Cuddled and Adopted a Penguin

The weekend before last, I celebrated my birthday up north at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. According to my research its the closest zoo that offers penguin experiences/encounters. (And just $45 for a cheek to beak experience). I’d already lost my heart at one experience with Busch/Seaworld, but I wanted to see the penguins at one of the newest/most advance penguin facilities.  They can host up to 100 penguins, and have one of the most successful breeding colonies in North America. They’ve been able to raise over 900 penguins since 1967! (Plus hubby has family in Maryland)

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***Disclaimer*** Not all penguin experiences are the same. Some seem to be more conservative in which the trainer holds the penguin and you are allowed to pet it with two fingers on its back. Other experiences allow the animals to walk around and you to interact more freely with them. Whichever experience you get, remember that the safety of the animals is #1 and you are lucky enough to interact with an endangered exotic (amazing) animal.

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We got to the zoo upon opening, lingering in the warm gift shop as it was windy. I may have been canoodling with a penguin who threatened to fly away in the breeze. The zoo opened at 10am, but our experience wasn’t until 11am.

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We explored around the Penguin Coast, watching the penguin feeding, and saw the Polar Bear eating snacks.

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Finally, the time came. Another couple was waiting and we chatted about the upcoming experience. In my normal over thinking thing I’d mused to hubby “what if I see them and I don’t like them any more?” (as I have a tendency to be zealous about things and then abruptly not) Hubby stared at me and rolled his eyes.

We were led into the area by the keeper, Steven. He showed us the small kitchen, where he explained the food prep process and that penguins can eat up to a 1 lb of fish a day. I was jittering with excitement and I’m sure I squealed when he said that we’d be meeting 7! (In my last encounter I just saw 1 walking around!)

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Then, we entered a small room. At this point we were told not to touch them, but that they’d wander up to us. We were given a plastic pool tie type device to play with them (picture a sort of cat toy). They waddled around all seven of them: Winnie, Peach, Hope, Lilly, Eddie, Dawn, and Tetra. I was in heaven. Fiddling around with the plastic toy I discovered that some of them would respond like cats playing, and once I even spun one in a complete circle chasing it! Steven also answered various questions about his waddle of penguins. Of course, I always think of a bazillion questions later.

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After a few moments we were ushered to an outside area, now we were allowed to pet the penguins if they came up to us. Cue the most magical time of my life! Most of the time the penguins would stay in a group, leaving 5 of them huddled around you (Two were excluded as they are continuing to train on being nice to people). I was consumed with petting them, sometimes a penguin for each hand. I continued to play with the plastic tie with them.

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Husband was just as enthralled, practicing talking to them, finding Peach to be the most vocal. Meanwhile, my favorite was the sweet Lilly, who just stood next to my side for several moments wanting to be petted. She also had the softest feathers.

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Once outside the guy of the other couple took his girl aside, while asking Steven to video for him. He got down on one knee, and proposed. She said yes, complete with many penguins in their video. Just adding the magic on.

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Towards the end I was surprised when a penguin named Hope, jumped in my lap. She’d looked at my lap earlier, and Steven confirmed that if anybody would do it, she would. I tried to convince her at that time, but she didn’t do it. It made it that much more surprising when she did. I had a few moments of cuddles, before the queen bee, Winnie, Matriarch of the waddle, pecked her and she hopped out. I was so happy, I didn’t even think to chastise the bully Winnie!

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For the rest of the day I was in shock that a penguin had actually jumped in my lap. Even now I keep staring at the pictures/video incredulous!

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So, like I blogged a few weeks ago, I want to save penguins. One of my birthday gifts was a check, so I decided to use it for a penguin adoption through Sanccob. Right now, through the end of December, a local agency will double any penguin chick adoptions. Basically, due to abandonment of chicks due to the parents’ molting process (and inability to catch fish for the young) 500 chicks have been rescued from the South African coast to be hand reared by volunteers. This is an expensive, tedious, and sharp beak infested process, hence the need for donations. If you make a R600 or R700 adoption ($50) you also are allowed to “name” “your” penguin and will learn about the brief history while being rehabilitated.

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Once I obtain the info of “my penguin” I’ll share it with yall!

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Well, in honor of my sweet penguin cuddles with Hope, the penguin I “adopted” is also named Hope. These penguins were listed as endangered in 2009, but there is so much work being done to save them, there is so much hope for their loud kind. :0)

 

 

 

Rescued Penguins For My Birthday

I daydream about being a Disney princess…but it isn’t for the princes, the fancy castle, clothes, or even the books (I know *gasp*!) its because I secretly wish that I could whistle (ok, I can’t even whistle in the first place…) and animals would come walk over to me. Sure there are some animals that are more interesting than others, but I’m fascinated by most of the animal kingdom and the fact that some zoos offer close up encounters is my new favorite.

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A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to participate in such an encounter at the Gulfarium in Florida. I was able to interact with the amazing winged creatures known as penguins, and basically became imprinted with them. I tried to deny it for awhile, that I wasn’t really in love with them, but no one bought it.

Later, I found out that there were specific awareness days for Penguins, days set aside to bring awareness to the species. I was in a school in January so I wore all of my penguin gear: tacky sweater, jewelry, etc cetera and shared that I was bringing attention to them. Then, the teacher asked, “why are you bringing attention to them? Are they endangered?” cue me stammering like an idiot. “umm..I think so?” (I think in my mind I was just bringing attention to the fact that they are cute, and NOT mostly native to cold climates)

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Thus began research. Many penguins are endangered. The penguins I feel in love with, South African penguins, are in danger every year as they live around the coast of South Africa. During the summers many ships carrying large amounts of oil crash endangering the lives of marine life. The oil poisons the birds, as well as coats their feathers, destroying their water proofing abilities, thus making them unable to enter the water to feed themselves or their families. This pictures are pretty heart breaking, and there’s a cool documentation of the worst oil spill in recent history (2000) in: The Great Penguin Rescue

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Right now is chick breeding season, and sometimes chicks are abandoned by their parents, so SANCCOB comes in to hand rear them (a very tedious and pricey process). It is important that they help to support the species in this way because there are only 25,000 breeding pairs of South African penguins, and those are always in danger of oil spills reducing their populations and disrupting their mating/breeding cycles.

So, since December is related to penguins, I thought it would be fun to forgo gifts for my birthday this year and ask for penguin adoptions instead! There are many organizations and I’ll include the links below. There are organizations that are working in the countries, but there are also plenty of zoos with breeding programs that are also working to increase the populations. Some of the penguin adoptions are pricey, so feel free to make a smaller donation if that is better for you. Let’s save the penguins!

Adopt a Penguin

SANCCOB Saves Sea Birds  – Adopt an egg, a chick, or a “home pen penguin” If you adopt a chick you can name it, and they’ll release it. There will be no further information after they release it. Amounts are in South African currency. R700 is about $50 for reference. Right now, through the end of December, donations are doubled through a local donor.

Richmond Zoo -the amazon wishlist of the Richmond Zoo. Not sure if they listed items for penguins, but I know they have a South African penguin breeding program.

Maryland Zoo Giving Tuesday Maryland Zoo has the largest colony of breeding pairs of South African Penguins in North America. On Giving Tuesday all donations will be doubled. They also offer symbolic animal adoptions.

 

 

 

Lived in a United America

This is third presidential election that I’ve been able to vote it, and it has taught me that I do not live in a united America at all.

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2008- Due to conservative beliefs I began my voting career as an idealist Republican. I was sold the fear that Obama would ruin America and everything that I valued. I was all geared up for the “most important election of our time” and experienced a weird sense of disillusionment after the election was over, feeling like I’d been let down by what I thought would “save us”.

 

2012- I became a full libertarian, watching how Ron Paul was shut down of the primaries, so when another “lesser of two evils” tried to excite/fear me into voting to “save our world/way of life” I side stepped my with with Gary Johnson. The next morning I began my counseling career in a staff meeting. The older counselors were quiet, somber, quite like going to a funeral. We processed their “post election stress syndrome” and you could tell they were devastated by what they felt would be the end of “their way of life”.

 

2016- Well, I still don’t have a dog in this fight from the beginning, not trusting the establishment. (At the last minute Gary Johnson really was disappointing me as well but that’s another story). In a crazy unexpected turn of events the Republican won. Now I see the other side of the line, those friends filled with depression, fear, anxiety, disillusionment, feeling like it is over for “their way of life”.

 

You guys, we were all fed the same lie “the government is here to make us happy, to help us get our way of life, protect it, and make sure no one else ruins it”.

Ummm…no…the only thing that is happening is every 4-8 years half of the country is depressed feeling like the world is over. Before that there is an awful election year of name calling. Not just addressing policies/issues about candidates they don’t like, awful name calling of “if you like that person you are a racist”, “how could you not vote for xyz?!”. We become so alienated trying to identify with one of these “champions” we are given to fight for our way of life “ideals.” When neither side ends up being happy with these “champions” and each year we are told to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”

I know, once again, that 3rd party voters are the “people who lost the election for everyone else” but seriously, what if we decided to stop idolizing the government as this agency of “safeguarding our way of life”? (at the detriment of ruining everyone else’s?) What if we stopped allowing the executive branch to grant themselves extra powers, so it wouldn’t matter who was elected each term? Then that individual wouldn’t have the power to change everyone’s life so much? What if we each lived our own lives, finding our own happiness without harming others, and stopped regulating the lives of other people that we don’t understand.

In summary: we need to go back to a form of government that does not have the power to affect people’s daily way of life.

Ranted about the “Me Before You” Response

Guys, why do we (especially the Christian conservatives) freak out about EVERY new book (but more so when its made into a movie) that comes out with an agenda that doesn’t quite match God’s standards? (Um, hello, there is one Bible, and its pretty clear that the world has different standards).

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This post is in response to various articles even appearing in newspapers like New York Times, etc that call for a “warning” in the messages/themes in “Me Before You” written by Jojo Moyes.

Firstly, friend and I saw this preview and wondered if there was a book, and decided to read the book and then watch the movie together. (The latter has not happened yet). We were intrigued by the preview, I actually watched it multiple times in my wait to find a copy of the book (I don’t recommend doing this as the trailer reveals all the funny/sweet moments making the book less of a surprise). I delayed in obtaining this book because the kindle version was like $9.99 and couldn’t find a paperback cheaper than $14 (until of course I found the above copy after kindle break down purchase).

I will admit that the book is fun and enjoyable, but I think I put it at a 3 on goodreads because I wasn’t a fan. I won’t be able to rant without sharing the ending, so if you don’t want it to be spoiled (though with the rants available you probably already know) stop reading.

Brief summary. This guy, Will Traynor is injured and becomes a quadriplegic. He struggles with depression and attempts suicide. He makes a deal with his loved ones that he’ll wait 6 more months before medically ending his life. He’s done, this vivacious man doesn’t want to ruin all of his memories by experiencing his favorite things as a handicapped man. Cue the hire of Louise a local, trapped/haunted by a trauma in her past (which I’ve heard the movie doesn’t delve into). She’s vivacious in her personality, but doesn’t have any large dreams for herself, she really doesn’t ask much from life. It sets up for a typical Rom-Com of two different people falling for each other.  Due to the sad face reactions to the trailers posted on facebook I guessed that things didn’t go the way that the reader wanted. I hated the ending, and I really don’t like Will Traynor. I find him selfish, rude, and arrogant. (Mixed with some really great humor). In the end he tells Louise (after she admits her love for him) “You aren’t enough.” (Who does that???!!!!). But, everyone’s over-generalizations about the themes in this book have me in its defense:

  1. Hollywood does not want handicap people dead
  2. Jojo Moyes DID speak with disabled people before writing this book
  3. Change your perspective, and see more themes

THIS IS THE IDEA OF ONE INDIVIDUAL’S STORY

There have been claims that because of the ending, Hollywood is “endorsing this message” and is prescribing it towards all of the disabled/handicap population. This is not the case. ALL of the characters in the book are appalled by Will’s decision and actively fight against it and refuse to have anything to do with it as much as possible. To believe that Hollywood is saying that handicap people can’t enjoy life, and should end their lives, is a gross exaggeration of the story.

In a well done interview with Signature  they ask Jojo Moyes several great questions about the origins of the STORY. Jojo Moyes responds,

“You like to think that if you suffer some catastrophic physical accident that you’d be like Christopher Reeve – that you’d be the amazing, graceful person who found a way through. I’m not sure I would be that person. I think I would be very angry for a long time. I spoke with a nurse who deals with this kind of spinal injury and she said that only twice in her career had she met men who just refused to accommodate it, who just refused to find a way through. That fascinated me because I thought about what it would be like to be that man’s mother, what it would be like to be the person in love with him, what it would be like to be him. I just knew it was a story I had to tell.”

This is the story of a small minority who just couldn’t get past their disability/handicap/life change. They were stuck and therefore fixated on ending their life. Even if this isn’t the story that we would want to read (everyone would rather him be happy and choose life), this is a realistic concept/story for SOME people in this situation, and that story deserves to be told. It deserves to be known and honored that some people can’t change when life hands them lemons.

I HATE that truth. I HATE that love wasn’t enough for Will Traynor to change his mind. I would hate to love someone, and know that I couldn’t make them choose life. But, the fact that we can’t make anyone do anything is kind of a fundamental principal in life (and a daily reality when I work with behaviorally challenged children). Despite all of the people in Will’s life they COULDN’T change his mind to chose to live. Most of the characters run away, and refuse to participate because they believe it is wrong. In the end they realize that standing next to their loved one as they die is better than never saying good bye at all. I can’t imagine how tough a decision that would be.

Many claim that Jojo Moyes has romanticized this idea of a disabled man teaching a homely girl to become vivacious. Sure it is an exaggerated story (noting the characters extreme differences), but she DID speak with people in her research. According to this interview she has family members with 24/7 care needs (so she understands their routines) and spoke with people in various online communities. She states that people even sent her letters sharing that they believe she told “their story” So again, at least some portion of the disabled and their caregiver population have experienced these trials.

Other themes that we can take away from this story:

-The will to live is difficult in the face of disability, largely because we do not live in an accommodating world.

-Maybe if the world was more disabled friendly, it would be easier for these individuals to choose and enjoy life.

-We can’t force anyone to choose life.

-We should be more understanding towards those who feel stuck in their disability, and find ways to listen to their hurts and their stories, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.

There, rant over. Can we please just get back to enjoying stories and not overgeneralizing them?????

 

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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