I know my blog has been pretty quiet lately.  Partly because we’ve been doing stuff like you’ll find below and partly because I’ve just been in my private mood.  Anyway…I thought family would enjoy some photos.  (P.S. Come visit us!  Again…or for the first time.  We like you.  A lot.)

On my birthday last month, our parish priest called me up to wish me a happy birthday.  (He does that for everyone.  Pretty amazing, considering we’re not a tiny parish.)  Anyway, he asked me if I was interested in helping to start an Orthodox homeschool group in our area.  Um….anyone want to take a stab at how I answered him?  Hahaha.

So, last week, we had our first meeting and we now have the St. Herman of Alaska Orthodox Christian Homeschool Group for our city!  I’m really excited to be part of a homeschool group again.


The next day, I took the boys blackberry picking at a local farm just outside the city.  Oh. my. goodness!  It was a huge farm!  We ate a good portion of the blackberries fresh but we also made black berry cobbler, blackberry vanilla yogurt popsicles, and blackberry jam.  Some blackberries for now…some for later.










The following day, Zach and Chris attended an all day Babysitter’s Training Course at our local Red Cross.  I took it when I was 12.  Niki took it when she was 12.  Now Zach and Chris have taken the class.  They cover everything from how to swaddle a baby to how to change a diaper to how to care for someone who is choking.  I’m really glad the boys were able to take this class.  Back in Indianapolis, I wanted the boys to take this class before Symeon was born but they only had the online class.  Reading and watching a video on safety is not the same thing as learning about it hands-on from someone else – who can correct you when you’re doing it wrong.  I was so excited when I found that they offered a class here!  (Even though I teach the boys this stuff too, it’s nice to have it re-enforced by someone else and in greater detail.)  I really wanted the boys to take this class in person, to the point I was going to take the boys to go see Niki and Zach last week but we re-scheduled because this was the ONLY class being offered this year!  Not a high demand class but I think it’s such an important one!  After all, even if my boys don’t babysit (which realistically, they probably won’t), God willing, they will be dads in the future.  I’m all about life skills!!!  So anyway, they enjoyed the class and brought home stuff from it.



They both showed me that they know how to swaddle a baby now and how to bandage wounds.  Chris told me that changing the diaper on the doll was not realistic because it wasn’t squirming and twisting.  Hahaha!!


That night, we made our very first Thundercake in our new house.  The big boys have outgrown reading the book and talking about what makes the big booms, even though I don’t think they’ll ever outgrow eating Thundercake…but Gabriel has just entered that phase of thunderstorms are scary.  We made the cake and got out the book, “Thundercake” by Patricia Polacco to read while the cake was in the oven.



Sunday morning, Gabriel and Symeon had a fever and Chris was having stomach pains.  We ended up staying home and watching documentaries on National Geographic as I cuddled sick kids on the couch.  It always throws me off when we don’t go to church on Sunday.  I’m a day off the entire week until I reset the next Sunday.


On Monday, we studied a map of our local botanical garden.  I printed out the pdf map from their website and had the boys answer questions on a worksheet.  After going to the zoo recently and asking one of my big boys if he wanted to lead us with the map and he answered, “Not really.  I know how to read maps but they don’t take me where I want to go”…map reading is now part of school time.  I’m all about learning in context.  (Where do our spelling words come from?  The words they misspell when they write anything.)

Can I just say how amazing it is to be able to do so much around here for free?!  The botanical garden is free to our county twice a week and half price the rest of the time.  I’m going to love homeschooling here!



Okay…so I LOVE the botanical garden!  It’s huge!  And beautiful!  And diverse!  You will not have to twist my arm for me to take you there when you come to visit us, just sayin’.










I found my new writing spot.  I would be quite content right here for hours and hours.


My version of geeking out!  They had a small garden of plants for natural dyes!!!!!!!  (Woad = blue)


Madder = red


This was my garden.  Natural dyes.  Culinary herbs.  Yes, please.


More culinary herbs


Justin navigating the Victorian maze


We were there for three hours but didn’t see the whole thing – not even close.  We’ll be going back many more times to come.

We left to eat lunch, which was packed in a cooler in the van since the only downside to the garden is that you’re not allowed to bring in outside food.  Les and I weren’t ready to go home yet so we did some more exploring around our new city.

There was a short stop to explore the turtle park as well before eventually heading home.  There were at least a dozen turtles there of varying sizes.




This last photo pretty much sums up my life with five sons and the way I feel at the end of the day when I finally get to crawl into bed for the night.

Love to all of you!