field trip @ the zoo

One of the many advantages of homeschooling is being able to take field trips when WE want to take them and WHERE we want to take them. Field trip #1 this year was to the zoo, primarily to see the stingrays before they headed south for the winter.

Jonathan could have spent the entire day petting the stingrays, or would have happily climbed in with them if we had let him. Ben thought they were pretty neat, but had no qualms leaving them to get on with his day. Sean kinda-sorta touched one, but quickly decided they were best viewed from a distance. I think the idea of touching some strange-looking creature floating around in the water was a little off-putting to him. We’ll see what he thinks of them next year.


“pupcake”=cupcake (Jonathan)

“swan-ditch”=sandwich (Ben)

A few days ago, I overheard this little exchange…
Sean to Jonathan in their bedroom: Hide over there on the floor on the other side of the bed so nobody can see you!

A few minutes later, Sean and Ben coming upstairs:
Sean: Come on! Let’s go find Jonathan, he’s really easy to find!
Ben: Yeah, he’s always easy to find.
Sean: Yeah, he’s not very good at hiding yet.

brotherly love

The relationship developing between boy #1 and boy #4 melts my heart. Seriously. Sean’s always had a soft spot for his baby brothers, but seeing him interact as a “big kid” now with Elijah puts a whole different spin on his brotherly affection, and I love it.

And Elijah, happy as he gets to see anybody enter his line of sight, seems to have a special gleam in his eye and squirm to his wiggle when Sean comes into view.

There’s no doubt about it–these two adore each other.


Ever since Sean was really little, “watching Daddy leave” has been a big deal. The ritual is always kissing Daddy bye-bye, watching him walk out the garage door, and then running to the front door to wave at him and watch him drive away. For a while, Sean would completely freak out if one of the boys wasn’t at the door in time to see Daddy off.

Sadly, I’ve noticed here lately that it isn’t quite as important to the boys as it used to be to stand at the door and watch Daddy leave. I may have to do some encouraging to get this little tradition going again, because I know from experience that not much compares to driving away and seeing 3 sweet little boys smiling and waving from the doorway.

I had grand plans back when I first had Sean that I would start scrapbooking and documenting his life and our life and the simple greatness of ordinary living. I wasn’t interested in accessory-overload scrapbooking that was more about the embellishments and paper and stickers. I just wanted to tell my story in pictures and words using the cleanest design I could come up with, something kind of like a magazine. Back then, though, I didn’t really have the money to really get into it the way I wanted to, so in order to start documenting our memorable everyday moments, I started this blog. I naively believed that by blogging I would be able to keep up with all the pictures or moments that I might possibly want to scrapbook later, and through my blog I would have a nice chronological record of all of my scrapbook moments.

That hasn’t happened. Life got busy (somehow 4 kids in 5 years will have that effect) and blogging kept falling by the wayside. And as a result, pictures and moments and stories haven’t been recorded because I didn’t have the time to document them right then in that moment in time when they happened. I’d get frustrated, try to do better with blogging, wonder why I couldn’t keep up with journaling my life when other people had no problem blogging regularly about theirs, and finally almost gave up on the idea. Almost.

And then a few weeks ago I had a light bulb moment: if I were scrapbooking I wouldn’t stick to the here and now–I’d go back days, months, years to record pictures and moments that I never want to forget and that I want other people to know about. So why not do that now, any time I want and about whatever I want, on my blog?

So, here’s introducing Scrapbook Moments–pictures and moments of our lives that aren’t from the here and now, but that tell our story of where we’ve come from and maybe a bit of where we’re going. They’ll more than likely be totally random, completely non-chronological, but also more than a little memorable. At least to us, which is what really matters.

I’ll still blog about current happenings, but the posts that go back into the archives of our lives (whether it be months or years ago) will be set apart as “scrapbook moments.” And I assure you I have PLENTY of those.

Ohio is usually one of our winter vacation destinations, but we made a special trip this summer for Nana and Papa to see Elijah. And now the boys may actually have memories of Ohio that don’t involve snow, memories of some Ohio summertime fun…

playing at the school playground next door

playing backyard baseball with Papa…

getting haircuts worse than what Mommy gives…

swinging away in the backyard swing

discovering Lake Erie…

riding rides at the county fair (including Sean & Ben’s first ferris wheel ride)…

reading with Papa…

& being loved (though they get plenty of that during the wintertime too).

Sean declared that the next time we came to Ohio, he wanted to go swim in the lake again. When we reminded him that the next time would probably be in the middle of winter, he quickly changed it to the next time we come in the summer. I think summertime Ohio was a hit.

Our long-awaited trip to Texas finally happened last week. When vacation time is limited, and you have more than two places you’d like to go, at least one of them always has to get deleted. For us, Texas has always been that place. But this year, we were able to make it happen, and I’m so glad we did.
Texas has always been a favorite of mine. I don’t love it like the natives do, but I do love parts of it, for sentimental reasons mostly. My entire family (and I do mean entire) except for me and my sister was born in Texas, so with relatives filling up half the state, it was the consistent vacation spot during my childhood summers. We split our time each year between the relatives, so parts of our vacation were spent going here and there, but the one constant year after year was Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It’s what comes to mind when I think of summer vacation, playing with cousins or visiting grandparents. It’s where I first rode a four-wheeler, swung in a hammock and climbed through a barbed-wire fence. It’s the reason why I love pine trees–the smell, the blanket of pine needles underneath with sticks and pinecones scattered everywhere, the branches reaching way into the sky. And it’s the reason why I have a strong attraction to Spanish-style houses, red roofs and charming household courtyards. This was the place where all the good stuff happened.

I’m thankful that my boys got to visit there. There’s something magical about walking through a place with my kids where I used to play as a kid myself. They may not remember it when they’re grown, but I’ll remember the joy of showing them all the best spots about Grandma’s house. I was able to get pictures of most of my favorite bits and pieces, but there were so many places inside that I never took pictures of and wish I had–the red lamp in the big bedroom upstairs, the chair and desk and mirror in the little bedroom, the green bathroom, the red bathroom, the blue bathroom, the wooden cutouts in the doorways downstairs that Grandpa copied from his childhood home, and all kinds of knick-knacks and pictures that belong only in that house.
Grandma has the house up for sale now, and I couldn’t help but think as I went about the place that it might be the last time I went through that door and walked through those trees and swung in that hammock. And if it indeed was, I’ll be forever grateful for these pictures, and most especially for the memories.