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Preparing For Your First Camping Trip With Kids In Tow

There’s nothing quite as relaxing as a trip away from home to enjoy the outdoors. If you have kids, you already know that they relish in the sunlight and love exploring nature. Camping as a family is a wonderful way to spend time together doing just that. Preparing for your first ever camping trip will ensure that your children have a blast, leading the way to future trips together in this form.

Try A Practice Run

Before heading out for a camping excursion, try a trial run at home to see how your kids fare. Set up a tent in your backyard and keep tabs on all the items your family needs while you spend the night. Luckily, it isn’t too far away and you can grab things as you see fit. Write down a list of the items you used, and keep it handy for your “real” camping trip away from home.

Keep Devices Off

In today’s day and age, everyone has a cell phone or electronic device to look at. Camping should be based around nature and experiences as a family unit. Let older kids know they will need to shut down their phones while you are spending time together. Allow them an hour or so at nighttime to catch up with friends, but make it a priority that the device is shut off again for another day of fun, if applicable.

Don’t Make It Difficult

For a first camping trip, forego hiking in the woods to a remote location to set up your sleeping quarters. Instead, head to a family camping facility. Here your children have amenities available, such as restrooms with running water, electricity, and maybe even a gift shop or small store. This way you can observe what is needed and not needed for future trips out with your kids.

Don’t Overplan Your Excursion

There is no need to write up a schedule of events you wish to partake in with your kids. Instead, keep a few “must-dos” in mind and wing the rest. Spontaneity can be a great thing for everyone. You’ll see that your kids come up with unique ways to overcome boredom and creativity will abound. Refrain from writing up lists and allow nature to take its course. Another idea is to let each member of the family come up with an idea for an activity that everyone can do together. After this has been completed, another family member gets a turn. This way each person gets to experience something that they want to try.

Allow For Some Dirt To Accumulate

At home, you likely let your kids know when you don’t want them to get dirty. While camping, let this rule slide by and let your kids feel the earth without restriction. Dirt never hurt anyone and it will let your child roam around without worrying about their appearance or whether they will be scolded about its presence. Some of the best fun is to be had with dirt involved! This can always be washed off in a shower house, lake, or via a sponge bath if needed. Keep your child’s good clothing at home when you go camping so you do not worry about it becoming ruined during a time when you just want to have fun with each other.

It Might Not Be What You Expect

Don’t go into a camping trip thinking that it will be magical for all who are involved. You may have a child that just isn’t the camping type, and that is okay. You may find that your child really enjoys camping, however. You won’t know until you try!

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Cat Reunited with Owner 12 Years After Disappearing: ‘Didn’t Feel Real’

Kevin Wells

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A family that had lost hope of ever seeing their cat again received surprising news recently. After 12 long years, their cat, Artie, has been reunited with its owner.

Artie disappeared from the home of Theo-Will McKenna, 29, after the family moved from Blacon in Chester to Connah’s Quay in Flintshire, Wales, back in 2012. McKenna, who was 17 at the time, spent six months searching for Artie, but eventually, the family lost hope.

Then, just three weeks ago, Artie was discovered after spending four days in a garden close to where the family used to live in Connah’s Quay.

“I hadn’t been able to take him with me when I moved out, and my mom moved to Connah’s Quay with him, my brother, and our other pets,” McKenna explained. “I was in college in the area, so I’d pop back to visit once a week or so.” One day, when McKenna was visiting home, his mom reported that Artie was missing. “He hadn’t come back in a couple of days — and he’d never done that before. He used to come back every night.”

McKenna immediately went out to look for Artie, walking around the entire area with a bag full of treats but found nothing. He kept an eye out for Artie every time he was in the area, but there was no sign of him. “After about six months, I lost hope. I reached the point where I thought that either, God forbid, something had happened to him, or someone else had taken him in.”

Residents at the home where Artie was found took him to the vet, who discovered a microchip registered to McKenna’s mom, with a contact number for North Clwyd Animal Rescue (NCAR). NCAR picked up Artie and shared a post on Facebook to find his owners. A friend saw the post and recognized Artie, sending it to McKenna.

McKenna explained that Artie showed up in someone’s garden near where his mom had lived in Connah’s Quay. Artie stayed there for four days, not leaving at all. The vet’s office scanned Artie’s microchip and saw that it was still registered to McKenna’s mom at their old address. When they found out that she no longer lived there, they reached out to NCAR, who reclaimed Artie from the vet.

Artie had some medical issues that needed attention. He had some teeth removed, treatment for hyperthyroidism, and had precancerous lumps removed from his ears. NCAR got him stable and then posted about him on their Facebook page. “My friend saw it and sent me the post — it took me a second to recognize him because he looked so bedraggled and skinny,” McKenna said. “It didn’t feel real. I thought there was no way it could be him. It had been 12 years — he went missing when I was 17. I thought no cat could survive 12 years on the street.”

Once McKenna picked up Artie, he took him home to his current apartment, where Artie is now getting used to living with McKenna’s other cat. “We’re still in the trial period, but he’s been completely fine. He’s purring up a storm every time I go near him. My other cat has been a little bit wary, but we’ve been doing introductory methods and getting her used to his smell. It’s a slow process, but I’m absolutely determined that he’s staying with me.”

McKenna believes that people must have been looking after Artie over the years, putting out food or taking him in. “I don’t think he would have made it 12 years without community kindness.”

Artie is now 16 years old and will need ongoing medical care, with his medicine costing about $64 per month. McKenna has started a fundraiser online to help with the cat’s medical expenses. “I want him to be able to spend his twilight years somewhere that he’s loved — which will be here,” he said.

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Mum Thanks Sunderland Royal Hospital Team with Special Artwork for Caring for Her Son

Kelly Taylor

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Hannah Graham, a Sunderland mum, created a heartfelt drawing to express her gratitude to the “absolute treasure” of an anaesthetist and his team who helped her autistic five-year-old son, Peter, during his first general anaesthetic at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Peter, who has cerebral palsy and autism, was anxious about the procedure, which required anaesthesia. Consultant anaesthetist Will Green played an episode of the popular kids’ TV show Hey Duggee and even sang along to calm Peter.

To assist in keeping Peter entertained, Hannah, an illustrator, drew Will’s face on a rubber glove. She later incorporated this and other elements into a special picture, capturing the team present during Peter’s procedure as a way to thank them.

Hannah shared, “As an illustrator, I thought this would be the best way to show how much we appreciated what they did to help Peter. He was cared for in the hospital’s Neonatal Unit when he was born, so I used to draw to keep busy when he was very little. This was my way of saying the hugest thank you for the incredible experience we had. Peter has autism and cerebral palsy, and having a brilliant and proactive team made our journey so smooth.”

She highlighted the exceptional care provided by anaesthetist Will Green, saying, “He made so many proactive steps and showed sincere care, making reasonable adjustments to help Peter. F63 is such an attentive and happy team, they were all brilliant. They put on disco lights, and there’s the clickety-clack of the train in the Hey Duggee episode, so they’re in there too.”

Will Green expressed his emotional reaction to Hannah’s artwork, saying, “We were all lost for words when we saw the picture, it was rather emotional. I have a little boy named Henry, and enjoy Star Wars, superheroes, and Lego, which is all very helpful for my work in paediatrics. The illustration is absolutely beautiful, and we are all very touched that Hannah used her time and immense talent to give us some truly unique feedback. Hannah captured how the team comes together around a person, aiming not just to provide excellent medical care, but to create an individual and positive experience.”

He acknowledged the wonderful team he worked with, including Deb Hollins, Kelly Pearce, Ling Lee, Neil Gayares, Reny Chacko, and Ann Mallam, who all helped care for Peter. Will, who recently started as a consultant at the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Trust, works across both adult and children’s services. He hopes that Hannah’s picture will show that coming for surgery can be a “happy and exciting experience.”

Reflecting on their work with Peter, Will said, “Peter was good as gold. We did for Peter what we try to do for all our patients, adjusting our approach based on what the person in front of us needs. Come to F floor theatres and you might see bubbles, disco lights, nursery rhymes, even a rave or a rap—it just depends on what makes the individual most comfortable. The team is committed to creating a positive environment from pre-assessment to theatre, and I see staff making small changes that make a big difference to our patients.”

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Cat Accidentally Shipped 650 Miles in Amazon Box, Found Safe

Renee Yates

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Cats are known for their love of boxes, and Galena, a cat from Central Utah, is no exception. This adventurous feline found herself on an unplanned journey over 650 miles away in California after sneaking into an Amazon return package. Her owner, Carrie Stephens Clark from Lehi, Utah, realized Galena was missing on April 10 and immediately started a thorough search.

Clark shared on Facebook that after searching their home, the local area, and even the Jordan River Trail without any luck, they posted flyers and turned to social media. The situation looked bleak until an unexpected call changed everything a week later. A veterinarian in California contacted Clark to report that Galena had been found after her microchip was scanned near Riverside. The cat had unknowingly climbed into a shoebox that was being sent back to Amazon and ended up in a warehouse.

At the warehouse, an Amazon employee, Brandy Hunter, noticed Galena inside a sealed box among returned items. Despite being scared and a bit dehydrated, Galena was in good health, with no injuries apart from potential bruises. Hunter, moved by the cat’s condition, helped her receive veterinary care and coordinated with Clark for her return.

Clark and her husband flew to California to reunite with Galena, and the reunion was described as magical. The family then drove 1,400 miles back to Utah to bring Galena home. Clark expressed her gratitude for the microchip that helped locate Galena quickly and stressed the importance of microchipping pets. She also humorously advised pet owners to double-check their boxes before returning them to avoid similar surprises.

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Second Chance at Old Friends: Woman Finds Healing Among Senior Dogs

Renee Yates

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Kerry Gluck’s story is one of resilience and finding purpose in unexpected places. It’s a tale marked by anniversaries – a devastating tornado four years ago, overcoming long-haul COVID two years back, and now, celebrating two years working at a place that’s become her sanctuary: Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary.

Life wasn’t always easy for Kerry. A tornado ripped through her Mt. Juliet neighborhood four years ago, leaving their home in ruins. Then came a battle with COVID that left her barely able to walk. These challenges forced her to retire from her 27-year nursing career.

But hope arrived two years ago when Kerry started working at Old Friends. Funded by donations, the sanctuary provides a loving home for senior dogs with medical needs.

“The elderly dogs hold a big place in my heart,” Kerry says. “Every day is filled with activities for the dogs, both here and those fostered in homes.”

Kerry feels a deep connection with the dogs, having experienced her own struggles. “I know what it’s like to need help,” she confides. “I feel like I’ve waited my whole life for this job.”

The sanctuary recently celebrated its 12th anniversary with a unique event – a “Geezer Gala” dog prom! Dressed in their finest attire, the senior pups enjoyed the company of guests and each other.

“It’s a wholesome environment,” Kerry beams. “It just fills your heart with joy.”

Kerry reflects on her journey, acknowledging the hardships and the unexpected blessings. “My life is completely different now,” she says. “I celebrate with hundreds of friends, some with two feet and some with four.”

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A Heartwarming Tale of Kindness: Gaia the Dog and Her New Life

Kevin Wells

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In a touching story of kindness and companionship, a dog named Gaia and her owner, Lisa Kanarek, are spreading joy and comfort to those in need. The story began when Gaia’s original owner, Sandra, was hospitalized, leaving Gaia confined to a small backyard. Concerned for the husky’s well-being, next-door neighbor Lisa Kanarek offered to walk her.

“I walked in, and then Gaia came up to me very slowly,” Kanarek recalled. “And then I said, ‘Oh, hi.'” What started as a kind gesture turned into a regular routine, with Kanarek walking Gaia while Sandra’s health continued to decline.

In a twist of fate, two weeks before Sandra passed away, she asked Kanarek if she would like to take care of Gaia permanently. Kanarek’s response was an enthusiastic “Sure. I would love to.” After Sandra’s death, Kanarek officially welcomed Gaia into her home, providing her with more walks and attention.

Noticing Gaia’s gentle nature with neighborhood children, Kanarek enrolled her in a pet therapy program, which she passed with flying colors. “I can tell, when I put on her vest, she’s ready to go,” Kanarek said. Their first assignment was at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, where Gaia brought comfort and joy to sick children.

Kanarek, who was finishing her training to be an end-of-life doula at the time, realized that Gaia was perfect for hospice therapy as well. Together, they now minister to the terminally ill, bringing solace and happiness in difficult times.

Asked whether she was doing this for Gaia’s benefit or for herself, Kanarek replied, “I think I’m doing this for both of us. I think it benefits both of us.” Gaia’s new life has brought her into the hearts of many, from the kids down the street to patients in hospitals. She provides laughter and levity, all with her tail wagging.

For Kanarek, life has also changed. Meeting dozens of people during their visits has brought out her extroverted tendencies, lost during the pandemic. “Before I knock on each patient’s door, I breathe in, then greet families with confidence,” she said.

As they walk through the halls of the children’s hospital, Kanarek thinks of Sandra and hopes she’s smiling, knowing how much joy Gaia brings to everyone she meets. “I’m trying not to cry,” Kanarek said, reflecting on her new life with Gaia. “It makes me happy; it makes me sad, because I wish I had known Sandra better, but I think this is the way that I’m helping keep her memory alive.”

Through their acts of kindness, Gaia and Kanarek are not only keeping Sandra’s memory alive but also making a positive impact on the lives of many.

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