5K Color Run

Exercise is something important to our family so we can stay healthy. All of the boys run cross country and track.

running color run

Last Saturday we all participated in a 5K Color Run, to help raise money to fight cancer!

color run_blog_4

All of the children ran the race, while Jim and I chose to just walk it.

color run_blog_5

Before running Colter said he wasn’t going to get any color on him, but as you can see he did end up with a little on himself.

We were all very proud of him; he placed 1st in the race!

color run_blog_6

As you can see, after the race we were a very colorful bunch:

after the color run_blog

We had a blast with it, and it helped raise money for a good cause!

color run_blog

color run_blog_1

Have you ever run or walked a 5K?

PJ

 

 

11 Years and Holding

Did you know that our sun is constantly changing?  It has varying levels of radiation, sunspots, flares, and all of the other solar activities that sooner or later have their effects on Earth’s weather, climate, and even the Northern Lights.  Not only do these levels vary, but they do so in something of a pattern, that is called a solar cycle.  These solar cycles have an average duration of about 11 years.

sunrise_blog

This cyclical pattern of constant change is something that I can relate to.  Just 11 years ago, I packed my pregnant wife and 5 children into our little red shuttle bus, and left New Jersey to begin a new life in Southern Indiana.  Since we had never met anyone from where we would settle, and had never been there either, we weren’t sure what our lives would be like when we arrived.  We had signed a 3 month lease on a house, and I had made preparations to be employable by getting my Indiana teacher’s licence, but I didn’t have a job lined up.  We didn’t have a lot of answers for our friends and family who had many of the questions that we had asked ourselves about our plans, and perhaps our sanity.  We just didn’t know.

11 years and counting

What we did know, rather I should say WHO we did know, was the One who did know exactly what our lives would be like when we moved to Southern Indiana 11 years ago.  We didn’t have to know the answers.  Like a child with her dad, we just had to know whose hand we were holding as we kept walking.

Creek Walk

As we trusted Jesus through multiple additions to our family, changes in careers, buying and selling and building of houses, not only our family, but also our family business has become established here in Southern Indiana and we could not be more pleased.  We could not have predicted the success, no not even the existence, of Goat Milk Stuff as we pulled out of the church parking lot to head west eleven years ago.  The number of changes in our lives through that time has been too many to count.  The pace of those changes has been nearly constant.  There have been storms, and flares and the intensity has varied, and sooner or later, they have all had effects on our lives.  It has been an unbelievable eleven years.  I’m thankful to have been holding Jesus’ hand- perhaps gripping would be a better description- throughout that time.  I can only imagine, or maybe I can’t, what the next 11 years may bring.  The solar cycle continues on.  Its effects will be felt by your family and mine.  I can’t predict what those effects will be, but may I encourage you?  You can know the One who can.  Hold on to Him.

Jim Signature

 

 

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Dad’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and I’m just now getting around to writing the blog post about it. Whoops!

The most notable thing about this birthday was that we all got up at 6:00, so everyone looks extremely tired – and several people are still wearing their pajamas. LOL

One of our birthday traditions is for everyone to take a picture with the birthday person. But apparently the 6 am wakeup time got to Mom – she didn’t check the background of the photo like she normally would, so you get a lovely view of our apron/birthday placemat drawer in the background. LOL

happy birthday jim_blog

happy birthday jim_blog_1

happy birthday jim_blog_2

happy birthday jim_blog_3

happy birthday jim_blog_4

happy birthday jim_blog_5

By the time it was Colter’s turn, she’d realized that the drawer had been left open – but whoever closed it didn’t get all of the apron strings. LOL

happy birthday jim_blog_6

happy birthday jim_blog_7

And we have a picture of Mom and Dad, but I knew Mom wouldn’t want me to post it – she was one of the ones still wearing her pajamas. LOL

Happy Birthday, Dad! Love you.

Brett Blue Signature

Sometimes The Solution is Simple… and FUN!

I have a confession to make.  I am not a big fan of mowing a lawn.  Oh sure, it was one of my first businesses when I was a kid, and I did plenty of it for my own family as well.  I just don’t feel it’s a great use of my time, and I try to be very economical in my use of time.  Come to think of it, I try to make the most out of everything I have, including both time, and land.  A lawn, while sometimes looking great is rarely a great use of land.  It comes as no surprise then, that PJ & I have always tried to use most of whatever property we’ve had for growing food instead of a lawn.

Sometimes The Solution is Simple... and FUN! old garden

We’ve had gardens, and I mean big gardens, everywhere we’ve ever lived together.  As we got more property the food we grew wasn’t always for us.  Sometimes it has also been food for horses, or a cow, or bees, or chickens, or sheep , and of course for goats.

Sometimes The Solution is Simple... and FUN! hay field

Since we make use of most of our property for growing things, it should also be no surprise that we never use chemical pesticides.  Round Up and the like have no place at our place.  The weeds, however, are not as easy to keep out.  In the gardens we pull them.  In the hayfield we let them grow.  In the woods, we let the goats eat them.  But we also get dandelions and other tough weeds in the driveway, and in the sidewalk cracks.  These are hard to pull because they have their taproots locked in concrete or hard-packed gravel.  That’s a problem.

Sometimes The Solution is Simple... and FUN!

I’ve always looked for innovative solutions to our recurring problems and this is no exception.  This solution also happens to be a real blast.  Literally.

Sometimes The Solution is Simple... and FUN!_2

Yes, that is a backpack mounted LP flamethrower known commercially as the Weed Dragon*.

It is an effective, safe, chemical-free way to get rid of those pesky weeds.  Oh, yeah.  It is fun to use.  Just open the valves, squeeze the hand lever, spark it up, and blast away!

The instructions say that you only need to heat the weeds and the cells will break down and wilt.  Once this happens they no longer produce food for the roots and the weed will die.  As a former science teacher I understand that, and I’m sure it would work.  Practically though, I can’t seem to help myself.  I just torch ’em.

Sometimes The Solution is Simple... and FUN!_1

It’s just way more fun!

Oh, and as an added bonus, you can torch your sidewalks in the winter instead of using salt or other ice removal chemicals which can be not only bad for your concrete, but also for your soil.  It sure beats scraping, beating, and chipping away with a shovel to get the ice off!

now that is a tool! Jims flame thrower

Please note, if you live in a populated area, you may want to check with local ordinances before you get your Weed Dragon*, because when you’re handling weeds and ice looking this hard-core, someone is bound to freak out and they may have made this kind of fun illegal in your location.

Jim Signature

 

The Treadmill Desk Conversion

My wife likes to stay active.  Of course, as the CEO of a family business, as well as the family bookkeeper, she has a LOT of desk work to do.  So I converted our treadmill into a treadmill desk using stuff we had laying around.

treadmill desk conversion_blog_3

In order to work, the treadmill desk needed to have a work surface, a place for the computer, and a display, all while not interfering with the normal operation of the treadmill.

The work surface was easy enough. It is simply a black-finished particle board shelf with a piece of vinyl stair nosing* screwed onto both sides.  The vinyl keeps stuff from falling off the shelf when the treadmill is being used.  The treadmill originally had dense foam handrests supported by metal brackets.  I removed the foam handrest part so I could bolt the shelf  to the metal brackets beneath.  The nut is countersunk into the shelf for a flush surface.  The low profile of the shelf allows for the treadmill display to be unaffected so the treadmill can still be used as usual.

treadmill desk conversion_blog

The computer, in this case PJ’s laptop, sits on the side table near the treadmill.  It is controlled by the wireless mouse and keyboard* that sit on the work surface.  Since the rubber edges can be rough on the wrists, I added a gel foam wrist support for both the mouse* and the keyboard*.  This keeps the wrist from hitting the vinyl edge and is comfortable for working.

treadmill desk conversion_blog_2

Also attached to the computer is the ethernet cable to access the internet, and the HDMI cable* that runs up to the first flat screen TV we ever bought.  The DVD part stopped working years ago, but the display is still good, and it works well sitting up on an old wall bracket that was made for a CRT television.  The base is actually bolted onto it so it cannot just tumble off if it gets bumped.

treadmill desk conversion_blog_5

I added the power strip* for convenience and just cable tied* it to the treadmill so PJ could turn everything off at once if she wanted.

treadmill desk conversion_blog_1

The only drawback to the whole thing is that the treadmill is very old.  We got it about 18 years ago and have used it more often than not.  Somehow it just keeps going.  As long as it keeps working we can save the expense of buying one of those really nice treadmill desks* you can find online!

Jim Signature

 

 

 

*Amazon Affiliate Link

Local Flavor

I feel sorry for people who regularly eat at chain restaurants.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why people (myself included at times) do; especially when traveling.

local flavor_blog_1

If I have my history right, chains like Denny’s or Cracker Barrel, or Colter’s favorite, TGI Fridays became popular as our culture become more mobile.
As more families took vacations to places they had never been, or had no family nearby, they needed someplace to eat. The problem with new places is that sometimes, the food can be very different from what is available at home. Chain restaurants met the need of travelers by providing predictable menus no matter where they were located. What a relief!

So why the sympathy for people who are simply avoiding a horrible roadside lunch spot or the greasy spoon that serves up food poisoning to unsuspecting vacationers?

The answer came to me after a winter of our family travels that took us from Detroit, MI to New Orleans, LA and back up to Wisconsin. It was a lot of ground to cover, much of which was virgin territory for me. I noticed that while the trees and fields varied somewhat by latitude, suburban sprawl had made much of the scenery along the highways look remarkably… the same. Chain restaurants, along with big box stores, are a major part of that similarity. To me it seemed somehow wrong that if I got off the highway in Louisiana it was indistinguishable from an exit community in Wisconsin. Where was the local flavor, the places that were unique to the culture of the community? What makes each place special if it is marked by all the usual eateries found all across the nation? Why was I even bothering to travel if everywhere was the same anyhow? There isn’t much point in it is there?

That’s why I feel sorry for people who regularly eat at chain restaurants. There’s no new experience; nothing to write home about. All you get is a full belly.
But isn’t a predictably happy belly better than any level of culinary excitement that comes with gastrointestinal risk?

local flavor_blog

Perhaps, but NOW there are ways to mitigate that risk that we didn’t have just a few years ago.

With the advent of mobile devices and social proof travelers can find the best of anywhere just by searching!
Apps like Yelp, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google Maps allow people to rate, and leave comments about places along the way so you don’t have to wonder where the best Mediterranean food in Merrillville, Indiana is. You don’t have to look for the most familiar lit-up logo-on-a-pole while you’re filling your tank to figure out where to feed your face. You can have that a figured out a few exits in advance based on what you feel like eating, and “what’s good around here.”

Of course, if you know where you’re headed and when you’re leaving you can mark a few spots the you might like to try along your route. For instance, when we went to New Orleans, I ‘saved’ a few restaurants on Google Maps that I had found on Yelp, in the areas where I had a feeling we’d be getting hungry. Sure enough, as we were approaching Bowling Green, Kentucky, the kids were ready for breakfast. I pulled into Wild Eggs and we chowed down like royalty on crepes, omelets and cinnamon rolls. It should be noted that this example is actually a small, regional chain. (See, I’m not anti-franchise, just anti-same-old-same-old!)

I’m encouraged that local businesses, the small family restaurants that used to be the focal points of so many neighborhoods, can get new customers this way. My hope, especially since I live right near one, is that the exit communities across America will be seeded with such businesses, and not be choked out by the national chains that have so dominated that landscape. If this can happen, then the charm of these communities may be experienced by anyone passing through, and you’ll decide to get off at exit 29 not because there’s a Denny’s and a Cracker Barrel, but because you discovered that the locally made goat milk delicacies are out-of-this-world!

Jim Signature

 

 

Ginger and Jade

Our house cat, Ginger, is a Daddy’s girl.

ginger and jim_blog

But Jade thinks that Ginger is hers, and will spend hours with her. Ginger has always been good with Jade, despite hours of too much snuggle time.

ginger looking out the window_blog

Bonus points if she gets to spend time with Daddy and Jade at the same time! (This picture is from 2010 – look at how young Jade looks!)

DSC_0025_blog

Now that she’s older and has more responsibility, Jade doesn’t have as much time to snuggle with Ginger. And when she does, Ginger doesn’t want to snuggle, Ginger wants to play.

ginger and jade_blog

But Ginger is always ready to take a picture!

ginger and jade_blog_1

Okay, Ginger doesn’t really like pictures.

Especially with Jade.

Ginger is a wonderful cat. Her official job is “mouse catcher” but she spends plenty of time snuggling and playing with the family! If you keep an eye on some of our new videos, you might find Ginger sitting in the background, and she makes an appearance in the blooper video, which will be coming out soon!

ginger sitting on couch_blog

We love our “Gingy”. 🙂
Brett

 

 

Ask A Jonas – Jim’s Thoughts On Choosing Scents

We get asked lots of questions when we’re doing farm toursselling soap at craft fairs, or simply running errands.  Since most of those answers are heard only by the person who asked, we decided to share some of the common questions here on the blog.  And of course you can ask a question of your own!

Ask a Jonas-Jim_choosing scents_blog

Jim, how do you decide what scents you use as far as soaps and lotions? Do you pick your favorite or mix it up? Every month I can’t wait to place my order for the limited edition soap. ~Angie

Over the years of doing craft shows, reading comments on our social media pages, and fueling customer requests, we’ve learned what seasons certain scents are very popular. We try to have our limited edition fragrances line up pretty well with the seasons, but sometimes that can be tricky. Not all fragrances are created equal, so Colter and I spend a lot of time researching and testing fragrances from suppliers who have high quality oils.

We’re always careful to only use fragrances that are body safe and phthalate free. That’s the research part. Testing involves making many small batches to see how the fragrance performs in our soaps and lotions. Many fragrances can morph, or completely disappear in soap. They can also accelerate the saponification process and ruin a batch, or completely change it’s color.

Once we find the perfect fragrance, then we can put it into our product line. Ultimately, it’s PJ and our customers who decide if it will stay there or not.

 

Jim Signature

 

Have a question for a Jonas? Fill out the form and send it in – maybe we’ll pick yours!

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Sometimes I think about the past and realize that a lot of things had to happen for me to be where I am today.  A big thing happened nineteen years ago, on July 8, 1995. Can you guess what happened?  The title of the post gives it away. LOL

Yes, my Mom and Dad got married.

I love this picture – isn’t my Mom’s dress pretty?

jim and PJ_blog_1

Everybody who knows my parents from their wedding says they still look the same now, but I think they look so much younger in their wedding photo. Here they are nineteen years later.

family portrait_level balance_07_blog

jim and PJ_blog

It has been a long time since that wedding picture was taken, but I’m pretty happy with what happened in those nineteen years. The family of two has grown to a family of ten, and we started Goat Milk Stuff. Not bad for nineteen years, huh?

family portrait_level balance_12_blog

Mom and Dad may not be perfect, but they’re the best parents I could have hoped for.  Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad.  I love you!

Brett

 

Fly Eating Wasp

When you have a herd of milking goats, or any farm animals for that matter, flies are inevitable. We regularly clean the stalls and remove the organic matter, but we still have flies.

cleaning stalls_blog_1

Because we don’t wish to use any chemical insecticides, something new we are trying this year is Fly Predators* –  small, fly-eating wasps with no stinger, that feed on the fly at the pupal stage. They get shipped to us in a bag:

jim spreading wasp_blog

I spread 15,000 around our goat barn a few days ago:

jim spreading wasp_blog_1

jim spreading wasp_blog_4

The baby goats were very interested in helping:

jim spreading wasp_blog_5

We will see how well they’ve worked in a couple months!

Jim

 

 

*Amazon affiliate link

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Jim and I met at The University of Virginia, so Thomas Jefferson is very important to us.  Here is an interesting fact – Thomas Jefferson was born on Jim’s birthday (April 13) and died on Jade’s birthday (July 4).  I always post the children’s birthday photos, and they insisted that I post Daddy’s birthday photos as well.

happy birthday jim_blog_2

happy birthday jim_blog_3

happy birthday jim_blog_4

happy birthday jim_blog_5

happy birthday jim_blog_6

happy birthday jim_blog_7

happy birthday jim_blog_8

happy birthday jim_blog_9

happy birthday jim_blog_10

happy birthday jim_blog_11

happy birthday jim_blog_12

happy birthday jim_blog_13

happy birthday jim_blog_14

Happy Birthday to my incredible husband!

PJ

7 Reasons You Should Read “Lemonade Stand Economics”

Yes, you really should read Lemonade Stand Economics by Geof White.

I did, but that’s not such a great reason, so I won’t count that one.

My daughter, Brett, read it as well.  Of course, she (@BookSquirt on twitter) reads everything under the sun, so that’s not very compelling either.

lemonstand_blog_1

I wrote a bunch of twitter updates, or tweets, about it too; but again, not such a great reason.  But, they do give you some idea of what’s in the book, so here are some of them, along with the seven reasons…

 

1. You are a teenager.

You’ve got school, perhaps college, and a career all ahead of you.  Don’t you want some directions on how to do all of that well?  Wouldn’t it also be awesome if you could do all of that without debt?  You’re not going to get this information in your classes, and what you learn NOW is foundational to your adult career.  You have a tremendous advantage if you start early, and if you’re still living at home, that can be a huge bonus, too.  Teens, if your parents are too busy or disinterested to encourage you in this, take charge of your own destiny and get started without them. Lemonade Stand Economics* could be the game-changer for you!

Related Tweets:

“Start your financial planning in HS when you have dear old Mom+Dad right there 2 help.” #teen #money

“Working 4 yourself during HS is an enormous advantage over waiting 2 do so until you reach college.” 

Lemonade Stand Economics “gives some entrepreneurial guidance in an arena that just isn’t presented in school.” #TEENS READ THIS! 

“skills U learn while working for yourself in HS.. are the foundation you will need during your adult career.” 

 

2. You are a “Millennial” or consider yourself part of “GenY”,

You are ready to unleash your awesomeness on the world and make it a better place.  Problem is, you don’t know where to start.  Wouldn’t you like some straight talk about how to get it done?  How cool would it be to get some solid advice on how to handle the mistakes that you inevitably will make as you step out and start making a difference for you and for others?  The simple, straightforward language conveys rock-solid truths about hard work, serving customers, and how to create success on a day-to-day basis. Personal stories illustrate the points well and keep the concepts interesting.  Even someone who isn’t particularly fond of reading books can enjoy Lemonade Stand Economics*.

Related Tweets:

“Don’t b afraid 2 develop a personal relationship with your customers.” #smallbiz #GenY #CustServ

Pick, say, 8:00 to be walking out the door each day. And if that’s too early for you, then grow up. #teen #GenY

“Do not, under any circumstances, try to hide your mistake.” #millennials #GenY #teen #entrepreneur

 

3. You are a parent who has at least some degree of influence with a pre-teen, teenaged, or twenty-something child.  

You’ve said it a hundred times, but maybe it’ll sink in if they read it.  Although my children already learn much of this by working in our family business, I will still have them read Lemonade Stand Economics to help them understand what they have learned from a different perspective, and to gain insight on some of the finer points that they may have missed. Parents, read Lemonade Stand Economics* first, then tell me you wouldn’t LOVE to have your teen read and apply it.

Related Tweets:

“Whether you intend to set an example or not, you always do.” #parenting

“High school is an ideal time for saving money.” #parenting #teen #entrepreneurs

“A six-day work week isn’t going to kill you!” #teen #entrepreneur #debtsucks #parenting

“There R basic characteristics we all wish 4 our #children 2 have: confidence, motivation, intelligence, work ethic, discipline.” 

 

4.  You realize that debt is a burden.

How would you like concrete instruction on avoiding debt through the college years, when most students are borrowing even faster than they’re eating pizza?  No, you probably won’t get it in 30 minutes, but this IS a quick read and will easily pay for itself… unlike your roommate.  Maybe you should get two copies of Lemonade Stand Economics*.

Related Tweets:

“loans made it easy; they gave me a false sense that everything was being paid for.” #debtsucks

It’s not 1 loan that’ll bury you. Combination of little loans makes U feel like UR drowning. #debtsucks

As of October 2011, total outstanding #student #debt has passed $1 trillion, more than the nation’s credit card debt. #debtsucks 

If U get enough side jobs, U could say UR side-jobbing your way thru school. #debtsucks

 

5.  You need help managing your money or time or both.

Some have said, “Time is money.”  Whether you agree with that or not, many people struggle with spending or saving them both wisely.  The earlier in life you get a handle on how YOU take care of your time and money, the better.  Simple tips and strategies that will help you develop a success-oriented mindset toward finances and time management are found throughout Lemonade Stand Economics*.

Related Tweets:

No Student Loans? Take amt of #money you would’ve used to pay off a student loan after grad +put it into a Roth IRA

To start credit game: go to credit union, get secured #credit card w/ low limit+low rate. Then don’t use it. 

Write down what you do each day and the time spent doing it. #TimeMgt #TimeManagement

People who don’t have to manage their time usually don’t & really small tasks seem to trip them up easily. 

“The difference between being #successful and unsuccessful is what you do with your #time.”

“Schedule yourself to market yourself.” #Marketing #TimeManagement #Entrepreneur 

 

6. You are excited about business or being an entrepreneur.

Some people want to show up to do a job and have very little decision-making responsibilities.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But if that’s not “you,” then there would definitely be something wrong with that in your case.  I get that.  Whether you want to run someone else’s business or your own, you’re going to need to know some of the basic truths and simple strategies described in Lemonade Stand Economics*.

Related Tweets:

“The best way 2 recognize an opportunity is to 1st know what UR capable of.” #teen #entrepreneur #smallbiz

“Never sacrifice quality for speed” http://gmsoap.co/1cLqgTA #entrepreneur #smallbiz #GenY #millennials

Some people get weird when it comes to profits, especially people who don’t work for themselves. #smallbiz

“Standards for behavior are much higher when you work for yourself.” #smallbiz #entrepreneur #GenY

1way 2increase the odds of things going smoothly is to create systems. #Systems maximize profits.

“Above all else fear will make you want to quit.” #teen #entrepreneur #smallbiz #GenY

 

7. You want to be a success.

Wow, you’re all the way down here at #7 and you’re still looking for a reason?  Seriously, none of the above applied to you?  OK, bottom line, Lemonade Stand Economics* has some fantastic life lessons that transcend parenthood, or your current age, or even preferences.  While certain people will get a lot more out of it, simply put, it has lots that will either teach or resonate with just about everyone.  These are philosophies, outlooks or general principles that help to drive success at every level, that are taught in a friendly narrative manner.  As an entrepreneurial business owner and homeschooling father of 8 children, I encourage every teenager and parent of a teen to read this, but it has a much broader base than even that.

Related Tweets:

“How you conduct #business is a direct result of your #attitude, #workethic, and #values.”

#CustServ, #TimeMgt, #Mktg, #advertising, #selling…are…interwoven into every profession

#WorkEthic, #MoneyMgt, #TimeMgt + #CustServ are the foundation [for] your adult career.

“#Marketing yourself is a concept you will carry with you for the rest of your life.” #teen #smallbiz

Successful people, regardless of #business, industry, occupation, gender, or time in history, manage fear. 

“Meeting expectations isn’t nearly as impressive as exceeding expectations.” 

lemonstand_blog

If you are still on the fence, just go ahead and get it.  If you don’t like it after you’ve read it, leave a comment below about how wrong I was.  Then we can have one of those really fun online comment battles!

Oh, if you really like any of the tweets and want to use them to tell all of your followers how smart you are about business because you read Lemonade Stand Economics*, feel free to just click it to be able to retweet, reply, or favorite it.

Jim

 

 

 

*Affiliate Link.

Disclimer: I was given a copy of Lemonade Stand Economics to review.  I left my review on Amazon.com and thus fulfilled my end of the bargain, so to speak.  Here’s the thing, I liked the book so much, and what it had to say, that I (on my own) wrote over 60 tweets about it and also decided to write this blog post to support it.  These opinions are my own, and decidedly unbiased.

Disney Wild Africa Trek

While we were in Disney World, we decided it was time to do something we’d never done before. The Wild Africa Trek! Indigo and Jade were too young, so while we were doing it, they went off and toured Animal Kingdom with some of Grandma’s friends.

I can honestly say that this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. It was a three hour guided tour where we got to walk over the hippos and alligators, learn some swahili, get really close to some of the animals on the safari, and eat an african inspired lunch.  

First we got all suited up and took some pictures. 

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_11

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_12

Then we set off into the wild. First we went through the bird section. While we were there Jess pointed out some birds, and we got a lot of really strange looks. Not that it really bothered me – I’m used to it. My family gets strange looks whether we’re wearing strange gear or not. 😀

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_13

After we left the bird enclosure we left the set trail, heading into the woods. Colter told me, “It feels good to be back in gear, walking through the woods again.” I laughed and agreed with him. It was the first time I’d been in a situation like that since Outward Bound, and it was really nice.

We’d been hiking for maybe five minutes when Megan’s voice came over the headset that we were required to wear. She told us that we were nearing the hippo enclosure and told us the rules we had to follow. As we got closer we all unclipped one end of the harness attached to our vests. We handed them to Jess and she clipped us onto the metal rail along the fence, letting us walk past her into the enclosure (once we were securely attached). You can see our “tails” in this photo of us above the hippo enclosure. The vehicle in the background is one of the safari trucks. 

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_15

 One of the hippo experts met us there. He had brought along a bucket of food for the two males that we were going to see, but since they were asleep we didn’t get to watch them eat.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_14

After the hippo guy (I don’t remember his name) answered all of our questions, and there were a lot of them, we moved on. We continued hiking through the woods and along the way, learned some Swahili. Twende (pronounced twenday) means “let’s go”, and that has become a favorite word around here. We also learned Asante Sana, “thank you”, and Karibu Sana, “you’re welcome”. 

 We made it to the bridges over the river, and it’s a good thing that none of us is afraid of heights. 

Because this is the bridge that we were going over. Well, this is one of them. 

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_16

 Did I mention that we were walking right over the alligators? You can see them down below all of us.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_05

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_03

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_06

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_08

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_04

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_02

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_07

Don’t worry though – we were attached to a super strong cable above us by the harness on our vests. Because honestly, who wants to fall into this?

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_19

Then you’d get crushed by an alligator’s mouth… oh wait.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_20

KIDDING. That’s just a model they had out there for us to look at. It was surprisingly heavy. 

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_21

We also got to go into (but above) the alligator pit:

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_23

We were so close we were able to see them really well as the alligator expert answered our questions.  And because we’re curious, we had a lot of questions.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_22

I think there are 27 alligators at Animal Kingdom.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_24

Our guides -Megan, Jess, and Hilary – were awesome.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_25

Once we were done with the first half of our tour, we took off our harnesses and had our own private truck for the rest of the tour.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_26

We were able to get up close to a lot of the animals and we each had our own pair of binoculars.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_27

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_28

The truck would periodically stop so we could get up and look around.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_29

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_30

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_31

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_35

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_34

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_33

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_32

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_36

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_37

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_38

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_39

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_40

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_41

We got to stop at a boma (safe place) in the middle of the Savannah and have our own lunch.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_43

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_42

It was African inspired foods and most of it was really good.  We all even ate the flower.

 This is what the Boma looks like from the Savannah:

After lunch, we got back in our truck to see some more of the animals.  Particularly the big cats which the boys love.

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_44

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_45

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_46

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_47

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_48See the sleeping lions?

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_49

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_50

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_51

Asante sana, Jess, Megan, and Hilary!

Disney-Wild-Africa-Trek_52

The Wild Africa Trek is expensive, but if you at all enjoy animals and like to ask lots of questions, and get behind the scenes, we all agreed it was absolutely worth it.  Definitely one of our best ever Disney memories!

Brett

 

 

Another year, another “Big Game”.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been too busy to watch more than one NFL game this year.  Maybe it’s because I’m not part of a fantasy football league anymore.  Maybe it’s because my favorite team since I was a child, the New England Patriots, is done for the season.  Maybe it’s because I’m consciously not calling it the “Super Bowl” so I don’t run afoul of the NFL’s trademark.  Maybe it’s because I only know one song by the halftime artist, Bruno Mars. Maybe it’s a combination of those things, but I’m just not as excited as usual for “the Big Game” this year.

Like many casual sports fans, I’ll enjoy watching the masterful quarterback play of Peyton Manning.  I’ll be happy to see Seattle’s much-talked-about defense (especially if they get some sacks).  I’ll get upset when the referees miss a call that will decide the winner of the game.  I’ll get a kick out of the super-creative commercials and I’ll scratch my head at the ones that are so creative that they seem really, really stupid to me.  At the end of the game, I’ll congratulate my friends who are big fans of the winners, and I’ll commiserate with my friends who are big fans of the second-place-team (it’s not PC to call them losers).  But none of that has me really fired up.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the sport.  As a former coach and athlete, I appreciate the tremendous physical, mental, and emotional efforts that are all a part of it.  I love the strategies and the gamesmanship involved throughout, from the linemen all the way to the owners.  I’d love to be able to listen in to the locker rooms during halftime to hear the coaches (instead of listening to Bruno Mars) so I could work on my technique!  But they’re not going to broadcast that, so we’ll have to settle for my 2011 version for now.

What I DO look forward to is cooking with my kids for the game (we’re making homemade pizza)!  I look forward to watching them get excited for a big play.  I can’t wait for them to ask questions throughout the entire color commentary and be silent during the commercials (ok, that was a little sarcastic).  In short, I’m excited for the family memories we’ll make AROUND the game.  In the final analysis, whether you’re rooting for the Denver Broncos or the Seattle Seahawks, shouldn’t the family and friends that you watch the game with be the real reason you’re cheering?

Jim