Since we’ve been home…

We had a very quiet first week home from Wisconsin. We were under the weather (just the same colds we saw hit most of the fam on our trip) so we laid low. It was actually quite a delightful way to return. We did some schooling, but didn’t have CC until the following week. Teaching Micah is a whole different animal than teaching Ethan. E likes to check things off his list and has no need to do extra work on the side. Micah loves to do extra work (writing extra words, drawing connections in spelling, making his digital clocks look like real clocks, etc.) We also had piano lessons on Zoom (they did some work together on rhythm at the start).

Since then we’ve had CC twice at our home church (where we worship), which was fun. Mike even taught some stocks/finances for Challenge 1 this week.

We’ve also been getting some use out of Christmas presents.

We’ve had some beautifully warm days (high 50s and 60s) and some gorgeous snow days, too. I’ve been blown away at the beauty I see on my regular walks.

And, lastly, we’ve been playing quite a few games lately. Mike caught me snapping this one and gave us this really charming look. “Why are you taking a picture of us playing a game?” he asked. “So I can post this beauty on the website.” =D

The second part of our vacation in Wisconsin

After my siblings and their families came back in town, we spent most days and nights together. Mike went over to Jen and J’s new house to work a couple of the days. And I hear they had great Mexican food one of those days. One of the evenings we enjoyed a tasty meal over at Ger and Lauren’s home and another afternoon we celebrated Lauren’s birthday at Jen and Jason’s. Other highlights included opening presents, lots of football/soccer outside for cousins, tons of game-playing, some decorating of cookies, lots of music-making (including a concert for all), and celebrating New Years Eve together. Scattered throughout our time together were little bouts of sicknesses and some covid tests (just to be sure – all negative), but nothing could damper our time together. It was just so much fun!

Decorating cookies:

Making music:

Eating and laughing at Ger and Lauren’s. The best was teaching Salina knock, knock jokes and Eddie’s not-quite-interrupting interrupting cow jokes:

Celebrating Aunt Lauren’s birthday:

Playing games:

Opening presents (including handmade blankets for each grandchild):

Celebrating the New Year (We made crepes and then enjoyed lots of musical numbers – uke, trombone and cello; piano duets; piano solos; and marble works trumpet-playing. E stayed up and played a game with his uncles and Dad until we all toasted the New Year at midnight):

Various pictures from the week together that don’t fit nicely in a category: Salina worked on her part of the Christmas jammy shirt for Grandpa. Ethan was able to help at Aunt Jen’s warehouse when a shipment came in. I understand he worked hard and did a nice job. He was pretty excited about the whole thing! Lots of block-building, reading together, marble run-making, and puzzles. And I often found E and Grandpa discussing birds, photography or (in this case) plants for the backyard to attract more birds and get better pictures. =D And the picture of Eddie and Mike reminds me of Eddie telling Uncle Mike that he was going to order three things from the restaurant – one of which was beer. That kid knows how to make people laugh.

Enjoying a little extra time together on the first day of the new year when our flight was cancelled:

And, finally, I will conclude with a few of my favorite posed (or silly or we-just-have-to-check-out-that-picture-we-just-took) pictures from the week. Sadly, the one day we caught Grandpa in his new shirt Salina was not at the house with her jammies. So, we snapped some pics with Grandpa and all of his grandsons this time. Thankfully we did get some pics of all the grandkids together a different day.

Hopefully these pics capture the joy of being together over the holiday season. We sure had a great time!

The low-key first part of Wisconsin

On Sunday night, our crew drove back to Wisconsin to stay at my folks’ home. There we spent some delightful, low-key days, primarily just with Grandpa and Grandma (although we had some extra special days with Auntie Sal, too) We had a little bit of overlap time with the whole family the first part of that week, before my siblings headed out to spend time with their in-laws — in Michigan and in Chicago — for the Christmas weekend.

We played a lot of games – Codenames, Pinochle (which my mom used to play a lot and re-learned on the computer before teaching us), and Saboteur. It was funny to see how difficult it was for the boys to ever believe anyone could be bad in that game. Such sweet, trusting guys they are!

There was a lot of artwork done. Some cooking with Grandma. And lots of reading and relaxing.

On Christmas Eve, we worshipped together. Then we enjoyed our annual shepherd’s meal celebration. We did this inside this year since it was a little rainy. I think we’ve all decided inside is lovely. =D And then Mike and I watched “Scrooge” (aka A Christmas Carol) “with” my parents. This is a Christmas tradition (that Mike was apparently unaware of, despite being married to me for 15 years…). I grew up watching this black and white movie with my fam every year since it’s my dad’s favorite. The new tradition is to watch it while they sleep in the chairs surrounding us. Very memorable for all. =D

On Christmas morning we stayed in our jammies for a long time, ate delicious apple pancakes, and eventually watched the Packers game all snuggled up together.

Next up: more time in Wisconsin with the whole fam.

Christmas Reunion in Michigan

Our crew flew into Grand Rapids on Friday afternoon, grabbed some dinner to go and then drove about 45 minutes to the CRC conference grounds where we met up with the rest of my extended family (on my Mom’s side) for a weekend of fun at the cottages.

The set up here is absolutely lovely. We stay in one cottage with my bro and his family. My sister and her family stay with my folks in another. And the rest of the Fennema clan stay in four other cottages all in a row. Our boys can roam from one home to the next visiting people all weekend. We always spend a few hours all together in a large rented room for meals, games, and opening gifts. (Yes, this is the time we sing at least 32 rounds of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” so that each person is wished a Merry Christmas from the whole group.) We also usually get out for a hike at least once. It’s one of our favorite parts of the Christmas season.

Here’s a look at life in the various cottages. Eddie (3) sang two verses of “How Firm a Foundation” while strumming away on the ukulele. Tears.

Auntie Lauren worked with the kids in our cottage to make our Christmas gift for my dad: a new jammy t-shirt with handprints from all of his grandkids. She worked with Salina when we were back in Wisconsin.

Hiking to Lake Michigan:

A few pics from the conference grounds: