Hola From Mexico!

Hey friends! After nonstop activity around here the last few weeks, you may have noticed that the blog has been pretty quiet this week. That’s because we’re in Mexico for the week, and guys, it’s glorious. We are here for Robbie’s job (the band he Stage Manages puts on an annual festival; you may remember us going to the Dominican Republic for it in the past), so he is pretty busy. But the kids are having so much fun (thank goodness; Essley got super sick again this year right before we were supposed to leave), the weather is amazing, and we’re with some of our favorite people. And after a few 70+ hour work weeks, I was so ready for a little getaway.

The blog will remain quiet for a few more days, but head over to my Instagram to follow along on our adventures here. See you next week!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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10 Holiday Traditions My Kids Love

10 Holiday Traditions For Kids

Thank you Amazon for sponsoring this post. Give the gift of reading this holiday season with Prime Book Box!

When I think back to the holidays of my childhood, it is the family traditions that stand out most in my mind. Those activities we did every year felt so magical! And to this day, they remain some of the most special memories of my life. Holidays with kids are so full of wonder and excitement, and I knew from the moment my little ones were born that I wanted to create traditions for them as well. This year feels especially fun, because they are both at ages (almost 5 and almost 3) where they are able to remember holiday activities we did in previous years, and are asking to do them again. We’re truly establishing traditions together, which is wonderful in every way.

Today I thought I’d share with you some of the holiday traditions my kids most love. Some are borrowed from my childhood and some are new. Some are commonplace and some are unique. But each of them is adored by my little ones – and by their mama and daddy too.

1. Doing an advent calendar. There are so many incredible creative ideas for this on Pinterest, but we just buy the old fashioned ones with chocolate inside like my husband and I had as kids, and our children absolutely love them. They are genuinely thrilled to open a new window each day starting on December 1st.

2. Making our own ornaments. If you’re a regular reader, you may have seen the handmade ornaments we created last week. This is the second year in a row we’ve done this, and is something I did with my mom growing up as well. I can’t wait to fill our tree with them over the years.

3. Reading together. This is another favorite tradition carried over from my childhood. Every evening, we turn on the Christmas tree lights, curl up together under a blanket (often with hot chocolate, Christmas cookies, or candy canes), and read books as a family. This season we’ve been reading books from our Prime Book Box. (Current favorites are Elmore, Kitten’s First Full Moon, Mother Bruce, and The Friend Ship.) Prime Book Box is a subscription program, exclusively for Prime members, that is perfect for future book lovers, pre-readers, and readers, from age 0 to 12. Each box contains 2 hardcover books or 4 board books that were hand selected by Amazon editors, so kids are ensured to receive books they’ll want to read again and again. We love ours so much! Learn more about the awesomeness that is Prime Book Box right here.

4. Seeing a holiday show. This year we’ve seen two holiday movies as a family (which I think totally counts!), but for us, our main holiday show tradition is the Nutcracker Ballet. My daughter is a dancer and it is her dream to perform in it (she will be old enough to audition next year!). She, my mom, and I go see it every year.

5. Creating a holiday collection. When I was growing up, I collected miniature Santas. Each year, my parents would let me choose a couple of new ones to add. I still have them all (close to 50!), and display them proudly every year. As I mentioned above, my daughter loves dance and the Nutcracker Ballet, so she decided to start collecting nutcrackers this year. It makes my heart swell!

6. Decorating the Christmas tree. Okay, so this isn’t exactly original, but I couldn’t not include it. This year we went and picked out our tree the day after Thanksgiving and decorated it that weekend. I think we’ll do the same from now on. So much fun!

7. Giving a gift that truly keeps on giving. While the choosing of this gift itself is a tradition that is more for my husband and me, the opening of it by the kids on Christmas morning is something really cool that I hope to continue each year as they grow up. So many of the presents my kids receive for the holidays, while appreciated, ended up being quickly forgotten. My husband and I decided that giving them something they can receive throughout the year would be both practical and special. Prime Book Box is a perfect example of this. With Prime Book Box, any Prime member can give the gift of reading for the holidays, and because it is a subscription service (that delivers hand-picked, hardcover children’s books  – the best!), your child can enjoy it throughout the year. And what’s really cool is that you can choose how often you want it to come (every 1, 2, or 3 months), and also have the option to customize the books from a list of curated selections. Each kid also gets to see his or her own name on the box when it’s delivered, which is really fun.

8. Taking holiday light drives. Every year we load up into the car, turn on the holiday music station, get hot chocolate to go, and drive to look at different light displays. My kids think it’s the most magical thing ever.

9. Writing letters to Santa. This was one of my favorite parts of the holidays as a kid! Our park district has a program where you can register for letters from Santa by filling out a form with questions, having your little one write a letter to Santa, and then taking it to a special decorated mailbox at the community center. The letter that comes back is personalized on fun holiday paper.

10. Helping those in need. My daughter is at an age where she is beginning to understand this, and we talk a lot about how kindness and generosity are the things that most embody the spirit of the season. Last year, we had the kids choose toys they no longer played with to donate. This year, my daughter used money from her piggy bank to buy some in addition to this. It’s such a great way to teach children about the importance of giving to those in need because they also see it as a fun tradition. And I’ve found that even really little ones feel good when they give to others!

Thank you for letting me share my children’s favorite holiday traditions with you. I’d love to hear about your family’s traditions as well! And, again, if you’re looking for a unique holiday gift that can be appreciated all year long, I can’t recommend Prime Book Box enough. You can’t get much better than a gift that inspires a love of reading in kids, and the hardcover books contained in each box are just fantastic. It’s priced right too at just $ 19.99 per box. (Prime members can save up to 40% off List Price! That’s pretty great!) Click here to learn more about Prime Book Box, and subscribe today!

Happy holiday traditions, friends!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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2019 Washington Capitals Pet Calendar Helps Dogs in Need

  Not only did the Washington Capitals win the coveted Stanley Cup in 2018, the professional ice hockey team also won the admiration of dog lovers as the players once again championed the cause…



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DogTipper

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Tuesday Top Ten: Male Dog Names in 2018

The good folks at Rover have put together their annual list of the most popular dog names among their more than one million clients. Here are the boy names, with girl names to follow next Tuesday. 1.Max 2.Charlie 3.Cooper 4.Buddy 5.Jack 6.Rocky 7.Duke 8.Bear 9.Tucker 10.Oliver Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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Need Help Sleeping at Night? Consult Your Dog.

As the temperatures drop, now you’ve got more reasons to make it a 1-, 2-, or 3-dog night. The Journal of the National Society of Anthrozoology just reported that women say their sleep is less disturbed and they have greater feelings of security and comfort when a dog sleeps in their bed.

While 55 percent of the 1,000 women in the study have dogs, 31% share their bed with at least one cat and 57% share it with a human partner. According to the cat moms, cats are just as disruptive to their sleep as human partners.

The dog moms also reported going to bed earlier and waking up earlier than the women who have cats but no dogs.

Not that we needed it, but now that we have even more evidence that dogs give us as much or more as we give them, be sure to feed them with unconditional love.

 

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Bathtime Bonding with My Sweetest Big Boy

This post is sponsored by Triple Soap and Triple Wash on behalf of Everywhere Agency; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

As many of you know, my son 2.5 year old son Emmett’s first year of life was quite different from most babies experience. At 7 months, he was diagnosed with a catastrophic form of childhood epilepsy that leaves most little ones with severe cognitive and/or physical issues, delays, and other challenges. We are profoundly grateful for the fact that Emmett was one of the few who was able to beat the disease and come out of it completely on track developmentally. In fact, what he went through, and all we endured as a family, has made every milestone and step toward independence feel like something to celebrate. And his latest desire for independence – in his words, to be a “big boy in the bath” – is no exception.

Bathtime has always been an incredibly bonding experience for me with both my kids. It’s the time of day when I have completely stepped away from work, have put away my phone, have taken a break from whatever house work or bills or life stuff needs attention, and am completely focused on them. When they were babies, there was the soothing, calming experience of gently cleaning them in the warm water. When they grew into young toddlers and were old enough to play, it was all about splashing and bath toys and fun together. And now that Emmett wants to do more in the bathtub all by himself, bathtime bonding has become a special source of pride for me, where I am able to remember all he went through and marvel at his independence, while also being able to take time together to sing songs, laugh, and talk. It’s pretty wonderful.

From the moment he enters the bathroom these days, Emmett wants to do it all. He gets himself undressed (albeit awkwardly), gets himself in the tub, and immediately wants to get himself clean. It’s both hilarious and endearing, and truly a special time for me.

After I get his hair wet, the first thing he grabs is our beloved Triple Wash®, and gets to it washing his hair and body. Triple Wash is a super gentle, mild all-in-one shampoo/body wash that is fragrance free and perfect for Emmett’s normal skin, as well as his sister’s sensitive skin. (It was designed for both!) I love that it’s pH-balanced and works so well at maintaining normal skin barriers, especially now in the wintertime when the air is so dry. He loves to sing the “I can wash my hair” song while he’s washing it, and then we work together to rinse it. And because it’s tear-free, I don’t have to worry about it dripping as he washes his own hair.

Next, he grabs his “teddy bear soap,” aka Triple Soap®, an all-natural, mild, safe soap bar embossed with a teddy bear for easy toddler holding. It is safe and gentle for everyday use on sensitive and normal skin, and can even help sooth eczema (which I have), contact dermatitis, and diaper rash. He washes his body with it while we sing more songs and talk about all his favorite things. He also likes to make the teddy bear on the soap tell me how much he loves me. You can’t get better than that.

During bathtime, as Emmett repeatedly says, “mommy look what I can do,” we both beam. Not so long ago, I was told that he likely wouldn’t even be able to sit up on his own, much less joyously bathe himself. It’s something I will never take for granted. This, combined with the fact that both Emmett and I love using products that I can trust (and easily order on Amazon!) from the Triple Paste family, makes bathtime a wonderful experience for both of us, and create memories that I will always cherish.

Who else finds bathtime one of the most bonding experiences you have with your little ones? Have you tried Triple Soap and Triple Wash, from the family that makes Triple Paste Diaper Rash ointment? If not, I highly recommend them as safe, gentle, soothing products for cleaning your babes. Click here or here for a special Amazon promo code where you can grab some of your own for 50% off!

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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Bonus Friday Funny: Elf on the Shelf

Do you find him creepy? This wasn’t a thing when my kids were young, but I can tell you, I would have had a tough time remembering to move him every day. Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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Please! No Puppies Under the Tree

From the Facebook page of Deborah Robin Kafir. I gotta admit, this made me cry. Batteries not included … It is Christmas day today, And all are full of cheer, But I lay freezing on the step, I always sleep right here. I never get to go inside, And join in all the fun, I’m […]


Doggies.com Dog Blog

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People of the Bear

Most modern Westerners find the idea of killing a bear extremely perverse. After all, we’ve all grown up with a bit of that subtle propaganda about their gentle ways. Winnie-the-Pooh, Paddington, and countless Teddy Bears have all given us the impression that a bear is sort of like a rotund dog that lives in the forest on nuts and bears and sometimes wanders down to a river and catches salmon.

But to my ancestors who wandered deep into Appalachia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the bear was both a scourge and a bounty on the land. It was a scourge because many black bears became sheep and pig killers, and livestock was not easily brought over from Europe.  But for those who came to trap beaver and hunt deer for hides, the bear was something else: the finest quality red meat that nature provided.

So the Daniel Boones of the world came out into the mountains and hunted black bears as their top choice of meat. I don’t know all my ancestral lines and what they lived off of, but I do know that one of my ancestors was a noted bear hunter. 

Variously called John, Jacob, and Jehu Summers, my six or seven greats grandfather was famous for his Appalachian frontier wanderings. He was born in the Shenandoah Valley in settlement that consisted mostly of Germans from Pennsylvania. He was only the second generation removed from the Palatinate, but his father moved the whole family into the deep Alleghenies to roughly the place where Summersville, West Virgina is located. (The name was originally spelled Somers).

Jehu went west into Kentucky and were he made his living off hides and furs, and in the War of 1812, he found himself running with Andrew Jackson through the Deep Southland, and his name is listed among Kentucky militia at the Battle of New Orleans.

After his service, he went back into the Alleghenies, going into the Western  foothills, where he trapped beaver and sold a fortune to John Jacob Astor. He made a mistake by putting up a bond for the sheriff of the county, who then absconded, and he had pay his whole fortune to cover the debt. And then he went a bit west, where the bears still roamed in big numbers.

Near where the Clay County, West Virginia, courthouse is now located, it was said that he would hunt the bears very hard. Famous stories, perhaps embellished by country tall tales and lore, claim that he once killed a dozen bears one afternoon. 

The story might be dubious, but if it were even half true, it would point both to the ubiquity of the bears in those early nineteenth century days  and to his skills as a hunter and a man of the land.

He made his fortune off the beaver, as so many men of the frontier did back in those days. After all, in a world without synthetics, the felt made from beaver fur was the main substance from which men’s hats were made. This fashion is one big reason why European beavers are so rare. They simply had too much demand for the supply.

But by the artifices of contract and law, he was made a debtor and a pauper, it was the flesh of the black bear that sustained him and his family. That rich red meat filled their stomachs and made their muscles hard.

Such figures would be celebrated in lore, but we live in a different era. My grandpa Westfall, who was on the other side of the family, and perhaps had a different sensibility, saw the bear as a great black devil that should never have been suffered to live. 

He saw the bear as the thing that might kill him or his dogs while hunted in the woods. Even though only a single black bear has ever killed anyone in the history of West Virginia, perhaps he knew of a few nasty stories of bears carrying off sheep or swine from his grandparents. They were of the farming generation, not wild men of the mountains like Summers clan.

That killer bear, by the way, offed three children while they were out flower picking in the high mountains of Randolph County. They were unaccompanied minors, and the bear was a nice young boar, perhaps just testing out a new food source that he’d never really seen before.  The bear was tracked down and killed in short order, so he never became one of those habitual man-eaters of the forest, which we all hear stories about but only rarely see properly documented.

And that one bear meat his demise in that land of the mountain laurel, but countless scores of his of kind have fallen, been skinned, and then placed in smokehouses for the winter.

Fatty bear meat is just what the body needs while trying to make a go of it in the long, frigid winters of the frontier and farmstead, and the grease from the bear is fine for frying all sorts of delicacies.

They were truly the people of the bear, and without the bear, I would not be here. Mine whole line could have been lost on a frigid January night, when the hunger finally slipped in and took away my ancestor into the darkness of infinity.

But we now live in an era in which the black bear is roaring back into much of its old haunts. States, such as New Jersey and Florida, have opened limited hunting seasons on the bear, much to chagrin of the animal rights activists, who think that no animal should ever be hunted.

Never mind that the wilderness is no longer there. Never mind that the bears, when they overpopulate will come into suburbia and tear up things, expensive things. Never mind that the meat of the bear is good and that the hunters pay their license fees to the wildlife departments, which then spend that money on wildlife research and conservation.

Just never mind it all, because we now live in this alienated modern world, which sees man as a devoid of all nature and natural processes. We are a species with a strong sense of what we call morality, but we live in such immoral, materialistic times. Our political systems are broken, yet so much of the population wants to do right. Politicians on the center-left can no longer provide the level of social democracy they once did, so going along with whatever fancy animal rights cause might be a good way to keep the base settled and on your side.

Aldo Leopold wrote in A Sand County Almanac, “There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”

These spiritual dangerous are magnified when one lives without having any knowledge of how hunting works within the North American model of conservation. It is hunting that pays for so much of the wildlife conservation that we all appreciate, but in our urban worlds, we now believe the hunter is the enemy of the deer, the turkey, and the bear, when indeed it is the hunter that paid for much of what it took to have them restored in such bounty.

These dangers are becoming even more hazardous in the era of social media, where we can all have tweeting lynch mob organized when someone shoots an invasive feral goat on an island in Scotland. Cecil the lion got better billing online than all the horrid things Mugabe ever did while he was in power.

And while we’re fighting these little wars online, we’re forgetting that the planet is warming, and it is warming because of us. And that is the real danger for wildlife and for mankind’s continued ease of existence on this planet.

Every second we’re talking about some animal rights cause celebre,  we’re not talking about real issues of conservation, and it would be far wiser if conservationists would distance themselves from animal rights issues as they can. Animal rights campaigning might be good publicity, but ultimately, the goals of preserving wildlife and endangered species will come up hard against the fanatical cry of “never kill one.”

And now I think of my bear-eating ancestors. They would be shocked to have found that this country is now so developed, so technologically advanced, that is now fundamentally alienated from the green wood in which they lived and eked out an existence.

They would surely think of us extraterrestrial and strange, for they would have more in common with the indigenous hunters that they ethnically cleansed from the land than the very people who hold their DNA in the modern era.

They would probably marvel at our advancement, but if they watched it for a little while longer, I bet they would mourn.

I know I certainly would. The People of the Bear have given away to the electronic lynch mob.

Which is as sad a development as the felling of the last giant tulip tree of the virgin forest and slaughter of the last Eastern bison in the Allegheny mountains.

It is a passing of something great, that can never be restored.

And, yes, it should be mourned.

Natural History

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The Paw

Anka’s paw, extended out over the snow:

Natural History

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