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Loveland Living Planet Aquarium

March 13, 2018


The aquarium here in Utah is surprisingly good for a landlocked state and it is perfect for walking babies. Almost all of the exhibits are low enough for small children to easily see inside and often have small ledges they can sit or climb up on for a better view. Until Cate turned 3, her membership was free so we visited often. I love the picture at the top of Cate looking so intently at the fish and that beautiful sea anemone or coral or whatever that pink flowy thing is. It’s one of Cate’s favorite exhibits because there are a couple of blue tangs in it; one that looks like Dory and another of the lighter blue ones.


I have tons of pictures of my daughter at the aquarium. Like projector-wheels full of them. Not really, but a lot since we have been members for three years. The last time we went she was being a little rambunctious and I told her it was time to go. She was climbing on the whale statues at the moment and declared she didn’t want to go. So I said well how long do you want to stay? Her reply, “I want to stay forever!” and when she said forever her voice got all deep and menacing and she narrowed her eyes at me. She even let me capture it on video after I stopped laughing so I can treasure it forever.

finding Dory

Dory! Also in this ocean-themed room, a smaller tank with Nemo and Marlin in it (and often a third clownfish) as well as the ray tank where you can, if you’re lucky, touch the fins of the rays as they swim by the sides. There are also sea stars, sea horses, an octopus and other cephalopods, as well as the entrance to the big shark tank with a water tunnel so you can see the fish swimming over and all around you.

feeding time

The exit is nefariously placed inside the gift-shop and although Cate does not often ask us to get her things, we do spend quite a lot of time there playing with the toys and hugging stuffed sea creatures, I admire the socks and think about buying apparel but never do, and occasionally read a picture book. Above, Cate discovered the shark heads that you can make chomp by squeezing the long handle. She also figured out that the rubbery turtles fit perfectly in the shark mouth. She wanted to feed every color of turtle to the shark that day. I watched her first manually make the shark chomp and then figure out that she could squeeze the handle with both hands to make it eat. I loved watching her figure that out.

cate the brave

Just inside the entrance, to the right, is The Amazon hall. There are some whistling ducks or birds that look similar (their pond pictured from above in the bottom picture), piranhas, a huge anaconda, turtles, toucans, frogs, toads, an electric eel, gross monstrous cockroaches and spiders, enormous prehistoric-looking fish, and most importantly the rope bridge! Even when Cate was rather small, she figured out how to cross the bridge by herself and her favorite thing to do is go across and run around to do it again and again. And again. At this point we usually walk over to the playplace which is quite large, multi-leveled and full of fun toys. We often pack a lunch and eat while there.playtime

Once I taught Cate how to hold onto the netting to help pull herself up onto the steps, it has been fun watching her explore the different levels of the indoor park and find her way around to the long slide and other activities inside the jungle gym. It really is a great little play place with slides and ropes and bars, and light games, just a great way to get out some energy. And a warm dry park during the winter. One time we brought Tiny Penguin to the aquarium and on our way down the main stairway, Cate accidentally dropped her and we watched her pop head over feet all the way down the stairs. Cate was laughing hysterically. She thought it was the funniest thing and kept talking and laughing about it on the car ride home. dinsk_ocean_with the jellies

Other sections include an Asia portion with lots of different birds and a leopard, a theater, the penguin emporium, deep sea room, a Utah dedicated section with otters and other Utah-native aquatic life, and a room for jellyfish. The jellyfish room is fun because it has this swirling light that makes it look like water is moving around on the ground. Cate likes to dance around in it. So, aquarium fun!



Dawn Inskip Ocean kit

font: peach sundress

Springtime 2017

October 28, 2017


A friend of ours moved out to the country not so far away and brought in all their baby animals for a neighborhood Easter party earlier this year. Cate loved it. There were white and brown bunny kits, chirpy chicks, squealing piglets with a great big mommy pig, a goat (I think), and an alpaca or two. Cate bounced between wanting to hold chicks and bunnies the most. In the bottom picture you can see she tried to feed the little piglets that monstrous carrot. The piglets were the trickiest to hold and the farmer had to pick them up and cuddle them first before gently handing them to the little kids. Even then they only wanted to stay in arms for a minute at most. The smallest piglet was only 3 or 4 days old. It was such a fun way to celebrate Easter.


Yours Truly digital kit from Shabby Shoppe

Florida 2016

February 7, 2017

This is from our trip last May to Florida, which was a blast.

Swimming every day

Cate was surprisingly a peach on the plane. Even though an hour into the flight she asked if we could go home, it was overall a pleasant experience. A couple times Cate did some happy screeches, and the woman sitting next to Grandma said to her, “Boy am I glad I don’t have to deal with that!” to which Grandma replied, “That’s my granddaughter! Sounds like she’s happy!” Further conversation did not ensue.

Just outside the airport we saw a wild armadillo and a crane on the side of the freeway. I wonder if that is the wildlife they see and hit here on their freeways while ours are skunks, raccoons, and deer.

We stayed in a rental home that was at most an hour away from the parks in Orlando. This is totally the way to visit those parks. We had our own pool and patio, we could go swimming at any time of day or night (and we did!) and it was just right out the back door. No flights of stairs or not being sure if there would be towels when you got to the pool. It was awesome. And we could just go to the grocery and eat at home as we pleased. Cate and I swam (or just got our feet wet) in the pool every day when we got back from the parks before naptime. We saw lizards crawling on the netting and even had a slithery friend join us in the pool one night. He was caught after a bit of effort and wrangling into a corner in the skimmer net and set free in the coarse grass outside.

Excerpt from the trip journal: “Cate enjoys putting her feet in the water and getting in and out onto the first step into the shallow end. When we are all swimming, she will jump to me and then point to where she wants to go: to the waterfall (where the “hot tub” –not any warmer than the rest of the pool) spills into the regular pool, or back to the stairs to get out again and come over to jump. She is doing really good at kicking with the legs and scooping with her arms –even at the same time. Cate also practiced with counting 1 – 2 – 3 Go! to tell each of us to jump into the deeper end of the pool. She asked everyone but Grandma to do it. We are running out of diapers because of all the swimming. I wish I had thought of that and brought an entire other bag of 30 diapers.”


This is Cate entertaining herself in front of the camera while we waited for a live-action Beauty and the Beast production. That one was poorly written, but there were plenty of other really awesome things that we saw and did.

For our first full day in Florida, we went to Animal Kingdom. Cate liked all the animals; there were a lot to see, including a huge crocodile, komodo dragon, exotic birds, water buffalo, wildebeasts, giant bats, and gibbon apes. This park also had my favorite live-action play: Finding Nemo. It was amazing. The costumes and sets and props were beautiful, and included waving seaweed and anemones. On either side of the stage were huge lit up bubbles that sometimes had fish swimming through them which Cate pointed out. And when the show started, she pointed out and exclaimed over all the fish she recognized including octopuses, jellyfish, sharks, starfish, turtles, and others. She was entranced by the show. The script was really well done too, it wasn’t rushed nor had any weird plot gaps. I highly recommend it. I was so entranced too that I didn’t even think to take pictures!


Magical Kingdom was not as magical as we hoped. Cate woke up in a grumpier mood and Mommy didn’t fare too much better. We went on Small World, Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, and Buzz Lightyear before lunch. We ate at Pinocchio Haus (lame food) and then got in line for the Jungle safari. We waited in line almost two hours (we were misled by the wait time sign that said it would only be 50 minutes –a touch longer than we wanted to wait anyways) so Cate was pretty much done at that point. She liked the boat ride, but it wasn’t as cool as seeing the real animals the day before and she was super zoned. Andrew, Cate, and I started home, but stopped for Dole Twists, and then decided to have A and C go through Swiss Family Treehouse which was a nice break for Mommy and let me buy Cate some ridiculously overpriced Minnie Mouse ears. Then we headed home for a swim and naps.


“Tuesday, May 10, 2016

We went to Universal Studios today. Our first stop was to Diagon Alley. It was really fun. There is a Gringotts bank ride that has the dragon on top that blows fire out at random times. Andrew, Mary, Cate, and I didn’t ride so we walked around the shops and looked around. When you buy a wand ($50) at Ollivanders or Gregoriovichs, you also get a map that you can follow to do magic at certain spots. At one stop there is a statue on an overhang holding an umbrella and you can make it rain. There’s also a building close by that you can turn the lamps on as well. There was Knockturn Alley with Borgin and Burkes scary shop too. You can eat at the Leaky Cauldron (which we did) and get good British food, Florean Fortescue’s for icecream,” and two other eateries.

“At Ollivanders they do a short presentation where they pick a kid from the group and they try out a couple wands until they find one that works. It was absolutely adorable. In our group they picked a little girl, maybe about 10 or 11, and she waved the first wand to water a set of plants, and then the flowers wilted, so the wand lady was like, “Oh dear, not that one,” then she talks about another wand and pulls it out and the girl waves it at the ladder, to make it move, but instead drawers start opening and closing. When she gets the right wand and picks it up, a light turns on above her and the music from the movie starts. The little girl even turned around with a big grin on her face. It was perfect. It would be so much fun to come when we have older kids who have read the books. So much fun! They also had the Magical Menagerie, Madam Malkins Robes, Weezley Wizard Wheezes, a butterbeer dedicated shop, another candy store. And of course the Hogwarts Express that goes across to the other park where Hogsmeade is. We rode the train over because we thought Curious George town was in the other park, but it wasn’t so we walked through Seuss Town while we decided what to do and decided the best thing to do was to just go home after our uber long day yesterday.”

We also went to Curious George Land—see Cate below giving Curious George some leaves, she was way too nervous about being so close to mega George—and Josh won at Fear Factor (not pictured, but chronicled elsewhere).


We are watching the gibbon apes in this picture at the bottom. They were really fun to watch. They had a huge playground with ropes reaching far across big lakes and the apes were very daring acrobats when they swung along the ropes to get from one tower to another.

“Monday May 9, 2016

Today we woke up early and went to Epcot and didn’t get home until about 9. It was a long day, but we ate lunch at a German restaurant and then had dinner at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue which was a funny dinner theatre. We started in Future Town or whatever it’s called and first rode on the Test Track. We got to design a silly car and then ride a car ride that said it would compare our car designs with the one Chevrolet and the other riders made. Next we rode on a spaceship simulator and I stayed nauseated for most of the morning. It was really fun and there were some pretty wild g-forces. I now know that I can’t be an astronaut: sad day. Cate obviously couldn’t ride on that one, as well as Mary, and Andrew wasn’t feeling good so they stayed outside. We also went on a couple slow boat rides and the one that goes into the big golf ball sphere which was a ride back into the past to the future. Then a finding Nemo water ride that definitely wasn’t as cool as the musical. But afterwards, it was surrounded by a huge aquarium and we saw neat saltwater fish and manatees, great big stingrays, dolphins, eels, and sharks. Then a water ride that was much cooler because it was about how Epcot works to provide sustainable food for its parks and is researching other things like using fish to fertilize plants and vice versa. And then there were a whole bunch of examples of vertical growing, so there were tomato trees and cucumber trees and other plants like that. It was pretty cool. After our best lunch in the parks, and a fun German show where they played alpine horns, cow bells, and xylophone, and of course sang, we continued our tour of the world and got gelato in Italy and coin purses and a wooden snake in Morocco. We listened to a small group sing songs about ‘Merica and then watched the American History movie narrated by Ben Franklin and Mark Twain robots. Hmm. In France we watched a movie that was called Impressions of France or something like that and it was a video tour of France. Then we headed out of the park to Hoop Dee Doo. Cate continued her new favorite game of throwing things on the floor for us to retrieve during dinner. She was quite a trooper to last the whole day, but by the end she was understandably tired and had a couple tantrums at dinner when we told her to stop doing that or we would take away the things she was throwing. We got home all right and then of course she remembered that I had told her she could have a bubble bath when we got home, so she didn’t get to bed until 9:30. Hope she went right to sleep!”

We also went to Cirque du Soleil Florida. That was one of the neatest things I have ever seen. Andrew admitted to feeling anxious while watching (in case they fell or hurt themselves) but Cate and I watched the whole thing in awe. What awesome strength and graceful dancing! It was like a gymnastic ballet circus. There were clowns for comic relief and derring-do, ballet dancers and drapery climbers, trampolines, balancing acts, and swinging bar acrobats. It was what a circus should be and highly enjoyable. I would have loved to see the whole thing and I think Cate would have too. She spontaneously clapped and oooed and wowed and pointed at all the spectacles. It was really neat. Next to Diagon Alley that was probably my next favorite attraction of the trip. Favorites  so far include the Finding Nemo live action play, Diagon Alley, Cirque de Soleil, and maybe Animal Kingdom for Disney stuff.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Todays adventure was to the smallest of Disney’s parks: Hollywood Studios. It includes Pixar –stuffed into a corner (very uncool Disney very uncool), Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and other older movies that apparently Disney owns now in some way. While there we went on a ride that was something like “great movies!” and included Singin’ in the Rain, but also Alien. We covered Cate’s eyes even though she didn’t seem too perturbed by the alien coming out of the ceiling. Next was a Rock and Roll roller coaster that played Aerosmith music. This time Andrew went on it and I waited outside with Mary and Cate. Andrew liked it so much he made me go on it too and we used my fast pass and Mary’s to let us go on it again quickly. It was very fast and quite fun. …After that we headed to the Indiana Jones stunt “behind the scenes” at first Cate had a little break down –it was noon and she really was getting hungry, but as soon as it started she perked right up because Indiana Jones comes through the ceiling on a rope down to the floor. Cate started paying pretty close attention while he avoided a whole bunch of traps including spears shooting up from the floor, a booby trap where he almost fell into a pit of spears but climbed back out on a vine, narrowly missing some axes falling down and then finally the big boulder chasing him. Cate was pretty excited about that big ball and kept asking if it was going to come out again. She kept asking Penguin too about seeing the ball. After the boulder came down, the show stops and a “director” comes out and talks about the scene and we’re pretending that they’re actually filming these scenes and the actors are actually stunt doubles for the real stars. The next scenes aren’t as cool as the boulder chase: they do some silly acrobatics on a gymnastics floor and climb up and through the buildings background and fake punch and kick the bad guys in the bazaar scene where Miriam gets kidnapped. I asked Cate where did Miriam go? And she repeated that question a couple times until I pointed her out again. The next scene is Miriam’s truck getting blown up; that was a fun explosion. They kind of talked about that. The last scene is when they’re at the base with the Nazi plane and the boxer dude.

What a great adventure to have with our family!



Shabby Princess Wildwood kit

Janda Apple Cobbler font


Tiny Penguin

January 14, 2017

Cate and I have enjoyed being members of Loveland Living Planet Aquarium and one of her favorite things to do when we leave through the gift shop (the only exit, so a necessary evil) is to give all the different stuffed animals big hugs. When we first started going, Cate would keep going back to the penguins. So we decided to bring one home for her Christmas present.


We’re pretty sure Tiny Penguin’s name has become Tiny Curtain, because Cate can actually say the word penguin. Above, Cate meeting Penguin for the first time; giving her a binkie for naptime; rekindling her love of swinging.


I got these red glasses for Cate when she was a baby for the car and swimming, but she never liked to wear them, so they became Penguin’s. Look at all those lovely yellow wildflowers. Cate likes to blow them apart when they are fuzzballs which is probably why we have so many… Penguin started coming with us on many excursions, including to the zoo. Snakes are one of their favorites to watch slither around.


Cate and Penguin are already cross-country travelers and did surprisingly well on the airplane to Florida. An hour into the flight, however, Cate asked if we could go home. Hoo boy. On our van ride to the car rental place with two strangers, Penguin was speaking to Cate about important matters and we heard the non-family occupants whisper to each other, “Sounds more like an owl.” We all giggled about that after they got out. Penguin came to all the parks, Cirque du Soleil, and several dinners out. As you can see above, she was a very important and necessary member of the group but sometimes acted out at dinners when she would jump out of Cate’s arms to the floor -right into the path of waiters. Luckily no one tripped. I love that center picture of us on the Dumbo ride. Cate was none too sure about these newfangled rides and so is holding tight to my hand and Penguin while Daddy had his hand on her knee and I love everyone’s expressions, especially Mary and Josh in the background.


I planned on having Cate be a little bright orange bird (one of her favorite colors) for Halloween after seeing the idea in a magazine. We went and got the feather boas together and she loved playing with them, then I bought an orange sweatshirt to sew all the feathers onto. When we pulled it out for her to go to a costume party, however, she got very quiet and then announced, “I don’t like it!” and wouldn’t agree to dress up as anything for Halloween or any other reason. Daddy talked to her about it the next day, mentioning her candy stash could only be replenished if she dressed up for Halloween and that she could choose what she wanted to be, and gave a few suggestions (of black-based animals because she had a black footie sleeper I could fashion into a costume). A little while later, Cate ran up to Andrew all excited and said, “Cate wants to be a penguin!” She was thrilled to get all dressed up in her costume on Halloween and said she was Mommy Penguin to Tiny Penguin, who of course came trick or treating with us. It was a lot of fun making her costume and seeing it come together so adorably.

It has been a fun year with Tiny Penguin, and it’s so sweet to watch Cate play pretend with her, eating play (and sometimes real) food together, exploring, riding scooters, bikes, and trikes, playing on slides and swings, making a ruckus with the playballs she got from her Aunt Jessica this Christmas, and everything else.

Credits: paint.NET

ShabbyPrincess Summer Cottage kit

Midway … from here to an Ice Castle

May 28, 2016

Not sure this is the Midway Ice Castle

Earlier this year we decided to visit the Midway Ice Castle and it was really neat. A little more crowded than was cool, but pretty awesome nonetheless. Cate was a little young to have a ton of fun exploring on her own, but she oooo-ed and aaaaah-ed, said “lights!” when the lights would change colors behind the ice and name the colors she recognized, and then would point for us to go examine other things. She had some fun trying to walk on the uneven snow/ice ground, but mostly liked being carried. The ice sculptors had even made a “narrows” to navigate, which Cate walked through a few times with one of us following behind, a long ice slide for big kids, and a smaller ice slide for toddlers. We got in line for the small person slide, but then bumped our heads on the low ice ceiling and Cate immediately wanted out of the line. Unfamiliar slides are just hit or miss. There was a tiny waterfall, and a big water fountain in the middle of the castle; Cate and I are standing next to it in the picture, but it’s really hard to see. We could have gotten our picture with an Ice Princess but opted not to do that. There were skinny tunnels to crawl through and all sorts of different aged people were trying to squeeze through them like young ice-spelunkers. It was cold, as you can see we bundled up pretty well, but it wasn’t freezing. Once you got inside the ice structure it was sheltered from canyon winds so it seemed a little warmer. I’m happy we explored it, and would be excited to visit again!

Photo credit: Ken Skuse, found on Midway Ice Castle’s website


Some of the best spaghetti I’ve ever had, in S—

May 27, 2016

the best spaghetti you'll ever have
Is this not the best looking dish of spaghetti you’ve ever seen? Well it’s delicious too. Mmmm white chocolate crumbles.

even the McDonalds sign was cool

“June 18,2013
S— is hot and humid. And of course our rooms’ air conditioning doesn’t work. Our hotel is also a little silly in that it has all sorts of Sound of Music memorabilia hanging on the walls. Lots of behind-the-scenes photographs and scenes from the movie of course. The hotel itself also has the option of renting blu-rays. Tomorrow we might watch Amadeus (it’s only fitting) while the rest of the family goes to Hellbrunn. Today we visited Mozart’s home where he was born and lived most of his growing up-when he wasn’t off being a child prodigy with his sister. We also took the Rick Steves tour of downtown S— which was fun. Andrew finally got some lederhosen! On sale for 99 euro and a nice vest to go with them. He looks super cute in them. Emilie and I also got some really cute dirndls.”

I can’t remember whose room it was, but they had the iconic shadow picture of Maria and The Captain on their wall and one night one of the occupants woke up and almost jumped out of bed because she thought someone was in the room. Heeheehee.


Sunporch by Amy Teets

font: monster paparazzi



May 26, 2016

Blue eggs

They hatched!

Byebye birdies!

The babies grow up pretty quickly. And they weren’t terribly noisy either. I saw the Mommy bird feed them once and that was the only time I heard them chirping. The one that was on the doorstep actually fell out (or hopped out) of the nest a day or two before its siblings. It really freaked us out. Or at least me. I was afraid the neighbor’s cat would find it, or some other predator. It stayed the night by itself on the raised garden shelf by our tree of sharon and the next few days it seemed to learn things and wander off and go exploring a lot more than the other two. The last baby bird stayed in the nest for a while, but when it finally did come down, it seemed like it was the Daddy bird that was training it more. We watched it hop around the rocks around our pine tree and then go and practice worm catching in the neighbor’s yard. What fun to have a robin family raise their babies in our front yard!




barefoot kit from shabby