Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Last Zoo Trip for 2012

We've had an annual pass to the Dallas Zoo off and on since we moved here.  We skipped a year after getting a little "burnt out" on it.  Then, we got it again last spring when my dad and stepmom were in town for a visit.

I decided that I would take the kiddos for one last zoo visit before our pass expired.  There was a new koala exhibit that we didn't make it to see the previous time we were there.
Unfortunately, the new exhibit was lame.  But, the koalas were cute!
And, we enjoyed some really neat keeper encounters this time.
We watched the SOAR bird show, which first debuted last spring.  They've made it even nicer and it's a really good addition to the zoo.
We also saw the tiger up much closer than ever before.

 Jett usually naps twice a day, so he finally gave up and snoozed a bit after we ate some lunch.
I even shelled out the $5 for crackers to feed the giraffe.  You can't really tell, but that's our friend Kimberly, Asa and Rylee feeding the pretty animal.

 I got some sweet shots of the boys while we were waiting for the girls.

 Jenna and Asa learned about chimpanzees and Jane Goodall in kindergarten.  They told me all about the animals and this amazing woman.  We missed the keeper encounter because their mom can't read the times correctly, but we didn't miss the gorilla encounter.  It was awesome!

 We changed the kids into their swim suits and let them splash around in the kids area water feature.  Jett was fascinated with the water pouring from a rock.  The big kids were just happy to cool off and run around.

I tried to get a picture of all four kiddos, but we couldn't get Jett to look at me at the right moment.  The others were getting restless from crouching and smiling.  I still think it's a cute shot!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Friendly Visits

So sad that I never blogged this.  But, it came in a period of craziness for me....a 5K run, 2 field trips, 1 birthday, a Business Day at school...it was just too much all at once!  So, here we are...two months later.
Our friends Ross and Nancy came to visit us at the end of March.  Ross is the senior pastor at the church where Joel served on staff in Pennsylvania from 2002-2007.  We love Ross and Nancy dearly and thoroughly enjoyed our visit with them.
They arrived on a Tuesday evening.  We hit the ground running on Wednesday.  We took them to Ft. Worth.  We visited the Stockyards, watched the cattle drive (walk), ate yummy barbecue, toured a few museums, watched a presentation about the wild west, then drove into the downtown area.

We visited the Ft. Worth Water Gardens, and then headed home...wiped out!
The water gardens have 4 different water features.  The biggest one has steps you can walk down.
It's a little daunting.  So, some stayed up top!

Water runs down the walls in another feature.
That was a favorite of the boys who couldn't keep their hands out.
On Thursday we drove through Turtle Creek (beautiful homes) after driving around the campus of Southern Methodist University.  Then, we rode the trolley on McKinney Street, grabbed some lunch, and did a picnic in Pioneer Park, where there are bronze statues of cattle.

We sent Ross and Nancy home ready for a vacation from their vacation.
But, it was lots of fun!

One of our favorite things was watching Rylee take pictures like Pastor Ross.
Isn't this just the cutest thing ever?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Home Organization :: Paper Clutter

The amount of paper that comes into this house is outrageous. 

While filing cabinets are pretty essential for keeping up with bills and important documents, sometimes you need just a few "hot files" at your fingertips.  This hanging file bin is by my desk and houses folders for the weekly school newsletter, bills to pay, and a few other things I want to have handy but not on my desk.
A cubby for each kid.  The papers they want to keep have to fit in these.  When they get too full, they get purged.  Looks like one is due!

By the way, I also have a shoebox sized plastic bin WITH LID for each kiddo.  They put their "treasures" in it (aka: annoyed McDonald's toys and trinkets from friends).  The lid must snap on it.  When it's full, something must go.  It has helped immensely to control the little trinket population in our house.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Ann!

It's my stepmom's birthday.  I'm late sending her present, but I have something really cool to get in the mail.  I'll have to take pictures and reveal the coolness of it after I know it's been received.
In the meantime, I hope this next year is full of blessings for you!

*I stole these pictures off my sister's Facebook because I don't have any recent pics.  The first one is my stepmom and sister and the second is my stepmom and my sister's sweet son.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Home Organization :: Kid Dishes, Freezer Space, and Recipes

 Kids' plastic plates and bowls reside in a lower cabinet where they can reach.  I also have lunch making items here in the white plastic bin (a $1 resale find).  It holds the little IKEA plastic containers we use for lunches. On weekends, it also fills up with the water bottles and sandwich containers.  I hardly ever use plastic baggies.  And, less frequently used baking dishes fit neatly behind this kid friendly spot.
Have a small freezer space?  Maximize it by freezing items flat in quart or gallon zip bags, then stand them up "file style" when frozen.
Containers make this even easier (I just added a 2nd container after this pic was taken).  This is a plastic shoebox that corrals the quart size freezer bags.  I scored boneless, skinless chicken breasts for 99 cents a pound so this is 25 pounds divvied up.

 So, what do I cook?
 Lots of things.  Our favorites are collected in this binder.  It's called "The Fletcher Family Favorites".

I like to have printed recipes in front of me.  So, this binder has printed pages from the web, recipe cards taped to it, and recipes torn from magazines all in a wipeable page protector.  I write extra instructions on the paper and can easily take out just one sheet to use while cooking.

I have all my recipes to try marked on Pinterest.  After trying it, I either move it to the appropriate category or delete the link.  I also print a copy and add it to this binder.  Maybe one day I'll be super sophisticated and have the ability to easily look at an iPad screen while cooking, enabling me to go completely paperless with recipes.  But, until then, this is my favorite method for collecting the recipes we love and use most!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Home Organization :: Laundry

My laundry "room" is small.  It's really just a closet.  But, we've made it pretty functional.

We just saw an idea from Pinterest and plan on making some changes to make it even better for our family's needs.  I'll share them if and when it gets done.

In the meantime, we have done a few things that help me manage our laundry better.

We have three sorting bins for clothes.  We sort them: whites in the back, colors in the middle, and darks/jeans in the front.  This helps me avoid a giant pile on the floor in front of the washing machine...like this:

I created a bin for towels, wash cloths, bibs, etc that need to be washed.  I often have just one or two pieces dirty and they need to air dry before being tossed into a pile.  Plus, I like to wash them on hot in a load just for towels, etc.  I also created a bin (above the dirty towel bin) for dirty cleaning rags.
We hung a pole 1/2 way across the space so we could hang items as they came out of the dryer and also to hang items that need to air dry.  (We'll be moving this so it's not in front of shelves.)
We have our broom and mop hanging on the far right, a small trash bin hanging on the far left, and shelves holding all the cleaning supplies, laundry supplies, and extra household items (light bulbs!).

Most cool laundry room designs don't have top loading washers featured.  I don't like front loader machines, so I'm always looking for neat ideas that have top-loaders in the picture.

 I started use dishpans to sort folded laundry after seeing them at my friend Kristin's house.  Each kiddo has a bucket and when it's full they take it and put away their clothes.  This helps me a TON!  The idea I saw on Pinterest takes this one step further and does something I have been wanting to do for a long time...make a place for those buckets on the shelves in my laundry closet.  Soon....I hope!
Finally, I have to brag about this amazing couponing deal.  Back in March 2011 there was a great sale on Purex laundry detergent at CVS.  The combination of the sale price plus a coupon that was available made it just $1 per bottle.  I stocked up (getting some coupons through eBay) and bought 20 bottles!  I know...it looked crazy.  But, this is the last bottle.  I have washed laundry for our ENTIRE FAMILY OF SIX PEOPLE for just $20 for over 14 months!!!  Yes, sometimes couponing pays off in a big way.