Thursday, September 10, 2015

Entertaining Out of Town Guests at The Bronx Zoo

When we were younger, visiting The Bronx Zoo was something my family would often do.  Now that I'm older, and married with a four year old, making a visit to the zoo is an enjoyable experience with a hint of nostalgia.  The memories I made visiting the zoo with my parents and siblings, I can now recreate and share with my own family. This summer, we've done just that.

Most recently, we had special visitors; my husband’s brother and his wife visited from England, and let’s not forget Uncle Curtis!  After a while of figuring out what we should do with them one weekend, my husband and I figured a trip to The Bronx Zoo would suffice.  One Saturday, my husband and I took a 30-minute drive to the zoo with our daughter, my mother-in-law, and three out of town guests to visit the zoo’s 265 acres of wildlife habitats and attractions.

We arrived at The Bronx Zoo by 2:00 p.m., which left us with only 3.5 hours to tackle the massive zoo. Thankfully, with the help of my husband, our crew had a plan; he and his brother picked out the most appealing attractions for us to first visit.

Upon entry into The Bronx Zoo, we stopped by the Bison Range before heading to the World of Birds. Prior to entering the doors of this exhibit, a guide handed our daughter a worksheet eight different birds found in the exhibit that she must identify on her own while walking through. Of course, she enjoyed it, as well as everyone else in our party who helped her look for the birds.

The birds were cool, but what’s a zoo visit without big cats?  Naturally, we headed over to Tiger Mountain where we saw two large tigers.  We were all thoroughly impressed that at least one of the tigers was active, and we even caught it taking a dip in the water to cool off.

After that, we strolled over to The World of Reptiles. Out of all of the exhibits I think this was the most underwhelming for our group. Plus, it didn't help that this exhibit in particular was hotter than the temperature outside, which was around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

My brother-in-law was excited about visiting the Birds of Prey exhibit so we spent some time there as well after visiting Madagascar.  After visiting those two exhibits, The Bronx Zoo’s closing time was quickly approaching, which meant we had to make our way back towards our exit.  Here, we ended up encountering the Sea Lions.  There was a large bull making his presence known by running the smaller sea lions around the pool while expressing his dissatisfaction of sorts with large groans.  And with that, we exited.

The Bronx Zoo by no means is an adventure that can be tackled in just a few hours. It’s definitely a trip that should be broken up in a few days. In fact, out of all of my visits to this zoo, I don't think I've ever viewed it in its entirety, hence the reason why that in my 30’s I'm still eager to visit this zoo, and my husband and I are happy to entertain out of town guests here, too.

The Bronx Zoo 
2300 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, New York 10460

Admission: Adult - $19.95 | Child (3-12) - $12.95 | Seniors (65+) $17.95

General admission is FREE all day on Wednesdays at the Bronx Zoo. Please consider making a donation to help support our operating costs, and to aid their work in caring for animals here in New York and around the world. 

Disclosure: Complimentary tickets were provided to The Bronx Zoo. No compensation provided for this post. All opinions are my own and are honest.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Reminiscing about the Road to our Sunny Day #mysunnyday

Our Sunny Day happened exactly one year ago when we moved into our first home.  Deciding to own a home was one of the largest investments we've made, and also one of the most rewarding.  The road to owning our home was a long one filled with a few bumps that, at times, was discouraging, but we pulled through with the help of family members who've gone through the same process, an amazing mortgage broker, and of course, Google.

Both my husband and I come from families where our parents were homeowners, therefore, owning a home just seemed like the natural thing to do.  Plus, we had a daughter we felt would benefit from living in a home with a large backyard in an area that was safe with good schools.

We already knew of an area we loved.  The houses were beautiful, the area was quiet, and the school system was good. That was the easy part.  Figuring out whether or not we could afford the neighborhood, the amount of money we had to save for the down payment, finding a realtor and lawyer. And the hardest part of it all, with the many different types of mortgages around, was figuring out which one would suit our financial situation.  Thankfully, with the help of our family who directed us to knowledgeable individuals who helped making these decisions simple. These people helped clarify some home buying myths, and even helped prevent us from making a bad financial decision with our choice of mortgage and down payment.

The misconception is that in order to qualify for a conventional loan you must provide a 20% down payment, and if you didn't have that, you'd have to settle for an FHA loan that has a 3.5% down payment requirement, but comes with Mortgage Insurance attached.  Of course, we didn't want the latter, but with a move-in goal of one year, saving 20% of the purchase price didn't seem practical. I mean if we had a rich aunt or uncle, or maybe hit the lotto, but the odds of those things happening were slim.  So there we were with the wind taken out of our sails, and somewhat depressed until our broker informed us that there were other conventional loan options with lower down payment requirements for which we qualified. Yes! 

After figuring out how much house we could afford, and the type of loan we were going for, we were now able to save with a game plan. Our Sunny Day was in sight.

That year of saving was a tough one, but we had to make our Sunny Day a reality. We cut out a lot! We sent out notices telling our friends and family that we've set a goal because there’s something special we were working on, and to please excuse us if we do not make it out to an event. We brought lunch into work daily, and drastically cut back eating out. And since I love to online shop, in order to resist temptation, I unsubscribed from all emails from my favorite stores. It worked! Within a year, we had all of the money we needed for our down payment, plus extra.

We found our house, and after months of waiting to close, we had our Sunny Day!

We hope our story of saving for a Sunny Day, closing on our first home served as an inspiration to you.  Our goal, with a lot of hard work, support, and knowledge became a reality.  If your Sunny Day is also buying a home, SunTrust wants to help you.  SunTrust inspire and motivate through advice, tips, and tools so you can live for a sunny day rather than save for a rainy one.

Sunny Days start here.  At SunTrust, they have the tools and resources to help you achieve your sunny day. Start here to find out how they can help you enjoy the things that matter to you.
At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.  They know we all live for the sunny days and want to you help you live yours.
For even more sunny day inspiration visit

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust Bank. The opinions and text are all mine.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sponsored: It's Been a Fun Ride with Astroglide TTC

A little over a month ago I introduced you all to Astroglide TTC Trying to Conceive™.  It’s a specially formulated lubricant with adjusted pH levels that make it an excellent choice for couples trying to conceive due to its sperm-friendly properties.   We've since incorporated Astroglide TTC into our baby making sessions, and you're probably wondering if this post means our daughter will no longer suffer from ‘only child syndrome’.  To find out, you're going to have to keep reading.

Before I get into whether or not using Astroglide TTC has helped us to get pregnant with baby #2, I just wanted to reiterate its uses.
Astroglide TTC is compatible with sperm, oocytes and embryos and allows sperm to move freely.

Astroglide TTC is specially formulated with adjusted pH levels, compatible osmolality and a consistency similar to that of your own cervical mucus, making it less likely to hinder sperm motility than traditional lubricants.

TTC also contains galactose, which is found naturally in semen, as well as fructose, the main source of energy for sperm. 

Like all Astroglide products, Astroglide TTC also temporarily relieves vaginal dryness during sexual activity

Now that we've got that out of the way, I can say that as I write this post, I am on CD3 of my menstrual cycle.  In other words, we are not pregnant.  Unfortunately for us, using Astroglide TTC during my most fertile period of my cycle didn't work.  This doesn't mean that Astroglide TTC is ineffective; our timing could have been off. Also, both my husband and I have been under a lot of stress, especially over the last few weeks.  

Just because it didn't work this time around doesn't mean we're going to discontinue using it. In fact, we’ve reached for it outside of my cycle’s fertile days, which goes to show how much we like it.  In the interim I'm going to keep tracking my cycle, taking my temps, and taking my prenatal vitamins.  Hopefully, nature will take its course, and we will not have to lose a fortune in IVF costs.

It helps that actually like using Astroglide TTC even when we're just doing the do for fun.  The consistency feels natural; not too wet, too sticky or just too, if you know what I mean.  Since we don't have to fill an applicator, it isn't messy like other TTC lubes we've used in the past. It’s also easy to use due to the convenient pre-filled disposable applicators that make it easy to coat the inside of the vagina, supplementing natural fluids and enhancing comfort.  

Astroglide TTC™ has a retail price of $12.99 for 8 pre-filled applicators; the best value compared to any competitor. Check here to see where you can pick up a box.

For more information regarding Astroglide TTC™, fertility support, and where to buy please visit the TTC homepage.

Astroglide TTC is Social
Astroglide TTC™ sponsored this blog post. The opinions and text are all mine