Saturday, June 28, 2014

Catching Up with Lion Cubs Ken and Dixie

What a difference three months makes in the life of a lion cub. Although I have seen Ken and Dixie a few times since they left the nursery back in April, today was the first time I was able to photograph them outside at Lion Camp.

Talk about growing up too fast, wow. These two have gotten so big in just a few months, I mean take a look at those paws!

Born on December 6, Ken and Dixie will be 7 months old next week. The cubs take turns enjoying the grassy slopes of Lion Camp with their parents Izu and Oshana. I love that Dylan and I have the opportunity to visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on a regular basis to watch them grow up and become adult lions.

Ken and Dixie are just like your average toddlers - well, except that they are lions and not humans. When it comes to taking pictures, you have a 50-50 chance of them cooperating.

Typical brother and sister, one is always making funny faces.

Uh-oh, looks like Ken and Dixie are up to something. Whispering lion cubs are never a good sign.

Yep, there he goes. So much for taking a family portrait today.

I look forward to spending some late summer nights watching these two frolic at Lion Camp during Summer Safari.

More pictures of Ken and Dixie on Flickr.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tiger Cubs ...

Because who doesn't love a dose of tiger cub cuteness?



 Batani, Cinta, Arya

Visit my flickr album to see more of Mek's adorable tiger cubs.

Monday, June 23, 2014

My Summer of Writing

Sometimes I find it very therapeutic to reflect and look back at what I have done. Enjoying the memories and taking pride in what I have accomplished. Other times, I just find it down right necessary to look back. This would be one of those times.

Last summer we took a wonderful road trip. We called it our Zoo Road Trip and I documented our adventure on Instagram and Twitter. I started to write about it here, but never quite got around to finishing. Work and school became my priorities and then it was time for the holidays. Before I knew it, six months had gone by and I figured it was in the past. No need to go back now, right? Wrong!

This summer there are no road trips planned. No vacations that will last more than two days and absolutely nothing holding me back from spending my summer vacation doing what I love.

Writing and photography ... a perfect blending of creativity if you ask me.

This summer I will start a journey of reflection and ultimately completion.

Who cares if I am sharing stories about a trip we took last year. The California Redwoods are still standing last time I checked and maybe my story will inspire another family to embark on a journey to the Avenue of the Giants.

You see, most stories have no statute of limitations.

It does not matter how old a story is; as long as sharing the story will enrich and possibly educate others, then the story is worth telling.

People say that every picture has a story to tell. Perhaps some of my pictures could use a few words to enhance those stories. Or maybe those pictures I took of a wild dove, resting in the tree branches outside my window, will bring happiness to someone else like they did me that warm spring afternoon.

Whether I am writing about our Zoo Road Trip from 2013 or sharing photographs with a few words of wisdom, my goal this summer is to write.

To get back into my writing groove and perhaps even take some of those post-it notes I have laying around with ideas scribbled on them and turn those ideas into something worth sharing. Stick around, I think you will like what I have to share with you during my Summer of Writing.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Birthday Reflections of a Forty-Something Mom

As I sit here staring at the blank screen, I am torn between writing what I really feel or just sugar-coating the truth so it sounds better. Too much information is not good, but pretending that everything is roses and rainbows would just be a flat out lie.

Maybe I should just walk the fine line down the middle of the road.

Forty-something. What does that really mean? Is it a number we throw out there because we don't want people to know our real age or is it a frame of mind? Something that says, "Listen world, I'm not young and I'm not old. I've got lots of things to learn still and I'm old enough to admit my mistakes". Yeah, that sounds good to me.

This last year has been a bit of a whirlwind for me. Things got super chaotic for a while and I wasn't sure if I would ever see the light at the end of the tunnel. I quit smoking in December 2012, so nicotine couldn't get me through it this time.

I felt like the hamster running in the wheel, going faster and faster, yet never getting anywhere. Constantly on the go and wondering when I would get someplace. When would I get where I wanted to be in life? When will it be my turn?

Wait, do I even know where I want to be?

As a single mom, my day starts at 6 am and ends around 11 pm or midnight. Later if I choose to actually do something like watch a movie or read a magazine article.

I'm tired. I loathe doing dishes two and three times a day. I want someone else to do the laundry and the grocery shopping for me. My house is not perfect, nor will it ever be.

As soon as one chore is done, there is another one waiting for me. Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom ... a full-time working mom with a son who I adore beyond words. He makes me proud and reminds me that if I put my mind to something, I can and will do it. Like the title of this blog says, Life with Dylan inspires me. This child, this little mini-me, inspires me to be the bigger person. He reminds me why life is worth living to the fullest.


Stop what you are thinking. I am not whining or complaining. I am simply being honest. Like I said, life is not always roses and rainbows; however, we seldom say these truths out loud for fear of being criticized. We have been taught to only share happy things on social media. Never the bad.

I think people need to start walking the line a little more. Add some of the bad with the good - then maybe those of us running on the hamster wheel won't feel so alone. Sometimes we need to turn things around. Stop being the pessimist and start being the optimist. For example, how often do we say, "Hooray for Monday!" ... not too often. However, we always say TGIF! My friend Marcy got me hooked on #MIHM (Make It Happen Monday) and it helps me feel like I might actually get someplace. Even if it's just getting some things checked off my to-do list, or getting that batch of photos edited. You should try it next week.

As I reflect on what is the last day of my 43rd year, I am reminded that I may not have it all together. I may not have the perfect life (who does?) and I probably made a few more mistakes then I wanted to. However, this is my life and looking back over the years, I have been blessed with so many good things. The mistakes I made this year have only made me a stronger person. I learned to stand up for myself and my beliefs; although not everyone agreed with my choices, they were just that, MY choices.

So what does next year have in store for me? Who knows.

What I do know, is that I am ready for it. Bring it on 44!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Boy and His Hippo

I haven't shared any Throwback Thursday pictures here in a long time - mainly because they are more of an Instagram thing. However, I thought this one was from today was particularly cute. Creating this picture took me on a little walk down memory lane and made me smile.

Dylan was 2 years old on his first visit to the San Diego Zoo. He couldn't climb up and had to be lifted to sit on the hippo. He may be turning 11 next month, but he will never be too old to take a picture with his friend.

A boy and his hippo. A friendship that began 9 years ago at the San Diego Zoo.

Have you taken pictures with this famous bronze hippo?
It's a must for Dylan every time we visit.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Exploring Tiger Trail and Becoming One with the Tigers

Tigers are breathtaking, captivating, elusive, powerful, and mysterious. They have taken over my world and I could not be happier!

Twelve days ago I saw Tiger Trail for the first time when my son and I attended a special donor preview event on May 22. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I did know that we would see tigers like never before.

The anticipation mounted as we walked along the pathway lined with wooden posts. We had been down this path so many times over the past two years, but this time it was different. No longer did the path end with a barricade. Now the path opened up to a beautiful plaza giving way to the entrance of the Tull Family Tiger Trail. After finding Dylan's name on the donor plaque, we began walking down the bamboo lined path toward the Indonesian tiger statue. I could feel myself leaving one world and entering another.

I was in Indonesia; surrounded by lush, green foliage and the soothing sound of a waterfall in the distance. Along the path were beautifully hand-carved wooden benches.

Each one unique and a piece of art. These benches call to you, inviting you to sit and take in everything around you.

Then, as I turned the corner, I saw him. Standing there only a few feet away from me and looking into my eyes was Teddy. I was mesmerized by his beauty.

Teddy is a 10-year-old male Sumatran tiger and he loves to pose for the camera. As you can see, Teddy is quite handsome.

Across the way I saw another tiger. One I have not seen since he was a small cub, only a few months old. It was Conrad and he stole my heart with his captivating eyes.

Everywhere I looked took my breath away. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park did an amazing job designing this new Sumatran tiger habitat - not a single detail was left out. From the moment you walk through the arched branches you feel an overwhelming sense of calm and serenity.

The message of tiger conservation is apparent throughout the exhibit. Whether it be a sign explaining how tigers care for their young or the Pondok where you can learn about poaching and illegal trade of animal products, it is clear that San Diego Zoo Global is serious about creating awareness and bringing these endangered species back from the brink of extinction.

This new 5.2 acre Sumatran tiger habitat is home to six tigers. Delta just celebrated her 16th birthday and is the grand dame of Tiger Trail. She is the mother of the four young tigers (3-year-old sisters, Joanne and Majel and 2-year-old brothers, Conrad and Thomas) who were all fathered by the dearly departed Utan. Teddy is the new comer and we have high hopes that he will breed with one of the females to start a legacy of his own.

Dylan and I have been following the construction of Tiger Trail since they broke ground and I am honored to have my son's name listed as one of the many donors who helped make this new tiger habitat possible. Seeing something so beautiful left me speechless. I was (and still am) in complete awe of the new Tull Family Tiger Trail. I have been back three times already and still have a difficult time putting it into words. Aside from wanting to visit every chance I get, I have been inspired to do more for these magnificent animals.

Fewer than 350 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild and this number continues to drop. There are currently 270 Sumatran tigers in captivity as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP). Scientist estimate that these tigers could be extinct in their native Sumatra by 2020 unless we take action now to protect and preserve the Sumatran tiger. That is only six years from now. Humans have driven the Sumatran tiger to the brink of extinction and now humans must be the ones to save them. The Tull Family Tiger Trail is a huge step in the right direction to help save the Sumatran tiger.

Seeing a tiger walk up to you at eye level and hearing a tiger vocalize to another tiger is something I believe everyone should experience. If you have not been to see the new Tiger Trail, I urge you to visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park soon. You will not leave as the same person you were when you arrived. Tiger Trail has a way of changing your mindset.

You will become one with the tiger.
You will live life, like a tiger.

Tiger Trail is breathtaking, captivating, elusive, powerful, and mysterious.

Just like a tiger.

See more photos of the tigers and of Tiger Trail on my Flickr page.

To learn more about the Sumatran tiger you can visit the Tiger Trail website.