Trick-or-Treating Zoo Animals!

trickortreat

After the Boo Bash Dash last weekend we drove straight to the Nashville Zoo to watch the animals go trick-or-treating. Luna didn’t get to see any animals during the Ghouls of Grassmere event, and this seemed like a fun opportunity to actually watch the animals be active. More fun for me than her, but still…fun. We like to be festive, so we all stayed dressed up in our Halloween running attire. We are also just too lazy to drive home, shower and change.

looking

The zoo was way more crowded than the Ghouls of Grassmere night, but not unbearably crowded. We didn’t arrive until lunchtime, so we had already missed half of the animals getting their treats (cricket-filled pumpkins). The plans was to run to the camels in time to see them eat, but we ran into the new kangaroo exhibit first and could not resist checking it out.

I swear this kangaroo is not dead...just sleeping.
I swear this kangaroo is not dead…just sleeping.

OMG. The “Kangaroo Kickabout” is fantastic! You can literally walk in the exhibit where they kangaroos live and walk around. You aren’t allowed off the paved path, but you are allowed to pet and love on the kangaroos if they come to you!!! We weren’t there at the best time (mid-day). The roos’ were all sleeping, sunbathing and not all interested in my affections, but that didn’t stop me from ooohing and awwwing over them. There was a Mommy kangaroo on her back and you could actually see the baby in her pouch moving around and peeking out! It was probably the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen, with the exception of Luna playing with a kitten.

20141025_134514

We did finally make it to the other animals. We saw the elephants, giraffes, meerkats, goats, antelope, camels, lions and lots of other animals “trick-or-treating”.  And by “trick-or-treating”, I mean looking at carved pumpkins suspiciously. Most of the animals were not interested in eating them while we all stared on expectantly. The goats and meerkats were the most enthusiastic. Either way, the animals were out and about being cute and meandering around.

look at those adorable meerkats!
look at those adorable meerkats!

There were also a few “zoo talks” happening. I really enjoyed listening to the girl in the giraffe land. She told us about the baby giraffe that is soon going to be shipped to Animal Kingdom so that her Dad doesn’t try to mate with her. I’ll have to remember to look for her next time we go to Disney.

20141025_135601

Our favorite section of the zoo was by far the jungle gym. Their play area is ENORMOUS. We had a blast getting lost in “the largest community built playground in the United States”. It’s 66,000 square feet! I seriously cannot wait until Luna is big enough to play in the playground. The best part is the toddler area. They have an enormous covered area that is basically a giant room covered in 6 inches of foam and it is the greatest idea. Big kids aren’t allowed to play in this area and no on is allowed to wear shoes, so it’s virtually clean. Us, along with several other parents, relaxed in the shade while our babies crawled all over each other.

little flirts
little flirts

Luna enjoyed her second zoo trip, as did we. The Nashville Zoo has many many other events happening, including storytime every Saturday in November at 10:30. To checkout more of their attractions, go here!

my favorite animals!
my favorite animals!

Happy Halloween!!!!

Being Homeowners

Whenever Husband and I moved in together, many years ago, we made chocolate chip cookies.

It was about 10pm, I had work the next day and for some reason fresh cookies sounded like the best most delicious idea ever.  So, we went grocery shopping, made cookies and ate them in bed while watching reruns of Friends. Doesn’t get much better than that.

As we snuggled in bed with our cookies and Ross and Rachel, I looked at Husband and said, “Being a grown-up is fun”. Husband smiled and said, “I know…when we were little and forced to go to bed early we always imagined that our parents stayed up eating cookies and watching TV. Now, I know we were right.”

And, you know what, 6 years later, being a grown-up and living together is still fun, sometimes we still make cookies in the middle of the night and we definitely still watch Friends. HOWEVER, after the sugar rush, lack of sleep and a very messy kitchen reality starts to soak in a little. Bills have to be paid, chores have to be divvied up, bad habits must be endured and fights and arguments are inevitable. We quickly learned that being a “grown-up” is not all fun.

We lived in apartments for a couple of years in Tennessee, a year in Albania and a couple of years in New York. Those years were great, but our last year in New York we were getting the itch to be homeowners. We looked for months in and out of Manhattan, but somehow found ourselves in a modern home from the 70’s right in middle of Tennessee. Our first few weeks in our new house had a familiar feeling of euphoria…

We had SO MUCH space! A 3-bedroom home in the country is basically a mansion compared to our less than 400 square feet on the Upper East Side. We had friends over all the time to eat, drink and play games (still doing that). I had just found out I was pregnant, so lots of time was spent daydreaming about the nursery and raising kids in our new home. We have a garage connected to the house, which is amazing. We basically never have to face the elements…no more carrying groceries in the rain, defrosting my windshield or slipping through snow. We have a dishwasher, bathtubs, our own washer and dryer. We also have land, which means the dog and cat can run around freely whenever they please, and if I don’t feel like taking Belle on a walk, I don’t have to! Yay for owning a house!

Now, as you may have guessed the elation of being a homeowner has started to wear off a bit. Owning an older home means that basically everything breaks, and we can’t exactly call our landlord or super to fix it. EVERYTHING is up to us. Husband and I have learned a lot about being a handy-man this year. The really big nice yard has to be kept up. There is no trash service so we literally drive our trash to the dump. We have a ladybug infestation (yes, that’s a real thing). We got mice (problem almost solved), and we have a very pesky woodpecker.

A couple of months ago we were continuously awoken by the knocking of a woodpecker that we would walk out and attempt to scare away so we could go back to sleep. One morning, while Husband was shooing the bird away in his boxers at about 7am, he looked to his right and actually saw a deer standing next to him just watching the whole spectacle. Neither the bird nor the deer seemed to care that there was a human standing there screaming and flailing his arms about. Apparently, no animals fear us.

Now that pesky woodpecker has pecked holes out of the side of our house…one more thing we need to fix. Our to-do list of things we do not actually know how to-do is very very long.

The good news is, we are mostly still enjoying it. Even as we remove every single dish from every cabinet, and scrub down the kitchen with bleach and set-up mouse traps…even as we grit our teeth and sarcastically say “boy, being a grown-up is so fun”…even when the garbage disposal clogs for the 50th time and water floods under the sink… we are grateful. Owning our house is not easy and definitely not always fun, or even affordable, but it’s ours. It’s our home together and it will be our home for a very long time.

We may not always feel grateful in the moment, but at the moment when we figure out how to fix the broken garage door, finish painting a room or learn while my blow-dryer keeps blowing the breaker, it’s awesome. Hopefully those will be the moments we remember in 20 years, and hopefully we won’t be invaded and taken over by wild animals by that point.

Cheers!

Family Day on the Farm

My parents stayed with us the past weekend and finally got to see our new house. It was a quick and busy trip with all the new house stuff and the gender reveal party, but we still managed to squeeze in some Tennessee fun. Saturday was spent on Uncle Kelly’s farm. Yee-haw!

the barn

Meet the farm cats, Tigger and Luna.
Meet the farm cats, Tigger and Luna.

I always enjoy a day in the farm, but this time Uncle Kelly had a BIG surprise…or a little surprise, depending on how you look at it. One of his horses had a baby! A baby horse! OMG, baby horses are the cutest softest fuzziest things ever! The Mommy horse was surprisingly chill and didn’t seem to mind all of us in her stall fawning over her baby. The baby was surprisingly calm enough to let us love all over him. His name is Shakey. He shakes and wobbles just like baby Bambi.

shakey nursing meeting Shakey

It took every bit of me to not lie in the hay and spoon little Shakey. I’m so in love!

My parents got the full farm experience. They rode the dirt bikes. (BTW, it is terrifying to know that both parents are on dirt bikes at the same time…it’s not like either of them are regular bikers.) They also got a fancy professional horse riding lesson from Kelly. They have both ridden horses many times, but Uncle Kelly has a very special way with the horses. He’s basically the horse whisperer.

mom on bike dad on bike dad on horse

Uncle Kelly showing them how it's done.
Uncle Kelly showing them how it’s done.

We had another special surprise from Uncle Kelly too. He offered to take us on a tractor-pull wagon tour of his property. He must really like my parents because this was first time I have heard anything about a wagon tour.  My Mom-in-law decided to drive the tractor while the rest of us piled in the back of a very questionable wagon.

tractor ride

About 3 minutes into the trip one of the tires actually fell off while going over some rough terrain. This did not stop the tour. We finished the next half hour while riding on three tires and one rim. It made the whole experience more exciting.  It was thrilling.

Can you spot the missing tire?
Can you spot the tire that is about to fall off?

The farmland is beautiful. We got to see baby twin calves that were two weeks old AND another baby calf that was only one day old! So many babies!

cows

There’s nothing like a day on the farm with your family to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside…and a very southern too. The fact that it’s far away from everything and near impossible to get a phone signal makes for a nice one-day getaway. I forget how sweet it us to not be glued to cell my phone and to just enjoy the people (and baby animals) around me.

my face

Thanks for the day on the farm Uncle Kelly! Be back soon to check on baby Shakey!

P.S. I'll be reviewing this comfy maternity poncho from MarieNohr very soon!
P.S. I’ll be reviewing this comfy maternity poncho from MarieNohr very soon!

Cheers!

Fair Food!

I heard there was a fair this weekend and immediately made plans to go and eat lots of fried disgusting fair food. I have been very healthy during this pregnancy…working out, eating healthy, drinking gallons of water, but I need treats ever once in a while too. Fried fair food treats just happen to be my favorite.

Yesterday, we joined my in-laws and went to the Wilson County Fair in Lebanon, TN. We ate A LOT.

A catfish sandwich…

catfish sandwich

Fried green tomatoes…

I took this after I devoured the first two..
I took this after I devoured the first two..

homemade chocolate ice cream…

ice cream

Corn on the cob, my favorite!

The picture proved to me just how desperately my hair needs to be trimmed.
This picture proved to me just how desperately my hair needs to be trimmed.

Fried peach cobbler pie…not as good as it sounds

fried peach cobbler

And the holy grail…curly fries

yes!!!!
yes!!!!

Of course, fairs in the south offer so much more the fried goodness. There are photo, art, quilting and canning contests. There are also lots and lots of animals! People come from all over the state to show off their horse trotting skills, their perfectly proportioned goats, their jumping donkeys and their prize-winning chickens. (There were tons of rides too, but who cares when there are petting zoos!)

animal shows

trying to pick out a pet bunny, which Husband quickly put a stop to
trying to pick out a pet bunny, which Husband quickly put a stop to
Baby pigs!
Baby pigs!
and I just had to hold a chicken
and I just had to hold a chicken

I did everything I could to come home with a little farm of my own, but Husband has yet to be convinced that raising chickens is a good idea. I’m certain he’ll see the lights…eventually. Now only a few more weeks until the state fair! I still need to get a funnel cake and a blooming onion!
Cheers!

A Bicycle Built For 12

One of the best activities to do while vacationing in Hilton Head is bike riding. Hilton Head Island is covered with bike paths. You can easily ride from one end of the island to the other without leaving a path (except to cross a few streets). Our family rents over a dozen bikes every year and we spend at least a portion of every day biking.

Every morning there is a handful of us who hop on our bikes at 7am, ride to Starbucks, get our fix and ride home with at least 3 copies of the New York Times. (We need multiple copies to keep the family from fighting.)

starbucks

The path to Starbucks involves crossing a few bridges that go over swamps, often full of turtles and the occasional alligator.

gator gator bike ride

Our long bike rides usually start on the beach. We swerve between kids digging holes and families lounging under umbrellas. We splash through the shallow water and get hot enough that we are beyond ecstatic to get off the beach and onto the bike trail.

beach copy beach ride copy me,steph,amy copy

The paths are all shaded by thick willowy trees covered in moss. They are so shaded that it acts as a shield from the sunshine and the rain.

bike with steph

Every year we take the same bike rides…some are short and sweet and others are long and miserable. It’s tradition to spend at least one day riding ten miles that go through mosquito-infested preserves and unshaded paths. We ride to the historical tabby house at the Baynard ruins, the mysterious shell ring at the Sea Pines Forest Reserve, Harbor town and South Beach.

While walking around the tabby house we saw a lizard scampering along the shells and Husband insisted that I catch it… While dating and getting to know each other Husband and I spent lots of time sharing stories from our childhoods…his in the hills of middle Tennessee, mine in the marshy flatlands of southeast Texas. I told him how I used to catch lizards, put them on my ears like earrings and then freak out my sister. He couldn’t believe this, so the first chance I got, I proved it to him. Now, anytime he sees a lizard he thinks it’s hysterical for me hang the poor little creature from my ear lobes.

lizard copy

The best part of our long bike rides is the end. We always finish our ride at Coligny Plaza where we get Italian ice and custard from Rita’s.

italian ice rita's

Taking bike rides every day is one of my favorite Hilton Head traditions. It also makes me feel a little less guilty about the junk we eat on vacation.

Cheers!

A Weekend Work Day

Today was rainy and the perfect day to stay inside and do nothing but eat and hide under blankets. I did this all morning, but  at one point I had to get dressed and carry my broken umbrella through the rain because I had an appointment. Today, I had to checkout the butterfly conservatory at the Natural History Museum. My job (my paying job) often requires me to review child-appropriate activities in the city, like looking at butterflies.

blackbutterfly copy

 

It wasn’t easy to get excited about spending my rainy relaxing day reviewing a new exhibit, but once I was actually there I felt much better. Turns out that every single New York family goes to museums on rainy Sundays, who knew? I’ve never seen a museum so crowded. I was happy I had the luxury of taking my time. I also had the opportunity to get a pass to the new frog exhibit!

whitelippedpp brightgreen

THESE were definitely my favorite!
THESE were definitely my favorite!

The frogs were cool. I had a nice time checking out the tiny neon colored poisonous ones and the huge African bullfrogs. I was mostly thrilled because they were all alive. The Natural History Museum is mostly full of dioramas depicting animal scenes throughout history. All of the stuffed fake animals look too real to me and I can’t help but feel like I’m in a zoo of dead animals. I much prefer the real ones…although the fact that they are trapped in aquariums is a little depressing.

Whatever, the butterfly conservatory was awesome and the exact opposite of depressing!

conservatory

 

Thankfully, the museum only allows you to enter the conservatory if you have a special ticket (bought separately) for a specific time, so it can’t ever get too crowded. The conservatory must have had a million butterflies! I don’t think one person can walk through without having a butterfly land on them at some point. They had butterflies and moths of every shape, size and color. One was at least 12 inches wide.

eatingflutterbyes camobutterfly bigblue

 

While snapping some photos, I heard a woman behind me tell her son, “look a butterfly is on that lady’s camera!”. I looked down, and sure enough a little flutterby decided to take up residence on my lens! He hung out with me for about 15 minutes until the swoosh of someone’s ponytail scared him away.

butterflyoncamera

I spent a little extra time roaming around before picking up Starbucks and hopping on the bus home. When I got on the bus I was embarrassed to learn that there was no money left on my MetroCard. I sat there digging through my purse for change while the driver glared impatiently. At that moment, a man with an adorable toddler (they even had on matching shirts) came over and kindly swiped his card for me. I was SO grateful to not have to stand there in shame anymore and be forced off the bus, back into the pouring rain. Thank you friendly Dad on the M86 bus, you are a lifesaver!

So, I did have to spend part of my day off “working”, but after the butterflies, the coffee and the friendly bus rider I felt pretty good. Plus, I had the whole evening to relax and catch up on life. Good day.

Cheers!

Quality Time With Friends

I spent a good portion of my vacation time with some of our closest friends in Tennessee. We played many many rounds of Settlers of Catan. (If you have not played this yet, you should!) We made lots of fires, roasted hotdogs, and even made smores. Once Settlers and camping in the living room got old we resorted to old favorites like Murder and Sardines. (Again, if you have not played these games, then get a group of friends together as fast as you can and start playing.)

We have an awesome group of friends who are up for almost any game or activity we suggest. I’ve got to say playing these games as a child is fun, but playing as adults (wine included) is even better!

Sometimes our silly games got old and I had to take a few breaks to snuggle with the animals. Wilmer the cat (formerly known as Wilma) is a giant cat who loves living in the wild, but comes in every night to snuggle up and be loved on by her his many adorers. The dog is Rorik, and he is GORGEOUS.

And, yes that's a chinchilla.
And, yes that’s a chinchilla.

When the pets were busy, I snuggled up and played with my favorite boy in Tennessee.

Miss him already
Miss him already

We took this handsome little devil to a place called Pump It Up. This is an enormous facility full of bounce houses. Of course, his favorite part was a machine that creates wind after you insert $2. The best part is that we never had to insert any money. He was happy to just stand in the little tunnel and spin around in circles. ALL of us were thoroughly exhausted by the time we left.

Wooo!
Wooo!

By the end of the week, Husband was antsy to get outside for a more adventurous game with our friends. His game of choice: paintball. Not just any paintball, but sniper paintball. Here’s how we play:

Someone (i.e. the boys) set up a course outside. The course has a starting area, a base, for the players (the criminals?) to hide behind, and leads up to a flag. One person is selected as the sniper (a lucky person…usually, almost always, a girl). The sniper is stationed near the flag, but not too close. The players/criminals goal is to capture the flag and bring it back to their base without getting shot. Only one person has to survive for the team to win. The sniper has exactly 12 paintballs to shoot with, so he/she cannot just shoot wildly.

Don't we look tough?
Don’t we look tough? …and very very layered
Spooky
Spooky
Sniper!
Sniper!

It is a scary game, but it is A LOT of fun. Plus, if you wear enough layers it does not hurt (very much) when you get shot.

And that is how I spent quality time with my BFF’s in Nashville. Cannot wait to go back!

Cheers!