Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why you need to keep taking those pictures ...

We all take pictures of our children - it's what parents do. Birthday parties, holidays, vacations and now with cell phone cameras, there isn't a reason we can't snap a picture at any time of the day or night. Sometimes we think we take too many pictures and sometimes our children don't want us to take their picture.

Well, the next time your child says No more pictures Mom! - think again.

Last night I was looking through old pictures on the computer and realized that sometimes a picture is worth more than a thousand words. Sometimes a picture, no matter how many times you have taken the same picture, same pose, same location ... is priceless.

The sign stayed the same, but boy did my son grow up! Not to mention the tress and the plants.

Yep, he always wants to pose in the tree by the hippos. I won't be telling him not another picture in the tree anymore.

This has got to be one of my favorite "then and now" pictures from the San Diego Zoo. Ever since he was a toddler, he asks to eat at the Treetop Cafe - at his table. Yes, he actually believes that this is his table and we always sit here. In all the times we have visited the San Diego Zoo, these are the only two pictures I have of him at his table ... now I'm wishing I had taken more.

So wherever your "picture spot" may be, keep taking those pictures. There is a reason you stop each time to take a picture here - and nothing is more priceless than watching your child grow up in photographs.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - I made this

I hated having to wake him on his second day of summer vacation, but I'm not on vacation until next week. He looked so peaceful sleeping as the morning sun lit up his room.

No matter how old he gets, I love watching him sleep. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A crash course in vermicomposting

I will never forget the day Dylan came home from school and said, with bright eyes and a big smile, "Mom, just listen first, ok?" Oh, this can't be good. I knew this was going to be something I would have to say yes to, but I must admit what he was about to ask me made me cringe a little.

This past year, the third grade classes started vermicomposting (worms, for those of you who don't know) in the school garden. I can't tell you how many times he came home and told me about these little red wigglers that had become his "friends" - and guess what - They need a home for the summer.

Now we have talked about starting our own worm bin, but mind you talk is all we have done. I don't have a yard - we live in an apartment.

Where would these red wigglers go? Would I have to touch them? Would they get out of the bin? Oh my, the thought of little worms crawling all over me flashed before my eyes.

Well, last week I became the proud owner of a black bin filled with red wigglers. OK, I can do this - it's just for the summer. The bin sat in my living room for about an hour while I prepared an area on the balcony that would be in full shade because the worms can't be in direct sunlight.

Dylan gave me the crash course in how much to feed them (we were also given a scale to weigh the food), when to water t-shirts that cover them (yes, they came with their own spray bottle), and what not to feed them. Citrus fruit is a big no-no, they don't like too much acid. Oh, and apparently their favorite food is egg shells, coffee grinds and melon rind, so I have a baggie of melon rind in my fridge. 

It's been a week now and I will admit that these guys are growing on me. I actually look forward to coming home and checking on them. (Sshhh, don't tell Dylan.)

Do you compost? Is it something you would consider doing? I hear worm poop is the liquid gold of fertilizer. 

Everything has its place in the ecosystem ... even worms!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Protect the environment and donate your used cell phones

Dylan will be collecting used cell phones from June 25 through July 10, 2012

Once his box is full, he will be sending the phones to the fundraising company and they will send him a check for the phones based on their market value price list. Every phone is worth something and every little bit will help him reach his goal of $1,000

Cell phone facts:

·Over 100 million cell phones are stockpiled in U.S. households creating 50,000 tons of potentially hazardous waste.

·On average Americans replace their cell phones every 12-18 months. An estimated 130 million cell phones are discarded annually in the U.S. alone.

·Cell phones contain toxic substances including Arsenic, Antimony, Beryllium, Cadmium, Copper, Lead, Nickel and Zinc which leach into soil and groundwater and form toxins during incineration which have been associated cancer and a range of reproductive, neurological and developmental disorders.

·The cadmium from a single cell phone is capable of polluting 158,200 gallons of water. (That’s 2.4 million 8-ounce sodas!)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Goodbye Lonesome George

You've heard it said before ... Extinction is forever, Endangered means we still have time ... and sadly today this quote has a new meaning to the world.

Lonesome George passed away today. He was the last Galapagos tortoise of his species.

Although many breeding attempts were made, the conservation efforts were unsuccessful. Galapagos National Park rangers estimate that Lonesome George was about 100 years old.

Lonesome George became known as a conservation icon and will always be remembered to me and Dylan as the one we never got to meet. So many other species are critically endangered and need our help. Don't let them be the last one like Lonesome George.

Goodbye Lonesome George.

Photo courtesy of putneymark under the Creative Commons License.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sometimes God needs little angels too

Last week was a rough one for me and for many of the teachers and students at Ensign Intermediate School. Working at a school, you become very close to the students ... so close that these students seem to become children of your own. You see them every day and you watch them grow. You share in their triumphs and in their sorrows - and when the unthinkable happens, your cry with them.

Last week, one of our students, Madison "Maddy" May Boutelle, passed away. She was only 13 years old. Taken away from her friends and family too soon, but I know that God had a reason. Death is hard for adults, so you can only imagine what it must be like for a teenager. The hallways were quieter than usual and the tears came without warning. As a school counselor told me, sometimes it hits you like a tsunami and you have to just go with it.

I attended the services to celebrate the life of Maddy on Saturday, along with over 1,000 other people, most of which were her classmates. It was a beautiful service, but something I can't get out of my mind is the church filled with children. Children saying goodbye to their friend. A girl who accepted everyone for who they were and did not judge. A girl who had a smile that could light up a room. As beautiful as this sight was, and I will never forget it, I hope I never have to see it again.

Something I learned about Maddy was that she always said hello with a smile and hug and goodbye with I love you. I think this is wonderful way to live life.

I know that life cannot be lived in the what if, but the what if is all I could think about for the latter part of the week. What would I do if something ever happened to Dylan? No parent should ever have to say goodbye to their child. I don't know when God will need me or when he will need my son, but I do know that I cannot live life in the what ifs. I will say hello with a smile and a hug and I will say goodbye with I love you.

To all the parents out there - Love your children and cherish every moment you have with them. Hold them a minute longer, a little tighter - even when they start to pull away. Take nothing for granted and live life to the fullest. Take the time to get to know your children and be their friend as well as their parent. Take pictures, lots of pictures.

Because you never know when God is going to need a little angel to watch over us.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summertime means Nature Camp at the ENC

For the past three summers, Dylan has been attending Nature Camp at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach and this summer will be no different. This is not your typical summer camp.

The ENC offers a hands-on experience with nature that takes place in a traditional camp setting - without having to drive into the mountains. For anyone who has been to the ENC, you know that once you enter the main gate you are instantly transported from the busy city streets to the great outdoors.

Campers will walk the trails, learn about the ENC grounds and how to respect the plants and animals who live there, make crafts at good old-fashioned picnic tables, and learn all about science and nature.

During the ENC Spring Faire, Dylan had the chance to meet some of the special guests who will be joining the campers this summer.

Each week is a different theme and includes a special guest or local field trip. There are eight sessions to choose from and surely one that your child will love!

Session 1: July 2 - 5   Do It Yourself Camp
Campers learn about everyday things and how to make many of them. Special guest - a real beekeeper!

Session 2: July 9 - 12   Planet Protectors
Campers learn how the benefits of recycling, reusing, reducing and more. Beach clean-up and visit to a landfill for older campers.

Session 3: July 16 - 19   Wilderness Survival
Campers learn how to prepare for the unexpected. Special guest - Coast Live Oak School, ancestral survival skills.

Session 4: July 23 - 26   Under the Sea
Campers learn about marine mammals, sharks, fish, and everything living under the sea. Field Trip to Crystal Cove State park tide pools.

Session 5: July 30 - Aug 2   Outdoor Adventure
Campers learn about a variety of habitats and the plants and animals that live in them. Special guest - Live birds of prey!

Session 6: Aug 6 - 9   Incredible Inventions
Campers learn about famous inventors and make inventions of their own. Field trip to Tessman Planetarium.

Session 7: Aug 13 - 16   Outdoor Creativity
Campers explore creativity in nature with drawing, painting, dance, sculpting and more. Special guest - Southland Opera Company performance of "Adventures in Song and Story"

Session 8: Aug 20 - 23   Mad Science
Campers enjoy safe, age-appropriate, hands-on experiments. Field trip to Discovery Science Center.

Summer Nature Camp at ENC

Who: Elementary students entering Kindergarten through 6th grade. The campers are split into small groups based on age.

When: Nature Camp is Monday - Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with an after camp option that runs from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Environmental Nature Center, 1601 16th Street, Newport Beach, CA 92663

How much: Nature Camp is $175 per session ($157.50 for members) and After Camp is $80 per session ($72 for members)

For more information about ENC Summer Nature Camp or to register your camper visit the ENC website.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Koala Kisses

If this isn't love between a mother and child, then I don't know what is.

So honored to have my photograph featured on the San Diego Zoo's Tumblr page alongside so many amazing photographers.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A little guide to life

I received a birthday card today that fit my life so well that it could have been written just for me. The words are so beautiful ... I hope they bring a smile to your face like they did to mine.

Be good to yourself.

There are some things everyone deserves -
Love, respect, time to recharge.
Never settle for less.

Seek out your dreams.

Start small. Take it as it comes.
Even a butterfly has to inch along before getting its wings.

Listen to your heart.

Trust your gut.
If the way seems unclear, look within you.

Let your voice be heard.

You have a story to tell and opinions that count.
And a difference to make.

Stay curious.

Take every opportunity to learn.
Knowledge is a gift. It will take you places.

Hold on to what's important.

Let worries go.
No matter how you look at it, some things just don't make sense.
The way you choose to carry on is what really matters.

And when you make that list of what you want in life,
make another list of what you've got.
Be sure to start with all the things that make you a beautiful person.
There are so many.

Most of all, remember you're loved.

Friday, June 8, 2012

My Thank You Letter to the Ocean

Dear Ocean,

Today we celebrate you and all your beauty. From the blue-green waters of the Caribbean to the deep blue darkness at your depths. From your calm glassy surface to the rough waves you produce during a storm. You are an integral part of the earth and the ecosystem would be off balance without you. Covering 75% of the world's surface, you truly are amazing.

You provide a home to millions of fish, marine mammals, plants, and so much more. Your vastness can even make the world's largest living animal, the blue whale, look small.

Without the ocean, there would be no "happy place" for me. For you see, whenever I need time to think or to clear my head - I simple go to you. The sound your crashing waves make against the shore and the salty smell you give to the air give me serenity.

Because I can never see where you end, you give me hope. Hope that there is something more to be discovered. Hope that one day you will not be used as a trash can, but rather respected as a home to other living creatures.

In honor of you, I will share your beauty with those around me. I will never forget the power you have to give life as quickly as you can take life away. Tonight, I will get lost in the tranquility that you possess when I watch Disneynature Oceans - one of my favorite documentaries.

Today, on World Oceans Day, I thank you.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - World Oceans Day

Maui, 2007 ... the day Dylan fell in love with the ocean.

World Oceans Day is this Friday, June 8 - How will you celebrate the ocean?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A beauty product that is good for my skin and even better for the environment

Beauty doesn't have to cost a lot, nor does it have to be in fancy packaging. In fact, beauty can actually be good for the environment, good for the animals, and good for your skin.

I have been searching for a new foundation and have tried just about every organic, all natural makeup line there is without spending a fortune. Although many of these products looked good on the outside, once they came in contact with my skin I didn't like it. Either the color was always wrong or the makeup caused my skin to breakout.

Being a huge fan of LUSH Cosmetics and their wonderful bath and body products, I spent some time looking over the other products available. Well, what do you know - they make a foundation!

Not just any foundation, but a colour supplement that works three ways. Dab on as a concealer, blend with moisturizer for a tinted glow, or use alone as a full coverage foundation. Last weekend I went over to LUSH Cosmetics at Fashion Island to check is out. The staff there is so friendly and always spends time answering all my questions. I never feel as though I'm rushed - like they need to move on to the next person.

I was matched for my color and happily bought a jar of Colour Supplements in Dark Yellow (along with some other things). The price is reasonable, the packaging is recycled, it is mineral-oil free, and best of all ... no animal testing or animal products of any kind.

Infused with fresh rose petals to calm redness and a natural sunscreen, titanium dioxide, this is hands down one of the best foundations I have used in a very long time.

I have worn it both alone and mixed with my moisturizer for 3 days now. My skin tone is even, no redness, no pigmentation, and I don't even feel like I have makeup on. Kudos to LUSH Cosmetics for offering a beauty product that is good for my skin and even better for the environment.

Don't be fooled by fancy packaging and big name ingredients. Keep it simple. Keep it natural.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

If I can make one person aware, then I have accomplished my goal

When someone tells me I can't do something, that what I am doing doesn't matter in the big picture - well, that just makes me do it even more.

People told me I was crazy to change my blog and stop doing the "blogger" thing. That nobody wanted to read about animals, conservation, the environment, or my beliefs toward these issues. I have been told that I am alienating my "friends". Well, if these so called friends respected me and my beliefs, then they wouldn't feel this way. Rather, they would support me.

A little over a week ago, I tweeted this picture of Nola and Angalifu from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park with the caption "This picture shows 1/4 of the world's Northern White Rhino population. Warning it may shock you"

Yes, you did the math correctly. There are only 7 Northern White Rhinos left living in the world. These animals are critically endangered and will be disappear in your lifetime if something is not done to stop the poachers.

Between my tweet, the re-tweets, my posting on Facebook, and the Facebook shares - over 20,000 people saw this picture. In fact, someone just re-tweeted this yesterday so that number has increased.

That my friends is called creating awareness and making a difference. 

I entered a contest and created a board on Pinterest called Pin It For Tigers to show how beautiful these animals are and bring attention to the drastically declining numbers in the wild. I became an advocate for the tigers. Once my board was named as one of the finalist, I had 20 new followers of that board and several re-pins.

That my friends is called creating awareness and making a difference.

When my 8-year old son decided to raise money for the tigers at San Diego Zoo Safari Park in lieu of birthday presents and a party, his friends began asking him how they could help. Third graders wanted to know about the plight of the tigers - and you know that they went home and told their parents about what Dylan said in his class.

That my friends is called creating awareness and making a difference.

When I share pictures of new babies born at zoos and aquariums, they make people smile. Who doesn't melt when they see a picture like this? These people will then want to visit the zoos and aquariums, which are mostly non-profit organizations, in turn helping to support the animals and the conservation efforts made for them.

Photo courtesy of Terri Haines, Aquarium of the Pacific

That my friends is called creating awareness and making a difference.

No matter what your passion is ...

No matter what your cause is ...

Regardless of your age ...



Underestimate the power you have to create awareness and make a difference in the world.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

We Pinned It For Tigers - and we Won!

As you may know, about a month ago I started a Pinterest board to create awareness and spread the word about the plight of the tigers. This board was created to enter a contest put on by the San Diego Zoo Safari Park as part of their 40th Anniversary and Endangered Species Day. Little did I know that by creating this board I would find a new love for these big cats and spark a fire in my son's heart as well.

Dylan's reaction to winning.
Last week, the top three boards were announced on the San Diego Zoo Safari Parks Facebook page and we were one of them. Now it was up to the fans to vote and select a winning board. The grand prize was a Behind the Scenes Tour to meet the big cats of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Thanks to fan votes, we won the contest!

I was so excited that I called Dylan's teacher and asked if I could come share the good news with him during class. When I walked in the room, his eyes began to water. He knew why I was there. After sharing the story with his classmates, they all applauded and began asking him how they could help too.

When creating my Pinterest board, I didn't want just pictures of tigers - I wanted to show more. I found pictures of tiger cakes, tiger jewelry, artwork, and more importantly pictures that truly showed the plight of the tigers. These animals are being hunted by poachers in such a cruel manner. This is what I wanted to show, and in the process I was brought to tears. I found a new love for tigers that I was able to share and hopefully inspire others to share too.

Our Pin It For Tigers Board

Shortly after starting the Pin it for Tigers board, Dylan and I visited the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for Endangered Species Day. This is when Dylan found his love for tigers and decided to do his part.

Together, Dylan and I will continue to share our love for tigers and all other endangered species - because we now know that even one person, no matter how old, can make a difference.

Photo courtesy of World Wildlife Fund