Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summertime Family Fun

I mentioned in my last post that we were planning a trip to Sea World Orlando this week, and let me tell you, it was a blast! It wasn't my first time going to the park - honestly I can't even remember how many times I've gone. Living in Orlando, all of the famous theme parks are less than an hour away, so it's not unusual  to have been to the parks more than once before graduating from high school. A lot of the local schools actually have their end-of-the-year field trips at the theme parks (that is until transportation budgets got slashed...) which is how I got to go most of the time.

The fiance and I spent the day with his brother, Jimmy, his wife, Tracy, and their son, Tyler. This wasn't their first trip to the home of Shamu either - Tyler's first trip was about 3 years ago.I should probably mention here that he's 6 now. At first Tyler was very hesitant about the animals, but after a couple of hours he started warming up.

Before I share some of our pictures from the day, I want to clarify that the quality of the pictures aren't going to be all that great. As I've mentioned in previous posts, my only camera right now is my cell phone camera (buying a new camera is definitely on our to-save-for list after the wedding). So, a lot of the underwater pics will be a little blurry or poorly lit. Also, I haven't really told anyone that I've started this little blog project, besides the fiance and my mother. Because of that, I don't feel comfortable posting pictures of my nephew's face for the whole world to see without mommy and daddy's permission. Yes, I know that most of them are already posted on our private Facebook accounts, but those have privacy locks. So, any pictures of Tyler will be from behind. With all of that said, here we go!

First stop of the day - the dolphin exhibit. Here are the trainers feeding them.

Tyler got to feed the dolphins. You can't see him here, but he and Tracy are down at the bend. I think it was still a little early for him, because he didn't reach out and touch them.

These are the pictures from the underwater viewing area. I loved it in there! You can get some awesome pictures (if you have the right camera). Here's an oldie from a 2007 trip to Sea World that shows what it could be like:

Check out the fiance's hair and beard!!

Tyler loved the dolphins.

Manatee Rescue was up next on the agenda.

Anyone want to guess what Mr. Manatee is eating??

I don't know why, but I think it is so funny that they eat lettuce.

This is where I tried to tell Tyler that the manatee's nickname is "Sea Cow." I think he was still a little too young to get that one though...

You can't go anywhere in Florida without seeing gators.

The aquariums were up next:

My poor attempt to get Nemo & Dori in the same picture. :)

Penguin Encounter - Tyler's favorite exhibit

This is when we knew Tyler was finally warming up to the animal exhibits. He asked to feed the sharks!

So Uncle Danny thought it was the perfect time for he and Aunt Hannah to stop and take a picture. Can I just say, I don't like this picture. But it's the only picture we took of both of us all day. In my defense, the humidity was absolutely horrible all day long. Both of us were nasty & sweaty after only being in the park for an hour. So you can imagine how gross we both were by this point in the day... Yuck!!

Next up was Shamu's Happy Harbor where all the kiddie rides are. We rode the carousel, roller coaster, and the jelly fish ride.

He had to be on a dolphin! :)

Up next is what everyone goes to Sea World for: SHAMU!!

Kisses! Mwah!

Tyler though the sting rays were cool. After we were done with this exhibit, we went right back to the sting ray feeding tank that we quickly went by earlier in the morning. He loved getting to pet the sting rays, but didn't like the splashing part so much. :)

At this point in the day, the skies were looking pretty nasty. Everyone knows Florida is the "Sunshine State," but what everyone doesn't realize unless they've visited or lived here is that we are also notorious for daily showers and thunderstorms. So, we decided to hit up the dolphin and whale show and sit under the stadium in case the rain decided to come.

I also thought it was so cool when the trainers did this!

False Killer Whale :)

This is only one of two shows (that I'm aware of anyways) where the trainers are still allowed to get in the water with the animals.

At this point, my phone died. So I couldn't take anymore pictures... But, the fiance and I are thinking about going again this Sunday (we now have annual passes, woo hoo!), so I'll try to get pictures of the other exhibits and shows in the park.

Also, I'm thinking about writing a post about how to get the most out of the theme parks without spending a crap load of money. It's so incredibly easy to walk out of the park and have spent hundreds of dollars - especially if you have a family.

Anyone else hit up any theme parks this summer? What are some cool theme parks outside of Florida to visit? I'd love to one day be able to travel around the country a little more, and would love some suggestions.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ready for Vacation

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been working a lot this summer. I feel like I haven't really had "down time" since school ended. In the month of June I spent two weeks going to workshops that were school related (you can see a beautiful sunset from my first out-of-town workshop here). Another week I helped my sister out by babysitting my niece and nephew. Here they are chilling with Cruz on the living room floor of the apartment:

Then, as you already know, for the month of July I went back to my old college job. I failed to mention that my old college job was at a doctor's office. What do I do there? Well, a little bit of everything. Filing back charts in the medical records department, preparing charts for patients who are due to come in for appointments, schedule appointments, and answer the phones.

So I haven't really gone anywhere special this summer. Not even the beach! Can you believe that? I live in Florida, and I haven't even been to the beach yet this summer. I blame it on the afternoon rain storms!

I shouldn't really complain too much - the fiance and I will be taking a nice long honeymoon in November (more on that later). But sometimes you just need a break. So, I'm really happy that later this week we'll be taking a day trip to a common tourist spot in Orlando. Wanna take a guess??

Yep! We're going to Sea World! The fiance's brother, wife, & nephew wanted to go, and invited us to come along. I'll be sure to post later about all of our adventures. Right now there is a 40% chance of rain that cross your fingers it doesn't come until much later on!

Anyone else have anything fun planned during these last couple of weeks of summer?

On The Road Again...

Since my last post, all I feel like I've been doing is spending time either driving or riding in a car - and living out of a duffle bag and/or suitcase. For the month of July, since I'm not obligated to do anything school related, I decided to go back to my old college job to earn some extra cash. But that job is in Orlando - an hour and a half away from the apartment. So, I've been staying at my parents' house a lot to avoid the daily back & forth.

However, since my stepdad is allergic to cats, I can't really bring them along with me. As much as I hate leaving them for extended periods of time, for the most part they seem to do okay. But, they can only go so long without having their water bowl refilled or the liter box emptied, so mid-week I have to come back to the apartment and replenish everything. Before anyone goes crazy and calls the animal police on me, the cats are never left alone for more than 48 hours. We leave out extra food & extra water for them, and whenever we get home, there is still plenty of food & water left. With that said, it still doesn't stop them from trying to come back to Orlando with me...

This will be my last week at my summer job. And boy let me tell you, I am counting down the days! Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful that they let me come back to work considering I would only be there for a month. And I know that I am lucky to have a summer job considering there are so many around the country who are unemployed. But sometimes I have to ask myself why I voluntarily signed up for the stress that is associated with the job...

Some of the pros of a summer job: (1) extra money that we're planning on putting towards the wedding, (2) gives me something to do during the day instead of sitting around playing on the computer or watching t.v., (3) allows me to catch up with old work friends, (4) I get to spend more time during the week with my parents, (5) I get to see the fiance more often during the week, and (6) there are some pretty awesome sunsets while driving on the interstate.

Some of the cons: (1) using a lot of gas to travel back and forth the city, (2) I think Cruz is starting to experience a little separation anxiety, (3) sometimes the stress of work isn't worth it, (4) I haven't really been able to have a summer vacation.

So, will I take a summer job next year? This is something the fiance & I have been talking about here and there. Right now, I think we've decided on no summer job next year unless we are desperately in need of extra cash (it would definitely help us pay off our debt snowball quicker). But I guess only time will tell.

Anyone else out there take on a summer job? Or maybe you've had to take on a second job to make a little extra dough?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Weekend Adventures: Thrift Store Finds

This weekend we're spending it at the apartment not doing anything particularly special. This morning we went to the post office and mailed off all of our wedding invitations (and I just realized I have yet to write up a post for that...). Then I talked the fiance into going to one of the local thrift stores so we could search for some salt/pepper shakers to use at the wedding.

The Gulfside Regional Hospice Thrift Shoppe is one of my two favorite thrift stores in the Zephyrhills area. They are reasonably priced on most of their items. Also, they seem to get in some of the nicest looking used furniture I have ever seen. If you're looking for furniture, this is definately a place to stop by. However, if you see something you like, you better grab it quick! Stuff in this place tends to fly out the doors.

When we first walked up, they had a sign outside that said "Sidewalk Sale - 1 bag = 75 cents." Basically, you could put anything from the tables outside into a plastic bag and as long as the bag was able to tie at the top, you only had to pay 75 cents. Win! So we snagged up these:

We got a total of 7 candles and one empty votive holder. They all still had their original stickers on them. Had we purchased these all individually before the sale, we would have had to pay $5. Instead, we got them 85% off! These are perfect for our "hurricane" date nights when the fiance and I like save a little money on our electricity bill and turn off all of the lights in the apartment and eat our dinner and watch movies with candle light.

The next thing that caught my eye was this book on Civil War battles. There was another book sitting beside it about Civil War generals, but this one was the cheaper of the two at only $2.50, so I picked it up for my classroom library.

And probably the purchase we are most excited about:

These babies were in the cabinet at the checkout counter. The fiance actually spotted them first. They are teal wine glasses and match our wedding colors perfectly! I asked if I could look at them, and despite slight imperfections in the glass itself, they were in really good condition.

We had been debating on whether we wanted to buy bride/groom glasses for the wedding. Is it really worth the money? Would we ever use them again? Plus, we weren't really thrilled with any of the glasses we were finding in the stores or online. We had pretty much settled on the fact that it wasn't an expense we were willing to spend. However, considering these beauties were only 50 cents a piece (!!!) we couldn't walk away from them.

After the thrift store, we decided it was time for a little lunch. So we hit up the golden arches (a.k.a. McDonalds) and grabbed some grub with a coupon we recieved in the mail. By the time we left, it was starting to rain, but I convience the fiance to stop at one more store since it was on our way home.

So, we hit up the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore (the photo above is courtesy of their Facebook page). I was still hoping to find some cheap salt/pepper shakers. Needless to say, we didn't find any. However, we did find this:

Before you ask, no, we did not take this beast home. We had a good laugh at it though which prompted the picture. We did seriously considered buying it as a gag-gift for my stepdad. I think they were asking like $4 for it.

We did however find something worth taking home:

We found a papasan chair frame for only only $20. We tried our best to fit it into the backseat and/or trunk of the fiance's car. However, after spending a couple minutes in the rain trying to rearrange everything, we realized it just wasn't going to fit. So, this was our solution. We both stuck our hands out of the window & held on tight! It was only a 5 minute drive from the store to our apartment, so nothing major. Definately got some funny looks though!

And here it is in all it's glory:

I've had the cushion for about 2 years now. I bought it back when I lived with my parents. They didn't have enough space to store the bulky frame, so I only bought the cushion at the time with the intent of one day going back and buying a frame. The cushion is from Pier 1 Imports and I purchased it when they were having one of their sales. I doubt they still sell that design, though they have many others to choose from. I'm absolutely loving this chair! I'm actually sitting in it now while typing up this post. This is probably going to be my new "office" for a little while. :)

Did you guys visit any thrift stores today? Maybe the weather was nice enough that you could hit up some yard sales? What is your most favorite find?


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