Other Updates

The weekend before our first day back in community at CC we went to Long Scraggy for our first overnight. We really enjoy spending time there for church activities, but had never stayed the night with church before. It was sparsely attended this year, but we sure had a good time! I took an amazing nap in the hammock – totally a highlight for me. We also did some hiking and enjoyed our annual worship service in the mountains.

Other photos from the last several weeks: 1) the boys and I enjoyed dinner at friends’ house before they moved away, 2) cleaning up the house next to church, 3) piano lessons started again!, 4) we all participated in our friends’ annual 5k run -this one was taken because folks were commenting on how much taller E is than me these days, 5) our first Packer picnic of the season (woohoo!!) and 6) on Labor Day, we went for a decent hike and then played disc golf. It was pretty hot for these activities, but we enjoyed spending time together.

And, lastly, we just got back from a trip to Minneapolis for Mike’s company picnic. It’s been a long time since we were there and it was nice to get back and to see how much the company has grown! Their office space is SO cool – it used to be the trading floor for grain. It’s simply gorgeous. The boys enjoyed getting to hear their Dad give a brief talk on leadership – mostly he was introducing their principles and introducing other people to talk about them. He did a great job!

And Micah was sweet to go do a little re-do of a picture we snapped while exploring in the tunnels back in 2018 (I think).

First Weeks of School

We’ve already gotten a few weeks under our belt for this school year and it’s been a great start!

Ethan is now 14; he weighs just over 120 lbs and is 5’8″. He is definitely still growing and looks well past my height. He’s in Challenge I this year (which is the equivalent of a Freshman in high school). I’m his director again this year, along with four other really kind, smart students. These are his first day of school pictures – breakfast, outside our home, and at CC.

Micah is 11 years old. He weighs in at a little over 80 lbs and is 4’11”. He is in his final year of Foundations and Essentials and is THRILLED to have some friends his age in there. It’s looking like he will move up to Challenge A next year with a class of at least 4! This is an answer to prayer for us, as back in early August it was looking like he would be solo. These are Micah’s first day of school pictures – breakfast, outside our home, and at CC.

And here are other pictures from our first weeks of school. Micah is using a paper planner for the first time this year and he is loving it! Both boys felt the need to clean their room for a better start. Ethan at CC helping with Latin. My first day of CC pic for the yearbook. Boys reading for fun while eating popcorn (something I want to do regularly this year). Micah leading a science experiment and showing his bro and dad. Ethan and a friend at a jam session at our church.

Early August

The boys participated in a LARPing camp through our Krav Maga studio at the beginning of the month. They were helpers, but they also just got to play. They really enjoyed it and hope to be able to participate again next year. It was nice to see them take on some leadership roles there.

We celebrated my birthday in early August, too. This meant having Santiago’s breakfast burritos – one of my favorites! Auntie Mel came over to make scotchies with Micah for me. He called her earlier in the week to arrange this, knowing that they are some of my favorite treats!

I had a meeting at church while Mike was out of town and one of our friends offered to take the boys to the Wings over the Rockies museum where they participate in a pretty cool program. She sent lots of pictures of the boys. =)

We enjoyed a super fun night out in Boulder to watch Much Ado About Nothing with Mel and Joel and a friend from church. It was a delightfully hilarious play.

E and I play games most days during the summer. We finally took out our new game from Christmas: Trekking through History. Grandma Cleve had purchased Trekking through National Parks for us years and years ago and we loved it so much. So when I saw that there was another game similar to that one, I jumped at it. It’s pretty fun! E keeps track of our games and is basically killing me in everything except Nertz, when played with the two of us. (And trust me, we’ve never been the sort to just let them win…I’m getting a little annoyed at this tracker that continuously shows me my supreme inferiority at game-playing) The three of us play Nertz most afternoons for a bit, too, but that doesn’t get tracked.

After doing a few months of light therapy with Micah to strengthen his eyes (which will allow him to be able to hold his place while reading better), we were encouraged to do a little reading test. We were to sit and read for as long as he could before his eyes were tired or he was too bored to go on. Ideally he would read a chapter book, rather than multiple shorter books. SO, the three of us decided to do this together. We made some homemade buttered popcorn, grabbed some sparkling ice drinks, and found comfy places to read our piles of books. I wanted everyone to have options that morning and to have good suggestions for future reading times. Micah lasted an hour and ten minutes before wanting to do something else – this is a HUGE improvement as previously he only ever wanted to read for about twenty minutes at a time. He chose to read “Kensuke’s Kingdom” and I’ve since seen him reading more of it in his free time. Ethan chose to read “To Kill a Mockingbird” and I read “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. It was SO much fun and we plan to do this more regularly. One of the main reasons I love homeschooling is the chance to do a lot of reading (together and separately) and to instill in these boys a love of reading.

After four hours of intense workouts and testing (and a lot of work done prior to that day, too), the boys earned their brown belts last Saturday. Pretty intense. They requested burgers from Bad Daddy’s and we spoiled them with milkshakes, too.

As the school year kicked off again, we had our CC kickoff picnic at our park. We enjoyed lots of ice blocking and a game of kickball, besides just chatting and getting to know the new peeps. The following evening (after our first day of school), we hosted a middle school youth group event at our park for some more ice blocking and kickball. This was the last time our newly turned high schoolers would be joining, and it was fun to play with them. I am happy to report that the parents won again! =)

Up next: first weeks of school pictures (I’ll probably wait to do this until after our first day of CC on Monday).

Canada through Ethan’s Lens

This post is all pictures taken with Ethan’s camera. Clearly there are a few that I took in his stead below. =)

Pictures taken by me with his camera:

And, speaking of E, he was recently sent an email from Audubon:

We’d like to inform you that your photo, selected for the final review of the Female Bird gallery in the 2023 Audubon Photography Awards, did make it to the final round.

You can see the selected images here

We wish you the best of luck in your bird photography and hope you’ll consider entering our contest again in 2024.

Pretty fun! =)

Alberta, Canada!

We spent a week traveling within Alberta, Canada (just north of us here) and saw some of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever seen. The trip was lovely, other than some sickness that I so generously (frustratingly) shared during it. It consisted of three main parts: Jasper, Banff, and Canmore.

We flew into Calgary, where we stayed for a night. The stampede was going on while we were there, so we walked to the grounds and enjoyed seeing lots of cowboys and girls on the streets.

We took our time making the 4-hour drive up to Jasper. This meant making a few stops along the way. It’s supposed to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world and I think it would have been, but there was a lot of haze from the nearby forest fires. Thankfully we got to enjoy the views more on our drive back through to Banff and Canmore.

We had a very relaxing stay in Jasper. We loved our accommodations here and enjoyed walking the grounds, going around the lake, and the guys all played on the water a bit, too. We also took an amazing boat tour to Spirit Islands and I can say that this was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life. It was stunning.

On our way back down to Banff, we stopped at another gorgeous lake. This was Mike’s 40th birthday so he lovingly accommodated my desire to have him in a special birthday year shirt all day. Banff was lovely, but much busier than Jasper (we expected this). We enjoyed staying right downtown and walking everywhere. We went to see Lake Louise (bucket list item for me!) and also enjoyed a nice hike and a couple quicker walks.

The last place we stayed was Canmore. This city was gorgeous – seeing mountains over the buildings was unreal. We had our best meal of the trip, thanks to a recommendation from our friends from church. We did a hike with my dad up to the most beautiful turquoise lake there.

I’ll do another post (or two) with pictures from my Dad and also from Ethan, but I won’t say more about the trip. Suffice it to say, this was a great trip!

My Parents in Town

My parents drove out to spend some time with us in the middle of July, as they often do. We were thrilled! This year, however, we took a vacation to Canada together during their visit. This post, however, will just show some of the highlights from their time in Colorado. (Sadly, I was sick for a good portion of their visit and I was kind enough to share it with my mom and Mike, too. So, if you notice my swollen eyes…that’s what’s going on).

Projects around the house:

Making music:

Shower for Baby Matt:

Time with extended family, including seeing cousin Matthew in Newsies:

Micah also treated the family to Mo’s Diner and we got in a game:

Every day life in the month of July

We took a big family trip in the middle of July, but this post will be about the every day happenings during that month. Next post will be for the big trip. =)

A couple of Ethan’s friends requested to go birding with him. He was happy to oblige! While birding with one friend, he came close to trampling over this guy. Eek.

On the 4th of July we headed out on our favorite hike in the front range: Chief Mountain. We’ve done this one before and loved it again. We also had our traditional strawberries, blueberries and homemade whipped cream. And we spent some time playing ping pong.

You might have noticed in one the above picture that E got his haircut. He was definitely bribed by his Dad with some ice cream, but I’m pretty sure he’s very glad he chopped it off.

The boys were asked to help with a LARPing camp that their Krav Maga coach was putting on. Friends from church heard about it and gave them some weapons. Camp started this morning and they were definitely busy helping!

I had the opportunity to attend the funeral of my former boss from back in my Heritage House days. She was an incredible woman and I was thankful to celebrate her life with some friends.

Micah got Invisalign! He is already doing an excellent job taking care of it. He will have brackets for about three months and then will get the top teeth in Invisalign, too.

Other happenings include a lot of music-making and various food creations by Micah.

Further June adventures

I arrived home on Sunday afternoon and the guys told me their fun plans to go to Cherry Creek for some fun on the water. I decided to join in, although I spent much of the time listening to a book in our little tent thing (I got out for a bit on the kayak while the three of them pushed each other off the SUP). The reservoir is FULL right now – flooding an area I’ve never seen flooded before. It was a fun way to spend the evening!

Other happenings around here include Micah getting his hair shaved, Ethan playing piano and lots of games.

Mama Retreat

Since 2016 I’ve been going on annual/bi-annual trips with Amy for the weekend. We just enjoyed another retreat this past weekend and spent some of the time recounting memories from previous retreats and trying to figure out how they first began and in what order they were taken.

This was our first retreat that began with quite a bit of drama (thankfully not relational). We arrived at our AirBnb in the evening (even that was not without some drama as we needed to use 4-wheel drive and did some maneuvering just to make it! Amy did a fantastic job of taking on the mountain and not letting us tumble off when the car stalled! Phew!) only to find out that the wrong code had been given to us. We waited for a new code to be sent, but eventually had to ditch the sweet spot and head back to a hotel before the sun set. We did get to enjoy a picnic on the patio there and got in lots of steps by walking our luggage down (and back up again) a dicey road to the house. We also took a short hike while waiting.

I won’t include any pictures of the next piece of drama, but suffice it to say that Amy and I unpacked at a hotel in Idaho Springs and then snuck back out and drove another 30 minutes to a lovely hotel in Dillon. Mike graciously dealt with everything while we blissfully waited for him to solve our problems. (Thanks, Mike! It is SO good to be on your team!)

As usual, we spent most of our time hiking, stretching (I’m not sure our bodies have felt quite so tired before, but I may be exaggerating), and talking. We also started a potential new tradition: wear a matching sweatshirt. We have yet to determine how long we want to be matching on the trail. Ha! Other potential traditions: take a pic at the start and end of one of our longer hikes and post the mileage. We tried this one, but the hike that we remembered to do both shots was kind of short and didn’t feel like it represented us as well. I think we got in about 17 miles in three days. Anyway, lots of fun.

Meanwhile, Mike and the boys had a very nice weekend. Highlights included an epic wrestling match and a delightful breakfast out. (Micah said it was the best chicken and waffle benedict ever.)