Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Inventory Check

I thought I would try my hand at a video blog for a change. Next time I will put on some make-up and maybe even make a script before I begin. Anyway, now to check the inventory against what I need...

Here's what I think we need to still get before we go out again:

Water filter for fresh water intake
Black water gloves
Black water tank enzymes
Long Level
Tool Box
Backflow valve for rinse inlet
Water pressure regulator

I'm sure there are other essentials, but these items are what come to mind when looking at the pictures of what I found. If there's something you notice, please let me know!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Adventures Await Em and The Gang!!!

We bought a camper!

We also bought a truck with which to tow the camper on our journeys. We plan to use it for travelling to horse shows, and adventures anywhere we can drive. I have decided to fire up the old blog again in order to make it easier to document our journeys. I hope you'll enjoy reading all about our gang's new adventures. Here are some snapshots of the new-to-us camper. 

We have taken it on a test run at my parents' house and had a few learning curve issues already! I have been busy learning new lingo having to do with generators, landing legs, motors, black water, gray water, and fresh water. There is a lot to learn and we already have a list of repairs to make (we purchased the camper used, after all). Feel free to share your knowledge with us as we are definitely newbies! 
Adventures await!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Rescue mode!

If you know anything about me, it is that I really do like animals and enjoy having lots of different pets. However, I feel that our house is currently at capacity with two dogs, three cats, four chickens, a guinea pig, a baby alligator snapping turtle, and various fish.

My parents have a lake house on Kerr lake (aka Buggs Island Lake if you're a Virginian), and at the top of their neighborhood, there are two dumpsters. Living around the dumpsters for years have been a few feral cats. Before this year, we have never seen more than two or three.

This year, there was a baby boom. Someone who lives close by must have gotten a few young females and there must be a male or two also, because at last count, there were 14 kittens living around the dumpster! Spay and Neuter your pets, people!!!!

Well, these kittens were super cute, and their mamas were so sweet, nursing them in the shade of the nearby trees. Each time we ventured up to the lake house over the past month, we would buy some cat food at the dollar store and leave it in trays. Other people also did the same or would leave sandwich meat, roasted chicken carcasses, etc for the many many cats to eat.
Of course, the kittens were looking pretty decent each time we drove by, and they would always scamper away hissing whenever we tried to get near them. One of the mama cats was used to humans and would let us pet her while she ate. For the most part, we just left food, watched them for a while, and then left.

We really liked these two kitties the most though. They were white and calico mixed. The calico has orange stripes and tabby stripes all throughout... so pretty! There was a long haired one and a short haired one, and they looked almost like twins, except for the hair length.

My parents have said that when they're both retired and living up at the lake full-time, they'll get "barn cats." My kids have been convinced all summer that these two we like would be able to be those cats! Well, this last trip, when we drove by the dumpster, there were all of the kittens, hunkered down eating some canned food someone had dropped off. We stopped, put out our bag of food in the trays, and looked around at the kitties.

We saw the longhaired one that we liked, but didn't see the shorthaired one. The longhaired one let Mike pet it, and then also let Taylor Anne pet it. That was unusual, but a welcome change. I asked TA to pick up the kitten so we could have a good look at it, and she tried, but it ran away under a nearby bush. I followed it, and saw the shorthaired one sitting/laying down on its haunches. It hissed at me, and tried to run away, but it was so weak it couldn't move well, and gave up. I picked it up without having to chase it at all. Uh Oh. It was also very very thin, and I could tell it was very dehydrated when I picked it up.

The body condition of this kitten as compared with the week before was insanely diminished. Mike and TA caught the strong one, and I checked - they were both girls! I decided right then that we had to take these sisters home with us and to the vet.  I couldn't stand to think of what would happen if we didn't.

We put them both in the guinea pig cage, and put the guinea pig in a small box for the ride home. The strong one seemed fine, a little spitfire really. Aside from ear mites and seed ticks, she was good. The weak one was obviously lethargic, seemed to have a fever, and wasn't really caring about much of anything.

We got home, set them up in the huge dog crate, and I tried to get them to eat. Mike picked up wet food (which they were used to eating), and I mixed in some non-flavored Pedialite to help replenish electrolytes and maybe perk up the weak kitten. The strong kitten ate well, but the weak one didn't even try. I held her, her heart was racing. I put some really liquidy food to her mouth and she licked it off. She realized it took very little effort to eat this way, and decided to finish the spoonful. I fed her about three more spoonfuls, but then she refused any more. She was exhausted.

Last night, I decided I needed to check on her and see if I could get more fluids into her. I was able to get her to take a little more at 1:00am and 3:00am, but she never had more than a few spoonfuls, and her belly was not getting full. She continued to be listless and limp. This morning, I noticed a sore on her neck, and that the side of her neck and her face were swollen. Anytime I touched it, it was hot, and the kitten protested. It was obviously some sort of infection.

Anderson and I took both kittens to the vet this afternoon. Anderson asked on the way if the vet would have to put down the weak one, and I told him that it was a possibility, but I hoped not. The vet saw the sore, and the swelling, and said it must be a worm - a fly maggot living in her neck, and it was infected. He cut out the maggot, put in two drains and released a lot of the pus, and then gave her electrolytes subcutaneously. I explained to Anderson what was going on. The vet said that the kitten likely would have likely died last night if we hadn't brought her home, and would have died in the next 24 hours if we hadn't brought her in to the vet when we did. She was in bad shape.

The strong kitty was in pretty good condition, and she got flea, tick, and ear mite meds, as well as her vaccines. The weak one also got those meds, plus antibiotics and special food to eat for a few days. By the time we left the vet office, the weak kitty was able to walk on its own, and looked perkier! We will probably not see typical kitten behavior from her for another day or so, but she is on the mend. I called my mom on the way home from the vet to let her know what happened, and that we hope she and dad will take them for their lake house kitties. I hope they'll both be great mousers, and live happy relaxing lives with my parents. I know Anderson and Taylor Anne will like to visit them!

Knowing what has happened to these two kitties makes me feel sad for the other ones living out there by the dumpster. If they don't get themselves cleaned enough, they could end up dying a painful slow death from a maggot. At least we were able to save two of them, maybe the others are stronger. This is a prime example of why you should get your cats fixed. Even if they're feral kitties, and you just feed them... trap, fix, release! It could save hundreds of kitty lives.

Some good places to seek help with those random kitties:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I've posted before about my dream home. The previous posts (here and here) were in response to "tags" from other bloggers, but I've seriously been thinking about dreams lately.

Not the kinds of dreams you have while you're asleep, but the things you dream about for "someday." Why do some people seem to be living their dreams, and others just keep dreaming and hope they can achieve that dream some time in the future?

I think it is because some people just jump in - they have a dream, make a plan, and execute it. They take off with their dream and make it work, come what may.

I been really feeling this pull lately. I have three friends who have currently decided to make their dreams reality now, instead of just waiting for "someday."

One of these friends loves travel, and has what we all like to call "wanderlust." She is leaving the country in a few short weeks to work in the Middle East helping to improve their school systems. She will live alone, wear special clothing to respect the culture of her host country, and work with many people who have a native language different from hers. She is jumping in with both feet, is probably a little scared and very excited, and she knows she will have to just make it work. She feels this is her "purpose" right now.

Another of my friends had a dream of living in the mountains, away from the hustle and bustle of city and town living. This past weekend, we helped her family move to some acreage on the side of a mountain in rural Virginia. Their rent is less than their house payment was, and they will be living more simply. Luckily, she has a telecommuting job that allows her to live almost anywhere with a phone and internet access. She's so excited to live with less "drama" and space to let the dogs run.

The third friend has had a rough couple of years. She is divorced, has a grown son, and a daughter in middle school. They've been through some serious health challenges, and come through it all on top and with great attitudes. She has always wanted to live at the beach, and applied for jobs there. Her boyfriend supported her wishes and dreams, and can work almost anywhere. She accepted a new position on the coast, and in about 2 weeks they will be moving into a rental home next to the ocean. She said to me a few months ago, "Emily, live your dream now. Don't put it off, life is just too short."

Of course for each of these people, following their dreams took planning. It will take hard work to transition to their new life. They will have challenges of new schools for their kids, or an entirely new culture to get used to. They will make it work because it is their dream and they're following it.

I think it is my turn.  Remember when I wanted to have back yard chickens? Well, I want this just as badly.

I want to seriously start working toward MY dreams. My "homestead in the country" dream. Not too far away, but not too close to others, either. A place for us to stretch and grow.

I hope "the gang" is ready for this.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Remembering Nick

About a month ago some of our family got together to remember my cousin, Nick Dupre.
We spent the days hanging out together at the house, swimming in the lake, shopping at local thrift shops and antique stores, and eating. We spent the evenings telling stories and remembering Nick. The pictures here are a mixture of old photos of him and some from our gathering. We meant to play cards together, but it didn't happen.
  Nick was a smart, fun-loving, caring guy. He died 20 years ago, and we didn't get to watch him get married, have a career, or have children, but we were able to learn about strength, courage, and love from him before he was gone.
Nick was the one who carried me out of the woods slung over his slender shoulder when I fell and busted my chin open at the Hemlock Inn one Thanksgiving. I'm guessing that I was about 7, he would have been around 11, and he wasn't much bigger than I was. I'm in the green sweatshirt below (with a band-aid covering the stitches in my chin), Nick is in the navy blue.
Nick got cancer around age 12,  and throughout the next 10 years or so he fought it off multiple times. Each time he had chemotherapy, he would lose his hair. When it grew back, it was always different from the way it was before. I found this fascinating!

When Nick had to come to family functions and lay on the couch with the chemotherapy treatment dripping into his port instead of sliding down the stairs or playing in the yard with the rest of us, he taught all of us a little something about courage. He could have stayed in the back bedroom, away from everything, but he didn't. He would sometimes play cards or board games with the rest of us, and almost every time he would win.

Nick was a really good best friend, too. He and my cousin, Jeff, were nearly inseparable during family events. If one of them didn't want to play cards, neither of them played. They just wanted to spend time together. They talked more than any two boys I have ever met. I often wondered what they talked about when they went off on walks together.
We got together to honor, remember, and to just continue the tradition of cousins getting together to have fun! We know Nick would have loved it! 

Because of his Cancer, Nick was a part of a very special community. He had the opportunity to go to Camp Kemo each summer, with other kids who had been dealt crappy cards. He often took along his little brother. He built many meaningful relationships there, and in high school, which are remembered fondly by others even 20 years later.
Nick Dupre is missed by many. As a brother, best friend, and cousin.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Southern Girl here, but for goodness' sake, take down the flag!

I'm a southern girl. 

I would not like to live anywhere else. 

I love my state and its unpredictable weather. 

I love the fact that I can make a quick trip to either the mountains or the beach if I want to.

One thing that bothers me about the South is that every once in  a while, I will see a car or a truck with a confederate flag on the bumper, or even flying wildly on a pole mounted to the bed of the truck. My kids have asked me in the past what the flag is for, and why people fly it. My usual response has been that they're proud to be part of the old southern states, and they are probably really "Country" people. (Sorry to my "Country" cousins!)

I have always had in the back of my mind the fact that the flag stands for much more than just "Country folk" and "Southern heritage," and that in many cases the people who fly the flag are of a certain mind about race relations. Now that my kids are a little older, they have figured out that when they see the confederate flag on a piece of clothing or a beach towel, they usually hear racist remarks from the person wearing it. They have figured out the truth without me having to explain it to them.

I was born in the South, raised in the South, and have never lived anywhere else. I also have had ancestors who have fought for the South! I have an ancestor who watched General Robert E. Lee surrender at the Appomattox courthouse in 1865. I am proud to be a southern girl! However, I am not ever going to fly the Confederate flag. I will never defend the flying of that flag. I understand its history, I TEACH the history in 5th grade Social Studies. Yes, I still teach Social Studies, even though it is not a "tested" subject in Common Core.

The thing is - the Confederate flag looks cool, but it is a symbol for something that is ultimately uncool. It is a symbol for hate, bigotry, and racism at its core. It was created and designed in order to represent the supremacy of white people over all others. It is flown as a symbol of a failed attempt at secession from our great United States.

The man that designed the Confederate flag was William T. Thompson, the editor of the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. In 1863, after the Civil war was in full swing, he wrote: "As a people, we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race; a white flag would thus be emblematical of our cause… Such a flag…would soon take rank among the proudest ensigns of the nations, and be hailed by the civilized world as the white man's flag… As a national emblem, it is significant of our higher cause, the cause of a superior race, and a higher civilization contending against ignorance, infidelity, and barbarism."

I do not support it. I will not condone it. I will not defend it.

We have come so far in this country to improve racial issues. We STILL have MORE work to do. This is the right step to take at this point in our country.

I do think it should be taken down from government buildings. It is a part of our country's history, and should be treated as history.

Take down the flags that proclaim to the world you are someone who hates others based on their skin color, even if to you, it just means you're proud to be a southerner.

Educate yourself on the facts of the matter, and don't wear your ignorance on your flagpole.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Silliness and Sadness

We will all miss you, Mike!

Death is not friendly. Death doesn't joke around. Death doesn't discriminate between those who deserve it and those who don't. Everyone dies, it is what it is. Sometimes a person is ready, sometimes a person is surprised by it.

Those left behind think about the things they'll miss, the changes to their own lives that will soon take place, and the lasting effects of the loss they have sustained.
Families and friends gather together. They enjoy each other's company and hope to help each other feel better or make sense of what happened. There is no making sense of it though, there is just dealing with it. 

We use each other to deal with our feelings, and it helps. It helps us remember that although someone we care about is gone, someone we planned on having conversations with is no longer there, we still have others to be with. Others that count on our conversations, our hugs, and our smiles. 

We hold them close in our hearts.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cousincation 2014

This took forever to put together... and will be late birthday presents for the cousins this year... I hope they like them!

Click here to view this photo book larger

Build your own high-quality photo books at Shutterfly.com.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Track out trip (recovered version)

I saw that my sister updated her blog (again) this morning, and I know it has been a realllllly long time since I've updated mine - so I thought "Well, dern - I guess I better make some time to do a post!" 

My kids have been in school for six weeks, and just recently had a three week break. They got to hang out at Camp Pipan for most of that break, and that meant they were with my Mom (and sometimes Dad) during the weeks while Mike and I worked and they were out of school. It is wonderful to have parents close by so I don't have to find a babysitter or pay for track-out camp for the kids!!!! Plus, they get to kayak, swim, fish, explore, hike, take the dogs for walks, and lots of other fun things!

As awesome as Camp Pipan is, the kids were getting tired of it, and were starting to whine that they didn't get to go on 'vacation' on their track-out break. I also felt really bad because we haven't gone to the beach or the mountains or anywhere special all summer looooooonnnnnng! (It was a short summer, and I had classes = boring mommy).

Soooooooo, Mike and I planned a surprise trip for the kids - we didn't tell them where we were going, we just told them we were going somewhere fun for the last weekend before they had to be back in school.

Once we were heading East, they started guessing ... Taylor Anne figured it out pretty quickly because she had been down to this part of the coast in the spring with her 5th grade class. 

Anderson said: "It's the Night Bus!!!"

We arrived at our hotel, which is on the water in Beaufort - it was really cute from the outside, and everyone was very nice. We unpacked our things and headed up to the room. 

This was the view from our bedroom window: Do you see the little black dot on the shore? That is a horse! We stayed at the Inlet Inn which is directly across Taylor's Creek from Carrot Island. There are some domesticated horses that wander free on the island.

 This is our room - beautiful view!
 Once we got settled in, we went down to the docks and signed up for a ferry ride 
across to Shackleford Banks!

 The courtyard of the Inlet Inn.

 The kids were excited to ride the ferry - it was just a people ferry - no cars allowed! 
 Anderson held onto his hat - he knows what to do on a boat! As we crossed, we saw a lot of other boats - it was a busy channel! We also passed by Radio Island and the Duke Marine center. 
 Once we were on the island we used a ladder to come down from the boat. 
The water was so clear and the beach was so beautiful! 
 Although our kids are both strong swimmers, we don't trust the open ocean - so we require them to wear their life jackets when swimming in places with strong currents. They also had the responsibility of carrying them, I am NOT a pack mule! It was a gorgeous day, and the Mullet were running. Anderson tried to catch them as they swam by, but they're pretty fast.

 Oh - Look - Horse Poop!  We looked for the horses... 
 And we looked....
 And we LOOKED... 
 But we didn't find any horses... 
 But we did find Gaillardias (very pretty!) and Cacti (they hurt!)

 There were a million snails in this marshy area, there were also some 
fish that looked like they wanted to be caught. 

 Taylor Anne got one! (Anderson did too!)

We found a sign about the horses! (You're not allowed to feed them or disturb them - you're not allowed within 50 feet of them!)

 Although we didn't find horses, we did have an adventure, and it was fun! 
 When we got back, all of us cleaned up and we headed out to the shops and dinner. 
The Inn had some short swings for the kids.
Beaufort is a beautiful place.

 We visited the Maritime Museum - but it was closed. Mike didn't see the sign, and pulled on the door, which OPENED!!! Then the alarm went off, and a museum volunteer drove up and the police came! We explained to them what happened, and they said that the door doesn't latch well. Apparently it happens pretty often... We thought about getting a picture of Mike in handcuffs, but then thought "Naaahhhh". 

 Our dinner at the Spouter Inn was wonderful - we ALL loved our food. The kids had clam chowder, I had crab cakes, and Mike had steamed shrimp. It was all delicious. I think we ate every bit!
 Sunset from the deck at the Spouter Inn. 
 The next day, we did a little bit of letterboxing, and visited the Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. 
Anderson didn't want to have his picture taken... 
 Cool sand sculpture!

 Taylor Anne likes to take pictures!
 The otters were mesmerizing - Anderson would have watched them for hours!

 The rays were friendly!

We loved watching the giant fish swimming by us - it was hard to imagine 
that they are also swimming all over the open ocean!

 I loved this colorful directional sign!

 Anderson enjoyed spying on the ibis up close!
 Floating bridge - your feet get wet if you don't keep moving! (or if you're too heavy!)
 There were a few rescued sea turtle hatchlings - they looked strong and ready to break out of there! I am sure they'll be released when they are truly ready. So cute when they're little!
 HILARIOUS sign we passed on the way home. TOO funny. 
We were sad to have to go home and prepare for school, but this made it a little more fun.