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Disney’s Animal Kingdom

When we sat down to plan our trip, we decided to spend six days visiting Disney parks.  Two days for Magic Kingdom, one for Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, and one spare day to go back wherever we felt needed an extra day of exploring and fun.  Well…  that extra day ended up with us back at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  We absolutely LOVED this park.

For those who have never been, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is like a zoo and an amusement park all rolled into one.  And as far as it’s zoo aspect goes, it’s one like no other.  While there are lots of areas where the animals have their own private enclosures, there are also a plethora of spaces where the animals are free to wander around with a multitude of species all sharing beautifully sculpted landscapes.  It really is quite impressive.  And while I promise to share lots of animal photos at a later date, here are a few of us just taking advantage of some cool photo-ops at the park:

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Of meteors, ducks, and toots in the night.

We drove 1/2 hour outside of Saskatoon to lay in the prairie grasses beside a lake, cuddled up close to protect against the night chill as we listened to the ducks and other wild life calling to one another, watching the meteors streak across the sky.  The girl alternatively whispering in awe and shrieking in excitement while the cold slowly worked it’s way into her bones.

Every so often we could hear the crunch of something walking or landing nearby, but in the almost complete darkness knew it would be useless to try and identify what it was.  Nothing attempted to approach, so I’m sure whatever it was had been benign… or at the least, more curious than hungry.  We’d call back to the animals who called out to one another and us.  And every so often our giggles and hoots would cause curiouser sounds to come back to us on the night air.

It was close to one a.m. when the kid passed gas, giggling when her Dad suggested it was probably a duck who had made the noise. Then we all fell silent again, just in time for him to let one rip too:  “Yep, it was a duck.”  And I’ll admit it, in the stillness of the dark and wild night, I let one go too:  “Lot’s of ducks out tonight.”  We all cracked up when a duck, with perfect comedic timing, seemed to quack in reply.

Time passed both too quickly and too slowly.  It’s amazing how quickly the night air chills you, even in August when the days are still hot.  In spite of laying so close to one another on that soft bed of grass that our arms and legs intertwined, in spite of the heat I could feel being generated between our bodies lying there, we chilled all too quickly… making time feel slow.  And memories, dear, precious memories being formed, the kind that will last a lifetime, making time feel all too fast.

“How many more meteors do you want to see?”

“Two”

“Okay, we’ll wait for two more.”

“Oh!  There’s one!”

“I didn’t see it, that one doesn’t count.”

“Over there?  Did you see that one?”

“I did.”

“I didn’t.  It doesn’t count either.”

And so our last two quickly became four or five…  but who was counting anyway.  😉

Another Wonderful Sunday

Just like last week, I’m left body weary and brain tired after a fabulous Sunday.

Winter Shines is still on, so we headed down to the Saskatoon Farmer’s Market to let the kid go for another pony ride, and to check out the ice castle.  We also listened to my sister’s band, the Sea Hags… but only for a few minutes.  The girl was too excited to just sit and listen to music she can hear almost any time she likes.  After playing on the ice rink – which is mostly melted after the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having – we headed back into the Farmer’s Market and each picked out a treat again.

Today I stumbled onto the most amazing strawberries and cream shortcake.  My goodness!!!  It was sooo good, sooo rich.  And that flakey pastry top?  Oh my goodness!!!!  It alone was worth the trip to Winter Shines and the Farmer’s Market.  If you haven’t tried this one before, I recommend you get your butt down there and give it a go.  It’s just under $5 for an “individual” sized portion (which was more than I could finish, even if I’d have liked to).  Just head to the South East corner of the building and you’ll find the cafe vendor who makes them.  SOOOO good.

After Winter Shines we headed back to the car – my sister Jewles, the kid, the husband, and I – where our hot chocolates and apple ciders sat in our travel mugs waiting for us.  Just like last week Damon and I did them all up right before leaving so they’d be just the right temperature by the time we were done at the Farmer’s Market.

This week, instead of heading out sledding, we went to the Forestry Farm Zoo.  With temperatures like this, it’s the perfect time to see the animals in action.  In the heat of Summer they’re all lazing about, too hot to do much of anything…  but hovering around zero degrees?  Pretty much everyone is wandering around or playing.  We even caught a glimpse of the two baby lions born a few months ago now.  It was a rare treat!

After we took my youngest sister home, we headed on out to the grocery store where we picked up some BBQ supplies.  And for the first time in a couple months, we fired up the Q.  While I prepped the buns, and the kid played on her swing set (her birthday present last year), Damon cooked the patties.

And to top it all off?  The girl and I started the latest book in the Goddess Girls series, Artemis the Loyal.  Definitely a good start so far (challenging the notion that only the boys can compete in the Olympic Games).  Then, the kid drifted off to dream land – before we’d even finished the first chapter.  Truly the perfect ending to a wonderful day.

Next Sunday is the last day of the Winter Shines festival… think we can make it three amazing Sundays in a row?  I sure intend to try.

Curious about Lonesome George?

Kid-kid and I were reading a book about the most endangered animals in the entire world.  We read about several species where there are fewer than ten of them left…  but Lonesome George (at the time of publication listed as the only one of his species left, though my research indicates there may be one other male at a zoo in Prague called Tony) piqued her interest the most.  The idea that there could be an animal who would be the LAST of his species kindled her curiosity.  I promised I’d see what I could find out about him for her.  Which is what led to this blog post.

The last information I can find about George comes direct from the Galapagos Conservatory website:  http://www.galapagos.org/2008/index.php?id=270 – but it’s dated almost a year ago, January 21st 2011.  The big news was that they’d be pairing George up with a couple new females who they think may turn out to be a better genetic match for possible reproduction purposes.  Here’s hoping!

But still, for a giant tortoise who is so loved all over the world, to just drop off the radar seems a little odd.  Does anyone have any information from the last year?  Any idea how things are going for George and his new girls?  Any further information on Tony and whether or not his genetic testing confirmed his species?

I was hoping to have something new and interesting to bring to Lily-Ann.  After all, a little girl asking questions about an animal that is one or two individuals away from extinction can only lead to good things.  I certainly hope to propel her interest forward, but it appears I may need some help digging up some new information on our old friend.

photo of Lonesome George by A. Davey.

photograph of Lonesome George by A. Davey

Drama at E.D. Feehan High School

Some of the best times in my life occurred in the theatre (and the classroom/dressingrooms beneath the theatre).  So today, when Raymon Montalbetti invited the girlie and I to come hang out with his fourth period drama class we JUMPED at the opportunity.  🙂

The students were so awesome.  So much great energy, and fabulous enthusiasm.  It was such a blast watching them work and experiment.  And the girlie (never one to turn down a chance to be on stage for ANY reason) jumped right in.  LOL

I really wish I’d had my camera with me, but I made do with my BlackBerry.  Here are a few shots of the wee girlie on stage with the high school students.  They were all so great with her.  It was a fabulous experience.

It’s been a very long time since I felt so at home anywhere.  Being so surrounded and immersed in collective creativity in a setting that speaks to my heart so directly is a powerful experience.  So thank you Ray.  Really, and truly.  Allowing us the privilege of being involved today meant the world to me.  It was a very obvious joy moment.

Children Need Animals!

I’ve been lax when it comes to posting lately.  It’s so much easier to just share a snapshot I took with my BlackBerry than to download the photos off my card, pick one, edit it, then upload it.  It takes me roughly three times longer to share a nice picture vs the snapshots.  LOL  I’ve had my good camera out quite a bit lately… but I haven’t actually shared anything I’ve taken.  Not because there hasn’t been anything worth sharing, there’s been a lot that I’ve been really happy with.  I’m just too exhausted at the end of the day to do a whole lot.  For that, I’m sorry.  Sometimes sleep is just more important than sharing.  LMAO

So today.

Children need animals.  I really do believe that a childhood without animals is like a broccoli salad without the broccoli… sure you can have everything else in there that you should have, but it’s just not right without the broccoli.  I know kids who have grown up without animals in their lives, and they turned out fine…  but why settle for fine when fantastic is within reach!

The benefits of growing up surrounded by animal family members have been documented again and again.  There are physical health benefits, psychological health benefits…  you can read the literature, there’s tons out there.  What it all boils down to though, is that sharing our lives with animal companions is simply good for us.  I can’t imagine a better way for a child to learn love, for a child to learn empathy and compassion, for a child to learn that sometimes our own desires need to be put on hold to help those who depend on us, than for a child to simply live these things every day.  And I know no better teacher than a dog.  Okay, yes… cats, birds, rats, turtles, etc. are great too.  LOL

Animals simply make our lives rich.  For those of us who are truly devoted to our animal families they also leave us cash poor, but they are so worth it.  And I cannot imagine having my daughter grow up any other way, than surrounded with the love and devotion of a family full of fur.

Puppy Love!

Another trip to the zoo…

I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not…  but we spend a lot of time at the zoo.  LOL  We love animals, and there is so much to be learned through up close encounters.  And that includes encounters with domestic species too.

Here is the wee girlie giving a big hug to the Zoo’s resident cat.  She followed us around pretty much everywhere today…  from the children’s zoo to the discovery center to the barn and back again.  Guess she just needed some loving.  🙂

hugs for the Saskatoon Zoo's resident cat

a little love goes a long way

Lily-Ann’s Wall

Today the wee girlie and I put up stickers in her room.  She was thrilled!  🙂

The animal alphabet on the wee girlie's wall

The Animal Alphabet

Miniature Safari

Lily-Ann was playing with her animals today, and she left them set up when she moved on to play with other things.  Thought it would be a perfect moment to play with my depth of focus.  🙂  So…  here’s a photograph of her animal tea party.

toy animals having a tea party

Miniature Safari

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