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Looking Back

Birthday at Sea World

Visiting the aquarium at Sea World

When I asked Munchkin what she wanted to do for her birthday, she told me that she really wanted to go to an aquarium. After further discussion based on availability and options, she decided that Sea World sounded like a fun excursion. It meant getting up early, but she didn’t mind getting up early on her birthday for this.

Mosaic 17th Birthday Cake - homemade and gluten free.

Since we knew that our day would start early and that we’d be gone all day, we decided to do the cake and presents a day early. It was more relaxing that way. Plus, our meal plans for the next day involved hitting the Chick-fil-a for lunch and dinner. lol! We wanted to take advantage of being that close to Chick-fil-a. **grin** The only thing that we planned on taking with us was simple snacks and water.

Dolphin Show

SONY DSC

We decided to have our schedule at the park revolve around the shows. Everything else fit in between the shows. It worked out well for us. The first show of the day, for us, was the dolphin show. We loved watching these guys. Having seen them out in the wild, we know that they really do like to have fun jumping, racing around, and interacting with people.

Shamu One Ocean Show

Our next show was the Shamu – One Ocean show. This will be the last year that visitors will get to experience the orcas in a show which, to us, is very sad. The show is already quite different from when the trainers were in the water with the orcas, but it’s still enjoyable. I can’t imagine that there will be generations that won’t be able to experience the majesty of these creatures through these presentations. Munchkin had a huge grin on her face during the entire show.

Penguins

We happened to arrived just as the penguins were getting fed. Clearly, it was very cold in the enclosure.

Polar bears

The polar bears were fighting over this “toy”. It was fun to watch them posturing for position. Finally, one of the bears just walked away while the other one continued to drag the toy around. The other polar bear made its rounds and came up close and personal to the glass which allowed us to see those huge paws.

Sealions Live

The sea lions live show had us in stitches the entire time. I had forgotten how funny this show really is. Comedy with animals – yes!

Munchkin on gondala

We wrapped up our day with a roller coaster ride and then a relaxing ride on the gondolas.

The birthday girl with her Daddy at Sea World

We all agree that it was a perfect day. The weather was warm (not hot) with a light breeze. The moisture in the air was a lovely break from our normal arid climate. Munchkin is growing up so fast, so we really treasure these days with her.

Our Chicken Adventure Begins

Munchkin holding one of the little chicks on the first day

Much to my surprise and delight, D gave the go-ahead on bringing home some chickens. We’re using an old wood storage cabinet that we picked up for free as the brooder box. It’s a good size for our 6 chicks. Since we picked up the chicks at Tractor Supply, we’re not sure of the breed, but they are all supposed to be pullets. I guess we’ll find out if we really did get 6 girls as they grow up. 😉

Homemade chick brooder made from free storage cabinet

I’ve been wanting chickens for a long time, so I’m excited about this new adventure. For now, the chicks are living in the garage. If they were where the dogs could get to them, I would have a cover on the brooder, but they’re safe from everything in the garage so I didn’t worry about a cover. All too soon we’ll need to move them to the backyard. I’m still trying to decide the best way to keep the chicks safe from our dogs as the dogs will require some training on proper chicken etiquette.

The chicks are five days old.

Everything that we do for these chickens needs to be done as a temporary set-up since we know we’ll be moving, and yes, the chickens will be moving with us as our next move will be to our permanent location. That will be weird after all these years of moving every so many years, but I have to say I’m looking forward to the prospect of being able to really put down roots.

Slackline Fun

This post contains affiliate links. I purchased this slackline kit at a discount to provide feedback based upon my family’s experience with it.

TrailBlaze Slackline Set

Do you remember when you were little and you tried to balance on anything and everything? Most kids start out balancing on things close to the ground and then work their way up to higher things. Munchkin loved trying to balance on a variety of things when we went for walks or to the park. As she got older, she liked to try to walk (with assistance) on rails and short fences. Balance beams at gymnastics were part of her regular routine.

Like many kids before her, the appeal of trying to balance on anything and everything seemed to pass with time. She moved on to other things until she started to get involved in other activities that required her to have good balance. Then, once again, balancing became part of her life again.

When Daddy got involved in climbing, we got introduced to the idea of slacklines. Slacklines are all about balance. Slacklines are generally placed close to the ground, so it’s a very safe activity. (Yes, there are some people that do some pretty extreme and crazy things with slacklines, but I’m not talking about that.) It’s not only a great way to work on balance, but also great exercise. It strengthens the core muscles. It’s also great for helping with flexibility in the foot and ankle.

We were recently given the opportunity to test out a TrailBlaze Slackline with training line. It’s a kit that includes:

  • 49 ft. Slackline with Ratchet
  • 49 ft. Training Line with Ratchet
  • Tree Protectors
  • Carrying Bag
  • Setup and Use Guide

Munchkin figuring out the slackline

This setup is designed for one person (331 lbs. max) to use at a time. The minimum recommended height is 20 inches from the ground. Your tree or pole should be a minimum of 39 inches in circumference. The instructions give thorough, step-by-step instructions with pictures. It’s important to closely follow the instructions for safety reasons.

All parts of the slackline are well-made and heavy-duty. The slackline is 2 inches wide. The training line is 1 inch wide. I really like that this kit no only came with a training line but also with tree protectors, so it really is everything you need to get started. It’s also nice that the slacklines come with a 12 month guarantee.

Slacklining is fun, but man is it hard. I’m so grateful for the training line because there is no way we’d be able to do it without it at this point in time. A lot of the people that we’ve watched do slacklining make it look so easy. I can definitely see why it strengthens your core. Whew! What a workout! 🙂

Jeep Life: 1st Mud Run

Munchkin getting ready to do a little mudding in the Jeep

We’ve been enjoying rain on and off for the last few days around here. It’s been wonderful. The temps have been cooler, and we can always use the rain – especially when it’s a slow, steady rain rather than a downpour.

On Friday, Daddy was rather eager to get out and do at least a little mudding as it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to play in the mud. Unfortunately, by the time he got home, I was already making dinner which meant I needed to stay home to finish it up.

It was decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to test out the Jeep and give Munchkin some time behind the wheel. I admit that it was rather odd to see Munchkin in the driver’s seat with Daddy as the passenger as Daddy loves to go off-roading and playing in the mud. Off they went to have some fun while I wrapped up supper.

My truck got a little muddy during the vehicle recovery process

As I was taking care of the evening chores with the horses, I received a call from Munchkin letting me know that they needed me to bring a truck out there as someone was stuck in the mud. (The Jeep is not set up for vehicle recovery at this point in time, and we didn’t have the necessary tow straps and what not in the Jeep yet.) I wrapped up what I was doing, and I was soon on my way to do some vehicle recovery.

It’s been a little while since I’ve received one of those calls. When we were on the east coast, I received those calls more often as there was some serious mud over there. The desert doesn’t have as much mud, and it’s generally limited to after a rainstorm. The mud was slick, and my truck definitely sank in the mud much more than the Jeep.

Upon arrival, I saw a small vehicle that was seriously stuck in the mud. The tow strap was hooked up and vehicle recovery began. It didn’t take long, but it was a messy process. After the guy was on his way, I made my way back home while Munchkin and Daddy carried on with their off-road adventure.

Overall, the first mud run in the Jeep went pretty well. It was a reminder that we needed to get certain things in the Jeep asap. (A tow strap with basic tools have already been placed in the Jeep.) It confirmed that we definitely want some bigger, more aggressive tires on the Jeep when the budget allows for it. Most importantly, both Munchkin and Daddy had a good time (minus a few frustrations for Munchkin as she worked on figuring out the mechanics of the manual Jeep).

DIY Jeep Clutch Extension

Desert Jeep

Driving a manual transmission Jeep – especially an older style – can be interesting when you have shorter legs. For my Jeep, the clutch has to be pushed all the way to the floor for it to engage which is rather difficult for this 5’2” person with shorter legs. It’s even difficult for Munchkin who has longer legs.

I could reach if I put a pillow behind my back, but even then, I had to use my tippy toe with a completely straight leg. I was also too close to the steering wheel for my comfort, and D certainly didn’t like it. While Munchkin didn’t need to pillow, she still had to do the crazy stretch which isn’t a good thing – especially for a younger, new driver.

I began to do some research into options for making the clutch work for shorter people. I quickly learned this wasn’t a unique problem, but there weren’t a lot of safe options out there. Yes, there are some pricey clutch extensions available that are geared towards serving disabled people, but I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of having to spend a lot of money on it. Plus, since D is also driving the Jeep, I wanted something that could be easily removed when he was driving.

We saw several “interesting” things that people put together, but they didn’t look all that safe. Using zip ties to secure a block of wood to the clutch just doesn’t seem like a great idea. We wanted safe, secure, and usable without it costing a chunk of change.

Jeep clutch extension

Ultimately, we decided that we’d try to come up with something on our own. It began with a block of wood to determine how much reach needed to be added to the clutch to make it work comfortably for Munchkin and me. Then, D started to look around the garage to see what scraps he had. Slowly, the ideas started to come together.

The rubber portion of the clutch pedal came off. D used some scrap steel to recreate the shape of the clutch pedal for the new clutch pedal extension. Scrap steel, steel tubing, nuts and bolts, and a large washer were cut, ground down, properly sized, and welded together. Several changes were made before the final product came together. Once it was finished, a coating of black paint was applied, and my new clutch extension was installed.

A closer look at the Jeep clutch extension

It’s now easy for me to push in the clutch. It’s very secure. I’m able to reach without needing to use a pillow, stretch, or sit too close to the wheel. I’m so thankful that D has the skills and creativity to put something like this together. It was all done with things that we had sitting around the garage, so basically, the only cost was the time that was put into it.