Category Archives: field trip

Picturing Parties, Peacocks & the Perfect Beach Day

Just another week in Brelinskyville I say. And by that I mean: traveling to celebrate our first graduate, hosting 86 of the world’s most awesome party guests, a stray peacock, field tripping to the beach and an extra blessing to count.

1. I’ve already gushed HERE over my very first home school graduate, but now I’ve actually got the pictures to document the achievement. We opted to enroll our high schoolers in Seton Home Study, so my son was eligible to participate in a graduation ceremony in VA. What a thrill to be among 100+ other graduates (from all over the country and one who came all the way from the Philippines) and those were just the graduates who chose to attend the event. 

I can’t say enough about how well Seton met our needs as a family and prepared my son for his future as an intelligent adult and a Catholic capable of defending his beliefs. Quite frankly, while I knew I would stay the course throughout my son’s high school education, I was somewhat intimidated and overwhelmed at the prospect of having to calculate his credits, double-check his requirements and create his transcript. Enter Seton where they do all of that and more. Four years and three high schoolers later, I am satisfied that we made the right choice and the tuition is worth every penny.

Class of 2014

Jude’s First Holy Communion
Sebastian’s Confirmation

2. When we throw a party, we like to really throw a party! Years ago we decided to host big, all-inclusive, family-sized shin-digs. When the oldest two were little I did the kids’ only, themed birthday parties (think Veggie Tale donuts, pirate treasure hunts and paper mache pinatas) complete with preplanned games and a gift unwrapping break. However, as the size of our brood increased that plan seemed less than ideal and honestly kind of un-fun for the adults and siblings. I mean hosting 8 birthday soirees would book up our whole summer and fall (since our bdays span from March to September). So the big bash idea sprang up and we’ve been sticking with it ever since. Now the kids entertain one another (no need for me to orchestrate games) and no one is left out since there is a least one (or six) somebodies your age to hang with. Moms and dads are then free to enjoy the company of other adults since the kiddos are so busy together. Of course, being southerners and all potluck is the way to go. This cuts down on expense and allows friends to share something rather than feeling obliged to bring gifts.  

This go around we and 76 of our friends and family spent the afternoon together celebrating this year’s sacraments and milestones (with a confirmation, communion and graduation in one spring there was oh so much to celebrate).

Kevin (named in honor of the bird from UP)

3.  Okay, so normal people might happen across a stray kitty or puppy, right? But here in B-ville we find ourselves adopted by a stray peacock! No, really, a peacock literally flew into our field of fowl and he’s decided (against our best efforts to discourage him) to make this home. Occasionally, he perches on our high roof, but most of the time he sits near the hens that he is trying so very hard to impress. Quite comical, when the hens walk passed he fans out his tail feathers and shakes them ever so purposefully whilst turning slowly so as to remain within 

the hen’s line of sight. The chickens (like innocent, college girls in a frat house) don’t quite understand his oh-so-subtle flirtations (or they’re just not interested in inter-species romance). If the girls here aren’t diggin’ him, I guess he’s decided the food makes up for it. Anyone got any peacock tips?

Mr. B and the sea

4. How is it that a whole year has slipped by since I carried my big bellied self to the beach? Well, it has and it was high time to soak in some RR on the coast of NC. A more perfect beach day we couldn’t have prayed for (okay well the freezing cold water may have been a deterent for some of us but as you can see from the pics the kids numbed up fast enough to enjoy the chilly waters) as the temperature was warm but not sweat-worthy, the life guards were on duty, the parking lot was nearly empty and the sky maintained its Carolina blue.

We barely even bothered with the radio as the soothing sounds of the waves were enough to captivate our attention. God also graced us with just enough wind to lift our kite, but not so much as to require us to wrap up in towels for comfort. The coast takes a bit of navigating for our crew since we live a few hours from it, but as always the day trip gave us that little timeout we all needed.

5. Putting this post together, I have to admit my shame in adding this last thought. Just across the way from our favorite beach spot is the Bodie Island lighthouse, so this trip we decided to check it out (not sure why we hadn’t in the past). Happy to have arrived an hour before its closing, we filed out of the van and began snapping pictures. A tour guide was about to usher in a new group and she advised that we’d need to purchase tickets inside to join the next grouping. Unfortunately, once inside we realized the pricing was too far outside of our tight budget, so we had to settle for looking at the curator’s picture book of the lighthouse interior. 

Glad for the portrait view, I was internally bemoaning. Our budget is more often than not tight, but I hate saying no again and again. I wanted to say, “Yes. We’ll take ten tickets!” I wanted my kids to race up the spiral staircase, to peer out from the top, to imprint a lasting memory, but thoughtful planning dictated that we needed to forgo this expense as our traveling is not yet complete for the summer. 

How silly I feel now for my ingratitude as I detail the abundance of blessings that have been poured forth these last few weeks. So what that we missed the spiral stairs in that black and white structure we’ve witnessed sacraments, welcomed loved ones, met new friends, experienced unfamiliar settings and stored up an ample cache of mental souvenirs. 

Once again, this domestic church I call home succeeds in raising my eyes upward.

A Day At The Beach, Seeing God’s Hand

In much need of some family time away from the hustle and bustle of schooling, chores and everyday responsibilities, we headed to the coast to bask in the warm sunshine. In spite of the fact that shore-line fun requires diligent parental-supervision, I often find my time at the beach meditative.

In the ebb and flow of crashing waves, in the clear sky, the wind and the wildlife, I can see the face of God. Peace, power, stillness, life, and motion all presented together call to mind His Almighty and Constant Presence.

These quiet moments allowed me to consider the promise to Moses that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of sand. Watching my children dig and pile, sift and dump that sand I couldn’t help but consider that we are each a tiny grain that fulfills that promise.

the seagulls loved our crumb-dropping kiddos

The day we chose turned out to be particularly windy which was a blessing for me since the cool breeze balanced out the heat. Along with the gentle crashing waves, that wind muffled my voice when I tried to call little ones back to shore.

Perhaps, God’s voice is like my own sometimes muffled by the noise of life. So that even though He is calling me to safety, I can’t hear and I’m too busy to seek it out in the stillness.


Just the day before, I’d read a little blurb about encouraging children to love science and mine took me to task this trip. My four year old began by asking if “the life guards put chemicals in the water.” That precipitated a lengthy discussion about the sea and pollution and man’s part in cleaning up oil spills. Fifty questions later, our conversation ended with the proposition, “what if the guy who is in charge of cleaning the birds (who are covered in oil), doesn’t know how to read so he doesn’t know which cleaner to use?” 

In addition to reminding me that God must have a sense of humor, this conversation led me to reflect on education and how God is teaching us at every moment. He doesn’t need books and lesson plans, He simply gives us the tools and the minds to put them to use. And He is endlessly patience because at times my prayers must sound a little like my four year old’s “what if’s” and “why’s.” This thought helped me to keep on smiling and trying my best to answer rather than issuing Mr. Curiosity back into the sea.

Of course, the ebb and flow of the waves is entrancing. The never-ending motion of water cresting and breaking is a little like the seemingly endless energy of my boys, but a whole lot more peaceful. 

How inviting those waves were for my kids. It buoyed their youthful bodies one minute and pushed them under the next when they ventured far beyond their knees. Awesome to think about the invitation of the ocean most times and yet its capacity to destroy at other times. The waves conjured up the memory of trials in my life. Sometimes small crosses cause me to exercise my faith muscles, through prayer and petition, but at other times I’ve felt completely thrown head over heels in the depths of sorrow. If I can just find the horizon again and remember how to float, I know that eventually the storm will pass and the ocean will return to calm.

Interesting to see the plant life springing from the sandy dunes, too. When we talk about plants in our science class, we talk about rich, fertile soil that hosts the necessary nutrients, but at the beach life springs forth as well. Another reminder that God is the Master of all life and He creates something from nothing. When the world sees no potential, God sees endless possibilities for growth and beauty.

Tomorrow’s Thankful Thursday should be an easy list to compose. I am looking forward to finding another day or two for our family to steal away and return to the seaside, but until then I always know I can find my Lord again, in every place and time.

Greg and Tara (I’m posting this to keep me humble since I promised to look at my prego body through grateful lens).