It’s been a few years since we have been to the zoo, and our youngest has been eager to go and see real animals up close.  He was super excited about the lions and tigers.  He’s been asking for several months if we could go to the zoo.  I thought fall would be a nice time as it wouldn’t be too hot.  I was hopeful we could see animals being more active than in the summer months that we typically visit.

We planned to go on Columbus Day since we didn’t have school.  When I saw the forecast for clouds and rain, I wondered if we should try for a different day.  But, we decided to go ahead as planned. 

When we first got there it started really down pouring and part of me questioned our decision.  But the radar showed the down pour would pass, so we grabbed our umbrellas and proceeded.

I was eager to see the panda bears.  We also added elephants and zebra to the list.  I recall at our last visit they were working on building a new area for the elephants.  This was SEVERAL years ago.  Clearly they have finished it now.  It was so neat to walk out on this bridge overlooking their area and see them.


We got incredibly close to a clouded leopard.  At first she was sleeping, but then she stirred and started licking herself.  It was so fun to watch this giant feline and see similar characteristics to our kitty at home.  At one point she turned and faced us, for just a second… and Scott snapped this picture.


IMG_5900The kids all really enjoyed the hands on exhibits… I found them reading the signs more this zoo trip and engaging in the educational aspects more.



I was quite eager to see the panda’s. First we saw the Momma panda bear outside.  This was exciting.  We then went inside to see her baby cub, who I heard from a lady on the path was taking a nap.


When we came in, the baby was stirring and we actually saw him sit up for a bit. IMG_5951

He was so cute and fuzzy.  And oh my…. I was smitten. We watched him for awhile and then they called Momma in to eat. I love how her eyes close while she eats.  She just looks like a big ol’ stuffed animal to me. I really enjoyed watching her.


Momma was hungry… Baby decided he wanted to go back to sleeping.


After seeing the Panda’s, we stopped for a picnic lunch.  Because we too were hungry.


IMG_6041Then, we headed to see the gorillas and orangutans.   The gorillas got a little playful and chased each other from room to room in the gorilla house. It was fun to see them racing around.  This one looked so serious and somber though.


We left there and went to the Reptile House.  If you know me, you know I hate snakes…. so this is an exhibit I am usually fine to walk on past.  But, inside we went. 

And it was amazing. 

In a gross kind of way.

We saw so many reptiles… so many snakes, huge ones and tiny ones, and very, very venomous ones.

And hungry ones.

We happened into the reptile house at feeding time.


Yes, that would be the tail end of a mouse that rattle snake is swallowing.

But, wait… there’s more….


Like this…. Seriously, we watched this boa constrictor eat a rat whole from beginning to end.  It was amazing and disgusting all at once. 

I have read about how a snake can open its mouth big and how it’s jaw can separate to swallow a small mammal whole.  But, to see it…. well that is something else entirely.

We actually watched it’s jaw separate and saw how it kind of walked the rat up it’s mouth as it slowly swallowed it whole.   IMG_6110We were so fascinated by it that one of the zoo volunteers offered us a private tour of their discovery room (which was actually closed at the time).  We learned about turtles, snakes crocodiles, alligators and lizards. We got to hold old turtle shells and see how their vertebra is actually build into the shell.  We got to touch so many things…  Scott and I even learned so much from this behind the scene tour.

As we were exiting the reptile house I was laughing at how every animal we saw we would walk away saying, “Ok, THAT was my favorite thing so far.”  Every animal seemed to be showing up the last and we joked about what might come next, how do you beat a private tour?

Our last destination for the day was going to be the tiger and lion.  They were must sees for our 4 year old.  He has been roaring like a tiger around here for months. 

I truly didn’t think our day could get any better, but this grand finale was amazing.


We walked up to the lion exhibit and saw him pacing around… and then he started roaring….


We realized, he was roaring at the tiger on the other side of the wall, so we walked over to see the tiger.


The tiger was also roaring quite ferociously.  It was incredible.  I couldn’t believe it!  My 4 year old happily roared back at him.


So often I feel like you come and you peek up and say, look way up there in the corner under that tree, see it laying there… that’s the tiger… or lion…


But today, we could say, “look at his HUGE paws, as he paced right in front of us”  And listen to his roar.   We watched him pace around, saw him scratch a branch.

We were amazed!  Then we went around the corner and saw lion cubs!




We finished the circle back where we started with another great show by the male lion. 

You could see the smoke of his breath as he roared, it was amazing.  Then he went down and got a drink of water and then walked over right in front of Scott to pose.


We learned so much.  And all of us, all 6 of us were truly amazed by these animals God had created.  It was such, a fun, fun day and I am so grateful to the Lord that we got to enjoy it together as a family. 

Who knew… rainy, overcast, dreary fall Mondays make a great day for a field trip to the zoo!

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I feel like we are off to a pretty good start this school year and we are settling into a routine.

The hardest part for me about home schooling and the part I like the LEAST is the juggling act of wearing both the hat of mom and the hat of teacher.  The kids don’t understand that my making them do a subject they don’t like doesn’t make me a mean mom, it makes me their teacher.  That is a struggle.  I am just hoping and praying that these struggles will produce character… godly character in all of us. 

I think my favorite part of homeschooling is the actual  mom part… getting to be with my kids more and them getting to be with each other.  As I write this my oldest and youngest are playing football in the backyard for recess.  If my 10 year old was away at school they would not have this time together… nor would they have the moments of talking around the lunch table.  These are the moments I cherish… these are the ones I have to hold on tight to when we are crying over wrong math problems and struggling to recall declensions and arguing over who gets to use the computer first.

These moments…


Always, always when they work on jingles or recitations or memorizing, they are upside down… not sure if it helps them sink in better to their brains or not. 


As part of art (something that I am SOOOOO guilty of neglecting) this year I bought some cards which are so so cool.  They have pictures from several paintings at the National Gallery of Art.  Each picture has a set of 2, one that is a close up of the painting and the other has the whole painting and the title and artist.  On Fridays we play Old Maid, or Go Fish, or matching using these cards and it is helping us get face time with these famous paintings.  Then I plan to use these cards on a field trip later this year where we will go on a scavenger hunt to find them.  This has been fun.



His favorite subjects are history, literature and writing.  He loves working on his writing projects, especially when he gets to type on his computer. 



IMG_5775And her subject of choice is and always has been math.  This girl LOVES numbers like I love words.    Nothing starts her day off better than jumping in on some math.

Science this year is AWESOME!  There are TONS, TONS of labs to choose from each week.   I really, really hope I can keep up with this, b/c I think these will prove to be the moments we all savor the most from school this year.

We made and experienced an amorphous solid this week using cornstarch and water.  (it was so so cool)


And we learned about freezing points and even lowered the freezing point of water by using salt and making frozen apple juice.


This was fun and tasty and something everyone could participate in.


It was good for me to stop and reflect on the good moments at the end of this week, because to be honest, the moments aren’t all good.  It’s messy… messy b/c we are living life while doing school… and messy b/c we are shaping character while doing school.  There is disrespect, and disobedience, and selfishness and fighting, and laziness… there is a short tempered Momma wearing her pjs’s reheating her coffee and desperately yearning for a few moments of peace…



Lessons Learned

September 12, 2014

in home school,homeschool,mess

This week in Science the kids learned about matter, mass, volume, and density.

This week in Science Mom learned that if your going to do an experiment involving food coloring, you should do it OUTSIDE.

Everything was moving along nicely.  The kids had finished all of their morning assignments and we still had about 20 minutes before recess.  Perfect, I thought, we’ll do our science lab.  I was feeling so on top of things because I had even looked ahead earlier in the week and made sure we had all the ingredients we needed… I made a run to Target yesterday morning for the necessary alka seltzer to make it all fizzle.

Our goal:  to make “lava lamps” 

The purpose was to discuss density. 

Ingredients needed:  water bottles, oil, vinegar, food coloring, and alka seltzer

I even raided the recycling can at the gym yesterday for empty plastic water bottles. 

Things were going great.  It worked just like it should and we were all enjoying it greatly. 

photo (4)

I was so excited.  I snapped a quick pic to post of our fun science class.


The book said you could put more than one tablet in, once the bubbling had settled down.  The kids were having so much fun, I went ahead and let them put in another one.  I was being careful and even put paper towels under the water bottles incase they leaked a little.  The book also said you could shake the bottle.

Well the next thing I know, my 4 year old is holding the bottle to shake it when suddenly the lid pops and we have an explosion. 


Oil, plus vinegar, plus BLUE food coloring is everywhere

the floor

the ceiling

photo (3)

Pictures don’t do it justice. 

We quickly take our clothes off and run them to the wash and then start scrubbing.


…. just when I think we have it all, I see another little blue dot way over by the back door… or on the chairs at the school table at the other side of the room.  The bottle exploded between the kitchen island and our stove


I had to scrub oily dye from the chairs at the table, the floor by the door, the dishwasher, the window behind the sink… all the cabinets….


The kids were champs.  The all jumped in and helped where they could. 

Mopping the floors has been on my to do list for 2 weeks now and kept getting moved… I had officially taken it off the list until next Sat… but then science class happened.  I had to scrub up the oil.  At least the kitchen floor got mopped… and I finally tackled those dust bunnies on the wall above the stove.

Our ceiling has a nice oily blue spackled pattern on it, that I have a feeling will be there until we try to sell our house years from now.

Whew!  All I can say, is that is a science experiment I am sure we won’t forget anytime soon. AND, I am so glad it is Friday… bring on the weekend folks!


And so a new year begins… this morning was our first day back at the tutorial.  I can’t believe it marks our 6th year of homeschooling.  What a blessing this community had been to our family. 

Here we are starting 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades!


“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”  Philippians 1:9-11

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Our youngest child had his first soccer practice this week. 

first practice 2014

As I struggled to put him into his shin guards and knee socks and cleats, all while watching him grin from ear to ear, my mind drifted back to going through this same right of passage with his older siblings….

Fall 2009

first soccer game


Fall 2010


Grace preps to make a soccer goal

Spring 2011



Gosh…. look at all those chubby cheeks and teeny tiny legs chasing after those soccer balls….

I love pre K soccer… I love the way they swarm after the ball like a hives of bees…I love how you either have to convince them to chase that ball or remind them not to steal the ball from their team mate..they are so clueless and adorable at this age. 

I also love that finally after years of sitting on the sidelines at soccer games, baseball games, flag football games, gym meets,  jiu jitsu tournaments and countless practices, FINALLY it is his turn to be on the field and THEIR turn to cheer him on. 

So fun to be a soccer mom again!



September 4, 2014

in home school,homeschool

I feel like the month of August is much like the 9th month of pregnancy.  I go into crazy nesting mode as I gear up for another school year.   There is the ordering of curriculum… then the purchasing of school supplies… then the organizing of the binders… and cracking open that homeschool cabinet which ALWAYS turns into the junk closet over the summer.  Ya know, the “Company is coming and I need a place to hide all these papers and misc junk from the kitchen counters,”  place….

Then in addition to all of the school prep, I go into crazy nesting mode on the house… deep cleaning and purging and organizing… b/c much like in pregnancy, I know free time is going to come to an end soon and it will be ALL I can do to keep dishes washed, clothes washed and groceries bought… scrubbing the bath tub and mopping the floor typically fall to the wayside until the next school break.

And so I clean and organize and do all I can to prep for the new year.

This year I have spent a GREAT amount of time and thought into changes I want to incorporate into the new year.  I intend to be way more structured this school year than in years past and I’ve been trying to work out the best system for that.  I think I have it figured out.. it will take a few weeks to see if I need to adjust the schedule any. 

We started back with school at home this week.  We did math, spelling, handwriting, memory verse, typing, flashcards, reading and art.  It’s been kind of nice to have a week of adjusting back to school without our FULL back to school schedule.  It has helped iron out some kinks and give me some time to do more prep work.  Next week the tutorial starts back officially and we will add Latin, History, Science, Grammar, and Writing to our school day assignments.  I am both excited and nervous.  I will have a 5th, 3rd, and 2nd grader this year.   I also have a “very eager to start learning”preschooler.  I think this will be my hardest year yet of homeschooling, which is why I have spent weeks trying to plan and organize and set things in place.

Our first day was rough.  There was literal weeping and gnashing of teeth.   But, we plowed through and day 2 was MUCH better. 

I think I will need to take it one day at a time… and I think I am going to need to bathe the year and each day in prayer.  Patience and discipline and perseverance are going to be needed… and I know I can’t rely on my own strength for any of that.

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