let’s catch up!



There’s been a lot happening in the seashell household the last 2 years.  For one, we have a new family member who arrived a year ago at Christmas.  Shadow is a black kitty, who is now almost 20 months old.  He’s been an interesting addition to the family as his personality is so different from Willow and Pockets.  He’s not much of a cuddler and at first was not even a people person, but has really warmed up to mommy and daddy.  Pockets tolerates him and sometimes play with him.  Willow shows lots of interests in him and will sniff around and lay near him, but since he’s small, I think she’s afraid to play with him.

Willow is doing wonderful.  She had to get put back on her immune suppressants and will be on them the rest of her life, but she’s healthy.  Except, of course, for those infections she occasionally gets because her immune system is suppressed.  She is as sweet as ever.  Pockets is Pockets.  He still wants to be cuddled all the time, has gotten bolder trying to run out the back door, and likes nothing more than to be rocked in mommy’s arms.

Scuba Man is as awesome as always and we’re both doing well.  We haven’t moved to the beach yet, but it’s getting closer!  We’ve finally started getting the painting done at our main home.  The foyer, steps, and upstairs hallway are all complete.  The family room is next.  We have a few more things to sort through after the holiday weekend and then the painting can begin!  Woo hoo.

The new kitchen

The new kitchen

The beach house now has all the siding and new lights put up.  Scuba Man and my wonderful brother-in-law put in a brand new kitchen!  It still needs a few things, like the trim work finished and painting the cabinets, but it’s functional and looks awesome.  The other stuff can wait until we move down there, as it’s something I can do myself.  Best of all, it has my old fashion farm-house sink in it!  Next month, they are rebuilding the front deck.

The old kitchen

The old kitchen

I’ve gone from blonde back to brown hair.  I stopped using chemicals on my hair and body.  Now I use a henna dye and the blonde doesn’t really work well, so I’m back to my natural color with the dye hiding the grey.  It’s gotten much longer and Scuba Man loves it.  I’ve switched to natural/organic everything – soap, detergent, lotion, make-up, etc.  The best part about it is non-chemical products don’t test on animals!

I no longer develop code for a living.  I’m an IT Project Manager now and absolutely loving it.  I think I finally found what I want to do when I grow up!  Scuba Man also starts a new position next month that he’s looking forward to.  Work is great for both of us.

And the biggest new is….

The twins with their very proud big brother.

The twins with their very proud big brother.

A week ago today, we had 2 new additions to our extended family.  Our nephew and his wife had twins!  A beautiful baby girl named Gracelyn and an adorable baby boy name Josiah.  I am very much looking forward to our next trip to Florida to meet them!  That brings the total to 19 grand nieces and nephews!  Our family is so very blessed!


I think that’s about all the news that’s important right now.  What’s been happening with you?

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Free the Beagles!

I have a new passion in my life.  It’s called The Beagle Freedom Project(BFP).  It’s an outreach of Animal Rescue, Media & Education (ARME).  BFP is all about rescuing animals incarcerated in research labs after the labs are finished using the animals for testing.  Usually, the animals are murdered, or as the labs like to put it “euthanized”, when the lab is finished with their testing.  The labs feel the animals, after spending their entire lives in cages, suffering through heaven knows what kind and how many tests,  are no longer adoptable.  Huh?

I can't imagine this sweet girl in a research lab.

I can’t imagine this sweet girl in a research lab.

The organization is called The Beagle Freedom Project because the majority of animals used in research labs are beagles, but they are involved in the rescue of any and all animals from testing labs.  Approximately 70,000 beagles are used in research labs in any given year.  Because they have a trusting, docile personality, they are the animal of choice.  As a beagle mommy, this breaks my heart.  The types of testing include medical/pharmaceutical, household products, and cosmetics.  Here’s a kicker though, every year, 106,000 people die from drugs tested safe on animals.  Why are we, as an educated nation, still conducting this type of research on animals?  But that’s a whole different issue.

In addition to rescuing these animals, BFP is lobbying across the nation, state by state, for The Beagle Freedom Bill.  This bill would require any research lab funded by tax payer funds to release the research animals for adoption rather than killing them, when the lab has finished using the animals for testing.  Their hope, and mine, is to get this passed as a federal law.

I support BFP financially as a monthly doner.  I have also “adopted” a dog through their Identity Campaign.  This campaign allows people to adopt a research animal while the animal is still incarcerated in a lab, to advocate for the animal’s release.  Will dog #30209, now known as Del Rio, every be released from the research lab at Texas A&M?  That is unknown.  At this point, I don’t know anything about the dog, whether it’s a male or female, or even whether it’s still alive, as Texas A&M has petitioned the Texas Attorney General for the right to refuse to provide any information I requested under the Freedom of Information Act.  I cried when I got that email.  What exactly are they trying to hide?

These companies test on animals!  Don't buy from them.

These companies test on animals! Don’t buy from them.

I’ve emailed my story to all of the local radio, television, and print outlets in the area, asking them to consider doing a human interest story.  It’s been a few weeks and I haven’t heard anything back from anyone.  I guess they don’t feel anyone would be interested in this type of story, although BFP has posted on Twitter links to other local papers, in other areas, that covered the Identity Campaign.   I want to do all I can to get the word out about these animals and to support this organization.  It’s the least we can do for them.

I encourage you to download the BFP application that lets you check to see if a product is tested on animals.  It’s called The Cruelty Cutter and it’s free only $2.99*.  I no longer buy any products that are tested on animals.  This causes a bit of a … discussion with Scuba Man, but it’s worth it.  I just tell him to imagine it’s our little girl in that lab.  Would you still want to support that company by buying their products?

Please stop by the Beagle Freedom Project and see the work they do.  Maybe you, too, will want to support them.

*Thanks to my friend Barb for pointing out my mistake AND for downloading the Cruelty Cutter app.  Free the Beagles!

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Lost in the New Technology

Image courtesy of nattavut at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It has been 2 years since my last post and the writing muse has popped up again. As I was reviewing my blog, I clicked on some of my favorite blog links. Like mine, many have been inactive for 2 or more years. I needed to do some housekeeping!

The thing I am struggling with is how much everything has changed here on WordPress. I went to the Customizer and selected the Widgets. Then I selected the correct Widget but it did not show any details. I couldn’t delete the individual links. This absolutely made no sense to me. So, I deleted the entire Widget.

As I haven’t been reading many blogs lately, that also made sense to me. I will just start anew. That is, once I learn how. Everything is different on WordPress.  That is understandable.  They are just keeping up with Technology.  Technology changes so fast I can’t keep up and I’m in the IT industry! I can’t imagine what it is like for the casual user.

So, my page may be going through some visual changes over the next couple of weeks as I learn and relearn all the ins and outs of WordPress again. But, the biggest change is I feel a lot of words and thought spilling out of my brain again, so it’s time to pick them up and put them all in one place.

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Freckles is a Hero

I was going to start this post with ‘Once upon a time’, but then you would think it was a fairy tale.  It’s not.  It’s real life.  It’s the brief story of Freckles, an amazing mamma.

On April 2, 2013, there was a barn fire.  The horse trailer next to it also caught fire.  As her adopted (aka: human) daddy, John, was fighting the fire, Freckles was running into the trailer!  She gave birth to her puppies in there just the week before.

Her daddy pulled her out of harm’s way as soon as he could.  She had saved 2 of her puppies, but was badly burned.  Her daddy rushed her to the Powhatan Animal Hospital where a team of medical staff was waiting for her.  Freckles survived.  She’s a fighter!

Freckles is home now, but is going through treatments at Veterinary Referral and Critical Care, the same place that helped Willow defeat her meningitis.  It is the very best critical care facility in the area and I wouldn’t take Willow anywhere else in an emergency.

With the medical bills we went through with our baby girl, we know what kind of bills her daddy is amassing.  It’s very expensive to get our four-legged family members healthy when they are so ill.  John was very reluctant to do it, but he set up a ‘go fund me’ account to raise money for Freckles’ medical bills.  He is very close to the goal he originally set up, but the bills are piling up and she still has a long way to go before she’s totally healed.

As it took so much for John to even ask for help to begin with, he is even more reluctant to raise the goal.  It is so very hard to ask for money, especially from strangers.  So, I am asking for him.  I know there are dog lovers out there who read my blog.  If you can, even if it’s just a little, please consider giving to help Freckles using the link below, even if the goal has been reached.  You can also read more of Freckles’ story there.

If you can’t give, please say a prayer for Freckles and her family as they struggle through her recovery.  Thank you from everyone who has come to love Freckles.


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Comfort words

I was a bit disappointed with our church service today.  Our church was celebrating 20 years of our pastors, a married couple, leading the church.  It was a celebration service that had been planned weeks ahead of time.

The service started as usual, with praise and worship songs that always seem to lift me up. Then a slide show started, documenting the last 20 years of the Speegle’s leading the church.  It was fun to see how they looked 20 years ago!  Several people then gave testimonies on how Allan and Janice have changed their lives.  Janice was in tears.

Their 2 daughters and one of their sons-in-law all spoke and presented them with a plaque commemorating their special day.  Then, Allan’s pastor gave the message.

It was a celebration message about how God led them to their calling and how much they love and care about their church family.  He spoke of their commitment to the Lord and how we can all learn from them, be more like them.

Allan & Janice then spoke their thank you’s and the service was over.  That was it.

I know that this was a celebration that was long in planning.  I know this was a special day, a day to be happy.  But this country has gone through a devastating week.  We had 3 people killed and many people injured with the bombing at the Boston Marathon. We had many people killed and injured, their homes decimated, when a fertilized plant exploded in Texas.  We had a whole city and surrounding areas shut down while the bombing suspects were searched for.

I don’t think a few words of comfort would have been too much to ask for.  We look to the leaders of our churches to give us comfort.  I know devastating things happen every day, but this was an especially harrowing week.  I could have used a few words of comfort.  I know I can look up the verses in the Bible myself, but it feels like it takes on more meaning when it comes from Allan or Janice.  I don’t know why.

I was disappointed that despite the what our country has had to contend with this past week, not one word was mentioned about it.  I guess it would have spoiled the celebration. That being said, I can’t help but think of the spoiled celebrations that happened last Monday, or those spoiled celebrations to come for those families who lost loved ones or had someone seriously injured.  The spoiled celebrations to come in a small town that lost several of their volunteer fire fighters and other citizens.

Please lift them all up in prayer.

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It’s like a walk down memory lane

I never really paid attention until today, but your Facebook page is like a walk down memory lane.   I am not someone who posts on there a lot.  I lurk, reading my family and friend’s posts and comment if the mood strikes me, but as I was scrolling through my page this morning I realized there are posts for many significant days or events on that page.

There are photos of Willow’s first trip to the beach when she was just 8 weeks old.  There are a lot of posts about my sweet baby girl.

There are plenty of photos of Scuba Man’s 50th birthday party, the last four Christmas holidays spent at the beach, Willow’s first romp in the snow which she totally loved.  Then there’s the post about adopting Pockets when he was just 4 days old and had been abandoned by his mother, who we think may have been injured somehow and couldn’t return to her babies.


My grand-niece and grand-nephew were given my camera to take photos on our trip to the zoo, and they were all posted.  They did a good job considering they we so young.  I’ve posted profile  pictures of my mom and of my dad for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, or on their birthdays.  There’s a photo of my youngest grand-niece taken just hours after she was born, lots of Hurricane Irene updates about the beach and the house, many photos of all the ‘grands’ at their birthday parties.

I posted many photos from our trip to Green Bay, shared many links and posts that I liked, and just tidbits of my world.

More than half of my contacts are family, including siblings, nieces & nephews & their kids, cousins, aunts, and uncles.  For me, it’s a great way to keep in touch since we don’t live close to anyone.  I have a daily connection with them.  I can see the kids grow up, hear about their adventures, see their photos.  That’s the biggest reason I’m on Facebook, my family.

I have stayed in contact with friends from Houston, a couple of high school friends, friends here that I don’t often see.  In our busy world, being able to keep in touch, when you can, seems to be what it’s all about.

But for me, I like scrolling through every once in a while and seeing where my life has been and what it has become.  It’s ever changing and that’s a good thing.

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Aren’t they all complicated?

A few days ago, I got up, grabbed a cup of coffee, and got on Facebook.   The first post I saw was from an old friend who changed his relationship status to ‘It’s complicated’.  My comment was ‘Aren’t they all?’

I got to thinking about relationships and how they are all complicated.  My relationship with my old friend is complicated.  We hardly ever talk to each other, yet he knows that I am here if he ever needs me.  Relationships with friends are complicated, whether we admit it or not.  These are people we choose to be our family, not the family we are born into.  But, like our family, there are still things we will hide from them.

I can’t think on one friend, no matter how close the friend, that knows everything about me. Not one.  We never show our complete selves because we are afraid of rejection.  If this friend knew this about me, they would so disapprove!  If this other friend who does know this about me, knew that about me, they would be shocked and maybe wouldn’t want to be my friend anymore.  We don’t want our friends to disapprove of us, so we omit things about ourselves and our past.

It doesn’t matter how close the friend, we want to be liked and don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.  It’s not lying to them.  It’s not that we don’t trust them.  We’re just unsure of what their reaction would be if they knew.  Would they still want to be our friend if they knew this, or if they knew I was thinking this?  Yet, you know in your heart, no matter what they do or say or think, you will be there for them.  It’s complicated.

Family relationships are even more complicated. These relationships can hurt you so much more than friendships.  You are willing to bite your tongue more with family, as you feel you risk losing their love.  In the majority of cases, that’s not going to happen, but the thought still scares you.  These are the people you grew up loving, the people who loved you first and who have loved you all of your life.  Would you really lose their love?  In some cases, which I could never understand, you might.  Some people are like that.  They cannot forgive and turn that un-forgiveness into hate.

I cannot fathom not loving my family and being there for them no matter what.  I may not like something they’ve done, but I will always love them and always be there for them.  Yet, sometimes I feel I can’t say or do what I really want around them because they all may not feel the same way about family as I do.  I don’t want to risk feeling like I’ve lost their love, so I stay silent about certain things.  It’s complicated.

Your relationship with your parents is bizarre if you were raised like I was.  I was raised to respect my parents, and therefore always wanted them to respect me.  There are so many things you don’t tell your parents because you don’t want to lose their respect.  You don’t want them to be ashamed of you or disappointed in you.  Yet, as I found out when my Momma was terminally ill, they know.  They always know.  They just don’t want you to know that they know.  Talk about complicated!

And the most complicated of all?  The relationship with your spouse or significant other.  This is the relationship where you can tell they holding something back just by the tone of their voice.  Or you/they don’t want to disappoint you/them so they want the other to make the decision, no matter how small that decision may be.  What’s for dinner?  Whatever you want.  Want to go to a movie?  If you want to.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  Yes, sometimes it’s done to keep the peace, sometimes it’s done because we’re too lazy to make a decision, sometimes it’s done to not disappoint the other, and sometimes it’s done because we just don’t care.  Oh yes, complicated.

Maybe I’m alone in feeling like this and maybe I’m not, but I need to put a stop to stupid thoughts like this.  As Dr. Seuss once said: “Be who your are and say what you feel, because those that mind don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind.”  Dr. Seuss was a genius.

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I’m no longer MIA

I know, it’s been a long, long while since I’ve posted here.  I think I was getting burnt out and didn’t realize it would take me such a long time to get back into it.  Then I got an email from my cousin asking if I had been posting and wanted to know the URL.  After sending her a chatty email, I realized I missed writing.

Everything has been fine here in RVA.  My baby Willow is finally off of her immune suppressants and is doing so well.  It’s been a long road with that, but we finally made it.  Pockets seems to get more clingy even day.  He wants to be held all the time!  He is so different from any other cat I’ve know.  He also developed a strange fetish for the humidifier over the winter.  We bought a small one to keep in the living room, and it just fascinates him.  He will sit there and watch it and bat at it for hours.  It’s too funny.

Work has been extremely busy the last couple of months.  We have a huge project going into production in May, and there is a lot of testing and bug fixing happening to prepare.  But, I like what I do, so it’s not too very bad.

We’re heading to the beach after work, for a whole week!  I know I’ll probably have to work a few hours here and there next week, but just having time to kick back and relax, and read lots of good books sounds like heaven right now.  I know Willow will be terribly excited when we tell her where we are going.  She’ll be looking forward to her walks on the beach.  Even Pockets seems to like it better down there.

So, just a brief hello to let you know I’m still around.  I hope to be talking with y’all soon!

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One Nation Under God

The 4th of July is almost here.  A celebration of the birth of the United States of America.  If you live in a country where you have the freedom to vote, as we do here, and consider yourself a Christian, this is an important post to read.  This is the sermon our pastor gave today in Church.  First are the notes, and then there is a link to hear the actual sermon, which is so much better than the notes!  I urge everyone to listen, as I think it says a lot about this country and where it is and could be headed.  Pastor Allen isn’t talking politics, really, nor is he endorsing any candidate or party.  It’s just plain talk for Christians about how to choose a candidate.

Under God

Ps. Allen Speegle

July 1st, 2012 

Aren’t you glad you live in this amazing country?

This Wednesday we will celebrate the birth of our country so I want to begin with us standing and saying the pledge of allegiance.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, And to the republic, For which it stands, One nation, Under God, Indivisible, With liberty And justice for all. (Under God added in 1954)

We’re one nation under God. Not alongside God or above God. We’re under God.

Under = subject to the instruction and influence of

What does One Nation Under God mean?

What’s our responsibility as citizens?

Who should I vote for? In 2008 only 60% of eligible voters went to the polls.

It’s yours and your children’s future so you need to vote.

Not voting is not the answer

While I cannot and will not publically endorse a candidate I can show you from the Bible the guidelines we should use when we go to the polls on Nov 6th

Because We Are One Nation Under God We Should Vote According To

1. The Character of The Candidate

Think about our nation today, our schizophrenic economy.

Fedzilla now is eating any profits that anybody makes and nowFedzilla is redistributing the wealth. Sounds like a slide into socialism to me.

The character question is a big one, because if we elect righteous leaders our government will be righteous. If our government is righteous, then the laws will be righteous. On the other hand if we elect unrighteous men and women, our government will be unrighteous and the laws will be unrighteous.

Prov 29:2 When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan. NLT

When I vote I want my candidate to lay his or her hand on the Bible when being sworn in, I want this person to say, You know what I’m under the authority of God.

Character can be defined as who you are when no one is looking.

For a long, long time people have said, especially the politicians have said this. You know, who you are in private does not really effect who you are in public office.

That is absolutely nuts because who you are in private is who you are.

Character is an outward reflection of an inward connection.

Proverbs 16:12 Good leaders abhor wrongdoing of all kinds; sound leadership has a moral foundation. 

2. Your Biblical Conviction

Conviction is the moral foundation you stand on.

My conviction is I do not want to be lied to.

I want a leader that will stand for Godly convictions regardless of the press.

Proverbs 28:1 The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.NIV

Here’s a question? Who defines morality God or our government?

Example: Right now our government is trying to redefine marriage.

Our laws forbid 5 marriages –married person, sibling, animal, same sex

Eph 5:32 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

God has told us from cover to cover that there is only one context where sex should be enjoyed and practiced and celebrated in marriage between and man and a woman.

Here’s the question again: Who defines morality God or our government?

Abortion – I read this week where some guys are facing a stiff state and federal fines of up to $100,000 and up to one year in prison for what appears to have been the deliberate destruction of endangered loggerhead sea turtle eggs.Yet over 3000 babies were aborted every day and nothing happens

3. The Courage of The Candidate

I’m not looking for a leader that says let me get this focus group together and let me lick my index finger and see which way the wind is blowing. Let me check the latest poll.

Proverbs 11:3, The integrity of the upright guides them…

I’m looking for a godly leader who will stand to stand up and buck his own party when needed.

4. The Compassion of The Candidate

Proverbs 31:8 9 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy.

We should help those who are physically challenged or emotionally challenged who can’t work but not deadbeats….

As citizens of this great country we must never forget it’s not our government that makes us great!

And we must remember that it’s not our government nor is it our vast resources that makes us who we are but We Are America!

Listen to the full message here.

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What’s been happening lately

I haven’t had much to say lately.  Or maybe it’s that I have too much to say.  There seems to be a lot going on that is cluttering my mind.

Willow had an appointment at the doggie dermatologist last week.  She keeps getting rashes and ear infections.  The doctor did culture swaps and the such.  She gave us different antibiotics, a new antihistamine, a wash solution that kills the bacteria on the rash, and prescription food.  If she’s still getting the rashes after 8 weeks, we have to do allergy testing.  I hope it doesn’t come to that.  I don’t want to subject my poor baby to so many needles!

Work has been crazy busy.  The fiscal year ends on 6/30, as does my fiscal year contract.  I’ve been running low on contract hours,  so I haven’t been working any overtime, which means less is getting done but the workload hasn’t changed.  Things are getting behind.

Next week, they are starting the remodel of our office but they are not moving anyone off the floor.  Some people are moving to temporary work spaces, which will be tables in whatever section of the office is not currently being worked on.  They will be doing construction right outside of my cubicle.  I get a headache just thinking about it.  The work from home policy will be very liberal for the next several weeks, I’m sure.  No one wants to have to sit through the noise, dust and dirt that results from construction.

The beach house looks wonderful with the new siding and outside lights.  It’s going to take us several months to save the money to have the back and bay side of the house re-sided.  Plus, we need new front and back decks and want to get a new roof.  We want the outside to be as waterproof and maintenance free as possible.  Through all of this, we are also trying to fix up our main residence so we can sell it.  It’s a tough balance money wise.

I’ve been unmotivated to do much of anything at our main residence even though I know I need to before we start fixing it up inside.  I’m slowly getting rid of clutter, but it doesn’t seem as if I’ve made much progress.  I think that’s a big reason I feel so stress free at the beach.  It’s a much easier house to take care of and there is so little clutter there.  It feels more like home than our main house.

I still don’t like my hair.  It’s too short to be able to pull it back out of my face and have it look good, but it’s not short enough to stay out of my face.  It is more maintenance than my long hair.  I thought it would be the opposite!

There are a hundred more little things happening, but these are the big ones right now.  You’re now all caught up with the news!

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