Family Photos, 2015

We try to get family pictures taken every year or two. This year, pictures were a high priority because our family has grown. DJ got married this summer, bringing Shiloh into our family. Obviously, it’s important to have a family picture that includes her.

So, we got everyone together when DJ and Shiloh came for a belated Thanksgiving celebration and set up a bunch of pictures.

First, we needed to get some individual headshots and “family” shots (my parents, DJ and Shiloh, Isaiah and me). Those took some shuffling around and craziness, but we pulled it off somehow.


DJ and Shiloh


My parents


Isaiah and me

Then, it was time to cram everyone into the small space in front of our Christmas tree for a whole group photo. Of course, the room isn’t quite big enough to back the camera up and get a wide shot. That would be too easy. But, with some serious effort, we managed to get it set up and set the timer. A few photos later, we had our shot.


The whole crew

Before I could take the camera down, Isaiah had to get a few special shots and my mom and DJ wanted to pose with the cats. Once those were done, it was time to download everything and see what we had. We definitely got some winners!


Isaiah getting a ride on DJ's shoulders


Isaiah and his new favorite person


Isaiah wanted to pose with Gram the way the guys were posing with their wives


Kisses for Gram


My mom and Jack


Conversations with Isaiah: Naughty Kitty

I was sitting on my bed with the computer, while Isaiah was happily sitting in a corner with his iPad. Thomas jumped up on my bed, walked up to me, sticking his nose up against mine, and proceeded to meow as loudly as he could.

Me: *laughing* Hi, Thomas.
Isaiah: *running to “save” me* Thomas! No. No putting your face in Mama’s face. It mean. Don’t put your face in Mama’s face.
Me: *laughing*
*Isaiah released his grip on the cat, who came right back to me and started chirping in my face again*
Isaiah: No! No, Thomas! I told you not to do that!
Me: Chirping and rubbing on me is how he says “I love you”. It’s ok.
Isaiah: Oh? Ok…

My boys

Isaiah and Thomas

Talking Pets

Any time I leave the house (or go to a part of the house where they can’t follow) for more than about five minutes, both Thomas and Dusty are waiting when I get home. When I walk in, Dusty about takes me out, in spite of his small size. When Dusty is done going crazy, Thomas wanders up and starts yelling at me. This can go on for anywhere from a few minutes to over an hour. I guess they miss me when I’m gone.

Silly pets

How Pets Entertain Themselves

There was a large bug flying through the living room. Dusty was lounging in the middle of the floor when he spotted it, rolled to his belly and lay there, alert, waiting for an opportunity to strike. After a brief moment, Thomas noticed the bug. His head popped up and his whole body stiffened as he watched from his perch on the couch. Seconds later, he leapt off the couch, flying toward the bug. The cat’s swift movement caused Dusty to spring into action, as well. Soon, the bug had landed in a corner and found itself trapped, with a dog on one side and a cat on the other, both poised to attack at a moment’s notice. When it attempted to make its escape, it met its doom–Dusty says it tasted delicious.


My happy pets

Lesson Plan: B is for Bug

B is for Bug
Click here for the full lesson plan. Feel free to use all or part of it.

Most of his name writing practice was just writing with different mediums, but one day I assembled a caterpillar out of circles, with a circle for each letter of his name. I lightly wrote his name in pencil and gave him a marker to trace with. Once it was done, the caterpillar participated in all the school activities.

Name Caterpillar

Writing his name

This week, we did a little poem called “What Do You Suppose” as a part of our music and rhyme time. Isaiah loved it and learned the words pretty quickly. Of course, he loved singing, too, and learned some new songs, along with enjoying some old favorites.

We read some of Eric Carle’s bug themed books. I’ve always been a fan of his books, so it was fun to be able to spend a week reading them. Isaiah really enjoyed them, too, especially The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Science consisted of a video about bugs, playing with some cicada skins that we found outside and attempting to feed ants and watch their bellies turn colors. That was a bit of a bust because there aren’t many ants out anymore. We only got a couple of ants even showing interest in our food. (Information about the ant experiment can be found here.)

Bug Hunt

Bug hunting

For geography, we watched a video about monarch migration (so he could see the massive groups of butterflies), looked at the paths they follow on a map and talked about what migration means. Isaiah found this to be fascinating and talked about it for the rest of the day.

Crafts were centered around bugs. First, we made a ladybug from construction paper. I drew the outline for the wings and cut out a body (a more complex shape), then turned him loose. He cut out the wings, trying to stay on the lines, then cut up some black paper to add spots. Once everything was cut, he glued his bug together. He’s been playing with it ever since. The other craft was making butterflies with paint. I folded a piece of paper in half and let him dump paint straight from the bottles onto one side. Once he’d spread lots of paint over the paper, I helped him fold it over and press the two halves together. When he unfolded it and saw what he’d created, he was amazed. He actually ended up making three butterflies because the project was so much fun.

Play Dough Caterpillar

Making caterpillars

The sensory activities were pretty simple. He made caterpillars out of play dough, built anthills out of cloud dough, and played in water. He made some pretty awesome bugs and anthills and had tons of fun.


Painted butterflies

Isaiah’s favorite P.E. activity this week was going on a bug hunt. He actually begged to do it several days and I happily obliged. We walked to the library to return last week’s books and stopped several times along the way to look for and identify bugs. He quite enjoyed playing soccer, too, and will likely be doing a lot more of that, as long as the weather allows.



Playing soccer with his Grandfather

Sorry there are so few pictures. It was kind of a rough week for Isaiah, so I didn’t get to have my camera out very much.


A smiley moment with his kitty

Cars, Roads, and Heros

We’re starting to really get settled in our new house, which means Isaiah is doing a lot of playing. He spent a solid two hours entertaining himself this evening. I grabbed his wooden blocks and put them in the living room. Soon, he’d dragged out tubs with cars, Rescue Bots and dinosaurs, too.

Cars, Roads, and Heros

So many toys!

I sat down on the floor, against the wall, to watch Isaiah play. At first, he was completely oblivious to my presence. He set up roads, lined up his Rescue Bots and came up with a story to act out. When he finally noticed me, he stopped to explain what was happening, then returned to his world of imagination.

Cars, Roads, and Heros

Quietly building his city

First, the Rescue Bots had to rescue a hiker who was being held hostage on a “mountain” (chair) by a T-Rex. Once the hostage was safe, they befriended the T-Rex. Next, he built a cage for some of his cars. I’m unclear on some of the details for that one because he didn’t feel the need to explain it to me and wasn’t narrating like he did for the first story. After that, he started throwing toys around the room. When I asked what he was doing, he told me, “It ok, Mama. It just a ‘tend tornado”. He proceeded to tell me that it was going to take a long time to rebuild his city after the bad storm. At this point, the cat had gotten curious and joined in. He knocked a few things over, then watched, apparently fascinated and puzzled by Isaiah’s play.

Cars, Roads, and Heros

Building, driving, doing hero stuff. You know, the usual.

Cars, Roads, and Heros

The human tornado and rebuilding a city

Somewhere in the middle of all these adventures, Isaiah took a short break to play “tackle Mama”. He’d suddenly noticed me, lying on the floor, taking pictures and decided it was the perfect opportunity to climb on me. After climbing, bouncing and attempting to roll me across the floor, he went back to his toys to play a bit more. He would have played all night, if I’d allowed it. He cleaned up quickly, without complaint, though, because I’d promised he could play again tomorrow.

Cars, Roads, and Heros

Some furry help and lots of fun

About a Cat

I took a series of photos of my cat, Thomas the other day and wanted to share them, along with what I imagine the conversation would have been, if Thomas could talk.

Conversation with a Cat

Me: Hey! Thomas! Look over here! Thomas!

Conversation with a Cat

Thomas: What? What's happening? Why on EARTH did you wake me?
Me: Because you're adorable.

Conversation with a Cat

Thomas: Ok, fine. I'll be cute for you.
Me: Thank you.

Conversation with a Cat

Thomas: What's that?
Me: What's what?

Conversation with a Cat

Thomas: That! It's moving!
Me: You mean your tail?

Conversation with a Cat

Thomas: My what? I have a tail???
Me: Yes. *facepalm*

Conversation with a Cat

Thomas: Oh, eww! It's filthy! I can't believe I'd forgotten about it!

Conversation with a Cat

Thomas: Hey! Come back here! I didn't say you could leave!

Conversation with a Cat

Thomas: Owie! Teeth hurt!
Me: Duh! Don't bite yourself. *shakes head*

Conversation with a Cat

Thomas: Got it again. I'm so smart!
Me: .........

Conversation with a Cat

Thomas: Must keep it still. It will not escape.


I’ve always loved animals. I grew up with various pets. Isaiah has been taking after me in that area and also adores animals. He calls all our pets “his” and spends as much time with them as they allow. It totally makes his day when one of them settles in his lap or sits on the floor in his room at bedtime.


Me with Annie when I was close to Isaiah's age

We adopted Dusty when Isaiah was only a few months old. They were instant friends and have continued to stick together ever since. Dusty adores Isaiah and tolerates just about everything that Isaiah can do to him.


Isaiah and Dusty


Showing Dusty his bubble solution

Max is a little older, so he puts up with more silliness than Dusty at times. He pretty much lets me do anything, as long as he’s getting attention or a treat. This means that he’s easy to dress up to join in adventures when Isaiah is playing. Once he’s dressed for the game, he happily trots along behind Isaiah, playing along.



Max and Dusty

Furry Photobomb

Thomas is my cat. He’s 16 years old and has already been through one childhood, so he’s very patient. He sleeps on the foot of Isaiah’s bed at night and crawls into his lap when he’s sad or tired.


Isaiah was tired, so Thomas was keeping him company

Mini Vacation!

I was on spring break last week, so we decided to do a mini vacation. We stayed pretty close to home, but there’s plenty to see here, so it was tons of fun. Isaiah had been to some of the places we visited, but he doesn’t remember his first visit. We had three days of fun adventures.

Day 1:

Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum
I’ve been to this museum several times because it’s free and really interesting. Of course, I love history and Sgt. Floyd is a big part of the local history. The museum is in a riverboat, right off of the Missouri river. It was an instant hit with Isaiah because it was a boat. There’s tons of cool Lewis and Clark stuff inside and quite a few models of different types of boats and various activities that used to take place on the river. The top level of the riverboat is still set up as it was when it was in use, with the captain’s quarters and other rooms. At the very top, the navigation equipment is all set up for kids to play with. They can even ring the bell. Of course, that was a huge hit with Isaiah!

Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum

Looking at a boat model

Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum

Checking out the captain's quarters

Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum

Ringing the bell

Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum

''Phone's ringing...''

Sgt. Floyd Riverboat Museum

''It's for you!''

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
This museum is set up for kids. When you arrive, each kid is given a passport to fill in along the way. First, they get to pick what position they’d like to have on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Isaiah wanted to be a soldier, so he stamped his passport as a sergeant. There are lots of things in the same room where kids can try parts of each person’s job, like standing guard or identifying animal tracks. The next part forms a circle around the first room. It takes you through Sgt. Floyd’s time in the area, starting with him getting sick. There’s a huge scene of his burial with life-sized talking Lewis and Clark models. That part freaked Isaiah out pretty badly. The rest of the room has a scene showing those on the expedition examining “strange” animals and plants to learn about them. It has some stuffed animals there, too. My favorite part is the life-sized Seaman looking at a prairie dog. He barks and cocks his head as the prairie dog moves in its cage.

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center

Pictures aren't allowed in the interpretive center, so this is all I have from there

Dorothy Peacut Nature Center
This is one of Isaiah’s favorite places to go. They have lots of kid friendly activities inside and great trails to walk outside. It was too cold to go outside while we were there this time, but that didn’t keep Isaiah from having a blast inside. He played with the animal furs, went into the underground prairie tunnel and looked out through the badger-cam, admired various animals in the room and played with all the activities.

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

Animal footprint stamping

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

Operating the badger-cam

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

''I wearing it!''

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

''A baby reindeer!''

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center

This is one of Isaiah's favorite exhibits

Bald Eagles
When we got home, my dad told us that a coworker had told him about some bald eagles in the area. We loaded up in the car and headed out to see them. There are about 300 bald eagles about forty minutes from our house! A little over half of them are juvenile, so quite a few didn’t have the distinctive white heads. We couldn’t get nearly as close as we would have liked, but we took pictures of what we could see. Isaiah thought those were pretty amazing, too. None of us had realized until now that bald eagles migrate through here every year. Now that we know, we’ll be waiting for them next year!

Keelboat Visitor Center

Mature bald eagle

Bald Eagles

Juvenile bald eagle

Bald Eagles

The eagles winked at me

Bald Eagles

All the birds in the tree behind this juvenile are eagles. All the trees were full of eagles!

Day 2:

DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge
Since there were so many eagles here, I decided to check the most recent numbers at DeSoto Bend. Their numbers from almost a week before reflected the number of eagles we’d seen the night before, as well as huge numbers of other birds, so we decided to stop there on our way to visit my grandmother. We went into the visitor center, where there were almost no birds to be seen. We did, however, spot two pelicans on the water. Unfortunately, they were too far away to get a picture. After hanging out there for a while, we started following roads around the refuge, looking for signs of birds. At one spot, we parked in a lot and I got out to take some pictures. I could see a juvenile bald eagle in a tree and was hoping he’d move closer. I gave up after a few minutes because he wasn’t showing any intention of moving. As I turned to get into the van, an adult bald eagle flew over, less than ten feet above my head! He’d caught a fish on the lake and was headed up to a tree branch when I saw him. We followed him to where he landed and I got some nice pictures of him enjoying his dinner.

Keelboat Visitor Center

Geese that we spotted on the way to DeSoto

DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge


DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge

The bald eagle with his dinner (you can see the fish in his talons)

DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge

Beautiful bald eagle

After the adventure with our bald eagle friend, we headed back inside the visitor center to let Isaiah look at the exhibits. There are some kids’ areas that have things to touch that Isaiah really loved. He got to touch furs, feathers and deer antlers. The antlers were his favorite. He put one on his head and said he was a reindeer!

Fun at DeSoto

Eaglet practicing flapping his wings

Fun at DeSoto

Isaiah's ''wingspan'' is almost the same as a red-tailed hawk

Fun at DeSoto

My little ''reindeer''

Fun at DeSoto

Somewhere in all my mom's pictures, there's one just like this of me

Day 3:

Henry Doorly Zoo
When you live this close to the best zoo in the nation, you don’t want to pass up any opportunities to check it out. Besides, the lion cubs are getting bigger and are so fun to see! Isaiah voted to go in the jungle this time, so that was where we started. We went through the top part of the jungle (the canopy), where Isaiah was thrilled to be on eye level with some fruit bats. The monkeys and gibbons bothered him because they’re so loud, so we had to move passed them pretty quickly. He loved the birds, tamarins and otters, though.

Zoo Adventures

Playful otter

Zoo Adventures

Hippo! And he's actually on land for once!

Zoo Adventures

The cutest monkey in the jungle

After the jungle, Isaiah wanted to visit the sharks, so we headed for the aquarium. We hit it just right because the penguins were not only in the water, but actively playing with visitors. They would come flying up against the glass and stare at whoever was closest them before rushing away, only to come right back. Then we went to see the shark tunnel. Isaiah was sad that the rays weren’t sliding down the sides of the tunnel, but got over it quickly when he spotted a sea turtle. It was resting in a corner, but when Isaiah walked up, it lifted its head to watch him. Isaiah says the turtle is his new friend.

Zoo Adventures

Riding a sea turtle

Zoo Adventures

''Touching'' a fish

Zoo Adventures

Playful, friendly penguin

Zoo Adventures

Isaiah's sea turtle friend

Of course, no trip to the zoo is complete without stopping to see the lion cubs. We got there as they were settling in for a nap, but they were still as adorable as ever. They’re doing some work on the outdoor lion enclosure, so the mama lion was having trouble going to sleep. Every time something happened outside, she’d jump up to make sure her babies were safe. One of the cubs decided within minutes that it had to have been long enough that he could get up now. Of course, the answer from the adult lions was “absolutely not!” We went around and visited all the other cats before going back to the jungle for a few minutes on the way out.

Zoo Adventures

Cub pile!

Zoo Adventures

Beautiful Mama

Zoo Adventures

''I'm awake! What do you mean it's not time yet? I was asleep! See? Please let me get up now?!

Wow, that was a busy few days! And so much fun! I took hundreds of pictures, so I can’t possibly share them all here. Feel free to check out the rest on Flickr.

And now, back to the regularly programmed school week…

Jack the T-Rex?

For the last couple weeks, Isaiah has been fighting sleeping in his bed. This is a child who will do anything for stickers. The last few nights, after being reminded that he’d only get to pick a sticker in the morning if he slept in his bed, he’d tearfully look at me and say “Me no want sticker. Me scared. Sleep Mama bed.” He keeps insisting that a T-Rex is trying to get him when he sleeps in his bed and he needs to be with me so I can keep him safe. No amount of promises that there was no T-Rex would change his mind. None of us could even figure out where the idea of a T-Rex coming to get him came from. Until last night…

Isaiah was having a particularly hard time settling last night, so he was still fully awake when DJ started getting ready for bed. As happens every night, his cat, Jack, spent that time scratching at my door, trying to get into my room. There was a brief period, about the time DJ got Jack that we had switched rooms, so Jack still thinks that my room is his. Every night, he begs DJ to let him in and, every night, DJ ignores the request, knowing he’d just have to come and drag him out a few minutes later for waking Isaiah. Last night, true to form, Jack started digging at my door, throwing his weight against it and scratching some more. Isaiah sat straight up in bed, yelled “the T-Rex coming a get me!!!!!” and grabbed onto me with all his strength. Mystery solved. Jack is the T-Rex.


The terrifying T-Rex--One, slightly chubby, shy, sweet tabby cat