Fayetteville, NC Lifestyle Photographer Lea Hartman »

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Yesterday, I slept in until after 9:00. It was glorious. It took 8 years of parenthood to get to this place, this place of extra rest, this place of having children old enough to linger in bed on a Saturday morning.

It must’ve been due to this that I was feeling benevolent. I sat down at my computer with my yogurt and coffee and began looking up fun things to do with my kiddos. It didn’t take long to decide on the zoo and our Hartman Family Adventure from Fayetteville, NC to Asheboro, NC began!

I packed snacks and water and got everyone loaded up but it was still almost 10:30 when we finally pulled the car out of the driveway. Thanks to some back roads Siri decided we should take, we didn’t arrive at the zoo until around 1:00 and then enjoyed some snacks in the shade of the trees before we ventured inside. Really, I was glad of that – less stuff to cart around with me.

We entered at the Africa side and just walking across the old wooden bridge got my kids all excited!

nc zoo entrance
The boys sported baseball caps (something they never wear) to keep the sun out of their eyes and I loaded all the kids up with sunscreen, but it turned out that almost all the walkways and even exhibit observation areas were under the cover of trees. I come in only three shades – extra pale, red, and more freckled – so I was very thankful for the shade, having forgotten to spray myself with sunscreen.
nc zoo children
The rock outcroppings just off the main trails simply couldn’t be passed up by my children. Daddy is a rock climber and it must be in the blood. There were also these fun statues of animals that we passed throughout the day and I couldn’t resist stopping for pictures.

nc zoo lions
Nathaniel (my oldest) doesn’t like to have his picture taken unless he’s showing off some new Lego creation so he OFTEN averts his eyes purposely. His little way of cooperating, but not cooperating at the same time. See, even us professionals have trouble getting a great result sometimes! My kids are just so used to the camera that it’s lost all interest for them. (Don’t worry, I’ve never had trouble getting kids to cooperate for my regular sessions.)
nc zoo rest timea
hartman family adventures nc zoo
nc zoo safari jeep
I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the actual animals because I only brought one lens and most of them were too far out for me to get a clear shot anyway. However, the elephant was my favorite. I just love them. This one performed a few tricks for us! We happened to get there just as the trainer was answering questions and feeding this big guy carrots. Throughout the presentation, Mr. Elephant kept making this low sound. Someone finally asked the trainer what it meant and he said it was a sound of contentment much like a cat’s purr. Pretty cool. Also, the elephant/rhino habitat was HUGE. I mean, massive. I’ve always seen elephants in smaller enclosures. Not so at the North Carolina Zoo. All the habitats we saw for these larger animals (giraffes included) were very large, with plenty of space to roam. I’d be making a sound of contentment too.
nc zoo elephant
Just outside of the elephant exhibit was this awesome “tree.” You could just stand under it and cool yourself off as you were lightly misted with water. My kids couldn’t get enough of it! There were also some interactive games throughout the zoo that my children really enjoyed. Alas, I had my camera so I had to forego the misting tree. Maybe next time.:)
nc zoo misting tree
Of course they had to climb into the giant ostrich eggs. They thought it was hilarious. I just barely avoided the how mammals are born discussion. Thankfully. I know it’s coming soon but I’m hoping to hold out until Lover Boy gets home.
nc zoo ostrich nest
Evelynn’s favorite. She couldn’t wait to see PINK flamingos. Once we got up close and personal, she couldn’t stop holding her nose. Seriously, these birds stink. I’ll enjoy them from a distance.
nc zoo flamingo
The tropical frogs were probably Matthew’s favorite. The boys have been really into catching toads and learning about them and frogs this summer so getting to see the brightly colored, very poisonous frogs in this exhibit was right up my little thing’s alley. We actually visited it twice. That’s how much he liked it.:)
hartman family adventures nc zoo
The aviary was a wonderfully cool spot! The air conditioning units blew up from the ground, hence this next sequence of images.:)Plus, the birds were up close and personal and very beautiful.
nc zoo marilyn monroe
nc zoo marilyn monroe
My kids wanted to stop by the honeybee exhibit but honestly, being completely terrified of all insects and spiders, I could barely force one foot in front of the other. (The picture on the left – that’s from the frog exhibit.)
nc zoo honeybees
We stopped to enjoy a frozen treat – frozen soft serve strawberry lemonade. It was pretty tasty, a big hit with the kids and I was thankful they had something lactose free. We had passed several ice cream carts and I was beginning to think we wouldn’t find something that Matthew could enjoy as well. And enjoy it he did!
nc zoo frozen treat
nc zoo frozen treat
We got a late start and only managed to get through half the zoo (just the Africa side) before closing time. But it was enough. My kids couldn’t wait to catch the tram back to the entrance so we could rest our feet in the car. The two hour drive home was much needed. I just love the picture below of Evelynn’s face as the tram arrived.:)
nc zoo tram
nc zoo

And that concludes this chronicle of Hartman Family Adventures. What adventures do you have up your sleeve?

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Hard to believe that today is already the last day of June, isn’t it? We long for summer days with their carefree attitude and the promise of playful afternoons and then gasp as we experience how quickly it passes. I have exactly 55 more days to sleep in.

Injury and illness has kept us indoors much more than we’d like this month and I can’t help but feel that my kids are missing out. Then I pour over images of toad catching and ice cream consumption and realize that though we may not have hit up an amusement park or ventured to the beach (yet), the simple pleasures of childhood reign supreme and my kids are having a great time.

All in their own backyard.

toad catching summer days
toad catching summer days
ice cream cone summer days
ice cream cone summer days

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I first met Lacey about four and a half years ago at a girls’ night out coffee date planned through the ladies’ ministry we were both a part of at Fort Lewis. She is petite and full of life and from the moment she began to share her story, I was simply transfixed and in awe of her unassuming strength.

She and her high school sweetheart became parents when she was only 15 years old, but by the grace of God, they beat the odds and have been happily married for well over a decade. She is now the mother of four awesome boys and her life and role as a mother is one I find constantly encouraging.

Capable. Yes, she certainly is.

army wives i am project
To view all the images in the I Am Project series, please visit my website gallery.

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Ya’ll know I love Stacey. If you’re not familiar with her blog, Design Addict Mom, then you need to go check it out as soon as you’re done here. I get really excited when Stacey is working on a new project because I know that when she’s done, I get to photograph it and her space is one of my favorites. This eclectic sunroom makeover in Fayetteville, NC is my dose of class for the week.

This sunroom is a light junkie’s dream. The moment you walk in you are surrounded by stylish comfort and bright, happy colors. Lounge back and relax with a cup of coffee and your favorite stack of magazines. A great way to start the day.

Eclectic sunroom makeover in Fayetteville, NC
design addict mom stacey blake
design addict mom stacey blake
Eclectic sunroom makeover in Fayetteville, NC

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  • StaceyJune 9, 2014 - 9:35 pm

    Lea, you always make my spaces sing when you capture them!! Beautiful!!ReplyCancel

I had young kids so I felt like I couldn’t have nice things. I filled my home with the hand-me-downs, the cast-offs, the garage sale rejects. Nothing was coordinated, nothing fit “just right.” I didn’t even know “just right” existed.

Then I met Stacey. She changed my whole perspective on making a house a home and really showed me the importance of filling my space with things I love rather than things I just tolerated. She had young children too, but she didn’t let that stop her from cultivating a photo worthy home.

I’m not knocking thrift store finds or garage sale rejects by any means, as you’ll see momentarily. But I have a much more discerning eye now when it comes to other people’s “junk.”

After purchasing our home last summer, I slowly began the process of transforming it into a place I loved hanging out in. There is still plenty to be done (our bedrooms are literally blank slates, and our outdoor entertaining area is nonexistent as of yet) but I’m well on my way.

I scored this beautiful mid century credenza/dresser off of Craigslist for $30. It was in pretty horrible shape, to be honest. I bought it with the intention of refinishing it myself but quickly realized that it needed more repair than refinishing and that was over my head.

I considered cutting my losses and beginning the search again but it had taken me over four months to find a mid century credenza that fit my space and budget so instead, I did a little googling and found a local restoration shop that specialized in older furniture.

Enter Old Heritage Restorations. I won’t lie, it wasn’t cheap but this locally owned shop in downtown Fayetteville was worth every penny I spent. Not only did they provide excellent customer service (they picked the piece up and delivered it when it was finished) but I hardly recognized my credenza! Now, it’s both functional and stylish!

Here, you can see the before and after – although I wish I’d taken better before pictures because in this image it doesn’t look nearly as bad as it actually was!

mid century credenza makeover

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