Monday, April 14, 2014

You color my world

It must be almost Easter.  We boiled and colored our eggs on Sunday.  Grace loves to eat hard boiled eggs.  She was very possessive of the dye supplies and claimed all the eggs for herself when it comes time to eat them.
One of the kits we tried was supposed to make the eggs look like tie-dye.  You use a tiny pipette to squirt intense color on the egg and let it drip around the sides.  I told Grace she looked like a mad scientist trying to come up with just the right concoction.
The eggs turned out okay.  They never look as good as they do on the box and I always try to make the colors as dark and vibrant as possible.  

All that matters is the Grace had fun.  Wonder when she will be too big for all these little things. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Muddy fun at the farm

For the second year, we visited the Spicy Lamb Farm in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for their lambing days.
Every spring for two weekends, the farm welcomes visitors to meet their baby animals. This year, it was especially important since their barn burned to the ground on March 4th. All of the animals escaped unharmed and now the owners are trying to raise money to build a new barn. 

Grace and I knew it was going to be muddy so we both wore our rain boots. 
We started by saying "hello" to the horses. 

Inside the farm, Grace got to hold  a bunny, chicks, ducklings, and (of course) lambs!

Notice how muddy her boots got by the end.  There was one point when Grace was up to her ankles in mud and struggled to get her feet out.  I thought she was going to lift her foot and leave the boots behind!

The llama liked eating from Grace's hand because she climbed on the fence to reach him. 
It was a fun morning on the farm.  I hope they can rebuild the barn so these little guys have a safe place to live. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Star Student

Every week in Grace's first grade class, the teacher chooses a student to be "Star Student". They have something to do each day to make them feel special and to share some things about themselves with their classmates.  Well, this past week, Grace was finally the star student and she was over-the-moon thrilled about it!

Grace got dressed up on Monday when she shared the poster she made with all her favorites.  She told me that when she walked into the room, her teacher said, "Grace, you look so different!"  Grace doesn't usually choose tights and a skirt.  This was BIG!  And she wanted her hair in two pony tails.
Other things she did during the week were to bring an award (a piano trophy for composing "After the Rain"), her favorite stuffed animal (a minion she got in Florida over spring break), her favorite book (Even Monsters Need Haircuts), and tell a joke (What do you call a bear with no teeth?  A gummy bear!).  She said the joke was hilarious and everyone laughed!

Sounds like it was a successful week!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Have a whale of a day!

A day-long visit to Sea World concluded our vacation to Orlando.  2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Sea World.  I didn't notice any "special" events or exhibits to mark this occasion, but it was interesting to see what was still the same from the last time I visited a Sea World park (which was a LONG time ago!).

Always interested in squeezing in a little education, we arranged for a behind the scenes rescue tour figuring it would give us an opportunity to see animals up close without the crowds.  We started near the sting rays while we made our way to the tour meeting location.

We all tried to touch them as they swam by.  Then it was on to the tour which took us back behind a fence into what looked like a parking lot for a series of warehouses.  The tour guide explained that Sea World is like a mini city and it employees many different kind of workers such as chemists who maintain the filtration system and check the tank water 6 times a day and mechanics who keep the machinery and vehicles running smoothly.  We saw specially designed boats, a marine animal ambulance, and this sling which was custom built to transport, Kayla, one of the killer whales. 
A short walk brought us to some of the rescue animals.  The guide explained that Florida Fish and Wildlife will often call Sea World to rescue animals in distress.  There were sea turtles (two of them were blind), manatees, and dolphins in tanks behind the scenes.  Some of the animals were injured and others (like the female manatee) were brought to Sea World due to malnutrition. They try to rehabilitate and return as many as possible back to their natural habitat. 
The manatees are fed romaine lettuce. It is similar to what they would eat in the wild and it is readily available to purchase. 

We touched a shark and a penguin on this tour, too!  All of the animals "on stage" have a place behind the scenes where they are cared for.  Their enclosures look a lot like this one for the penguins - plain and functional.  These penguins are tagged on their wings to indicate their gender and name.  
Rico was patient and let everyone pet him.  I don't think he has too thrilled about it, though! They were very specific about staying away from his beak and only using two fingers to touch him.  And, everyone was asked to remove their hats before we went in since he didn't like hats!

Although they have rides, Sea World isn't really a park you visit for the rides. I always thought it was more about the animals and shows.  We managed to get a little of all of this into our day.
 Nana and Grace waited a long time for the jellyfish ride.


And Kyle rode the Shamu roller coaster with Grace a couple of times.
Finally, we visited the Shamu Up Close "show", which really wasn't a show. They were working on the big Shamu stadium when we were there.  Instead of the traditional Shamu show, the trainers let people watch their sessions with the whales.  At times they had a few in the pool at the same time...
...and other times they worked with just one whale.  We watched a play session with Kayla.  They gave her a blue ball and let her explore it for a little while.

The trainer also gave her some signals of things to do and she was rewarded when she did them.

It certainly was a whale of a day!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Our dolphin encounter

Our water experience at Discovery Cove began by snorkeling in their Grand Reef where we swam with tons of fish and rays.  There were even sharks that you could see from under water, but they were separated by glass. 
The main reason we went to Discovery Cove was to "swim" with dolphins.  I wouldn't call it "swimming" but we did have an encounter with two dolphins. We met Capricorn first.  
At 45, he is the oldest dolphin at Discovery Cove and has lived in all of the Sea World parks, including the one that used to be in Ohio.  Kyle thinks he probably saw Capricorn when he was a kid!  Capricorn is one of only four Discovery Cove dolphins that was born in the wild. Capricorn gave us all rides.  We held onto his flipper and dorsal fin and he carried us in the water.  
As always, Grace was the first to volunteer for a ride!

After meeting Capricorn, we met the youngest dolphin at Discovery Cove - Axel.  Axel is only 4 years old. He had all his teeth (Capricorn didn't have ANY!) and had much smoother skin and not as many ridges on his tail.  Axel was also much smaller.
It looks like Nana is riding Axel but she is behind him.  He really was small!
Axel eats 19 pounds of food a day so I bet it won't be long until he grows much bigger!  All the dolphins swallow their fish whole, so not having teeth wasn't a big deal since they don't need to hunt for fish like they would if they lived in the ocean.

The trainers show you how to signal that you want a kiss - one hand on top of the other right on the water's surface.

We had a fun experience and all agreed that we would do it again!