Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Twelve for Twelve - Check In 1

In an effort to keep myself honest and up to date with my goals for 2012, I am going to do a monthly check in for each goal.

1. Write every day.

– Fail. Utter and complete fail on this one. I am only writing for the blog right now. I need to up my word count for an actual story. Once again, my problem here is being in the house with distractions: chores, internet, crafts! I write better when I am in a public arena like Barnes and Nobles or Panara’s. On the bright side, I have a number of ideas that I am developing and researching as well as some characters that I don’t know what to do with.

2. Post to my blog at least once per week.

– Okay. So far I’ve been posting at least once a week. I’ve also started a Friday Photo. One thing that is helping me is the scheduled posts. I’ve been able to write two or three posts on one day (when my fingers fly over the keyboard) and schedule them to be posted later in the week.

3. Resume my daily exercise routine.

– EPIC FAIL!! I have not resumed daily walks AT ALL!! I feel miserable and every day as I rush around to get the girls off to school I push aside any thought of walking the dog around the neighborhood. My goal for February to walk the loop twice every day: once in the morning and once in the afternoon or early evening.

4. Better eating habits.

– I’m doing okay with this. My problem right now is snacking during the day. I eat when I get bored. While I was working, this was not a problem. When the girls or Scott are home, I don’t do it. But when I am by myself…I snack. The sad thing is since I don’t buy junk food or sweets very often, I snack on healthy things: fruits, cheese, and yogurt. The problem is every single calorie counts. Especially when I am not doing anything to get rid of them!

5. Lose at least 50 pounds.

– Amazingly, I am back to pre-Christmas weight but that isn’t saying a lot.

6. Organize my photographs chronologically.

– I haven’t even touched this one yet and I’m okay with that. Remember, I wasn’t planning on doing everything in a single month!

7. Scrapbook more.

– I have started a new scrapbook but I am using current photos for it. I really want to start assembling scrapbooks of the girls from when they were younger. This of course will wait until the photos are organized. I did get my Craftway organized so that allows better access and quick clean up! I am happy working on my “Waiting for the Apocalypse” scrapbook right now! Best of all, I got the chance to scrapbook with Sara!

8. Write actual letters to friends and family.

– Working on. I hand stamped some blank greeting cards I got from Micheal’s so now it is just a matter of sitting down and writing!

9. Reinstitute Family Game Night.

– Not yet reestablished.

10. Backyard homestead.

– Garden plans have been made. I am currently saving my pennies so that I can buy the supplies I need to build two 6x3 raised beds for vegetables and one 4x4 bed for herbs. The Florida planting season starts early and most plants that I am planning on need to get sown by the end of February. So I am under a few time constraints here. Recently I read The Backyard Homestead and the best piece of advice it gives regarding gardens is: plant what you will eat! It goes without saying that this makes a world of sense. Even though greens grow really well in the area, we wouldn’t eat them, so why bother planting them. I’m looking to plant at least 3 types of tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, and an assortment of summer squashes to name a few. I’d like to try my hand at potatoes and melons as well. Eventually, I’d like to plant corn and some type of grain…but that is in the future when I am a bit more comfortable with gardening. Scott wants me to plant barley and hops so he can always be with beer! The girls want a citrus orchard: oranges, lemons, limes. The chickens, as much I want them this year, will probably be put on hold until we are more settled.

11. Get my favorite recipes organized.

– I feel really good about my recipe organization. I am using the heck out of my Moleskin. I spent about a week going through my collection of recipes ripped out of magazines or printed from Allrecipes.com as well as my favorite recipes and added some to the journal. I am pleased at how nicely it is turning out. A cute thing with the Recipe Journal is that it has a spot to rate the recipe: 1 to 5 stars. If I am taking the time to include a recipe in this journal with its limited pages, you can bet that a requirement for each recipe is a 5 star rating! As far as the new recipe or food once per week…well I haven’t done as well with that one. I’m still “recovering” from the influx of family that came down for the holidays and the past two weeks, I’ve been very lazy with grocery shopping and dinners.

12. Travel.

– For Christmas Scott and I gave Ashleigh a bunch of road trip books to encourage her love of travel. We are currently in the planning stages for a short Spring Break road trip either around Florida or Georgia. If we stick with Florida, we are going to a few places that are listed in the book Weird Florida. If we decide on Georgia, we think we’ll go to Savannah and then swing through Atlanta to check out the aquarium. This summer we’ve already decided that A Great Lobster Tour of New England is in order!

Meetings: Volume One

I am a big fan of serial fantasy novels. Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms. The notion that a group of strangers can come together and save the world is wildly appealing to me. Perhaps it is the group dynamic that plays out or the blending of talents that appeal to me. But in all honesty, I think that the unusual circumstance that introduces and brings the characters together is what I love the most about these novels.

We had just moved to New York and the school year was barely started. At five, I had missed the cut off for school and I wouldn’t be starting kindergarten until the following year. This was before pre-school was the “in” thing so I had yet to meet any one except my next door neighbor. My oldest brother just starting high school, however, had made a bunch of new friends, which turned out exceedingly lucky for me.

My mom kept an open door policy at our house when I was growing up: all of our friends were welcome. The day I met Ericka, she had come with her mom to drop off Chip, Ericka’s older brother. My mom walked out to chat with Ericka’s mom. After a few minutes, my mom casually looked at Ericka.

“You know, I have a daughter about your age. Would you like to meet her?”

Ericka, startled, gave a hesitant nod, and was nudged out of the car.

“Go through the kitchen, down the hall and up the stairs. Heather’s room is the first door at the top.”

Ericka’s mom and mine continued chatting while Ericka made her way inside a strange house. I can only image what Ericka must have been thinking at that point. We both had such active imaginations, perhaps she thought she was walking into a trap or a house full of carnies!

Up in my room, I had no idea what was happening. I was supposed to be getting dressed. But I was too busy DANCING to worry about clothes! I danced about my room in my underwear a la Tom Cruise (in 1980 I was way ahead of the times). In my passionate dance frenzy, I got thirsty and was just starting out of my room to get a drink when I saw Ericka came slowly up the stairs.

I stopped, “Hi!” The music blared from my room as I watched the tall blonde girl climb the stairs.

“Um, hi.” Ericka said. “Your mom sent me in,” she glanced behind her, perhaps hoping for a quick rescue.


“Are you allowed to play in your underwear?” she blurted out coming to a stop at the top step.

“Oh!” I said with a big smile and knowing of course I wasn’t allowed to run around the house in my underwear. “Sure. I do this all the time!” I casually glanced around to make sure my mom wasn’t about to materialize. “Wanna play?”

“…Sure…” Ericka said.

The rest of the day is a bit fuzzy. Did I get dressed? What did we play or talk about? But from that day, from that auspicious meeting, a great friendship was born. Thirty years later, Ericka is still an amazing friend and I am forever grateful to have shared so many adventures with her.

This is written in response to a prompt from Write on Edge exploring friendships.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Good Morning Sunshine

Does "Red sky in morning, Sailors take warning" count if you are on land or if the sky is more pink then red?

Sometimes, I wish my backyard had a few less trees in it so I could have captured more of the sunrise. Be that as it may, it was a beautiful scene to wake up to.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Project: Waiting For The Apocalypse

On a whim, as I was strolling through Hobby Lobby back in November, I got the idea for a new scrapbook. I call it: Waiting For The Apocalypse. Essentially, I will be scrapbooking all of our activities from holidays to birthdays, from travels to quiet nights at home.

I'm a firm believer that nothing is going to happen on December 21, 2012. The Mayans were a smart bunch of people, but I do not think they had magically powers of prediction any more than I believe in ghosts. Despite that, I am a "prepper." I do think something will happen eventually be it the total collapse of the economy, a natural disaster, or some kind of attack.

The original plan was to do twelve 8x8 bound books, one per month starting on December 21, 2011. But after taking cost into consideration I decided to use a single spiral bound album. Organized chronologically through the year, the album starts on December 21, 2011 and will end December 22, 2012. I've got a few ideas for the last page...depending on which way the apocalypse goes.

Oh how my dining room suffers when I scrapbook!

The spiral bound book showing Christmas Baking and Gingerbread house making.

How are you going to be chronically the end of the world?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Photo

It is no secret that the girls and I love camping. Lately, because of budget constraints, we haven't been able to go much so I jumped at the chance for Cyra and I to go on the yearly service unit camp out with our Girl Scout troop. By the end of the weekend, I remembered why I don't often go on Girl Scout campouts: too structured, too crafty, too many people. But aside from that, the weather was amazing for January and the camp itself is nice.

On Saturday evening, the girls peer pressured me into rolling down a grassy hill. I spent the rest of the weekend recovering.

Each "camp site" had it's own name. Lonestar was about a half mile (give or take) from the main lodge. Of course, neither Bill Pullman or his Winnebago were no where to be found.

Our camp site had platform tents, cots and indoor plumbing. Not exactly "primitive" camping but it worked out well.

This live oak was at the back of our site. Just behind it is a fire circle. I had the girls climb up so I could get some nice photos of them (I won't post them since they show children other than my own). In terms of Girl Scout rules, it was a big "no-no."

Looking up through the branches of the live oak.

I'm not sure the name of this lake but it was very quiet and peaceful. The girls and I found deer and raccoon tracks along the water's edge.

Sad, lonely boat. I wanted to take it and give it a nice home...but Cyra said stealing is not the Girl Scout way. I tried to counter that the Girl Scouts weren't "using their resources wisely" but she didn't believe me.

More water craft stored for the winter in the boat house. I could have easily fit one on my car.

The pond by the main lodge. Directly behind me is the dreaded hill I was forced to roll down!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Letter Box

I did some much needed early Spring cleaning this week and came across a tattered and worn cardboard box, you know the kind you store your income taxes in. Tucked into the bottom of my closet, covered with a stack of extra blankets this box has seen the inside of many master bedroom closets. With each move and unpacking, this box has followed me for nearly two decades. Of course, two decades ago it was just a small shoe box. Somewhere around 30 I adopted a larger, sturdier box.

Knowing that with the tight quarters our new house has, I decided to transfer the contents of the old box into an even sturdier plastic storage container. I had an extra one left over from Christmas (I repacked all of our Christmas decorations in new boxes this year since we have to store them outside) so while I was cleaning I took an hour to go through the old box before moving the contents to a new home.

I opened the cover of the box and smiled at all the greeting cards and letters that date back from the time when I was in middle school. Graduation cards, birth announcements, Christmas cards and letters from friends I’ve not seen or heard of in years all stacked in messy piles within the box.

Memories. Tangible memories from years past.

So many cards from family members I can’t even list them all! Hundreds of cards I imagine, though I have never counted them and only three birthday cards bare my grandmother’s signature. I’m sure I got more from her, she saw fifteen of my birthdays, but for some reason only those three made it into the box.

I worked for a semester before I started college and I have letters from Bridget telling me what a strange new world college was. Cards and letters from Cindy, a friend that I regret not keeping in touch with, telling me about her wild dating adventures. Birthday cards from Heather, hand made on her computer. I still have a Bob Ross inspired painted she made me hanging in my bedroom.

Each year new cards get reverently placed on top of the pile, birthday and Christmas cards mostly, but occasionally a letter or a “Thinking of you” card.

As I was going through, I remembered another box filled with just letters. This one though is just a small cardboard photo storage box – like a shoebox, that sits on a shelf in my Craftway. This one too has been through a number of moves and always gets placed where I have easy access to it. A few precious letters from my husband, a handful from a high school friend, and all the letters from my very oldest friend, Ericka, and my closest friend, Sara, all tied together with ribbons, each bundle from a different person.


Sara wrote to me while she was in Japan. Although she was not about to write everyday to mimic our daily conversations, she wrote long, detailed letters. Every time a thick letter was shoved though my mail slot, I would start tearing up even before I opened it because I missed her so much. Her letters are precise, thoughtful and insightful observations about Japanese culture, her loves and complaints about work and the new foods she was discovering. She writes so much like she talks and thinks, that it was easy to imagine her sitting next to me telling me about her experiences. Little details that I’m sure I would forget she spins into vibrant vivid descriptions like the story-teller she is.

Ericka’s letters have come at random intervals since just before high school graduation. Each time I get a letter from her I let out a “squee” of joy. Envelopes are decorated with stickers and drawings or pictures that she cut out of magazines and glued on. Her letters are short and poignant detailing her life and asking about the girls. Occasionally a mention of some silly thing we did as kids gets tossed in: concoctions, secret codes, Cabbage Patch Kids, so many shared memories. I can hear her voice in each letter and each one brings with it a bevy of happy memories.

My new 27 quart plastic box for letters gives me some extra space. At 75% capacity, I think I have another five or ten years to fill it up. I look forward to the day when I will need to move up to a bigger box. Letters are a tangible, permanent connection. I might not keep in touch with people like I should but trust me when I say, each card, each postcard, each letter means something and gets tucked away. Writing letters is so personal you can’t help but feel special when you get one. An unexpected letter from a friend is like sunshine, rainbows and unicorns exploding out of the mailbox.


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a letter to write.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Friday Photo

While family is in town it is a good opportunity to sight-see at places we don't normally go. Florida has no shortage of wacky places to visit and while my nephew was in town we took a tour of one of my favorite old haunts: Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

Hey! What's David doing in Florida??

Oh. Well, that explains it.



African Judgement Chair


Everyone is pirate crazy now-a-days!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

On Being Naive.

A few days ago, a comment was made about my eldest daughter that really bothered me. Not so much that it was said or said unfairly or was even a negative comment – it certainly wasn’t intended as such although I perceived it as so. But it bothered me because it made me question how I am raising my children.

“She’s so naïve,” the person said.

“Just because she doesn’t talk about stuff, doesn’t mean she doesn’t know about it,” I replied.

The conversation essentially ended with that as merry-making was pursued but in the back of my mind my thoughts have since been lingering on this icicle of doubt slowly drip drip dripping into a bucket of concern.

I don’t want her to be naïve, I thought. Being naïve is like being ignorant or stupid. She’s certainly not stupid, I grumbled to myself. But the more I thought about it the more I wondered if I had done a disservice to my children by keeping what I deemed inappropriate topics at bay, by letting them stay children for as long as they could. Finally, I worked myself into such an angsty panic that I looked up the actual definition of naïve.

na•ive (adj.)

1. having or showing unaffected simplicity of nature or absence of artificiality; unsophisticated; ingenuous.
2. having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous: She's so naive she believes everything she reads. He has a very naive attitude toward politics.
3. having or marked by a simple, unaffectedly direct style reflecting little or no formal training or technique: valuable naive 19th-century American portrait paintings.
4. not having previously been the subject of a scientific experiment, as an animal.

Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/naive

I read through it a couple times and eliminated the 3rd and 4th definitions as having no connection to the answer I was looking for. The other two, however, can and do apply. Here’s what I get out of this definition: all naïve means is that a person is not “worldly” or that they haven’t gone through a lot of experiences. Also, look at that phrase, absence of artificiality, and really think about it. We are overrun with artificiality. Reality TV that is nowhere near “real,” political pundits spinning a story to suit their purpose, celebrities! Is artificiality more valuable than honesty now? Is weaving a lie a better skill to learn than speaking the truth? Is being artificial what we should strive for?

As I turned this definition over and over I kept coming back to one really important fact: Ashleigh is 15. She is naïve in the strictest sense of the word as she is has not experienced worldly things. She is just 15. By the very nature of being 15 she can not help not knowing things. She hasn’t been alive long enough to experience all the world has to offer. I am 35 and I can’t say that I consider myself “worldly and experienced.”

At 15 my world view was extremely narrow. I saw school and I saw home. At 15, like most 15 year olds, I just knew that I knew all there was in the world worth knowing. I didn’t start following politics until I was 18 when I had a reason to understand them. I didn’t start following world events until they affected me. I didn’t start really looking at the world and having “worldly” experiences until college. At 35, I am content to say I am still learning. I have a lifetime of knowledge ahead of me because there are still a lot of things I am, by definition, naïve about.

Ashleigh is an honest kid; there is nothing artificial about her. She isn’t deceptive or demeaning to others. She wants to believe the best of everyone, but knows that people will disappoint and hurt her. She doesn’t like unfairness and thinks that everyone should have the same rights but knows that rights aren’t always equal. She questions things she doesn’t understand and refuses to follow a crowd. She is playful. She knows to stay out of a dark alley but she knows how to protect herself if she’s in a jam. She understands that there are monsters in the world and they look just like the neighbor down the street or the smiling checkout person at the store. She makes mistakes and owns up to the consequences of her actions. She’s more concerned with school than with sex. She doesn’t follow politics or religion but she watches the news and reads articles so I know she’s learning. She does the right thing because it is the right thing to do.

And I taught her all that. Not a preacher or a book, not a movie or game. Me. I’m the overprotective parent who still previews movies before she watches them, who questions her on all the books she reads, and who wants to meet her friends before she hangs out with them. I’m the one who insists on family dinners and wholesome TV and game night. Not because I have my head in the clouds and want to live in the past, but because children are only children for a fraction of a second. Do they really need sex and murder and crime shoved into their lives? They know it exists, they’ve seen it on the news. We don’t pretend the bad doesn’t exist, but we spend our time looking for the good.

If all that adds up to her being naïve, then I am all for it.

Call me protective. I am. Call me naïve. I am. Call my children naïve and I’ll nod my head and agree, because they are.

At 15 there is plenty of time for her to grow and gain knowledge and experience. Before long, Ashleigh will be off to college, traveling the world and living her own life. I get her for 20 years give or take a few. She’ll be alive for another 60 to 80 years. Maybe one day, she’ll consider herself worldly but for now, let her be naïve. Let her be a kid.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Photos

One of the best Christmas presents I received this year was The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond. I've followed her blog for a while and longed over her book when it came out. But being on a budget, I could only gaze at it longingly while reconciling myself to just visiting her blog.

While I was drooling over the book, I fixated on her recipe for BBQ Jalapeno Poppers. I've not always been a fan of spicy foods. It has only been in the last few years that I have developed a taste for a little spicy kick in the jaw. So when I read this recipe I knew I wanted to make it for my Gamers. Now, never having worked with jalapenos before, I was a little zealous with removing the seeds and membranes so my poppers turned out sweet rather than spicy.  

My hands were all juicy from working with the jalapenos so I didn't take many pictures of the prep. But the finished product is so beautiful, I think you'll forgive me.

Poppers drenched with Baby Ray's Honey BBQ sauce getting ready to go in the oven.

Just out from the oven sizzling with bacon-y bbq-y goodness.

I wrapped the bacon a bit too tight, something the Pioneer Woman warns about, but I was still new to the bacon wrapping while wearing gloves game.

Gamer Tom decided that I was spending far too much time taking pictures of his snack and photo bombed my plated poppers.

Seriously, are these not oozing with loveliness? So sweet and divine!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Clean This Craft Up!

I was spoiled in the old house with a large dining room that could double as my craft area. And would you believe that these are the only photos that I could find of the area.

Both of these photos are actually from Ashleigh experimenting with her new camera last year. The craft area always looked messy and cluttered, but everything did have a place and as far as I was concerned it was quite well organized.

Fast forward a few months. In the new house we "lost" about 500 square feet. It didn't seem like a big deal at the time, but we are definitely feeling a bit tight, especially in my craft area.

In an effort to "contain" my crafts I chose to utilize the front hallway that we decided wouldn't get used all that much since there is a door right off of the the dining room that opens out to the carport. In fact, it was also the only place that I had to put the cat litter so the dog would get into it since we could gate it off. Since we've moved in it has been a struggle to keep the area clean and organized. It feels claustrophobic trying to get supplies so often instead of putting things away I just pile them on a shelf and call it a day.

Most of the time it looks something like this:

Its cluttered and unkempt. Also, there as there is a nice pass through that opens into the living room all that clutter is like a blinking "Look at this mess" neon sign! Notice the cat box and the front door. Ugg! What a pain in the butt to keep up with! All the disorganization makes me less than excited to get into any project.

So today, in a fit of boredom sprinkled with the start of a head cold, I decided to clean and organize the "Craftway" as I have taken to calling it. A good three and a half hours later, I have two and a half plastic boxes ready to out to the the storage shed full of crafts that I rarely use. I reorganized a few baskets and boxes and although it doesn't look like too much has changed the results are very satisfying and I am ready to pull out a box and get working on another scrapbook.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

These Are Not The Macaroons You Are Looking For

Recently, I felt the sudden irrepressible urge to bake. It happens occasionally. I was low on supplies so flipping through my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, I settled on making coconut macaroons. Four ingredients: sugar, egg whites, vanilla extract and coconut all hung out in my kitchen, lazing around with bored expressions.

Macaroons are simple I thought, easy and won’t take up the whole afternoon. Oh how little did I realize that apparently macaroons are the high maintenance snobs of the cookie world!

The recipe read a bit like meringues but without the cream of tarter. Add sugar slowly and beat egg whites until stiff peaks form the recipe said. But it should actually have read: Add sugar if you want to and beat the egg whites forever until your arm loses feeling and falls off. Then get pissed off at the egg whites and add a teaspoon of cream of tarter to see if that helps any.

It didn’t help. The cream of tarter? Nope. Nothing. No stiff peaks at all. After about 40 minutes of beating, I finally walked away from the bowl afraid that my little hand held electric beater was going to resign. I came back a few minutes later, dumped in the coconut and told the batter to “get over it.”

The egg whites took their revenge on me though and while I was folding in the coconut, they fizzled, deflated and sunk.

“I am cooking you, stupid cookies!” I yelled at the bowl. This was personal now. The batter was just taunting me now. “I will bake you and eat you! I don’t care how you taste!”

These are macaroons.


I don’t know what I made, but macaroons they are not.

Getting ready to go in the oven.

They came out more like a meringue stuffed with coconut then anything else. They might not have looked like macaroons, but, man were they tasty!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Crafty Conversations

I come from a family of crafters. Crafting ideas surge through my blood thudding and pounding every time I drive by Michael’s or JoAnn’s or Hobby Lobby. At this point in my life I mostly crochet or scrapbook but I can and do: paint, cross stitch, make soap and occasionally candles, weave, quilt and sew. Admittedly of the listed crafts, I just learned how to weave and while I can quilt and sew, they are not my favorite of activities – they are too “fussy” for me. Of course, one might argue that scrapbooking is far fussier.

During a recent shopping trip with Ashleigh after she had tried on her bajillionth pair of jeans it came as no surprise when she shouted from the dressing room, “That’s it! We are going to make our own clothes from now on! These don’t fit! And,” she was so indignant, “They are way too expensive! Forty dollars and that's the SALE PRICE?!?!”

I smiled listening to her tirade. In December, unable to find the girls Christmas pajamas that were cute but not cutesy and fit them, I too had myself a little clothes shopping breakdown and decided that I would make them pajamas this year. While they turned out okay in the end, I struggled through the entire process and the easy “sew in an hour” turned out to be a nearly two week long event and I just barely finished them in time for Christmas Eve.

Ashleigh’s blood also carries through her a burning desire to craft. She makes paper projects, dream catchers, yarn creations…her interests are as varied as mine and now, she is determined to learn how to sew.

“Well,” I tell her as she comes out of the changing room, “You heard me complaining about your pajamas, right?”

“Yeah.” She nods placing a stack of jeans on the rack just outside the dressing room.

“And really, cost wise, I only saved maybe five dollars per pajama and that was with the fabric on sale.”

“I don’t need expensive fabric.”

“I’ve never made pants before except for doll clothes.”

“I like skirts. Skirts are just, you know, round.” She said. “And dresses. I bet those are easier.”

“Okay.” I sigh and shake my head. “We’ll make some clothes.” I tell her as we walk out of the store. “You know, I think that I still have some doll patterns and fabric left over from before…how about you start with that? You know, like the Mythbusters.”

She looks at me and frowns.

“Small scale trial run first to see what might explode,” I tell her. “Then the full size experiment.”

You know what else runs in the family?

Eye rolling.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Photo

Many bloggers do a Wordless Wednesday, so I'm going to try a Friday Photo(s). I'm not sure how often I'll do this but let's give it a whirl!

One of my favorite places to go is the zoo. Any zoo will do. While on one hand it is sad to see animals cooped up in cages, the little kid in me squees with delight at getting the chance to see animals that otherwise I’d only ever see in a book or on TV. The girls and I go to the zoo often enough to justify getting a zoo membership every year. 

Some of my favorite memories are of the Catskill Game Farm in upstate New York. The Game Farm closed its doors in 2006 (you can find a couple articles here and here and here if you are interested). At least once a year, my dad would bring me to the Game Farm. My favorite part was the petting zoo area. In one section herds of deer roamed around anxiously waiting for an unsuspecting child to start handing out deer crackers. The Deer would swarm like piranhas. In the nursery, goats and sheep and little pot belly pigs crowded around to get small bottles of milk.

The Game Farm was unique in how close you could get to the animals. Now to get close to the exhibits you either have to pay for a “behind the scenes” tour or invest in a really good camera. I certainly don’t have the money for a personal tour, nor do I have a really good camera, but occasionally I capture some really good pictures at the zoo.

"Awesome! One more flash from that stupid camera and I am coming right through that glass!"

My favorite "people" exhibit! The zookeeper was very nice to play along when Ashleigh got excited about seeing a "real people on display!"

"You know I'm about to peck your eyeball out, right?"

Practicing his GQ poses.

We love this bird. He is so photogenic. Ashleigh named him Dexter.

By far one of the best pictures I have taken at the zoo, this little guy looks stunning in black and white!

One of the very few times I have ever seen the lion move. He strutted all over the enclosure like he was all that! Well, I guess he was from the size of the crowd that "oohed" and "ahhed" over him.

The zoo has a lovely lorikeet exhibit where you can feed them. Some days they flock all over you. Others, like this day, they are very stand-offish.

I felt a bit uncomfortable snapping this photo as it appeared to me that they needed a private moment...

"Feed me." Such a demanding man! This one wouldn't let any of the other giraffes anywhere near the feeding station.

Enrichment day at the zoo means toys and puzzles for the animals. This jaguar loved his bucket of frozen fishicles!

"Ommm... Ommm"

She looks so fierce...too bad she was just yawning.