Having only a week left before it was time to start up school for the year, the kids wanted to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. We decided to pack up the roller-blades and bikes and go to a nearby lake. Caleb got a kick out of the gulls and their noisy antics.

a gull on a buoy

gulls on a platform

The little garden area was still in full bloom, with no signs of the impending autumn. Butterflies fluttered freely around, clueless as to the forlornness of children's hearts everywhere.

a butterfly

Corbin and Nora were very impressed by the size of the blooming hibiscus.


Caleb and Corbin took turns getting creative with the camera. Except sometimes they didn't take turns, it was more like one grabbed the camera out of the others hand, with this face being the result.


The bees definitely lived up to the "busy as a bee" saying, quickly buzzing from one flower to the next.

a bee on a flower

Anna loved these little fuzzy blue flowers. (Her favorite color is blue.)

blue flowers

It was a treat to wander down the path, stopping to literally smell the flowers.

Anna looked angelic posing among the blooming bushes.


I plopped Ella down in a bed of brightly colored marigolds. She is so photogenic!

Ella in the flowers

Ella again

another shot of Ella

Alex didn't want to go through the hassle of removing his skates (which were not allowed in the garden area), so he patiently waiting for us outside the garden. Somehow I suspect he may have been a bit bored, though.


Meanwhile, back in the gardens...

another bee on another flower

Rosa decided to pose by her favorite flowers.


Caleb took this interesting photo of Corbin peeking through the foliage.


I got some neat ideas for our gardens next year. I loved the contrasts of this bed.

a yellow and blue flower bed

The girls all posed under a tree that had bronze colored bark.

the girls and Shannon

We'll end our journey though the garden with some close-ups of Ella, courtesy of her brother, Caleb.


Ella again

All too soon school was upon us. Anna was started preschool. Here she is eagerly anticipating her first day.

Anna with her school bag

Unfortunately, she decided she hated school, and took many months to warm up to going.

For most of us, however, it was nice getting back into the structure of school days. Alex started his senior year (!) and the boys pretty much did school on their own, leaving me to work with Nora and Rosa. I think the cats even appreciated Nora being unable to cuddle them for a couple hours each day.

Our cat Cookie

The only problem was Ella, who at seven months old, was an expert crawler!

The solution? Take turns playing with her in the toy room. She didn't mind that at all!

On a beautifully warm day in early October we all headed over to Sibley State Park. There is nothing like a relaxing jaunt though the forest when the leaves are at their best. The kids explored it all: swinging from vines, blowing seed pods at each other, and finding little critters, like this one:

a catterpillar

Corbin saw a face on this tree; can you?

Corbin with the tree

There is something about young children in nature that just warms the heart.


Nora and Rosa loved blowing the fuzzy seeds they found here and there.

Nora and Rosa blowing seeds

Ella just soaked it all in. She giggled when the grasses tickled her when the wind blew.

Ella in the grass

After our walk we had a picnic by the beach. Grilled brats, potato salad, chips, and s'mores were enjoyed by all.

Mom and Corbin cooking over the campfire

Ella had a blast with her favorite big person, Alex

Alex and Ella

As you can see, Alex just loves having his picture taken. Or not!

annoyed Alex

After a bite, the kids hit the lake. Ella, who loves, loves, loves baths thought it was wonderful.

Ella wading

Anna wasn't so sure about getting wet, but she enjoyed throwing rocks in the water.

Anna throwing rocks in the lake

At the other extreme, Nora was the first one to be totally soaked.

Nora in the water

Corbin thought it a bit cold at first...

Nora and Corbin in the lake

But soon he was immersed in the water.

Nora, Corbin, and Rosa in the lake

Alex even strolled along the shore, contemplating the world.


A playful kick shows that even Alex had an alright time.

Alex kicking the water

Soon it was time to head for home. Caleb and Corbin found a good climbing tree while we packed up.

Caleb and Corbin in a tree

A good shot of our millennial boy at age 11.


And a goofy shot of same said kid!

Corbin being silly

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