Celebrating Ethan

This kid. He’s 5’7″ and 14 years old. He’ll be in high school next year (we call that Challenge I in our homeschool lingo). He loves playing the piano, the ukulele, the drums and the guitar (he’s currently borrowing one, but will soon have his very own). He loves disc golf and chess. He enjoys Krav Maga with his friends and brother. He’s getting into bouldering at the gym. And he LOVES photographing birds.

Here are the final pictures of E as a 13 year old. We both attempted to appear taller than each other (he’s got me by 1/4 inch right now) and then we just smiled nicely.

We celebrated with his favorite foods (pancakes, ham and cheese buns, turkey burgers, ice cream cake) and activities. I took E and Micah birding (and we got lots of mosquito bites – as you can see it’s happening while I took the pictures). We played Wingspan – one of his favorite games. He was hoping for a ping pong tournament, but the weather didn’t cooperate this weekend.

He enjoyed all of your videos, phone calls, text messages, and video calls. Thanks for helping us celebrate this kind young man. =)

May Updates

We had our CC end of year picnic in the park over the first weekend in May. I didn’t snap very many pictures as I was busy playing kickball and chatting, but here are a few:

The boys have continued working on the last little bit of Math. There’s not much left, but it will feel very nice to have this off our plates.

The boys and I were able to attend Matthew’s graduation and his party. He is an incredible young man and does such a fabulous job with making each person feel important. He’s clearly very loved and admired by many.

Micah has been taking up more cooking. He loves to sear tuna for lunches and it turns out amazing! He created a menu recently and invited us to his restaurant for dinner. We all had delicious food – seared tuna for Mike, avocado toasts for E and I. He also provided appetizers and desserts. It was delightful!

He has also been working on strengthening his eyes through some sort of sunlight therapy recommended by our eye doctor. He’s very disciplined and makes sure to get 5-10 minutes outside with these glasses each day (except the weekends).

I took E and some friends birding this month. It was pretty fun seeing their excitement. E also tends to run into other e-birders most places we go and he always makes a conversation with them.

Other happenings include: a very quick visit from Mallory and Fred, buying and playing a new, ridiculous game (E usually learns how to play and then teaches the rest of us), finishing the Sunday School year (my friend and I have been teaching together for quite a few years now – so fun!), receiving hand-me-downs from Mel, completing their piano challenge and receiving prizes from their teacher (they also played in their recital, but requested that we not video them this time), celebrating Pentecost (we enjoyed another celebration at Mel and Joel’s), cutting Micah’s hair (and now trying to convince him to get it fixed by professionals….eek), helping a friend with testing her daughter for the first time and some boy time while I was out for dinner or at a church meeting.

Things worth mentioning, but not included in pictures: kickball in the park with a bunch of middle school kids and some of their parents, enjoying Matthew’s final jazz concert at school, I grabbed dinner with two different friends, we saw one of E’s friends in a play, did some rock-climbing at the gym, and the boys played chess and/or disc golf with Uncle Joel every week, including Memorial Day morning with Matthew and Bryan, too.

Next up…E turns 14!

Wrapping up the School Year

It’s early May and, no, we aren’t entirely in summer mode, but there is a distinct difference in the flow of our days now. With our last days in CC community behind us, we have a much lighter load. This week, we finished our annual testing (this year, for the first time, we did them online and loved it!) and we are now just focusing on math and reading. (Micah will also work on spelling, hopefully.)

The culminating event in the F/E school year is the Faces and Places project. Micah researched and wrote a five paragraph essay on Erik the Red. Then he turned it into a first-person presentation and read it in front of the community in costume. (His buddy made him the epic red beard.) He did such an excellent job! Mike participated in the afternoon (Essentials) portion of the day again this year, while I directed Challenge B with Ethan. This was a big help!

Ethan’s culminating event for Challenge B was participating in Mock Trial. All semester they work to come up with questions and to see the trial from all sides, learning to anticipate what someone else might say or ask to make you look guilty/untrustworthy. It’s a fantastic experience, but can be very overwhelming. They worked really hard as a group and did such a good job competing in front of a Federal Judge in his courtroom downtown.

Here are some pictures of various practice sessions and working together.

I took Ethan birding the morning of Mock Trial to try to keep his mind distracted. Then when we arrived at the courthouse I wasn’t allowed to speak with my class until the whole ordeal was done. A friend of mine snapped some pictures of the faces I was making during the trial. Hilarious.

E said it was actually fun when it was all over. Preparation paid off. Phew. =) He came home and just played on the piano for a while to decompress. It’s fun to see the influence music has over daily life around here. We went out for dinner that night as a family to celebrate.

We hosted week 14 at our home and I made lunch for my class to celebrate. And then we had a fun blue book celebration back at Hope for the final week. Micah woke up and made us breakfast before we left for the day. Ethan is dressed up like his short story character, Bruce, in that bottom picture. That was the other fun part of this semester – we all worked on writing a short story!

Last day at CC for the year pictures:

April Updates

This entry will be for all things not related to the end of the school year. (I’ll hopefully post about the school year soon.)

1.My goal for April was to play the ukulele for ten minutes every day. I didn’t even come close to reaching that goal, but E and I had a lot of fun together. He was a very good teacher and I really enjoyed learning. 2. Two Safe Family friends cheered as Micah went for a run. 3. Crazy temperature shifts in Colorado. I don’t know why it still always surprises me, as this is a common occurrence, but it does. 4. Cookie card appreciations for being a Sunday school teacher this year. What a fun idea! 5-7. We celebrated Passover again. 8. I made Easter egg nests for a church potluck. Ridiculous. But tasty. 9-10. Micah goes for runs regularly and I continue to try to get out for walks. 11. Cousin Matthew was AMAZING in his recent role in Anastasia. We loved watching him. I may have shed a few tears. This was his last play in high school. 12-13. Mike and Micah headed out for a mountain biking adventure at CCSP and E and I went birding. 14. It’s official. Ethan is actually slightly taller than me now. We have been measuring for the past couple of months since we’ve been so close. This picture doesn’t make him look taller than me because I am wearing a deceiving high ponytail, but we are standing in front of the place we officially measured ourselves. 15. Both boys have now been able to play in church. E was on the drum set this past Sunday (April 30) and Micah and I hung out at church while he practiced.

Spring Break, Part 2

The boys and I spent the remainder of our break in Naples staying with my parents and also spending a good amount of time with Aunt Sal and Uncle Brad (and Creed).

E and Grandpa went birding every morning, except Sunday, I think. (I’ll share ten of his pictures in the next post.)

Micah and I made sure to get in the pool every day. E joined us a couple of times. We also played pickle-ball with Grandpa and E most days in various combinations. (When Mike joined us for the final two days there, he also played a bunch of pickle-ball with us and enjoyed late afternoon swims.) No pictures to capture all of that fun.

One morning we enjoyed a cattle drive, explored Robert’s Ranch, and then toured Ave Maria afterwards.

We had a lot of really delicious food, including a fun dinner that Sal, Mom and I made for the guys for dinner-and-a-movie-night and homemade pizza at Brad and Sal’s.

We also did a lot of normal life, like playing Wordle, uploading and editing pictures, doing puzzles and going to the library. Uncle Brad brought over his electric bike for Ethan to try a couple times. He loved it. And because we were there over the span of two different weeks, we also had to keep up with some schooling and piano lessons.

We had a great visit. It was especially fun to remember back to the last time we had gone to Florida – the pandemic had just started and we didn’t know quite how/if we could get back home again once we got there. Such a different trip this one was! =) Thank you, again, for hosting us!

Spring Break, Part 1

Our crew headed down to Florida to visit family over our Spring Break. This worked out nicely as Mike needed to head to Uruguay for work and could fly from Miami after spending a day there with us and my folks. They met us in Miami, spent the night there, and then drove back with the boys and me while Mike continued onward to Uruguay. We made the most of our whirlwind stay in Miami and had a lot of fun.

We stayed at a hotel walking distance from the beach. We ate at a ceviche spot just up the street and later enjoyed pie in the outside courtyard there for pi day. Here Mike and Micah played some chess and Grandpa and E played a few games of corn hole. Prior to dessert and games, Mike and Micah swam in the pool on top of the building, while Grandpa and E went birding by the beach.

The following morning we woke in time for the sunrise at the beach. It was pretty cloudy, so it wasn’t as beautiful as we were anticipating, but it was still fun! We ate breakfast at the hotel before heading out to Bill Baggs State Park, a delicious Cuban restaurant, Little Havana, Domino park (where E played chess with a guy a little older than himself outside of the park since you have to be at least 55 to play inside), and then Wynwood. Next Mike headed to the airport and we drove to Naples for the rest of the week.