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We loved our time in Austin. We loved where we lived, we loved a lot of people, and it was a great season. But as we draw closer to a year since we moved back to our hometown, I am deeply grateful to be here. There is so much around here that is easy for me to do with my five kids. One of our favorites is the excellent zoo. We go once a week, drink in the sunshine, and spend an hour or two between lessons just seeing a few animals at the time. Not hurrying, or rushing, or trying to take it all in. Just moseying and really noticing the details. I learn about these kids of mine as I watch them observe. It gives me the opportunity to step back as the teacher for a few moments and see how they learn when I am not directing. What most interests them? What sparks thought and creativity? What concerns them or causes distress?

Levi has to be forging the trail. He needs to be in front, to go at his own pace, to not be kept on a short leash doing what seems like the next thing for everyone else. He tends to be quieter and he may at any given moment be there with us or be on the plains of Africa. You never know. John V is beginning to want to drink in all the information and then cement it in his thought process by sharing it with us. “Mom, did you know that…” is what I most often hear from him on these visits. Kailey wants to be with John V, she wants to see what is beautiful and know about relationships within animal families. “Are they like us? Do they love their mommies? Are they safe?” Then on our return home she may draw them or write a story about them. Mitchell wants the whole family in a herd. He is distressed if Levi is too far ahead or if John stays back to read a sign. “WEBI, come HERE!” often can be heard through the zoo from my little guy. He wants to eat snacks and see turtles. He wants to walk “all by himself” and, surprisingly enough, he often wants to stand and observe one animal for a long time instead of moving on to another one. And he always wants to check on the elephants and the baby rhino. His vocabulary of animal names is ridiculous for a 26 month old boy. Natalie is simply happy. She can feel the sunshine, she can sense that I’m not trying to do other things, and she is content to ride, see her family, and soak it in.

I am happiest when we can just be together so I think I look forward to it more than anyone. I love my kids. I like my kids.

I am grateful for a place to observe the beautiful life God created, the creatures He intricately designed. Including the ones He entrusted to me.

Any time I am with these kids, my heart is happy.

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