Check out Harmony’s Unexpected Adventures Blog and oh yeah, Cancer Sucks

It’s been almost a year since my niece Harmony was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. Several rounds of chemo and radiation later, she is still fighting a tough battle. She is preparing for an analogous stem cell transplant in the next few weeks and may even be in the hospital over Christmas. Boo! 😦

Harmony has started a blog where she is sharing her experiences. She hopes to help put more information out there about the type of cancer she is facing and to connect with others who might be going through similar struggles. If you’d like to check out her site and follow her progress, click here. Please share with others that you know who might be interested in learning more or who are facing similar challenges.

You can also visit Harmony’s GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses. So far insurance has been a blessing but you never know when expenses will exceed their limitations or when other unexpected expenses can crop up. Every little bit of support helps immensely! ❤

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You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.
~ Cayla Mills

Catio Update

I am pleased to report that the catio has been a raging success! The boys love coming and going on their own and I LOVE not having to open doors all the time or shoo incessantly meowing kitties from the room.

We still have room to grow but for now, we went the easy route and outfitted the catio with a modest cat tower. Using some leftover wood from other projects, we added an upper tier shelf to the left that allows them to get to the top of the tower and a lower shelf over the cat door.

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As you can see, they have been making good use of everything. 🙂

Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.
~ James Herriot, James Herriot’s Cat Stories

Spoiled Rotten Kitties

The boys had free reign of our apartment porch in Louisiana for two years. It was fenced in with gardening border to prevent them from escaping. Since moving back to Washington, they have a much larger house to roam but no outdoor space. So we built a catio!

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If you’re not familiar with catios, they are essentially outdoor enclosures for cats. There are lots of designs available online if you want to build your own and lots of sources for ready-made designs that you can just buy and install as well. If you are handy with building things yourself, you might even design and build your own which is what we did.

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Sourcing out the wire was more of a challenge that we anticipated. And it’s not easy to work with.

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We built two side panels that are 3 foot wide by 8 foot tall and a center panel that is just shy of 6 feet wide. This was the best size to fit our available porch space.

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We added a door to the long side to be able to go inside to place cat furniture or build interior platforms for maximizing the vertical space.

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Painting, painting, and more painting.

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We used the primary and trim colors of the house. I thought was overkill when Don suggested it but he was right. It looks much better than it would have if we hadn’t painted it. It blends nicely with the house.

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It took us about three weeks to complete and maybe 20 hours total. It’s still a work in progress and needs some finishing touches. We also want to add platforms to give them things to climb up and to have different places to watch the activity outside. For now we’ve accomplished the basic build and are working on training the boys to use the doggie door. So far they aren’t loving the access door but I know they will figure it out with time. They are able to push through it to come IN if we put them out but they have yet to venture out on their own.

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Once we have the vertical space filled out with additional levels I think they will be much more comfortable and interested in exploring. I have a feeling it’s just a little too cramped for now. Milo doesn’t like to share close quarters and he likes high places. I think he’ll really appreciate having somewhere to sit 6 or 7 feet high. He also feigns indifference to life when he’s observed. Once he gets a chance to go out unobserved and unaccompanied by Olli, I have a feeling he’ll settle right in. And once he does, Olli will follow suit. Little brother like big brother. 😉

Reading Corner – Death Before Daylight

Death Before Daylight is the final installment in the Timely Death trilogy by Shannon A. Thompson. It is not actually on the market yet but it will be later this year. I was given a copy by the author in exchange for my honest review. For those unfamiliar with the series, it is a YA paranormal romance, a classic game of good versus evil with unique characters and mythos. If you’re new to the series, read more here about book 1, Minutes Before Sunset, and book 2, Seconds Before Sunrise.

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Death Before Daylight quickly draws readers back into the story in the wake of the final battle in Seconds Before Sunrise. The Dark searches for a way to win the war without destroying the world in the process. Illusions and long-buried secrets are exposed, with devastating effects. The plot is full of twists and turns; mistrust and doubt create confusion and even the prophecy is questioned.

I don’t want to give any spoilers so I can’t say much more.

Fans of young adult fantasy or romance will enjoy this book and the series. I believe the characters are relatable to the right age group. In the spirit of honesty, it does not appeal to me much. I think that I may have outgrown my interest in the young adult genre. The level of teenage angst that permeates the story is just too much for me. It’s typical for the genre though so it doesn’t feel misplaced or inappropriate. I just don’t relate anymore. (I even felt disconnected from the characters in the movie Insurgent for the same reason; and we all know how widely popular that movie/book series has been.) Despite that personal issue, I thought Thompson did a good job of wrapping up the story and bringing the tale to a satisfying close.

Also, kudos to Thompson for persevering through some personal struggles early this year and landing a new publisher for this series! The entire series is going to be re-released this year through Clean Teen Publishing.

Minutes Before Sunset has been re-released, complete with a new cover which is fabulous. I’m very impressed with the new artwork. However, that means that Death Before Daylight is not yet available so hang tight and subscribe to Thompson’s website, facebook, or twitter account for release updates. 🙂

Reading Corner – All Together In One Place

oneplace All Together in One Place is a historical fiction novel by Jane Kirkpatrick set in 1852. It chronicles the journey of a number of families moving west on the Oregon Trail. It reminds me of the Commodore 64 game I played in middle school. But with much more vivid detail and emotion than the game ever imparted. The characters endure so many struggles: cholera, thirst, hunger, devastation of many kinds. It is sad and heartening at the same time. Not the most sophisticated writing I’ve ever read but the simplicity sometimes make it more relatable and easy to read and enjoy. I definitely recommend it, especially if you are new to historical fiction; I think it could bring new readers to the genre. It is the first in a series and I look forward to reading the next installments.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
~ Frederick Douglass