September 2, 2018 – Welcome Sandy!!

Many of you may remember that Nathan loves turtles. When we were travelling, he had his turtle, Flash, along with us. Unfortunately, it was really hard to keep an aquatic turtle on the road, so we left her with some friends in Pennsylvania. Needless to say, Nathan has missed having his pet turtle, so since we now have a place of our own, he took the money he had saved up and bought himself a new turtle. She is just as cute as Flash, but has a completely different personality. Nathan named her Sandy and she lives in his room with a few fish friends. Gatsby is grateful for these new friends, and he spends much of his day watching Turtle TV and trying to play with the fish…

Sandy’s new home

Sandy Girl

Gatsby’s favorite spot in the house!

More than we expected…

After several days of cold, wet weather, we decided to take advantage of the sunshine by enjoying a walk on the beach. I had taken a walk in the morning and came home with some nice shells that the storm had washed up, so we ventured down the road to see what else we could find.

DSC_0694We found some nice shells, but we also found some critters that didn’t make it. We came upon two sunfish that had been washed up, a couple of jellyfish, a pelican and most surprising, a Leatherback sea turtle. We thought her dead at first, her eyes already destroyed by the birds, but after looking her over a bit, we realized that she was in fact still alive.

DSC_0711She was just barely hanging on and we didn’t figure there was anything we could do for her, so we finished our walk back and then stopped into the Pea Island Visitor’s Center to tell them about the turtle. They were immediately concerned and calls were made to go check on her and see what, if anything, could be done. We went back to where she was on the beach and waited for the experts to arrive.

DSC_0722The aquarium crew arrived first, followed by the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife. After a very thorough examination, it was determined that the best thing for the turtle was to put her to sleep, she was just too far gone to save. They drew blood for testing, measured her, took pictures and documented the entire process.

DSC_0736Before the aquarium crew arrived, they had been a little way down the beach picking up a dolphin. The common dolphin had washed ashore and had to be put to sleep also. Common dolphins are deep water dolphins, so they will be performing a necropsy to see if they can’t find out what brought the dolphin close enough to be washed ashore.

DSC_0732Once the Leatherback turtle was euthanized, everyone had to work together in order to get her loaded into the back of the truck. They estimated that this turtle, who was about six feet long, weighed somewhere between 600-700 pounds.

DSC_0787Being in the presence of so many experts, we learned a lot about these amazing turtles. Leatherbacks are the largest turtles on earth and they are on the endangered list. Their shells are flexible and almost rubbery because they are deep divers, diving deeper than any other turtles. Jellyfish are their favorite food, but unfortunately they often mistake floating plastic as their favorite snack. This often turns deadly for the turtles. They are not often found near shores, so a necropsy will be performed on her to see if they can determine what caused her to be there.

DSC_0790I just wish things had turned out better for this beautiful giant. I am glad we stumbled upon her when we did, though, and that we were able to watch as she was taken care of. This was a once in a lifetime learning experience, and it won’t be forgotten anytime soon…

Update: The necropsy was performed on the leatherback today, February 1. They found a blockage formed by a wad of plastic bags.

Can we keep him?

I am so that glad my kids are not afraid to touch things. They stick their hands into dark, damp holes and don’t even think twice about it. I admire this about them. Their courage, their bravery. Or perhaps it falls more along the lines of craziness and insanity? I am not exactly sure, but must they bring home everything they find?

DSC_0309 lizard

I have gotten used to the various lizards, some living and some not so much. I am not sure how they manage to find some of the little guys, but they do have a talent for it. I guess they get tired of lizards after a while and feel the need to mix it up a little. I am not sure if I should be grateful for this or not, but it doesn’t seem to matter one way or another. They bring home their new “friends” regardless.

DSC_0815 critter

Isn’t he just adorable? All right, maybe adorable isn’t quite the right word here. I turned down multiple offers to pet him, and instead encouraged the kids to take him on home, to his home, that is. I am sure his mama was missing him.

DSC_0356 turtle

And then there was the turtle, which Nathan found just this afternoon. Unfortunately, this little guy must have had a rough winter, because he was dead. Learning this made Natie cry because he loves turtles so much. But he did what any turtle-lover would do, he buried him. And after a short service, he went off in search of a live one.

DSC_0360 turtle

I am sure that if he does not find another turtle, he will find something else worthy of bringing home. Another toad perhaps, or some more caterpillars, another bird or a baby bunny. And when the kids arrive home with their new-found friend, they will ask the age-old question:

“Can we keep him?”

A Day at Home

While we all enjoy seeing where the open road will take us, sometimes it is nice to just stay home. We have been exploring for the last few weekends, so we decided that a couple of days at home were in order, not to mention that there were several things on the “to-do” list that needed tending to.

First act of business: clean the turtle tank. I don’t know if you have ever tackled a 20 gallon fish tank or not, but it is not an easy task. They are big and heavy and slippery and, well, heavy. Throw in an RV bathtub and it becomes quite the challenge. And while I was inside, sweating like a little piggy, wrestling a tank that weighs almost as much as I do, Flash was at the spa, a little car wash for aquatic turtles. The twins, armed with a spray bottle and tooth-brush, polished her until she was as shiny as a new penny.

I think she is quite appreciative of her clean tank. She is swimming around like a little champ and “talking” up a storm. Her favorite hobby is begging for food, always begging. And I, being the sucker that I am, always fall for her little tricks and cannot pass by without tossing her a tasty little tidbit.

She is grateful for the fresh water and I am grateful that I have a full two months before it will become necessary for me to, once again, tackle the turtle tank.

Second act of business: macaroni and cheese. While this may not sound like a necessity, I assure you that it most definitely was. Several years ago, Rob and I made some positively sinful macaroni with a crumbly top too good for words. Many times this macaroni and cheese has been the topic of conversation, but we had never gotten around to making it again. It was time to change that.

Rob and William made it together, outside, in the dutch oven, while sharing a cup of coffee. You want to talk about a boy feeling bigger than life, William most definitely was. He cherishes each and every moment he gets to spend with his dad, sans siblings. Their cheesy macaroni turned out perfectly, and the two of them enjoyed some quality time together.

Third order of business: simply be. No requirements. No expectations. No exceptions. While William spent most of his time with Rob, feeling like the coolest of the cool, the twins had their own thing going on. I love watching them play, especially when they are not paying attention to the fact that I am watching them. Their innocence melts every ounce of me. I am always amazed at just how much those two are willing to do for each other. They may have their moments, but their love for each other is unmistakable.

And so, with full bellies and happy hearts, we watched the sun set on another beautiful fall day. What they say about home is most definitely true: there is no place like it.

Turtle on Board

I’m not sure who had more fun with this, me or Remington P Cat, because I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Flash. For those of you who have not spent a lot of time around red-eared sliders, they are amazingly funny turtles. I never would have thought that such a critter would have so much personality, but Flash makes me laugh every day. She swims around her tank chasing my finger, and “talks” to me while I make fish faces at her. I don’t make a habit of putting Flash on the floor, but Remi wanted to say Hi, and he is such a nice kitty that I wasn’t worried about him hurting her.

Flash was quick to forgive me for her humiliation, though. Once I put her back in her freshly cleaned tank, she started “talking” to me again.   

PS – No turtles were harmed in the taking of these photos. 🙂

Back to School… Already

I had been looking forward to Spring Break ever since Winter Break ended. What I thought would never come not only came, but is now over. Tomorrow, the kids and I must head back to school.

I can’t help but feel that we were jipped a few days. Spring Break is traditionally Monday through Friday, making for nine days off including the weekends. For some unknown reason, our Spring Break was Thursday through Tuesday. It was not sandwiched by weekends. It was not nine days long.

Regardless, it was enjoyed. It was nice to have some time to goof off, sleep in and wreak havoc on our poor little unsuspecting town. As wild and crazy as my kids are, I enjoy hanging out with them. We squeezed in a lot of fun activities over the break.   

Coloring Easter eggs was a great way to start off our mini vacation.   

We woke up Friday to a snow storm. Luckily it didn’t stick around too long. 

Roller skating is always on the list of things to do when we have time.

Saturday morning we headed down to Paris Gibson Park for the city Easter Egg Hunt. It was originally cancelled because it had lost its Sponsor, but an incredible company stepped up to keep it going. The kids had a blast. Remember how Nathan is usually the one who doesn’t win anything? Well, the lucky little duckling waddled away with a new beach towel. He was feeling pretty special.

The kids were pretty wound up from the egg hunt, so we headed over to an indoor play land to let them run off a little energy.

It was such a beautiful day, we couldn’t resist going for a drive. We ended up out at the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge and saw an amazing variety of birds and wildlife.

Easter morning started with another egg hunt for the kids. They ate candy for breakfast and then spent a crazy amount of time blowing bubbles all over each other.

We spent the afternoon with friends and the kids had another egg hunt. It turned out to be a beautiful day. 

And of course, yesterday we brought Flash home. He seems to be settling in nicely and was pretty excited about his breakfast this morning.

Like all days off usually do, our Spring Break went by way too fast. It was a good way to recharge a little bit and now we are ready to head back to school and make that final push for June 3rd. Then on to summer vacation. Only 27 school days to go…