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Andrew & George 2Last Sunday, my hubby, Andrew, and I took a road trip to Slidell to attend the HERPS Exotic Reptile and Pet Show at The Harbor Center. These shows happen a few times a year in our surrounding areas, and I have always wanted to go to check out their critters. We are animal lovers and have cared for many pets over the years with a few exotics being part of the mix. I specifically was interested in checking out the hedgehogs (learn about the breeders, touch one, and assess cost to acquire one). I have never had a hedgehog but find them fascinating, so I have joined a couple of Facebook hedgehog groups to learn more about their habits and care requirements. I even follow Mr. Pokee’s page to check out his many adventures with his owner. My guys tagged along because they were just as curious as I was, and there would be lots of snakes.

Snakes are awesome creatures that are important for our environment, but they unfortunately frighten many people. I think if those people who are afraid of snakes took the time to learn more about snakes and their benefits in our world, they may not fear them as much. There were snakes galore at the HERPS show. They ranged in size from babies to adults in a multitude of colors. Andrew & GeorgeI had no idea when I went to the show that I would be leaving with one of them. We stopped at the Knockout Exotics table where Andrew spotted a Corn Snake for $25. The snake was born on June 4th where he hatched from an egg. His container had a “pet only” label on it. I inquired about it, and the breeder (Kara) told us that he was born with kinks in his spine which are medically harmless to the snake but not ideal for breeding. That was all my future zoologist needed to hear. Andrew purchased the snake, and with help from Kara, he also purchased a tank, bedding, and a hidey-hole to place inside the tank. With instructions from Kara, we left Slidell and headed back to Hammond. On the drive home, Andrew named his snake George. Before we arrived home, we had to make a quick trip to Petco to buy some frozen pinkies (sold out at the show) to feed George.

George has been with us for one week and is doing very well. He has eaten twice, successfully pooped, and has drunk water. He likes to explore his tank and get in between the paper towels (temporary bedding) and has even become more comfortable with Andrew handling him. I check on him regularly because he is amazing to watch. I fed him for the first time on Friday. Unfortunately, my phone was in the other room charging, so I could not take a video of it, and I didn’t want to miss a moment by running to get it. It was terrifyingly cool to watch. I was afraid he was going to suffocate while swallowing his food. Andrew informed me that George would not attempt to eat anything that would be too big for him to swallow. Whew! Since Andrew is leaving for college soon, I will have to care for George in between Andrew’s visits. This means I may have to feed him from time to time. Thankfully, Andrew is attending SLU which is no more than 20 minutes away. He plans to come home regularly to check on both Puar (his cat) and George.

In Other News:

I have been diligently working on my List of 100 Dreams (#19 on my 19 for 2019). Currently, I have 86 dreams listed, and one of them is to adopt a hedgehog.  More on my dreams list in an upcoming post.

I hope your weekend is going well, dear reader. I am wrapping up a few tasks at home today since I will be reporting back to my day job this week. And, one of those tasks is to add 14 more dreams to my List of 100 Dreams. Happiness!

“We don’t own the planet Earth, we belong to it. And we must share it with our wildlife.” ~ Steve Irwin

 

 

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Sonic 6-2018

Sonic

For educators, Fridays during the summer months have a remarkably different vibe than Fridays during the rest of the year. In fact, I almost forgot today was Friday. Tooty (aka Comet) woke me up at 6:20 this morning. I lazily rolled out of bed, fed my fur babies, made some tea, got back in bed, and proceeded to finish The Dante Club. Ah, how I love these mornings during the summer! And, nowhere to go until this evening when my family and I have dinner at my mother-in-law’s house. Andrew drove himself to his dermatology appointment. Barry, Jr. stopped by for a visit. Today was a day similar to quite a few days for me this week. My days were not heavily scheduled which allowed me plenty of time during the week to read, watch television, relax, and fiddle faddle in my scrapbook room.

 

Laser Die CutOn Tuesday, I ordered a few more scrapbook supplies. I pulled some pictures from Andrew’s trip to Ireland, set up my Scrap’n Easel, assembled a laser die cut, and semi-laid out the page. Now that my room is set up specifically for scrapbooking, I can leave everything out and leisurely work on my pages. After lunch, I met a friend of mine, that I had not seen in a few years, for coffee. It was a nice couple of hours catching up with Angie. Visiting with her made me realize that I want to carve out more time this summer to connect with my friends that I do not get to see on a regular basis. Friendships bring an enormous richness of joy to one’s life; however, they need to be cultivated in order to flourish.

Early Wednesday morning, Andrew and I headed to North Cypress Fitness Center to play tennis. Andrew played tennis for the first time this spring, and he really enjoyed it. He has been after me the last couple of months to get a tennis racket, so we can play together. With no exaggeration, I have not played tennis in the last 20 years. I had no expectations for myself but hoped I could manage to get the ball over the net. We played a total of eight games, and I won two. Woo-Hoo! However, I must definitely work on my serve. After playing tennis, we stopped at Home Deport to get a few more plants for our front garden. My BFF Shelly had given me some white impatiens last week, so I planted those along with my new plants as soon as I got home.

 

Sonic with Toy

Sonic is always ready to play.

On Thursday, I attended a professional development workshop at HGCS. It was informative and a nice opportunity to see my school friends. In the afternoon, my hubby and I drove to Mandeville with Sonic to see his dermatologist for a follow-up. Last June, Sonic was diagnosed with perianal fistulas and was put on an extensive and expensive treatment plan. At Sonic’s April visit, his doctor dropped his medication down to twice a week. Thankfully, the affected area looks terrific. Sonic will remain on the medication twice a week and continue his current diet with a recheck in six months. This was exactly the news we wanted to hear.

 

While listening to an episode of the podcast, Side Hustle School, a speech pathologist shared with Chris Guillebeau something her mother always told her:  “you should have something to look forward to every day.” Liz Martin’s mom gave her daughter some awesome advice that we can all take to heart. Basically, many of us work all week looking forward to the special experiences we will be engaging in on the weekend. TGIF does not have to be our mantra. Every day this week, I had at least one “something” or more to look forward to every single day that brought me joy. It really is up to us, dear reader, to pay attention to any moment, big or small, that may make our DAY more enjoyable without having to wait for the weekend to experience it. With that being said, and while I’m mentioning the weekend, I do hope you have wonderful plans in the works for your weekend. I’m spending mine in New Orleans with my hubby. Happiness!

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” ~ Marianne Williamson

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Letting Go

My family is grieving the loss of one of our beloved family members. Yesterday evening a little after 5pm, our cat, Ming, was put to sleep. My hubby, Andrew, and I were with her. Ming was 19 years old.

Ming

Ming

I brought Ming home when she was about eight weeks old. A woman I worked with at WYES found her in a store parking lot and planned to take her to the animal shelter after work. I was concerned the animal shelter would put her to sleep, so I took her home instead. I decided to name her Ming after a good friend of mine who I worked with at WYES. Ming and Barry, Jr., who was four at the time, bonded instantly. He would drag her all around the house. They were always hanging out together. I think it was hard on Ming when Barry left home and joined the military. Sometime after Barry, Jr. left home, she adopted Andrew and the two of them became pals.

Ming had been a relatively healthy cat for most of her life. When she was ten years old, she had to have one of her back legs amputated because she had cancer. She recovered quickly and adapted quite well with three legs. About two years ago, Ming started slowing down and arthritis was setting in. She was diagnosed with a thyroid condition and had to start taking medication. However, the rest of her blood work showed a healthy kitty.

About three weeks ago, she started urinating in one spot outside her litter box. It looked like she was starting to have difficulty getting in and out of it. The weekend before Thanksgiving, she seemed to slow down with her eating. By Wednesday she had not had a bowel movement, seemed uninterested in eating, and kind of lethargic. I made a vet appointment, which revealed she was dehydrated and didn’t have anything to really poop. The vet gave her fluids, and I took home some canned a/d food. She ate pretty well that day, but ended up vomiting later in the afternoon. I wasn’t overly concerned because she did that from time to time if she had to poop, which she also did that afternoon. The next couple of days she did fine. She was eating the a/d food, drinking water, and going to the bathroom normally. On Sunday, she didn’t seem to have as much of an appetite for food, but continued drinking water. By Monday, she wasn’t showing much interest in food or water so I made an appointment to bring her to the vet as soon as the office opened Tuesday morning. I had to feed her with a syringe.

Tuesday morning I texted Barry, Jr. to let him know things were not looking too good for Ming and asked him for his blessing to put her to sleep if the vet recommended it. He gave me his blessing. The vet was not ready to throw in the towel. She was dehydrated again, so we repeated fluids and decided to do some blood work to see how her kidneys and liver were functioning. I took Ming back home and made her comfortable. The next day she was like a new kitty. She ate well ALL day, drank plenty of water, followed us around wanting attention. I started to believe she just needed help getting more fluids.

Unfortunately, the results of the blood work were not good. The results showed Ming was in stage four renal failure. The vet suggested we continue with administering fluids twice a week if we wanted to try to help her make it for Barry, Jr. for when he came home for Christmas. Her next appointment would be Friday at 5:10pm. Thursday was a bad day for Ming. It was like Monday all over again. When I spoke with Barry, Jr. later that afternoon, he requested that we put Ming to sleep before he came home for Christmas. He did not want to be here when she died. He spoke to her on the phone and she mewed back. Ming was restless all Thursday evening and into Friday morning. I knew in my heart she was making the decision for us. She was asking us to let her go. I called the vet’s office Friday morning and asked the receptionist to cancel the fluids, but keep the appointment so we could put Ming to sleep. And, that is what we did. We let her go.

Andrew picked out the shroud for her to be wrapped in. We brought her body home and buried her in a spot under some trees. Although our family is mourning the loss, we are at peace because Ming is at peace. We are choosing not to focus on the last couple of weeks of her life or the sadness of putting her to sleep. However, we are choosing to focus on the joy, happiness, and love we shared with her for almost two decades. We LOVE you, Ming!

“Sometimes love means letting go when you want to hold on tighter.”                   ~ Melissa Marr, Ink Exchange

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I have completed the first week of my happiness project. Honestly, I feel I did pretty well. Even though I still have not created my official resolutions chart, I tallied up my accomplishments.  My trend these past few years has been to allow stressful situations or my busy lifestyle to influence my health and fitness decisions.  I realized as I was making my resolutions that my life is always going to be busy, and that stressful situations arise; however, those two factors are not a free pass for me to not take care of myself the majority of the time. It really boils down to choices.

My week started off really great. My little guy’s birthday was Monday. To celebrate, my husband and I took him to Chili’s for dinner. Since we had planned this ahead of time, I planned my meals throughout the day to bank some extra calories for a restaurant meal and a couple of bites of dessert. Earlier that morning, I did a 20 minute cardio interval DVD and my run/walk interval training. Tuesday and Wednesday I continued eating well and exercising. Thursday I hit a bump or a few bumps throughout the day. And, amazingly that day snowballed and led to a stressful event. Of course, I blamed it on the fact that I did not get out of bed earlier, as I had done successfully the previous three days.

Thursday was my little guy’s Supplies and Hi’s Day at school. He would have the opportunity to meet his teachers and drop off his school supplies. I’m convinced NOW that I must have a “sabatoging demon” that resides in my body. Of all the days to lollygag in bed, I choose the busiest day of my week to do it. Reluctantly, I dragged myself out of bed. I was cranky because I did not get up earlier. I still managed to do my strength training. However, I had to wash my hair, so I got even crankier for not getting up earlier. Even though I dislike getting up early, I am MUCH happier when I do because it allows me the time to do the things I need to do to keep me healthy. The day proceeded with other activities, and I was irritable and antsy all day. Everything managed to aggravate me. Even going to Books-a-Million didn’t even help. I skipped an opportunity to get a mocha latte. Why? It is August, and they still had the July newspaper with all the book reviews. I already read July. I wanted August! I had a mental temper tantrum. I couldn’t wait to get home. Once home, I made a cup of coffee and ate about 15 M & M’s. Then at 6pm, all hell broke loose.

My husband always goes out in the backyard when he gets home to spend time with the dogs. My little dog, Comet, spends the majority of the day inside. However, when my husband gets home, Comet wants to be out there with the big dogs, too. Apparently, in the short time he was out there, he ate something poisonous. When Comet came inside, he started vomiting and collapsed. He went into a trance-like state and wasn’t breathing very well. After calling the vet, we quickly left home headed for an emergency vet hospital in Mandeville, which is about 30-40 minutes away. It was an extremely stressful drive. There were lots of tears, lots of fear, and lots of prayers. Thankfully, we made it to the hospital in time.  Comet stayed overnight, as well a Friday night. We took him home on Saturday afternoon. He is doing well considering his liver was assaulted, his blood wasn’t clotting, and he almost died.  

Now, I could have used that stressful event to make the choice to eat poorly and not exercise. However, I chose to keep my resolutions. I also decided not to get irritated with myself if I didn’t honor one of my resolutions. Soooo, I didn’t get up earlier; however, I still exercised, ate well (minus the M & M’s), and drank enough water. I would do better tomorrow. And, I did do better. In fact, I even lost a pound this week, which puts me at 142.5 pounds. Remember, I’m working on getting to 135 pounds by August 29th.

Okay, share time. I tried a new recipe on Sunday. The recipe is “Bacon Cheeseburgers to Die For.” I wouldn’t really go that far, but they were good. Even my little guy liked the burger. He can be picky. I’ve attached the link: http://www.justapinch.com/recipe/cookin4me/bacon-cheeseburgers-to-die-for-better-than-gourmet/beef?k=bacon+cheeseburgers+to+die+for&p=1&o=r.  I opted to use water instead of beef broth. I may try the beef broth the next time, as well as making my bacon bits a little bigger.

Something that I discovered that makes me happy: Double Chocolate Biscotti. Not terribly high in fat/calories. I enjoy one when I’ve had a good day (eating/exercise) and want something sweet without the guilt. Keep in mind: having one of these treats everyday lessens the happiness quota.   

Also, I want to share how I’m becoming a 30 minute runner using a run/walk interval program. The program is outlined in the book Running and Walking for Women Over 40 by Kathrine Switzer. The running schedule can be used by both men and women. It is designed to help you become a 30 minute runner in ten weeks. I started Week 4 (walk 6 minutes/run 4 minutes, repeat 3X) today. If I continue successfully, I see a road race on the horizon.

“Life is the sum of all your choices.”  ~Albert Camus

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A Tribute to Zig

Zig

Zig exploring Andrew's bag.

      On the afternoon of October 12, 2010 my family said good-bye to Zig, our ferret of four years. We gathered around the hole my husband carefully dug in our yard for Zig’s body. Andrew placed his lifeless body, which had been wrapped in a brown shroud, into the hole. Andrew scooped up a small handful of dirt, threw it on top of Zig’s body, and said good-bye. No one spoke as my husband refilled the hole.  Afterwards, we all agreed Zig was probably frolicking in pet heaven with his little buddy Zag, who died two years earlier.

     My family adopted two ferrets three and half years ago from a woman who worked with my mother. Everyone knows that I am very softhearted when it involves animals. My mother’s coworker needed a new home for the ferrets. Apparently, their novelty wore off only after having them for about a month. I had a ferret growing up, so I was definitely interested in adopting them. However, my husband…not so much. Nonetheless, we went to a pet store that sold ferrets to show Andrew what a ferret was all about. He was able to hold it and observe it. We bought a book about ferrets and learned the basics of raising ferrets. A few weeks later, Zig and Zag became part of our family. They were about ten months old.  Our little guys were so much fun. They were very curious, full of energy, and loved to play. 

     Unfortunately, about a year and a half later, Zag died from a tumor rupturing in his spleen. It was a sad time. Andrew took it very hard. Zig lost his buddy and playmate. Soon, we became Zig’s constant playmates. We played hide-and-seek and chased him through his tube. He was always ready to play.

     It was Friday, September 10, 2010,  and I noticed Zig breathing heavy. I scheduled a vet appointment the following Monday. An x-ray was performed that revealed fluid on the lungs and a dark mass. With the fluid on the lungs, the vet could not tell if the mass was a tumor or an enlarged heart. He was prescribed Furosemide, which I had to get filled at Walgreens, to reduce the fluid in his lungs. The next day, we went to see another vet to have an ultrasound done. The ultrasound revealed a tumor, but the vet could not tell which kind. Cells were taken and put on slides. The slides were sent to a lab at LSU Vet School. A few days later, the results revealed it was a tumor, but not lymphoma. There was no good news. Zig was going to die, but we didn’t know when.

     The hardest part about being a pet owner for me is when you have to make the tough decision about when to say “enough is enough.” It took me a month of vet expenses, three meds, and Zig’s steady decline in appetite and weight to let go. It took my breath away the moment he passed away. It was the first time I was in the room when one of our pets had to be put to sleep. My family and I have a rule that someone in our family must be with our pets if they have to be put to sleep. It is the least we can do for them after all the unconditional love they give us.   

     Then comes the hard part…telling your nine-year-old son that his pet has died. Andrew took it really hard. No matter how much I prepared him or myself, it was still so sad. Andrew is happy Zig is no longer suffering. We have a new puppy (will blog about him later) we rescued on 9/30. I told Andrew that maybe God sent Comet since He had to take Zig, and He knew Andrew had so much more love to give. Andrew really loves his new puppy. Comet will not replace Zig, but has made the death easier to accept because he has been so busy with Comet. Andrew asked me not to give away Zig’s cage. So once it is cleaned up, we will put it in the attic. It has been two weeks, and I have yet to clean his cage or throw away his stuff. I know that last step makes it final. And, today… I’m just not ready to make it final.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

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