Animal Safari

Over Spring Break we took a few days to go up to the Springfield/Branson area.  On Friday we knew we would have some extra time to fill so as we approached Springfield I googled things for kids in Springfield and ran across this animal safari park.  It was a little pricey for a one time event (probably the same as a Branson show).  And I have to say during the "walk around" part we were regretting the money spent.  Maybe because it was cold and sprinkling or maybe because the place looked run down from winter and only a few of the cages were inhabited.

After spending as much time as possible walking around to stretch our legs and get our monies worth out of the exhibits we decided to take our own car to stay a little warmer through their safari drive.

This is where things changed...  all of a sudden we knew why they offered to sell us a 50 lb bag of feed.  The free range animals were everywhere and were used to being fed so they would come right up to the car...and stick their heads right in!

It was a dream come true for our animal loving little ones and we were even shrieking with delight while avoiding the long tongues that come with these beasts.

The drive is long and quite beautiful.  It is separated into a few different areas by cattle guards which is where you were greeted by the hungry animals welcoming you with their smelly breath.

I brought along my retired camera that I'm teaching Savannah to use and she got to photograph her favorites from her side of the car.  It is so fun to share my passions with her.

Out of everything we did this weekend this I think was the favorite.  And the event most talked about!

Just FYI make sure the "child safety" window lock is not on.  There were a few times I wanted to roll up my window and couldn't.  Nothing like a EMU eye level!  All I could think about was how quickly he could peck my eye out!

 Here are a few videos where you can really sense how close they were to us!  And why I was serious about their smelly breath!  These are the memories that we can't afford to forget!

Racing through the Woods

We meander a lot.  Actually always.  But all of a sudden Jack is into racing and I'm okay with it.  So when we went to our favorite nature trails we raced through them only stopping when we discovered something interesting.

See if you can spot Jack's new pose?  Heaven help me!
We also notably went without a stroller.  Everyone is walking and no one wants to ride these days.  Just the other day I was mentioning to someone how when we got Caroline she had to ride in a stroller because she didn't have the stamina to make it down the hotel hallways.  And now there is nothing holding her back.  We have a little fine tuning to do and she falls a lot.  But it doesn't seem to phase her she is doing it herself and is getting the cutest little muscles too.  They all ran to the football goal and back then to a soccer goal and then to a baseball backstop and back.  (They took great naps!!!)
I think you can see the "Mama made us do this pic" look in their eyes!


I just can't help myself.  One of my favorite things to photograph are flowers.  I think it goes back to my first subjects when I was learning the art of using the camera manually.  I was living in Orlando for the year and had some great friends who were interested in photography and I jumped on board and bought my first DSLR camera.  Then came the challenge of learning how to use it.  I was single living 24 driving hours away from my family I did have a roommate but I don't think she was willing to be my practice subject over and over again.
I love that with my eye I didn't notice the spider web but through the eye of the camera it shows how smart the spider was.
  A perfect place to catch his prey.
What I did have was flowers.  I learned how to use my camera on flowers.  I learned aperture (how to blur out the background or make it in focus) I learned about shutter speed so that just the right amount of light came in so the pictures weren't too dark or too light.
Do you have a DSLR camera?  Do you shoot on manual or automatic?  Does it sit on the shelf because you would rather use your phone camera?

Batter UP!

We are finally at the age of sports!  Jack had his first practice this week for tball and well we have some work to do :)  His first impulse was to tackle his new teammate to field a ball while we were waiting for the other players to show up.  Hopefully, this whole "team" concept will take hold and he will apply it at home too.

In the meantime he can whack the ball pretty good...the whole mitt concept needs a lot of work.  But his favorite is running the bases!  And he's pretty fast too :)

Caroline's 5 | First Birthday Party

This past week we were able to celebrate our daughter's birthday WITH her!  A far off dream this time last year.  A friend reminded me last year on her birthday we had a community garage sale in order to raise money to help with the adoption costs.  So much has happened in one year and yet it is starting to become hard to remember our life with out her.
First Birthday for an Adopted Chinese 5 year old girl
First Birthday for an Adopted Chinese 5 year old girl
 Sometime last fall Caroline fell in love with "The Little Einsteins" show.  The show was created in 2006 and they are no longer making toys or decorations to go along with such an ancient show.  This left a problem.  She lets everyone know Einsteins is her favorite!  She likes the characters but what she really likes is the rocket.  Planes and rockets equate basically to air travel which changed her whole life.  A plane in her first language is called a Wagee.  She loves them!  I think she transferred her love of planes to this cute musical rocket and there you have a girl extremely attached and in love with Rocket.
Little Einsteins Birthday Party DecorationsLittle Einsteins Birthday Party Decorations

Thankfully some really sweet friends and family came to our rescue and dug through their old toys, scoured Ebay and presented us with some sweet Little Einsteins treasures that made this First Birthday a dream come true to our little girl.  Imagine Christmas morning over and over as squeals of delight came from our newest five year old!

Caroline has watched everyone in our family and almost all of her extended family have birthday parties.  She knew what to do.  From the moment we met her we noticed she had the ability to observe to learn to be able to do it herself.  It is more than likely a survival mechanism.  Birthday parties were no exception.  She was ready.  At preschool her teacher said they sang to her and then she pretended she had candles and went to town blowing them out.
First Birthday for an Adopted Chinese 5 year old girl
First Birthday for an Adopted Chinese 5 year old girl

In the orphanage I was told they celebrate the Chinese New Year with a big party where the children were told they are now a year older.  The difference of a family is we celebrate HER.  Her birth, her survival, her perseverance and determination to overcome obstacles, her willingness over the year to let us be her Mom and Dad, her sweet spirit, her joy, her love and trust given to us, and our overwhelming LOVE for her.

The video clip is our voices and her overwhelming joy and anticipation to blow out her candles...

(What we didn't teach her apparently was that the candles are hot even after they are blown out.)

Happy Birthday Caroline Joy!  We are thankful for your life and the gift you are to us as a daughter. We can't wait to see where to Lord leads you and to celebrate all that is to come WITH you!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

First Birthday for an Adopted Chinese 5 year old girl
First Birthday for an Adopted Chinese 5 year old girl
First Birthday for an Adopted Chinese 5 year old girl
First Birthday for an Adopted Chinese 5 year old girl
First Birthday for an Adopted Chinese 5 year old girl

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