Thursday, April 13, 2017

Chasing Butterflies at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Our family decided to make the trek to preview the new Hidden Butterfly Jungle* exhibit at the San Diego Safari Park. Since it was our first time to the Safari Park, we were so excited that we forgot to grab a map at the entrance, and had a bit of a difficult time navigating the location of the Inner Jungle, as there weren’t a lot of signs leading to the Inner Jungle. However, the staff were all very friendly, and directed us towards the right direction.

When we arrived at the entrance, we were each handed a butterfly guide with photos of the various types of butterflies inside. As we stepped through the double doors, we were transported into a magical rainforest greenhouse full of vibrant foliage, flowers and of course, butterflies. Our kids have been really into caterpillars and butterflies lately, so they were ecstatic to see the large amount of butterflies fluttering around-- especially the larger, exotic species that we typically don’t see around here. We spotted several large Common Blue Morphos, Giant Owls (they really do look like owls, and camouflage so well with the branches!), Rusty-Tipped Pages and several more. JJ was also intrigued by all the ladybugs crawling about, while the younger one was into chasing the butterflies that were crawling on the floor, or swooping in front of his face at eye-level. We also had some opportunities with butterflies landing on the kids’ hats and backs, but the moment was so quick that we missed most of the photo-ops!

Some helpful tips:

-       Wear bright, bold colors and patterns to attract the butterflies
-       Tell your children to stand still for a possible butterfly landing!
-       Head to the exhibit early on in the day, as there may be less people
-       Strollers need to be parked outside, so plan on wearing any children that are not yet mobile
-       Bring a camera with a fast shutter lens to capture the butterflies landing on you or the children!

Some photos we captured of these beauties!
*The Hidden Butterfly Jungle is open daily at 9am-5:45pm, from March 11 through April 23. 

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido,CA

Catch them before they flutter away! ; )

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sweet Bebe Sophie

On a sweet November evening of last year, we welcomed our third child, Sophie Grace into our crazy family. Of all the birth stories previously written on this blog (here + here), hers was by far the shortest. We had been praying that labor would short and somewhat sweet. To be honest, I hadn't fully prepared mentally for her birth, like I had for my first child or even second child. Perhaps for that reason, I felt a bit wimpish when labor began to pick up in intensity.

Early labor started on a Friday afternoon, around the same time we were supposed to leave to go on a boat ride (could you imagine if we had gone?) with some of my husband's co-workers. I actually didn't notice when I started getting the contractions, because I was tending to my second one. My in-laws had come over shortly after, as they were going to watch the boys as we were about to leave for the boat ride. Timing-wise, this was perfect, since we had no idea when my labor would start, and the whole thought of having the two kids with me alone while it happened, terrified me a bit. But to have the Hubby home AND my in-laws over to watch the kids was an answered prayer in itself, and looking back, it's funny how much I often worry about things that are totally out of my control, but the Lord knew it would all work out in the end!

After a couple hours of consistent, but painless contractions, we decided to head closer to the hospital to walk around, just in case we encountered another near car-birth experience again. We decided to drive to the mall to walk around, and soon my contractions began to pick up in speed and intensity, spacing at 3-7 minutes apart. I was feeling nervous about the timing of the contractions, so we headed to the hospital. 

It was a rather quiet evening at the hospital this time, with one other patient in L+D. We got situated, and the nurse told me I was only 4cm, which was shocking to me, because some of the contractions started to get uncomfortable. They told us we had 2 hours to walk around the halls before they would check me again, and if I didn't progress, they would send me home. I felt disappointed, but the nurse encouraged me with the fact that labor would speed up quickly after 5cm, since this was my third one. 

We walked up and down the hospital hallway for a little over an hour, and my contractions started to become more painful, and each step becoming more unbearable. The thought of staring at another set of hospital tiles made me queasy, and I began feeling weak, imagining different scenarios, worrying that I would be going through the same pain for hours (and feeling as though my pain tolerance has decreased). Mike prayed for me, asking the Lord to show me grace with a shorter labor this time around. 

I decided to go back to the room to sit down and rest, and that was when my mom called to ask how I was doing. I remember telling her I was about to have a big contraction, and so she hung up the phone (haha). Afterwards, the nurse told us to let her know if I began to feel the urge to push, which happened right after she left the room. The nurse ran back in, and started paging the doctor, who was in the OR with a patient who was having a C-Section. Holding back the urge to push has always been the worst feeling, and I was ready to push the baby out, doctor or no doctor! After what felt like an eternity, the doctor rushed in and told me to push once, pause and push again. And just like that, our screaming sweet little girl (with a big set of lungs) was born!
Holding our baby girl in my arms was just as sweet as the first time I held my boys. Seriously, the feeling of holding and meeting your child for the first time never gets old. I can see why some are willing to go through it over and over...the addiction is real, folks. Even though babies all look the same, there was something daintier and more fragile with a girl-- from her slender little fingers to her soft, pink cheeks, sweet smell and higher pitched cry (a bit shrill at times), I loved every bit of it.

One of my biggest fears with having a third has been the whole jealously issue that our first child experienced when our second one was born. So, so many folks had been praying hard over us and our boys-- that they would love and protect her. And by God's grace (see the common theme here?), the boys have been nothing but sweet to their baby sister, even smothering her a bit too much at times. She is incredibly blessed, and we are even more blessed and thankful to have her in our family.  
Our first set of family photos taken by my awesome brother, Spencer (he took these all under half an hour)!
I cannot tell you how long it took to find a decent Christmas photo with everyone somewhat looking at the camera