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Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer Fun: A Trip to Lake Tobias in Halifax, PA

We tried to stay busy this summer (sometimes a success) and in August we made a trip with my daughter's girl scout troop to Lake Tobias in Halifax, PA.  Lake Tobias is a family-owned large wildlife park in central Pennsylvania.  They offer safari tours, reptile shows, petting zoo, a gift shop and more.  Some really great features of Lake Tobias are their practically free-range animals, unbanded gators and their prices.  It really upsets me to see large animals in tiny cages, treated poorly and neglected.  I am so happy and comfortable spending my money at this park. 
It's really exciting to see familiar animals like lions, bears (the lions and bears are quite lazy at Lake Tobias and probably the least entertaining of all the animals) and zebras (you can feed these guys!).  There are some very unfamiliar creatures as well, like the capybara, which looks like large otters and the watusi that look like cows with massive, heavy horns.  There are many different species of monkeys, birds and more that kids and adults will love to watch. 

This guy appeared to be copying the visitors.  There's seating behind him and he was trying to sit just like they were.  The visitors had the decency to use the restrooms to relieve themselves though!

A Capybara.  Very big.  There was a warning to NOT feed them.  They are bitey.

Also bitey, but no warnings against feeding them.  There were warnings not to put your head or hands too close though, because they are known to stick their heads out and take a taste. Their bite is more like a goose bite (that's really all I have to compare it with).  It hurts less than a child with sharp teeth.

Friendly zebras were also jumpy.  They ran away a lot but always returned for the crackers.

Friendly piggies.

Zach, daddy and Henry watching some animals.

On the safari tour you can feed the mammals (most of them look like different types of deer and cattle...although by writing that I'm probably making dozens of biologists rip out their hair in frustration!) and flightless birds.  The guide will share lots of interesting information about habitats and behaviors of these animals.  I get the most excited seeing the elk because they are just so massive.  My kids were probably most enamoured with the baby mammals and their favorites were any animals that came to eat from their hands.  A tip: late afternoon trips during the hot months seem to be a little less entertaining because the animals are too hot and tired to be hanging out in the sun.  Also, during mating season we were told that sometimes the male elk may charge the buses, feeling that they are a threat to their females.  How neat (or scary), depending on how you feel about large, angry animals! 

I think these were the Watusi. 

Full and lazy meant no visiting with us.

Almost close enough to touch but they were hot and tired.

Not an elk, but at least these guys were still hungry and gentle.

Buffalo?  He wasn't getting away without a pet from Amara.

In the petting zoo area you can find camels, llamas, goats, guinea pigs and other cool animals.  Not all of the animals are available for petting but the ones that are are very friendly.  Be careful though, because some like to eat clothing and hair! 

Friendly animals in the petting zoo.

Feisty camels weren't interested in us, only each other.

Jonas loved the petting zoo the most.

Henry wasn't sure what to think!

Jo probably hit up every single pettable animal there.

The reptile and exotic animal room is full of snakes, lizards, tortoises, alligators, sloths and more.  My kids were able to touch a snake and a gator!  Some of these animals were rescued from neglected homes.  They have shows at intervals during park hours where educators will teach about certain animals.  We learned about the alligators (I hope I really mean gators and not crocs!) and sloths during the show we attended. 

The tortoises are old and friendly.

This gator bit someone earlier but as long as you keep your hands away from his face you'll be fine!

The reptile show.

BIG snake!
 They also have a small playground and picnic tables for lunch and resting so day trips are made easy.  You can pack lunch or purchase from the concession stand.

Well worth the day trip! 

$6 for ages 3 and up.
$5 for the safari tour for ages 3 and up.
Group rates are available. 

Lake Tobias is located at:
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park • 760 Tobias Road, Halifax Pa 17032

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Weaver's go Gutzy with a Gutzy Gear Party

I was given the opportunity to review Guzty Gear products by MomSelect.  They provided me with enough product and activity sheets to host a super fun party. 
Gutzy Gear is a way for your to affordably and easily express your creativity, with their strap covers and huge assortment of patches that are attached with velcro for simple removal and trading opportunities.  The strap covers can be used on backpacks, seat belts, instruments, bicycles and scooters and on so much more.  There are dozens of patch styles for boys and girls, and you can use one or a dozen and change them whenever the urge strikes.  Their website, is loaded with fun activities for kids of all ages, like creating your own Gutzy, sending Gutzy e-cards and virtual Gutzies. 

I invited all of our friends over for games, snacks and Gutzy Gear fun right after the first day of school.  They all arrived wearing their backpacks and as you can see, they are quite under-decorated and blah. 
Look at those sad, sad faces, all because they have terribly boring backpacks.

Let's take two; not all of those faces look sad enough.
Now if only I had Photoshop...

Our party-goers ranged in age from a 4 year old preschooler to a 12 year old 7th grader.  Not everyone arrived to the party sure that they wanted to participate, but everyone was curious to see what it was all about. 
We started off the party with Gutzy Bingo.  Some of the kids used Lego pieces for markers...we had to get creative!  Everyone had a lot of fun with Bingo but our time was short so we only played one round. 
Playing GUTZY (BINGO) and snacking.
Why yes, I do take a lot of pictures :)

Lego markers for BINGO!

Why have one winner when you can have 10?  We kept playing until we had enough!

We had a few late arrivals and  no surprise...they were sad with the state of their backpacks too. 
They're miserable, I tell ya!

 Next we had an awesome contest: the kids created their own Gutzy designs.  Even a parent participated and created a personalized Gutzy!  Get ready for get to see ALL of the entries (except for one because all he drew was a circle then left to play video games so I eliminated him.  Love you, Jo Jo!). 
I think this is some cartoon character.  This was one of our top 3 entries, by 7 year old Amara

A top 3 entry by 7 year old Makaley.  Hearts galore!

Butterflies and tie-dye hearts are definitely a MUST!

Gutzy flower patch.

I have no idea what this is.  A cute bat, maybe?  Do it, Gutzy! 

We have a few entries here: a sun/moon, row of hearts and a baseball.  I hope all of these will be made!  With a little more color ;)

A personalized Gutzy.  This would be awesome!

I think it's a baseball and bat.  And a circle.


Geometric Gutzy "logo" patch.

Not sure how the little hearts will fit but tiny heart patches would be really neat.

This was another top 3 entry by 9 year old Brayden.  A really great jet!  I bet these would be popular.

Silly face- love it!

 Okay, which one would you have voted for?

After everyone was done and the winners were announced we moved on to the main event: Gutzy Gear backpack-decorating time!
I was too excited to take "before" pictures of the products, so you'll just have to trust that the boxes and packages are easy to open (none of that crazy packaging that makes you wonder if a bomb won't get your toys out of the box).  Each Gutzy Gear strap pack of 2 comes with 1 Gutzy Gear face patch already attached to help you get started.  The kids dove into the project of arranging their Gutzy patches on their straps.  A few kids needed help getting the straps wrapped around their backpack straps but otherwise it was noise and fun and simple.
It's MINE!

Helping out friends and trying to trade.

Love the paw print patch!

Deciding where to put a patch.

Someone is VERY happy with her results!! 

He decided to put all of his on one side.

More assembling.  I warned you about the pictures, right?

My opinion: I really like these!  I was so sure that the straps would look silly on most of the backpacks, particularly the ones that weren't black but they all looked great.  I think there should be more strap cover colors (and I'm not a huge fan of the yellow liner on the strap covers).  The style options are huge and fabulous but I'd love to see sparkly and shiny for girls.  The best feature of this product is that you don't have to do ANYTHING to your backpacks.  It's completely risk-free!  If your child decides she doesn't like the flower or he doesn't want fries this week they can change it (or trade it) in a snap.  The velcro is also very strong.  There is no chance that these will fall off, but they are still easy to change.  Trading already happened at the party but the kids are very excited to get into it more.  All of the kids were very excited to start the Gutzy Gear trend. 
Another mom's opinion: the straps should balance out and come with 2 patches.
The kids' opinions: They were so very excited to wear them to school.  One was relieved that it was way more fun than she expected.  The older girls thought that maybe the patches would be a little too child-like but they were pleased with the selection.  One was adamant that he not get more than the face on his straps.  He is 4 and that's how I'll explain his refusal. 

After we were done our party all of the kids got together to let us know how happy they were with their backpacks after the Gutzy Gear took over.

These are some seriously happy children!

P.S. Grapevine rumors are that Toys R Us has them on sale, at least locally. 

And now...who wants to WIN!
Where Do You Go Gutzy?  Get creative and show the world how you go Gutzy.  By participating you have the chance to win more than 100 gift cards from Toys R Us, worth a total of more than $500!!  To enter just go to and tell/show them how you Go Gutzy by Sept. 7, 2012.