Saturday, January 06, 2007

Cameron Park Zoo

My ever so thoughtful husband checked the weather early this week and decided to take the day off today and take us to the Zoo in Waco. WHAT A PERFECT DAY. He could not have picked a better day in JANUARY(!). The temperature was in the 70's, there wasn't a cloud to be seen, and the kids were in the BEST moods. It was a perfect day in every way. The kids had no idea where we were going until we pulled in to the parking lot and I made Alex read the sign. As soon as he read the word "ZOO", his adrenaline started in, and didn't quit until we packed it up to leave hours later. They were both so, so excited, they are such animal finatics, they could probably go to the zoo everyday and still be just as excited one day, as they were the next. For starters, let me just say, this zoo, was incredible...I can't tell you how many times Mark and I ooo-ed and ahhh-ed about how well this place was laid out. Every detail was taken in to account. The animals had amazing habitats, yet, the visitors could be right up front. On top of all this, the park was sooo quiet. I guess everyone is still recovering from the holidays, and probably assuming that January is not a good month to even attempt a trip to the zoo. (Kinda like me!) This made for a very laid back momma and daddy.

So...the animals...our first close up encounter was with the bear. The bears had an amazing set up, lots of space out in the open, grass, trees, hills etc. and then a enclosed cavelike area with a pool. We walked down a small hill where we found a clear wall that revealed the interior of the cave, including an underwater view. The bear just happend to be in the most playful of moods as we walked up. He was swimming back and forth from the window to land, he would come right up to us and his nose would smash on the glass in a playful way, he'd look right at us as if he were a playful dog, and then he'd swim back to land, stand up shake of and get back in the water and cruise back to us again. He did this over and over. The kids got to be face to face with this swimming bear. It was an amazing experience.

Our next encounter was with the tiger. Once again, the kids were face to face with the tiger. He walked in front of the glass back and forth the entire time we were there. We were the only family there, so we had full view and the kids could sit right up next to the glass and watch. It was absolutely incredible!

Then we headed to the lion enclosure. What a gorgeous habitat. Plenty of hills and rocks, a very natural environment. When we first walked up the lion was all the way at the other side, in full view, but very far away. Within minutes he had walked over and was eye to eye with us in front of the glass. And after pacing in front of us for a minute or so, he actually started ROARING some 6 inches in front of our faces. Full on roars, just like you'd imagine a lion would roar. It was incredible. At some point during all the roaring I looked over at my 30 something husband and saw a little boys face, a completely frozen expression...jaw completey dropped open, eyes bugged out, with the most childlike look of amazement on his face. I so wish I could have taken a picture of that face. It was priceless.

Our entire visit was just amazing. All of the animals were in the best mood, we had full view of every one. The giraffes were RIGHT in front of us, the monkeys, the Galapogos Turtles, the lemurs, the Alligators, Mir Cats, etc. The list goes on. It was just an amazing day for us. I can't even begin to tell you how many "Thank You's" we got from the moment we walked in the zoo. Even the trip home was filled with sweet appreciation.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Cleaning Fairy Came!

Let me preface this by saying that this was Ashley's idea. We are not slave drivers and do not break child labor laws. (only on weekends)
Now this is OCD at it's finest. If you could have seen this room before Ashley got ahold of was awful, the messiest Alex's room has ever been in all 5 of his years. Every surface dusted not once, but TWICE, floor vacuumed not once, but TWICE, and all toys and clothes neatly organized. She did a lot of practical rearranging too...but wait, look at that closet again, this is the scary part (no not the overflowing laundry basket that I couldn't manage to crop)...all of the shirts are arranged by color. Long sleeves on the left, short on the right, perfectly color coordinated. Should we start therapy now, or wait until puberty?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Just fed my addiction

Goodwill. Seriously, this place is like a drug to me, if I'm within a 5 mile radius of one (and I DO know every location), I absolutely without a doubt, even if we're cutting in to nap time, dinnertime, rush hour time, have to stop in. Unfortunately, for my kids a "stop" in is never less than an hour. I have to make sure and check my regular spots (this is a MUST), housewares, toys, and on days when I have MORE than an hour, the books. The books get me every time. This place is a mecca for books. I will never, ever buy another full price book from that horribly overpriced store that I will not mention ever again. People, GO TO GOODWILL!!! I can buy my kids any book they want guilt free. There is something very powerful about allowing your children to have any book they want and watching them devour the enitre book section in search of the perfect books. 9 times out of 10, they end up picking something educational.

My last trip to Goodwill, I found an entire Hooked on Phonics Set, Brand New, up to date, everything still sealed in plastic, PLUS the additional companion set for ahem $8.99. The same set sells for $200.

My catch of the day:

Crainium, Baloon Lagoon game
Excellent educational game for kids 5 and up, New, all pieces accounted for and in perfect condition.
Paid: $5.99
Amazon: $16.99 (on sale)

Endangered wildlife book, hardback
Paid: $9.99 (this is pricey for Goodwill, but awesome book that Ash picked out)
FireFly Books: $35.00

My Math Manipulatives
Major score! Several wipe off workboards that can be used with a BUNCH of really good manipulatives. Includes manipulatives for fractions of a circle, inches, shapes, beans, numberlines, a clock (including digital manipulatives) and much more.
As an added bonus, it turned me on to Harcourt products, which have excellent educational supplies.
Paid: $1.99
Harcourt: $10.99

Ahhhh, my addiction has been fed. Now really, can ya blame me?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy Two Double-Oh Seven!

It's been so long since I updated, I figure today would be a great day for a fresh start.

Things I neglected to Blog about over the past 3 (holy COW THREE!!??) months...(this is my attempt at blogger time travel)

1. Alex's 5th Birthday at Texas Jumping Beans.

2. Halloween

3. Ashley's Braces

4. Ashley in the choir- Well, Mark and I have sadly discovered that Ashley is in no way, shape or form our child. First off, the girl can sing, a talent that Mark and I certainly don't possess. Secondly, she tried out for and was chosen for a solo in the school choir. Who is this kid??

5. A fabulous first Thanksgiving with family at our home.

6. My new working from home opportunity - My old boss called me up and asked if I'd be interested in a part time contract position working from home. I'm working 3-4 hours a day now and so, so thankful for this wonderful opportunity. I'm hoping this opens up a new option for me once Alex goes to Kindergarten next year. I have already decided I WILL be home when my kiddos get home from school, and it looks like this could possibly be just what I need to work my way in to.

7. Christmas

8. New Years

The past year has brought so many wonderful new opportunities...not too many struggles to handle, but like I always say, just enough to make us appreciate what we have in this beautiful life. David added a new precious member to our family. Sweet Keller has no idea how lucky he is to be born in to such an amazing family and to have two AWESOME parents. His life will be an amazing adventure with those two!

All in all, life is going oh so well for our little family. Not a day goes by that Mark and I don't stop and smile at how incredibly fortunate we are. We have so many wonderful people in our lives and we continue to grow and learn from each of them. Sometimes I feel as if I'm watching someone else's life unfold, because it's so hard to believe that I could possibly have this much joy.

In 2006 we were fortunate enough to become close friends with many new people. Although we've moved away from Leander, we have become closer to the Ford's than we ever were when they were just a few blocks away. Brian and Paula have to be two of the most selfless people I've ever met. They continue to amaze me with their love and generousity towards our entire family. I hope we can find a way to touch their lives like they have ours.

Two double-oh seven has a lot to live up to. I can't imagine how we could top double-oh six! Onward!