Thursday, August 22, 2013

lions & tigers & bears, oh my!

One of the activities that was included in our Summer Bucket List was to go on a safari! Now, we live in what is basically the "country" aka rolling hills, cornfields everywhere, etc. Where are we going to go to be on an actual safari? Well, no we didn't take a quick day-trip to Africa. Instead, that's where Lake Tobias Wildlife Park comes in!

I had received a great deal on tickets (BOGO) through LivingSocial and knew that Peyton would absolutely love it! So, this past weekend we finally made the trip up to the park and had ourselves a grand ole time. **this is a photo dump post - you have been warned!**

The trek to the park took about an extra HOUR longer than we had planned for, just because we were stuck in stopped traffic for wayyy too long. Luckily, Peyton had the iPad and some snacks to keep her occupied. We were so excited to finally make it to the park, park the car, and start our adventure.

First up was a rhea and his/her babies. Do you see all the little fluffy balls of cuteness!? Then she met a skunk, which she certainly was not interested in petting. We tried to check out the lions, but they were too busy taking their afternoon naps. So we moved on to the baboons and alligators.

We then moved on to the black bears {& the bengal tigers}. Unfortunately, all of the animals were pretty inactive since it was pretty dang toasty outside - which seems to happen any time we visit a zoo and makes for a not-so-exciting look at the animals. At least the bears were relatively close to the viewing window!

In the same area as the bears, there were the capybara - aka creepily huge guinea pig/groundhog mix. If it weren't for the fence, I would not even dare to get that close to that rodent, haha. Then again, if it weren't for fences, I wouldn't get close to pretty much all of the animals we encountered at the park - ha!

We tried to creep on the zebras while they ate lunch, but all we could see were their bootays, so we went to check out Mr. Ostrich instead. He was friendly, but clearly looking for a treat! {The park sells graham crackers by the pack so you can feed the animals on the safari or at the petting zoo - but people feed the caged animals too anyways.}

The tigers were {of course} snoozing away and basking in the sun up where we could barely see them. But man, can you see how big that paw is!? That is one HUGE kitty cat. Luckily, the zebras decided they were done lunch and were ready for social hour. Peyton ran over to see them and was soon swarmed and almost trampled by all of the other park visitors who realized an animal was available for interaction.
Next up: The petting zoo! Aka: goat overload. There was a pair of goats that were getting *ahem* frisky *ahem* every chance they got. In fact, in the bottom right picture of the collage below, you can kind've see that I cropped those little buggers out. Also - since when is it okay to put a leash on your child and deem it acceptable or anything short of lazy? {See: the little girl with the pink striped shirt who is tackling a goat in the second picture.} I just don't get it.
We went to the park on a Friday - but it should have been a Wednesday aka "Hump Day" because we met a camel! {Although, I guess the frisky goats did kind've decide that it was their own personal Wednesday, ha!}

After the petting zoo we made our way over to the reptile house/exotics building. Here, Peyton met a burmese python and all I could think about was the snake scene from Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone. I then almost had a heart attack when Peyton decided that she was too excited to wait in line to pet the baby alligator's back and instead reached for the end with the rows of sharp teeth instead!! Silly girl.
We stopped for a quick photo op while on our way back to see if the tigers had woken up yet. Peyton insisted we pose together like this, so pose like this we did! :)

And then much to our surprise {& delight!} one of the tigers had woken up and come down from his perch! A certain little girl was super happy to finally get to see the tigers a little closer.

A camel was on the loose after that :P and Peyton tried for a quick pet before she was again swarmed with other park go-ers.

We finally got in line for the safari ride and after about 2 busloads worth of people in front of us got on their buses and zoomed off, it was our turn!


After the safari, we had the chance to go back around through the park and see what all was awake now that the sun wasn't so sizzlin' hot. Finally, the lions and tigers had woken up! {I'll bet it was their dinnertime!}

Overall, we had a wonderful trip there and we can not wait to go back! Rarely do we ever get to go anywhere as a family and just get to relax and not have to worry about rushing through seeing everything {we ended up staying until the park was closed!}. We went around to each exhibit about 3 times each and really just enjoyed our time together. It was wonderful and I would totally recommend it for anyone in the area! :)


Wednesday, August 7, 2013


I stumbled across a wonderful idea of a link-up today and decided to join in. We are to share something(s) that we are grateful for from the week. Here are just a few of mine:
I am grateful for... the time that I get to spend at my parents' house. Especially when it involves catching butterflies with this little girl.
I am grateful for... the random pictures Peyton snaps during those times when she sneaks away with my phone. Can you see her little shadow holding up the phone in the picture below? That + the view of my parents' backyard = a wonderful sight. *sigh*

I am grateful for... snuggles with a smiling puppy when I come home from work // making the decision to put the autumn wreath up on our front door {too soon? of course not!} - it makes me happy to see whenever I come home // coffee & chocolate for an afternoon pick-me-up to get me through a long night of work // doughnuts at work from a co-worker just because // and relaxing on the couch with my love after a long, long day.

I am grateful for... this picture my sister snapped of us cuddling while watching #SHARKWEEK {aka best week ever!}

 I am grateful for...  these outtakes from attempting to get pictures at the family reunion. Having fun & being silly :)

And most of all, I am grateful for... this beautiful little angel. Even in her sleep, she melts my heart.

Insert Classy Here - Gratitude

What are you grateful for?


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

family reunion time!

The main event this past weekend was a sort-of impromptu family reunion with members of my Dadda's side of the family, who we rarely see. It was such a wonderful evening, spent catching up and reconnecting with family who we haven't seen in quite some time.
Friday evening I kind of decided to take it upon myself to make Strawberry Peach Sangria, Chocolate Kahlua Trifle Cake, Bacon-Wrapped Brown Sugar Weenies, and Taco Dip for said family reunion... that was to happen the following afternoon/evening. I must be crazy. By time I got the Sangria done and the brownies baked for the trifle cake, it was 11:30pm... and I passed out with Peyton shortly after that.
The trifle is supposed to sit at least 4 hours before serving it, once it's all layered together. However, I wanted to let it set overnight in the fridge. Obviously, that did not happen with me passing out and all. Ha! At least Nick made the Taco dip that night and then took on the Brown Sugar Weenies Saturday morning while I went to work. And luckily, I woke up early enough (and bolted out of bed!) that morning to finish up the rest of the trifle cake.

The Sangria was a hit, but the Chocolate Kahlua Trifle took the cake! (pun intended :P) Seriously, if you need something super easy to make for dinner tonight a family get together, I highly recommend it!

a "bird's eye view" of the family reunion. yes, the tarp may be redneck-ish of us... but, hey! we didn't have a tent, the forecast called for showers, and there was no way that we were all piling inside the house just because of a few raindrops!

my beautiful girl - in the middle of a game of tag.

Peyton was THRILLED to have other kids to play with! We "partied" after dark and started up a campfire {my idea!} so we could make some s'mores!

1// Candy's first s'more ever! I couldn't believe this girl had never had a s'more before. Pure craziness. 2// Me & babygirl... and some photobombers :P 3// It was Rory's first campfire! This was her attempt at trying to lick s'more crumbs off of my face. 4// FIYAH! {PS- sorry for the poopy iPhone pictures, it's all I had at that point!}
la familia.

We should really have these reunions more often! I'm certainly looking forward to the next one. :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Turks and Caicos: Day 1

Soooo, it's been approximately 53409863094 days one month since we've gone on vacation... and I am just now getting around to re-capping our trip. Please forgive me? My procrastination knows no bounds. Seriously.
I have come to the conclusion that these recap posts are just going to be huge photo dumps, so I hope youre' ready! :)

This first one is going to be, well, all about Day Numero Uno!

I was so worried about how Peyton was going to do as a traveler. Since a good portion of our outings result in her wanting to be carried after five minutes or so. However, much to my surprise, she did AWESOME. She rolled her own suitcase everywhere we went. She even carried her own backpack {Boy, do I have a story about that darn backpack! But that's not til day 10}. I really don't think I could have asked for a more agreeable traveling toddler. Of course, she made friends where ever we went and reminded me constantly that she's "a big girl" and that she needed to "hand the lady my own passport... Where's my passport, mom?!"
The plane rides went SO smoothly with her. She slept for a portion of the flight from Charlotte to Turks and she had no issues whatsoever with pressure in her ears or having to sit still for two flights. THANK GOODNESS!
1// Headed to the shuttle at BWI. 2// Little girl in a BIG airport. 3// Handing the flight attendant her passport in Charlotte. 4// About to board! 5// Making friends with the airport staff :) 6// Taking off {she was mad that I wouldn't let her put her seat tray down yet}. 7// Watching them load up our plane before we took off in Charlotte. 8// Blue skies for daysss. 9// Taking a quick power nap.

We arrived on Provo. close to 2 or 3pm {I forget at this point}, hopped in our cab, and headed for our villa! After we got everything unloaded and settled into the house, the Dadda went to get our rental car {only a short walk from our villa, as was the marina}. Then, with our rental car, "Cupid", in our possession, Dad, Jenna and I made our way down to the dive shop to check in for our dives the next day {so exciting!}. Of course we then had to stop at Jimmy's Dive Bar for the first drinks of the trip! ;)

1// Our first glimpse of the water on our way to our villa! 2// Cheesin' with Aunt Nenna in our cab. 3// And again with GiGi. 4// One view from our screened in porch. 5// First drinks! I don't remember what I got, but I do remember it was better than Jenna's :P 6// Cheeseface, Papa Ron. 7// Our first grocery run! 8// Our "we made it!" pose.
At some point that day, there was a grocery shopping trip. I'm thinking it was after the trip to the beach, and before going out for dinner. That haul that you see up there in the shopping cart? Close to $200! Geeeesh! Grocery prices were absolutely ridiculous, I tell you! A box of cereal was like $12, c'monnnn!
Throughout the trip, Nick and Peyton were constantly on the lookout for lizards. It was kind of like a bonding experience for them, and I couldn't have been happier to witness such a thing. :) Our villa wasn't technically "on the water", but the other half of the villas that were across the road were! So within a 5 minute walk, we were on our own beautiful beach and enjoying the most gorgeous, clear blue water.

1// Me, GiGi and Peyton walking from our villa to our beach. 2// The little pathway to the beach. 3// Lizard hunting! 4// One of my absolute favorite pictures from the whole trip {Thanks, Jen!} 5// Jen getting ready to go snorkeling. 6// Stubby-tailed CurlyTail. 7// GiGi and Pey testing out the water. 8// My studly stud. I would take this view, anyday! ;) 

When you go on a vacation with my Dad, you basically need a vacation after the vacation. We are constantly doing things and we are all about getting in the water and seeing as much marine life as we can! These were just a few of the creatures we saw that first day! --->

1// Hawksbill Turtle. 2// Honeycomb Cowfish. 3// Little Porcupine Fish! 4// Beautiful QueenAngelfish, Jen's favorite. 5// Crazy-looking Hogfish; Can you see him?
After the festivities of that afternoon, we all cleaned up and decided on Sharkbite Bar & Grill for dinner. Since it was located in/on the marina, we just had ourselves maybe a 10 minute walk from our villa to the restaurant. Apparently, it's called Sharkbite because, at night, sharks come into the marina and you can see them from the restaurant. Although, we never did see any sharks in the marina for our trip. :(

1// Walking to Sharkbite -- If you're wondering what Nick is doing... Well, I have no clue, haha. 2// Papa Ron & Babygirl. 3// We got a pitcher of the island draught, Turks Head: Amber. Stella glasses for the ladies and regular glasses for the guys. 4// Peyton and her pineapple juice {that took about nearly 15 minutes and 3 requests to get}. She looks so much older in that picture, I can't stand it! 5// Me & Babygirl with the Hammerhead shark (her fav!). 6// Dirty feets! {Even after they'd showered.}

This concludes Day 1. Only 9 more to go! :)


Thursday, August 1, 2013

{23rd} birhday wish list.

1 // Le Creuset 5 1/2 qt. Round French Oven. Link. With Fall fast-approaching, I would love to have this beauty for cooking up some wonderful meals (ie: super hearty and delectable soups) for my little family.  2 // Merona® Cognac Smooth Tote Handbag. Link. I really wanted this bag. However, it is ridiculously expensive for just a camera bag. I figured I could get a cute and inexpensive tote bag and then just have a cushioned camera bag insert for when I want to take my camera along somewhere {see #6!}.  3 // Royal Apothic Conservatory Collection Eau De Parfum: Hot House Peonie. Link. This smells AH-MAY-ZING! An old coworker of mine came into Pier 1 the other day, wearing this scent, and I decided I have to have it. Hopefully it smells as good on me as it did on her.  4 // iPhone 5 Commuter Series Build Your Own Case: White and Aqua Blue. Link. I need a decent case for this new-ish phone of mine. I am so scared that one day it will meet the concrete and there will be nothing I can do to fix it. So, this would be the perfect protection!  5 // Homegrown Monogram Mug: S. Link. I've been drooling over this beautiful mug for ages now. It's about time she comes home to have a cup of coffee with me.  6 // Express Insert for DSLR Camera. Link. Seriously needed for transporting my camera about with me so that I have it readily available to document photographs when necessary. Which may or may not be all of the time, ha!  7 // New scrubs. Solid color sets. No link needed here. A gift card to Super Shoes would suffice. I just NEED new work clothes. I've had the same different patterned shirts in rotation for far too long now. And I really don't enjoy asking for that as a present, but those things are just too darn expensive.

Of course, I really don't expect all or any of this for my birthday. But a girl can dream, right? ;)