Monday, April 30, 2012

3 simple ways you can help save animals & raise awareness

Over the years, I have spent hundreds of dollars making donations to various non-profit groups and organizations hoping to make some sort of difference. I went from making the minimum donation of $15 to several places, to now being more specific as to where I donate my money - but that's another post. My point is that one person can make a difference and you don't need to spend tons of money doing it.

Awareness is one of the biggest hurdles faced in animal conservation. Today I am sharing three simple ways that you can raise awareness and help save animals for only a few dollars.

Even though many of us pay our bills online, there are still times that we need to mail something the old-fashioned way. The next time you buy stamps, ask for the Save Vanishing Species semipostal stamp. (cost is 55 cents)

This is a first-class postage stamp and all proceeds over the current cost of a first-class stamp go directly to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support the Multinational Species Conservation Fund.

For more information on what conservation funds are supported by this stamp visit the US Postal Service website.

Do you love having a unique screen lock picture and wallpaper on your iPhone or iPad? Do you admire great animal photographers? If you said yes, then this next one is definitely for you.
In November 2011, the San Diego Zoo released the officially licensed digital skins through the iTunes store. For only $1.99 you can purchase this app and have some beautiful wallpapers and images on your phone. The app also includes app frames and shelves.

Here are some screen shots from my phone -


This is a wonderful way to support the San Diego Zoo and show your love for animals - and I can promise the pictures will being a smile to your face too.

Another great way to support animal conservation and raise awareness is to follow your favorite organization on Facebook and Twitter. By simply sharing a post or re-tweeting something you find interesting may catch the attention of someone and before you know it a domino effect is in place.

A few of my favorites organizations that I personally support through membership or direct donations are listed in the right side column of the blog. Looking for some organizations to follow? Take a peek at the pages we support on Facebook or who we follow on twitter. Find your passion - whether it be wildlife, parks, or the oceans and start doing what you can to help.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's National Save the Frogs Day!

Between habitat destruction, pesticides and pollution these little amphibians and fighting a tough battle. Frogs play an important role in the food chain and their numbers are declining at extremely rapid rates. Do your part to keep the waters clean and for heaven sake, do not support restaurants that serve frog legs!

Find out more about what you can do to help at

Photo taken at Aquarium of the Pacific.

Changing for the better

As I mentioned the other day, there will be some changes happening here on the blog. You've probably already noticed a slight design change - including the color scheme and a new header. Don't worry, you are in the right place.

Life with Dylan (my son, not the blog) brings a smile to my face every day. The way this kid teaches me about animals, shows me the world through his eyes, and inspires me to see the world a little differently than I did before will never cease to amaze me. I'm excited to be sharing more of these inspirations with you and hope that you will continue to follow Life with Dylan as we transition to the new blog design.

A few more subtle changes will occur over the next few days and I hope you will like the new blog as much as I do.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

San Diego Zoo Safari Park in pictures

A few of my favorite pictures from our trip to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park earlier this month.

I love the reflection in the water

The view from Condor Ridge is breathtaking

Just look at the wingspan!

Staying cool in the shade

Happiness is touching a gorillas hand

Bats - Cute or creepy? I haven't decided yet. 

Under the watchful eye of Mom

I think it's nap time

Sleeping cheetah

This has got to be one of my favorite Dylan shots - Hamming it up for the camera.

I must save the jeep so I can protect the animals!
Sometimes pictures say more than words and these beautiful animals make wonderful subjects.
The pictures may speak volumes, but the animals can't speak and they need your help. Get involved with wildlife conservancy and help bring species back from the brink of extinction.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I finally see the big picture

There is nothing quite like spending a little time with yourself. Turning off the television. Unplugging from the laptop and cell phone. Dare I say, going to bed at 9 p.m. and just letting your mind go blank. No thinking of what needs to be done tomorrow or what you might be missing out on because you turned all connections to the outside world off.

After four days of tuning out and tuning in to myself, I came to a realization - an epiphany of the big picture. Of what matters to me and what my purpose is on this planet. There are things that I am passionate about and I want to share these things, write about them, and hopefully inspire others to be passionate too.

My blog is my blog and I'm tired of people telling me what I should or shouldn't do. What I can or can't write about. I don't need a swag bag or free admission to someplace for me to write about something I like. If I like something, then I will write a post about it. If I believe strongly about a cause, then I will write about it.

I share what I want and I am honest in what I say. I will not say something is great if it is not. I will not promote a brand or place that I don't personally use and support myself. Sure, I've written a few sponsored post, but I was honest in my opinions and tried to write from a viewpoint of the average person. When I see blogs filled with sponsored posts, it doesn't tell me anything except that the writer was compensated in some way to tell you how wonderful something is.

When I see 20 different people all writing about how wonderful a place is it makes me wonder - could it really be that great? I don't need to see a movie a week before it opens to tell you how good the movie is. I have no problem paying to see a movie, and if I really like it I will let you know. Even worse, when I see people writing about a place that I know for a fact has long lines or isn't as "perfect" as the writer makes it out to be, my blood begins to boil. Call it ethics, call it morals, call it loyalty, call it whatever you like. Whatever you choose to call it, that's how I write.

I have been a member of the Zoological Society of San Diego for almost 8 years - nobody is paying me, giving me free things, or special treatment to write about our experiences at the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The same goes for LEGOLAND California - we have an annual membership and have never been treated differently because of the posts I write about LEGO's or LEGOLAND. We have a family membership to Aquarium of the Pacific, so I will share our experiences there.

Dylan and I are huge animals lovers. Land animals, ocean animals - between the two of us, we are ready to save them all! We believe in conservation, preservation, protection, and educating people about these beautiful animals that are disappearing from our planet. I want to share more about this with those who choose to read my blog. Not because it's the "topic of the moment" or because I am getting something in return, but because it's who I am. What I get in return is the satisfaction of inspiring someone else to see the world a little differently than they did before. I get the pure joy of being true to myself.

That being said, there will be some changes happening here over the next few weeks. I may lose some readers and some followers on twitter, but that's OK with me. If someone doesn't like me for being me and writing about what I believe in, then that is there choice. My success is not measured by twitter followers, page views, or Facebook "likes" - my purpose in life is to be the best I can be for me and for my son. To be true to myself and in doing that find joy in the simple things.

Monday, April 23, 2012

SEALIFE Aquarium is claw-crushing fun for the whole family

As frequent visitors to LEGOLAND California, I can tell you that a day filled with LEGO is wonderful. However, when you combine LEGO and the ocean together you get SEALIFE Aquarium - even more fun for the family!

On a recent visit to LEGOLAND California, we took some time to see the SEALIFE Aquarium too. After the fascinating Octopuses Garden exhibit, we were excited to see what the new Claws exhibit had to offer.

Wow! I have never seen such huge lobsters and crabs. These animals are simply beautiful, especially the spider crab - and I learned so much about crabs. Like did you know that the Coconut Crab can exert five times the amount of pressure required to break a human bone? That's one strong crab claw!

Of course the rest of the aquarium is pretty cool too. Jellies, seahorses, eels, and LEGO sculptures.

SEALIFE Aquarium is a fun afternoon for the whole family, but why not make a day of it and visit LEGOLAND California too? You can buy a park hopper ticket to visit both, or if you are a member like we are, it only cost $15 to visit the SEALIFE Aquarium.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I planted a tree ... My tree

If you have children, then you probably know about the little seedling that comes home from school in 3rd grade in honor of Arbor Day. Well, 34 years ago I brought home one of those little seedlings and cared for it until it grew big enough to put in a real pot. Then my Dad transplanted it into a larger pot - a big wooden crate one if I remember correctly.  With a little water, sunlight, and love my tree continued to grow.

My tree grew so big that when I was in the 8th grade it was time to transplant it again. This time we planted it in the earth - where it would grow and thrive.

My tree has provided oxygen to the planet. A home for squirrels and birds. Shade for the plants growing beneath it. Even more than the wonderful things my tree did for the environment, my tree was something that I could watch grow year after year. My tree provided a great story for people who came to the house.

My parents recently decided to sell their home. No reason to have a huge 5 bedroom house when all the kids have moved out, so they are downsizing. Aside from the memories of my childhood home, I can't help but wonder, what will happen to my tree? Will the new owners keep the tree or will they, it hurts to even say it, cut it down? It's way to big now to transplant.

I cannot control what happens to my tree anymore, but I can start a new tree with the seedling my son brought home a few weeks ago. I can start making new memories. Start nurturing a new home for animals.

If your child didn't bring home a tree, that's all right. Go to your local nursery or nature center and buy a seedling of your own. Nurture it, water it, and love it. Plant your seedling and watch it grow.

Who knows, maybe one day your tree will grow to be as big as my tree - or maybe even bigger.

This picture was taken from the street to show the size of the tree in comparison to the 2-story house.
Tomorrow is Earth Day and I urge you to plant a tree.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Planning a birthday party? Who doesn't love cotton candy?

Cookies, cake, ice cream, candy ... sure these all make wonderful treats for a birthday party, but are they ordinary? Dylan's birthday is coming up in July and once again, I have the daunting task pleasure of planning a party. Something that will wow my child and make him feel like the most special kid in the world. That's what we do right? As parents we tend to spend obscene amounts of time and money to make a child's birthday party better than the one we threw the year before. Right? You know this sounds familiar to you. 

Last month I attended a Birthday Party Bootcamp - How to Plan and Host the Perfect Birthday Party at the OC Mart Mix and was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered. Pink, fluffy, sugary cotton candy - 

Yes, that's what I remembered from my childhood. What child wouldn't love cotton candy at their birthday party? So although my son is still undecided on where his party will take place, I have finalized the sweet sugary goodness that will fill the kids tummies. 

Dolly's Sweet Dreams Cotton Candy is the cutest concept for any party or special event when you want to make people smile. The owner, Krista Thompson, is as sweet as can be and just look at the pink cart - adorable!

Dolly's Sweet Dreams Cotton Candy offers nine classic cotton candy flavors and seven organic flavors, surely I can find a color/flavor to match the theme of Dylan's party. Plus, Krista will create custom labels for my event if I choose to have to-go tubs.  

There is something about cotton candy that simply makes me giddy - like a kid again. I think I need to come up with a reason to have a party before my son's birthday in July just so I can have more of Dolly's Sweet Dream Cotton Candy!

Be sure to visit for more details on how you can book an event and "like" Dolly's on Facebook to see the latest pictures from parties where fluffy cotton candy has created smiles on the faces of children (and adults too). 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Rays of Sunlight

I love how the rays from the sun seem to form a flower in the sky - very appropriate considering I took this picture in a garden.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Strengthening Family Bonds

Well, Spring Break is over. I have gone back to work. Dylan has gone back to school. No more staying up late and sleeping in. It's back to the daily grind of packing lunches and homework.
Sounds sad right?

It all depends on how you look at the situation. We both had so much fun over the break on our mini-vacation in San Diego (yes, I will be posting pictures and sharing soon) that we have decided to adapt to the vacation mode lifestyle. At least as much as we can and still manage to go to work and school.

Over the break we led a simple life. No real schedules, no hectic going from one place to another. We talked more - real conversations. We laughed more and I believe our bond as mother and son strengthened because my attention was focused on us. On our family. Not on what had to be done around the house or checking emails.

He said please and thank you more. He actually put things away without me asking him to. This went on the whole week of Spring Break and has continued. Was this my son? Why the sudden change?

Well, as with any change, it is best to look at what was done different in your daily routine. Knowing that I couldn't really count going to the San Diego Zoo, or the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, or staying at a hotel for two nights, I had to think. What had we done different.

Ah yes, that was it. We were talking, not arguing. We were smiling, not pouting. We laughed instead of crying over hurt feelings. We treated each other with love and respect.

Something happened in San Diego, and I can't quite put my finger on it - but I'm not complaining.
I like adapting to a simpler life. Enjoying what each day brings and planning new things to do together - as a family. Because when all is said and done, the strength of a family can move mountains. Me and Dylan - we're moving some mountains.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Inspire. Support. Love.

As a parent, I believe it is my job to help my son be the best he can be. To inspire him to follow his passions. To support him in his choices. To love him for having the drive and aspiration to learn more about the world around us.

Meeting Zookeeper Rick - April 12, 2012
We just spent three days in San Diego on a mini-vacation for Spring Break and aside from being exhausted from all the walking, I came to a realization. Not really a big surprise, but one that I know now I must support.

My son has a deep love and compassion for animals. He thrives on learning more about them and sharing his knowledge with others.

He respects the animals and their environments. Sometimes, to my embarrassment, he actually corrects tourists at the zoo.

The other day there was a group of kids screaming inside the panda exhibit and he said, "Mom, can't they read the signs? It says to be quiet in here."

He started to get really upset and proceeded to tell the kids to be quiet. During another instance, some people referred to the meerkats as prairie dogs - big mistake. Yep, he corrected them ... while I looked the other way.

This got me thinking. When did his love for animals start?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Zookeeper Ron

The highlight of Dylan's day at San Diego Zoo Safari Park was the 20 minute conversation he had with Zookeeper Ron about the condors and what it takes to become a zookeeper.

His love of animals was so apparent yesterday and I truly believe he will do something amazing with animals when he grows up.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Imperfections are beautiful too

When the weight of the world seems to be crumbling around you, even the smallest task can become overwhelming. This has been the story of my life for the past few weeks.

As much as I wanted to be perfect, like this rose with each petal meticulously forming around the other, I just couldn't do it. Finding perfection and beauty in anything was damn near impossible.

I was depressed and couldn't snap out of it.

I did my best to put on happy face and pretend that everything was OK - but inside I knew that it wasn't.

Inside, I was screaming for someone to make the pain go away. To make the imperfections I was feeling go away.

I was tired, no exhausted. Mentally and physically exhausted. My world seemed to be spiraling out of control and the only thing I could control was how I treated myself.

I could be hard on myself and notice every single flaw. Every single petal that was not quite right. Like this pink rose with petals falling off, I was flawed.

I have gained weight and that upset me. How did I cope with this? By eating more of course. Then I could turn around and be mad at myself for eating. This I could control.

I'm not happy with my home. The clutter and chaos has taken over.

How did I cope with this?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Bubblefest at Discovery Science Center

Who needs words when you have bubbles?

Magnificent, amazing bubbles.

Bubblefest at Discovery Science Center runs now through April 22 and is a must for your family this Spring Break!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

#marchphotoaday challenge completed

Well, I did it. I completed the #marchphotoaday challenge created by @FatMumSlim. In fact, I had so much fun that I am going to take the challenge this month too.

Here are a few of my favorites from the last half of March -

Day 16: Sunglasses
Day 17: Green

Day 21: Delicious
Day 23: Moon

Day 24: An Animal

Day 27: Your Name

Now to tackle the month of April.

Are you taking the #photoadayApril challenge? Give it a try - I would love to see your photos!