Tree Time

After reluctantly crawling out of bed Sunday morning, I looked out the second story window to the backyard and noticed that our walnut tree is nearly nude. It was a sudden and startling reminder to me that summer is just about gone now. The walnut tree is always the first tree in our yard to lose all of its leaves. In just a few weeks, it will be time to rake up approximately three zillion dry, dead leaves from the backyard and drag them on tarps to the front curb for the city to incinerate. However, I forbid the leaves to die quite yet because that doesn’t fit in with my particular curriculum plans at this moment. 🙂

The walnut tree when it still had leaves and walnuts back in August.

The walnut tree when it still had leaves and walnuts back in August.

Over the summer I had this grand idea that we would take the time this school year to explore and learn to identify as many trees as we could. We would read about trees, take photographs, collect leaves and other tree detritus for preserving, do some “leafy” craft projects, and discuss how wonderfully awesome trees are. I checked out some cool tree books from the library. I bought a brand new binder to use to hold the pages for our “tree” journal. I searched the web for tree-related recipes and craft projects. I had everything all planned out before the school year had even started.

Despite all my previous planning, we only made it out and about, tree identification book and cameras in hand, a handful of times. We did manage to photograph a few trees, but in a few cases, identifying which trees were which using the book proved a little more difficult than I had originally thought it would be. I still can’t figure out what the heck the little tree on our tree lawn is. If it’s actually in my Trees of Ohio: Field Guide, it’s doing a good job of hiding from me.

I can't find a single tree in our Trees of Ohio book that has leaves this color.

I can't find a single tree in our Trees of Ohio book that has leaves this color.

Even though we failed to name every tree we came across on our little walks around the neighborhood, I was not ready to give up quite yet and let autumn get on with its business. Sunday before I had work, we headed to the university to look around for some more trees to identify. The university is a great place to look for trees because there are so many different tree types all over campus. I knew for sure that there were both oak and buckeye trees, so at the very least, we could successfully study and identify those ones. It’s hard to mistake a buckeye tree for anything else.

Tobin checking out a buckeye with Dad.

Tobin checking out a buckeye with Dad.

One, two, three, four, five leaves from a buckeye tree...

One, two, three, four, five leaves from a buckeye tree...

I told Ken and the kids that our first goal for our tree study was to identify 10 different tree types before the snow starts flying. Between the few trees we could identify back from our own backyard, our walks in August, and the ones we looked at on the university’s campus, we should be able to meet our goal. Next spring when the trees start budding again, I am hoping we’ll be able to add some more to our list.

Here are a few of the trees we’ve photographed for our tree journal:

Some kind of pine tree.   We weren't quite able to narrow it down more than that.

Some kind of pine tree. We weren't quite able to narrow it down more than that.

A bald cypress

A bald cypress

a yellow buckeye tree

a yellow buckeye tree

a spruce tree...I think it's a white spruce

A spruce tree...I think it's a white spruce.

Ken says this one's a crab apple.

Ken says this one's a crab apple.

An oak, not sure which type yet though...

An oak, not sure which type yet though...

Tobin had the most fun looking at the acorns and the buckeyes. On Monday he kept telling me about how many buckeyes he “captured” the day before.

acorn

acorn

Tobin holding one of the buckeyes he captured.  It put up quite a fight.

Tobin holding one of the buckeyes he captured. It put up quite a fight.

Steve kept trying to eat the crab apples but was also impressed by the buckeyes. The ones we found were from a yellow buckeye tree. Buckeyes from an Ohio buckeye tree are supposed to have a spiny outer shell instead of a smooth one. If anyone happens to know where an Ohio buckeye tree can be found, drop us a line and let us know where so we can check one out.

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Family Fun: A Fortieth Birthday Party

Yesterday Ken’s sister Chris turned 40. (Of course, Chris is telling people she’s actually 30 years old which is fine by me because that must mean that I am 25.) Chris’ husband and mom threw a nice little party, and it gave me a good opportunity for some family photos.

Ken's sister Chris and their mom Jackie

Ken's sister Chris and their mom Jackie

Squeeze the Tobin

Squeeze the Tobin

Chris, their youngest sister Jade, and Ken

Chris, their youngest sister Jade, and Ken

Jade, Chris, the oldest sister Jo, and Ken

Jade, Chris, the oldest sister Jo, and Ken

Chris and Aunt Beth

Chris and Aunt Beth

Daughter Amber, the birthday girl, her husband Ken, and son Tommy in the back

Daughter Amber, the birthday girl, her husband Ken, and son Tommy in the back

Chris and Ham & Cheese on Rye

Chris and Ham & Cheese on Rye

Mmmm...birthday cake

Mmmm...birthday cake

Don't let Tobin see you near his cake, Nunya!

Don't let Tobin see you near his cake, Nunya!

Aren’t they a good looking bunch?

Random Musings: Sundays

Sunday has become my least favorite day of the week. It’s generally my only day of the week to sleep in, but then I feel guilty when I do because there are probably a million other things I should be doing instead…like yard work or cleaning out pet cages or something equally exciting.

Sunday is usually our grocery shopping and errand running day. Yes, I know that buying food is important because keeping Steve fed is vital to the well being of everyone in our household, but often it seems like a waste of an otherwise beautiful morning or afternoon.

Sunday is the beginning of my work week. Unfortunately, Sundays at the library are really, really slow and boring. (And usually hot this time of year because they insist on turning off the A/C for the weekend, and by late Sunday evening I feel like I’m being cooked.) Some Sundays are so dull that it almost makes me wish for a cranky or crazy patron once in a while to liven up my Sunday evening. There’s nothing like having to call campus police on some punk kid to pass a bit of time.

I hate Sundays because Ken and the kids are at home, and I’m not.

I remember as a kid that Sundays meant big family dinners with homemade pasta, seeing my friends at church, visits to my grandparents, trips to the Memphis Kiddie Park, or the Cleveland Zoo, or a ballgame at Cleveland Stadium with dad. I miss those Sundays. Those Sundays were good for the soul.

I’m sure that not every Sunday was like that when I was a child, but those are the only ones I remember. I sometimes worry about what my children’s Sunday memories will be…

Family Fun: Picnic

Today we were invited to visit Ken’s grandmother Bea for a picnic at her assisted living community. The facility puts together a family picnic each year with good food, music, and various fun activities for the kids.

After lunch, most of the kids large and small had ice cream. Steve generally avoids ice cream, but he did go to the truck to get me something yummy to eat. He’s a good boy. 🙂 Tobin had two popsicles though, one Spongebob and one Spider-Man, so I suppose he was just doing his job and eating Steve’s portion for him.

Ice cream truck

Ice cream truck

Grandma Bea

Grandma Bea

Tobin eating his Spongebob popsicle.

Tobin eating his Spongebob popsicle.

It’s probably a good thing Tobin had all that sugar from the ice cream because I’m sure he needed the energy to jump around in the bounce house. He loves those things.

Bounce house

Bounce house

Hoppy and Nunya didn’t get to go jump in the bounce house. They rode around all day in Dad’s pocket instead.

Hoppy and Nunya

Hoppy and Nunya

My boys are not necessarily fond of clowns, especially Steve, but I have to admit that this particular clown could make some pretty cool things with balloons. The clown didn’t speak, so he didn’t ask the kids what they wanted him to make. Apparently, he knew Tobin well though because he made him a balloon sword.

balloon sword

balloon sword

Steve would have preferred that the clown just ignore him, but that was not to be. Instead, the clown made him a neat elephant mask. I’d never seen that particular one before. It was kind of cool. The clown also made Tobin a snail hat from balloons, but my camera had died by then so I didn’t get a photo.

elephant child

elephant child

Steve eventually recovered from his traumatic clown experience. 🙂

They also had someone there to do face painting. The boys didn’t want their faces painted, but they did get something small painted on their arms. Tobin chose a dragonfly, and Steve went with an eagle. I’m sure the ladies would have been impressed by their “tattoos.” Sadly, I have no photographic evidence of their cool body art due to the death of the camera batteries.

For the “big kids” there were four antique automobiles to admire. Unfortunately, I was only able to photograph two of the four vehicles, but Steve and I did get an opportunity to ride in one of the cars. (Not one of the ones pictured though.) It was a 1926 Model-T! Steve rode in the back, and I got to sit up front. Steve found the backseat so comfy that he wanted to go to sleep. But it also could have been that it was the end of a long but fun afternoon in the sun.

Sadly, on the way home from the picnic, we ended up getting into a car accident. No one was hurt fortunately, but we were all quite exhausted by the time we finally made it home. We all ended up taking some kind of nap eventually, but I’m sure none of us looked as cute sleeping as Tobin did.

a boy and his blue balloon

a boy and his blue balloon

Have Hedgehog. Will Travel.

Today was the Toth family reunion, a picnic in one of the Cleveland area MetroParks. It was a wonderful day to be outdoors. The weather was just perfect. So perfect, in fact, that Steve and I thought it would be a great day to take one of our three hedgehogs along to Cleveland with us. We decided to take Bean since he is the one who deals best with lots of hands petting him.

Bean hanging out with Jimmy

Bean hanging out with Jimmy

Steve showing his cousin how to handle Bean.  Don't be afraid, Bucky.  It's not a bug!

Steve showing his cousin how to handle Bean. Don't be afraid, Bucky. It's not a bug!

Bean wasn’t the only one to enjoy the reunion, of course.

Ken showed off his pictures from his trip to India last month. I forgot to print them out in time for the reunion, so Ken just brought his laptop along. He has lots of stories to share from his trip.

Showing pics from India to Grandpa Brian and Great Grandma Toth

Showing pics from India to Grandpa Brian and Great Grandma Toth

I got to see both of my brothers at the same time. That so rarely happens, so I made sure Ken got a picture of the three of us together.

Mike, Brian, and me

Mike, Brian, and me

You can tell that Cammie must have been having a great time. He needed to take a little nap. I wish I could have too!

my godson Bradford's son Cameron

my godson Bradford's son Cameron

I made sure to take a picture of Andrew. He works with me at the library now and complains that I don’t have any pictures of him in my office.

Andrew, college student

Andrew, college student

And finally, a great picture of my aunt, uncles, dad, and my grandmother…

Uncle Marty, Uncle Kevin, Uncle Jimmy, my dad Brian, Aunt Marian, and my grandmother

Uncle Marty, Uncle Kevin, Uncle Jimmy, my dad Brian, Aunt Marian, and my grandmother

We all had a great time at the reunion. Both of the boys and Bean fell asleep during the car ride home. I didn’t fall asleep on the ride home though…I was just resting my eyes…yeah, that’s it…