The Pueblo Zoo in Pueblo, Colorado

The Pueblo Zoo in Pueblo, Colorado


During our spring break a few weeks ago, Madison and I decided to visit the Pueblo Zoo in Pueblo, Colorado.


The Pueblo Zoo in Pueblo, Colorado is one of Colorados' most underrated zoo. While it's small, it's their size that makes you feel more at home, and it's also one of the more economical zoos that you can visit here in Colorado.

There's just something about Pueblo that I love. While Colorado Springs can get rather busy in terms of traffic and crowds, Denver being the main city is much worse. Pueblo, on the other hand, is rather quiet and it's that quaint quietness that I love.


We love visiting zoos, it's a great way for kids to learn about different animals and their environment, and even preserving the said environment. Madison was able to learn about penguins and marveled at the fact that she was able to dress up and learn about penguins as well.

Some of the animals we would not be able to see if it weren't for zoos, and while the Pueblo Zoo may not be humungous in size, compared to some zoos, they still do have quite a variety of animals that the kids can enjoy.


Madison and I were able to see Lions, Bald Eagles, Zebras, Bisons and so much more. There is also a petting zoo which kids will appreciate. Here's something that you may want to take note of; there are currently baby lions that were born recently at the zoo, and you may even be able to get a glimpse of them playing when you visit the lion exhibit.

So what can you expect at the Pueblo Zoo thru this summer?


Mission: Monkeys
Join your friends and community members in bringing some of the most distinctive old-world monkeys to the Pueblo Zoo! The zoo is raising funds to build a world-class exhibit next to the African painted dogs enclosure. The project has broken ground, and the zoo needs your support to drive the project home. With your support, the zoo will also be building a quarantine area behind the new monkey exhibit, which will provide a safe space for new animals to adjust to the Pueblo Zoo, for animals to relax after medical procedures, and for new mothers to be with their young. Check progress and donate at give.pueblozoo.org

Brew at the Zoo
April 29, 2:00pm - 6:00pm
Watch your favorite exotic animals as you enjoy craft brews from 20 different brewers, live music from The River Arkansas, The Change Agents, and Wayne Faust. Gourmet food trucks will be available, and guests can enjoy outdoor games with friends on the Pueblo Zoo's landscaped grounds!


African Painted Dogs - Snapshots from the Field talk
May 3, 12:00pm - 1:00pm
African wild dogs are very social... so social that their communication abilities make them one of the most effective hunters in the world. Join African Painted Dog keeper Gina and veterinary technician Kim and learn what sets these dogs apart, how they're managed at the zoo, and how you can support these rare canines.

Plant. Grow. Fly. garden grand opening
May 19, 10:00am - 11:00am
This garden is a haven for some of the hardest workers out there...pollinators! Kids can get their hands dirty and use their imaginations at five different nature play stations including a giant bird nest, musical instruments, and an outdoor kitchen! Guests will learn about local pollinators, local plants, and how they can support them right at home or create their own pollinator gardens. Garden ribbon cutting will take place at 10:00am.


Father’s Day Weekend
June 16-17 
Fathers and Grandfathers get in free! Bring Dad in for a zoo adventure!

Zoofari Friday
June 22
An evening of drinks, dinner, music, animal encounters, truck tours, and live & silent auctions. Find out more at www.pueblozoo.org/zoofari

Zoo Overnight Campout
Aug 11-12
Saturday-Sunday
Bring the whole family to the zoo and enjoy the thrill of camping! Your adventure includes dinner, camp games, an exclusive tour, stargazing, continental breakfast in the morning and admission to the zoo all day Sunday. Pricing and full info: www.pueblozoo.org/overnights


So if you're ever visiting Colorado, take a side trip to Pueblo and make a pit stop at the Pueblo Zoo.

Hours:
Fall/Winter: October - April
Monday - Saturday: 9am - 4pm
Sun 12pm - 4pm

Spring/Summer: May - September
Daily 9am - 5pm

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Annmarie John
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5 Reasons To Get the Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet

5 Reasons To Get the Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet


Madison has always had an affinity for electronics, which is why we got her the Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet, but read on to find out why we did. 

We received the Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet, however, all opinions are mine alone.


I have never been one to advocate for electronics over real playtime, which includes running around and just being a kid outdoors. After all, I grew up a time when we stayed outside until the moon came up, or as we would say, the streetlights came on. However, the realization that our children are living in a different time is something that we as adults need to come to grip with. 


Sure actual outdoor and even indoor play is great for kids and their imaginations. Getting natural vitamin D (with sunscreen for skin protection) is great, and so is fresh air. There's an old saying that goes, "There is a time and a place for everything under the sun", and when it comes to my kids, especially my youngest having a tablet in her hand, I'd much prefer if it were the Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet

Here are my top 5 reasons for getting Madison the Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet.


1. First the price and the warranty!
Let's get this clear, I'm not by any means swimming in money, so whenever a purchase is made, it's made with care. The Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet sells for a fraction of the price of those other high-end tablets and includes a much better warranty. Not only does her Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet come with a rugged kid-proof case that can withstand almost everything that your kids throw at them, but it also comes with a 2-year no questions asked warranty that is included for FREE. That means that if she drops and breaks it, Amazon will replace it and I didn't even have to buy an extended warranty. 

2. I'm in control
As a parent, you love being in control of what your children see and do when they're young because obviously, you want to protect them. Since Madison is in Kindergarten, she has a bedtime of 7:30pm on weekdays, but that doesn't mean that I want her to be fixated on a tablet screen from the time she gets home until she goes to bed.


With the Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet, I can set time limits for how long she can have the use of her tablet both on weekends and weekdays. However, it's not that easy. As you can see, she has a time limit of 1 hour, but she has to read a book for at least 15 minutes before she can do anything else, and at 7pm her Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet automatically shuts itself off. And speaking of reading books, that brings me to my next point.

3. It's an E-Reader
Madison is learning to read in Kindergarten, and while we have a great book selection in her library, most of them are past her grade level of reading, so that means that I usually read them to her. The Kindle Fire Kids Edition has lots of books, age-appropriate books that she can read not just on her own or as an audiobook, but with me as well. This also enables us to spend quality time together.

4. Age appropriate video and apps
I worry constantly about what Madison is watching, especially when it comes to YouTube videos. Sure there is a kids version, but even there sometimes the "not so good stuff" gets in. With Amazon's Kindle Fire Kids Edition, the worry is gone. Not only are they age-appropriate, but they are also educational as well. What's great about all this is there are no ads or in-app purchases so I never have to worry that Madison is going to accidentally purchase something.


5. I love FreeTime Unlimited
How do I get to have all those apps, videos, games, and books without having to worry about purchasing them? With FreeTime Unlimited! This is a subscription service for kids age 3-12, but it's included for the first year for free with your purchase of the Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet. Your kids get unlimited access to thousands of those age-appropriate books, videos and apps, and even games, from top brands that your kids love such as Disney, Nickelodeon and even PBS.

Now while those are all great reasons and features of her new Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet, there's one more reason, and I call that my bonus reason, for purchasing the Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet for Madison.

*Bonus Reason. It keeps her occupied on vacations/trips
We travel extensively during the year and every summer we do an annual family road trip. Traveling for hours with kids in the car is enough to give anyone a headache. Not only do I hear "Are we there yet?", "How much longer?", and lots of incessant whining and complaining, it gets a little tiring hearing the same "I Spy" game all day long. The Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet keeps not only Madison, but also the other kids, entertained for hours. While there are games that they can play together, it encourages sharing because they switch out and share for a short time until the other wants to play.


While once again I would never advocate electronics over actual playtime, I still love the Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet for all the reasons above. Currently, there are 2 versions available. The Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet which has an 8” HD Display, 32 GB of storage and the same kid-proof case, priced at $129.99 or the Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet with a 7” display, 16 GB of storage, kid-proof case and priced at $99.99. No matter which way you go, you really can't go wrong.

Pick up a Kindle Fire Kids Edition Tablet for your own child today, and stay tuned to find out how it brought me and Madison closer together!

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Annmarie John
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DIY Stamped Mother's Day Tile Coasters

DIY Stamped Mother's Day Tile Coasters


These Stamped Mother's Day Tile Coasters will put a smile on your mother's face.


Two years ago my mother passed away, and not a day goes by that I don't think about her. The past few days have been especially rough, with my thoughts incessantly upon her. While not a day goes by that I don't think about my mother, with Mother's Day approaching the thoughts has increased.

The knowledge that she is in a better place, no longer in pain and suffering from the dreaded C word is what gives me the strength to go through each day. We tend to take mothers for granted. Sure they are our mothers and while we may think of them as Supermom or Superwoman, they are not invincible. So pick up that phone and give your mother a call today, and don't forget to say "I Love You", because you don't know what tomorrow may bring forth.


I had an entirely different craft in mind to do this weekend with Madison, but then I started thinking. What would I like to get this year that is different and one that would be cherished and used for years to come? One that the kids can create easily instead of purchasing because, to be honest, handmade, homemade gifts mean so much more to me than gifts they acquire in the store. That's how this Stamped Mothers Day Tile Coasters came into existence.


Madison had found some stamps that we used at Halloween, but I didn't have any stamps that were specific to Mother's Day, so I ended up getting a few and went to Lowes and purchase some ceramic tiles. While the tiles are cheap, the stamps can work out to be a tad expensive if you decide to do different designs on each tile as we did. However, you can't put a price on a mother's love, so don't worry about the price tag. This project is one that you can get all the kids involved in and when it's over, not only will they be proud of what they just created, but you'll love it as well.

So here goes! And by the way, if Madison can do this, so can you.

Stamped Mother's Day Tile Coasters

Supplies needed

4x4 Ceramic Tiles (very inexpensive at Lowes or Home Depot)
Mother's Day Rubber Stamps (I purchased this and a few others)
Ink Pads  (Get black and a few other colors of your choice)
Cork
Sealer (either this or this works)
Rubbing Alcohol
Glue Gun
Scissors

Directions

Step 1 - Begin by wiping clean your tiles with the alcohol. This will remove any oil or debris on your tile so you can begin your work.

Step 2 - Grab your inkpad and stamp of choice and get your stamper well inked.


Step 3 - Now you have to be careful with the way you stamp on the tile. I suggest just stamping straight down and up. Because tiles are smooth they can slide and that will leave your work messy. I'm speaking from experience as we tried stamping and rocking back and forth as you may do on paper, and it just left a big mess. The great thing, however, is that you can wipe it clean with alcohol and start all over again.



Step 4 - Once you've stamped your creation, let dry. If you can place it in the sun that will be best, or you can even use a blow dryer to dry it quickly if you're in a rush.

Step 5 - Seal with your sealer and once again let dry. I suggest spraying at least 2-3 coats waiting a few minutes for it to dry between coats.

Step 6 - Measure your cork and cut to according to the size of your tile. You're then going to glue the cork on the bottom of the tile to prevent scratches on your surfaces.


Step 7 - Wrap with jute or a pretty ribbon and gift to your mom, grandma or that special woman in your life on Mother's Day.

That's it! You're done and now you have some unique Mother's Day Tile Coasters that your mother will feel proud to place her cup of coffee, or even serve her guests on.


P.S. If you're wondering, I picked up that cute cup that's perfect for Mother's Day at the Target dollar spot.


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Annmarie John
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Five New Rules for Healthy Eating

Five New Rules for Healthy Eating



In our efforts to live and eat healthfully, admittedly, there’s a lot of confusion and dated information regarding what’s good for us. We have found ourselves in a society striving to define what is healthy for our minds and bodies and are witness to a plethora of fad diets, weight loss advice, dos and don’ts of healthy eating. Some of them are even contradictory. To stay updated and on the safe side, it’s best to adhere to science-based facts, which rid the world of nutrition from dated assumptions. With this in mind, we will have a look at the five new rules and guidelines for healthy eating.


1. Don’t count calories
About a decade ago, the weight loss and nutrition industry were all about calories. It seemed like you could eat a piece of cardboard because hey, no calories! There are still numerous people who insist on sticking to a regime of counting calories, but nutritionists of the modern day recommend dropping it altogether. Scientists knew it already, but the wider population has finally accepted it as well: “Not all calories are created equal”.


So the next time you’re at a grocery store and reaching for that snack-pack that has only 100 calories, read the label on the back to see how much sugar or sodium it has, and whether it has any protein or vitamins. It’s a great marketing trick: most snacks count only 100 calories because they come in a small serving, and those are just empty calories that won’t provide you with any nutrition. Instead of counting calories, stick to nutrient-dense foods and fresh produce.

2. Don’t eliminate food groups
Fats don’t make you fat and carbs are not here to destroy us. Processed and sugary foods are the culprit, whereas all nutrients are necessary to sustain our bodies. Fill your plate with vegetables, whole grains, and a source of protein (such as fish or lean meat) and incorporate healthy fats into your meals by cooking with coconut or olive oil or adding avocado and nuts.


A balanced, diverse diet is key to a healthy body and proper cognitive function. No food group should be entirely avoided, and sugars (from fruits and vegetables) are also necessary in amounts appropriate for an individual’s body weight and level of activity.

3. Eat protein in order to stay full


Breakfast still is the most important meal of the day – that piece of information remains something nutritionists agree on. But there’s a big difference between eating eggs for breakfast or a bowl of sugary cereal. Contrary to previous recommendations, it is protein and fiber that will keep your body and mind awake – not sugar. Sugar just provides an instant jolt that’s likely to result in a crash at lunchtime.


Eat a protein-rich breakfast and if you get cravings later, snack on almonds to stay full until the next meal, as they are full of protein. If you’re physically active and making an effort to tone your body you’ll need a larger amount of protein daily. That’s why most athletes and gym enthusiast drink shakes with casein protein or other protein supplements. A protein-rich smoothie for breakfast is another great option for staying full and alert until lunchtime.

4. Eat vegetarian or Mediterranean as often as you can
A very recent study has proven that both of these diets are very effective in reducing cardiovascular risk factors. The Mediterranean diet has consistently been championed as the best eating regimen for heart health, as it is light on red meat, refined sugars and processed foods, heavily relying on olive oil, lean protein, nuts, produce and whole grains.


But new research shows that a diet based on healthful, unprocessed vegetarian foods is equally as effective in reducing cholesterol, regulating body weight and reducing body fat. Look up delicious vegetarian or Mediterranean recipes for your next dinner idea – you’ll most likely love the food and want to make it again.


5. Enjoy and indulge
Fad diets and strict regimes most often backfire, and that’s because there’s a huge psychological factor behind what and how we eat. It has been proven over and over again that being too rigid with eating is likely to result in cravings.


The most important part of healthy eating is that it’s not something you force yourself to do daily as you dream of gobbling up junk food – it’s a lifestyle whose essence lies in a healthy relationship with food. Listen to your body; our bodies actually crave healthy food, but every once in a while, they want something unhealthy as well. You don’t have to eat perfectly all the time – just do your best with every meal and it will become a habit. Experiment with healthful dishes and don’t force yourself to eat something you hate just because it’s healthy – there’s always an appropriate substitute. But if you feel like eating a hamburger, have a hamburger; it’s not the end of the world.


Especially for those of us with children, where we’re not only responsible for their nutrition but also for setting a good example, striving to establish a healthy relationship with food is of utmost importance. A great first step towards that is stocking up on fresh produce and cooking at home as often as possible. In the end, it’s all about balance and learning through experience what works best for our bodies.

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Annmarie John
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[name=AnnMarie John] [img=https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-X9gUeVik-ZY/WJjwNTOobII/AAAAAAABTJ4/qEhU0n62_AIo-j6-6LA2OFOr44lKCHASwCLcB/s100/AnnMarie%2BJohn%2BHeadshot.JPG] [description=AnnMarie John is a lifestyle blogger, mom of 4, retired army veteran and a huge Disney lover. Formerly from the beautiful island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean and now living in colorful Colorado, she loves sharing her opinions on everything, crafting and food.] (facebook=https://www.facebook.com/theannmariejohn) (instagram=https://www.instagram.com/theannmariejohn) (twitter=https://www.twitter.com/theannmariejohn) (pinterest=https://www.pinterest.com/theannmariejohn) (email=mailto:annmarie@annmariejohn.com)