is time to eat!

 

A few highlights I would like to remember:

-enjoyed designing and creating our baby announcement introducing Alex, which we mailed to friends and family during her second month!

-love greeting Alex in her nursery in the mornings!  I think she is seeing more clearly, these days, as she gets older!  I enjoy our morning time, and play time together, a time when baby Alex is very animated and she is generally in a really good mood!

-enjoying nursing Alex, especially in the mornings and evenings, as it is one of my favorite times of day with her!  (We refer to her affectionately as our ‘little cherub!’)

-loving the little noises she makes!

-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.

-enjoying taking Alex and Victory out to eat a few times and having things going well!

-knowing now that I can reach 10,000 steps without intentionally exercising from running all over our house, room to room, all day long!

-Doug is sharing all types of music with Alex when he spends time with her in the evenings after work!  Sometimes, she will even fall asleep!

-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 lucky.  We look forward to seeing Alex’s little personality 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, of our precious girl along with some images of Alex and Victory during her second month with us!  You can read our birth story along with viewing images from Alex’s birth here; and you can read Alex’s one month snapshot here.

 

 

See how much Alex has grown as compared to last month!

 

 

See how much Alex has grown as compared to last month!

 

 

Alex working away in her play yard!

 

 

Alex in her bouncy seat!

 


 

 

Alex in her nursery!

 

Below are some iphone images of our little cherubs!

 

 

 

 

Here are our girls having a ‘Girls’ Dinner Date’ at multiple restaurants, including the Coal Fire; Mission BBQFive Guys; and Wegmans!

One Month Snapshot: Alexandra

Our little girl, Alexandra, whom we refer to as “Alex” is six weeks old already!  The time is flying.  I thought I would share some thoughts on our first month as a family of four.  (This post is a little late getting posted as we are still catching up on everything, as best we can, since having our baby.)  The theme of the first month summed up in one word is adjustment.  We waited a long time for our little girl to arrive and, as first time parents, we really did not know what to expect once she was here, with us, even though we took classes and read books to try to prepare.  Her birth is the biggest change of our lives, a very positive change!  However, one cannot really know what it feels like to welcome a child until it really happens.

Our Moms came and helped us during the first month, which was really helpful.  Doug was also home, during this time, which was also extremely helpful.  My recovery was a little longer than typical due to some complications.  Overall, during the first month, we were trying to figure out Alex’s needs such as sleeping and feedings.  We also had to remember that everything was and is still new to Alex and she is figuring out her new world as well.  Each day was different during the first month.  As a result, Doug and I were pretty sleep deprived during this time and we were beginning our adjustment during this monumental transition.  My brain, most days, feels a little scattered, evidenced by this article stating that a woman’s brain changes permanently after having a child.

Victory is very good with Alex she licks her feet, legs, ears, and face!  However, there are times where we can tell that she likely misses the way things were prior to Alex’s arrival, which is only natural.  Doug and I made and continue to make an extra effort to give Victory extra love and hugs along with getting her out for some outings, which was quite challenging to implement the first month, which felt quite chaotic overall.  Everyone is adjusting.  We look forward to outings this fall when it is cooler and Alex is a little older!  However, with time, we are finding our rhythm with Alex, a day at a time, along with helping Victory feel included as she is accustomed to as well.

A few highlights from Alex’s first month include:

-fighting going to sleep quite often — she would stay awake for stretches up to eight hours at a time!  She is very alert and it feels like she looks right into your soul with her little almond eyes.

-sleeping, most of the time, only if someone held her!  She would wake up as soon as one put her down for sleep — she would open her little eyes right away!

-enjoying taking walks in her Bugaboo and Ergo!  She fell asleep during most walks.

-escaping her swaddles, routinely, so we moved to the velcro swaddle, which has worked really well and they have prevented her hands and feet from moving all around, disrupting her sleep!

-refusing to sleep in her bassinet so we got the Dock-A-Tot, which she really likes and everyone started to get some sleep, as a result!

-crying during her entire first bath at home — but she smelled so nice once we were done!  Fortunately, she has done a little better during subsequent baths!

-lifting her head up, even though she does not have control of her head — she looks like a little turtle when she does this!

-enjoying nursing and eating!

-falling asleep often on our chests!

-seeing a couple first smiles!

-enjoying sitting out on the deck getting some fresh air!

-dancing with Doug to music to help calm Alex during her ‘fussy periods!’

-enjoying being read to before bedtime!

 

A few highlights I would like to remember:

-loving her smell — there is nothing like that wonderful smell and soft, velvety skin of a newborn!

-loving her little almond eyes, which are the darkest blue eyes I have ever seen!  I know we are biased, but we think she is just beautiful!

-enjoying being able to nurse our little girl!  I cherish this time, knowing it will not last forever, as the days are passing by too quickly and it seems she is physically changing daily!

-getting to see Doug be a dad (in addition to a fur dad) — he is great with Alex and he helps me a lot!

-celebrating my ‘big birthday’ with our little family on Alex’s one month anniversary!

-most of all, getting to be Alex’s mamma!

Doug and I are very grateful for our little girl and little family!  We feel so lucky.  We look forward to seeing Alex’s little personality develop and unfold.  Below are a few images of our precious girl along with some images of Alex and Victory during her first month with us!  You can read our birth story along with viewing images from Alex’s birth here.  (I aim to take images as life spontaneously unfolds.  However, I plan to take one portrait of Alex each month, during the first year, to see the progressive change throughout the year, also shown immediately below!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Birth Story — Introducing Alexandra Rose

I am happy to share our birth story of our precious, Alexandra Rose!  I am writing this story in the thick of it!  I was finally able to finish writing this thanks to many nursing sessions and a few naps.  We also finally just finished designing and preparing our baby announcements as well!  Everything takes a bit longer to get done these days!  We are still in newborn survival mode.  We understand that the first three months is analogous to the fourth trimester.  Our days have radically changed, for the better; however we are all still adjusting, including our fur girl, Victory!  For any other new mamas out there who feel like they are the only ones who have experienced days where you get nothing else done — even the simplest things — it is ok.  My main job is to keep our baby girl fed, dry, and loved.  And, after all, we will never get these early precious days back with our baby Alex!  We try to be fully present in order to soak everything in.  Doug has been really great with Alex and we work as a team and help each other in order to make everything work as smoothly as possible!

Victory is doing well.  We know it has been a big change for her, but she seems to have adopted Alex into her pack!  Victory is always close by me and she follows me everywhere.  She loves to lick Alex’s legs and feet when I nurse her.  We all take naps together, keeping things as normal as possible for our fur girl, Victory!  We look forward to the fall for more outings together, with the four of us, along with cooler temperatures.  We have managed to take Victory and Alex out for a few dinners near the house and all has gone well, thankfully!  Victory always loves her outings!  I am also working on Victory’s birthday theme and Halloween costumes for our girls!

Overall, we are all adjusting to this new little person who is totally dependent upon us; and Alex is also adjusting to her new world, too.  Thus, we are taking it a day at a time.  But everyday, I wake up, I am so grateful for our miracle baby!  I love her newborn smell and her extra soft skin.  It was an exceptional journey, and we are so grateful to have a healthy, beautiful baby.  Somedays it feels surreal that she is really here!  Baby Alex is very sweet, extremely alert, loves to nurse, is physically strong, likes tummy time, likes to be talked to, and always loves to be held.  The Dock-A-Tot and these swaddles have helped us get some sleep at night!  Each week she is sleeping a little more, which is great!  We are all learning as we go, as it is a huge life transition for everyone, and it will take some more time, but we can never imagine life without our precious little Alex.  We are so blessed; and Alex is truly a gift.  Our little family will never be the same and our hearts have grown immensely since her arrival!

 

 

On to our birth.  On July 13 around 10:00 p.m., the doctor came in and told me that I was 10 cm dilated and 100% effaced and it was finally time to push!  Finally – after a really long labor!  Doug and my Mom stayed with me in the room along with the doctor and nurses for the delivery.  Doug stayed up by my head and cheered me on during the pushing.  After about 25 minutes of pushing, at 10:30 p.m., our baby girl made her way into the world.  It all felt so surreal.  Doug cut the cord and the cord tissue and the cord blood was saved and sent to be cryopreserved with the Cord Blood Registry, CBR.  I will never forget Doug’s face — he looked in so much disbelief that she was actually here, with us!  She weighed 6 pounds, 15.8 ounces and was 20 inches in length.  The doctors quickly dried the baby off and put a hat on her and then immediately put her on my chest, skin to skin.  I heard her first cry as they placed her immediately on my chest – warm and perfect.  I looked at her and looked at Doug and was in compete awe at this little beautiful living being that we created.  We were a family, she was all ours, and I felt so overjoyed.  Then, we shared her name, Alexandra Rose!  Doug picked her name, a name he has always liked for some time, and her middle name is in honor of Doug’s beloved Grandma Rose.

 

 

Fortunately, our baby did not have any latching on problems, and she was willing to nurse, something I really wanted to do for her.  The nurses then took her to do some physical checks and foot prints, etc.  I will never forget meeting her for the first time.  Coincidently, she was even born on my Mom’s birthday as well, and she arrived, full term, five days early from her due date, July 18!  We were then transferred a few hours later to the postpartum unit of the hospital where we all stayed for two nights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following day, our fur girl, Victory, came to the hospital and met the baby and I got to hug and hold our fur girl, who I missed dearly.  (The hospital was kind enough to permit Victory to come after requesting her presence in advance).  It was a treat to have our whole little family together!  Friends also came to visit that evening to meet our baby girl!

 

 

 

On the early evening of July 15, Doug and I went home with our baby.  Truthfully, we were both scared of being on our own with her.  We appreciated all of the nurses’ help along with the lactation consultants’ help as well.  I was fortunate to have an excellent doctor and very kind nurses during my labor and delivery stay at the hospital.  Upon arriving home, it was also very helpful to have our Moms here to help us for several weeks as well.

 

 

 

Doug and I are currently finding our rhythm with Alex.  Each week gets a little easier.  We enjoy our evening walks together with Alex and Victory; and Alex loves her Bugaboo Fox and her Ergo with the infant insert!  Presently, each day is different and we are cherishing our time with her and Victory; the days are moving at lightening speed.  It is hard to believe she is already five weeks old!  She is growing like a weed and we are trying to savor and capture these days with her, which I try to document visually and in her Promptly Journal, which I love, as an alternative to a traditional baby book.  Most of all, we love getting to be Alex’s parents.  Somedays, I cannot believe I get to be Alex’s mama!  We are so very grateful for our little family!  Thank you so much for reading our birth story and I hope to share more soon about our first month as a family of four!

 

Photographs: Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach

In July, we took our first vacation together as a family of four!  We did not want to go too far from home due to traveling with a little one, Alex, so we decided to go to Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach over Alex’s first birthday to celebrate our first year together and our metamorphosis as a family of four!  Doug, fortunately, found one of the only beach houses to rent that would allow a baby and a furry family member!  We were only a few blocks from both beaches!  We did not have high expectations as we knew this vacation would be different, more like a trip rather than a vacation.  Additionally, we also were not sure how Alex would like the beach and ocean, and we had no idea how long she would last at the beach.  Surprisingly, Alex did really well, better than we initially thought — she lasted at the beach for about three to four hours each morning, which we thought was pretty good all considering.  Alex was not afraid of the water, and by the end of the week, she was walking and swimming in the ocean!  We bought her a puddle jumper, which she did not like at all, so we held her tight in the water and we did not go too far out into the ocean with her.

So, after our first day at Rehoboth, we figured out a pattern to our days, which seemed to work, which went something like this: we woke up when Alex got us up, which was early; we all had breakfast; got our swimsuits and sunscreen on and packed up and headed to Rehoboth Beach where we stayed three to four hours; we had lunch; we got Alex bathed and down for a long nap; we got ourselves cleaned up and took a nap; then, when Alex got up from her nap, we all got ready and headed out to dinner at one of our two favorite places — Dewey Beer Co. or the Iron Hill Brewery; then we got Victory and we all went to Dewey Beach for a long walk (Alex was mostly on my back in her Ergo), and sometimes we stopped for rolled ice cream, which Victory loved; then we came home and got Alex to bed; and, we rested for a little bit after getting Alex to bed; however, most nights, were were so tired we were back in bed with Victory, too!

We were not permitted to take Victory to Rehoboth Beach, but she could still go to Dewey beach, thankfully, in the early mornings and evenings!  So it worked out perfectly!  Victory has been to Dewey Beach several times before, and we think she remembered this beach!  Victory was absolutely in seventh heaven on the beach!  She loved it!  It was interesting because anyone who has met Victory knows she is not an alpha dog.  She is much more docile and regal.  However, on the beach, if another dog approached Alex, Victory stood in front of Alex immediately.  So, I think it is safe to say that Victory has adopted her sister, Alex, into her pack!  It was really neat to witness!  Alex and Victory did sit by each other on the beach (without either one running away), which was sweet, and a short video of our beloved cherubs is shown below along with a few other short videos!  Alex loved roaming freely around our beach house rental and she was into the lower cabinets pulling out everything throughout the house!  In fact, Alex fell in love with two mixing bowls, which she carried all over the house!  So, considering everything, it went really well!  We were also very fortunate for good weather — we had no rain the entire trip!

Some images from our trip are below!  We are really grateful for our time away together with our girls!  We have many wonderful memories of our first vacation as a family of four!  Doug is currently looking for places to go next year!  We want to try some place a bit father away, for next year, but we may end up at the beach again!  (Alex is taking her first trip on an airplane soon, so we will see how she does to consider trips, in the future, that are farther away, where Alex and I can fly and Doug can drive with Victory and then meet together at our destination, as Alex cannot yet handle long drives in the car, and Victory is too big in size to fly in the airplane cabin — and we would never put Victory in the belly of a plane with the cargo for a flight!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few favorite iphone images form our vacation!

 

 

 

Here is a video of Alex and Victory together at the beach!

 

Here is a video of Alex dipping her toes in the ocean at the beach!

 

Here is a video of me and Alex together at the beach!

 

Gone Fishing . . .

 

We are headed out, very soon, for our first vacation with Alex and Victory to commemorate our first year together along with celebrating Alex’s first birthday, as a family, which is difficult to believe is already nearly here!  I am taking an extended break from the blog to rest and rejuvenate; and I plan to be back, to the blog, later in August with weekly posts first highlighting our twelfth month together with Alex; our vacation; and Alex’s first birthday celebration!  Thank you all, so very much, for reading the blog.  Whether you are a recent reader or have been following the blog for awhile, I am honored you take time to read the blog.  I am truly grateful.  Finally, as I take this brief break for rest and rejuvenation, I hope you find periods of rest for yourself as well.

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

Baby Alex Related posts

Tips for planning and vacationing with your furry family member

Additionally, if you are interested, here are some links to some of our previous vacations — Nova Scotia, 2011Nova Scotia, 2012Vermont, 2013Vermont and Québec, 2014Vermont and Québec City, 2015Lake Michigan, 2016; Charleston, 2017; and Charleston 2018!

Happy Summer!

 

New Study: Dogs can feel stress from humans

I recently read a really interesting study involving shelties, our favorite breed of dog!  If you have not already heard about this study, please feel free to keep reading!

In a recent study, it is hypothesized that dogs can feel what their human companions feel.  “When dog owners go through a stressful period, they’re not alone in feeling the pressure – their dogs feel it too, a new study suggests.”  The Swedish researchers focused on 58 people who own border collies or Shetland sheepdogs.  They examined hair from the dog owners and their respective dogs, looking at the concentration of a hormone called cortisol, a chemical released into the bloodstream and absorbed by hair follicles in response to stress.  Lina Roth of Linkoping University in Sweden found that patterns of cortisol levels in the hair of dog owners closely matched that found in their dogs in both winter and summer months, indicating their stress levels were in fact in sync.  She [Roth] thinks owners are influencing the dogs rather than the other way around because several human personality traits appear to impact canine cortisol levels.

The researchers do not know specifically what causes the synchronization in cortisol levels between humans and their furry family members.  But why do people influence their dogs rather than vice versa?  Perhaps people are “a more central part of the dog’s life, whereas we humans also have other social networks,” Roth said.  The study results are no surprise, said Alicia Buttner, director of animal behavior with the Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha.  “New evidence is continually emerging, showing that people and their dogs have incredibly close bonds that resemble the ones that parents share with their children,” she said in an email.  But she said there isn’t enough evidence to assume that the influence goes only one way; it may go both ways.

Roth and her team plan to investigate whether other dog breeds will react to their owners the same way.  In the meantime, she [Roth] offered advice to minimize how much stress dog owners may be causing their pets.  Dogs that play more show fewer signs of being stressed, she said.  So “just be with your dog and have fun,” Roth said, which is excellent advice, for sure. 

Our beloved Victory has been with us through so much, a constant loyal family member.  We hope that she will continue to thrive and not experience too much stress; she has been a real trooper this year as she has warmly added Alex to her pack and she has adjusted really well!  A few images of our beloved Victory are shown below from this past year!  We love her so very much!

 

Basic Phone Guidelines – Leading to Greater Fulfillment

 

I did not get my first cell phone until I was in my early twenties while in law school.  I did not get my first iphone until 2014, and we were likely the last ones of our peers to get an iphone/smart phone.  However, with the great convenience, the phone can be addictive at times, even with little time.  Here are some simple guidelines, shown below, which I have implemented, leading to greater joy and fulfillment.

Guideline #1: Be present with Alex, Doug, and Victory

The first guideline came about when Alex was born, when my life initially felt very disorienting with such a big change.  Every mom told me to enjoy my maternity leave and that the time with Alex would go by way too fast, which is very true.  I limited and continue to limit my iphone usage to be present, as this time only happens once with Alex and I do not want to miss it.  During the times I am with Alex, other than using my iphone to snap a few photos or take a few short videos, I put my phone away.  In fact, I learned my lesson as Alex recently got hold of my iphone and disabled it and put it in German!  Yikes!  She thinks the iphone and ipad are very captivating.  Also, when Doug and I actually get to spend some uninterrupted time together, we put the phones away, which is really nice and liberating.  Putting the phone away has really allowed me to focus on the moment and to be fully present.

Guideline #2: Be Bored from Time to Time

There is not a lot of time to be bored these days, but there are instances where it is really easy to grab the iphone and start checking email, social media, etc.  So, I try to let myself be bored from time to time.  Whenever I am waiting in a line, waiting for an appointment, or waiting for anything in general, my immediate compulsion is to take out my iphone and go through my email, social media, etc., which is what most others are doing as well.  During those moments of not being occupied by anything else, I see things and I take an opportunity to just rest and be.

Guideline #3: Have Fun and be Present on Vacations

During vacations, outside of taking some quick photos on the iphone, which is sometimes easier versus bringing out my camera, I severely limit my iphone use during vacations as well.  It really is a delightful break from everything and allows you to really enjoy your vacation and be present.

Guideline #4: Give My iphone an Early Bedtime in a Different Room

My final guideline is very life changing.  When I get ready for bed myself, in the evening, I put my phone away in my office and do not check it until the morning.  I find that it makes for much better sleep and a much needed break; and I usually try and read, edit photos, watch a TV show, or visit with Doug before bed.  I am previously guilty of getting sucked into looking at email and social media before bed, and before I knew it, an hour had passed, which I wasted.  Additionally, the light of our phones suppresses melatonin, which makes falling asleep more challenging, too.  Also, most mornings, Alex and Doug are usually my alarm clock to get up; and I actually have an alarm clock instead of relying on the phone’s alarm, in order to keep the phones out of the bedroom.

I hope these guidelines might help you!

Happy Tuesday!

Choosing Imperfection

 

Life has changed in so many ways from when I started this blog back in the winter of 2012.  Since Alex’s arrival, life has dramatically changed, for the better.  I am a “doer” and I like to get things done and off my to do list.  However, I cannot get through my to do list at the pace I used to, and do everything the way that I used to, before a little human entered our lives, who depends on us for literally everything.  This year, I have been embracing everything and taking nothing for granted as this time in our lives will only happen once.  So, instead of getting discouraged about not being able to get everything done the way I used to, I have shifted to “choosing imperfection.”  Some things get put off a little bit until we are able to get to them.  We still manage to get what we must get done, while taking care of Alex.  Doug and I work as a team, the best ever, because we have to rely on each other to do this life and take care of our girls; and it is working well.  We do have a really good intuitive feel of the other, so we just adjust and help each other.  We now also somewhat have a routine to our days, for the most part, with Alex, which makes things a bit more predictable, compared to the early days, thankfully.  However, everything takes so much more planning, coordination, and time, which we have become accustomed to now.  So, I choose to embrace the imperfection knowing that we have much less time to do things, everything takes longer, and life is overall more unpredictable than it used to be.  There are so many wonderful, fortuitous moments I have experienced with Alex and Victory, which I am so grateful, as I have had the fortunate opportunity to spend a lot of time with Alex during her first year.

Having Alex has really made me/us prioritize everything, and I use most pockets of time, when then come around, utilizing the Pomodoro Technique.  Not having much time has forced me to utilize the time I do have to its utmost, including trying to get more sleep and rest.  I think I am actually more productive than ever using less time.  We have also shed those things that were no longer serving us, as we just do not have the time!  I know, in a future season, there will be more time, but for now, we do the best that we can to be present.

Most of the time, I still feel scattered, as my mind constantly jumps from one thing to the next.  I suppose now, I am just more used to feeling like this.  As a result, I am constantly making lists and emailing myself reminders so that I will not forget things.  And, it always seems like we are in need of ordering something for either Alex and Victory!  Thank goodness we live in an age with the convenience of Amazon Prime, which is so nice!

We have also learned that it is really important to set aside date nights so we can actually visit and talk uninterrupted, as most days, especially during the week, there is not much time to visit, as we are off to bed early most nights, as our little Alex is ready to start her day very early the next morning!  We covet those times together.  We also have learned it is a necessity to have help.  We are so fortunate and grateful to have a wonderful teacher, care givers, and sitters for Alex!  We would be lost without them and we would be even more tired than we already are!

Most of all, life is good.  Time has taken on a whole new meaning — it does not move too fast or too slow.  It moves at the proper pace, allowing our hearts to hold more love than we ever knew possible.  I am so grateful to have Alex and our little family.  Our girls have changed me forever and I hope that I am a better person for it.  It has been so much fun witnessing our little Alex learning and figuring out how walk and to recently hear her say her first word!  She is coming into her own little person — she has her own little strong personality and she knows how she likes things; and she will always lets you know how she feels!  Life is really sweet and imperfectly beautiful!

“Being happy does not mean that everything is perfect.  It means you decided to look beyond the imperfections.”  — Unknown

Information: Adopting a Rescue Dog

This blog would never have existed if it has not been for our sweet dear Biscuit.  He changed our lives and he brought us our beloved Victory, who we absolutely adore, as well.  Doug and I cannot imagine our lives without a furry family member, and we will always choose to rescue a dog in honor of Biscuit and Victory.  However and importantly, we hope to not be in the position to rescue another dog for quite some time — we absolutely love our sweet Victory and we cannot ever imagine life without her.  Alex and Victory love each other, too, and I am so grateful that Alex gets to grow up with Victory!  Below are some ideas and considerations for those of you looking to possibly adopt a dog who truly needs a home.  I am also excited to share my long-term photography project, inspired by Biscuit, on the topic of dog rescue, hopefully in the near future.  The revisions are finally close to completion!

Start looking on Instagram or online: There are thousands of stray and abandoned dogs all over the country that need homes.  Looking at rescue organizations on Instagram or online will help provide a sense of the landscape of the rescue dogs available for adoption.  If you see some dogs you are interested in, you can usually meet them in person at regular adoption events.

Go straight to a shelter:  There are shelters all over the country where many dogs are available for adoption.  Shelters are usually the only open-admission facility, so space can be at a premium for these dogs.  As a result, some of these dogs are facing being euthanized, so remember that time is of the essence for these dogs.

Go straight to a rescue: There are also many dog rescue organizations all over the country.  There are breed specific dog rescues as well all over the country, especially if you have your heart set on a particular breed of dog.

Do not be swayed by the “cutest” dogs: Many times some of the more “sad” looking dogs just need to get cleaned up with a good bath and grooming along with receiving some much needed love.  Also, a lot of these dogs are in cages for the first time in their lives.  Thus, it is important to keep this in mind.  It also takes a while for these dogs to really come out of their shells.  This was the case for both Biscuit and Victory.  Once they knew they were in a safe environment, they both blossomed physically and emotionally.  Now, Victory and Alex literally run our household!  Doug and I are constantly providing ‘cherub care and support!’

Ask Questions:  When you are contemplating adopting a rescue dog, ask the shelter/rescue many questions.  For example, Are they good on a leash?  How do they respond to children?  How do they respond to strangers?  Do they enjoy being petted?  How do they react to other dogs?  Do they like to play?  Do they show any aggressive behavior(s)?  Do they respond differently to men versus women?  Ask anything that you believe is important for you to know.  Of course, after asking your questions, if you are interested, it is best to meet the potential rescue dog in person to see how you feel and connect with the dog.  Many times, people have told me that they just felt a connection with a particular rescue dog and knew that the particular rescue dog was meant to be adopted by them.  Or, alternatively, others have told me that a particular rescue dog  reminded them of another dog they lost.  It is all very interesting how animals come into our lives.

Consider a senior dog: Puppies, like babies, are a lot of work!  Older dogs have benefits because they are calmer and usually potty trained and socialized, depending upon the dog.  Many older dogs need homes and need people to take a chance on them.  Our beloved Biscuit was an older rescue dog, likely older than what we were told, but we had the best two-and-a-half years with him, and we would never trade our time with Biscuit for anything.

Prepare to sell yourself: Rescue organizations, in particular, will want to know your living situation: Who lives with you, and how old are they?  They will want to know your dog history, and if you have one, they may want to speak to your vet.  They will call references and ask if you have a plan to walk the dog while you work.  They are looking to see that you are not a fair-weather dog parent.  A good way to convey that you are not is to ask a lot questions.  Later there will likely be a home visit, at which point the rescue group will want to know how you will treat your new dog by asking you questions and providing possible scenarios to gauge your responses.

Prepare for your new rescue dog: It is important that you find a good vet that you like and trust; purchase a leash and the requisite dog gear for your new furry family member; consider pet insurance; register your new rescue dog with your local health department/government agency; and most of all, get ready for your life to change in a wonderful way!  You will save a dog’s life and in turn, your life will be equally enriched.

Most of all, I hope, that if you are interested in getting a dog, that you consider dog rescue!  Our sweet Victory and Alex are pictured together below!

 

Thoughts: Mother’s Day

 

I cannot believe Mother’s Day is already upon us.  All mothers and mother figures deserve to be celebrated on Sunday.  Mothers that have been blessed with babies; mothers who’s babies left too soon; mothers who are waiting to meet their special baby; mothers who are yearning to become a mom; fur moms; and those who are mother figures.  We need all types of mothers to help us through this life.  The journey towards motherhood is not always freshly paved.  The path towards parenthood, for us, was filed with unexpected twists and turns, which made for a long and complicated journey.  There were previous Mother’s Days where our hearts ached after experiencing loss.  As a result, we are so very grateful for Alex and Victory and for this season together.  This is our first Mother’s Day as a family of four and my heart will never be the same.  I feel so thankful that I have the privilege of being a mom, which I never take for granted.  So wherever you are in your journey, you are worthy of every celebration held in your honor.  Happy Mother’s Day, to every type of mamma out there!

“In all the world, there is  no heart for me like yours.  In all the world, there is no love for you like mine.” — Maya Angelou