Category Archives: Animals

That Time I Was SURE I Was Going to See a Unicorn

Most of us are never far from a camera. It is 2017 after all.

We can document the fantastic and the mundane all we want. I can’t tell you how many pictures I have of the inside of my children’s noses just because they used my camera phone for 4.7 seconds while I wasn’t looking. I especially love the videos they make of their noses when they think they are taking a picture.

Don’t worry. I won’t show you pictures of that. How about a nice sunset instead?


Here’s a story of a recent time I wished I had a camera, but didn’t. THE HORROR!!!

Over Easter we visited family in Florida for what can only be described as an epic week of fun and relaxation. We rented paddle boards to use in the early mornings while the ocean was as clear and calm as glass. We also used them when the water wasn’t clear and calm as glass. You can imagine how that worked out.

Wet. Very, very wet.

We didn’t have fancy dry bags with us to protect our phones – clearly a necessity. Time on the water was just that – time to enjoy, truly enjoy, being on the water. Emphasis being ON the water, not IN the water. If we were lucky.

The first morning out, Handy Husband and I were paddling up the coastline just inside the swim bouys and I thought I saw a fin. EEK!

Turns out, I saw TWO fins. DOUBLE EEK!!

Thankfully, they weren’t shark fins. Were you worried?

They were dolphin fins.

The dolphins were taking a leisurely swim up the coast. So leisurely that Handy Husband and I were able to catch up to them and follow their journey for about 15 minutes. They’d dive under the water and several seconds later surface. Each time we could hear them blowing the air out of their blowholes.

At one point, as the dolphins started to swim farther out to sea, we passed them and they were probably 8 feet from our boards.


We weren’t trying to get that close. It was just hard to keep track of the dolphins when they went underwater. I have no doubt they knew where we were, but they didn’t seem particularly concerned with us.

Pretty much that entire 15 minutes I kept saying out loud, “I can’t believe this. This is amazing. I can’t believe this. This is AMAZING!!!!!!”

Except I was yelling it so that Handy Husband could hear me over the roar of the ocean. He just kept nodding, like “Yeah, I get it, I get it. You can calm down now.” AS IF!

I’m not easily impressed anymore. Perhaps I’m even a bit jaded, but this experience…words – even those shouted across an ocean – don’t do it justice.

The next morning I practically poured the coffee down Handy Husband’s throat to hurry him out the door to the beach. I was pretty sure our next paddle session would be a bit of a letdown compared to yesterday’s, but I had to get out there to see what the ocean had in store for us.


I was hauling my board toward the again calm water when a couple walked past me and said, “There’s a manatee out there, if you hurry, you can catch up to it.”


No. Way. No WAY. No way!

Basically, there’s no way this was happening again and no way I was going to a) catch up to a manatee and b) find a manatee in this big, vast ocean.

But, people, that’s exactly what happened. Honestly, it was even cooler than seeing the dolphins. And we all know how I freaked out over the dolphins!

We caught up to the manatee, which was also taking its sweet time swimming up the coast. It would surface and dive similar to how the dolphins did. We paddled behind it for awhile and then we lost it. It was gone.

Just after I was sure that was the last I’d seen of my new friend, the manatee, I paddled over a really long, wide, dark shape.


Yep. I paddled right over the manatee. There aren’t enough exclamation points!!!!!!

I almost peed my swimsuit.

Then, the manatee surfaced literally 3 feet behind my board. I could see its whiskers!

I didn’t know what to do. I’m yelling at Handy Husband to make sure he’s seeing this. He is, but what can he do? Nothing. Nothing but watch the spectacle unfold.

The manatee went under the water again and I was so scared it was going to come up under my board, that I dropped down to my knees to hold on. That probably wouldn’t have helped, but it seemed prudent at the time.

Manatees are gentle, plant-eating creatures, but I’m confident I don’t want to fall on top of one in the wide open ocean. I don’t even like it when seaweed touches my leg.

After a few seconds of “WOAH, WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN” the manatee surfaced far enough away from me that I felt comfortable getting back up and resuming my paddling.

I think the manatee and I made a connection after that encounter. A bond, if you will.

As if saying so long suckers goodbye, the manatee surfaced one more time within a paddle’s distance of my board, causing me to freak out again, before disappearing into the ocean and swimming away.

At this point, we were a 30-minute paddle away from our beach house and I rode that adrenaline high all the way home.

And for the second time in two days, I returned to the house yelling “BEST DAY EVER” to all of the groggy-eyed adults and kids present. I think they secretly liked it when I woke them up this way. We all love smug exercise people before we’ve had our morning coffee, don’t we???

Did I wish I had a camera with me both days? Oh, you bet I did. I was so glad Handy Husband was with me. No one would have believed me otherwise that we had two incredible encounters in two days with sea creatures. Plus, I really wanted to share the experience with my kids! Now all I can say was, “you had to be there” and “the early bird gets to see dolphins” and “Na-nana-naa-nah!” and other annoying things like that.

On the third day out, I was pretty sure the only thing left to see was a unicorn. I’d already been incredibly lucky right? How much luckier could one person get? Unicorn lucky.

But, alas, my luck had run out. For the remainder of our trip there were no unicorns, no dolphins, no sharks, no turtles, no manatees. We didn’t even see a fish! And I thought to myself every darn day, “Why do people paddle board? My arms are ACHING! This is hard!” Oh, right…Mother Nature…gorgeous views…be happy enjoying the great outdoors…good workout. Sure, sure. But I wanted to paddle with the dolphins and the manatees! I hadn’t seen a unicorn yet!  *insert a toddler-sized foot stomp here* 

I’ve had time to reflect on this whole paddle boarding experience. It’s an interesting metaphor for marriage. Didn’t know I was going there? Me either when I started writing this post.

Hear me out. The totality of this paddle boarding experience, much like a healthy marriage, was not perfect, but it is something you’d never want to miss out on.

Of all the people on the planet, I was out there with the one person I’d chosen to spend my life with. The one person I continue to choose and who chooses me back. Sometimes it’s exciting and sometimes it’s routine. Sometimes it’s hard work and the wind is blowing against us. Sometimes disaster strikes and we have to figure out how to survive. Sometimes we’re giddy with excitement because we can’t believe THAT just happened.

Even if I could document the experience with a camera, it would never capture the whole story. That’s why comparing our lives to someone else’s is just silly. I can tell you about it, and you can probably relate, but you won’t ever really get it. Because it’s unique to us. You weren’t there. And every day, without any guarantees of what lies in store, we choose to get up and do it again.

I know I am incredibly lucky and blessed. I daresay, unicorn lucky. More and more, I realize it is not stuff or status or the trappings that matter. It is the moments, the experiences, the relationships that I value the most and that make me the happiest.

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Jet Lag is Real

We traveled across one too many time zones last week and this spring chicken is feeling the jet lag.

Which makes me wonder if you traveled via train would you experience train lag?

Today, in honor of random musings, I will show you what our cat, Salsa, did while we were away.

She stayed hydrated.

She did the grocery shopping.

She posed for an artist.

She made cute faces for the camera.

Oh, wait. That’s not the cat.

This is just what happens every day that ends in y.

I’m pretty sure the cat is extremely happy we’re home. You know, if feigned indifference is the same as extreme happiness. Cats are complicated.

P.S. No cats were harmed or left unattended in the making of this post, but it is possible certain cats got the stink eye for being where they shouldn’t be and other general naughtiness.

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Camouflaging the Dog Door

I’ve been waiting for months for the outside temperature to drop below 90 degrees so that I could paint our exterior doors. I could have painted them during the hottest temperatures of the summer, but that would require keeping the door open for awhile and that defeats the purpose of getting our AC fixed. I’m pretty sure I would have melted too.

It’s okay if you want to feel sorry for me.

Last week our daytime temperatures held in the low 70s, so I knew it was time to paint!

We have a beautiful back door. Except someone ruined it by installing a dog door. This is nothing against dogs, it’s just my personal feelings on beautiful doors. My name is Annisa and I speak for the doors. 😉

Our door was so ugly I don’t even have pictures except this in-progress iPhone shot. It was faded, scratched and there were random staples stuck to it. You can still see a patch of the faded black to the left of the creamy dog door. Even with the faded paint, the dog door stuck out like a sore thumb.

Since I wasn’t going to restore the door to its original glory by taking out the dog door, I thought it would be worth a shot to paint the plastic components of the dog door.

What could it hurt?

SO much better, right?

I considered spray painting the plastic parts of the door, but I couldn’t get the slider part to come out and I really didn’t want to break it. Fixing something we don’t use would be more than a little irritating. Plus, I wanted the paint colors to match.

If you’re going to paint your dog door, I’d definitely suggest using a paint that is approved for use on plastic. That will give you a fighting chance against the wear-and-tear the door is likely to receive – especially if you have a dog.

It was a little tricky painting the sliding door part of the dog door since I had to work around the clear plastic flap. Totally worth it though!

I do not know how durable paint is on plastic if you use a dog door regularly and I don’t intend to find out! I’m still getting used to the idea of having a cat.

I’d imagine, however, that you might have to touch-up the bottom of the painted frame more often. To me, that’s still better than looking at an eyesore all the live long day.

We had a nasty screen/storm door attached here as well that we never used, so I took this opportunity to have Handy Husband remove it. Even with the threshold that needs some cleaning/painting and the storm door frame still in play, I am so much happier with how it looks out here. This is the door we use 99.9% of the time and this quick update goes a long way toward boosting my…uh, mental well-being. 😉

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Vintage-Looking Animal Prints – Free Printable

A couple of weeks ago on our trip to Oregon we visited the WildLife Safari in the small town of Winston.

The highlight of the Wildlife Safari is actually driving through the safari with your windows down. In some instances the animals were close enough to the driving path for a few really great photo ops. Now, when the ostrich came a little too close and decided to peck the car, the windows were definitely UP for that encounter.

Here’s a photo I took of the American Bison. His coat is looking a little sad in the original photo.

Here he is all vintage-y and with a little haircut.

I’m seriously considering having this guy printed on a large canvas. It would be fun on my mantel.

This elk was checking things out.

While it pains me, I’m just going to hold all of the rack jokes.

Now, here he looks with some vintage style.

Maybe I should have him printed out large too.

Last, I took a photo of these zebras just hanging out minding their own business.

Do zebras make a sound?

I actually like the original photo better, but I gave it the vintage treatment too just to see what it would look like.


I’d be as happy as my kids when they get to skip their bath if you want to download one of these vintage-y photos and use for your personal use. No commercial use, please.

If this doesn’t work or save correctly, shoot me a message in the comments and I can email it to you directly. 🙂

High Res Elk Photo

High Res Bison Photo


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Bird Nest in a Shoe

Last weekend my husband hopped on the riding lawn mower and set out to tackle the beast of a lawn we are now tasked with maintaining.

Fast forward to the next day and I was using the shop vac to tackle the beast of a mess that had become my car after all of our moving. From there, I moved on to vacuuming the rug outside our back door and then I realized that the shoes my husband was wearing while mowing the day before were FILLED with yard debris. Leaves, moss, twigs, grass. I had no idea how he had even worn those shoes with so much crud in them. It was perplexing.


So, being the nice wife that I am, I vacuumed out his shoes with the shop vac and set them back on the shoe shelf we had outside our back door.

When you move there are some things you plop down until you can figure out where they need to go. You really should move whatever it is to a more appropriate location, but you have 4 trillion other things to do first. Sound familiar? Yeah. Moving this shoe shelf is something that should move up the list. Soon.


Fast forward AGAIN to two days later. I pull into our carport with my 4-year-old playing the role of ever-observant back-seat driver. “Hey, mom! Look at that bird on the shelf!” Silly me, I thought this was just another one of his imaginary stories come to life. Like that time when he told his Pre-K teacher that he had a new family. Yeah. That was awkward.

Sure enough, I look up to see a cute, little chubby bird flying into the carport with a piece of moss in its beak. Then it lands on the top shelf right inside my husband’s shoe. No. way.


That persistent little bird has been trying to make a nest in and around my husband’s stinky, smelly running shoes for DAYS now. This time, it succeeded with most of the nest around, not in the shoe.

Look how intricate it is! It really is quite amazing.

I can say that because the bird didn’t mess with my shoes! Hahahahahaha!

Clearly, this is the first time we’ve ever lived in a home with a carport instead of a garage. From what I can tell, carports were pretty common several decades ago in Georgia. We definitely have some adjusting to do – especially when it comes to sharing our happy space with wildlife.

So, what do you think happened to the nest? Did we keep it or did it go?

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Marathon, Florida

The day after Christmas, we got up at 4 a.m. and headed south to the Florida Keys. Road trip! Poor us, right?

We started planning this vacation with friends from Oregon almost 6 months prior and while we like to plan, we’ve never planned a vacation that far in advance. It was totally worth it! While it was freezing cold and dreary at home, we were soaking up the 80 degree temperatures and sunshine. Should I say “poor us” again?

This was the view from our deck. Absolute heaven.

A friend had told us that the Florida Keys doesn’t really have the white sandy beaches that other parts of Florida has. It was true. While there are some beaches, this type of topography was much more common: rocky areas, grassy areas and developed areas all surrounding the water. This spot below was located just at the end of our condo building.

However, the Keys does seem to be the hot place for all things water sports: boating, sailing, paddling, fishing, etc.

Just off the out-cropping of rock shown above, was the shallow area you can see below. The kids were amazed at what they could find…rocks, shells, crab, fish. Who needs a playground?
The wildlife we encountered outside of the water was simply amazing. I’ve never seen iguanas in the wild and they were everywhere in the Keys.

These birds (below) were quite entertaining to watch, especially when we discovered them perched gracefully in some scrubby bushes that in no way looked like they could hold their large bodies. They did though!

Here they are at dusk…I think they knew where the fish were hiding.
This shot below is looking down the row of condos. The condo complex had a heated, outdoor pool and a boat slip for every home. SCORE!
We initially reserved a pontoon boat to take out on the water, but we had so much fun with the paddle boards that we decided to cancel our reservation. The boat rental people were shocked. Apparently, people don’t get into standup paddling (SUP) as much as we did!

I’ll do another separate post about SUP because it was that awesome!
At night, we could shine a light down under the dock and there were little lobsters hiding there. Actually, they weren’t little and the kids got a hoot out of seeing them. The only lobsters we ate were caught by someone else and they were delicious!
This is how we finished every single day in the Florida Keys – with an out-of-this-world sunset.

On New Year’s Eve we could even see fireworks from our deck. What a treat!
Marathon, Florida, is an amazing place. I totally get why people retire and move to Florida. Heck, I wanted to retire right then and never leave. We had the happiest week celebrating the holidays with our friends. It’s an experience that I will cherish.

P.S. If you want to visit, we used Coco Plum Vacation Rentals and we stayed at Indigo Reef. They don’t know me, other than as a renter, but we had a good experience and would definitely rent another condo at Indigo Reef.

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Turtle Power – Turtle Lays Eggs

Not the Mutant Ninja variety, but an actual turtle graced our home with her presence recently.

One morning the kids ran outside to play and not 2 seconds later they come storming back in, “Mom, Mom, MOM!” Why do kids not wait for a reply? My kids don’t even give me a chance to reply before the “mom” is screamed in their loudest, shrillest voice possible.

I digress.

“There’s a turtle outside!”

Okay, I thought. There’s probably a cute little turtle out on the street. We’ll go check it out.

Boy, was I wrong. 

Turtle in Georgia

Turtle in Georgia

Isn’t she gorgeous? Her shell was bigger than a basketball, I’d say. She was in our flower bed, right next to the front door. (Ignore the weeds and the fact that we desperately need new pine straw put down. Focus on the turtle, people.)

The flower bed is on a STEEP hill and it looked like she was stuck. Picture a car spinning its back wheels in the mud…that’s what she looked like, but in slow turtle motion. One of the reasons we thought she was stuck, was that we were standing two feet away from her and she wasn’t running away from us. Wild animals aren’t supposed to like being around people!

After about 15 minutes of us oohing and aahing, I got a shovel and gave her a little nudge out of her hole. She scampered off into the bushes and we left her alone. Probably two minutes later the kids saw her all the way down the hill and across the street. There’s a tiny creek behind our neighbor’s house and we figured she was headed there.

Fast forward two days later and we are pulling out of the garage to go berry picking and we see the turtle in the flower bed by our garage door.

Stop the car! Turtle, turtle!!

Turtle in Georgia

Turtle in Georgia

Holy. Smokes. There was the turtle and what was that white thing? Holy double smokes. She’s laying eggs!

Of course, we got out of the car and shamelessly stared. (And no, my son doesn’t like to wear his shoes in the car. Or out of it. He did have shoes to wear though.)

Turtle laying eggs

Turtle laying eggs

Normally, I wouldn’t let the kids get so close to wild animals, but I figured my kids could run faster than a turtle. Plus, I explained that we never ever touch wild turtles because they can carry salmonella. I think it might just be the baby turtles that can carry the disease, but I’m pretty sure the mom handbook states in section 2.4 that we do not need to touch any turtles. Ever.

Turtle laying eggs

Turtle laying eggs

Can you see the two white eggs? We saw them actually COME OUT of her. It was crazy and amazing. No other way to describe it. She seemed very zen about the whole thing too. As I remember labor, there was nothing zen about it, so huge props to Turtle Mama.

Turtle laying eggs in Georgia

Turtle laying eggs in Georgia

Finally, we decided to stop our shameless gawking. Give the lady some privacy! Although, I suppose, she could have picked a more private spot. But, man oh man, she must have really wanted to lay eggs in my flower beds. We probably disturbed her plan the first time, but she came back. So sorry Turtle Mama!

When we returned from berry picking, she was gone and so was the evidence that she had been there.

Turtle nest covered up

Turtle nest covered up

Can you see where it was? She did a pretty good job of covering it up. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t seen where she was.

We think the turtle is an Eastern river cooter. Turtles can lay 12 – 24 eggs in one or more nests. The eggs may or may not be fertilized. If they are, we think they would hatch the end of September. We’ll keep you posted!

I was so happy to see nature at work…in my yard! What a learning experience for all of us.


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