Don’t worry that she is tied up. It won’t be for long. Rita is waiting for her owner to finish his drink in the bar in Gorbio village.
Some of you may remember the big sparkly gold and pink themed first birthday party I threw for Essley two years ago. It was probably a little over the top, and it involved many late nights of DIY projects and list making, but ultimately it was more than worth the work involved. I did tell myself that I would never do it again, but then on January 9th, 2016, Emmett came along. And after the first year he had (if you’re a new reader, you can read all about his story, his epilepsy diagnosis, and his miraculous triumphs here), there was never a doubt that he deserved an equally over the top party to celebrate his awesomeness. So I did it again. It was actually even more work this time, because due to timing (and lots of sick people) I ended up having to do everything myself (aside from some much appreciated help the morning of from my mom, sister, and friends Dee and Jess – thank you!). It was my choice though, and once again, it was worth every 3 AM glittery rocket cupcake topper making session. Emmett was thrilled with all of the shiny decorations (as was his sister) and balloons (his first word, a couple of weeks ago, was “balloon” by the way) and, most of all, all of the friends and family who came to be a part of his big day.
When I was brainstorming party ideas a couple of month ago, I came across an image of a rocket, and suddenly I’d found the ultimate symbol for Emmett – our strong, brave, curious explorer. I decided to go with a rocket/space theme, and over the weeks that followed I collected and created space-themed decor. As with Essley’s party, we held the festivities in my mom’s and stepdad’s finished basement (we have a small place and we had a big guest list), which was perfect for transforming into a planet/star/rocket-filled night sky. I found the ideal sized dark blue table cloth for $ 11 (that food display “table” you see in these photos is actually a ping pong table I folded in half). I ordered a bunch of balloons (48 total, plus the same gold mylar number one I used for Essley’s party) in shades of blue, black, silver, gold, and white to represent the sky. I also purchased spiral hanging planets, planet and rocket ship garland, gold star garlands, a variety of hanging tissue honeycombs/pom poms/balls in gold, silver, blue, and black, and other miscellaneous spacey decor. I picked up some space themed napkins, gold napkins, and gold and silver plates. (See end of post for links to places I got some of the purchased decor.) I made a tassel banner in the theme colors to hang and another for Emmett’s high chair with a big gold number 1 in the middle. I also drew several signs in rocketship and planet themes, which was a lot of fun for me – I don’t draw much anymore but I really love it. For favors, I bought plain blue paper bags and decorated them with different sized gold and silver star stickers to look like the sky, and filled them with stickers, wooden yo-yos, mini bubbles, crazy straws, and lollipops. Both Emmett’s and Essley’s eyes lit up when they entered the finished room, and one of the little guests said, “wow, we’re in a whole solar system.” And that was all I needed. The best.
For food, we ordered pizzas and made big bowls of salad. We also served up chips with salsa and guacamole, goldfish crackers, frosted animal crackers, chocolates, and a fresh fruit bouquet. There was beer and wine and water for the adults, and juice boxes and water for the kids. Robbie and I also made yellow cupcakes with vanilla frosting for the guests, and a vanilla smash cake for Emmett. Despite the fact that they were edible, the cupcakes were one of my favorite parts of the decor. We baked them in gold and silver wrappers and topped them with mini edible gold stars. Some of them also got the cake toppers I made – gold stars, silver stars, and blue rocket ships. We dusted Emmett’s cake with gold sprinkles and topped it with another big gold number 1. Unlike his sister, who very delicately approached her smash cake, Emmett went for it. I mean, he dove in face first. It was bad ass.
I wanted Emmett to have a special outfit for the party, and I found this adorable personalized onesie on Etsy. The fact that the color theme matched the party decor actually wasn’t intentional (I’m Type A, but not that excessive, I swear), but I certainly wasn’t complaining about it. I also had a gold crown for him, with which he wanted absolutely nothing to do after approximately 15 seconds – but hey, it was his party and his rules. He looked adorable and perfect to me, with or without a fancy crown.
Designing and putting together the decor and food and outfits and all the details was a lot of fun (I mean truly, as much of a pain in the ass it can be, I love this stuff), but the best part of the celebration, by far, was all of the people who came out to pay tribute to our boy. Every first birthday is special, but with what Emmett went through this past year and his nearly miraculous recovery, there was an element to this party that was especially emotional. I gave a choked-up impromptu speech before we did the cake about how grateful we are to have had the support system we did during the worst of his diagnosis and in the months that followed, and it really hit me right then how absolutely wonderful it was to have so many people who care about Emmett in this space for this special day. The only bummer was that Robbie’s parents, who flew in from Arizona to be there, ended up getting the flu that we all had the week prior and couldn’t be there. Since we had to cancel Essley’s birthday party a few weeks ago due to her being sick, I’m thinking we’ll just have to have a sun-filled belated double celebration when we visit them next.
Thank you, to all of my readers, for following Emmett’s story this past year. It was a bittersweet journey, but how lucky we are now to be in a place where we were able to honor Emmett on his first birthday in a way that was optimistic and happy and hopeful. Not a day goes by where I don’t look at our brave, curious, joyful little boy with a profound sense of gratitude – for all of it. It’s his story and it’s a remarkable one. Happy birthday Emmett Hunter, my little warrior! May your second year be magical (and deservedly carefree) in every way.
Oh, and for those of you looking to throw space themed parties of your own, here is a list of some of the supplies I purchased: personalized first birthday onesie, space themed napkins, space themed confetti (on gift table), solar system hanging whirls, planet and spaceship garlands, gold star garlands, table cloth, hanging honeycombs, hanging tissue poms, glitter cardstock (for cake toppers), gold number 1 balloon (we got ours at Party City), gold and silver plates.
The Duffy family in Northern Ireland had to buy their two-year-old dog Teddy a new ID tag after they renamed her “Super Teddy.” What earned her the new name? Twice in as many months, Teddy acted like a hero for the family. Teddy may not be the fastest dog alive or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but she is definitely a super dog.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, the first time that Teddy acted like a hero involved a phone. Aaron Duffy told reporters that Teddy “alerted us that an iPhone charger was catching fire.” The second time was Teddy sounding an even more serious alert – that five-year-old Riley Gedge-Duffy’s life was in danger.
Riley has Down syndrome. The family told ITV that he enjoys hiding himself and can’t understand certain dangers. While Aaron’s wife, Gillian, was vacuuming one Sunday, Teddy “ran upstairs and basically went berserk so she knew something was not right.” Gillian told ITV “She was running in and out of the room looking at me, wanting me to follow her, and it just clicked that there was something up.”
Gillian ran downstairs shouting “Where’s Riley?” because she knew that her five-year-old son was in danger. Gillian then saw Teddy running back and forth to their dryer machine, “barking like mad.”
We welcome our veterinary overlords! Well, kind of, but not really. Yesterday’s announcement that Mars PetCare acquired VCA for 7.7 billion was a shocker to everyone I know in the pet care industry, which just goes to show you us peons are always the last to know.
Disclosure: I am speaking only for myself here and from my own experiences.
I spent part of my career at Banfield, which is part of the growing Mars empire. That wasn’t the case when I joined, when veterinary clinics were almost entirely veterinarian-owned, including Banfield itself. Scott Campbell, the DVM owner, stood in front of my little group of new hires and promised us with all sincerity that Banfield would never, ever be sold to a corporate entity, a promise he kept for all of four years. It was the first domino to fall in corporate ownership, which many had predicted and he insisted never would.
I left Banfield before the Mars buyout to work in an emergency hospital owned by a husband/wife vet team, and then I came back to Banfield after my second child. In the interim Banfield had undergone the Mars turnover, and to be honest, there was a lot to like. They had implemented evidence-based medicine and were compiling a clinical database the likes of which we had never seen, allowing veterinary medicine to conduct clinical research on a scale that has never been done before. Their anesthesia protocol book is to this day one of my favorite veterinary resources.
The 24 hour emergency hospital I worked at was a bit of a Wild West environment in that we had more leeway and less oversight, in a crazy busy environment; as you can surmise this is both a good and a bad thing depending on who is at the wheel. I learned a ton in a trial by fire way, but I also had little to no safety net. (That hospital was later acquired by VCA, and is also now part of the Mars empire. There’s no escape!) There’s pros and cons to everything, as a client, and as an associate.
Mars: Chocolate and Pets are a Natural Fit
(that’s a joke)
With yesterday’s acquisition, Mars Petcare is now the largest moneymaker in the Mars divisions. After the big Banfield takeover in 2007, things quieted down, but for the last couple of years Mars has been on a tear. They almost doubled the number of hospitals they owned with yesterday’s news, which is the biggest since they bought Iams/Eukanuba off Procter and Gamble in 2014. They own a lot of pet companies.
That’s a lot of pet hospitals, pet foods, labs, and pet foods. What’s more, it’s two of the biggest hospital groups in the country, now under one umbrella. (Note: The affiliation with Western University’s teaching hospital ended at the end of its ten year contract, in 2014.)
On the one hand, when you consider there’s about 29,000 veterinary clinics in the US, the total now owned by Mars seems like a drop in the bucket. Around 7%:
On the other hand, I’m not naive enough to think this trend stops right here. That’s probably what optometrists and pharmacists said way back in the good old days, too.
So What Does This Mean?
I wish I could tell you, but just like everyone else, I can only guess and postulate. Let me be clear: I am 100% neutral on this. I am Corporate Switzerland. When I had two young children, working for Banfield offered me the most stable hours and a good salary in an environment where I was able to practice very good medicine. I always felt empowered to do what was best for my patients, including referring to outside hospitals, deferring vaccines, providing the best pain management I had access to, scripting out meds. I never felt obligated to recommend Mars-owned pet foods and felt free to discuss any brand prescription diets I wanted to.
I know there’s lots of horror stories out there too, and I don’t imply they don’t exist. Asses are everywhere, and they are asses because they are asses, not because of where they work. They spread their miasma wherever they go, and I’ve encountered it in environments corporate and private. The veterinarians you will encounter in a corporate practice were educated in the same places, cry the same amount in frustration, care the same way, stand up for the patients, and occasionally prove themselves poor examples of the profession, in exact same proportions as vets in privately owned practices.
To the same extent corporate ownership increases bureaucracy and headaches, it pumps much needed investment into failing businesses, brings in better medical oversight, and can offer more diverse opportunities for employees and customers.
It also provides more leverage for buying power and advertising, which often squeezes out mom-and-pop operations without those same advantages. I can understand why so many business owners are worried. It’s a valid worry.
Bottom line: As a client, I don’t think you’re going to see big changes, at least not in the short term. If you have concerns, talk to your veterinarian. We’re all trying to sort out what this means too- as far as I know we all found out this morning when you did too.
As a veterinarian: Buckle up. I anticipate much hand waving in the near future. Do we welcome our veterinary corporate overlords or join the rebel alliance?
If you have any insight from the trenches, please do comment.
I got to see these family photos for the first time today. This is a dog that featured heavily in my dad’s dog stories that he used to tell us when we were kids.
This is Cam, the first AKC dog that my family ever owned. She was a rough collie “like Lassie,” as they say. My dad is standing to her right. The date is April 1962.
And like Lassie, she had to have a litter. This one included some tricolors. My uncle Doug is sitting behind the mother collie in May of ’63– twenty years before I was born.
I had not seen these photos before, though I had seen some rather poor photos of Cam.
The bottom photo really reveals what she was: She was a collie from a time when they were still very close to the intelligent farm dogs from Scotland from which their kind descend.
She looks gorgeous but more rugged than the collies of one might see today. She was still very much the “Scotch shepherd” of the American farm and dog fancier magazines.
If you’ve been a long time reader, you know I have toyed with making homemade dog food several times, but can never seem to find the time to stick with it for very long. I have the typical working parent guilt – I know it’s better for the dog if I make it myself, but […]
With tomorrow being Saturday, chances are your dog may wake you up earlier than you had planned. Remembering this picture might help you put a positive spin on the early wake-up call. I’m always grateful when the dog wakes me up rather than making a mess on the carpets. Until next time, Good day, and […]
Four of the Michael Vick dogs went on to become certified therapy dogs. I wish that could be mentioned in every article about these dogs.
BAD RAP Blog
Welcome to our first post of 2017! I’d planned on posting this yesterday, but in between the madness of Christmas, the new year, and Essley’s and my birthdays came some of the worst winter illnesses I can remember for our family. I came down with the flu two weeks ago (and am still coughing) and then Essley ended up in the ER on her birthday because hers got so bad she had a 106 degree fever. Her birthday party was canceled, my big New Year plans were canceled, and just when we started to feel better on my birthday, I started vomiting (yay, stomach flu), and then Essley got it the following night. Emmett has been sick as well, but thankfully (knock on wood a million times), the stomach bug hasn’t hit him. And miraculously, Robbie hasn’t gotten sick at all. Needless to say, we are ready to all feel better – especially because Emmett’s first birthday party is this weekend, and that little man deserved to be celebrated.
These yearly roundups are some of my favorite posts to put together. I really love taking the time to go back, read through the blog, and select my favorites from the entire year to share with you guys. And while 2016 was probably the least pleasant year of my life, in terms of blog projects, it was my favorite so far. I’m really grateful that I was able to work with some of my favorite brands this, and I genuinely had fun creating content. There are admittedly times I feel stressed and overwhelmed with Bubby and Bean (like with any other job), especially when my husband is on the road for work for long periods of time and I’m here with the kids by myself trying to meet deadlines, etc. But for the most part, I really, really love it. After 15 years in the fashion industry, owning a label that required 80 hour work weeks, constant travel, and severe unpredictability, it’s been absolutely wonderful to focus just on Bubby and Bean, and get to live the “work smarter not harder” mantra, for the last two years. And while blogging has changed immensely since I started, with less engagement and the world of social media pushing blogging to the background, as the year came to a close I noticed the beginning of what many consider to be a big blogging comeback. Some of my old peers made decisions to return to blogging after extended hiatuses, people expressed a massive collective discontent with Instagram (which became the platform that all but replaced blogging, but recently slipped back after unpopular algorithm changes), and more and more brands realized the potential of working with blog influencers. I’m really looking forward to seeing what 2017 brings. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this peek back through my top posts of the year (and that some of them might even be new to you!).
Starting with the top image: In January, we announced the birth of Baby Emmett – by far the best thing that happened in 2016!
We took our first vacation as a family of four to Arizona in February, which I shared right here.
I posted my recipe for springtime lemonade mimosas in March. (I can’t wait to make these again this spring. So good.)
March also brought my first outfit post (and one of only three or four of them) of the year.
I teamed up with ErgoBaby in April to talk about our personal experience in getting baby to sleep. (Look how tiny Emmett was!)
I still eat these almond smoothie bowls that I shared back in April at least a few times a week. Delicious.
In the spring, I posted another (rarely occurring) outfit post. (I wore that kimono incessantly in the spring and summer of 2016.)
For the first time ever, my mama joined me on the blog for a comical post about celebrating motherhood… with wine.
I partnered with Neutrogena in late April to talk about how I share my mom’s beauty secrets with my own little lady.
In May, I shared a fun photo book we made Robbie for Father’s Day. He loved it!
I teamed up with ErgoBaby again in June and talked about my breastfeeding journey with baby #2.
It took forever, but I finally sat down and typed out Emmett’s birth story.
It was so much fun to partner with Godiva to put together a stylish baby shower tablescape.
Over the summer I shared our babywearing experience.
The most difficult post I’d ever written came in August, asking for positive thoughts for Emmett after his Infantile Spasms diagnosis. (You can read all the posts on Emmett’s journey, including the super positive recent ones, here.)
In September, I teamed up with one of our favorite snack brands, CLIF, to talk about how we instill healthy nutrition habits in our kids.
This healthy southwestern style stuffed sweet potato recipe is still a staple around here.
Hands down my favorite project of the year was teaming up with IKEA to design a new seating area for our living room as part of their Home Tour Series. You can see part of the process and watch the episode in this post.
In early October I shared two recipes that incorporate seaweed – one for avocado roll-ups, and one for trail mix.
This post about how I’ve reorganized my mornings was the most visited/highest traffic post of the year.
I shared some photos from a weekend trip to the pumpkin patch in this post about 6 ideas for rewarding kids with active playtime.
I ate a lot of vegan grilled cheese this fall. This post shared my two favorite recipes.
My final outfit post of the year shared my favorite winter accessory gift ideas.
This holiday star brownie bites recipe was a huge hit around around last month.
I had fun teaming up with Lego to talk about the ways our family partners in play with our little ones.
In December I posted some photos from our family’s trip to the Dominican Republic.
I hope you enjoyed this recap and must as I did putting it together. (There were a lot, I know.) Here’s to an amazing new year!
Hey you guys! I hope all of you are enjoying the winter holidays and have been able to spend some time relaxing with family and friends. We had an absolutely wonderful Christmas (I’m pretty sure the kids had the best day of their lives), and today we’re celebrating Essley’s third birthday (something around which I can’t even wrap my head; didn’t I just have her?). We have all sorts of New Year and birthday celebrations coming up in the next few days as well. It’s such a beautifully happy time of year in general, which is why I wanted to stop in today and share a really incredible project with you that is specifically focused on the concept of spreading happiness.
As most of you know (and likely agree with, because it is freaking delicious), I’m a big fan of Nutella. I adore it in crepes (the best thing I’ve ever tasted was a Nutella crepe in Paris), love spreading it on apples, and, in truth, could easily just sit down under a blanket and blissfully eat it with a spoon, right out of the container. But when I learned about their new, first-ever original content series titled “Spread the Happy,” my fandom reached an all-time high. The series basically aims to inspire acts of sharing happiness everywhere, everyday – through different but equally awesome stories of people who inspire others through their talents, joyful spirit, or by committing acts of kindness in their communities. And I can confidently say that our world needs this more than ever right now.
While I’m going to share each of the videos below, because they’re all amazing and the exact sort of thing we need to be watching as we enter a brand new year, my favorite is the first one, titled Brooklyn and Delvar. With my own little girl turning three today, I felt especially drawn to Brooklyn, the three year old in the video, who brings her local garbage man one of her cupcakes on her third birthday. Essley and I have watched the video a few times together, and she’s really picked up on the message of the importance of treating people the way we wish to be treated – with kindness, respect, and friendship. It has genuinely inspired me to work with her to find ways to practice similar simple-but-powerful acts of sharing and kindness in our own community.
Pretty wonderful, right? And here are the other videos in the series, each of wish delivers a unique message of spreading happiness and joy to others:
In this video, the internationally known indie-pop band Echosmith, comprised of four siblings, shares their mission to spread love, joy and happiness through their music.
This video shares the inspirational story of Marty and Seon Burbank, who invest their money in the academic future of a kindergarten class.
A local youth group that teaches the importance of looking good, feeling good and doing good in this video. And founders Mr. Nelson and Mr. Joyner continue spreading the happy throughout their community, by inspiring boys of today to be better men tomorrow.
I hope these video inspire you as much as they have me, and that you’re able to take that inspiration to spread the happy into 2017!