Monday, March 28, 2022

Goodbye Sweet Kitty

Life gives me constant reminders that it doesn't slow down. It keeps moving, somehow at what seems like a faster pace year after year. The last 15 1/2 years flew by and this softest little cat saw us through it all: moves, marriage, kids, job changes, a business, dog. Kitty Sophia only wanted pets, wet cat food, and a spot on the back of the couch where she could lounge in the sunlight.

We knew our time with her was limited as she had began losing weight. The weekend we came home from our latest road trip, she stopped eating and drinking. On March 10, I gave my nearly 16 year old cat her last cuddle, had her kitty brother say goodbye, and my husband and oldest son took her to be put down. It was the hardest and easiest decision we had to make. We knew it was time. Somehow, I took it the easiest (likely because I just knew it was going to happen sooner rather than later), while the youngest mini still cries about it; which is ironic since she never really paid attention to the cat at all. 

Sophia mostly spent her time upstairs, lounging on our bed, waiting for one of us to come to bed so she could demand pets, then curl up between our legs. I miss her soft fur the most, with her little mews coming in a close second. 

Doc (left) and Sophia (right), on a day where I was binge watching shows on Hulu during the pandemic. The cats really loved the pandemic, but really disliked our purchase of the pandemic puppy.

One last snuggle with my tiniest baby.

Sophia Marie Sheaffer
June 2006 (we're not sure her exact birthdate since she was rescued) - March 10, 2022

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Time With Cousins

 One of our favorite things about our travel route was that it took us to Carbondale, IL to spend time with cousins. Although it was a quick twenty-four hour visit (due to expected severe weather at home), the kids fit in a lot of play time and memories to last until our next visit.

We left Birmingham mid-morning and made a stop in Nashville. We stretched our legs in Centennial Park and made our list for everything we want to do and see next time we're in town. When we began our day in Birmingham, it was 70+ degrees and rising. Nashville was 75 degrees. By the time we made it into southern Illinois it was below 60 degrees. I definitely miss those warm temps of the south!

The smoothest trees we've ever felt.

The kids got right to playing and my sister in law made us all dinner. For once I didn't have to cook! Then, they surprised me with a delicious chocolate cake for my birthday. Those two things alone were two of my best birthday gifts.

Reading bedtime stories (above); Zeus following Daisy around, annoying her with his need to always be playing (below).

We took the kids hiking to Giant City State Park. We did the simple one mile nature trail, but it was quite the work out. I would love to come back here for more hiking. The kids had a blast climbing the limestone rocks and exploring every nook, cranny, and cave along the way.

We made a quick stop at Castle Park (super cool park with a back story; read about it here) before we hit the road. Although we had originally planned on spending one more night and half a day in town, we drove home a full day earlier than planned due to severe weather forecasted for Iowa. While we were bummed to not get extra time in with family, I'm super thankful I made a safe call because destructive tornados hit right in the path we would have been driving (had we left when planned). Sure it was a long night and we didn't get home until 2 a.m., but the minis were so tired from playing with cousins that the drive was pretty much silent. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Oak Mountain State Park

 After an incredible heavy and emotional thirty-six hours making stops along the Civil Rights Trail, I decided we needed something to clear our minds. We grabbed Chick Fil A for lunch, a little Starbucks for a pick me up, and then went to Oak Mountain State Park located just outside of Birmingham. As the middle mini said, "someone needs to tell Alabama these are not mountains," don't be impressed by the size of the mountain. Do be impressed by all this state park has to offer.

There's camping, cabins, a golf course, a lake, boating, boat rentals of all kinds, swimming, so much hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, basketball courts, and more (that I'm sure I missed). We made our way to a waterfall trail that proved to be rigorous when we realized we had to climb down a mountain (pretty much a large hill) side and back up. The trail system is well marked, so we had no issues following along.

I love how my dog constantly stops to make sure we're all together. If we're not, he stays exactly where he is until everyone has caught up. This also means that I have to be stealthy when taking action shots, so the dog doesn't notice I've fallen further behind than what he's comfortable with.

This was a very cool and easy trail for all skill levels. The wooden enclosures along the trail housed native birds that had been rescued. Very cool to see. The rest of the trail was a loop in the woods. We only did a portion of it before turning around because by that point everyone's legs were sore from climbing.

It was at this time I almost unwillingly took a dip in the lake too. Zeus has never been able to pass up a body of water, no matter what season it is.

This is now one of our favorite state parks we've ever been to. The minis have put it on the list to come back to someday and I can't say I'd be against it. There is a small fee to get in (a per person charge), but it was completely worth it for the amount of things there are to do in the park.