Meet the Pigs! & Our Piggy Story

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These little gals have been my best kept secret for a while now. Sometime in October, Kyle and I became guinea pig owners. I have been waiting for months to finally post about them online. I am happy to introduce my little cavy herd! 

This journey basically started out because I wanted a rat. I know, I can feel your judgement. A rat? Yes, a rat. Being a psychology student, I just wanted a rat named Zimbardo in my life. I went out are started looking into rats and rat care and along the way I met this little handsome Abyssinian and fell in love. I asked the lady at the store if I could hold him and he just puddled into my arms with purrs. I was sold. However, I couldn't just walk out with him without asking Kyle, who was in a 3 hour class at the time, and without any clue how to care for him. I placed him back in the cage with a kiss and told him I'd be back. I dragged Kyle to the same store the next day and he was, of course, sold but his friends were still there. Kyle warmed up to the idea of having a guinea pig and within the week, we started looking for a furry friend. 

We started out with one, my princess Belle, She was sweet and lovely and had a bit of sass in her. I loved her personality and Kyle picked her out. We quickly learned that she needed a friend when we brought her home or else she wasn't going to be happy, no matter how much we loved her. Within a couple of days, we did a hunt for the perfect companion, Dixie.  Dixie and Belle hit it off right away and were instant friends. We did not have any fighting between them. Belle basically told Dixie that she was the top pig in their herd of two and Dixie just went with it without a care. 

Princess Belle! When I hold my hands out, she likes to stand up and put her paws up on them. She's such a cutie! She also likes neck and chin rubs and running around with Dixie.

Dixie is our most social piggie. She likes running in circles for 10 minutes straight and her favorite snacks are corn and cilantro. She has crumbs all of her face int his picture, haha!

Now how did we end up with four? Well, I'll tell you. Kyle loved our two babies so much that he had to have a third... and a fourth. Our third, Roux, as well as our fourth, Sophie, are what I call my "store rescues." I found out with some research that apparently there are guinea pig rescue shelters (and the one near us does not ever have any guinea pigs, which is great that there doesn't seem to be any who need a home but sad because I would have rescued them and loved them). I also found out that a lot of the big chain stores that sell guinea pigs are getting their babies from breeding mills and that these stores do NOT understand guinea pig care at all. I'll admit, it was a learning process for me, but putting 8 pigs in an aquarium? You've got to be kidding me.... but anyways! We were buy some of their hay at these big stores and always check on the guinea pigs to see how they were doing. 

Roux was the first one we "store rescued." Something about her seemed so sweet... but too sweet. She wasn't quite as active as the rest and she appeared rather docile. My intuition knew something wasn't right, but she was ADORABLE and Kyle fell in love with her instantly. He held her and it was all over. He purchased her right away and my gut told me to get her to a vet right away. We brought her home and unfortunately, we were snowed in that night. With the next couple of days of snow, I started to notice that her fur was thinning out on her nose... My intuition was right. She started showing signs of ring worm on her nose and ear rapidly. We gave Roux her own space to play in, sadly alone, and got her to a vet as soon as we could and had a ring worm culture done. Fortunately, it wasn't ring worm but it was definitely fungal and our vet was the bomb at treating the fungal infection topically and orally. Her fur took about a month to grow back and her white stripe on her nose wasn't the same again.

This is Roux during her treatment phase and hair regrowing. By this point, she was already becoming very active and eating like she had been starving. I wanted to show a picture of the patch of fur missing so if anyone else sees this and has a piggy fur baby who seems to be losing fur in this spot.... Please, go to a vet! 

And then there was Sophie <3   Sophie was like Roux in that she was a "store rescue." We joked about getting a fourth pig, and ultimately a bigger cage, for a few weeks. We knew that I was going to build a 13+ square foot cage for the fur babies, but we were just hinting at the idea of getting a fourth pig. It was really up to whether we had the room for all four of them to be happy together. Well, we were once again at the pet store looking at hidey huts and willow balls for them to play with and I noticed something really odd about this one guinea pig. She looked like she was eating hay out of one of those hay ball things you see in stores, but I couldn't see her head... Where did her face go?! Of course, I immediately started calling for a store assistant because the poor thing had her head stuck in between the wires! I was so angry. I could see her trying to push her head out of the ball with her feet on the sides of it. The person came for help and was just like "Oh, she always does that. She's fine. She can get out if she wants to."  I basically told them to bug off and give me the baby. She was barely 10 weeks old. Kyle bought her right away and we went home to design our new cage for the herd.  As soon as we got home, we started to notice her sneezing a lot. The next morning, her little nose was filled with green snot. Ew!  We brought her to the vet and got her treated for a upper respiratory infection. So glad we caught it right away and saved her from that store. With her being crammed in the aquarium with other pigs, I bet her URI would have went unnoticed and she may have died. Today, she is feeling much better and has just finished her two weeks of antibiotics, which she loved more than treats haha!

Sophie is a sweet little baby with a crested head. She likes cuddles and nibbling on everything.
Her favorite nap-time buddy is Belle.

There ya'll go! My best kept secret. I hope to write some more posts about what I have learned about guinea pig care, especially with understanding signs of illness and baby-proofing cages and toys. Now they have a 14.5 square foot cage with a kitchen area and the coolest fleece patterns and a herd of happy, happy pigs who popcorn and wheek when I come home from school. I couldn't ask for a better group of little fur babies. 

New Year, Old Me!

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Every year I feel like I am surrounded by people who are looking to change their whole lives at the turn of the New Year. With a lot of thinking and praying, I think I've decided that I need to go back to my roots. I had a rough year last year and I ended the year feeling like I had lost myself along the way. Dealing with difficult people and being in the center of drama in my graduate program really hit me hard with questioning who I am and what kind of person I am. I have officially survived my first week of classes and I am actually feeling good about my progress on my thesis. Now - where does that leave me? Am I still lost?  Basically. But I'm at least identifying that I need to get back to my roots. So here are my "resolutions"of how I am going to get back to my roots and find myself again.

This photo is me and Kyle getting ready to go on
the largest downhill coaster in the U.S.
Pigeon Forge, NC
New Year's Eve - December 2015

1. Investing more into my family

This doesn't just include taking the initiative to talk to my family more often but to also spend more time with my family. I'd like find a way to get back home more often. I can probably count the number of times I went home during the last couple years of my undergrad on one hand. I'd like to think that I have a good relationship with all of my parents, grandparents, and brother, but those relationships take time and investment even if they are family. I'm starting to believe, after working with so many people, that relationships with family members can be the most difficult to keep and have everyone "happy."

2. Becoming more confident

When I was active in my sorority, a few of my pledge sisters used to compliment me for my confidence and some even looked at me to be the "voice" to speak up on an issue. I think I used to be a lot more confident about myself and I think that is ultimately what helped me reach where I am today. However, that trait has started to diminish into shyness and uncertainty. Grad school is hard and I have been around the same faces every day for a few months now - it can be discouraging to feel pressured all of the time and surrounded by people who are just as smart or even smarter than yourself. You begin to believe you're the weakest link and it becomes dangerous to your mental health. That's essentially where I put myself without even noticing until it was too late. I would love to get some of my confidence back! 

3. Volunteer more! 

I have had some great times volunteering for different organizations - some of which even led to job opportunities and some well-needed professional development. I miss working with children, which is really why I chose to go into school psychology, and I love investing into the greater good and the community. I used to volunteer for a few community-based organizations and I want to try to make time to volunteer for a couple of places again this semester. Our clinic director has some great opportunities for working with the students in the neighboring county and I think I am going to try volunteering again with him.

4. Make time for Game Time

This hasn't been a problem for me this past week (despite the internet being out at my apartment all weekend).  However, I did not take any time for myself last semester despite all of the great video games that came out. For me, game time is essential for my happiness. Some people like to read, some people like to knit, others like to go fishing.... I love to play video games. It's my thing. I should even blog about it because I love gaming so much. I lost touch with the gaming community that I joined (=VX9=) and I am really regretting it because they were such great people and I completely lost touch with playing World of Tanks online. It's time for me to get back to it! 

5. Learn to "let it go" and keep it gone 

I'm not talking about the Frozen song, but really that I need to let go of grudges and stop moping around. I used to never hold grudges - even for people who probably deserved it. It's just not really me. I normally prefer to just let things go and move on. I have no idea what came over me last semester but some kind of evil took over my heart and just kept pushing me to NOT let things go. Thanks to Christmas break, I snapped out of it and just let things go. But I don't want that kind of burden on my heart again. It truly puts me into emotional distress to hold grudges. I know it sounds crazy, but it really does put a burden on my psyche.

Who knows - this way of trying reconnect with who I think I am may lead me to truly rediscovering myself.

2015 | It's Really Over?!

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2015 was a big year for me and I have no doubts that 2016 is going to continue keeping my life interesting. I can't say that 2015 was my best year, but it is definitely one for memories. I'd like to take a moment to review the highlights and lessons learned from the year before posting anything about the "New Year." I definitely realize that we are already a week into the new year, but hold on  - you'll understand why my blogging abilities have been diminished once you see how crazy of a year it's been. 


2015 starting with high hopes and dreams! We spent New Year's (2015) at Kyle's home in Chapel Hill. We had a great time shopping and went to the Cheesecake Factory. Yum! This is a photo that I sent to Dad during New Year's to say hey and show off my monogram Big/Little hat from Biggie Brittany. 


This month definitely set the tone for the rest of the year for me, which is actually really unfortunate considering that Kyle and I were in a rough car accident together. Kyle was the driver and it was in my PT Cruiser. The good news was that Kyle was unharmed. I am so thankful that Kyle's glasses didn't break into his eyes and that he was able to walk away without any serious injuries. However, something happened in that accident to cause a massive corneal abrasion in my right eye and I was unable to see out of my eye for a few days. My eye was filled with blood and I started eye treatments right away. The bruises across my body faded with time and the insurance companies were so aggravating to deal with. I've just recently mailed off the last bit of paperwork for insurance (I hope!). In February, I said goodbye to my first car and started on a road for mental and emotional recovery. 


Nothing was going in March other than reaching the midway point of our semester and handling our recovery from the accident. Despite our obstacles, we were hitting some good grades in our classes! 


In April, my Big/Little line finally "officially" grew! My G, Brittany, joined our little Firecracker family and had her initiation! We took this photo during her WBI week at a sorority event. I am so proud of my sister-daughter/Little and my G-Little. Jennifer got engaged this year (woohoo!) and Brittany has been doing great in school. #SratProud!  April was a month of me realizing that I was becoming an Alpha Gamma Delta Alum. 


GRADUATION!! Kyle and I graduated in May! I got my 3.5 that I wanted and wore my letters on my stole. Kyle graduated right at a 3.0 with his Bachelor of Arts in History. I received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. By this point, we decided to go for our Master's/Specialist degrees at Western Carolina and picked out our new apartment for the Fall. May was awesome - We graduated and things started to really look up for us. My mom gifted us a trip to Washington D.C. and we decided to continue working for the Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau through the summer. 


Kyle and I had the greatest time in Washington D.C.  I spent all of May trying to plan this trip and all of my planning was definitely worth it. I saw a side of D.C. that I never saw in my previous trips and it was great to share with Kyle all of my knowledge of D.C. and being alongside him for his first time in the nation's capital.We fell in love with the city and even made time to catch up with a friend of Kyle's at GW. We cannot wait to go back to D.C. We loved it so much that we are even starting to dream of our future in Virginia so we can visit D.C. as much as we'd like. This photo is us in Chinatown at Friendship Arch (H Street) in D.C. I only found it fitting to take a photo with my best friend at Friendship Arch. 


July felt like the ending to a chapter in my life. Kyle and I were preparing to move out of our first apartment to another one across the valley in August. We put in our notices for leaving the Boys and Girls Club (Hallelujah!). This photo is a picture of our kitchen at Rabbit Ridge. The picture is honestly really old, but I wanted to preserve a moment of my first apartment in this blog. 


My bestestestest friend from high school got married in August! I had the privilege of being her MOH and it was an awesome, beautiful wedding. Out of all of the weddings I've been to, it was definitely the shortest and sweetest. I botched a speech to fufill my duty of knowing her for what feels like forever. Before the wedding, we took a trip to Myrtle Beach to celebrate. It was a lot of fun being by her side during this exciting time of her life and helping her in any way I could. I've missed Brooke all through college and it was just refreshing to be able to commit to being home for a while and hanging out with her. Brooke is really one of the best. However, the fun had to end at some point and I started graduate school! I officially started my journey to obtaining a Specialist in School Psychology. 


School Psychology is no joke. It was serious. Fast. I'm not quite sure if my undergraduate really prepared me for the mess I put myself into. I love School Psychology, don't get be wrong, but there is a lot more to the field that I thought. When you ask someone what a school psychologist does, you are likely to get very different answers from different people. By September and October, I realized that I needed to change how I take my notes and what to write during class. I also started losing my grip on organization. But, I was getting some great grades, and my cohort had nominated me as their NASP delegate, which was pretty cool. Despite the rough start in School Psych, I had some great times at the football games this season. 


Like September, October was a rough month. I kept losing a grip on my studies and found myself in a mess of drama that I couldn't get out. I learned a lot of lessons in working with difficult people and realized that sometimes you can't help "the crazy." Sometimes, those type of people are the ones you have to let go and try to ignore their insistence of being "crazy" and over-dramatic.I did a lot of readings online on how to deal with difficult people, haha! We took this photo at Western Carolina's Mountain Heritage Day. It is one of my favorite days of the year. A bunch of vendors from across the state come and sell tons of goods and food. I always walk away with good apple butters and homemade soaps. 


Meet Neo!! Around Thanksgiving, my parents bought me a new car! Neo is a Mazda CX-5 in Deep Crystal Blue. I am in love with this car. It was the one that I kept looking at online for almost a year. Kyle loves this car, too - so much that he has already washed it 5 times and waxed it 3 times. Isn't wax supposed to last a while? Anyways, Neo is the bomb!!  November was generally a good month. I worked hard to try to finish the semester with good grades and the end of the semester ran up through the first week of December. Kyle and I also had birthdays in November! We had some great birthday celebrations (I convinced Kyle to let me get my favorite Mexican food) and we probably went to Chili's like three times this month, haha! We are all about those Chili's rewards to get our free lava cake. I also made a new friend from the School Psychology program, who is turning out to be one of my best friends!  I also started going to counseling in November. I decided that since the car accident was still impacting my driving and my anxiety on top of some social and academic anxiety from graduate school that I just needed to get some good old fashion help. Though I had a degree in Psychology, it certainly doesn't make me immune to having mental health problems. I got matched up with a great counselor and we have already started making progress for me to learn some new skills to handle anxiety. 


Kyle and I spent Christmas at my house this year and basically lounged all through the month once we made it through my final exams. We both ended the semester with good grades (A's and B's). I basically made my family take a "family photo" this year for Christmas since we don't have any photos of us. It was nice to be with my family and enjoy the holidays. I had my final eye appointment to wrap up my doctor's visits related to the car accident and received a prescription for glasses.