Adventures With Albus: Gettysburg College

It’s been a bit since I’ve updated the blog and what better way to get back on track than with a new Adventures with Albus! This past Sunday, my moms and I took the whole gang over to Gettysburg College for some sun and fun.

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It was VERY hot out so we were prepared with plenty of water and walking in the shade as much as possible. The pups got their fun in by chasing a couple of squirrels up trees.

20180701_110948155772524.jpgSomething fun I got to try out on this adventure was the new pet carrier backpack I ordered off Amazon! Let me tell you, this purchase was definitely worth it! I say that very prematurely as Albus has only been in it once and it didn’t go exactly as planned.

He jumped out, effectively trying to hang himself as I was a good cat mom and clipped him in. This was easily fixed since my mom was there and was able to help me get him on the leash. While Albus gets adjusted to the bag, I’m going to go on outings with my moms and the dogs as much as possible to have some extra support.

On the way back to the car, I put him back in the bag because I knew he wouldn’t walk there on his own. He had an accident and let’s just say I’m very glad I had the kitty bath wipes with me! I’m also glad I had enough sense to line the bottom of the backpack with a pee pad just in case. I think this accident was more to the fact that he had to use the bathroom but his litter box was in the car. He was definitely nervous, as he always has been with carriers, but I am confident that he will adjust.

Some good news though, Albus didn’t drool AT ALL when in the car. This is wonderful progress for him in his journey to getting more used to the car. He also didn’t hide and get all mad at me when we got home like he used to, so more progress!!

Honestly, if the backpack carrier doesn’t work out, I won’t be super heartbroken. A little sad, yea sure, since the backpack is fluffing cool! But Albus’ comfort level is more important to me. If anyone has used a carrier like this for their cat, I would love to hear what works for them! I know every cat is different and some cats just like being in carriers…but any advice is welcome!

Until next time!

Love always,

Caitie ♥

Quidditch Changed My Life

I get told, if I had to guess, around ten times a week how weird or nerdy I am by the kids at work. This is undoubtedly due to my unashamed love of all things Disney and the fact that when the girls watch Disney movies, I know all of the words. I also talk about Albus…a lot. Some girls have even started asking how he’s doing every now and then. But with all my love for Disney and cats, there is one thing that my true nerd spirit holds dear.

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Harry Potter is the series that brought the creative part of myself out of my shell. It’s the first world I really escaped into and one of the few I feel at home with. I seriously can’t count the number of times I’ve read these books. That doesn’t even take into account the number of times that I’ve listened to the books as well (I just started Prisoner of Azkaban yesterday). As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like music that much right now, so I turn to audiobooks. Even though I’ve read and heard the story so many times, it is just as much of an engaging story as the first time I read it.

So it wasn’t a surprise to any of my friends or family when I joined my college’s club quidditch team.

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Coming in as one of those fan-girl Harry Potter loving nerds, I was pleased to find just how physical the game is. If anyone were to ask my mom, she would tell them that she has never seen me be more competitive than when I was on the quidditch pitch. I would definitely have to agree. I’ve played plenty of sports in my life and did well. However, being on this team of misfits has been more fun than all of my sports experiences combined.

Not only that, but the quidditch community as a whole is simply amazing. I’ve met several wonderful people through traveling for tournaments and even doing some summer fantasy tournaments. Being a co-ed, full contact sport makes an even playing field for male and female players in that all are treated the same and follow the same rules. This, I feel, helped add to the overall family feeling because it wasn’t a sport aimed towards any kind of specific person. There were several people on the team who had never read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies.

When I first started at Lock Haven University, I was a lonely transfer student with no friends in the area and my cats were three hours away. I was in kind of a dark place after my last college experience, so I was nervous about starting new. I got lucky, though, that one of my first roommates became one of my closest friends.

I attended the club fair that is a college staple everywhere and saw three hoops in the distance. I didn’t stop at any other table. I beelined right for it and saw a group of students tossing around a volleyball. They were all extremely friendly and genuinely excited at my interest in the club. After that, my dark place slowly faded away as I was welcomed into this family.

I use the word family to describe the team a lot because that is exactly how I see them. Just about all of us have graduated and new, young players are carrying on what those before me built and what we all helped to grow and sustain. I may not talk to all of them on any kind of regular basis, but I know if I were to see them, it would be easy to fall back into conversation as if I had just seen them the day before. Some I do talk to quite often and some I consider my closest, truest friends.

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Photo credit on watermarked photos belongs to Isabella Gong Photography

Remember that fantasy fiction trilogy I mentioned…well that close friend co-author of mine is none other than my best friend, Zach. Without this team, he and I would never have met and would never have become basically siblings.

My parents were very supportive of the quidditch team and treated them like family as well. My mom even drove Zach about 5 hours from a tournament to his family because his nose had been broken. They traveled to almost every tournament, even though it meant spending money on hotels, gas, and sometimes event tickets. But they loved seeing how happy I was out on the field and were happy to make the trip to see me at my best.

Not going to lie, there were ups and downs with the team just like any other family. At times it was so stressful that I debated quitting. There were so many internal couples that it was hard to keep up at times. But my love for the sport and my love for my team kept me going. Any drama that had happened was settled eventually and I can easily say that I am on good terms with everyone from the team. Being with them taught me so much about myself as a human being and a lot about who I want to be going forward. They took me in as a lonely transfer student with no one and helped me transform into an almost whole adult.

I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today, as cliché as that sounds, without this group of people. They showed me that anything is possible and it’s okay to struggle because those who love you will always be there. I gained so much confidence in myself while I was a part of LHU Quidditch and I wouldn’t trade my time with them for anything.

To any of my teammates who may be reading this, thank you for being fucking awesome. I love you guys more than you know!

Until next time!

Love always,

Caitie♥

Road to Van Life: MONEY

While eventually embarking on my van life journey and documenting all I can, I also want to document and share my road to van life. One of the biggest factors to consider in wanting to travel full-time is money. I racked up quite a bit of debt through student loans. So for the foreseeable future, a hefty amount is going to be coming out of my bank account every month. [Tip: Avoid private student loans if you can.]

I’m also aware that, just because I will be traveling in a van, doesn’t mean there won’t be expenses. I’ve given a lot of thought to exactly what kind of budget I’ll need in this next stage of my life. I don’t see myself minding working on the road because I will be able to travel and set up shop to work wherever I would like. If I can find a cute spot with free wifi, GREAT! If not, I plan on having internet access somehow for when I go off-grid.

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Van Expenses: Gas is a HUGE and obvious one. I also will more than likely have a car payment, which I don’t mind. I don’t want to buy an older van and risk having to pay more money fixing the van than traveling. In addition to that will be auto insurance. Since it will be my traveling home, I’ll need more protection. Maintaining the van will require me to budget some money aside as well. Not to mention the costs for the actual van build.

Personal Expenses: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for myself means groceries and not just eating out for every meal. I plan to have a fully functional kitchen space so that I can make my own meals from wherever I am. I’m pretty simple with my regular food choices but definitely not afraid to try new or weird things. I’ll also need some kind of health insurance since I am quite accident prone. No one ever really plans to use their health insurance, but it does provide peace of mind and is pretty mandatory to have.

I also have to factor in that, even though there is a lot of free stuff to do on the road, at some points there may be something really cool that I really want to do. I want to be able to have that freedom to pick a new activity to experience every now and then. For example, I really want to road trip to Alaska. My dad has said he would go with me, so I would want to make sure I had some money set aside to make that trip special.

Traveling With a Pet: This adds a whole other set of expenses. Albus is a very healthy kitty (vet confirmed today at his annual exam) but that means giving him the best I possibly can. Albus started out his life not so healthy and once I adopted him I knew I would do whatever I could to make sure he stayed as healthy as possible. I pay more for a better quality food and pay more for a better, more protective flea and tick preventative. Just because I’m downsizing my life doesn’t mean I will downsize his. Yes he may be in a smaller space that he’s used to, but he will be cared for just the same. He even has pet insurance.


Having so much in student debt, going through bankruptcy, and taking a huge pay cut means I have very little in savings. I plan on spending the next year saving up as much money as I can. There are two main reasons for my savings; the van build and a cushion to have for emergencies.

I’ve had to seek out multiple outlets for money in order to maximize my savings. My main source of income is my job as a mental health worker. It unfortunately does not pay enough for all that we do or deal with. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my job and working with the kids…not every day is stressful and some days are fun. However the stress that it does cause, in my opinion, is just not worth it for the long-term.

It doesn’t earn me much, but I pick up a few hours here and there hosting at a local restaurant. Basically I’m a fill-in for when people want some time off. This suits me just fine because that leaves room for my more important side job–freelancing. I’ve started putting myself out there now so that I can build a reputation for myself in order to have it be my full-time job on the road. I’ve been able to obtain a part-time position as a social media content developer for a small marketing company that works very well with my schedule. This has literally just started, but I can tell it is going to lead to great things!

It might sound corny, but I really do officially feel like I am on the road to van life! I can daydream and browse Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube all I want. But actually obtaining this freelancing position gets me going in the right direction towards making van life a reality. If anyone has any advice on freelancing whether it be social media content or article/blog writing, I am all ears! Well…eyes. Leave a comment and let me know!

Until next time!

Love always,

Caitie♥

 

Adventures With Albus: Devils Den

Yesterday I was quite nervous about the weather. It was supposed to thunderstorm later in the afternoon. I picked up a hosting shift at my second, part-time, job but I also really wanted to get Albus outside for a while. While I was working, the sky was bright but cloudy and the wind picked up at times. However, I was fortunate and there was no rain! I worked briefly from 12-2:30pm, only getting a couple of hours in due to it being slow. So I went home, made myself some lunch, and got Albus ready!

Getting Albus into the car is always the hardest part of our outings. He is still nervous and I think when I picked him up I pressed on his bladder because he peed on me. This isn’t the first time it’s happened, so I wasn’t really phased. I got Albus in the car and

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turned on the A/C then went inside to change. I set up a little litter box for him in the back of my car. I’m happy to say he used it… took a nice big shit as soon as we left the driveway.

I sprayed the pheromone spray that I have mentioned in a previous blog. I didn’t notice a huge change in his behavior in the car so I’m not sure that it lessened his stress at all. However, since I paid like $20 for it, I’ll keep using it to see if it works over time.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on why cats struggle so much with the car. Kind of like harness training, training a cat to ride in the car should really be done from the start while they’re young. Unfortunately I skipped that step when I was harness training baby Albus. That is also the case with anyone who adopts an older cat. Albus’s behavior is anxiety based as opposed to motion sickness. He has never gotten sick in the car, just peed himself occasionally. His drooling is also a behavior that points to anxiety. My goal is to get Albus out and in the car more and more, especially over the summer, to show him that the car isn’t a bad place. So hopefully his anxiety goes down after having the car be put into his semi-regular routine. His vet has prescribed him Prozac to try to help with that, but Albus is a horrible pill taker. My mom actually suggested just last night after I mentioned the Prozac that it is available in liquid form for humans. My plan is to discuss this possibility with my vet. I’ve mentioned it before, but Albus is my biggest concern when preparing for van life. I think he will be fine as he has adjusted to several new apartments in the past. However, this will be a lot smaller and mobile. That is why I plan to make my van the most cat-friendly van on the planet. My design for the van will revolve around him and his needs first to make sure he is comfortable in our tiny home.

So back to the adventure. Living in Gettysburg, there are a number of places that are quite close to take Albus. Yesterday I decided on Devils Den. Devils Den is basically a bunch of really big rocks that was the spot of something important during the Battle of Gettysburg in the Civil War. Not exactly sure what that important something was but if it is of interest to you… google it.

If I was to have any advice for someone trying to get their cat to be an outdoorsy cat it would be to be patient. Albus loves being outside, yes, but he hasn’t really ventured outside the yard and surrounding immediate areas or truck stops on a couple of long road trips. So when I take Albus to a new place, he is very cautious of his surroundings and sometimes takes a bit to get the courage to explore. After lounging on the rocks for a while, Albus decided to explore and eventually settled on some grass to graze on.

 

Where we stopped in the video is where we sat for the following 15 minutes because some people walked by and he just wasn’t quite sure about them. Like I said… patience is the key. While he may sometimes act like a dog, he isn’t and takes a while to get comfortable exploring new places. We went at his pace and I sat and relaxed when he decided to lay down for a bit. He is very much the boss on our outings and I have absolutely no shame in that.

While we were sitting in a more grassy area, several people asked if they could pet him and showered him with compliments of his beauty and soft fur. I think the extra head scratches made him feel a little more comfortable as he soon got up to explore after the people left.

All in all it was a very good day. Yes, Albus was stressed out a bit in the beginning, but this is a process. Before, he used to be mad at me and hide somewhere in my room the rest of the night. Last night, he disappeared for about an hour then came out to snuggle and receive head scratches.

Keep an eye out for my review of Sons of Anarchy coming out either later today or tomorrow morning! If you like Adventures With Albus, give it a star! I also love getting feedback, so don’t by shy to drop a comment below! Until next time!

Love always,

Caitie♥

Adventures With Albus: The Pet Store

Hello fellow humans! This is the start of a blog series, Adventures with Albus. Whenever Albus and I go out and about, I plan to share that with you! I’m currently trying to show him that the car isn’t so bad and that we don’t just always go to the vet when we get in the car. Today’s venture first took us to the pet store for cat food and some flea and tick stuffs.

He wasn’t too sure about the store at first so he found a nice little cubby hole to hide in for a bit. However, his smart Ravenclaw of a momma had an idea.

Once in the shopping cart, he was much more relaxed and seemed to enjoy looking around the store as I got what I needed. The store employees and other shoppers gave him lots of lovins as well while we were shopping so he definitely enjoyed the extra head scratches. I also ended up buying him a new catnip toy for stressing him out a bit by taking him in the car. He is currently laying on my floor all nice and kitty high.

This particular pet store had some kitties looking to be adopted, so I rolled Albus up to them. They came up to greet him, but Albus gave them a little hiss and so I rolled on. He gets along with dogs much better seeing as how he grew up with four of them around and the only other cat in his life thought she was a dog. The one kitty in the store was interested and did not find Albus’ attempt at hissing manliness intimidating; we’ll have to work on that!

That leads us into our next stop, which was to my sister, Cassie’s house. She lives there with her boyfriend Brian and their cat Renly. They’ve had Renly for a little while now, so I thought I would pop in and finally introduce Albus to his cousin. Renly didn’t interact well with Lexi, my sister’s dog that lives with me at my mom’s house, so I was curious to see how he would react to a cat. I didn’t document that part of our day too well, only capturing a video of Renly’s reaction to meeting Albus; which was not too pleasant and resulted in some scratches for Brian. I’d share the video, but my sleepyhead of a sister didn’t have pants on so I’ll spare her this time. Though I can’t say the same for those following me on Snapchat! (Follow me: caitiep15)

Part of why Renly reacted so poorly, I think, is because my sister is dragging her ass on getting him snipped! (sorry, Sestra!) I think if he lost his balls, he would be a lot more chill, like Albus. Anyway, Brian put Renly upstairs in their room so Albus could check the downstairs out since he had never been there before. Albus sniffed around and sensed that there was a fully intact male cat around. He got a little grouchy and started deep growling so I figured it was time to go. We said our goodbyes and headed home.

Not too crazy of an adventure for today, but I want to start getting Albus in the car more and more so gotta start somewhere, right?!

Also! If anyone is wondering what harness I have for Albus, it is called the Kitty Holster! My mom heard of it on the show My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet. It was highly recommended by the show’s host, Jackson Galaxy. My mom wanted me to try it out since Albus is a pretty good escape artist. She ordered it for him as a birthday present a couple of years ago and it is amazing! It is very nearly escape proof. Albus has wriggled his way out of it a couple of times since he’s had it, but it takes a lot of effort and he doesn’t even try that often because he enjoys being outside.

I made the decision to harness train Albus almost immediately after I adopted him and it is the best decision I have ever made as a cat mom. When Oreo was around, she did not like her harness and would kitty army crawl around in it instead of walking normal. I didn’t try putting a harness on her until much later into her life. Albus runs, jumps, and scurries around in his harness with no problem. He even uses the litter box in it if he has to.

That’s all for today as it is time to binge watch Sons of Anarchy, so until next time!

Love always,

Caitie♥