Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Story of Two Squirrels

 Hurricane Ida brought a lot of stuff....disaster, heartache, stress, lost lives. One of the good things it brought were 2 baby squirrels that had fallen from a tree near my inlaw's house. Each boy named one and was diligent in taking care of his squirrel by covering it with blankets, warming it under a heat lamp, holding it and feeding it puppy replacement milk several times a day. Both boys knew that the squirrels would be released once they were healthy enough. Although they knew that, they still didn't want to accept it. 

After Ulysses and Ruby were at our house for a couple weeks, Rob noticed that there were flies all around the cage that the boys had bought for them. So he decided to move them to the dog crate since Rebel hadn't been using it recently. He put chicken wire all around it, but P's squirrel, Ruby was quick to escape. 

She had been the daring one since Day 1. She was the one we didn't worry about surviving because she was active and eating from the moment she was in our care. P decided it was time to release her. He let her go on a tree by our driveway. But, after considering the fact that the tree didn't have food for her, he decided to relocate her. He put her in a bucket and walked her over to an oak tree on some property across the street from us. That night he started regretting it and cried himself to sleep, worried that she wouldn't survive in the rain. The next morning he woke up early to look for her and bring her back to the house. But she had already relocated herself and we haven't seen her since.

On Thursday afternoon E fed Ulysses before we left for a school football game. After we got home, E went to feed her before bed, only to realize she too had escaped. He handled it well, knowing that she was ready to be released. The next morning, however, as we were leaving for school, she showed up next to my car. She ran over to the flower bed, where she watched us pull out. Then she climbed up the tree by our driveway as we left for school. Later that day, Rob texted me a picture of Ulysses back in her hamster cage. He had gone to check the chicken coop for eggs and she was in the nesting coop next to the eggs. Rob said he put a water container in her cage and she drank and drank from it. That night we put her in the converted dog crate again. She snuggled up under the blanket after eating a feast of squirrel treats. Yesterday morning, I checked in on her before going to the gym. Later P went to give her more treats only to find out that she was once again gone.

We haven't seen either squirrel today. We know they are nearby somewhere and that we may or may not see them again at any given time. We were thankful that we got to rehab them and watch them thrive under our care. Now that we're pros at it, maybe we'll rehab more squirrels in the future. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

One of the Guilty

 I'm sitting here, wearing a robe because our a/c freezes me out in the morning, eating a hot breakfast and using my internet to blog instead of lesson plan (which is what I really should be doing). When I'm done I will soak in a hot bath and then get ready for work and a dr appt. All with a roof over my head. All knowing that I am secure. This has been the scene in our area for close to a week now. But, 20 miles down the road that is not the case. I have co-workers who still don't have electricity and are humbling themselves to ask for help with laundry. I have a co-worker who is living at a relative's house because her house was completely destroyed when 2 trees fell through it during the hurricane. 

I know I couldn't prevent any of that happening. It's mother nature. But I still feel guilty. It's the same way I felt after the Flood of 2016. We were the first house on our street that didn't take in water. We didn't lose everything like most people did. Our marriage didn't fall apart like some of our friends' marriages did after the flood.

I'm a person who naturally feels guilty, even when I'm not. It's a weakness of mine. But something I consider a strength of mine is my servant's heart. My love language is giving....time, resources, etc. So I've *tried* to turn that guilt into productivity by helping others. Sunday, after church, the boys and I went to a neighbors' house and helped clean up tree debris in their yard. Then we went to a local restaurant, where we picked up 145 meals. We drove around to designated areas, handing out hot meals to the linemen who have tirelessly been restoring power as fast as possible. Tuesday we went up to my school and cleaned up the parking lot and playground. 

I have offered to house people, do their laundry, bring them a homecooked meal. It's something I enjoy doing. I've learned, however, that it's something most everyone in the South likes to do as well when there's a need. Maybe it's not the South. Maybe it's just Louisiana because there are so many natural disasters here. Whatever the case, I have heard multiple times in the past couple weeks that out of town contractors can't believe how giving the people of Louisiana are. That's just their nature. I don't absolutely love Louisiana by any stretch of the imagination, but I will say that the people here are the most unselfish people I've ever met. 

No matter how it's happened, everyone in the south eastern part of the state has been affected by this hurricane. As usual, it's drawing people closer together, bringing out the good in them. For that I am thankful.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Hurricane Ida

 Well, I experienced a first this through a hurricane. Last week the media began stating that a major hurricane was headed toward the South. By Friday we got word that school would be cancelled Monday because it was heading straight for us. I had been looking forward to enjoying a low-key weekend by myself while the boys and Rob helped a friend at his new camp. Work has been stressful and I was really looking forward to some down time to rejuvenate. Little did I know my weekend would be anything but relax while I rushed around, prepping the house for a hurricane and then racing out of town. 

Saturday morning I went to the gym for a "Hurricane Ida workout" (man, it was rough!). Then I had to go in for a skin biopsy. Once I left there I was hoping I could go back to the house to read and relax a bit before heading to my inlaws'. Wrong! The Weather Channel kept saying to have all prep done by the evening so people could evacuate by nightfall. The hurricane was coming in earlier than expected. Rob called and said he and the boys were heading straight to his parents' after they got done helping our friend and that I should plan to meet them there ASAP. So I rushed around the house, packing up irreplaceable things while putting other things up high in case our house took on water. I grabbed important insurance paperwork to put in our portable safe and made sure other things were in secure places. I packed suitcases with as many clothes as I could cram in so if the hurricane took down our house we wouldn't have to worry about buying new clothes. 

Sunday the hurricane started making its way toward Louisiana. I felt guilty because, while our friends stressed about the hurricane and loss of power, we enjoyed a nice family day together. We got donuts for breakfast, went to church together and then went to a petting zoo (where we had to cut our time short due to the rain). Once we left the petting zoo place we went to a sweet friend's house to celebrate her birthday. Sunday night I fell asleep after seeing all my friends' posts about how scary the hurricane was, how the wind was howling and they could feel their house move. I slept like a baby Sunday night while my friends were awake, wondering if a tree would fall through their house or if their windows would shatter.

Yesterday Rob decided to go to our house to access the damage. We had had a couple neighbors call with reports about our fence being down (which we expected) and a couple branches across our driveway. But we wanted to see it for ourselves. He and I drove the 3+ hours to our house, surveying the wind damage as we drove. Once we got to our house I was pleasantly surprised that the fence, downed branches and lost food due to the power outage was all we had to deal with. Rob and I worked as a team and were able to get back on the road within a couple hours. On our way back to his parents' house we stopped by our property to access the damage. We had learned that the eye went right over the town where our property is. From what we can tell, we lost some trees (the entrance was blocked by a downed tree and powerline) but I was surprised it wasn't worse. All around our property was destruction. Trees uprooted that fell across houses. Roofs missing. Powerlines down across the roads. Buildings ripped to shreds. So heartbreaking! It made me relieved that a) the eye of the hurricane shifted 20 miles east or that would've been the damage at our house and b) we hadn't built a house on that property. I can't imagine how overwhelmed the people around there felt yesterday with all the clean up they had to tackle.

While we were making our way back to my inlaws' the boys FaceTimed us to show us their new squirrels. A neighbor had called and said that 2 babies had fallen out of their nest during the storm. The boys spent the day feeding them with an eye dropped and trying to warm them up. As of this morning, Ulysses and Tag are still with us but I don't know for how long. I don't know how to tell if baby squirrels are thriving but Ulysses and Tag acted more spirited last night than they are acting this morning. We are using Max's heat lamp (because, yes, we brought our gecko and 2 dogs with us. We left the chickens to fend for themselves...which they did.) to try to warm them up. Pretty soon the boys and I will go out and see what supplies we can get to help aid the squirrels' recovery.

All in all, things could've been way worse. We don't have power and don't know when it will be restored. As of now, school is cancelled because the schools have damage and/or are without power. Our house is pretty much put back in order so when we are able to go back to an air conditioned house our lives will resume like a strong Cat 4 hurricane did not tear up the state of Louisiana. Thankful for God's blessings and comfort during this time!

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Proud Wife

 I'll start out by asking your forgiveness. I know what I want to say but my thoughts are all over the place because it's the weekend before school and I am overwhelmed. I will try to make sense but if I don't, you know why. 

When I married a lineman over a decade ago I didn't realize all that it would entail. I didn't understand the late night calls or the missed holiday celebrations as a family or the weeks away from each other. What I did know is that I married a hard worker. When we lived in NV, he was one of just a few who would answer calls in the middle of the night. Sadly, the company he worked for didn't appreciate that as they should (and have since called him to say that they regret not moving him up into management). When he started at the power company here he knew he was at the point where he didn't enjoy being on a bucket truck anymore. He did it because it is what he signed up for as a lineman, but it hurt him physically and caused him too much time away from us. So he set his sights on the job he wanted and made quite a name for himself at the company.

He has quickly moved up the management ladder and, just this week, began his dream job with the company. He is now part of an elite group, a coveted job that so many in the company want. Not only that, but he's doing what he loves- coaching and teaching linemen. I am proud of him. I am proud of how hard he's worked, sacrifices he's made to get where he is. He could've easily said, "I only have a GED. I'm not smart enough, good enough, etc to have an elite management position." But he didn't. He showed everyone, including our boys, that hard work pays off.

While he just started the job this week, we've already talked about how weird it is that he gets home at a normal time. He also gets to sleep in a little later in the morning. His phone isn't ringing all day and night. Literally. He is present when he walks in the door. He has gone swimming with the boys a few times this week. He has been a huge help with the boys' schedules and getting our a/c repaired this week when my schedule conflicted. 

I am excited for his new job and so proud of all the hard work he put into making this dream come true. I am happy for what it means for our family- more quality time together. I am proud that he proved that, even without a college degree, you can make it to the top with the right mindset and dedication. Hard work truly does pay off!

Friday, July 30, 2021

Cancel Culture

 Rob and I got to have an evening away last night, just the two of us. We stayed at a nice resort and enjoyed a concert. During the concert, the performing musician gave a shout out to a country artist who got dropped faster than fast earlier this year when he made a derogatory comment that was caught on video. On the way home today, Rob and I were talking about the new buzz phrase "cancel culture" and how easy it has become to "cancel" someone we don't agree with, which got me thinking. 

Why has it become so easy to "cancel" someone when they make a mistake these days? It's easy to take a person's fame, their job, their livelihood instead of "coaching" or counseling someone. One wrong thing and the person is essentially done. How is that right? Another thing that gets me is that it's ok for some people to say things or make liberal statements, but it's not ok for others. Who gets to decide what is right or wrong to say and why isn't it equal across the board? When did our society become like this? Why isn't grace shown for EVERYONE? 

As an educator, you are taught to give students multiple opportunities to get the right answer. You are taught to give them multiple chances when they do something wrong. I get that they are children, but why can't that same grace be shown for adults? Adults don't need several chances to right a wrong (most of the time). But I don't agree with wiping someone's career out when they say one wrong thing. That gives society too much power for one person's life.

What if God did that to us? Jesus is the only perfect human to have walked on Earth, which means we are shown grace continually. I can't imagine God condemning us to Hell for one mistake. No! He gives us multiple chances and loves us regardless of our stupidity. That's what we need to model, especially as Christians. 

This is a lesson I am being taught this Summer. As I recently blogged, having a pre-teen has its challenges. I'm learning when to show grace and when to use tough love to teach a lesson. I don't always get it right, but I'm trying to practice what I preach. 

For the record, I am not in any way, shape or form saying I agree with people's bad choices. I'm just asking why we, as a society, can't overlook people's flaws or choices to a certain extent and love or support them even through the hard times? A little grace sure goes a long way! "Cancel culture" does not. 

*Mic drop.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

July (and Life) in a Nutshell

 Wow! What a Summer! We completed our Summer adventures by spending a few weeks with family. The boys and I loved visiting with my parents, meeting my baby niece, fishing, playing baseball, going for runs, bowling, going to the river/lake, eating at a LOT of fabulous restaurants and sitting in their backyard while the hummingbirds flew about. You name it, we probably did it...including playing putt putt golf in 100 degree temps, getting autographs from a MLB player and getting finned by a catfish! It was so, so, so refreshing to be able to travel, to visit family, to create priceless memories. Something I doubt I'll ever take for granted again after not seeing them last year (other than when I flew there for a quick weekend in January). 

One of my Top 5 favorite memories from our trip was when we visited my brother and his family. Everyone was napping so I told the boys we'd find a place for one of them to go snorkeling. Well, I misunderstood my brother's directions on how to get to the stairs that led to the snorkeling area. So the boys and I ended up rock climbing down to the beach (by holding onto a rope that was held with a cinder block), rock hopping once we found the stairs, finding lots of crabs running around, getting stuck about 5 yards away from the stairs due to the waves coming in and backtracking quickly before the tide overcame the area where we were. Both boys were paralyzed with fear at one point or another but we conquered our fears (me included) and made it back safely to where my dad was waiting for us. We then walked to where the stairs were only to find, once we went down them, that the water was too high, hence drenching one of the boys. So no snorkeling that time but some priceless, shall I say fun (???), memoires.

While we were visiting my family, I got a chance to go for a couple runs with my SIL. While we ran we talked and tried to solve the world's problems. One thing we talked about was the different seasons of life. Mainly the seasons of raising kids. Everyone has seasons like they like better than others. For me, I didn't really enjoy the baby/toddler phase. I don't know if it was because there was such a lack of sleep or lack of true conversation or that it required more patience than I possess. Whatever it was, I can say that without a doubt, THIS is my favorite phase. The boys are starting to really blossom. They have their own interests. One loves fishing, baseball, social media, fishing, cross country, playing the guitar, fishing, trapping and youth group. The other loves baseball, hunting, playing the piano and riding his dirtbike. They both ask questions that lead to deeper conversation, a real learning experience. It's fun to watch them interact with their friends. One went fishing with his buddy last night. They were teasing each other all the way to the pond and I just sat there, enjoying the banter. The other boy plays with his best friend on a daily basis. They constantly play and/or talk about baseball. They're both competitive so sometimes that gets in the way of their fun, but they've had to learn how to work through it.

Don't get me wrong. This season has its challenges, but they're different. Our oldest is starting to get quite a teenage attitude. He can get angry over the smallest things, at the drop of a hat, and usually (in my opinion) overreacts. Sometimes it's like walking on eggshells around him. But I have learned that saying my peace and then giving him time to think about my words usually pulls him out of his mood fairly quick. Am I always good at doing that? Sadly, no. I react sometimes to his anger, which only makes it worse. But it's a dance and we're learning the steps together. (As you can see, I am speaking from my point of view, not Rob's. He can write his own thoughts if that's what he chooses.)

To close, we are now back to the real world. We hit the ground running once our adventures came to an end. Back to the gym, prepping for the new school year, doctor appts, baseball tryouts, music lessons and a broken house which requires outside help to get fixed. I have a love/hate with it all. I love, love, LOVE watching the boys do what they love. I LOVE supporting them 110%. But there are days I get worn out. I run all day long so by the time evening rolls around I'm done. All that to say, I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. I will take tired. I will take the long days. Because, when the boys are grown, I want to look back knowing we gave them the best childhood we could possibly give.

Here are a few pics from our final adventure. Hopefully it'll hold you over until I can get around to blogging again since it may be awhile before I have time to blog again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

My Why

 When I joined my gym back in December, I did so on a BOGO deal for a month. I had been looking back at pictures from 2020 and had realized that I needed to do something about my weight. Toward the end of my month long membership I received a call that I had won a full membership to the gym. I was elated! Upon starting my new membership, I joined a weight loss challenge. To start the challenge I had to fill out a questionnaire so my coach could get to know me better. One of the questions was something like, "What is your WHY in wanting to do this challenge?" The obvious answer was that I wanted to feel good about myself again and wanted to get back to a healthy weight. But, after digging deeper, my WHY was that I wanted to be active with the boys without getting winded. I didn't want to just take them to the park. I wanted to PLAY with them at the park. 

Last Fall, I was mortified when I was helping P practice his times for cross country by running with him. He quickly took the lead and pretty soon I was huffing and puffing. Before getting to 1 1/2 miles I had to stop, despite the fact that I've run a few half marathons over the past 10 years. E shouted, "Hey P, you have to slow down. Mom had to stop and walk." That moment becomes my motivator when I want to skip a workout or not give 110% during my workout. I don't want to have to stop, to slow down, to give up.

I know I have mentioned my weight loss and I am happy with how my body looks now...for the most part. (If I gave up sweets my stomach would be flatter and that would be great!) But what makes me proud is that I'm now the mom who is an active part of her sons' lives, who plays with her kids without getting winded anymore. This Summer we have gone on long bike rides, have played beach volleyball, have played Wiffle Ball and have played tennis. Last night I even raced E and was proud that I could keep his pace (He's a fast little sucker!). 

That is my WHY. My boys and creating memories with him that include me being involved instead of sitting on the sidelines is my WHY. Life is too short to sit on the sidelines and I am thankful for the opportunity to be an active part of it!

At my gym, every week, there is a word of the week. Each day, a quote is read that has to do with the weekly theme word. This is one of the quotes that I have saved on my phone because it's so true...