Saturday, June 29, 2013

Time to hit the open road

We've been planning this for months now. Saving up money each month with one goal in mind - have enough money for the much anticipated summer vacation. We didn't take a vacation last summer and this summer I wanted to do something that would give Dylan and I time together. Time to reconnect after a busy school year and do things that we both enjoyed.

What better to do than plan a road trip centered around our favorite things? A trip created to check things off the family bucket list. A road trip to visit Mek and say hello to CJ for the first time. No, these aren't people ... they are tigers. Yep, this trip is going to take us to a variety of Zoos, National Parks, and the California Redwoods. It's a zoo road trip!

We started with the idea of visiting my Dad in Northern California and making a day trip from his home to see the California Redwoods - then the idea hit me - Road Trip! 

First we will go to the Fresno Zoo to see out beloved Mek.

Next stop, Sacramento Zoo so that we can meet CJ the 4 month old tiger cub.

Then we will head west, driving through some beautiful scenery, and ultimately arriving at my Dad's home. After spending some time relaxing in what I like to call "so not Orange County" and taking in the majestic California Redwoods, we will start making our way back to Southern California.

In hopes of seeing a wild condor in flight, we will be visiting Pinnacles National Park. I have heard it is beautiful.

Once we hit the Central Coast, we will visit the Charles Paddock Zoo. Sure, it's a small zoo (only 5 acres), but it's the only zoo in the Central Coast area of the United States. Really, for any zoo lover this is a must see zoo. 

I'm sure there will be numerous unplanned stops along the 101. The drive is just too beautiful not to stop. A night in Solvang will bring walks on cobblestone streets (yep, that's a bucket list item) and some yummy Aebleskivers. Along with a bit of Danish history and culture. 

Finally, a drive down the coast would not be complete without a stop in Santa Barbara. So what will do? Visit the Santa Barbara Zoo of course!

I won't be writing much while on vacation because ... well ... I'm on vacation! 

However, I will be tweeting, sharing pictures on Facebook, and Instagraming along the way so be sure to follow us. #ZooRoadTrip2013  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Officially a Boy Scout

Tiger Cub, Bobcat, Wolf Cub, Bear Cub, Webelo ...

He did it all - Camping trips, belt loops earned, beads earned, silver arrows and gold arrows. 

Special badges for Conservation and Whittling. Earning the religious square knot as a Wolf Cub.

Laws and Oaths memorized. Secret handshakes and salutes.

And now the coveted Arrow of Light. 

Welcome to Boy Scouts Dylan. 

You worked hard and made us all proud. With Grandpa by your side, you crossed over from a Webelo to a Boy Scout. 

You are on your way to make Eagle Scout.

Some days I feel like it has been forever since you started your journey. 
Four and a half long years to be exact - but then I look at the pictures - the little spunky boy with attitude going to his first Tiger Cub meeting. The little boy who was so excited to start exploring the world as a scout. 


I look at the pictures and think, Where did the time go?

You still have spunk and attitude, there is no denying that - but now you also have confidence.

This is what will make you a great Boy Scout.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Update on our adopted Northern White Rhino, Fatu

The other day we received an email from Helping Rhinos with a subject line of An update on Fatu - Your Adopted Rhino. An update? Did something happen to Fatu? 

Upon opening the email we were pleasantly surprised to see a new picture of Fatu and some fun information about her favorite things to eat. She loves carrots and bananas!

We love symbolically adopting all animals and will continue to adopt more.

However, Fatu will always hold a special place in our heart because she is 1 of only 7 Northern White Rhinos left in the world.

Fatu is, in a sense, our last hope for the species to survive beyond these last seven.

For more information an how you can help save the Northern White Rhinos, visit today.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Time to check sunsets off the bucket list

Part of the fun to making a bucket list is getting to check things off the list. Although we have checked a few things off our family bucket list, the one I completed last week was a long time coming. A year to be exact. Ironically, I took the final sunset picture on my birthday.

With the help of doing Sunset Sunday for a few months, which kept me on track, I was able to take a picture of the sunset every month. The goal was just one picture of the sunset each month, but I got hooked and often took one a week.

Sunsets are so beautiful and after completing this family bucket list item I have learned that it is true - no two sunsets are the same.

Birthday sunset on the bay

One of my favorite sunsets was in September overlooking the Back Bay, also know as the Upper Newport Bay. The colors were phenomenal and I was truly thankful to have my iPhone that day.

Another favorite was when the skies turned bright pink. I was walking the track at the local high school and looked up to see a sky filled with cotton candy clouds.

Although beautiful sunsets are associated with summer and tropical islands, I will admit that winter sunsets aren't too shabby.

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

Oh, and when the golden hour ends ... be patient and wait for the magic moment that occurs just as the day is ending and the night is beginning.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My secret garden helps me to unwind and reconnect

Lately I've been super stressed out at work. Working for the school district means June is my busiest time of year and no matter how hard I try to stay on task, something always comes up. Whether it is an upset parent because their child missed a deadline or a staff member who needs something fixed, it always seems to be more important than what I have planned for the day. By the end of the day I am frazzled. My to do list looks about the same as when I started the day, which means tomorrow's list will be even longer.

Today was probably the worst day this week and I want to do nothing but unwind and find a way to reconnect with what is important.

That being nature and my family.

Forget about work.

Forget about the laundry that needs to be done or the dinner that needs to be prepared.

Thankfully, I did a some gardening last weekend and have this lovely little corner on my balcony to help me relax.

It's not much - I know that, but it is a start. And I feel good about it because these plants were saved from the trash when someone moved and couldn't take them along. Some were gifts that I finally re-potted and haven't killed - well, not yet.

You think the plant stand looks like something you might put a fish tank on? Well, that's because it is an old aquarium stand. One that I never got rid of thinking I would start another aquarium. However, I think it makes a lovely re-purposed plant stand. Eco-friendly and functional.

Aside from the plant life, there is a a huge pine tree next to my apartment. This is the tree where Nutty lives along with many birds and other small critters. Around me there is nothing but silence and the sounds of nature.

I hear a variety of bird calls, an owl hooting, and the occasional plane that flies over.

I feel a cool breeze on my face.

My son is unwinding in his room watching cartoons. Hey, to each his own right?

As I sit here typing on my new Samsung Chromebook (a little birthday gift I picked up the other night) I am at peace. Content with the world around me.

I can now continue my day and do what needs to be done around the house.

How do you unwind from a stressful day and reconnect with the important things?
Do you have a secret garden where you sit?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Make today and every day World Oceans Day!

Taken just moments after he saw a blue whale for the very first time.

Two years ago Dylan and I shared a magical experience together. We saw our first blue whale swimming freely in the open ocean. The largest mammal to ever live on earth - living in a body of water that covers 75% of the earth's surface -  breaching right in front of the boat.

The sheer joy on his face is priceless.

Let's not forget that the ocean is home to so many wonderful creatures and just because we can't see them all the time doesn't mean they don't exist. They are living in a world that we take for granted. A world that needs our help to save its beautiful creatures.

Make today and every day World Oceans Day.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tigers are really just big beautiful kitty cats

I know them by name and could watch them all day long.

I can take hundreds of pictures of them - never tiring of their beautiful features.

Their strength is evident in their powerful shoulders and legs.

Their massive paws glide effortlessly across logs, yet can take down prey in one swing.

Their eyes tell a story.

A story of strength and a story of sadness.

No matter how I look at them, these animals melt my heart.

This is Connor.

Connor reminds me a lot of his mom Mek who moved to the Fresno Zoo.

Such a beautiful kitty.

You can see more pictures of my beloved tigers on Flickr