Rescued Penguins For My Birthday

I daydream about being a Disney princess…but it isn’t for the princes, the fancy castle, clothes, or even the books (I know *gasp*!) its because I secretly wish that I could whistle (ok, I can’t even whistle in the first place…) and animals would come walk over to me. Sure there are some animals that are more interesting than others, but I’m fascinated by most of the animal kingdom and the fact that some zoos offer close up encounters is my new favorite.

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A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to participate in such an encounter at the Gulfarium in Florida. I was able to interact with the amazing winged creatures known as penguins, and basically became imprinted with them. I tried to deny it for awhile, that I wasn’t really in love with them, but no one bought it.

Later, I found out that there were specific awareness days for Penguins, days set aside to bring awareness to the species. I was in a school in January so I wore all of my penguin gear: tacky sweater, jewelry, etc cetera and shared that I was bringing attention to them. Then, the teacher asked, “why are you bringing attention to them? Are they endangered?” cue me stammering like an idiot. “umm..I think so?” (I think in my mind I was just bringing attention to the fact that they are cute, and NOT mostly native to cold climates)

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Thus began research. Many penguins are endangered. The penguins I feel in love with, South African penguins, are in danger every year as they live around the coast of South Africa. During the summers many ships carrying large amounts of oil crash endangering the lives of marine life. The oil poisons the birds, as well as coats their feathers, destroying their water proofing abilities, thus making them unable to enter the water to feed themselves or their families. This pictures are pretty heart breaking, and there’s a cool documentation of the worst oil spill in recent history (2000) in: The Great Penguin Rescue

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Right now is chick breeding season, and sometimes chicks are abandoned by their parents, so SANCCOB comes in to hand rear them (a very tedious and pricey process). It is important that they help to support the species in this way because there are only 25,000 breeding pairs of South African penguins, and those are always in danger of oil spills reducing their populations and disrupting their mating/breeding cycles.

So, since December is related to penguins, I thought it would be fun to forgo gifts for my birthday this year and ask for penguin adoptions instead! There are many organizations and I’ll include the links below. There are organizations that are working in the countries, but there are also plenty of zoos with breeding programs that are also working to increase the populations. Some of the penguin adoptions are pricey, so feel free to make a smaller donation if that is better for you. Let’s save the penguins!

Adopt a Penguin

SANCCOB Saves Sea Birds  – Adopt an egg, a chick, or a “home pen penguin” If you adopt a chick you can name it, and they’ll release it. There will be no further information after they release it. Amounts are in South African currency. R700 is about $50 for reference. Right now, through the end of December, donations are doubled through a local donor.

Richmond Zoo -the amazon wishlist of the Richmond Zoo. Not sure if they listed items for penguins, but I know they have a South African penguin breeding program.

Maryland Zoo Giving Tuesday Maryland Zoo has the largest colony of breeding pairs of South African Penguins in North America. On Giving Tuesday all donations will be doubled. They also offer symbolic animal adoptions.

 

 

 

Visited Mill Mountain Zoo

 

 

 

 

 

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I was craving another animal experience for my birthday, even if it couldn’t involve penguins. Luckily for me, a local small zoo, Mill Mountain Zoo had a free admission day during my birthday weekend, so we were able to check something off the local bucket list!

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I quickly learned that it is difficult to take pictures of creatures as they are behind fences, but was able to get creative with this limitation.

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Some of the staff walked around with some of the ambassador animals. This little ferret was soft and reminded me of ferrets we had growing up: Sissy and Sassy.

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It wasn’t as cold as it could be for December, but this little animal still had the idea, sitting under its heat vent.

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Husband being a goober in front of the cage trying to see if he could merit a response from an animal.

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My favorite animal of the zoo, and probably the most exotic was the Snow Leopard. I was entranced, just watching it lounge about. I watched it for so long that husband actually walked away and didn’t realized I’d stayed in the same spot. Obviously, this leopard’s life is so hard.

 

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Watching it, I remembered my love for big cats when I was younger. I identified with them, because you were able to watch their mannerisms and see the same mannerisms in house cats. In this moment the leopard decided to scratch his cheek against the top of his enclosure. I also couldn’t get over how thick his its tail was!

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Husband, as always, enjoyed the petting zoo animals, easily making friends.

IMG_5633 This, is a Zebu, basically a cow from South Asia. They are used to provide milk and meat. Husband created a bond by scratching its giant nose. It quickly showed its affection by tasting him.IMG_5616 IMG_5608Hopefully we’ll be able to visit again when more of the animals are active, out and about, instead of hiding from the cold.

Embraced Penguins in December

Last year I received a penguin necklace from my day for my birthday, I attempted to wear it while telling friends, I REALLY don’t like penguins that much…its not like I’m obsessed. I gave it a couple of months, and officially recognized my penguin love in 2015.

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However, I’m picky. I don’t just love any penguins, and actually the Penguins of Madagascar movies frustrate me because they only represent one type of penguin, those found in Antarctica. In my opinion it seems like the cold weather penguins seem to get the most representation in penguin depictions, leading everyone to believe that ALL penguins live in the cold. Well, not MY favorite penguins, they live on the beach!

Then, in December penguin imaged items were everywhere…at first I wanted to fight against the incorrect stigma, but this means that penguin stuff is every where! Plus, it gives me something to look forward to about my birthday being in December. I’ve long resented that my birthday competes with all sorts of Christmas events and parades, and there’s really nothing fun to do outside because of the cold.

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Then, I saw the penguins, and decided to embrace the penguins.

This made it easier for people who love me to send me all of the penguin things for my 28th birthday. Though I didn’t get to see a penguin this year for my birthday I was showered with lots of fun things.

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One of my very favorites is a painting by a penguin. Some of the zoos and aquariums that offer this, do enrichment projects with the penguins where they teach them to lift their feet to check them for diseases, and then apply paint and let them waddle across a canvas. I’m delighted to have this painting that I can put up every December to celebrate the penguins!

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Celebrated My 27th Birthday

This birthday was probably one of my best. I got to go to Christmas Town, I got to pet a penguin, plus I got to spend lots of time with friends. I was taking advantage of all of the birthday coupons that I had.

We went to IHoP for a pre game birthday event.

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Our road trip food on my birthday was won with coupons from yummy Firehouse Subs, Moe’s, and Panera. Score!

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Once we arrived in Williamsburg we went to Red Robin with old friends for dinner. Such a great time to catch up! Plus, I redeemed my free non birthday related coupon from Bath and Bodyworks at the mall.

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The next day we hung out in Williamsburg after petting the penguin and before the park reopened that afternoon.

Husband was excitedly nostalgic over the realistic fake toy guns. See, he was tortured visiting this place when he was a kid. He was dragged all over all of the historical areas and he HATED it. He promised he’d never come back. Well, whoops, guess that is what happens when you marry a girl from the Tidewater.

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For lunch we went to the Cheese Shop in Merchant Square. We got delicious Prosciutto on Focaccia sandwiches with provolone & roasted tomatoes, it was incredible with the Parmesan we’d also bought. Seriously, if ever in question, marry an Italian because they introduce the best sorts of food into your life.

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Once we returned back home, I got to go out one more time for a post birthday treat all girls appetizer party. I lived this birthday thing up right for like a week! It was pretty awesome.

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Welcomed My 26th Year of Life

With the stress of completing my internship it was hard to focus on my birthday… but because of my all of my loved ones…I did manage to span the festivities over an entire week!

My presents arrived early from my mother in law, wrapped in the traditional Disney princess wrapping :0).

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My birthday was in the middle of the week, and I decided to spend it “in” with our best friends. I’d seen a larger gathering of my friends a few days before for A’s 21st birthday and in that moment I was able to appreciate everyone and realize I didn’t need to see them again “just for me.” It was a cool secure moment.

All my life I’ve struggled with looking so much younger than I am. Its frustrated me when people retort “you’ll appreciate when you’re older.” This year I realized that there was no other age that I was “going to look forward to” there wasn’t another “adult age” milestone to hit that would validate my age anymore than now. Therefore, I decided to appreciate my fountain of youthfulness NOW. So what if I’m 26 and look like I’m in my young twenty’s. I’m the age that I am, I’m an adult, and I’m just going to live it up and appreciate it now!

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We got take out to go, and we just hung out talking. They also decided to surprise me with a cheesecake…and some odd gifts. Its only your friends who truly know you who get you your comfort foods: dove white chocolate, triscuits, and a block of Parmesan cheese. Its awesome when people want to let you know how loved you are.

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That weekend I got kidnapped by another amazing friend for a perfect goodbye friend date. (She’s spending next semester as a fantastic intern in D.C. instead of on campus). We went to go see the new animated Princess movie Frozen. We even randomly matched in pinks and greens.

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OH MY GOODNESS! I was not expecting to love this movie half as much! The animation was perfect, the songs were epic, and the story was truly meaningful. There were spoofs on many of the traditional Disney romance plots, and great twists in the story line. I’m afraid to admit how much I identified with the eldest daughter, in recognizing how much anxiety has won in my life.

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We sat analyzing and discussing every detail of the movie over milkshakes…the way only true Disney fans can do. I’ll be sad to not see her around, we’ve spent so much time together working in the Xtreme Impact office, and accidentally becoming really good friends preparing for our Italy trip together.

Pretty epic way to turn 26!

 

Celebrated My Husband’s 26th Bday/Cuddled a Wolf

I’ve found a new use for #throwbackthursday posts…to help post articles that are a few weeks past! (I promise I don’t procrastinate…it’s just that life happens).

At the beginning of this month I had the opportunity to celebrate my husband’s 26th birthday. It was in the middle of the week, and we live in a small apartment, but in discussing his social desires with a friend, this friend agreed to let us borrow his house to throw a bash.

My husband titled it a “Crazy Libertarian Bash” on the facebook invite, causing me to have some anxiety about the event. He also invited friends from several different friend groups, which increased the anxiety. I tried explaining this to him before the event,  the pressures the wife can face as the predetermined “hostess” basically that I feel responsible to mingle and help create a cohesive environment. We just laughed at the differences between us, my husband picturing me to be happy as a hermit, and me picturing him as “disgustingly extroverted.” I’m truly not an introvert, any of you could attest to my loquaciousness, however, my husband makes anyone look like the biggest introvert with his ability to talk to a stranger and make a new best friend.

One thing I’d like to highlight though, is the way he uses his social abilities. I’ve seen other people talk to others to build themselves up, to meet famous people, to brag about who they’ve met, or to simply make themselves feel popular. Husband has that sort of desire, but his people oriented-ness really shares his heart. In his aims of meeting new people, it is always about the other person, trying to get them to laugh, to feel better about their days. He frequently compliments our female friends, especially our single friends, as a Christian brother, wanting them to know how beautiful the Lord thinks they are.

Quick rabbit trail to brag a little on my husband: in college I prayed specifically for God to give me a ministry partner. Back in those days I was a youth ministry major and planned on serving in a ministry position in a local church. God granted me someone working in the IT field, with a passion for people, but with a desire to support himself with an outside career. For awhile I wondered how God would work this out, being confident that He had brought my husband in answer to my prayers. In the end, I think my husband teaches me more about real life ministry than my classes ever did (which is saying a lot considering the awesome examples I learned under). He is ministry oriented without seeking a position to serve from. He truly SEES people, if that makes sense. His heart goes out for the homeless on the street. He’s not afraid to talk with them, or buy them lunch. He does ministry “outside of the box” that sometimes ministry majors turn it into. Basically, I’m a ridiculously lucky girl to be blessed by such a great ministry partner in my life :0).

So, of course, when the giant crowd of people arrived, I didn’t have to worry about being the hostess as my husband is a great socializer and mingler. Surprisingly, despite the different “friend groups” there everyone meshed really well. I think this shows the way that my husband is incredible about loving the people around him.

I was happy to see some of these traits observed and commented on by others. Our friend made him an incredibly awesome cake. (She also made our awesome wedding cake!). The cake’s design was a surprise, but definitely fits my husband’s character with the Gadsden flag, voluntaryst colors, and AR-15. I laughed thinking that the cake was now an “assault cake.” The rifle was made out of rice crispy treats and covered in fondant.

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After singing to the birthday boy had ended, my husband took it upon himself to serve everyone slices of cake. A few people were surprised that someone else wasn’t cutting the cake in his stead. However, this is truly the servant husband I married :0).

Another friend of ours brought an awesome new member of their family to the party, a 7 week old tame wolf. She was adorable! Her paws are giant, you can tell she’s going to grow up to be a large dog. It was fascinating learning about her diet, and other behavioral aspects of owning an exotic animal. A few of us even managed to coo an adorable baby howl out of her; it was priceless! Daisy the beagle was not so certain of the wolf puppy.

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Most of the evening was spent snacking around the bonfire as husband invented crazy stories. We laughed the night away.

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Viewed Photos From My 13th Bday Party!

Over Christmas break the hubster and I have been trying to tidy-up our abode. For me, this means attempting to declutter the desk and the areas surrounding. (Unfortunately, I have a propensity to horde items that I think I may be able to put in a future scrapbook or use in a cool craft project, or just hate to throw away because the item is not broken).

One such pile of things that I have been holding onto are a few undeveloped disposable cameras. Most of this footage is likely from when I was in 5th to 8th grade, and at the time my parental’s said that we could not develop it due to costs, so it went undone. I decided that I’d have fun doing a few rolls at once and blogging about it. These things are years old, one roll is from my 5th grade graduation party!

So I took these two disposable cameras and dropped them off at WalMart a few days before Christmas. I never actually got a call back from them, so finally went to see if they were available. I was happy to find out that they were, despite that one of the rolls had been unable to be developed :0(. I opened the second roll to view the pictures, having NO idea what would be inside (I just knew that I could save money by taking out the photos that weren’t clear).

When I viewed the photos at the register I began to realize that they were from my 13th birthday party!  I literally laughed out loud when I saw pictures of my dorky brace face self beaming with my new presents, causing people around me to glance my direction. (FYI this means that these pictures are 11 years old, so I think that is pretty crazy they developed!)

I’m excited that for this project the pictures were from such an iconic event! The quality is not the best, and many of the pictures are not really focused on anything, but I decided to keep them as long as they were viewable (about ten were completely brown). Husband says that we may be able to photoshop these later to “fix them.” But for now, you can enjoy images from a birthday party with a Lisa Frank cake, streamers strung about and turned into volleyball nets for balloons, finger nail polish painting, the making of Ojos de Dios, and a happy little girl with her gifts!

P.S. Be on the look out…I have three more disposable cameras to drop off for developing!

My first (and I think only) CD player!
See! I told you about the balloon streamer volleyball.
My Lisa Frank birthday cake!
My best friend!
I have always loved stationary supplies.