This weekend was our annual raking of the leaves, which is always followed by the annual Daddy tossing the kids high into the sky. IMG_4407

And truthfully when I saw our annual raking of the leaves…. I mean Scott’s annual raking.  I occupied myself with indoor cleaning and only went out to snap some pictures of the fun at the end.

The kids LOVE when Daddy throws them high into the pile. IMG_4383



Not sure how many more falls he’ll be able to toss them so high.  But those smiles seem to push him to try “just one more time.”


Even our dog Wendy got into the fun, much to the kids delight.  Sadly our oldest wasn’t here for the leaf fun as we camping with the scouts, but much to his delight, he also got to miss out on the raking.



Last week was a busy week at our house.  Scott was on travel for three full days.  The girls had a big meet at their gym.  They had to score out of level 5 in order to be able to compete this year as level 6’s. Saturday the boys had a tournament.  It was the first one for our 5 year old.  Throw in the normal hustle and bustle of school and practices and scouts and you get the idea.  It was busy… in the midst of the busy my Dad called Wed afternoon and said he had been given three tickets to the Steelers game on Sunday.  He was offering two of us to join him.  Hmmmm….. can we tack on a 5 hour drive to PA and back that weekend? 

The answer Scott gave me when I texted him as he was boarding his airplane late Wed night was, “You know we will find a way to make this work.”

Oh how I love his willingness to embrace the crazy to make the memories! 

Two years ago when we were given this opportunity, Scott and my oldest son joined my dad.   This time, it seemed fitting for me and my oldest daughter to join my dad for the game at Heinz Field.


Sunday was perfection.  Seriously, it was a gorgeous afternoon.  Blue skies.  Sunny.  60 degrees.  You could not ask for a better environment to watch a football game in. IMG_7988

Heinz Field is magical.  I have been there 4 times.  Once for a preseason game.  Once for a  freezing, cold playoff game.  Once for a rainy regular season game which we lost to the Bengals.  And yesterday, for a picture perfect BEAUTIFUL day in which we TROUNCED on the Browns.

I enjoyed each of them immensely. 

I was not cocky going in.  I was optimistic that we would come out with a win, but not over confident.  We were starting with our back up quarterback and short many key defensive players.  And, often times our boys in black and gold fail to bring their A game when playing easy match ups. 

But, yesterday was magical!

In the first drive of the game our back up quarterback was injured.  As our kicker kicked the field goal, Ben was taking off his headset and grabbing his helmet.  Fans were cheering, “Ben, Ben, Ben!”  I didn’t know what to think, but Ben was going in.

I was so so excited that we got to see Ben play.  So so excited to see him and Antonio Brown connect. IMG_7996 The game was just awesome.  We won 30-9.  We were up the entire game!  We had turnovers, defensive stands, and beautiful offensive drives.  It was just so so fun.   And my daughter followed it all.  She was waving her towel proudly throughout.  She was screaming like crazy when our defense was on the field.  She even made her own D- fence poster to hold up.  (which she proudly held up every time the Browns offense was out there, until someone’s beer spilled all over it…. then she went back to her towel).   She was following it all and asking good questions.  She totally got the game and what was happening. 

I got my love of football from my Dad.  He raised me a Steelers fan from birth.  I loved getting to enjoy the game with him.  I loved having three generations of Steelers fans together enjoying the game.  It was a memory I know I will treasure for a long time.


We exited the stadium through the great hall.  We got to show my daughter each of the Steelers Superbowl trophies.  Here she is with the one that they one just a few days shy of her entering the world.

And meanwhile, the rest of the family, also had some precious memory making.  Right beside the stadium, they have a family friendly tail gating area.  Scott, my mom, and the other three kids got to watch the game televised on a giant screen outside, literally in the shadow of Heinz Field.


They were throwing the football, eating snacks, and watching the game, with the sounds of the crowd in the background.  It was a special experience for them too.  Scott said since televised games are on a 10 sec delay, they knew before the play finished what happened b/c of the sounds from the stadium.  How fun is that?? 


Afterwards we took the kids to Primanti Brothers for dinner.  It was so fun to walk in a restaurant with Steelers banners everywhere and people dressed in Steelers clothes.  This is not a common occurrence for us.  As we walked out, someone high fived us all and said, “Goooo Steelers!” My not at all shy 5 year old, ate it up, high fiving total strangers screaming, “Gooooo Steelers!”  Scott and I looked at each other and smiled as we said, “well, we couldn’t have ended the day any better than that.”  We hit the road and made it home by 11.  We were gone a little over 24 hours…. two late night turnpike runs.  But worth every minute of that drive.  I am so grateful for the opportunity we were given to make such special memories. 


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We went on a field trip today to the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History.   IMG_4232Man, I forgot how many cool exhibits it has.  We haven’t been for several years.  While we had seen some of these things before, it was so neat to see them again.  And we added new things to our experience this time around.


We started the day by attending a class with some of our friends from our tutorial, which was  led by some museum workers.  Our oldest son got to go in their lab and examine and learn about bones.  Our girls attended a class on Egyptian artifacts, and while this was going on our youngest toured the mammal exhibit with dad. 



Then we all joined up and visited The Butterfly Tunnel.  This was so so fun and brought back memories to me, of the time we went 6 years ago.  My how they have grown since that visit! 


Next up was the mummies since that is what we are studying in history this quarter.  I was truly struck by the fact that there I was standing in front of something that was created thousands of years ago.  It wasn’t a picture or a replica.  It was the real thing.  I never processed this before, but it truly hit me like a ton of bricks. 


We planned to head out for lunch after that, but we just kept running into one more exhibit that we’d stop at.  The dinosaurs, a beautiful art gallery filled with animal/nature pictures that won a National Geographic contest.  The kids LOVED this exhibit!  As did mom and dad.  Then we were really ready to go eat our bagged lunch, and were just going to peek at the Hope Diamond…. which led to a walk down the gemstones, crystals hallway.  SO many beautiful things to see and observe! 


We then ate lunch out by the mall.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day.  I sat eating our sandwiches, looking at the Washington Monument in the background and just truly enjoyed the moment.  Our youngest observed we were all in a circle and thought we should play duck duck goose.  It was the best game of duck duck goose I have ever played.  The big kids embraced it.  We all just laughed and giggled and it was just one of those moments, I wanted to tuck away and savor.  20151103_141715

We decided we had time to visit the National Achieves before heading home.  In all my trips in to DC I’ve never been inside.  It was truly remarkable to stand before the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  I am so thankful for our country.  I am thankful for our government.  I know people whine and complain and facebook about our country, but truthfully, we have it so so good here.  We are so fortunate.  And I know I take that for granted too often.  The younger kids didn’t really appreciate the archives, but my history loving oldest son LOVED it.  And I LOVED his enthusiasm. 

20151103_152807We ended with pumpkin spice lattes and chocolate milk at Starbucks on our way back to the van on a gorgeous fall day. 

Ah, I love field trips.  I Love DC.  I love my family.  I love fall.  Put them all together and you have a pretty remarkable Tuesday.

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This year we had another eclectic crew going door to door pedaling for candy.  IMG_4097_fix (2)

We had Big Ben Roethlisberger. 






and a knight…. who put together his own costume with the help of his older sister, Athena, all with supplies gathered in our costume bin. 


Things I loved were the fact that the boys costumes cost me nothing, as they gathered the supplies from around our house… and the girls costumes can be used again this spring for our history night at school, since we are studying ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome this year.

We also had an eclectic group of pumpkins…. a butterfly, a gymnast, a dragon, and our 11 year old did his entirely on his own this year….



It was a fun and full day! 


The look on my daughter’s face when I told her that I was able to change her dr appointment (again) so she could attend the fable festival for her writing class at our tutorial, was one I don’t want to forget.

It was one of those times when I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was to her.  But, when I told her I was able to switch her appointment, her face lit up.  She instantly grabbed the Aesop’s Fables book to look for a costume she could put together.  We were able to put together a pretty good butterfly costume so she could dress up as the Butterfly and the Rose.

We just scanned down the table of contents for characters that we thought we could pull off…. “don’t we have a lion costume?”  “too small”  hmmmm wanna be a rabbit, we could make ears and attach them to a headband?”  “a butterfly?” We remembered wings in the costume bin, I had some paint in the cabinet… then we went for pink and sparkly…. we remembered the silk flower she had given me years before (because it was a flower that would never die) which was in a vase on my dresser… and we had a fable costume.


Then we read the actual fable.

And it did not seem at all appropriate for a fourth grader to read aloud in class. Nor did I even agree with the moral it presented. 

So, we opted for dressing like one fable (the butterfly and the rose) but reading the fable she had rewritten for her writing class. 

She even wanted to bring a snack…. all on less than 24 hours notice… but a trip to Safeway and a scan of the internet helped us find a butterfly snack, which the girls totally put together on their own.  (snack food in a sandwich bag separated in the middle with a rubber band and attached a pipe cleaner on top for antennae).  It really was all her doing.  It was her thing. 

And we almost missed it.  In the scurry of life and in my not wanting to embarrass myself by calling the dr twice in a week to reschedule her appointment, I almost had her miss the party.  And on one hand, it’s just a one hour party… costume, snacks and fables…. not a life changer.  But, on the other hand, it’s these parties and projects that are one of the very reasons we attend a tutorial.  I want them to have these fun moments at school.  I want school to be more than just following the tasks on the assignment sheet.  I want the creativity to flow and the memories to be made.  

And I know for a fact that the fable party probably wouldn’t have mattered so much to all of my kids.  But, it did matter to her.  And I thoroughly enjoyed watching her prepare for it.  I am grateful for our tutorial for many reasons….and this years fantastic, fabulous fable festival for fourth graders was one of them.


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Sometimes when Scott tells me he has to go on travel for work, part of me wishes I could just crawl in his suitcase and tag along.  So when Scott came home and told me he was going to be traveling to Florida for a week and suggested that maybe we come, I was thrilled! 

I had to do some finagling with our schedule…. move an eye doctor appointment, get someone to trade meal train dates with me and brace the girls for the fact that they would need to miss a week of practice (this of course was met with GREAT weeping and gnashing of teeth, b/c these girls love gymnastics practice more than just about anything on earth)…. but I was able to work it all out.  And then I had about 36 hours to pack our family of 6 for a week away. 

And, my incredibly wonderful and loving and selfless husband took a day of vacation so he could drive his family of 6 down the entire east coast instead of just waking up on a work day and hopping a plane…. just so that while he spent 4 days working on a business trip, we could spend 4 days in a hotel right on the Atlantic Ocean.




Seriously, Scott is THE BEST, EVER! 


In actuality, he got to spend a few hours on the beach with us on Tuesday morning and another few hours on the beach/pool with us on Friday evening…

Check out the size of those waves!

IMG_3667 IMG_3679

…. other than that, he woke before the sun came up and got back to the hotel as it was setting. We did join him for late dinners 3 of the evenings, , and the kids and I really enjoyed eating out all week, but I felt bad for him when he would peek out at the waves before leaving in the morning and upon returning at night.  Meanwhile the kids and my schedule looked like this.

Sleep in

Play board games


Go to beach/pool


Come back and make sandwiches in the room for lunch

Do schoolwork


Go back to beach/pool


Come back for late afternoon snack/more school work


(Yup, she even practiced her violin while we were away….)


Go out to eat dinner with Dad

and go to bed…..


Friday evening was the PERFECT ending to the week.  He got back to the hotel in time to boogie board for a bit before dark, then we all went swimming in the pool, which we had to ourselves!  And ended with some time in the hot tub and then we went out for a late dinner at Friendly’s! 

Literally the cherry on top of a wonderful week away.

Saturday we took a leisurely stroll along the beach, packed up and hit the road around 12:45. 


When we got in the van we weren’t sure if we were going to try to drive all the way home or just go until we got tired. 

We pulled into our driveway around 2:45am.

The kids were TOTAL champs.  They got out of the van TWICE!  TWICE!!  Once in Ga for a quick potty break while we got some Starbucks for mom and Dad, and again in SC for a very, very late dinner at Chipotle… which we ordered to go and ate in the van.  They were amazing!  I think they love road trips as much as their crazy parents do.

And I loved having a week away from my normal life to just enjoy the kids.  I felt bad for Scott as he had to spend the week working, but for me it was a true break.  And I really enjoyed the time with the kids.  I don’t take enough time to just play with them and it was nice to have some undistracted time to do just that. I was also so glad that instead of a week of not seeing Scott, we got to spend time with him every single evening!  And instead of it being a hard week of flying solo with homeschool, doing all the driving to and from practices, and making meals…. I actually had a break….no cooking and  goodness I even had housekeeping make my bed for me!  What a treat! And the ocean.  Oh how I loved being right on the ocean.  Looking out at it all day long.  Listening to the waves pound the shore.  It was beautiful.  Besides our honeymoon to St Lucia, we’ve never done a beach vacation…. a true, stay in a hotel, right on the ocean for a week, vacation…. what a treat! 

A few of my favorite memories from the week, were….

1. This rainbow! 


an entire FULL rainbow over the Atlantic!  Right outside our window.  I couldn’t even fit it all in the camera.  (though I did get it on video).  The kids LOVED it!  My oldest said it was his first time ever seeing a full rainbow.  The colors right at the water were so bright and clear, my 9 year old said, “Oh my, that is vivid!  That is what vivid means.  I have now seen vivid.”  (vivid was a vocab word of hers a few weeks ago… I love that she drew that connection).


It was so funny b/c at first we just saw a little glimpse of the rainbow in the sky and I called the kids over, then each time we looked it just kept growing, till it was a full arch, and then you could even see a faint second rainbow.  A FULL DOUBLE RAINBOW over the ocean!

On another day we actually saw a second rainbow, though it wasn’t as vivid.


2. Every Single Moring my five year old would walk over to the blinds and peer out at the ocean as if to see if it was still there, then he’d go to the bathroom, and crawl back in bed for an hour or so.  I loved how much he was in love with the view of the ocean.  He always chose to do his school work either on the balcony or beside the sliding glass window. 

One time when we were looking out over the ocean he said, “Mom, I think I can even see Kansas out there.” bahahahaha……. looks like we still have some geography to work on.  Smile 

What a wonderfully fun week!