Women In The News!

Hi Guys, Olivia here. IMG_6812ac

It was really great to see two women make history last week when Captain Kristen Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver became the first two women to graduate from the U.S. Army Ranger School.

This is pretty amazing. To graduate, the officers (already a military police platoon leader and an Apache helicopter pilot), had to complete a really tough course including completing a twelve mile foot march in under three hours, carrying full military load, participate in three parachute jumps, four air assaults on helicopters and twenty-seven days of mock combat patrols, plus many other tasks too many to list. At the end of the course they then walked the distance from New York to Boston wearing heavy packs. Wow!

The only issue is, that unlike the men who complete this course, neither Grist or Haver are able to apply to join the elite 75th Ranger Regiment, as currently it is restricted to men. Regardless, I want to say congratulations to these two amazing trailblazing women.

Olivia and Roofus


Hey folks, Olivia here again.

I want to talk a little about the care of dogs in the summer. Texas, as we all know, gets very hot and most people understand they should not leave their dogs in the car, even for a short time. But they might not think about all the other things you should do in the summer.

1. Make sure your dogs heartworm, flea and tick medication is up-to-date. This is when little critters are at their worst.

2. When you leave for the day you might be tempted to turn the air-conditioner down to save money. Please remember your pets are still in the house and are probably wearing a fur coat – keep it cool for them.

3. Always leave out more water than you think they will need.

4. If possible, walk your dog early or late, not in the heat of the day. This, of course, is better for you as well.

5. If your dog becomes glassy eyed or lethargic take it straight to the vet.

This has been a public service announcement. Thank you and goodbye.

Llama or Alpaca – Can You Tell The Difference?

llamas and alpacas

Hey Guys, Olivia here with some interesting info on llamas.

If you have read Operation Golden Llama, you know llamas feature heavily within the book, although, to be honest we are never sure whether we are seeing llamas, alpacas or baby llamas.

I hate to admit it, but before going to Peru, I didn’t really know too much about llamas either, and definitely couldn’t tell them apart from an alpaca. Of course, Lissy told us they could grow up to six feet and spit up to eight, but that didn’t come in too handy when trying to identify them.

Since then I’ve done some research and here are three sure fire ways for you to tell the difference.

1. The ears. Llamas have very distinct banana shaped ears, whereas alpacas have short pointy ears.

2.  From the side llamas have much longer faces which have little hair, whereas alpacas faces are kind of squished and have a large tuft of hair hanging from their forehead.

3.  Llamas also are about twice as big as alpacas. Alpacas can weigh up to 175 pounds, llamas up to 350.

The following information won’t help you identify a llama or an alpaca, but is kind of fun to know.

Llamas were bred primarily as a pack animal whereas alpacas were bred mainly for the soft fibre they produce which comes in more colors than any other animal used for fleece, twenty-two to be precise.

Despite the size difference, alpacas produce far more fleece than a llama due to the denseness of their coats.

Alpacas are, on the whole, shy, quiet animals that are very intelligent, easy to train and like to belong to a herd. Llamas are far more solitary animals. Both animals are kind, curious and gentle, however alpacas are more skittish and llamas tend to be mellower and easier to bond with.

About 5 Cousins

Hi Guys, This is Lissy Puddleton and Spider here reporting on all things Lissy. So, here’s a little about my life. I am nine years old and live in Austin, Texas along with my four cousins, Cagney, Aidan, Olivia and Tess. Up until recently we led quiet, uneventful lives, but over the past few weeks life has changed in a major way.

You see our parents travel – A LOT which is good for them, but seriously bad for us. Because when they travel we all get dumped. And because we all live close together, we all get dumped at the same place … Grandma’s!

I guess you’re thinking how bad can it be? Grandmas are great, right? They bake cookies, they play monopoly, they let you stay up past bedtime and take you to the park. Yeah – not so much. Grandma Callie, it turns out, does none of those things. Grandma Callie is the antithesis of a Grandma, other than being forgetful. That, she’s really good at! We could take all day listing the places we’ve been left by Grandma, but that’s a whole other story. I guess it’s not all bad. Being an only child, even with Spider for company, can get kind of lonely, so it’s always fun to see my cousins – sometimes!

You probably met them already, but just in case you didn’t I’ll tell you a little about them …

The first word that comes to mind when I think of Cagney is diva. Cagney is never happier than when she is either shopping or being pampered. If there was a school credit for spending money Cagney would be top of the class.

Like me, Cagney is petite, with light brown curly hair. Sometimes people think we are sisters. Hmm! But unfortunately for her, Cagney’s curls have a mind of their own. Cagney wears glasses, She also breaks glasses. All I can say is, her parents must have a real good insurance plan. Don’t get me wrong, Cagney has her good points. She’ll always give you advice on fashion, which is okay, except you can’t argue with her coz she always knows best. Wait, this was supposed to be the positive things!

Actually one of the best things about Cagney is she’s a cautious kind of cousin. I like that about her. She’s also a great photographer. She really is. She wants to be a fashion photographer and if she could mellow out a little, she might just make it!

Olivia is the next oldest. She was born in May, at least we think she was. I think not knowing my actual birthdate might bother me, but it doesn’t bother Olivia. If I’m honest, very few things bother Olivia.

She’s pretty easy going. Some might say reckless. She could definitely do with some of Cagney’s caution. And Olivia always seems to be in trouble. Amazingly so, this doesn’t bother her either. I would just die if I got caught doing some of the stuff Olivia does. She would make a great gymnast, but there’s no way you’d get O in a sparkly pink leotard. In fact, there’s no way you’d get her in anything sparkly, let alone pink. But she really is agile! Maybe it’s coz she’s so tiny.

Olivia also likes dogs. They seem to bring out her sweet side. Olivia doesn’t look very Chinese. She has short dark hair, olive skin and unlike most Chinese kids she doesn’t have those typically almond eyes. I think she’s pretty, especially when she smiles and her dimples come out, but she’d hate me for saying it.

Aidan is probably my favorite cousin. Like me he likes to learn and can always be found reading a book, plus he’s way smart. I like that about him. But, what I like best is how kind he is. He’s never mean and that takes some doing with a sister like Cagney. He’s also very sensible and likes to weigh up the pros and cons before rushing into anything. You can really do with someone like him when you have Olivia around.

Aidan is not perfect, however. He’s never been picked first on any team, other than debate and traveling with him is always interesting. Interesting in the way that you never know if he’s going to make it without bringing up his breakfast.

Like his sister, Cagney, he has light brown hair, but dark hazel eyes. I’ve heard some girls at school say he was super cute, but he’s my cousin, so I don’t notice things like that.

Tess is the baby of the family. If you’re ever depressed just a few moments with Tess will cure you. The child is ridiculously happy. The glass is not just full, but overflowing where Tess is concerned.

Tess, like her sister, Olivia, was also adopted from China. She has long black hair and perfect almond eyes. Her favorite color is most definitely pink. If pink offends you, Tess is probably not the child for you!

I’ve mentioned that Tess is a happy child. I should also mention that she is also quite crazy – but in a good way (mostly). She’s also an exceptional artist. Of all of us, Tess is the artistic one. I’ll see if I can post some of her drawings – you’ll be impressed.

As for me. Well, I’m an only child, which is okay when you have so many cousins. I love to learn and I think people would describe me as shy. I can be, but not with my cousins.

And so, that’s the five of us. In many ways we are like your typical, every day American family. But thanks to Grandma, we’re also very different!