Sunday, December 30, 2012

Goodbye 2012, it's been a wonderful year.

As another year comes to an end, I have spent the last few days looking back and remembering all the wonderful things that have happened for my family. So many "firsts" and some milestones for Dylan - not to mention the wonderful new friends we have made through our love of photography and the new friends I have made through twitter.

At times I question writing this blog, and think I should just stop. The computer and social media can consume so much of your time ... but today I am thankful for writing the blog.

This blog allows me to walk down memory lane with just a click of the mouse. Better than any photo album I could imagine.

Life with Dylan is a combination of thoughts, reflections, and pictures that tell a story - our story.

Dylan wins the Cub Scout Pine Derby and takes Grandpa to the winners circle with him.
The photo bug bit me when I got a new camera and spent the day at the San Diego Zoo.

My obsession with jellyfish continues ...

Reminding myself that some days you just need to have fun and my no holding back open letter for all the single moms out there. I believe March was the turning point for me - where my life took on a new direction.

The turning point in Dylan's life when he met Zookeeper Rick and I realized that my job was to inspire, support, and love my child. And the day when I finally saw the picture in what we call the blogosphere.

Thanks to Pinterest and the San Diego Zoo I found a new love for tigers.
A very special Mother's Day and more wonderful memories were made at the San Diego Zoo.
Oh, and my most favorite post of May ... Dylan's Birthday Wish for the Tigers.

We pinned it for tigers and we won a behind the scenes tour at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. I learned that one person can make a difference and that I was that one person. I celebrated a birthday, wrote a thank you letter to the ocean and was reminded why it is so important to keep taking pictures.

Started daydreaming more and turned our dreams into a family bucket list. Dylan turned 9 and his birthday wish came true!

This was a pretty big month for us. Dylan's love for photography grows and he takes a few tips from mom. We celebrated Yun Zi's 3rd birthday and dreamed of a world without habitat destruction. We said goodbye to a legacy, published our family bucket list, and realized how great the power of one can be

Along with going back to school, September was time to slow down and make some lifestyle changes. It was the start of Sunset Sundays and Endangered Species Mondays.

After a long hot summer, rain finally fell in Southern California and we saw the first signs of the seasons changing. Want to change the world? Start by educating the children ... and then watch as they beam with pride when recognized for their efforts by the White House.

This was another big month for us. I am sure it won't be the last time, but Dylan amazed me with his thinking and how the mind of a child wonders why ... After months of saving, we sent our second box of packaging to Terra Cycle instead of throwing it in the trash. Not knowing it at the time, but we wrote what would quickly become our most popular post on saving the orangutans. I also learned how to stay positive in a world filled with negativity.

Time to slow down and recharge. We didn't do much writing in December, but instead took some time off to relax and be a family.

Wow, looking back I can see that my family has really grown and changed as individuals too. We saw the big picture and realized what the important things were in life. I foresee some big changes coming in 2013, but I will save that for a new post in the new year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

We're taking a little vacation

With Christmas only a week away and a two week break from school and work starting this Friday, we have decided to take a vacation of sorts. Not your typical vacation - no planes or hotels involved. Rather, we are taking a vacation from writing and blogging and posting and tweeting and ... well, you get the idea.

The tree is up and the stocking are hung. We've decorated the house with some cherished memories and now it's time to sit back and enjoy the time together as a family.

Maybe do some baking and start a new book.

Who knows, I might even get crafty and start a new project - the type with needle and thread.

We'll for sure take some day trips to see our friends at the Zoo and Safari Park - oh, and the lovely school project of making a California relief map out of salt and flour dough. That should be fun.

I may get the desire to write every now and then, but until the new year there won't be any postings for the regular features like Endangered Species Monday or Sunset Sunday. They aren't going away, just taking some time off. Who knows, I may even come up with a new weekly feature or some special posts that have been whirling around in my head for some time now.

Enjoy the holidays and we will see you in 2013

Michelle and Dylan

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pinniped friends at the Aquarium of the Pacific

On a recent visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific, we spent some time with the seals and sea lions in hopes of getting a glimpse of Bixby, the baby harbor seal.

We were all smiles and even had some giggles with these silly pinnipeds.

The sea lions put on a great show from the underwater viewing area. I could spend hours just sitting here watching them swim around - so big, yet so graceful under water.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lions and Tigers and more - Nat Geo WILD Big Cat Week Giveaway

Are you watching Big Cat Week on Nat Geo WILD? So far we have seen two wonderful episodes - Snow Leopard of Afghanistan filled with hope and inspiration from a country that is often filled with death and sadness, and Attack of Big Cats filled with action-packed intrigue about the daily life of the elusive big cats.
If you missed either of these Big Cat Week episodes be sure to check your local listings because they will air again later in the week.

One of the main reasons I write this blog is to share information about endangered species with the hope of creating awareness and inspiring others to make a difference. So when I have the opportunity to give something away to my readers that not only educates, but also inspires them to "Cause an Uproar" ... well, I just can't say no.

In honor of my favorite big cat, the tiger, and tonight's Big Cat Week episode Tiger Dynasty, I am giving away a Nat Geo WILD Big Cat Week prize pack valued at $80 that will include: Plush Lion, Tiger or Lion hat scarf, Big Cats 2013 calendar, Cause an Uproar hat, and Just Lion Around onesie.

Nat Geo WILD Big Cat Week Prize Pack
Enter to win this Big Cat Week prize pack sponsored by Nat Geo WILD using the Rafflecopter entry form below. There are many ways to enter and you can use the tweet entry once a day. Winners will be selected on Sunday, December 16 at 11:59 p.m. PST and announced within 24 hours.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winners will be selected using Rafflecopter. I reserve the right to draw another winner if I am unable to get a mailing address in a timely manner. Giveaway is only open to residents of the contiguous US. Please make sure I can contact you to notify you if you have won (leaving a valid email address in your comment is a great way). Winners will first be announced on Life with Dylan's Facebook page, so if you're not a fan of us on Facebook, you may not know if you win.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Endangered Species Monday - Saving rhinos one letter at a time

I am a firm believer that the fate of our planet is in the hands of our children. My generation is trying to right the wrongs of my parents generation, but there isn't enough time to do it all. Today's children have the power and the desire to save this world and change things for the better. The more issues about conservation, wildlife poaching, and global warming that make the news and social media outlets, the more children become aware of what must be done.

Since my son decided to raise money for the tigers, in lieu of his birthday a few months ago, I have become more aware of other children making a difference too. Children are fearless and believe that they can take on anyone - even the President.

I came across an article today while reading Mother Nature Network that touched me and I was shocked that I hadn't heard about this before. After doing some further reading, I realized that the campaign started shortly after my son was raising money for the tigers. Maybe I was so caught up in tigers at the time that I didn't notice the work Carter and Olivia Ries of One More Generation (OMG) were doing for the rhinos.

This brother and sister duo have teamed up with SPOTS (Strategic Protection of Threatened Species) and set a goal to collect 1,000 letters and or drawings addressed to South African President Jacob Zuma. How inspirational is that? And what a great way to get people of all ages from all over the world involved in saving the rhinos from extinction. Carter and Olivia plan on personally delivering the letters to President Zuma when they visit South Africa in 2013. The idea is to show him and his staff how much we in America (and all over the world) care for these animals.

Your letter can be as long or as short as you like. Maybe you want to draw a picture or send a photograph showing how beautiful rhinos are. If you can't think of what to say, you can use one of the form letters on the One More Generation website.
Instructions on where to send your letters are detailed in the post Dear President Zuma, or you can even email your letter to

Dylan and I will be writing two letters this week to help Carter and Olivia reach their goal of 1,000 letters and I ask you to do the same.

Make it a Christmas gift to the rhinos - the gift of your time to write a letter could save hundreds if not thousands of rhinos. Everyone can make a difference.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunset Sunday - Island Style

"All I want for Christmas is a real good tan. Take me to the islands put my feet in the sand."
I adore fall and winter in Southern California, but I can't help longing to be on Maui to see more of these beautiful island sunsets.

Have a fantastic week and don't forget to take time to watch the sunsets.

Do you have a favorite sunset picture that you would like me to feature here? If so, send me your picture and the location it was taken. After all, what good is a beautiful sunset if you can't share it with others?

*Please only submit pictures you have personally taken and own the rights to.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Giving makes Christmas the most wonderful time of the year

Christmas is probably my favorite time of the year. As a child, Christmas was a time filled with excitement and hopes of getting everything I asked Santa for. As a parent, Christmas became a time of making memories and hoping that my child's wishes came true.

Christmas is about more than just Santa Claus, but Santa does remind us about giving from the heart.

Aside from all the marketing, Black Friday sales, Cyber Monday sales, and what seems like the never-ending slew of commercials for this years hottest toy, Christmas remains a special time of the year for me. A time that I can sit on the couch at night and gaze at the Christmas tree. A time when I feel more relaxed. I take the time to reflect on all the good things that have happened over the year.

I even find myself getting lost in the memories of Christmases past - especially when I see ornaments that my son made when he was just a toddler. 

I can remember the look of pride on his face when he gave me that ornament, wrapped up in green tissue paper and tied with a red piece of yarn. It didn't cost a lot of money, but it was made with love and given with love. The giving is what Christmas is all about to me. 

So the other day when my son came to me in tears because he didn't have money to buy me a special Christmas present, I reminded him of the snowman ornament he gave me when he was just 3 years old. The same popsicle stick ornament that hangs front and center every year on our tree. This is what brings a smile to my face. I told him to make me something special - a card, a drawing, anything that he made would be the best present I could ever ask for. 

The gift of giving is what makes Christmas the most wonderful time of the year. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Clouded Leopard cubs are the "purrfect" addition to the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo received a special delivery this week all the way from the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere - two adorable 14-week-old clouded leopard cubs! The cubs made their debut in the Children's Zoo Neonatal Assisted Care Unit and can be seen here daily for the next 30 days while in quarantine. The clouded leopard brothers are part of a very successful breeding program, which is helping to increase the population of this critically endangered animal.

Clouded leopard cub Riki-san
Photo taken on December 6, 2012, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo, ZSSD 2012 ©

According to San Diego Zoo zookeepers, Thirteen-pound Riki-san is the larger of the two cats but also the more timed one. His coat pattern is darker and his rosettes are more pronounced.
Haui-san weighs 11.5 pounds, is feisty and quite playful, enticing is bigger brother to wrestle and play a game of chase.

Clouded leopard cub Haui-san
Photo taken on December 6, 2012, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo, ZSSD 2012 ©

Although we have not seen the clouded leopard cubs yet, I can guarantee that our first stop next week will be at the Children's Zoo Neonatal Assisted Care Unit to welcome Riki-san and Haui-san. To find out more about the critically endangered clouded leopard, visit the zoos website.

After the quarantine period, the two cubs will join the San Diego Zoo's Backstage Pass animal ambassador program, but until then you can see them in the nursery. As you will see in this video provided by the San Diego Zoo, Riki-san and Haui-san seem very happy in their new home.

Watch as they pounce, climb, and play with each other in the nursery. If this video doesn't make you smile, then I don't know what will.

The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The work of the Conservancy includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and international field programs in more than 35 countries. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lions, Tigers & Leopards Oh my! Big Cat Week is coming on Nat Geo Wild

It is no surprise that I love big cats - I think it is obvious that tigers are my favorite, but I love lions, leopards, jaguars and cheetahs too. They are all such beautiful animals. My son and I spend much of our television viewing hours watching Nat Geo Wild and I am constantly amazed at the cinematography.

One of the items on our family bucket list is to travel to Africa and go on a real safari to see these animals up close in their natural habitat, so you can imagine how excited we were to see a segment on 60 minutes featuring award-winning filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert. The Jouberts have been photographing and filming Africa's lions for 30 years now and living what some may call they perfect life. Their home sits in the middle of the Okavango Delta in Botswana and has the most amazing view. If you missed the segment you can see it here.

This Sunday, December 9, kicks off the start of Big Cat Week on Nat Geo Wild - five nights of incredible big cat films, including some of the Joubert's. These are stories told in a way that only National Geographic can tell them. Learn how these animals survive in a world that at times seems to be completely against them. Watch in amazement as you see human-like emotions on the faces of these big cats. If you love big cats like we do then I know you will be watching ... and if you are new to Big Cat Week, I know you will not be disappointed.

Be sure to read about National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative and help Cause an Uproar!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Enadangered Species Monday - Giving the gift of hope

One of my favorite ways to help save endangered species is to symbolically adopt and animal and give it as a gift. This holiday season, why not take a look through the World Wildlife Fund virtual Gift Catalog and give someone more than just a present - give them the gift of hope and inspiration to save endangered species.

You can choose from 100 different animals and they offer six levels of adoption ranging from $25 - $250 so there really is something for everyone. World Wildlife Fund makes it easy to search through the different animals too. You can sort your searches by most popular, by threat level, and by region.

Selecting an animal might be difficult for some people, but World Wildlife Fund has made this easy too - you can purchase a Gift Adoption Card and let the recipient choose their own animal to symbolically adopt.

The San Diego Zoo also offers animal adoptions at various levels from $35 - $1,000 and a few limited edition holiday adoptions. The San Diego Zoo monthly Wish List is another place I like to shop for gifts. Although these gifts can't be wrapped up, it sure is nice to give two gifts at once. This year I purchased several gifts for the animals in honor of family members. Their gifts will be the gift of giving and I think that is the best kind of gift.

If you are an ocean lover, check out the Aquarium of the Pacific's Adopt and Animal program where you can symbolically adopt penguins, sharks, otters, sea turtles, seals, and more starting at only $10.

Most zoos, aquariums and other non-profit organizations offer animal adoptions. Contact your local zoo or support an organization that you like and give the gift of hope this holiday season. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunset Sunday - Through the storm clouds

Southern California has had a few days of rain this week, but that didn't stop the sun from shining through the storm clouds. Don't let the big dark rain clouds fool you when a storm is passing through because no matter what, the sun always finds a way to brighten up the end of your day.

Have a fantastic week and don't forget to take time to watch the sunsets.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

We all need time to recharge

So I've been away from the blog for a few days, taking some time to catch my breath and gather my thoughts. I know that life is going to get hectic over the next month with Christmas and the various holiday events. I felt the need to declutter and reorganize my life.

Not just the physical aspects of my life, but the mental too. I needed to recharge. So many changes occurred this year, for me and for Dylan. We started a journey that was only a dream for so long and now it is becoming a reality. I needed to slow down a little and get my focus back. Focus on what was important.

I started by tackling that shelf in the closet. You know the one where everything that doesn't have a home gets put ... we all have one. Then I spent about an hour cleaning up the files in my computer. Did I really need that word document from 2005? No, I didn't think so either. To the recycle bin it went. Next it was on to social media. My twitter feed was so out of control, filled with hashtags and sponsored posts that I really have no desire to see. Away they went and I created lists - oh, how I love twitter lists.

I spent time going through the past 4 months of photographs - organizing, editing, and uploading favorites to Flickr. And of course the whole time I was doing this I was watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel. Well, when I started looking at pictures and had Christmas movies in the background, I had a brilliant idea to design our Christmas card. I spent more time than I had planned doing this, but I am so happy with the results.

Although these things may seem like nothing to you, they were everything to me. Sometimes those little things that we don't think are important really are. Why? Because those little things that we keep putting off begin to cloud what really is important. So now that I am recharged, it is time to start decorating the house for Christmas and get back to writing about what I love.

Life can get hectic during the holidays, so make sure you take time to slow down, recharge, and enjoy the little things life has to offer.