Made Peace With The Highs and Lows

I’m still trooping through the year trying to figure out what PEACE is, what it looks life in my life, and how to let more of it in, and let the bad stuff out.

Something I’ve come to recognize (okay, really, just be honest with myself) these past few months are my struggles with the ups and downs of life. In high school I used to joke with my friends that I didn’t need to do drugs because I was already so “high on life.” A large aspect of my personality is this effervescent bubbly-ness. The bottom line is I DESPERATELY want to be happy, so I seek these things out. This could look like being easily entertained, or enjoying the simple things in life (like a cupcake in a classroom because its a kids birthday).

I started this blog in one of those low times after I got married. I’d gotten married and graduated and quickly learned that neither one of those things were going to bring me the complete happiness I was looking for. I felt purposeless not having a course syllabus to guide my life, and I realized all of my poisonous relationship insecurities. So, this blog became a redirection (a counseling term, basically distracting yourself) to focus on the little things in life, and maybe I’d figure out the big things later.

I really am just so addicted to being happy. I want the high energy levels. Those are the times when I’m able to follow through with this thing that I hate in my life (chores). I want my spirit to soar.

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Sometimes in little bad times, I’m able to just sort of “positive attitude” myself out of them. My personality type (ENFP) LOVES those moments, sees them as challenges to rise above. But, after awhile we can get drained. That far reaching telescope of brightness easily reverses to inspect all of the tiny minutiae of my life, pointing out everything that is “wrong.”

This has probably been the most intense this past week. I was on the high of having completed my first year at the local community service board. In discussing my progress with my supervisor she reflected how much I’d grown, and I easily agreed with her. I could -feel- the gained experience, especially the ability to be more present with my clients.

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Then, I had a rough week. A couple of things came up. Basically, it boils down to not being present with those two cases. I didn’t meet those teens where they were. It was crushing to hear this in their self reports. One of them I thought we’d have a great therapeutic relationship, but it turned out that I annoyed her. At the end of the day I was thankful for the diverse personality among my teammates, that is the point, we are all different. BUT, and I really did let that BUT be bigger than any other truths. I FELT crushed thinking that I was sucking at the fundamentals of counseling (you know, being a good listener).  It led to deep reflection, not all of it as healthy as I’d like to admit.

BUT (see let’s use some of those for the positive!)

I did a vision board earlier this year as part of Ali Edward’s One Little Word prompts. I always enjoy the freeing ability in these types of projects, saving magazines that I find all the time. (I also got to use my amazing folding table in my amazing new craft room!!!)

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This theme of finding peace by thru emotional balance can easily be observed. (And is represented by the pictures of various seasons, oh I just LOVE how it came together)

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One of my favorite magazine cut out finds is this quote, “If you are only happy at the summit you aren’t going to be happy very often” Its from an adventure magazine interview with someone who ACTUALLY scales mountains. (It makes me wish I still had the rest of the article to see if there is more wisdom there). The vision board sits on my desk next to my computer and I see this statement often. Its true, if we are only happy when we are succeeding at the very top of whatever our mountains are, we will be happy like 1% of the time. We love movies about people overcoming the odds, in the harsh realities of life, because the majority of life is the struggle.

Isaiah 26:3 says “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (See! there’s that BUT being used for the power of GOOD!)

So, I want to learn to find lasting peace in the struggle. I want to learn to focus on Christ in all things.

Practiced My Roar at The Lion King

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I have this friend of mine we’ve been lucky to stay friends since our college days…but even more specifically she’s my “musical friend” we go and see tons of shows together (the ones that my hubby would LOVE to skip). We are going to watch our Alma mater produce Beauty and the Beast this weekend, but in March we were able to watch one of my bucket-list broadway shows: The Lion King. I was disappointed last time that I didn’t snag tickets when they were in Richmond (a couple of years ago I think) so I pounced on them with a friend seeing it in her neck of the woods in NC.

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We dressed up, split a delicious fancy cupcake, took pre-show pictures (I turned profile to hide my poision ivy face) though I went to the ER the night before driving to her house….can I tell you how much I was NOT going to miss this show?!

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I just stared…mouth agape at the opening sequence. I’d heard about how amazing the puppets, the costumes, the audience interaction was…but it was NOTHING to actually sitting there watching it. There was movement everywhere…cheetahs, lions, flocks of birds, all types of animals. I literally smacked R on the arm to get her to glance around to watch a giant elephant amble up to the stage. It was nothing short of magical as I whispered “this has become my new favorite musical.”

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Honestly, I’ve never seen a Broadway show more elaborately brought to life. I never felt that the puppets made the performance feel child-like. The puppets/costumes are painted in a tribal/African style which makes it feel more authentic than the original movie. There were a few differences from the movie (some additional scenes/tweaks) but the classic songs and lines were all included. (And I may or may not have been singing along)

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The acting of Scar was probably one of my favorite parts. He has this dry humor and he kept with the integrity of the famous music and lines while adding his own flair and personality in.

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The children playing Simba and Nala were also adorable. We saw the boy as we took the elevator to the parking garage. Everyone flocked around him, complimenting him, and a couple asked for pictures. (I refrained but REALLY wanted a picture). He was so chill with the swarm. Later, we saw them again driving the car out of the garage. I leaned out the window to tell them “good night” to which R calls me a creeper….(so apparently I didn’t restrain myself enough).

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We ended up with lots of swag. A photo book detailing the production of the show, a tote bag, and I purchased a necklace. R said “ooh I could use the tote bag as a dance bag” and because I’m a horrible copy cat I decided to do the same. But seriously, how snazzy is it to take a Broadway2016-03-20 14.05.27 style bag to practice? Lets me dream big dreams, right?

 

Lost a Fight with a Poisonous Vine

I’ve been REALLY struggling with productivity lately…especially regarding house things. Then, the weather started to get better, AND I’m definitely a -need to be with my favorite person- person. SO, when he was out in the yard this past weekend I decided to take matters into my own hands and attempt to weed out the vines and leaves from my newly discovered ridge of daylillies in the backyard. Hubster is more of the opinion that we should just mow it…but flowers cost money and I’m determined to save what I already have since I probably won’t have time to plant fresh until NEXT spring.

So I took the before picture and got to work.

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When I began on Saturday, it felt so discouraging, I’d only liberated maybe a square foot. And I did so without the right tools or gloves. My knuckles were sore from attempting to rip this random plant out of the ground, but I would cackle in victory as the roots were loosed.

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I worked more on Sunday and Monday since the weather was so gorgeous, obtaining more official equipment like a trowel, gloves, and knee board. The plants seemed to flourish with their freedom.

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Then, Tuesday while in a supervision meeting I began to scratch at a bump on my knee. I’d suspected it was a bug bite, but it had grown through the day. Also, there was a bump on left cheek (face, you guys) that I thought was a random zit that continued to grow.

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I’ll admit while pulling the vines I had a sneaking suspicion that it would probably be worth knowing what the poisonous vines even look like.

As the rashes spread it became undeniable I had poison something…though it is still unclear what as the picture of the vines I was pulling do not match the pictures for ivy, oak, or sumac.

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Currently, I’ve tried calamine, hydrocortisone, taking drowsy pain meds, and used Zanfel a $50 wash that I’m guessing I used incorrectly given the amount of itching I’m still trying to bear through. The redness and itchiness have increased each day. And the advice I get? Don’t itch it, and wait for it to pass -_-. Yay! Meanwhile, people are either avoiding me, or providing other recommendations, nothing of which provides any longterm relief.

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It has unfortunately gotten to the oozing stage…I’ll spare you the pictures…for once my zest for documentation has been paused.

Sheesh! I meant for this to sound funnier…I mean I didn’t even know that I was fighting with something poisonous. Those daylillies better bloom pretty, that is all I am saying. Oh the life of a homeowner. This too shall pass :0)

Amidst my itchiness we welcomed some friends over for our first dinner party, even if it was rednecked in our carport with buckets instead of proper patio furniture. I’m so excited to continue to document those types of home owner adventures.

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Found a Snake In My Basement

Well, we’ve lived in our new home about a week and a half at this point (I’ll do a separate post about buying the house as that was a pretty cool journey with God).

Friends very graciously helped us move in the Saturday before last, when asked last minute. They were such amazing workers, moving everything in a flurry to me guiding them to which room. “Guest! Kitchen! Bathroom! Basement!” etc. (So many more incredible people helped, but I was refraining from snapping pictures while they were working so hard. So these are my only two examples).

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But this past week and a half have led to several interesting moments in home ownership….being freaked out thinking that we were hearing things in the hallway our first night here…only to realize that our used fridge makes a sound like someone dropping stuff when it shuts its cooling cycle down. It has since been named “thumper”

Husband has taken to home ownership quite well, being up on the roofs frequently cleaning out the gutters, and fixing things. One of his biggest fixations has been changing the light bulbs so that we use less wattage to save money. I appreciate this, but I look at him like he’s crazy because I’m all “can we just hang this thing up so I can live?” lol.

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(I had a cold last week, while adjusting to this new house, not having a routine, and new driving patterns it was a struggle to say the LEAST).

Our adventures tonight take the cake. It began simply enough, husband bought rose food to feed my newly discovered rose bush.

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Also look at how the daffodils are growing:

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Then, it took a turn. He called out to me. “Hey honey….I think there is a snake in the basement…it might be dead?” *Cue Erin frantically running into the bedroom to grab my camera to snap pictures* I head downstairs to see this tiny, 2-3 foot long snake but maybe half an inch thick snake. It is crinkled up because it is so lethargic. I crept in as close as I dared to snap some pictures, because I’m me.

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Meanwhile, husband became inventive, using a curtain rod to try and lift the thing into a giant bucket. It became angry, lifting, opening its mouth, and shaking its tiny little tail at us in defiance. Eventually, husband won, and then took the thing to dump it near the trees. He suspected it was some sort of a rattler, viper based on its actions around us.

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I looked on the googles, and it does appear that we had a timber rattlesnake living in our basement…and is now living in the woods. Is this a good reason to avoid doing laundry? Also, I may never wear flip flops again in the basement. I think it is safe to say that we live out in the country.

Once I found out how venomous he was I kinda wondered if we should have killed it…but according to the local wildlife authorities, they are important to the ecosystem and don’t tend to hurt people on purpose. I think its kinda like the shark thing. Does that mean that we need to have a Timber Rattler week? Anyways our buddy is named Victor the Viper. If you want to check out our yard and the lovely creek, I’d recommended covered toes (not flip flops/sandals).

EDIT: My step father says that he looks more like a rat snake. I feel better about this. So he is NOT venomous.

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However, right after neighbors stopped by to introduce themselves and brought homemade chocolate turtles because she owns her own candy making business. So, all is right with the world. :0)

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Also we plan on having a fun party -meybe- at the end of this month when our house stops looking like this:

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So stay posted for more details :0)

Welcomed Peace into My Life in 2016

Its that time, the new year, and I gots goals. I gotta try at any rate :0).

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Combined, or as a way to focus my intentions I’ve chosen a word again: peace. I’m going to explore this word, let go of some anxieties, and rely on God. I’m sick of the meaning of my name “peace” being a taunting irony.

Hear are some intentions (by category). Some of them are more specific than others, some I’ll add to throughout the year.

Spiritually: – more quality in quiet time, -practice spiritual discipline 1/week, -attend more sunday school events, -more faithful to prayer, -more faithful to Bible Study, -attend a retreat, -increase knowledge through podcasts and books, -increase service, -increase memory verses.

Health/Fitness: -8+ hours of sleep, -Drink 30 oz of water per day, -increase to 5,500 steps per day, -ballet goals and ballet outside of class, -restart running/walking, -eat more fruits and veggies, -eat out less; eat more meals at home, -arm work out, -break 100 bowling.

Home: -Develop effective chore schedule, -gratitude about home, -maintain cleanliness, -decorate seasonally, -organize space well, -declutter regularly, -have less things

Marriage: -Create safe haven, -pray together, -more dates, -more back scratches, -decrease selflessness, -make fewer requests (nag less)

Friends & Family: -Regularly make plans, -speak with parents regularly on the phone, -set up chat dates with long distance friends, -write letters to family

Organization: -organize craft supplies, -organize all digital photos, -create a photo system that includes backing up media, -complete projects, -organize jewelry,

Blog: -post in a timely fashion, -1-2 posts per month, -restart book blog?

Career: -better attitude with notes, -professional development, -develop goals, -find trainings, -current research, -TFCBT, -concurrent notes, -study DSM V, -research different school intervention models

Creative/fun: -Plan local travel trips, -make scrapbook time, -try new things, -practice self care, -celebrate seasonal activities, -finish projects, -read 36 books

Photography: -organize all data, -back up all photos, -create a photo process, -learn more editing, -photography adventures, -post to fb page, -create brand.

 

Here’s how I did in January:

Spiritually: I have been more faithful to services, and doing quiet time. Still have not increase in prayer as I would have liked.

Health and Fitness: Have increased amount of steps to 5,400, inconsistent with water drinking and getting 8 hours of sleep a night. I’m not dancing regularly outside of class, but I did set up dance goals for myself:

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Home: I’m working on decluttering to make the packing process easier, but completing weekly chores has been embarrassingly ineffective.

Marriage: I’m excited to say that I’ve been more selfless about back scratches, though I could offer them more.

Friends and Family: I have not reached out, but that will be the target goal of this month.

Organization: Mostly, things have just been organized into packing piles, versus organized into better usable systems.

Blog: I have blogged many more times than expected, but I have not blogged about events in a timely fashion.

Career: I’m beginning to branch out and create future goals (moreso than just get my license) and really discover the type of counseling that I’m most interested in. The idea of being specialized in certain clients and diagnoses really appeals to me. I was able to do some study time during the snow days, but I need more.

Creative/fun: No fun travel trip yets, and I wasn’t able to scrapbook as much as I would have liked, but I am working towards my reading goals.

Photography: Attempting to create a process by which I upload my camera phone pictures at the end of each month. Eventually I’ll sort them into other categories of pictures.

 

Well that is how I did for my first month, how did you do? Any tips or thoughts?

Below are my OLW pages

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Froze For My Gun Rights at Lobby Day 2016

2016-01-18 08.51.17 Every year we drive to Richmond to meet with our state representatives to discuss our opinions of the upcoming legislation for the session. All types of lobby groups are there, but VCDL tends to draw the largest crowd.

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We didn’t drive down early because of an upcoming house purchase and trying to save money. I’d wanted to visit the Richmond Zoo, but with how cold the weather was, I wouldn’t have wanted to walk around in that anyways…hopefully later this year. I mean they have penguins!

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So we drove down that morning, and I immediately regretted not wearing a scarf. It was freezing out, cold and chilly! I tied my hood around my face, and shivered while waiting in line. But, I think my right to defend myself is worth it.

2016-01-18-Lobby Day_38Usually we are able to meet with many legislators or their aides, but most of our representatives seemed busy this year. We’ve met with them in previous years, so we signed their guest books and moved on.

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This year we had probably the most interesting meeting that I’ve ever had in the 6 years of our participation in this event. We managed to be able to meet with Senator Marsden. Right before Lobby Day he received a lot of VCDL member’s attention with this lovely sign:

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It reads “Welcome gun lobby day members I know you mean well. But, if it isn’t too much trouble, please stop trying to save our lives…Too many people are getting killed in the effort.”

Firstly, I will say that I appreciated Senator Marsden’s honesty and the fact that he was still willing to meet with VCDL members. In fact, I think he met with multiple groups this day likely saying much of the same thing. Many legislators who disagree with VCDL and gun rights purposely hid away in meetings or are out of the building when we visit, so I think it says a lot that he was willing to continue the conversation.

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He was upfront about his beliefs that we need “common sense gun control” etc. The room was filled with tension as he continued to say things like, “I don’t think any of you have enough training to be carrying those.” It is insulting. He didn’t know any of us, and likely several of them have more training than police officers who only have to qualify once a year.

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Disappointingly, and I think because we were in such a big group, there wasn’t a single spokesperson which wasn’t conducive to as useful as a discussion as I would have liked to have. Gun rights, or gun control and trying to save lives is an issue that both “sides” are so passionate about it makes it difficult to have the most rational conversations at times.

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My husband tried to calmly enter the discussion. While others may have seen his hand raise as a submission gesture I think it showed a level of control and discipline. He brought up a great question asking explaining his own experience, “I have all of the experience and training that you are specifying, so what do I gain as a gun owner, with this back ground check bill that you are trying to pass?” To which he did not have a good answer, and simply dodged the question.2016-01-18-Lobby Day_113

 

Then, we joined everyone outside for the rally. Because VCDL wants to showcase a greater diversity of our membership (we aren’t all older men who look like we are from Duck Dynasty) , I was asked to hold a sign. We aren’t allowed to use posts or flag poles (yet we can carry weapons?!) so I wore it across me.

 

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One of my favorite speakers of the day (I’m already so over the presidential campaigns) was from a young African American woman named, Shaneen Allen. A few years ago she was arrested in NJ as she wasn’t aware of their gun law, volunteered that information after being profiled, and had to fight tooth and nail to have the charges dropped. It was amazing to meet her and hear her story.

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We still have so much work today, but so far we seem to be making progress as the reciprocity reversal is being overturned. If you aren’t a member of VCDL you should be!

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Oh, this little cutie was my favorite, and we are pretty sure she was the youngest person there fighting for our rights.

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Seen the End of the Journey

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Once upon a time I began my counseling career after my internship. It was challenging phsyically, emotionally, in all the ways. I desperately wanted to reach these kids who were known to be some of the most aggressive and tough. I hurt because of their hurts, wondering how I could better help them. I cried in our break area so many times, only to hear from other hardened staff, “oh you just need to toughen up,” as I nursed bruises, and frustrations at being ineffective.

After a grueling summer, each supervisor wanted me on their team, I praise God for my displayed work ethic and passion. I accepted the alternative school placement.

I went on my annual beach vacation, and returned to school politics and an agency that didn’t defend me, giving the position away. I was broken hearted and betrayed professionally. I later cried to my supervisor who was going to be my team lead at the alternative school. I think that I was the most broken hearted because of how much I wanted to partner with this school. The teachers were wonderful, and had amazing structure for these behaviorally challenged children. I was going to be successful at this location. Then this dream was suddenly ripped away from me. (Ironically some of the structure at the school bent under the pressures of intense kids and more politics, so likely God was sparing me from something).

I stepped down from this agency and chilled out for awhile, scared to restart my career, not knowing if I could trust employers not to put
me in such risky positions only to be betrayed by politics.

Then, last year, in my month of living courageously and stepping out of my comfort zone, I followed up with the recommendation to apply at the local community service board. I applied for any position I was qualified for, including crisis services even though individual outpatient and daytreatment were things I’d done before.

I got hired to this team with amazing people and management. I met the CEO the first week, was provided the resources to do my job. We were even given a new building recently to better serve our rural community.

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But one of the coolest things was to see God tie some of the threads of my life together this week!

An assignment came up in the city, which we always enjoy. I met the client, he was familiar, and I recognized the names of the teachers. I explained that I’d worked for the previous organization. Later that day I discovered that even though the alternative program was at a different base school, it was still the same amazing program I’d longed to partner with! In an unexpected twist I was back at this school, working with these incredibly understanding teachers helping this kid stay in their school location! So many things were similar, including this map carpet that I had been all too fascinated with.

I worry much more than I ever have need to about the future. I want to know how things will end, how meaningless choices affect the outcomes. In these moments, seeing God reveal His hand it is easy to believe and to trust. I’ll revel in those gifts, but I really want to focus on the ways God has revealed Himself in the past the next time something uncertain happens.

Isaiah 26:3- You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Counted Down to 2016 Twice

When you work with kids you take EVERY opportunity to do fun things like celebrate the holidays. This meant that my coworker and I planned to have them celebrate the New Year’s festivities with making pizza, art projects, noise makers, and counting down at noon. They really seemed to enjoy it.

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Later I went to a party with people my own age to do another count down. While at the party it was a nice chance to catch up, and people were asking me about my job, what I do, and the differences between this job and another. One new friend asked about the kinds of kids we work with, basically asking how we know if we are effective. Honestly, since I work such short term programs either 15 or 30 days, I only know the middle of their stories and don’t usually know how things work out. Because my agency is so large sometimes I’m able to get a short update from a case manager who still works with them, but there are several dear to me cases that have been closed that I have no idea how their lives are going now.

Randomly, as I was returning the borrowed work vehicle to one of our offices I saw a former client and his family. His mom bragged about how well he’d done on his 9 weeks tests, and I discovered that he was still enrolled in his public school. I was surprised by this given how fed up the teachers were during his struggle to adjust, but he was able to pull through, and even admitted that he hadn’t received in school suspension in a couple of months. In was an unanticipated short encounter with a former client whom I’d labeled resistant and hadn’t been able to progress much work with, but he was beginning to thrive. That, is why I do what I do :0)

When discussing the differences between my first attempts at starting this career at the place where the children were out of control as compared to where I work now, another friend offered an insight that reflects on this professional development for the past year. She said that she noticed how at the last job my posts were usually dealing with so many frustrations, of getting through, but that now my posts are much happier, really enjoying what I do.

I’m incredibly thankful to have this job, at this agency, in this particular country, with my awesome supervisor and coworkers. Do I grumble each and every morning and say something to the husband like, “Please, can I just quit? Can I just not work” Yes, pretty much almost every single morning, because I want more time to do fun things like blogging, but I’m incredibly blessed and so excited to see where this career and upcoming year takes me!

Cheers to 2016!

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(This may or may not be my champagne and raspberries before I manage to dump it all over myself, which is doubly ironic as it is just due to clumsiness. Maybe coordination should be a goal in the new year?)

Favorite 2015 Unblogged Moments

2015 New Year celebration with the date outlined by colourful fiery sparklers on a dark New Year's Eve night

 

There is this thing that happens, called life, and I’ve yet to master managing it. Here’s my attempt at catch up with a series called “Favorite 2015 Unblogged Moments” So enjoy these belated recaps with me while we celebrate new beginnings and fresh starts! Cheers!

Watched Otters Play at Maymont – Touring a beautiful estate in Richmond.

Joined the Dance OnStage -That time when I performed in my adult ballerina class.

Celebrated the 71st Anniversary of DDay – at the National memorial.

Marveled at a Lindsey Stirling Concert – Finally getting to see my favorite musician perform live, and this really is the only way to truly experience her talents.

Kissed an Alpaca in Amish Country – I wasn’t able to leave the country, but I was able to visit a different culture in Upstate New York.

Weathered a Hurricane in Outerbanks – Hurricane Joaquin messing up my plans to see the wild ponies for our 6th anniversary.

Experienced a Flamethrower – Our 6th anniversary happenings.

Embraced Penguins in December – I hate the fact that penguins are associated with ice, they DON’t all live in cold areas. But it does mean that penguin stuff becomes more prominent in December, the month of my birthday, so maybe I’ll allow it.

Visited the Mill Mountain Zoo – When there’s free admission the week of your birthday, you check the closest zoo out!

Visited Mill Mountain Zoo

 

 

 

 

 

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I was craving another animal experience for my birthday, even if it couldn’t involve penguins. Luckily for me, a local small zoo, Mill Mountain Zoo had a free admission day during my birthday weekend, so we were able to check something off the local bucket list!

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I quickly learned that it is difficult to take pictures of creatures as they are behind fences, but was able to get creative with this limitation.

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Some of the staff walked around with some of the ambassador animals. This little ferret was soft and reminded me of ferrets we had growing up: Sissy and Sassy.

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It wasn’t as cold as it could be for December, but this little animal still had the idea, sitting under its heat vent.

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Husband being a goober in front of the cage trying to see if he could merit a response from an animal.

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My favorite animal of the zoo, and probably the most exotic was the Snow Leopard. I was entranced, just watching it lounge about. I watched it for so long that husband actually walked away and didn’t realized I’d stayed in the same spot. Obviously, this leopard’s life is so hard.

 

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Watching it, I remembered my love for big cats when I was younger. I identified with them, because you were able to watch their mannerisms and see the same mannerisms in house cats. In this moment the leopard decided to scratch his cheek against the top of his enclosure. I also couldn’t get over how thick his its tail was!

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Husband, as always, enjoyed the petting zoo animals, easily making friends.

IMG_5633 This, is a Zebu, basically a cow from South Asia. They are used to provide milk and meat. Husband created a bond by scratching its giant nose. It quickly showed its affection by tasting him.IMG_5616 IMG_5608Hopefully we’ll be able to visit again when more of the animals are active, out and about, instead of hiding from the cold.