Tuesday, November 19, 2013


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"An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.” Charles Darwin

When: November 18, 2013

Where: At our local library.

Cost: FREE!

Why this is on my list? This has been on my list for years but I've never had any luck finding a place where you could actually do it. Last night I took my daughter to a free event they hold monthly at our local library. Each month it's something different, last month it was a magician, last night it was a traveling zoo and I had NO idea I'd be able to do it! It was a total surprise LIFE LIST item which was so awesome because most of the time I spend months or even years planning a LIFE LIST experience so when they are out of the blue and not to mention FREE they're even more exciting!
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Will I do it again? Yes, if I ever again have the opportunity. The handlers brought out the monkey last and strongly emphasized that we would not even be able to touch him. Every other animal was brought around and we all had a chance to touch most of the exotic animals (excluding the tarantula) and all of the domestic ones. They were adamant about the monkey's uncertain disposition. Absolutely NO children and NO men could get near the monkey...apparently he only liked blonde females. At the end I saw a little group of blonde women gathering around the monkey and wished I could join in but I had my daughter with me and didn't want her to get near him. Before we were ready to leave I wanted to show her one of the animals once more. A woman turned to me and asked if I got to hold him, she had just had her turn and was telling me how nervous she was when he started nibbling her neck. I asked her if her she got a picture of her once in a lifetime experience as she was also there with her young daughter. She had not so I offered to take one for her...I was feeling a little jealous still thinking I wouldn't be able to take a turn. While she was holding the monkey for a second time our daughter started playing together on the other side of the room far away from the other animals. Even though I was really nervous (because I assume the worst case scenario in everything I do) I thought what the heck, it's been on my LIFE LIST forever and now I have a free opportunity! He was just like a little baby, he was soft and made sweet little noises. It was a really cool surprise LIFE LIST experience! When we were done I said to her 'that's so cool, that's actually one of my LIFE LIST things' she said "Oh right like one of those bucket lists" I laughed to myself thinking...if you only knew....

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Something I'd recommend? Monkeys can be incredibly dangerous animals. I was nervous because I know how quickly an animal can turn on you (did I ever tell you about the time I was viciously attacked by a dog?) Animals are animals and can be potentially dangerous at any moment. So I would leave this to your own discretion-I WOULD NEVER RECOMMEND ALLOWING YOUR CHILD NEAR ANY EXOTIC ANIMAL AND WOULD USE EXTREME CAUTION AROUND DOMESTIC ANIMALS THAT COULD IN ANY WAY INFLICT HARM. ANIMALS AND CHILDREN ARE BOTH UNPREDICTABLE AND SHOULD USE EXTREME CAUTION IN THE PRESENCE OF BOTH.


“All LEGO men are created equal (1.5625 inches tall). What they become is limited only by imagination.”

Where: LEGOLAND Discovery Center Kansas City Missouri

When: June 2013

Cost:  $20 Parent w/ toddler. SeaLife Aquarium & LEGOLAND combo ticket $23 which is very reasonable.

One of the rides- Z loved shooting the bad guys to save the princess!
Why this is on my list: I actually probably wouldn't have decided to go to this because I have a daughter and I would not have expected her to be interested. I was wrong. Six months later she is still talking about it! She loved LEGOLAND, and I really enjoyed it too, Legos have come a long way since I was a little kid-they have pink and purple LEGOS and female LEGO people too. Some people are 'into' LEGOS...really into Legos, we are not those people so luckily the tickets I was given for the SeaLife Aquarium included Legoland which was in the same building because I might not have stepped outside my box otherwise. But this discovery center was great, it was colorful, tailored to little kids and different-until now I had never seen anything like this. I can no longer make that claim, Kansas City is nuts for Legos- we visited 3 Lego sculpture parks while we were there and I have to say, it is really incredible to see these larger then life statues made solely out of thousands of tiny Legos.

Will I go again? Absolutely, if I find myself in Kansas City again. Inside there was a place to make your own lego, a karaoke area, an area where you could play with all the legos you want, karaoke, 2 rides and a large play area for smaller kids. It is an ideal place to spend the afternoon with your kiddos.

Something I'd recommend? It's a must if you have kids- boys or girls will enjoy it and if you visit Kansas City this will probably be the highlight. In fact this was easily our favorite thing while in Kansas City.

 Kansas City is not like Chicago, or Savannah or St Louis, few with tourist attractions. Kansas City is probably not a destination for most who are deciding on a place to vacation. It's a big city but there's not a whole lot to do. We were there in June for 2 weeks because my husband was there teaching a training course and where he hangs his head when he gets these phone calls, I clap my hands and say 'where are we going?!' I'll take a free vacation anywhere, even to Kansas City and when he has to go next year, we'll totally go again! Because even though I had to really do some searching to find things to do in that part of state, we had a really great time and got to see and do a a lot of things we wouldn't have had we just stayed at home.

Birthday Party room with LEGO cake.
LEGO lunch boxes.
Build your own LEGO tower.
“There is strength in numbers. When the bricks stick together, great things can be accomplished.”

                   “Color doesn't matter. 
A blue brick will fit in the same space as a red brick”

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Braces: Today my life changes forever

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Today I finally complete a LIFE LIST goal that I've had for over 16 years and has been 2 years in the making. Actually it was 7 years ago that I had my first orthodontic appointment, 2 years ago I told my husband that I wanted to seriously consider it and make another consultation appointment. 20 months ago I started with my initial consultations and record taking. 18 months ago I got braces. In 3 hours they are taking them off.

My teeth have been my biggest complex since I was 14 years old. I have been embarrassed of them every single day for 16 years. Every time I took a photo, smiled or laughed I was conscious of how bad they looked. Now I will be able to do 3 of my favorite things with pride!

I can't believe it. Just like that. I love that this entire journey from start to finish started on my blog. Making the decision to get them was certainly the most difficult aspect,after all getting adult braces at 29 years old isn't all that glamorous. In the beginning I hated it, but then I became surprisingly used to them and as much of a daily challenge as it's been the reward is something I can't even describe. Being happy with yourself and feeling good about yourself can give you the confidence to change your life.

I feel as anxious, nervous and accomplished as I did when I graduated from college. Like usually the nervous nelly in me is considering all the worst case scenarios.

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Related posts:
Braces: 3 months 
Half way there!
Is it over already?
A rude awakening 
What more could they do to me...

"I am so so so excited about this....finally after 15 years of VERY serious consideration....I am finally going to fix my grossly disfigured teeth!! I hate them. This is something that bothers me every day, every time I look at a picture of myself, and makes me so unhappy with myself. I have seen several dentists about this since I was a teen but have always been too concerned with either the cost, discomfort or the idea of being an adult with braces- but every year that goes by I wish I would have done it because it would be over already! 5 years ago I met with an orthodontist and have made and canceled close to 20 appointments but now I finally feel ready. Totally ready to just do it, get it over with and be comfortable with myself. I ought to have them on by the middle of July....if all goes well :)"

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Les fleures de mariage

This summer in one month I did 4 events (3 weddings and 1 bridal shower) out of my house. Two of them were on September 21st. It was a lot of fun and I always feel very honored to be a part of someone's big day but it is stressful and it's always a sigh of relief when it's over. This bride was a dream to work with and after we met her friend contacted me and offered to pay the entire remaining balance! It was exciting to be part of a big surprise, it was a treat to work with such beautiful flowers and on top of it all Birch Photographers has graciously allowed me to use some of their lovely photos...

All photos courtesy of Birch Photographers 

Thursday, November 7, 2013


When: August 2013

Where: Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney World Florida

Cost: Approximately $350/night for a pool view

Why this is on my list: I have wanted to stay at this resort for years. A hotel with Zebras and Giraffes...you'd have to be a lunatic to stay somewhere else!

Something I'd recommend? That's a big fat yes. Personally I think the Animal Kingdom Lodge has the most to offer for ALL ages of all the Disney Resorts but they all are truly unique and special. Also, I have not stayed at any of the other Disney resorts....
As far as authenticity went, we certainly did not feel like we were in Florida. Yes, we were in a luxury resort in Orlando but it was as close to feeling like I was in Africa as I've ever been....expect for once when I was in Hawaii after I had a strong Mai Thai.

Will I do it again? As soon as we pulled out of the lush entrance we both emphatically agreed that we would not have enjoyed our trip to Disney as much as we did had it not been for this spectacular resort. From floor to ceiling this place was everything I had hoped for and more...way more. From the sounds of African drums filling the hallways to s'mores around the campfire this place had so much to offer that we didn't even have time to do it all. In fact, I could happily spend an entire week at this resort without ever even leaving. This is one of those resorts that IS the vacation.

the room- I love the decor in our room, we had a balcony with a view of the pool which was actually pretty gorgeous with perfectly placed and well maintained landscaping. I would have preferred a Savannah View so we could look our windows and see the animals but that was going to be about $700 more...just couldn't do it. Every day they left little treats for us daily in our room including pins and towel art making it just so Disney.

the lobby- The lobby was a perfect grand entrance it was decorated in African theme, African music played throughout, there were many seating areas with big flat screens playing Disney movies and every day there was an entire staff waiting to please you. Several times I even saw the staff handing out coloring books and crayons to the kiddos and they would sit down on the floor with the kids and color with them while their parent checked in.

The Activities- Every day they the resort offered a plethora of free activities for the kids, some were poolside and others were in designated locations throughout the resort. Each one was different; one day we made snacks for the Giraffes, we played games, we even had Sounds of Africa drum lessons. Not only were they free but the kids also got a bead to go on their necklace. The guides conducting the African themed activities were all themselves African. 
In the evenings the resort offered 'Disney Under The Stars' every night a different Disney film was projected outside near the pool area. There was also a large bonfire with s'mores and storytelling held nightly. 

the pool- The 11,000 square foot pool was a dream. It was enormous enough to accommodate the large volume of guests without feeling crowded, it had shallow areas perfect for the younger kids to play in but was deeper in other areas and it had a water slide which we took full advantage of . When I say we, I mean me and my husband- our daughter hated it, but there was no way I was going to let that hold me back. Sure I would have preferred to stand in line holding my daughters little hand with the other children rather than standing in a line with 8 year olds. She may have enjoyed the slide had she been able to sit on my lap while going down the slide but it was only 1 person at a time. I thought there'd be more adults anxious to go down the fun water slide but no...nope, just me. Separately my husband would be the one standing in line with the kids, but thank God for us, we broke up several altercations. The most embarrassing aspect was walking into the line, luckily the waiting area was completely ensconced by palm trees and other fauna so no one could actually witness this adult waiting in line with 5-10 year olds. It was the walk to the line...there was no disguising what I was up to so while walking into the line I would LOUDLY announce to my family that "Mommy will go down first to show you it's not scary" this was all for show my daughter found this slide terrifying and had zero interest. I said it every time I got out of the pool to go down it.

the food- I would have loved to have tried each of the restaurants at the AKL but we were so happy with the atmosphere and service at Boma that we had no real desire to eat anywhere else. The had a large buffet with all sorts of delicious breakfast foods including a variety of traditional African dishes that I wasn't adventurous enough to try. Also we really liked our waiter Kyle.

the gift shop- I was surprised that the gift shop was geared toward African themed gifts. I had expected more Disney goodies but it was nice to see so many sides of Disney.

the staff- The majority of the staff we encountered at the resort were actually from Africa. The activity guides and resort guides that we met were from South Africa, Rawanda, and Zimbabwe. Which turned a stay at a resort into an experience. 

the animals- Walking around our hotel and seeing giraffes, ostrich, zebra and 30 other species native to Africa every time we looked out the window never got old. Certain animals were brought into the viewing area at certain times so it was always a surprise to see what we would find.

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