Outdoor Hours in April

We have had a beautiful month.  We celebrated Easter, enjoyed some days of blessed rain and reveled in some days of glorious sunshine.




Nature walks (and I use the term walk loosely here) are so very relaxing (except when I am trying to keep toddlers from running away or running into danger).  X-man plopped himself in front of a dandelion and watched it for awhile.  Then he blew on it lightly to see the seeds flutter away in the air.

Nature Study23

Princess gathered clover for a bouquet.


Later on in the month, we went to a nearby park with some old friends for our nature explorations.  There was a lake and mud and all kids of branches.  The kids saw fish and tadpoles, they created ‘fishing poles’ with sticks and went ‘fishing’ on the side of the lake, and they waded in to squish the mud between their toes.

Wading and exploring

Wading and exploring


Our youngest explorers

Our youngest explorers- cautious before jumping in


But jump in they did!

But jump in they did!

I love the slow pace of nature walks and nature study.  Kids can sit and reflect and contemplate.  They can get noisy and rambunctious.  They can scream and shout and close their eyes and breathe.  When we are out on a nature walk, the rest of the world just fades away… except, of course, for the constant clicking and clacking of my camera.

Reflection and study

Reflection and study

While we were walking along the side of the lake, what did we see through a little gap in the dense shrubs and trees?  Turtles!  Resting in the sun.  I’ve never seen turtles in the wild before.   Once home, I did a little googling and discovered that they are the Western Pond Turtle.  I learned that these guys are apparently really hard to see.  They submerge when humans approach.  The recommended way to see them is to hide behind trees and shrubs.  Due to my extensive expertise, I endorse this strategy.

Western Pond Turtles

Western Pond Turtles- so cute!

My little princess found a cluster of poppies growing on the side of the hill.  She loves poppies.


We completed some nature journal entries for our nature adventures this month.



Ah, the great outdoors!

20140409_125205We have been very excited about the new things going on over at the Outdoor Hour Challenge website:  Handbook of Nature Study.  There are so many resources that have encouraged us in our Nature Study pursuits.  Whether or not you homeschool, nature exploration and study is so valuable for the whole family, and this site can guide you in starting a habit of nature study that will bless you year after year.  I know we have been blessed.

Happy Nature Exploration, everyone!



Teaching Among Tornadoes: Trick #10 Dry Erase Handwriting Cards

11 July2

Homeschooling is a whole lot noisier than I thought it would be before I actually embarked upon the adventure.  With toddlers and preschoolers screaming, crying, yelling, even screeching with delight and joy, it is hard to get my voice heard to anyone about anything, especially anything school related.  Some days, I feel like my preschoolers are on a specific mission to sabotage any educational attempts I make.  My attempts to counteract these agents of destruction are only occasionally met with temporary and minor success.

I’ve been recording some of these attempts here:

1. Watercolors

2. Stamping

3. New Toy (i.e. Hot Dots and Sorting Pie)

4. School Supplies (i.e. safety scissors & construction paper, dry erase board & marker)

5. Leap Frog videos

6. Pipe Cleaner Sculpture

7. Seashells

8. Sticky Sticks

9. Magnets

My most recent trick was actually initiated by my 3 1/2 year old son.  I was handing out dry erase handwriting cards to my older two for a change of pace in our copywork (handwriting) lessons.  Z-urchin decided he really wanted to join in on the fun.  So I handed him and Shortstop each a card and a dry erase marker and let them at it.

I thought that they would just draw on the card- or on the blank back of the card.  Shortstop indeed did just scribble.  But Z-urchin surprised me.  He actually tried to trace the letters accurately and he did a pretty good job, for a 3 year old boy.

One thing I did learn pretty quickly that Shortstop (who is almost 2) needed to be strapped into the high chair for this activity unless I was in dire need of dry erase marks all over every surface of the kitchen.  Which I wasn’t.

8 April 2014

Conclusion:  This is actually a fantastic activity for every day use.  Every day I pull out a card for the older two, Z-urchin wants to do it too.  It doesn’t last very long (5-10 minutes) but it gives me a few minutes to make sure the older two are writing their letters correctly and then gives me a little bit of peace while I prepare their snack.

Charlotte Mason Methods: Short & Varied Lessons

I was introduced to Charlotte Mason when I was looking at Apologia science curriculum and found Jeannie Fulbright’s website.  This was actually before I had ever even given birth to a child.  I was a teacher and working at a homeschool co-op, felt the call to homeschool, and started researching curriculum (because I’m crazy that way).

A few years later, an experienced homeschool mom led me to Charlotte Mason Help and her description of Miss Mason’s methods at work in her home drew me in.  One principle in particular resonated with me.  The idea that you keep the lessons (especially in the younger grades) short, paired with the practice of varying subject schedule to use different parts of the body and brain just made so much sense to me.  As Simply Charlotte Mason puts it, “Short, interesting lessons build the habit of attention.”

In my homeschool experience this year with a 5 year old and a 6 year old, I have especially seen the value of short, varied lessons.  If a lesson or reading drags on to long, their attention wanes, their motivation dwindles, and their restlessness increases.  I can see it in their bodies with the drooping of the shoulders and the glazing over of the eyes.

Short, interesting lesson

Short, interesting science lesson

So how do we keep lessons short?

1.  Proper Planning- It took a little trial and error, but I now know about how much we can get through in 15-20 minutes and make sure that I only assign as much as we can reasonably accomplish in that time frame.  Of course, that means that it is all about to change, right?

2. Divide Subjects by Type of Activity- History as a whole subject might actually take 30 minutes, but it is divided into 15-20 minutes of reading followed by a change of venue and then 10-15 minutes of completing a history notebook page.  Math might include a 15-20 minute lesson and then later 10-20 minutes of a math game.

3.   Diligence Required- Sometimes my lessons ended up being long and drawn out not because I had planned too much, but because my children were not focusing on our lesson.  They would ask questions or talk about this and that.  The younger ones would have needs, the older ones would need bathroom breaks.  Then I would get very frustrated.

So I took a look at what Charlotte Mason saidin Volume I, Part IV, “In the first place, there is a time-table, written out fairly, so that the child knows what he has to do and how long each lesson is to last.  This idea of definite work to be finished in a given time is valuable to the child, not only as training him in  habits of order, but in diligence; he learns that one time is not ‘as good as another;’ that there is no right time left for what is not done in its own time; and this knowledge alone does a great deal to secure the child’s attention to his work.” (p 142)

Therefore, I told the children that I had a specific amount of material that we should be able to read in the time I have allotted for this lesson.  If we do not get through it, we will stop this lesson at the appointed time and we will finish it during your free time.  This sobered them up real quick and we have had much more success ever since.

Change of venue for our literature reading and they brought paper to draw what they heard

Change of venue for our literature reading with paper to illustrate the reading

4. Use a Timer (or keep an eye on the clock)- The timer keeps me accountable and reminds me to stay focused on the task at hand.  It reminds my children to remain focused or whatever we don’t finish will be completed during free time.  When the timer goes off, we can finish the sentence or a final stroke or item, and then we move to the next subject or task.

And how do we vary the order of our subjects?

I try to intersperse the reading type of lessons between the doing type of lessons.  I tie our chunks of lessons around meal times and give them breaks between chunks of school.

Here, then, is a general schedule of how a typical school day tends to go:

Bible (with breakfast)

Chores & Exercise


History reading

History notebook page






Geography/Art/Composer/Poetry (with lunch)



Break time!

Break time!

We do not do all of these every day and sometimes we switch the order of things.  But I never put two different reading subjects next to each other.  And I never put two subjects that are heavy on writing next to each other either.  That way, my children stay fresh for each new subject and do not get bogged down by fatigue or discouragement.

Short, varied lessons have really blessed us in our educational pursuits!  Thank you, Charlotte Mason!


Teaching Among Tornadoes: Trick #9, Magnets

11 July2

Trying to homeschool two older children when I have two very active preschoolers whose main goal in life is to seek and destroy can be a bit of a challenge.  So I keep some tricks up my sleeve and keep trying new things to see what might capture their attention for a little while so that I might sneak in some school.

My previous tricks are these:

1. Watercolors

2. Stamping

3. New Toy (i.e. Hot Dots and Sorting Pie)

4. School Supplies (i.e. safety scissors & construction paper, dry erase board & marker)

5. Leap Frog videos

6. Pipe Cleaner Sculpture

7. Seashells

8. Sticky Sticks

My new trick is: Magnets.


Awhile ago, I gave Z-urchin some adorable ceramic animal magnets that he really enjoyed.  However, being the three year old that he is, a few dropped and broke.  I decided to hold off on offering those again until he can be a bit more careful.  So instead, I gave him and Shortstop some foam magnet letters and a cookie sheet and they went to town.  They had a lot of fun pulling out the magnets from the box and putting them on the cookie sheet.  Of course, they ended up dumping the whole box of magnets on the floor… twice.

Now that actually turned out to be a good thing.  This activity had two fun components: magnets and dumping and filling.  They picked those magnets back up and stuffed them in the box, only to do this fun action again.

My conclusion: Super easy for me and for them.  The mess wasn’t so bad and they picked up most of it- in fact, picking up was part of the fun!  We should definitely do this again!

Discipleship with Children: Seven Principles (Part 3)


Very slowly over the last 2 months, I have been studying and writing about the principles of discipleship that I have seen in the Gospel of Mark.

In my first post, I wrote about how a teacher must develop a relationship with their student, identify with their student, and use all opportunities to teach a student the truth.

In my second post, I wrote about how a teacher must give opportunity for guided practice and must pray for their students.

Today I want to address the final two principles: A Teacher prepares a student for the future and A Teacher lives the example his students will follow.

6.  A Teacher Prepares His Students for the Future

When I was cleaning out my garage this past weekend, I came across a binder that contained a syllabus I wrote for my Seventh Grade English class (I taught at a small Christian school).  My first paragraph included the words, ” To succeed in today’s world and to impart the gospel to today’s people, Christians need to  know how to write, speak, and read well.”

My ultimate goal for my students was to prepare them for their future.

In Mark and the other gospels, Jesus, their Rabbi, or Teacher, takes the time to warn and prepare His disciples for the future.

He warns them about his coming death and resurrection:

“He was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”  Mark 9:31

He warned them about the persecutions and tribulations they would have to endure and about the false prophets they would encounter so that they could be on their guard, remain faithful and continue doing God’s work, despite discouragement:

 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.”  Mark 13:23

He comforts them and gives them hope with the promise of His return:

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” Mark 13:26

Preparing for the future is something we all know that we should do.  I’m sure we have all heard or read Aesop’s Fable, The Grasshopper and the Ant, that warns us of the foolishness of not practically preparing for hard times that come in life.  Financial advisers tell us to have six or twelve months expenses saved for a crisis.  If there is a busy morning the next day, it is helpful to get things ready the night before.  I love having pre-prepared meals in the freezer to pull out on busy evenings.

We must also prepare our hearts spiritually for our future.  None of us know how long we have here on earth.  It is of vital importance to first, be sure you know where you are spending your future.

God’s perfect and absolute holiness and justice means that sin can not be brushed aside, excused or ignored.  It must be paid for. We all make wrong choices and do unkind and hurtful things.  We sin.  We break God’s law and we must accept the consequences for our crimes.  That means eternal separation from God.

But His mercy and love toward us could not leave us in such a desperate situation.  He had to make a way to rescue us.  And He did.  His heartbreaking yet glorious plan included God’s Son coming to earth as a man to  live a sinless life and suffer and die in our place.  He took the punishment for our sins.  He paid the price for our crimes.

Now forgiveness is freely available for those who accept it.  Those who do have their future secured for them.  This is the most important decision any human will make on this earth.

Once we have that settled, we still must work to be ready for our future by being busy at God’s work all the time.  We must live responsibly, love wholeheartedly, serve cheerfully.  We must be ready at all times to share with others the reason for the hope we have.

As a mother, one of my God ordained tasks is to disciple my children.  I must tell them about how they can be spiritually ready for the future.  I also train them and teach them practical things so that they will be prepared to live the life God wants them to live here on earth until they go to be with Him.

Therefore, Biblical and hymn studies come first in our schedule as it is first in our hearts and priorities.  Then reading, writing, math, science, history, fine arts, crafts, and life skills are all a part of week as they are important ingredients in my discipleship of my children.

7. A Teacher Lives the Example His Students Will Follow 

When I was a young teacher, one day, I misunderstood one of my students, a seventh grade girl and snapped at her.  Immediately, I realized that I had misunderstood and I had been completely unfair.  Her face fell and froze.  I got the other students busy at their task and then quickly went up to her and humbly apologized for my words.

The next year, I was subbing for another teacher in a class that she was in.  The students decided to play a classic let’s-see-what-we-can-get-away-with-because-there-is-a-sub trick on me (I think it had to do with the seating chart).  When I realized what they were up to, I was a little disappointed in the students and told them so.  Then I got them busy with whatever work was assigned to them and sat at the teacher’s desk with my own work.

This particular girl came up to me right away.  She apologized to me for her part.  I was impressed and blessed by her apology.  This incident with this girl has remained in my heart and mind all these years.  I had not really thought of my first apology as an example for my students to follow.  It was humbling and sobering to think that not just my academic lessons but my daily actions might influence them.

The whole book of Mark and actually, all of the gospels describe the perfect example in the life of Christ.  They recount his deeds, his teachings, his heart, his will, his obedience to the Father and his love for his people.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”  I Peter 2:21

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:45

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”  John 13:14-15

Have you ever heard your words, phrases, turns of speech come out of your children’s mouths?  It might be a frightening idea that what we say in our homes might get broadcasted to the whole world.

More than that, our children see what we do and do it too.  My mom was a teacher, an enthusiastic and thematic party planner, and a crazy list-maker.  I am too.  But unfortunately, kids don’t just pick up on the good things.  They’ll pick up our bad habits and unattractive traits too.  The whole idea of “Do as I say and not as I do” is really just a joke.

So the only way to live the example I want for my children is to spend time with the Lord in his Word and in prayer every single day.  If I abide in Him and his words abide in me, then I will be prepared to live the best example I can for my children and for anyone else who might be watching.

And in it all: my marriage, my relationship and discipleship of my children, my service to others, my life, the grace of God envelops and enables me.  I stand through his power and his grace alone.  To God be the glory forever!


(I wrote a version of the poem “I Took His Hand and Followed.”  It is about following Christ’s example, so take a look if you’d like.)

Outdoor Hour Challenge: Welcome to Spring!

This month in our nature walks, observations, and studies, we’ve been watching the weather change.  Not that the weather was winter at the beginning of March and now the weather is gradually changing to spring by the end.  No, more like one day it rains and then the next day it is warm and sunny and then the next day it is cold and gray and then the next day it is terribly hot and then the next day it rains again.  We have been seeing some signs of spring, though, like the rose in our backyard.  (My daughter named her new doll Rose after her favorite flower.)  After last month’s adventures in the snow, these signs of spring are very welcome to us all.

The first sign of spring in our backyard- a very lovely rose.

The first sign of spring in our backyard- a very lovely rose.

If March Comes In Like a Lion, It Will Go Out Like a Lamb.  In the Outdoor Hour Challenge newsletter, Barb told us to observe the weather at the beginning and the end of March to see if this saying held true.    I don’t think it did.  At least not in my area.  I’m not really sure what ‘coming in like a lion’ would look like in Northern California, but we had mild -and much needed- rain for the first few days of March.  These last few days of March contain the same: some mild and much needed rain.  The kids and I decided to draw our view of the backyard from our back door in our nature journals.

First weekend of March

First weekend of March

Winter Birds- Last year, when we lived 2 hours south of here, we put up a bird feeder in our backyard and discovered a love of bird watching none of us knew we had.  In the move, we lost pieces of the bird feeder.  I kept hoping we’d find them, but I finally just sent my hubby to the store to get a new one.  You can imagine my excitement when I finally filled it and put it up in our backyard, anxiously awaiting the arrival of new birds to get to know and enjoy.

Well, my bird feeder has remained distressingly full all month.  I’ve spotted perhaps 1 or 2 birds at it- and only briefly.  Not long enough to even see what color they were.  I think I need to do some experimenting with the placement.  Perhaps there will be a more tantalizing spot to hang the thing.

A distressingly full bird feeder

A distressingly full bird feeder

Signs of Spring- The cherry blossom trees have been blooming- they are such a lovely sight.  There have been many trees bursting into white blossoms all over as well.  My three year old thought they looked fuzzy.  When we went to a park, I tried to give everyone a chance to feel the flowers on the tree, but he had run off in the direction of the tennis court and didn’t end up getting to touch the blossoms.  He never mentioned it again, so I think he’ll be ok.

The cherry blossom tree across the street

The cherry blossom tree across the street

Fuzzy flowers

Fuzzy flowers- and if you look closely, you can spot Z-urchin in the tennis court

My oldest wanted to make a ball out of nature things, so he set to work on that one beautiful day at  the park.  My daughter found a very large dandelion and my youngest had fun on the slide.

Ball of Nature

Ball of Nature



Fun on the slide!

Fun on the slide!

A few weeks later, on another sunny, warm day, we took a walk by a nearby small lake.  We found plenty of mud, moss on a rock, and poppies.  Now poppies have replaced the rose as my daughter’s favorite flower.

Even the littlest gets in on the nature study when he feels the moss on the rock

Even the littlest gets in on the nature study when he feels the moss on the rock



The California Poppy

The California Poppy

The Lake

The Lake on a Beautiful Day

Snack time

Snack time

We decided to draw in our journals the things we saw the first day of spring.  I saw cherry blossom trees, butterflies, and poppies.  My observant older two had also noticed some flowering on the lemon tree in our backyard and had to add that to their page.

Journal entries from the first day of spring

Journal entries from the first day of spring

The kids have also done some fun nature exploration in the backyard.  Well, it was clearly fun for them anyway.

Free nature play in the backyard

Free nature play in the backyard

I don’t know.  Maybe the saying held true in a backwards fashion for us.  March came in like a lamb and (so my kids decided to help it go) out like a lion.  A very, very muddy lion.

A Tale of Two Journeys: The Return

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”  

Charles Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities

Last week, I shared the tale of my flight to Virginia with four small children.  That was the worst of times I’ve flown with children.  It is time to move on to the best of times I’ve flown with children: my return trip.

Mind you, it was still hard.  But the difference was figuratively (and literally, as it happens) night and day.

#1- The day of the week.  When I flew out to Virginia, it was Saturday, a busy travel day.  When I flew home, it was Tuesday.  The security checkpoint line was absolutely empty.  So instead of feeling pressured and rushed to get all of my things unloaded and on the conveyor belt while trying to keep my children from running to who knows where, there was no one in line behind me.  No pressure.  I was able to take my time and had 5 TSA agents around  to guard all exit points and keep an eye on the kids.

#2 I was much better prepared.  I was more careful with what food I packed and I had a plan of action for which toys and activities I would bring out at which times. When we got to the gate, we had about 2 hours before our flight was scheduled to leave.  So, we started with a snack.  Then (since I really didn’t want to unpack their backpacks and have their stuff spread throughout the gate waiting area), we used the iPad (see #3 below) to watch a show.  Next, we took a field trip to the family restroom nearby.  Then it was time to board the airplane.

My sweet baby

My happy toddler

#3 My sister’s iPad.  On the flight from home to the East Coast, as I evaluated my options, I kept vascillating between moving to Charlotte (so I would never have to get on an airplane with children again) and spending my life savings purchasing a handheld electronic device for each child and perhaps a few spares as well.  A few days after I had arrived in Virginia, the stresses of the day had faded a little so that I was a bit more reasonable.   But still, I did talk to my husband about the possibility of purchasing some sort of handheld electronic device for the flight home.  My sister later asked me, “Are you wanting an iPad for good, or is this just for the flight?  Because if you just want something for the flight, you can borrow mine.”

Oh, what an amazing gift that was!  Sacrificing her iPad for a few days for the sake of my sanity.  How MUCH my sister loves me!

I did end up borrowing her iPad and we downloaded a few episodes of a few shows my kids enjoy.  There were also a whole battery of kid games my sister has downloaded on her iPad for her neefs (her brilliant abbreviation of neices and nephews).  While at the airport, they watched an episode or two and then after the restroom trip there was time for the older two to each have a turn playing a game of their choice.  Then it was time to board the airplane.

The magical iPad

The magical iPad

#4 Many, many angels God sent to help me on my way.  On the way to Virginia, God did provide several very helpful people to carry my carseat or call ahead and hold the flight.  But it was crazy how many people He sent on the way home.  I wish I could properly express to them how significant their help was to me.  Perhaps they saw it on my face.  I hope that God richly blessed them on their journeys.

It started at the end of the bridge as we were boarding the first airplane.  I had dropped off the stroller where I was supposed to (so that I might pick it up to get me to through the next airport) and had the diaper bag, the leash, the backpacks and all.  I hefted the car seat up to rest upside down on my head (which trick I discovered on the way to Virginia) and behind me I heard a few men speaking, “She’s superwoman,” and “She’s just making us look bad,” or some such nonsense like that which nonetheless, I appreciated.  Then a kind man stepped forward and asked if he could carry my carseat.  I gratefully accepted the offer.  He then gave up his seat, which was the aisle seat directly across from my children and took  the window seat I was supposed to sit in.  I’m sure everyone was grateful for his sacrifice.

Puzzles, mazes, coloring, and other fun activities

Puzzles, mazes, coloring, and other fun activities

Z-urchin then took his turn on the magical iPad while the older kids pulled out their various fun activities from their backpacks.  Shortstop promptly fell asleep (Hallelujah!) and Z-urchin’s iPad turn pretty much covered the whole hour flight to our connection.  I found that this worked really well in keeping him seated.  And it worked as motivation for him to keep his seatbelt on as well, since I told him he couldn’t play the iPad unless his seatbelt was on.

A very long iPad turn

A very long iPad turn

The same man from before carried the car seat to my stroller at the end of the bridge and then Angel #2 came and made my connection possible.  He had four children too, though only one was with him.  But he understood and very kindly offered to carry my carseat to the gate (his connecting gate was nearby mine, which was quite a blessing from the Lord).  Then, about halfway there, Z-urchin dashed the opposite way down a moving sidewalk.  He dropped everything and rushed after him.  Then this very kind man carried both Z-urchin and my carseat to the gate.  I really wish I could send that man and his wife a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant.

I barely made it into to the airplane before they closed the doors and once on, my children and I were such a sight that all kinds of people surrounded us to help us.  A man from first class carried my car seat to my seat, a kind and experienced mother installed it while I arranged my children and stuff.  A man gave up the seat next to his wife so that my children could all sit in a row with me.  The wife, a new grandma herself (her grandson is an extremely fortunate little boy- she’s amazing!), sat by X-man and chatted with them.  They were full of chatter about their trip and their Auntie Suzie.  “Oh! My name is also Suzie!” she exclaimed and trust between them was instantly developped.

So the older two took a few turns with the iPad while Z-urchin and I did a sticker book.  I handed out sandwiches and snacks for dinner and helped Shortstop color and play with a few toys.  Then the kind Suzie read the older two Frog and Toad while the young woman in the row behind me begged to hold Shortstop for awhile.  She colored with him, fed him snacks and chatted with him for an hour.  She told me he remined her of her adopted baby brother whom she missed. My heart overflowed with thankfulness.  I was even able to use the restroom by myself!

I tell you what, when I grow up (or you know, travel somewhere without children), I want to be just like these angels God sent to me.

#5 We flew at night.  Our first flight took off at 4 and our second flight left at 6:30.  That meant that about 2 hours into the flight, the kids got very sleepy.  Only this time it was a good kind of sleepy.  Not a cranky sleepy which is what you would expect.  The kind of sleepy that made my daughter say, “I’m tired, I think I want to go to sleep.”  And she did.  And then so did Z-urchin.  And then when I took Shortstop back, he fell asleep too.

Blissfully sleeping

Blissfully sleeping

This left only X-man awake.  I handed him the iPad and he played Angry Birds Star Wars for the remainder of the flight.  I hardly knew what to do with myself.  I figured it out pretty quickly though.  I took a nap and then read several chapters in my Georgette Heyer book.

What in the world?  Wow!  Such a difference from my last trip!

Finally, the flight was over.  The man who had given up the seat next to his wife for me carried my car seat out of the plane and all the way to the baggage claim.  Suzie held X-man’s hand while I pushed the stroller with the other three kids (and backpacks, blankets, diaper bag, and doll) all piled into it.

My husband met us there with a bouquet of flowers in his hand.  Everyone there cheered him on and an awesome woman from first class told him, with quite a bit of attitude infused in her voice, “That’s right.  You better have gotten her flowers.”  Another woman chimed in, “And a key to a hotel room for a night by herself!”