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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    EmilyBMalone@gmail.com

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    A Look Back.



February.

Are you ready for the longest post ever?

It’s my favorite month of the year!  February brings the promise of spring, (slightly) warmer temperatures, lots of birthdays (including my own!), and plenty more.  This year, I’ve been looking forward to February more than ever. 

I’m not gonna lie – January was kind of a doozy.  Our year started off pretty rocky, and the whole month was just…tough.  It started with some major issues between our dogs.  I’m not going to get into the whole story here (because I could type for days!), but since many of you have asked about it, I’m happy to provide some details.

Long story short – Indy has always been dominant of Huey.  They have just naturally fallen into those roles, and for the most part it has never been an issue.  They still cuddled together and spent all of their time together, and seemed to be the best of friends.  However, there have been times – going back as far as when we lived in Cincinnati – that Indy has acted aggressive toward Huey, and has growled and snarled in a protective way (mostly over food or toys).  But like I said, it never really amounted to much, and wasn’t a huge concern.  He has also always showed aggression and dominant behavior toward other dogs (that he doesn’t know). 

When Cullen arrived, we worked really hard to incorporate the dogs into life with a little guy, and we were appropriately cautious with their level of interaction with him.  There were no issues, and as he got older I felt more and more comfortable that the dogs were very gentle and careful with him.  Honestly, it was surprising how well Indy in particular did with him. 

Fast forward two years.  I spent the summer super pregnant and then Graham arrived in October.  Over Thanksgiving, my inlaws were visiting and Indy decided to get territorial over the attention he was getting from our new visitors.  He turned on Huey and ended up giving him a big cut on the leg.  Even more upsetting than that, Cullen and Graham were both in the room, and while the dogs showed no intention to harm the kids, Cullen was (understandably) petrified.  We have been working for months now to overcome this fear.

A few weeks later there was another incident that resulted in no injuries, but I still didn’t like that the aggression seemed to be escalating.  And finally, right after Christmas there was a major fight in our living room that left Huey in a cone for a week.  This was our tipping point.

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Like I said, Indy has never, ever shown any aggression toward kids or adults, but he has always been slightly aggressive toward other dogs (doesn’t do well at dog parks, kennels, etc.).  In the past, this seemed to exclude Huey, but perhaps as attention in the house became more constrained and he felt more competitive for it, and that changed. 

With emotions very high and the safety of our children being our top priority, we considered re-homing Indy.  We looked into a lot of different options and ultimately decided that for now – we will make it work with both dogs.  The thing is – he’s not great with other dogs, but this pup is unbelievably sweet with the kids, and he is the world’s biggest cuddle monster. 

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And so we spent much of January finding a new rhythm and system that would work for everyone.  Within the house, our dogs are now separated from each other.  We have various baby gates and spaces in the house to give everyone enough room to roam, and I rotate them around all day long so that each dog gets to spend plenty of time with us.  Turns out, they actually seem much happier this way.  Without the need to compete for attention and worry about the other dog, they are both much more relaxed and well-behaved.  It makes me sad that they spent eight years glued to each other’s side, and now their contact is relatively limited, but it is what it is. 

The time that they do spend together is their chance for exercise and fresh air.  I have let them out in the backyard together a bit (as neutral ground seems to be the safest), and I’ve started taking them for daily walks together again.  With all the excitement of going for a walk, who has time to start a fight?

I’ve made the commitment to getting them more exercise and stimulation, and so far I’ve been able to stick to it.  I either walk them during the day with both boys (which is a circus, let me tell you).  Or I wait for Casey to come home and I walk them by myself in the dark – whatever it takes.

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I don’t think all of this is because of our recent life changes, but I’m sure some of it is.  Like I said, the issue of Indy being dog-aggressive has always been there.  It just seems to be escalating a bit now that he’s getting older and our situation has changed a bit.  We also might look into some behaviorist training soon.  I don’t know if it’s sustainable over the very, very long term, but our dogs are also sort of old (sniff – they are 8 and 10), so I’m willing to do it as long as we can.  So that’s my short (but actually long) update on the dogs.  Whew!

So our year started off on a pretty sour note, with dog drama taking center stage.  Luckily, we have the world’s best dog sitter, and also had the opportunity to spend a few days out of town, which we desperately needed!

We drove down to Government Camp at the base of Mt. Hood in Oregon to spend three glorious days with some friends.  This was the view we woke up to every morning – pretty amazing!

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Cullen was really scared of Huey’s cone, and was still feeling very anxious around the dogs at that point, so it was a nice relief to take him away for a few days and to go have some fun.  We went with one of his best buddy’s families, and they had a blast playing together.  There was tubing and sledding…

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And mini snowman-making with the paltry inch or two of snow we had.  Toddlers didn’t seem to mind though. 

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It was our first road trip (4 hours) with both boys, and they were total champs.  Our car was packed to the gills with baby gear, and Graham was a very flexible traveler.  He spent much of the trip zipped inside my coat!

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The Mt. Hood area was absolutely gorgeous, and I want to make it a yearly tradition to take some sort of family New Year’s trip now.  So many wonderful memories made, and the perfect way to wind down from the holidays.

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As soon as we got back from our trip, Casey had to leave to work in Cincinnati for a week.  Being alone with the two boys is tough, and a week is a long time!  Thankfully, my best friend from home flew out and spent half of the week with us which was amazing.  She hadn’t been out here in almost two years, and it was so fun for her to see how Cullen has grown and to finally meet Graham.

Just as soon as Casey got back into town, I picked up and left a few days later!  Graham and I traveled all the way across the country to Connecticut.  I got to spend a few days catching up with this guy – my precious nephew, Jonah, who suddenly seems way, way too old. 

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And for us to get to meet his new baby brother – little Levi!  Graham and Levi are just 18 days apart – so amazing.  It was so wonderful to finally see and hold him, and I loved seeing the little guys together. 

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Even more fun – my mom and Sarah joined us too!  Grandma was in heaven with two little babies and a happy toddler. 

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We hung around the house all weekend just talking, playing with the kids, and relaxing.  I have to admit – four days with just a 3 month old felt like a breeze compared to my usual day to day.  It was wonderful. 

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That said, we really, really missed Casey and Cullen.  It felt so strange to be with Jonah and not have Cullen there to play with him!  But it was also nice to get some extra one-on-one time with him that I don’t typically get. 

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Our journey home was kind of a disaster.  One small runway delay led to a (narrowly) missed connection, and a downhill spiral from there.  Graham and I spent 15 hours traveling home through four different airports! 

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He was a superstar traveler, but it was a lot even for him.  I was starving, dehydrated, and so sore from carrying him for so long.  Silver lining though – at least I didn’t have a toddler instead (can you even imagine??), and one of the many perks of breastfeeding is that you never run out of baby food.  Also, our trip home ended up being so late into the night that he slept through a lot of it.  We made it home eventually!

Two days after our trip, Casey left to go to London for another week-long trip.  Major sad face.  It was a tough week and we missed him desperately.  The weekdays are typically okay, since we have a regular schedule and lots of social (kid) things planned, but being alone for the weekend was brutal.  It felt like Christmas morning when he came home!

And THAT – my friends – finally catches us up to…February!  Everyone is home, no one is traveling, the sun has been shining for a week, and the Seahawks just won the Super Bowl.  Life is good right now.

We spent our first weekend all together in a month (!) just laying low and enjoying the sunshine.  Indy and I went for a four mile run together, and I feel like I’m starting to finally get back into a good groove.  (Huey ran with Casey after I got back!)

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We went to our friends’ house to watch the Super Bowl, and I’m pretty sure we had the world’s cutest mascots.  The Seahawks homecoming parade is today, and this city is INSANE right now. 

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I’m getting back to my Barre3 classes regularly now, and it feels great.  More on that to come soon!

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And so where January brought some growing pains, February is already shaping up to be a great month.  I’m working really hard to get back into regular fitness, get organized professionally, and to just get a better handle on things in general.  So far so good!  Thanks for hanging in there with me. 

Two quick links!

  1. Last day to enter the rockaRoo giveaway!
  2. And, finally – today’s Babble

Have a great day!



Giving Thanks.

You know what the good thing is about always being a week behind?  You guys thought you had ready every last Thanksgiving recap, but no – there is still one more!  But I can’t just skip it because these are some of my favorite posts to look back on month (and years!) later.  So here we go – our day of thanks!

Have I mentioned here before that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday?  I’m sure I have, but I’m telling you again.  I love Christmas through and through, but it doesn’t get better than Thanksgiving.  The cooking, the National Dog Show, the pumpkin pie, the second serving of pumpkin pie – THE best. 

I did all our shopping and planning early in the week, but I didn’t actually start any cooking or prepping until Thursday morning.  We slept in late and enjoyed a lazy morning in our pajamas. 

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The boys played in the playroom together while Casey and I got started with the cooking.

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Knock on wood, but I’m amazed at how independent Cullen is these days.  He will happily play in his playroom and do puzzles for several hours without much adult interaction. 

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Occasionally, the tickle monster stops by…

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Feeling grateful for ALL the members of our little family. 

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While the boys played, I got to cooking.

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We hosted and cooked Thanksgiving dinner the year that Cullen was born too, and it is one of my favorite holiday memories.  It’s been so long since I spent a whole day cooking, and it was so nice to just be home as a family with no real agenda or schedule.

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Casey is a really good cook, and I love the rare chances for us to spend time cooking together.  We made a KILLER pumpkin pie this year, and I had hoped to post the recipe in time for the holiday, but no dice.  Next year, I promise!

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I had turned the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on for Cullen to watch in his playroom, and at one point I heard him shouting and yelling for me to come in. 

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He had spotted some familiar friends rolling down one of the floats.  So cute. 

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I have such sweet memories of that first Thanksgiving with Cullen, and this year I couldn’t stop thinking about how thankful I am for Graham.  It is so amazing to be blessed with two sweet boys. 

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Someone didn’t want to be put down during naptime, but the cooking needed to continue!  Babywearing for the win. 

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Cullen went down for naptime of his own, and not long after our long-distance guests arrived!  Casey’s parents came to spend the holiday with us and finally meet Graham.  Such a treat!

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They got a chance to get to know Graham while big brother snoozed.

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And once he woke up, it was all smiles. 

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This guy cannot get enough of his grandparents.  Lucky kid. 

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Around 4pm our friends arrived, and Casey and I got to work putting the final touches on our Thanksgiving meal.  Around 5pm, it all hit the table.  Glazed ginger carrots…

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Angela’s Lentil Walnut Mushroom Balls

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Skin-on mashed potatoes…

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Orange-cranberry sauce…

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Sourdough stuffing with fennel and capers (my favorite!)

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And roasted Brussels sprouts – yum.  Sadly, Graham did not appreciate these.  :/

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Table set and ready to go!

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Sadly, Graham had the world’s biggest meltdown the minute the food hit the table, so I spent most of our dinner bouncing and shushing and trying to calm him down.  But I was just happy to have had fun cooking, and to share all our food with people we love. 

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Grandparents who flew a long way to join us, and a family I am so thankful for every day. 

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And Seattle friends who have become a second family to us out here. 

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Finished off our evening with delicious homemade pumpkin pie – gingersnap crust for the win. 

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I shared my slice with a hungry little turkey.

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I ended my day feeling very full of both food and love.  I love Thanksgiving because it is a fun day of cooking and family time, but also because it is a day where I am reminded of all that I have to be thankful for.  And this year, that feels like an awful lot. 

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Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, too!

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