Sunday, August 25, 2013

Touch an Animal, Parks, and a Recipe


I'm taking a break from my "catch up" posts so I can write about our fun Saturday we had. I'm going to try and start blogging about what we're up to now and then posting some extra "catch up" posts as well. Today, we went to Touch an Animal at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (aka the UGA Conference Center) in Aiken, South Carolina. It was about a 30 minute drive from our house and it was free. I heard about it from another mom in my Moms Club on Facebook and had no idea what to expect, but since it wasn't too far and it was free, we decided to check it out.
It was an easy drive from our house. We had no idea where we were going and didn't even have an exact address, but luckily we found it without any problems.

It was held in a big room and put on by the Ecology Laboratory. There were so many interesting displays of wildlife-bugs, turtles, snakes, a possum, owls, alligators, and some dead animal skins, an you could touch and explore everything. There was a ton of people there to explain things and answer questions. I think it would have been really interesting if the boys were a little older, but because of their age, we just went though and let the boys touch the animals.

It was all animals that they knew about and liked. There were so many different types of turtles. I'm pretty sure all the wildlife was local.

All the pictures I took were on my phone, so most of them were blurry (cough, cough--if only I had a nicer phone-Greg!) but I have to post them anyways. I love this picture because when Greg picked up the turtle to show the boys and let them pet it, they were a little hesitant, but it took about 2 seconds before they got over that.

There were so many little kids there. This is such a fun way to let kids learn about animals in a fun, hands on way.

Both our boys are pretty fearless, but Evan is our more daring one. Well, today was a little different and Evan was hesitant to touch some of the animals but Carter had NO fear--at all! He didn't mind in the least to touch a snake, a possum, or an alligator. On one hand, I was glad, because that's why we were there. But, on the other hand, it makes me a little nervous how brave he was when it came to touching creepy animals.

The boys love crocodiles because there's one in Peter Pan, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and one of their favorite 5 Little Monkeys books, so I was so excited when I saw there were alligators there and that they were allowed to touch and hold them. It was so crowded and I was trying to help them and enjoy what we were doing, so I didn't get pictures of everything, but they had the cutest little baby alligators that the boys got to pet. This one was HUGE compared to the baby ones.

The boys loved touching the tails of everything, which made me happy--it's the thing farthest from the animals mouth (and sharp teeth)

There was a board there to sign if it was your first time touching a certain animal, so we put the boys names on there.

After the Touch an Animal, we went by Great Wraps and picked up lunch and took the boys to the park to have a picnic and let them play. The weather was so cool, it was cloudy and about 75 degrees out. It was so nice.

I've been wanting to get a picture of the boys on this thing at the park every since I went there for the first time when they were 15 months old. How cute would a good picture of this be?! They were not interested in posing for me, so this was the best I could get. I'm hoping I can get a good one soon, because I think it'd be so cute up on the fridge or in a frame.

The boys had so much fun. The weather was so nice that it was hard to leave, but we had a long morning and we all needed naps.

After naps, we decided to go on Fort Gordon to a park that Greg had seen on his way to work. I hadn't been on Fort Gordon since we moved back (actually, since before I got pregnant with the boys) so it was so fun to see how much everything changed. Greg also showed us where he worked. The boys loved seeing that!

I love going to new parks, I like having a set of several parks that we can rotate through with the boys. It keeps us all from getting bored. I was so excited when I saw this park, it was on sand (which we hardly ever see and the boys love) and it was right next to a beautiful lake.

We brought the boys afternoon snack of goldfish with us to have a "picnic at the park" but I had no idea we were going to get to picnic right next to the lake. I thought it was so fun and so pretty. Evan was much more interested in playing at the park than eating or seeing the lake, so I just got some pictures of Carter.

There's a couple of ducks that swim around the lake. They actually got really close to the edge while the boys were playing at the park and I told them, thinking we could go down and see them up close. But...nobody was interested but me. The boys were so excited about swinging and playing, that they could care less about the ducks. :( Maybe next time.

How fun is this swing? The boys love these.

We taught Carter how to swing today. He was so excited to learn how to pump his legs and was so proud of himself. Evan was content sitting on the swing next to Greg.

Carter was just our brave little guy today, he wanted me to hold him up so he could go across these monkey bars. When I didn't do it, he decided to just go by himself.

Seriously. He just swung back and forth and then swung back onto the playground equipment and went on playing.

Later, Greg and I were talking while the boys were playing, about 15 feet away from them. All of a sudden, Carter jumped off the playground equipment onto the fire pole (or whatever they're called) I started screaming at him and tried to run over there, while he grabs the pole and rides it down like he's done it a million times before. It about gave me a heart attack! Of course, Evan sees this and is like "what!? riding down that pole is an option? Let's do this" and he runs over and wants to do it. I try and talk him out of it, but stand right next to him, ready to catch him, but he does it just as gracefully as Carter. It's like they've been sliding down those poles forever.

After Carter did it the one time, he went on to something else, but Evan wanted to do it over and over. He was just so tickled with himself. Luckily, this pole wasn't very high, but it still made me nervous.

I don't know what I'm going to do with these boys. I swear I left there with way more grey hair than I got there with. (you can see how close the lake is in this picture)

Before we left, the boys ate some more goldfish at the picnic table. Evan insisted on having a "picnic" before we left since he was too busy playing when we first got there to sit and eat.

This boy has as many scratches as he does bruises. He has a scratch on his chin from falling, a cut under his lip that he got playing with his toys today. I don't know where he got the scratch on his forehead from.
 Like, I said, I was so excited about this park and very impressed when we got there. We took the scenic route home so I could see some more changes that were made since the last time I was at Fort Gordon. On our way out, we pass by the Park of All Parks. It was HUGE. And amazing. And it was covered so the kids playing would be in the shade. It looked almost as nice as one we used to go to in Virginia- that we would drive 40 minutes, to the next town over, just to go to. I'm so excited to go back and let the boys try out that park.

When we got home, I made Roasted Tomatoes with Feta. I LOVE this recipe. It's one of my favorites, it's so easy and simple. When I made it for the first time a couple of summers ago with fresh tomatoes from our garden, we liked it so much, we ended up making it several nights over the next week or two. The original recipe calls for shrimp, but I think it tastes good without. Greg likes it, but thinks it'd also be good with chicken. One of the things I like about this recipe is how simple it is, I think it's nice to be able to taste all the fresh flavors, so I personally wouldn't add anything to it, but I'm sure it'd be good if you did add chicken to it. I've posted this recipe on here before, but it was just a link to my Pinterest account, so here's the actual recipe (with my adjustments)
Roasted Tomatoes with Feta

5  large tomatoes, cut into eighths
3  tablespoons  olive oil
2  tablespoons  minced garlic
 salt and black pepper                     
1  cup  Feta, crumbled
1. Heat oven to 450° F. Place the tomatoes in a large baking dish and spoon the olive oil and garlic over them.
2. Sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon each salt and pepper and toss. Roast on top rack of oven for 20 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the Feta. Return dish to oven until everything is warmed through, about 5-10 minutes.
4. Return the dish to oven until the shrimp are cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm over angel hair pasta.
This dish would also be good with some crusty bread on the side.

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