Category Archives: The Great Outdoors

Zoo Day

This past week we had the chance to go to the zoo with some family.
My sister, Valerie, her hubs Kyle, and my nephews, Mark & Russell invited us along on their outing. She even arranged a ride for us since we are a 1-car family.

My MIL came over that morning to pick us up. When Sarah answered the door she was so excited to see Gramma. I didn’t tell her what we were doing, so the whole thing was a fun surprise. After we got the car seats loaded Valerie arrived and we headed out.

It’s about a 40 minute drive, or so, and the girls laughed and played in the backseat the entire drive. It’s always an extra bonus when you don’t have screaming/crying kids in the car, especially when you are on the way to a special outing.

When we arrived we quickly realized that it was spring break. Since none of us have kids in school that sort of thing isn’t on our radar, but the packed parking lot was a quick and obvious tell. Thankfully it wasn’t crazy or anything, since we were at the zoo there weren’t any lines or anything.

Valerie got a few cups of animal food and Sarah was so excited to feed everything in sight. We started at the murky-water mutant turtle area. Obviously that isn’t it’s technical name, but if you saw these things up close you’d agree that they must have stepped in some weird goo. That, or they’re a weird prehistoric morph between a turtle, alligator and anteater. Weirdest nose-snouts imaginable.

You can partially see one of them below in front of Elanor in the water…

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Elanor and Gramma

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Sarah was so excited to see all the animals (or aMinals, as she calls them). The last time we were at the zoo was Memorial Weekend, so it’s been quite a while. Aunt Valerie showed Sarah how to feed with food in her open hand and while the first time she was a little weary that feeling quickly disappeared after she watched her Aunt do it a few times.

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Gramma telling Sarah about the different animals on the train ride

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Russell decided he’d rather sit with the ladies in the back
Here he is showing off his bellybutton

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Trains are the best. Just ask any 2-5 year old!

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Russell and daddy

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Mark with Val
[cue sentimental mommy moment]
One day, not too far off, we are really going to miss those tiny hands. How much they clung to us and cried for us. Pulled our hair and wiped everything imaginable all over our clothes. I know it’s hard to focus on that, for me at least, but one day I know I will look back on this picture and remember how sweet, innocent and precious our children were at this age.

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-Tiny wrist rolls included-

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Kyle, Russell, Val & Mark

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We went to Village Inn for lunch afterwards
Free Pie slice Wednesday!

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There were a lot more animals compared to when we went last year. We didn’t get to see some of the bigger ones because some of the kiddos hit their no-nap wall, but that just means we have reason to go back again soon. Seeing actual lions and tigers just 8 feet away was nutty. They were really young too, so I know they will only keep getting bigger.

Next time I will try and remember to shoot some video. It is amazing seeing and hearing how little ones respond to the sight, feel and smell of different animals. Elanor was so excited to see so many different types of animals, and Sarah was pulling me from one pen to the next wanting to see them all.

It was such a wonderful day and I couldn’t be more thankful for our family. Family that we love and have amazing relationships with.

The first day of spring was amazing. Hopefully it’s a great sign of the days, weeks and months to follow!

 

Quarters Add Up

On occasional Fridays I attend a “swap meet” of sorts at a local church. There’s a real cool local online network for selling and buying items, and it’s unlike craiglist in that you have to be accepted into the private group and it’s for women only. Really removes a lot of the uncertainty and sketchiness of craiglist. Plus, I’m a huge fan of scoring items we want or need at a fraction of the cost.

Since having children Saturday morning garage sales no longer make the cut, so when I found VarageSale I got that chance again. Garage sales straight from my living room couch. Rain or Shine. Morning or Night. Pajama pants or normal day wear. I’m sure you are catching my drift, it’s been a helpful find and resourceful tool. Making money off items that we no longer need is a win-win in this house.

There are different ways to buy and sell items. They have multiple group meets, such as the friday one I attend, or you can do private meets or porch pickups. I’ve scored a lot of great deals and actually sold enough stuff to go on a 4 day trip to Houston and pay for everything in cash, our hotel bill included. As a stay at home mom it’s helpful to find ways to make a little extra money here and there. It has a funny way of making me feel like I’m contributing, and not spending our day to day finances. Getting the girls & myself brand new or lightly used clothing for garage sale prices, or selling our own to cover all the costs is a great way to balance out my “salary”.

Over the past several months of attending the Friday meets I have finally found the easiest way to find and exchange/purchase items. The church has a fenced in playground, so of course the girls LOVE to come with me and meet friends there. If I’m lucky my friend Sara, sister Miriah or my mom will also be there so we can take turns making our meets while the others chat and the kiddos play. It’s a pre-arranged playdate where we can make a little money and/or leave with our newly acquired goods. Plus, it means mommy chat time, which is always appreciated.

Here are some pictures from our most recent meet up. Kids in their happy place.

 

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Little Miss Evangeline

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Mom in the Playhouse

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Playing House

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Elanor has discovered she likes slides!

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Online garage sales, you guys. It’s like ebay, but local, cheaper and if the clothes don’t fit I can resell them and instead of paying for and shipping them in manila envelopes I get to use up all my unused plastic target bags.

It takes a lot to impress me, internet, and virtual garage sales just won you a gold star.

Green Thumb

When my parents asked me what I thought Sarah would like for her birthday I immediately knew the answer. Our girls love all things outdoors. While outside Sarah LOVES to water and take care of plants. She helped me change out our front walkway when I switched out it’s contents, has always asked to help water my parents tomato’s and flower pots. Like most kids, water brings her immediate happiness. Recently my sister and I have been talking about how nice it is when some gifts are not necessarily an item, but a memory made. With this thought in mind I knew I had been wanting to teach Sarah more about gardening, and figured my mom, the green thumb queen, could be an even better teacher. Mom always asks and encourages Sarah to help her with her outdoor planting adventures. Whether it be watering pots, picking tomatoes or plucking figs off a tree and eating them there in the yard, I knew there was no better gift than bringing those memories into our own home.

I had found some gardening tools that I wanted to get Sarah so I told my mom about it and let them go from there. They not only got her the garden tools, but a watering can, bag of fertilizer and a box of flowers.

I love gifts that are used to make and create memories. Gifts that get your hands dirty and teach kids about new things.

Here are the goods, before relocation

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Scoopin’

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-The beginning of growth

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Memory in the Making

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Getting her hands, and everything else, dirty

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Their finished products

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Getting use of her very own watering can

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Elanor watching from the coupe

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Goofy Love

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Later that day, after a much needed bath, Sarah insisted on continually checking on her flowers. She went out and reported back that the yellow one was growing. Looks like she has her Nana’s green thumb!

 

The Big 3 Adventure

For Sarah’s birthday this year we decided to surprise her and take the girls to The Gulfarium. It turns out it’s only an hour drive and it was a great success! Sarah kept saying we were going to a “sueprise” and kept asking if there were going to be animals. Clever girl was on to us.

The moment we walked through the aquarium doors both girls were speechless. They went straight to the portholes where they saw dolphins swimming.

I think Sarah’s face says it all…

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They both really loved the giant aquarium

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Waving to the fishies

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We spent the afternoon looking at all the different habitats while also going to see the dolphin show and then a sea lion show.

Checking out the shark moat

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Lookout point where Sarah and Stephen went to view the beach, alligators and giant turtles.

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Checking out the sting rays. Some of them were huge. They shared the tank with baby sharks, which I think were hammerheads.

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Stephen got Sarah an ice cream sandwich as a birthday treat.

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Then, at the Dolphin Show, a complete stranger, a teenage girl, gave Sarah a sea lion stuffed animal. She held on to it like it was the best present in the world.

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At the end of our visit we let the girls play at The Sea Lion Beach. It’s a great little area with sand and beach toys for kids to play with. A great little area to sit down and relax, until you tell kids it’s time to go, haha. Kids never wanna leave a giant sand mound, especially when there are lots of other little kiddos around. We saw many “noooo, I don’t wanna leave” tantrums take place. It works out though because it makes all the parents feel good that there kid isn’t the only one ;)

 

 

A giant chair picture, because why not…

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While leaving the house that morning Sarah got to open up a card she got in the mail. She carefully peeled the envelope and was very excited when she saw a picture of flowers and I told her it was a Birthday Card from GG. She kept stating “A Birthday card for ME?” in question form. Silly kid.

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A well deserved nap on the car ride home.

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Happy 3rd Birthday, sweet girl!

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All Fueled Up

A couple of weekends ago I spent a few nights at my parents house while my brother was in town.

Our church had it’s youth Disciple Now that same weekend, and our house was hosting the boys, so the girls and I checked out for a few days and left Stephen to fend the fort.

We arrived Friday morning and stayed until Sunday evening. I made Sarah a pallet on the floor in our room and Elanor stayed in the pack-n-play with a blanket fort surrounding her (away with you, morning sun). One of the nights we had a crazy lightening storm so Sarah crawled into bed with me. She used to be a giant bed hog, but has turned into a sweet little cuddler, so I didn’t mind one bit.

We spent the days outside and the evenings dancing and chasing the girls around the house.

The older these kiddos get the harder it is to catch them on camera. They move fast, and really kept me on my toes.

One, going on 16

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Watching the kids play out front

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“Higher, Mommy. Higher!”

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Outside snacks with my little love

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Look at that gut!

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While there I made a Saturday morning breakfast for all the girls.
It’s not weekend pancakes without sprinkles ;)

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The Girls

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Our Sweet Little Graycie

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This girl!

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Our Awesome Mom

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Happy 32nd to my Big Brother :)

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The girls were exhausted exhausting, and had a blast! My parents were gracious to take us in with such a full house. Full days, nice and quiet evenings, it was just my style.

 

Feb Fun

A few Saturdays ago we spent a fun day at my sisters house. They recently moved about 10 minutes away, so spontaneous hangtimes have happily increased. In case you haven’t caught on, over the past few years, my sister has gained a huge fan. This particular person would probably start her very own fan club, if she knew such a thing could exist. My little sister is a huge mentor to one of the most precious and important people in my life. RiRi, you are a huge deal, in case you weren’t aware. I don’t have to worry for a second about the impact you will have on my daughters. They, no, we, are incredibly blessed to have you in our lives. We look forward to years upon years of goofy fun times together.

That was an unexpected sentimental moment… let’s move on, shall we.

For most of the afternoon the boys were busy installing a new stereo in our car. Bluetooth is a new thing right? I’m always about a decade behind with technology.

While the boys did their thing all us girls kept busy in the backyard.

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Sarah & I had some fun one on one time while Elanor took a nap

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Fun Play with RiRi

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My first “niece” Sheila ;)

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our stick art

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It was a great afternoon. The weather was so beyond perfect that it would have been wrong to not spend it outdoors.

Icy Fun

That’s definitely not a title I thought I’d write, in relation to our normal day to day at least.

All this crazy cold weather has taught me something I never thought I’d say – bring on the heat! Guys, it is so much more work getting kids dressed, comfortable, potty-trained, diaper changed, bags packed, and carseats buckled when it’s freezing outside. Not to mention all the mismatched shoes and socks tossed about in the back floorboards of the car. Why do kids hate shoes so much?!

This past week the temperature dropped nice and freezing. It seems no matter how many blankets and shirts I wear my temperature does not rise. Our poor heater hasn’t stopped running in almost 2 days. Not looking forward to that electric bill. Yikes.

Stephen’s office closed early on Tuesday so people could get home before the roads iced over and/or closed. Crazy thankful for that foresight because all of Stephens paths home closed later that day. Before we put Sarah to bed that night Stephen took her outside to play with icicles. She loved it. The only way we could get her to go to bed after all the excitement was telling her about how fun it would be to play in it in the morning with Elanor.

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The next morning we made plans to meet our neighbors out front. I was surprised and excited to see they had real sleds! We pulled the girls up and down the driveway and they loved it. I quickly had to go back inside and search the house for gloves. I don’t think my hands have ever been that cold. Thankfully Sarah was recently gifted a pair from friends at church, so one kiddo was covered. Elanors tiny hands were still gloveless so I found some fuzzy warm socks and she never knew the difference.

Our long driveway was perfect for sledding. All the rain made for a super long iced slippery slide.

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Elanor had a BLAST!
sock-gloves are where it’s at

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Sarah pulling her sister

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Playing with icicles in the backyard

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Icicles

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Sarah has such an adventurous and curious spirit

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Love my little E

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who also has gotten very curious and adventurous

(click here if video isn’t working)

 

 

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This last clip was pretty much how our day in the snow and ice concluded. Sarah told me she wanted to pull me on the sled so I got in. She pulled me about 10 feet and pronounced “Mommy, you’re too heavy” and then headed for the front door.

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(If the video isn’t working, click here to watch )

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After this we headed in, got Elanor down for her nap and Sarah and Stephen cuddled on the couch while watching Tangled and drinking hot cocoa.

It was a great day at the Ringl house.

Park by the Bay

A few weeks ago we went downtown for some fun outdoor time. It started with us visiting a place called the Imagination Station at the Wahoo Stadium. It’s a free event for parents to bring their kiddos on the weekdays. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was awesome. Sarah and Elanor both had a blast. Plus, I got to talk to some other moms, which was really nice, while all our kids ran from play area to play area. It’s always great to go somewhere and not have to worry about your kids running around, making a mess, or being too loud. Imagination Station folks, if you are in the Pensacola area – hit it up!

Now for some pictures. You know me, a post isn’t legit unless I share some (super cute kid-filled) visuals.

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Walking along the water

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Playing in the Amphitheater

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All you need is a puddle and a toddler

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Probably apple #3 of the day

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My mom, Miriah, the girls and I had a blast. We played inside from 9-11′ish and then walked along the bay. It was a fun, relaxing, and crazy hot day. Elanor took a nap in the stroller while Sarah jumped around and played her little heart out.

It was my first time at the Wahoo Stadium and I didn’t even have to go to a baseball game to see what a family friendly environment it is. We will definitely be going back soon :)

Worm to Your Mother

With cooperative weather on my side, we spent some solid time outside this week. On Monday my mom was over and helped watch the girls so I could mow the backyard and get some other yard work done.

While we were outside Sarah decided to venture from the pool and came across one of her favorite outdoor dwellers.

Friends, meet one of our yards many dirt swimmers.

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I love how daring toddlers are. No hesitation to get slimy and dirty fingers.

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A classic Sarah face

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Big Cheesin’

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There ya have it. Another day at the Ringl house, outside edition.

I think Stephen is going to threaten to disown me soon with all my catchy post titles over the past few years. What can I say, I’m 29 years old and I’ve embraced my naturally corny nature. I think he’s gonna grow to accept it more and more because Sarah is growing into a mini-me more everyday.

Some Backyard Fun

Can you believe it is already time for school to start again?! Where did the summer go? Actually, since I don’t have children yet in school and it is still 95+ degrees outside it is technically still summer in my book. The new season doesn’t come around until Halloween, and most years a month of so after.

Florida is hot people. While living near the coast is great because of the wonderful gulf winds, that doesn’t stop the humidity and sticky skin factor.

Due to the massive amount of rain we have had lately we haven’t had many chances to go outside. The girls have been going bonkers being cooped up inside, so I was really excited when we were able to have an afternoon outside. We had a great time while Sarah played in her little pool and Elanor watched in the swing. Sarah loves being outside, and pools, and water, and the hose… actually, anything outdoors and involving water. She’s a toddler, it’s what they do.

I decided to finally grab a few pictures that capture our girls growing personalities really well.

One of her many faces

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Seriously?! Girl has some spunk.

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Proof that she does sit still, even if it’s ever so briefly.

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Elanor is so peaceful and chill. She just sat and watched Sarah play in the water

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Leftover Easter eggs are great for all sorts of play

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It wouldn’t be an honest photo session if there wasn’t some nose picking involved

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Elanor watching

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Smiling at Papaw & Nana

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Our little tan girl

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At one point Sarah decided to share the water with Elanor and it quickly escalated from just putting it on her feet to throwing it in the air. Thankfully she’s a good listener and quickly stopped. I’m glad Elanor is used to having water splashed in her face from their bath experiences. It seems there isn’t much Sarah can do that doesn’t make her laugh and grin. Now if only I can bottle and/or channel that joy to last in their teen years… A mom can hope!