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2014 meme

Years past: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
I successfully raised a toddler to his second birthday.
I celebrated my 8th wedding anniversary.
I watched the bomb squad and air force come out to our house to detonate a civil war era cannon ball that we found on the farm.
I bought an engine for my car.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't really do new year's resolutions, so I didn't have any to break nor do I have any to make. [Same as last year's.]

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Several online friends had babies, which was exciting!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. Dustin's former coworker, Sid, passed away from a lung infection in May. He had surivived an awful lung infection and double-lung transplant nearly two years prior, so we all thought he was invincible. His death was pretty jarring to everyone in the IBM family.

5. What countries did you visit?
We stayed firmly planted in the United States this year. We traveled to such far-away lands as the neighboring states of North Carolina and Florida. Ha.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
A second child! :-)

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

May 18 - Sid died.
July 15 - positive pregnancy test!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting knocked up again?

9. What was your biggest failure?

Letting my temper get the best of me sometimes.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully, no injuries. Depending upon your definition of hyperemesis gravidarum, I may or may not have it (I'm not losing weight, but I throw up 10 times a day). Thankfully, the third prescription medication I've been put on seems to be doing the trick. But unfortunately, the nausea hasn't subsided the further I've gotten along in the pregnancy - I'm 30 weeks and still have to take it in order to stop throwing up. :-(

11. What was the best thing you bought?

An engine for my car - not what I wanted to spend money on, but a necessary expense.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Everyone that I like.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Congress and their lack of getting anything done.

14. Where did most of your (discretionary) money go?

We had to buy a new engine for my car in September. Necessary expense, but that $6,000 really sucked.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Getting pregnant again!

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

"Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) Happier or sadder? Happier!
b) Thinner or fatter? Fatter, but for good reason - I'm pregnant!
c) Richer or poorer? Poorer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Sleep. Spend time with friends.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Allow negative thoughts to consume my brain. I need to be more positive.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
Christmas Eve, we went to church and then to Christin and Ross' Christmas Eve party. Then I stayed up way too late trying to put a trampoline together for Toby, but ultimately failed. Thankfully, there were other toys for him to enjoy on Christmas morning. After we opened presents on Christmas morning, we went to my parents' house and had breakfast with them and opened up more presents. It was really fun!

21. Did you fall in love in 2014?

Over and over again. <3

22. How many one-night stands?

23. What was your favorite TV program?
NCIS, NCIS LA, Modern Family.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?


25. What was the best book you read?
I hardly read any books this year and I can't remember a particular one that stuck out.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
This was clearly a boring year for me, as I don't think I discovered any new bands.

27. What did you want and get?

A fetus!

28. What did you want and not get?
More sleep.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
There were movies?

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31! That was the weekend we discovered that my car needed a new engine, so to cheer myself up, I publicly announced the pregnancy and mowed the fields with the antique John Deere tractor.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If Toby hadn't gotten sick as often as he did.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
For the first half: "Hey, it's clean!"
For the second half: "Hey, it fits over my growing belly!"

33. What kept you sane?
My friends and family. My mommy tribe.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I don't think anyone really struck a chord with me this year.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

The injustices that minorities (specifically black people) encounter. Mike Brown and Eric Garner's deaths were unneccessary and senseless. :-/

36. Who did you miss?

Everyone who wasn't here with me. Cop-out answer, I know.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I met Chrystal and her family IRL in the spring when they came to visit family in Atlanta. I met Emma in the fall when she came to Atlanta for a car seat event. I've also gained a lot of new Twitter/FB friends, which has been fun!

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
I continued to learn to let people make their own decisions and not get caught up in other people's drama.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"Closing Time. Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

40. Do you think 2015 will be a better year for you?
Yes! It will be incredible.


Scripps National Spelling Bee, 2014!

Yes, it's that time of year again! Here's my team picks for this year:

Vanya Shivashankar (#90) - Team Captain. She was on my team last year. Her sister, Kavya, is the 2009 Spelling Bee Champion. She's in 7th grade this year, so she still has one more year to compete if she doesn't go all the way this year. But I'm hoping that this is her year. Last year, she tied for fifth place. This is her fourth spelling bee appearance. Between her sister's appearances (from 2006 to her win in 2009) and her own appearances, we have watched her grow up!

Syamantak Payra (#239) - This is his second Bee - he tied for seventh place last year. He flew under my radar last year, but I'm totally on Team Syamantak now! I suspect he'll do well in the semi-finals and will make it to at least fifth place this year in the finals.

Syamantak just got out in the first round of the semifinals with the word "circumforaneous." Damn!

Sumedh Garimella (#49) - Sumedh is a local kid - he's from my county, so I have to support him, natch. He's a fan of the book Animal Farm (a fantastic book). This is his first (and last possible, since he's in 8th grade) year in the Bee. I don't know if he'll make it past the semifinals, but I'm rooting for him anyway.

Jacob Williamson (#38) - This kid is a dork, and I mean that in the most endearing way possible. He is a coin collector. When he went to spell his first word in the semifinal round, Dr. Bailly announced the word ("euripus") and Jacob squeed with excitement and pumped his fist in the air as he said "I actually know that one!" Oh Jacob, you are adorable. I want you to go far.

Tajaun Gibbison (#87) - He's from Jamaica and has the most delightful accent. He's polite, intelligent, and wants to study medicine. He's in eighth grade so this is his last year to compete. I'm hoping he gets to the finals!

Good luck to everyone!

2013 meme

Years past: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
Successfully kept a human alive for an entire year, witnessed my husband go through the most unimaginable pain possible and took a road trip with Toby on my own.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't really do new year's resolutions, so I didn't have any to break nor do I have any to make. [Same as last year's.]

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! This was the year of births: my brother Ben had a girl in January, our friends Kevin and Kristen had a baby (also in January), and there were tons of LJ/twitter/FB people who had babies: glowbutt, papayarain, thejoysofjess, Stephanie, emstar21, birdsonthewire, chasingangie05, cme2694, enogitna, jessicala, lilsayermonster and moober. WHEW.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Dustin's Granny died in January and my great aunt Peggy died in April. Although both deaths were expected (they had been failing in health for years and had been in/out of hospitals and nursing homes), we were both still pretty devastated. I also found out that a former coworker was murdered on Thanksgiving, so that sucks.

5. What countries did you visit?
Ha. Definitely not this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
My family to be healthy. (And maybe another fetus?)

7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
April 26th - Dustin's spinal cord surgery
November 11th - Toby took his first steps; our 7th wedding anniversary

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Breastfeeding for an entire year. Toby had tongue-tie and lip-tie (which we got fixed when he was three days old), I had to use a nipple shield for awhile because he had poor latch, we dealt with thrush, mastitis and an overactive letdown (and resulting reflux). Most of all, though, I had to balance breastfeeding and pumping with the other challenges in life. When Dustin was in and out of the hospital in February, March, April and May, I had to remember to bring my pump with me each time. I had to pump often, in front of many, many (many!) people (including hot doctors), and Toby went from primarily nursing during the day to nursing the most at night, when I was able to be with him. My supply dropped dangerously low so I had to dip into my freezer stash (which hurt me SO much, as that was the milk I had worked so hard to pump to donate!) and I even had to start taking (not-FDA-approved, bought from overseas) medicine in order to get my supply back up to a sustainable level. Despite all of this, we managed to continue a successful nursing relationship. There were several times where I thought we wouldn't be able to make it, but we managed to overcome it all and he's never had to have formula. Now we're on Month 13 of nursing and he (nor I) have any plans on quitting anytime soon! I still pump while I'm at work so he can get breastmilk at school, too.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I let Toby CIO (cry it out) on several occasions when I just got so frustrated with his sleeping issues and couldn't handle it anymore. I suppose I should be proud of myself for walking away when I knew I was getting angry, but I'm more disappointed in myself for not keeping it together and caring for him in the manner that he needed.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I have some severe stomach pains of undetermined cause that occurs about once or twice a month, which is annoying. I've been informally diagnosed with PTSD due to seeing Dustin in so much pain before/during/after his spinal cord surgery. So there's that.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Health insurance. We cashed in on that sucker this year. Dustin's surgery, hospital visits, and related expenses totaled over $125k. Our out-of-pocket expenses? Less than $300. Boo-yah.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Our family and friends. We had a lot of shit go down this year and they really helped us get through some hard times. I heavily relied on my family and friends to help with caring for Toby when Dustin was recovering from surgery, for emotional support through everything, and for tons of advice.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Our government. I'm really annoyed at their inability to get anything done.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Childcare, which is about $900/month (just for part-time!). Ouch.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Watching Toby grow up and discover new things, like how to move his arms to grab toys, or learn to crawl and walk! It is neat to watch him grow and change on a near-daily basis now as he picks up on things and learns how to interact in a different way.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Royals by Lorde

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) Happier or sadder? Happier!
b) Thinner or fatter? Thinner! I'm down to a size 14, y'all. I am so ecstatic by this!
c) Richer or poorer? Richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Sleep. I have a child who is very difficult when it comes to sleep - he is a year old and still wakes up every 3ish hours. I don't even know what I'd do if I had 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Cry. Worry. Be fearful of the future.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
For Christmas Eve, we went to an evening church service at my aunt's church, then went to a friend's party. Christmas morning, we woke up and opened presents, just the three(!!) of us at our house. Then we went over to my parents' house, ate breakfast, and opened up more gifts with my parents, my brother, SIL, niece (2.5 years old), my aunt, and my two grandmothers. That afternoon, we went over to Dustin's sister's house for an hour to open gifts, before going to my brother and SIL's house for dinner.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?
Over and over again. <3

22. How many one-night stands?

23. What was your favorite TV program?
NCIS, Real Housewives of Orange County (shut up), and Modern Family

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

25. What was the best book you read?
Cold Spell, by Jackson Pearce. Right after Dustin had his surgery, she and another friend of mine came to visit me at the hospital, and she gave me an advanced reading copy of the book. I read it while taking care of him in the hospital and it really helped keep me sane.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I don't think I made any musical discoveries this year. That's sad.

27. What did you want and get?
Continuing to work part-time. When I was pregnant, my boss told me that I'd be able to work part-time for three months after I came back from maternity leave, but then I'd have to return to work full-time. At the end of those three months, I told him that either he could continue to have me part-time, or I was prepared to leave the company. It took him several weeks to work out the details, but he managed to find a way that I could continue PT. :-)

28. What did you want and not get?
A full night's sleep.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
I only saw two movies in the theater this year - Gatsby and Man of Steel. I don't think I saw any movies at home - we rented a couple, but never got around to watching them. It's hard to find the time to sit down for 2 hours when you have a baby.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 30. I had a couple of small celebrations with friends and family. Nothing extremely exciting, but it was still nice. On my actual birthday, my aunt and grandmother took me out to lunch and babysat Toby so I could get a much-needed haircut. Dustin and I went out to dinner the next day.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If my family didn't suffer as much illness, injury, and emotional pain.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Does it have spit-up or shit on it? Nope? Okay, then I'm wearing it.

33. What kept you sane?
My family and friends.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I still love Jimmy Carter.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

36. Who did you miss?
My great aunt Peggy. I wish I had been able to see her more often before she died, but between being pregnant and having a newborn, it didn't lend itself much to visiting her in the nursing home (especially because they were on "lockdown" frequently due to illnesses). I've been thinking about her a lot lately, since Christmas was always built around making thousands upon thousands of Christmas cookies with her each year.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I met several new online people: Emma, Rhian and Chrystal. Although I didn't meet her in 2013, I reconnected with an old acquaintance from high school who had a baby the same time I did, and we go walking once a week. She's become one of my closest friends.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
It's okay to ask for and accept help - it doesn't mean you're weak. Family and friendships are give and take - this was definitely a year where I "took" more than I "gave," which was a first for me. Between a colicky baby who would cry for 8+ hours a day until he was 3 months old, to an ailing husband who quickly became crippled and needed serious spinal cord surgery (and then had to learn to walk again), to balancing work with everything else, I heavily relied on family and friends to help us out. After all the goodness that we've done for other people, it's okay if some of that goodness is shared with us, too.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"And nobody, nobody knows
Let the yoke fall from our shoulders
Don’t carry it all, don’t carry it all
We are all our hands and holders
Beneath this bold and brilliant sun
And this I swear to all" - Don't Carry It All by The Decemberists

40. Do you think 2014 will be a better year for you?
God, I hope so.

New username!

Hey, it's me, but with a new username! "Lizzie" finally was purged and became available, so I bought a rename token. I've been wanting to get rid of the numbers after my name for awhile, and even though I don't use LJ as much as I used to / hardly at all, I still wanted the simpler name because LJ has been such an important part of my life and I do want to keep it.

So that's all. Hopefully I'll update more soon. Lots has gone on - Dustin had spinal cord surgery five weeks ago, Toby is now six months old, I fought against my bosses and won the ability to remain part-time at work... life has been crazy, but it's starting to look up.

Scripps National Spelling Bee, 2013!

Alright, it's that time of year again! The Scripps National Spelling Bee finals are tonight! The semi-finals air at 2 p.m. EST and the finals begin at 8 p.m. EST.

Here's my team:
Arvind Mahankali - Team captain. He was on my team last year, where he placed 3rd for the second year in a row. I am placing high bets on him to make it all the way this year and take home that giant trophy. This is his last year he's able to compete, so I want him to win it all!
Vanya Shivashankar - Her older sister, Kavya, won in 2009. I remember how excited she was when her sister won the championship and she had a glimmer of her future in her eye. With Vanya as her coach, I think she'll go far. She's still fairly young - still has another two years that she can compete - but I imagine she'll at least make it into the finals.
Rachel Cundey - She's from Augusta, Georgia, and is in the district honor band. This is her fifth appearance at the Bee (holy crap, what determination!) and she tied for 10th last year. This is her last year she's able to compete. I think she'll make it into the top 5 this year.
Pranav Sivakumar - His favorite book is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. 'Nuff said. (I think he'll probably get out in the semifinals, but I still love him.)
Amber Born - Also a lover of Hitchhiker's Guide, but she seems to be a down-to-earth, funny girl. She didn't make it far last year (42nd place - GET IT!?!), but I hope she makes it to the finals tonight. Regardless, she has a fun personality and I'm excited to see her on camera.

Good luck to all the contestants! I'm eager to cheer y'all on!


I don't know if it's the 9 days straight of pumping while Toby is away from me for 12+ hours a day or his two bottom teeth that have cut through, but my nipples hurt like a bitch tonight.

You're welcome.

Happy Two Months, Toby!

Happy Two Months, Toby!
In your second month of life, you've:
  • had your first play date with Emma and her mom, Bray. Also first after-hours ped trip for thrush/yeast diaper rash. (Jan. 14th)
  • grabbed at my hands while I was suctioning your nose. (Jan 15th)
  • stayed with Great Grandma Mary Ann while Daddy and I took Ranger to vet. (Jan 16th)
  • had a play date with Sophie and her mum, Sarah-Nicole. Also had growth spurt - nursed frequently all day, sleeping in between. (Jan 17th)
  • spent all day with Daddy while Mommy went back to work. (Jan 18th)
  • laughed for the first time for Mommy- during a morning nursing session! (Jan 20th)
  • spent all day with Great Grandma Mary Ann and Great Aunt Karen while Mommy is at work. (Jan 22nd)
  • got a new cousin, Julian, born to my brother Ben and his wife Lane! (Jan. 23rd)
  • spent the day with Papa while Mommy was at work. (Jan 24th)
  • successfully nursed in public for the first time - at the Sugarloaf Mall food court! (Jan 25th)
  • visited Florida for the second time. (Jan 29th)
  • attended Granny's funeral. (Jan 30th)
  • had your two month well visit, where you got four vaccines: Pentacel (DTaP, Polio, Hib), Hepatitis B, Prevnar (pneumococcal), and Rotateq. (Feb. 2nd)
  • had a reaction to vaccines and you were sleepy, so we chilled out at home. (Feb. 2nd and 3rd)
You're smiling and laughing a LOT more! We're starting to get on a schedule during the day. Usually you wake up around 8 a.m. and we nurse and cuddle in bed for a little while. Then we get up, do housework, and nurse again (every two hours!). Then we take a walk outside if the weather is good, or run errands outside of the house. Naptime is around 11 a.m. for an hour (or two if I'm lucky!). You hate to be put down while napping, so usually we spend naptime on the couch watching tv or you're in the sling while I do stuff. In the afternoons, we usually play and you take another nap.  Sometimes we'll go for a walk with Heather and Erica, if they come to the farm. Then it's time for Daddy to come home and you watch tv with him while I get dinner ready. We put you down for the night around 7 - 7:30 p.m. (sometimes after you take a bath with Mommy).

He now weighs 8 lbs, 14 oz - he's gained 1 lb, 2.5 oz in the past month - and is now in the 4th percentile for weight! He's 21.1 inches (2%) and his head circumference is  14.4 inches (also 2%).
oby at two months:

Toby two months


Happy One Month, Toby!

Happy One Month, Toby!

In your first month of life, you've:
- been born!
- had your tongue-tie and frenulum cut (ironic, since we chose not to circumcise) so you could nurse
- dropped six ounces from birthweight (6 lb, 12.5 oz) and regained it (plus three ounces!) by your two week appt. 
- learned how to breastfeed (albeit with a nipple shield) 
- learned how to fart and poop more effectively 
- used a bottle (pumped breastmilk) 
- traveled out of state (to Florida for Christmas) 
- held your head up for several seconds at a time
- had your first babysitter (Aunt Heather on Dec. 15 - a mere 11 days after you were born!) 
- smiled at us
- taken a bath in the bathtub with Mommy
- watched many episodes of Gunsmoke with Daddy
- celebrated your first major holiday, Christmas (with five different celebrations over the course of a week!) 
- met many new people who have loved you even since before you were born - including your parents!

He now weighs 7 lbs, 11.5 oz - he's gained 15 ounces (one oz shy of a pound) in a month! Given the difficulties we had at first with breastfeeding and his tongue-tie, I consider this a success!
Toby at two weeks old:
Toby Zero Month

Toby at one month old:
Toby One Month

More pictures under the cutCollapse )



I went to my local polling location this morning, before work. Even though I voted for Obama four years ago, this time, my vote was different.

I voted for my baby. I voted for his hopes, his dreams, his freedom. I voted that his differences (whatever they may be) will be celebrated, not shamed. I voted for his health. I voted for his reproductive rights as much as I voted for my own. I voted for his ability to receive a quality education regardless of where we live or how much money we may have. I voted for his safety. I voted for his environment.

I voted for his future.


FINALLY public!

Lj Announcement

Surprise! Due December 14th! :-)


Scripps National Spelling Bee, 2012!

Unless you've been living under a rock, or you're not nearly as enthusiastic about spelling bees as I am, y'all should know that tonight is the 87th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee!

There are nine students that are going into the finals:
#19, Snigdha Nandipati - I think Snigdha is going to be one of the last spellers standing. 
#30, Frank Cahill - He's dorky and reminds me of Dougie Howser. 
#44, Stuti Mishra - Stuti is awesome. I remember following her last year, even though she only made it to the semi-finals. She is incredibly smart.
#89, Gifton Samuel Wright -  He's never been to the championships before, but he is an amazing guy - one of 10 children! This is the last year he's able to compete, since he's in 8th grade. I kind of love him.
#136, Jordan Gabriella Hoffman - Jordan is adorable - she is so peppy and friendly, and has an amazing voice. I suspect she'll go out quickly in the finals, though.
#145, Emma Ciereszynski -  her favorite book is House of Leaves. Do you know how f-ed up that book is? It is awesome, and is one of the reasons why she's on my "team" to win.
#162, Arvind V. Mahankali - Arvind has a very, very good chance of winning this year. He came in 3rd place last year, and 9th place in 2010. He's definitely the one to beat this time around.
#193, Nicholas B. Rushlow - Nicholas is an old pro at spelling bees - he's been to the championships in '08, '09, '10, and 11. I think it's going to come down to him and Arvind for second and first place.
#213, Lena Greenberg - I don't really know much about her, but she looks adorable. I'm a fan.

So, my "team" is Gifton, Emma, and Arvind. Arvind is, naturally, my team captain, and the one I think will win the whole thing.

I can't wait for the finals tonight! ESPN at 8:00 p.m.!

Raccoon commercial

About a month ago, one of my raccoons was filmed for a Georgia Lottery commercial. Here's the commercial, which just started airing last week!

Admittedly, the raccoon looks a little dumb (and there's another one off to the far right, which you can't see very well on the YouTube video), but whatever. It's still neat!

Reasons why I love my dad #374

This is the e-mail exchange I just had with my dad:
From: Elizabeth
To: Dad

The shoes are expensive, but it's a pretty neat idea. I'm not sure we're ready to spend that kind of money on you, so we'll probably just turn the electric fence on when you start wandering off.
From: Dad
To: Elizabeth

I like the Velcro straps.  I have a pair at home just like them and they are very soft.

Thank you for thinking about me and my safety.   I guess I will just have to do with the electric fence.



Writer's Block: Share and tell

Did you meet your significant other or best friend on LiveJournal? Tell us your story!
I did! Dustin (dustinhartman) and I met on LJ back in 2003. We had a common friend (Dan, whom neither of us had met IRL at that point). We commented back and forth in Dan's LJ, and then Dustin started commenting on my LJ. We friended each other, then started chatting online, then he called me on the phone. Three months after we met online, we met in person. Three and a half years after that, we got married!  We were featured in LJ's ten year anniversary book, Livejournal: The First Decade!

Not only did I meet my husband on LJ, but I've also met a lot of great friends through LJ.  I met many of them through loversfaraway, a community for people in long distance relationships (which D and I were in for the majority of the time we dated), and then later through weddingplans. I've met some of them in person (chasingangie05 and cynicalsiren came to my wedding, even!). thejoysofjess even hugged me the last time we saw each other, when we met up with noexplaination and her babies! I consider this a huge triumph, because apparently she is not a hugger. Even though many of the friends I met through LFA and WP are no longer in those communities, we still stay an active part of each other's lives.

I've also become part of two tight-knit groups of LJ women, HB and T&C. Both groups mean so much to me and I've formed fantastic friendships through these groups. We've blurred the lines between LJ friends and real friends - we send e-mails, texts, snail mail, and packages back and forth. I consider y'all some of my closest friends, and I really want to meet y'all in person! (Seriously, silsbycarr, you ARE coming out to visit next summer to help me with baby animals!)

Raccoon release!

Today, Dustin and I released 20 raccoons! It was so much fun to watch them explore their new home. :-) Check out the video!

Crazy Raccoon Lady saga

This is, by far, the craziest (and most dangerous!) encounter I've had with someone who's giving me an animal.

Kaitlyn called me back in April because she had found a baby raccoon. Her first question to me was "Are you going to kill it?" I should've known that this was going to be a crazy one. I told her that I can't make that promise until I look at the animal, but I do not take euthanasia lightly and I try to avoid it if possible. She told me that she didn't trust a lot of people, and even though everyone she called either told her that they would euthanize it or she should call me, she still wasn't sure about my ability to rehab her baby. I told her that she's welcome to come out to my house that weekend and inspect my "facility" if she wanted to. She promised to call me the next day once she figured out her schedule.

Well, she didn't call at all that weekend, and never answered my six phone calls and voicemails over the next two weeks. I assumed that the raccoon had probably died and she just didn't want to tell me, so I stopped trying to reach her.

You can see where this is going.

This morning, her nickname ("Crazy Lady Who Wants to Interview Me," as I entered her into my phonebook) popped up on my phone. See for a snippet of the phone call I had with Crazy Lady today She still had the raccoon and it was getting too big so she needed to find a home for it. She said that she was going to give me the raccoon earlier, but she heard a rumor that I kill raccoons, so she wanted to keep it until it was old enough to survive “at [my] hands."

(Side note: 1. I've never heard this about myself, but I don’t hold much stake in what she tells me. Feel free to let me know if I should be concerned, and 2) If I DO just kill animals, then why wouldn’t I just kill this one, regardless of age?).

She said that the raccoon was getting too big to play with her cats and her children (!!!!!!!), so it was time to find her a new home. We agreed that I would stop by her house to pick the raccoon up.

I get to her house and she gives me the raccoon. I put it in the carrier and hand her my intake form to fill out.

"What is this?"
"The Department of Natural Resources requires us to have this information. You don't have to fill out your exact address - just the city and state is fine. If you don't want to fill it out, that's okay - I already have your information. I just need you to initial and sign these two paragraphs..."
"What do they say?"
"It's legal jargon releasing me of liability if you, your dependents, or your pets get sick because you've all been exposed to the raccoon."
"I'm not going to sign that."

At this point, I had already picked up the raccoon and was headed back to my car.
"That's fine, but I will have to keep the raccoon quarantined for two weeks and if it shows any neurological symptoms in that time period, I'll be submitting it for rabies testing."

I had just gotten into my car, put the raccoon on the seat beside me, and (thank God) locked the doors.
"How do you test for rabies?"
"Decapitation and testing of the brain matter."

And then hell broke loose. She started charging at me so I quickly that I put the truck in drive to get away, but not before she had JUMPED ON THE HOOD OF THE TRUCK AND STARTED POUNDING ON THE WINDSHIELD. I immediately slammed on the brakes and she slid off the truck, grabbing onto the side mirror. I thought she was off, so I tried to go forward again, DRAGGING HER, who was still holding onto the side mirror, in the process. I stopped fairly immediately once I realized that no, she had not, in fact, let go of the truck.

She wasn't hurt, but she screamed for her children (who were inside) to call 911, presumably because I had "stolen her raccoon and I was going to kill it." She had 911 on the phone and I told her "Ma'am, if you get the police to come out here, you will get fined and possibly jail time for keeping a raccoon as a pet. This raccoon will be euthanized and tested in that situation." She hung up the phone.

I explained to her that the raccoon is not showing any neurological symptoms right now and I don't suspect she will, but I have people sign that liability waiver just in case. I said it was to protect me and my family in the event that anything happened, and if she refused to sign it, then I would need to submit the raccoon for testing. She started yelling at me and calling me every name in the book. I opened up my window a crack, offered the paper for her to sign, but she refused and threatened to tell everyone she knew not to contact me if they had wild animals that needed to be saved. Okay, crazy lady.

She also proceeded to tell me that there was a vet's office in Alpharetta who could do a test that wouldn't require euthanizing the animal (while there IS a test like that available, it is NOT FDA approved, it's in the early trial stages, and the test manufacturer warns that it is not very accurate). I explained this to her, and also explained that when it comes down to it, her children's lives are more important than the raccoons. She was calmer now, and had managed to step back some, had stepped far enough back from the truck that I felt comfortable driving off without possibly hitting her, so I drove off.

I managed to keep my cool pretty well while in the situation, but it was extremely scary. When she was on the hood of the truck, there were only two things flashing in my mind: Get Out Of This Situation Now and Don’t Hurt Her. Those two thoughts could not be accomplished at once.

Crazy lady never told me what she named this raccoon, so Dustin came up with a name for her “CBR” (pronounced “Coober”) – Crazy Bitch’s Raccoon. ;-)

Wildlife calls

This just a short snippet of some of the wildlife phone calls I've had recently. My thoughts are in Italics.

Woman: Hi, I have a mother raccoon and four babies that are in my yard.
Me: ...*Waiting to hear the problem*
Woman: I need them removed from my yard.
Me: Why?
Woman: I don't want them to live there.
Me: Well, raccoons are wild animals and as such, they live in nature. Your backyard is part of nature.
Woman: I know that's your belief because you take care of them, but I really do not want them in my yard.
Me: ...


My phone rings this morning and the number pops up as "Crazy Lady Who Wants to Interview Me." This was the woman who called me back in April and wanted to come out that weekend and inspect my facilities before she handed over the raccoon that she rescued. She never called back. I left 6 messages for her over the next two weeks, but none were returned.

Crazy Lady: Hi, I need to place a raccoon. Do you still do that?
Me: Yes.
Crazy Lady: I called you a couple of months ago because I had rescued a baby raccoon, and now that it's older, I'm ready to give it to you. Do you remember me?
Me: Yes, I do. You were supposed to call me to let me know when you wanted to come over one weekend. I called and left a lot of messages for you, but you never called back.
Crazy Lady: Yeah, my daughter didn't tell me you had left messages, but then she told me you did, but I wasn't ready to give the raccoon to you yet. She was still so young, but now she's older and I'm afraid she likes humans too much.
Me: Well, I've got plenty of raccoons, so I'm sure she'll wild up after a few weeks with the others.
Crazy Lady: She's been playing with my cat a lot, so I think maybe she thinks she's a cat?
Me: ...
Crazy Lady: I didn't want you to take her when she was really little because I was worried that you'd kill her. I heard through the grapevine that you kill raccoons...
Me: Are you sure that's me and not someone else?
Crazy Lady: Yes.
Me: Okay. *Note: I do not believe, nor care, what this crazy lady thinks of me. I just want the raccoon out of her hands.*
Crazy Lady: I just didn't want to give her to you if you were going to kill her.
Me: But you're going to give her to me now, then?! When we spoke the first time, I gave you my website address. Did you check out my website?
Crazy Lady: Yes, I did. But to be honest, anyone can slap up a website and pretend that they're a professional.
Me: ...
Crazy Lady: And I just don't trust anyone. I know this sounds crazy, but just because you have a website doesn't mean you don't kill them.
Me: Yes, it sounds crazy. That's because it's coming from you, and you are crazy. Okay.
Crazy Lady: So how do you want to do this? Want me to come out to you, or we can meet somewhere?
Me: Hell no I'm not telling you where I live. How about I come to your house? I'm picking up a baby fox in your area this afternoon, so it won't be much trouble for me to swing by after that.
Crazy Lady: Okay. *Gives me her address*
Me: Thanks. I'll call you when I'm headed in your direction! In case she decides not to give me the raccoon, now I've got her address to turn over to DNR!

Fox burying the ham

Yesterday, my coworker gave me some deli ham that was expiring so I could give it to my animals. I have two red foxes now, a male and a female (the male came in last Sunday). I gave the ham to the male as a treat. At first, he eats some of it. Then he decides to save the rest for later and buries it. It's pretty neat!

The burying starts at 1:05

Foxes are so smart.

Fox kit!

On Friday, I got a call about an abandoned red fox kit. When I picked her up, I was about 80% sure that she wasn't going to make it - she was severely dehydrated and emaciated, to the point where you could feel every bone in her body. Animals that show anything above 15% dehydration are most likely going to die.

But, I had to try. I couldn't give up on her, especially when she fought so hard to live after she lost her parents. Over the course of the next 48 hours, I've pumped 100 ccs of lactated ringers solution into her body, tube-fed her some raccoon milk (high protein, high fat) and kept her as warm and comfortable as possible. On Friday and Saturday, she was very limp and lethargic. But I kept giving her subq fluids and forced her to eat 5 ccs of milk every couple of hours (not a lot, because I didn't want to overload her system). This morning, I woke up at 6 a.m. to the sounds of the little fox crying. I went in the kitchen expecting to see her in pain or dying. To my delight, she was sitting up, fully alert, and crying because she was lonely. It was the best reason to wake up - an animal whom you thought had no chance is physically feeling better!

We're not out of the woods yet - she's still dehydrated and emaciated. Now she's lapping up milk on her own (about 40 ccs at each feeding!) and has gained about 50 grams, so there's hope. She has some issues with her back legs, but I'm not sure if that's due to her body shutting down from dehydration/emaciation, a neurological disorder, or because she's a baby and young animals aren't very coordinated. Time will tell.

I've been concentrating so much on keeping her alive that I haven't even thought about her long-term plans - I either need to give her to a rehabber who already has a fox, or I need to steal someone else's fox kit so she can have a friend. Thankfully, I've still got a little while before I have to do that - I have to make sure she's stable and healthy before then.

Here are some pictures and videos of her (you're welcome, Patti!).

More pictures and videos behind the cut!Collapse )

Alphabet meme

A. Age: 27
B. Bed size: King
C. Chore you hate: Cleaning the bathroom.
D. Dogs: I would LOVE a dog. Dustin's not ready for the commitment, though.
E. Essential start to your day: Not talking to anyone for awhile.
F. Favorite color: Blue
G. Gold or silver: Silver
H. Height: 5'2"
I. Instruments you play: I played trumpet in middle and high school. I was in the marching band (I <3 marching band!). I can still play basic songs, but nothing too exciting.
J. Job title: Senior quality assurance analyst
K. Kids: Someday.
L. Live: Metro-Atlanta, Georgia
M. Mom’s name: Carol
N. Nicknames: Liz and Lizzie are the most common.
O. Overnight hospital stays: Quite a few - spent about a week in the hospital when my hand got an infection from a raccoon bite in 2003, then I've done another  two - three hospital stints when the infection spread to my arm. Then there was another hospital stay when they removed part of my armpit lymph node... then another hospital stay back in December when I had gastric bypass surgery.  lol
P. Pet peeve: Bad grammar.
Q. Quote from a movie: "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - the most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line"!
R. Right or left handed: Right
S. Siblings: Two older brothers, Ben and Bradley.
T. Time you wake up: During the week, 6:30. On the weekends, usually around 8:30 or so.
U. Underwear: I like cotton.
V. Vegetables you dislike: Mushrooms.
W. What makes you run late: Dustin. He's always running late. Drives me crazy.
X. X-Rays you’ve had: Dental and my hand. I think that's it. Surprisingly, I've never broken a bone.
Y. Yummy food you make: Does it count if it's take-out?
Z. Zoo: I love the zoo!

I can has raccoon $$?

The Cheezeburger Network is interested in buying the rights to one of my raccoon videos for $200. The money would be used for rehabbing expenses (for example, I just bought $230 worth of formula for this baby season). Is there any reason I should *not* sell my video to them?

I've just sent an e-mail to Cheezburger asking the following questions:
1) Can the contract specify that the video description must state that these raccoons are wild animals that are being rehabilitated and are NOT pets?
2) Can the video description link to my wildlife rehab website?
3) Is the $200 negotiable - can I get $250 instead?

I'll post the answers once they get back to me. Anything else I should be worried about? Cheezeburger Network is pretty animal-friendly, so I'm not too worried they'll use the video for awful things.

One month post-surgery update

It's been a month since I had gastric bypass surgery and things are going pretty well! I'm eating more "normal" foods, including steak, salads, and other non-soft-foods (Dustin is jealous, because at one-month out he couldn't eat any of the things I can!). I can't have extremely fatty or sugary foods, of course, but it's nice to be eating something other than mashed potatoes. :-) As long as I remember to eat slowly and chew thoroughly, then I don't have any problems. I still don't have any feeling of hunger or satiated, so it's hard to remember to eat 5 - 6 small meals a day. I'm up to about 4 meals a day, but even that's hard to accomplish sometimes.

Through this whole ordeal, I've been trying to be very conscious of my body and follow my body's cues. The bariatric program gives you guidelines on what you should be eating at each post-op stage, how much you should be eating, etc. While I'm not eating more than the full cup of food per meal, sometimes I eat only half a cup of food. I certainly haven't stuck to the soft-foods diet they recommend, either. It's been difficult, more psychologically than physically, to not be able to understand what my body is telling me. Is that pang in my side because I need to eat, or is it because I ate raw carrots three hours ago? Am I nauseous because I'm full or because I ate the wrong thing? All of those cues that I once knew are foreign to me. It's a bit stressful.

I've lost 34 pounds, which is right on track for what they want you to lose in the first month. It's funny - I thought I would be weighing myself every day, but I really don't think about it that often, only about twice a week. I'm not as concerned with the number on the scale as much as I am about being healthy. It's the right attitude, but it's a lot different than my weigh-himself-twice-a-day husband. :-) My clothes are looser, though I haven't dropped down a size yet (I probably can, but it's habit to just pull out the same clothes every day at 6:30 a.m.). I'm feeling better, too - although I still don't have my normal energy (or more!), I'm not as exhausted as I was a couple of weeks ago. Between having major surgery and my body adjusting to starving itself (I'm only taking in about 500 calories a day), I was getting pretty fatigued.

It was nice to ease back into work. Since we had so much snow last week, I had to work from home, which made it easier to transition back to work (I could take micronaps if needed, I didn't have to worry about the two-hour commute, etc). I'm SO glad to be back at work, though - after three weeks of a vacation and another week of being home-bound due to the snow, I was going stir crazy. I missed my coworkers! I missed being a productive member of society! I missed being BUSY!

I also missed my raccoons - even though I hardly interact with them now, it was hard for me not to check on them in the weeks after surgery. I didn't want to risk it, though - with five little (bullet-hole sized) incision sites on my stomach, the last thing I needed was to be mobbed by raccoons with sharp claws who want to play with me.

I've got my one-month post-op appointment with the surgeon scheduled for next week, at which point I'll (hopefully) be cleared to lift more than 10 pounds (I've been cheating occasionally) and resume normal activity and start exercising. I'm looking forward to it!

An update

I'm 8 days post-surgery and I'm doing very well! I've had a couple of minor complications (allergic reactions to two medicines they gave me and a local infection in one of my incision sites), but thankfully, nothing major. All my plumbing is hooked up correctly! I even started eating more "normal" foods the other day - spaghetti sauce with ground turkey, a Lean Cuisine meal, and a flatbread pizza - with no ill effects!

The most difficult thing so far is trying to learn the cues my new stomach is putting out. I've gone so long knowing what "hungry" and "full" feel like, but now that's all been flipped upside-down. I haven't felt hungry yet at all, which makes it difficult to remember to eat, as weird as that sounds. I'm not able to decipher "full" yet, so I have to eat based off of measuring my food - my new stomach can handle a cup of food, so I'm relying on measuring out a cup of food in order to know how much to eat. It's pretty weird. Thankfully, I'm doing well at eating slowly and chewing my food very well - I've only had one time where I ate (scrambled eggs) too fast and I felt bad for about an hour afterwards.

I'm still sleeping an awful lot. Between the residual affects of the general anesthesia and the prescription antihistamine I'm on (for the allergic reactions), I get tired easily. It's a bit annoying because I want to be more productive, but I'm trying to give myself a break. :-)

That's pretty much it!

Hospital Update 3

10:45 Dr. Lin called and said E is out of surgery and doing well. They hope to have her out of ICU and in a room by 2. -TheHusband

Hospital update 2

7:49 Elizabeth is in the OR and is wearing a fancy metal hat that says to keep it away from MRI machines. We think it is to keep the aliens from reading her brainwaves -TheHusband

Hospital Update 1

Patient (Elizabeth) CLHOR-2010-25669 is now in preop -TheHusband

Gastric bypass tomorrow!

I'm having gastric bypass surgery tomorrow! Eep! I'm excited, for the most part. Nervous too, but mainly excited for this new journey. I think I've done all the preparing I can, so now it's up to the skillful surgeon and God!

I'll update when I can- Dustin will also be on hand to update for me, if I'm too sinker out to do it!

Love y'all!

Project For Awesome

Jackson Pearce, author of As You Wish and Sisters Red, is a good friend of mine. This year, she's taken part in Project for Awesome and featured Tails From The Hart, my wildlife rehab organization!

Not only does this bring awareness to wildlife rehabilitators and what we do, but hopefully some people will donate to TFTH, too. It's awesome to read all the comments from people on her YouTube video. Even cooler? John Green, another author, who started the Project For Awesome event four years ago with his brother, featured Jackson's video in HIS YouTube video! (It's the right top rectangle - click on it and it directs you to our video.) How cool is that?!
Written by another rehabber:

Love of a Rehabber - The Circle of Life, Reunited with Nature

You came to me young and afraid
It was then that I prayed
Help me with this tiny one
Help him grow up big and strong.
And you grew with every day,
Round and round and round you'd play;
Then stop and look as if to say,
"Oh, mama, aren't I sweet?
May I have a little treat?"

When the day comes that we part,
my heart will pause then seem to stop.
I know how it will be..
you will run, then climb a tree.
This is great and meant and to be...

So why does this tear me up inside
even though I am full of pride?

"If I could talk, here's what I'd say
Thank you for taking me in that day.
For feeding, cleaning and cuddling too..
When I was young and so brand new.
All to prepare for this one awesome day
So I could be free and do as I may."

So where do these tears come from?
This was a job that was well done.

"No need for you to cry too long,
for I am great big, healthy and strong.
Can climb a tree and swim a stream,
From day one this was my drean,
I am so very ready to roam,
please trust I'll find myself a nice home."

Oh, why does this make me ache inside
Now that our goal is satisfied?

"Its okay, your work is done,
now let me go to have my fun!
I'll be free, no need to fret,
Miss me some but don't forget....
When I was a babe you cared for me
Now I have grown to be wild and free!
Reunited with nature, its supposed to be
For the circle of life is now up to me."

He needed a rehabbers helping hand,
All grown up but still my little man
Forever and ever born to be free....
Reunited with nature as it was meant to be.
For the circle of life is what he will see.

Linda J. Sweeney
Wildlife Rehabber
It's that time of year again! If you would like a holiday card from me, please leave your address below. I know that some of y'all have moved this year, so please give me your address, even if you think I already have it!


Poll #1652101 Holiday card addresses


Address line 1?

Address line 2?



Zip Code?


Rockdale/Newton Citizen article

Oh hey, guess who got interviewed for one of our local newspapers.

I did!

Text for the linkphobicCollapse )

Raccoon release on October 24th, 2010

On October 24th, 2010, I released nine raccoons back into the wild. They had come to me for a variety of reasons - some were orphaned or abandoned by their mothers and one had been hit by a car. With the help of my husband, Dustin, and my aunt Michelle and uncle Glen, we successfully released these 9 raccoons!

*Song is "Do What You Do" by Noah and the Whale.


Father charged in baby's raccoon attack

Some of y'all may have heard that a couple of weeks ago, a 9-month-old baby was mauled by two raccoons in her home here in Atlanta. Since the story broke, I've had a variety of emotions: sadness and horror, of course, and fear that people would jump to the wrong conclusions about raccoons based upon this one incident, and decide that all raccoons are rabid, vicious creatures. I also knew that there had to be more to the story than the news was reporting, because two healthy raccoons don't just go into someone's house and attack babies randomly.

Well, it came out yesterday that the father had been keeping the raccoons in the house as pets. Yep.

We're talking about it on a raccoon rehab e-mail group I'm part of. I've copied and pasted my response to the group below, in addition to my e-mail to the author of the AJC article.
Click to read the e-mails.Collapse )

I can FINALLY post this!

My brother Bradley and his wife Heather are expecting their first baby in June!

She's currently nine weeks along and they had their first ultrasound this week. Things look good so they've officially announced it. Hooray! I'm so excited for them - they're going to be fantastic parents!


Rubber Ducky, you're the one

Rubber Ducky, you're the one.
You make bath time lots of fun.
Rubber Ducky, I'm awfully fond of you.


My parents got a new mailbox and were kind enough to donate their old one for use in the raccoon habitat (it was Dad's idea). My husband drilled a couple of holes in the top of the mailbox so it can be cleaned and drained easily and mounted it upside-down from one of the beams in the ceiling of the habitat. The raccoons LOVE it! Surprisingly, it's a huge hit! Each time I go to check on the raccoons (which is about every other day now), there is always at least one raccoon curled up inside the mailbox. Sometimes, there are two cramped in there (I have no idea how this is comfortable).

Here's a video of one of the raccoons checking out their new toy:

At night, it looks like the raccoon is levitating in mid-air.

Gone Fishin'

As part of the raccoons release criteria, they need to learn how to hunt for, catch, and eat fish. Each week, I purchase feeder fish so they can practice their skillz.

In the video, you'll see a couple of raccoons snip at each other. Chance, the newest raccoon to the group, was a little bit snippy with some of the other guys when they started to encroach on his territory. That's okay, though! One of the other things they need to learn how to do before they get released is stand up for themselves against competition for food. They never compete to the point of hurting one another (I would never allow that!), but the snipping is totally natural and prepares them for when they interact with other animals in the wild.

Sugar cubes!

From qwantz.com.

Guess what I'll be buying this weekend? ;-)

Facebook, Twitter, and Livejournal

Okay, I understand that a lot of people are upset by the fact that User A can directly connect her comments in User B's LJ to User A's own Facebook account, including linking to the post where the comments were made, even if it's a locked post.

What I'm not understanding is everyone's threats of "If you, flist, do any of this, you are dead to me."

1) While this enhancement implementation is new, the concept has been possible ever since copy/paste was available (ie, since before LJ existed). If I wanted to, I could copy and paste a comment that I made in a friend's LJ and put it as my Facebook status. I could even copy/paste the link to that entry, regardless of it's security-level, and put it on my Facebook. Does that make it right? Of course not. But if you think that this new feature somehow makes your content less protected, you're mistaken - it's already subject to copying and pasting at someone's will. And now that Facebook has the ability to do @Usernames which will show up on that @user's wall, it's even EASIER to connect the two social networking sites.

2) If you are really concerned that some people on your flist may do this, then you need to evaluate who's on your flist. Or at least evaluate what filters they're on. It's easy for people to connect LiveJournal Lizzie9208 to the Elizabeth Hartman on Facebook (after all, my AIM nickname listed on FB is Lizzie9208), so all of my public LJ entries are things I wouldn't mind my mom reading. Most of my flocked entries are things I wouldn't mind my mom reading, either, to be honest. I have other filters based upon who I want reading the content, which is also based upon how much I trust them. If someone abuses that trust, then they're immediately kicked off that filter. But they're also on those filters because I *know* they wouldn't post comments - their own or mine, or my posts - in other places, regardless of whether LJ has a fancy tool that does it or not.

So, y'all, calm down. I don't like this new feature and I hope LJ creates a way to disable it, but please do not think that just because those checkboxes are there means that your LJ is suddenly a lot less secure than it has been in the past. This is just a tool that skips a couple of the steps you would otherwise have to do on your own if you wanted to copy/paste a comment into FB.

Sleeping raccoons

No matter how long I've been rehabbing, I don't think I'll ever get used to some of the positions the raccoons sleep in. They contort their bodies around toys. They'll all pile on top of one another. They'll sleep sitting up inside the water bowls. They'll sleep in ways that look so unnatural and uncomfortable to me, I can't possibly imagine why they're doing it. Sometimes I think they're dead. There's been more than one occasion where I've run outside and poked them, or yelled at them just to make sure they're still alive. Because why else would you sleep like this?

Hanging upside down from the hammock.

Click the cut for more pictures and a video!Collapse )

Something a bit more entertaining

If you have an e-mail address, you've undoubtedly gotten spam from someone in Nigeria who asks for your bank account number so they can deposit a large sum of money into it because the heirs of the money have all died in some freak accident. I've always wondered what happens if you write back, so I tried it out one day.

And I was thisclose to scamming the scammer.

E-mail coorespondences under hereCollapse )

Movin' On Up

On Saturday, I released three adult raccoons that I had in the outdoor habitat. Dustin and I made the trek up to North Georgia and released them into a large forest where they will have plenty of places to play, eat, swim, and live in the wild. I'm so relieved I was able to release these guys - they had been kept as pets passed their sexual maturity, so they were tamed to human interaction. Over the course of the past few months, I've been hands-off with them and they've realized that I, nor any other human, is supposed to be their friend. They had reached all other goals in my release criteria, so they were ready to go! The release was a complete success!

This release also meant a big change for some of my raccoons at home - the juveniles got to move from the ferret cages on the porch to the BIG habitat outside! My outside habitat is 16' x 12' with an 8' tall ceiling, so it's big enough to house a lot of raccoons until they can be released. Even though I think the adult males would have gotten along with the juveniles, I didn't want such a wide age-gap between the raccoons, so I decided to wait until the males were released before putting the juveniles in the habitat. I did it just in time, too - things were getting a bit crowded in the ferret cage! Even though there was technically enough room for all the raccoons that were in there, they LOVE to pile on top of one another, which made them all look a bit squished.

After the outdoor habitat had been cleaned and sanitized, it was ready for the next batch of raccoons. I picked the oldest of my babies - 13 raccoons ranging from about 14 weeks to 8 weeks old - to put in the habitat. They are SO tiny in the big habitat, but I know they'll grow into it soon! This is the last "move" they'll make until their release. This is where they'll learn to fish, dig for grubs, and other important life skills before they get released into the wild.

Here are two videos of them exploring their new digs. :-)

Daily squee!

I got an e-mail from YouTube this morning:
Your video Raccoons in the hammock! might be eligible for the YouTube Partnership Program, which allows you to make money from playbacks of your video.

Here's how it works: First sign into your YouTube account. Then, review and complete the steps outlined here. If your video is approved, we'll start placing ads next to the video and pay you a share of the revenue as long as you meet the program requirements.

We look forward to adding your video to the YouTube Partnership Program.

Thanks and good luck!

Confused on why that video had so many views, I logged in to YouTube and lo and behold, the video had over 13,200 views. Certainly, someone picked my video and inflated the view count via a program or something, right?

Nope. Apparently, I was featured on dailysquee.com on June 22. Dailysquee is part of the cheezburger network. How cool is that?!

Monika's care package of love!

Last Friday, I was really having a rough day. I had to turn away taking in a mother raccoon and her three babies due to the long commute to get them and the lack of space for them at my house. I felt so awful and I came home emotionally exhausted from work and rehabbing drama.

So when I checked the mail and found a package from papayarain, I started to cry because a care package of love was exactly what I needed right then. It was a delightful surprise, and the contents made me laugh and smile for the rest of the evening.

Pictures of what"s inside!Collapse )

Mo, thank you so so much for this wonderful box of love! It came at just the right time, when I was stressed out and in need of some support. You rock!


Thirty-seven raccoons

About a week and a half ago, I had 37 raccoons. And then I managed to get up to 43 raccoons. But I was too busy to take a video of that, so here's a video of 37 raccoons:

Mother raccoon and her five babies

A week ago, I got a phone call from a homeowner, Sam, who had a mother raccoon and her baby kits living in his attic. When I talked to him, a trapper had come and caught the mother, but the babies were still stuck up in the attic. After being without their mom (and thus, without nourishment) for three days, I told him that we were on a race against the clock to get the babies out before they died of dehydration. If he could get the babies out of his attic, I would take them. If he could get the mother back from the trapper (who was keeping her until they figured out what to do), then I would take her, too.

On Thursday, he called me with fantastic news - he had gotten three raccoon kits out of his attic and the trapper had given him the mother. He and his wife, Sharon, were awesome enough to meet me at my office to give me the four raccoons - the babies in one box and the mother in the have-a-heart trap. I was so anxious on the drive home with these guys - I've never taken in a mother and her babies before, let alone reunited a mother with her kits, so I was unsure what to expect. Plus, the mother was SO upset that she could hear her babies in the box next to get, but couldn't get to them. When I got home, I prepared a temporary cage for her outside and then reunited her with the babies. She was upset to be in a cage, but very, very relieved to have her babies with her.

Over the next couple of days, I made sure she had food, water, a litter pan, and food for the babies in case her milk had dried up and she was no longer able to nurse them. I tried to keep my distance as much as possible so I didn't stress her out any more than she already was.

On Sunday, Sam called me up again because he heard more chirping in the attic and found baby #4. We met up and I took the baby home to momma raccoon. As soon as I put baby #4 in the cage with the mother, Sam called again because - you got it - he found baby #5. We met up again and I reunited the mother with this baby, too.

By that point, I could tell that the mother really wanted to get out of the cage. She was anxious about being in there, searching around for a way out. I didn't want to risk her freaking out so much that when she left, she wouldn't take her babies with her. I opened up the cage door for her and added a portable fence to the front of the cage so hopefully the babies wouldn't escape on their own. She scoped out our farm and came back a couple of hours later to collect her babies and take them to her new home.

Here's the video of her grabbing each baby and taking them to the tree hollow where they now live. It's not too far away from our house (I was taking this video outside my bedroom window), so I'm still able to keep an eye on her and feed her until she finds enough food on her own.

Scripps Spelling Bee 2010!

This is spelling bee week, but I've been up to my ears in raccoons so I haven't had an opportunity to look at the roster and make my picks. I'm still short on time, so I encourage you to check out scottique's LJ for analysis of the beginning rounds and her semifinal picks.

Since she's an awesome friend, she's also compiled my top 12 list going into the semifinals. You can check out all the semifinalists here.

My top 12 list, in order of Bee number, is:
16. Anvita Mishra She got out in round six when she misspelled "nyphrocytary" with an "ery." Bummer.
19. Sarah Gadre Dangit, Sarah got out in the fourth round with a misspelling of the word "phillumenist." She left out one of the "l"s. :-(
24. Laura Newcombe
36. Grace Remmer Out in the sixth round after adding an "e" on the end of "jehu." :-(
151. Hannah Evans Crap - she went out in round five with "lassi," which she mistakenly spelled as "lasse." SO BUMMED.
155. Neetu Chandak
188. Nicholas Rushlow Dangit, he went out in the fourth round on "devant," when he spelled it as "divant." :-(
202. Connor Aberle Dangit, he went out in round four with "goniometer."
205. Joanna Ye
207. Neel Mehta He got out in round four. :-(
213. Sukanya Roy Out in round five with misspelling of "hyleg."
272. Karen Laska Karen got out in round four. :-(

I'm picking Hannah Evans as my team captain - not only is she the little sister of Matthew Evans, who was my 2006 and 2007 picks, but she correctly spelled one of my favorite words, "phantasmagoric." She's an eighth grader, so this is her last chance at the winning.

Edit: Hannah went out in round five. Between Hannah AND Tim, I'm upset.

Christin's got Tim Ruiter on her 2010 top finishers list and as her team captain. Although he's not on my team, I really hope he goes far - he's been a delight to watch ever since last year! Edit: Tim got out in round four, with the word "fustanella." I am SO bummed!

Tonight, Christin's hosting a Spelling Bee party and I am stoked. It's hard for me to concentrate at work today with all this excitement in the air!

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