Here are some pictures from life around the house. Ethan got a photo editing program for Christmas and spends a lot of time editing his pictures and sending emails to his buddies. We started our usual January challenge of reading out loud for 10 minutes every day. Micah likes to teach art classes to whoever will participate. He got to teach Daddio this weekend and was thrilled. You can see his art wall behind his office. We went for a long walk/bike ride (boys ride with one walkie talkie and the parents walk with the other one) this past weekend while the temps were nice and warm. And Micah loves to play the piano and is considering taking lessons in the fall.
We are back to meeting in our backyard for CC community days. So far we’ve had pretty decent weather, although the mornings are pretty chilly. One morning Micah wanted to impress everyone with his ability to handle the cold by wearing short sleeves. Others joined in until it really got unbearable and everyone needed to put on their layers.
We’ve also been getting back into our regular schooling routine around the house. Micah is learning division with remainders, so there are some pics of him decorating our whiteboard as he figures those problems out! And Ethan has begun keeping track of his goals and work on a weekly planner. He’s also resumed his virtual piano lessons.
The boys are working on keeping their snow fort for as long as possible. It’s become a bit of a science project for them. They’ve made lots of updates over the weeks, and it’s still standing strong!
And we’ve been enjoying Packer picnics while cheering on our team to the Super Bowl! This past weekend found way too much joy in making cheese carrots to trick the boys.
Before I post a couple of pictures from our New Year’s celebrations, I thought I’d put in a few of pictures taken from the other side of our Zoom gatherings with the fam.
On New Year’s Eve, we stayed up (thanks for Micah for keeping us awake!) until midnight when we all toasted the new year with sparkling cider. We had crepes for dinner, as we often do, and spent the rest of the evening playing games and reading books. Mike had set a goal for us to finish all of The Chronicles of Narnia books during 2020/covid, so we had a few chapters to finish in order to check that one off our “list”. I finished the puzzle Ethan had made for us for Christmas. It was VERY hard! And I set some reading challenges for myself for the year.
On New Year’s Day, we had a virtual murder mystery activity with the fam. LOTS of fun! It is something that has been on my bucket list, so that was extra fun for me! Still can’t believe Uncle Jason was the murderer or that all three guys in my fam guessed it correctly!
Thankful for 2020 and all the ways we’ve grown through it and excited for the new year!
I listened to a lovely book recently that talked about the belief when World War I began that it would “be done by Christmas” and realized that I had held that belief about Covid, too. World War I wasn’t done by that first Christmas, or by the next one. And Covid isn’t done either. So, our Christmas this year looked very different than it has every other year. As I was reflecting on the sadness I felt to be far from my family for the first time in 8 years over Christmas (we didn’t travel when Micah was first born), a dear friend of mine pointed out the blessing I have in my family. I had told her that I was accustomed to being so rejuvenated over the holidays because of all of my time with them and I wasn’t experiencing it this year. I am still feeling fatigued and in need of rejuvenation. God has blessed me a lot through them – what a gift that I didn’t even fully realize I had! It’s good to take stock and count those blessings, even the ones that seem so obvious. I always knew I had fun over the holidays, but I didn’t realize how much that time prepared me for the next months of life, too.
Anyway, enough musings. We really did have a lovely Christmas season! So many beautiful memories were made! I’ll start with some fun, non-Advent/Christmas-related pictures:
The first is a little snapshot that I took for my bro – he and I used to snag the very best cookies (similar to these, although green) when our family got our box of cookies from family friends each year. I decided to make them with the leftover cornflakes from the sweet potato casserole. Great plan! We also attempted to see the “Christmas Star” of Jupiter and Saturn – awesome experience! Thanks, Grandma Cleve, for reminding me about this!! Much of our day is filled with listening to books and… the ‘and’ is followed by LEGO, coins, marble run, drawing, etc. Micah chose to do some painting one day. We played a few games another night.
Some Advent activities leading up to Christmas day included a “choose your favorite and re-do it” event which was a great hit. The boys chose to have another sleepover and watch a Christmas movie. We also had our Christmas Recital – thank you to all of our audience members who made it SO much fun! Mike started us off with a little portion of a Coldplay song which brought much merriment to all. And on Christmas Eve we zoomed with Grandma Cleve and then had our annual Shepherds meal where we eat by the fire and pretend to be shepherds on the night the angels came with the Good News of Jesus.
We had a very relaxing, but enjoyable Christmas Day. Each boy opened a present and then I set to work on a breakfast “feast”. Then we opened some more presents, including one that Mike included a scavenger hunt around the house in order to find for the boys (great fun!). We ate a late lunch of ham, tasty sides, and sparkling cider. We zoomed with Grandpa Russ and Uncle David and did a little recital for them. And then we played some more games and read books and just enjoyed the peace of the season. =)
The following morning we opened presents with my fam in Wisconsin over Zoom. We were thrilled that after each person did a full quarantine for 2 weeks, they could all be together for a couple weeks at my folks’ house. It brought tears to my eyes just to see those sweet cousins hugging each other again after 9 long months! (they get together regularly, but have always been distanced and outside, so this was BIG!) Ornaments made me cry. Ethan had a zoom session with Grandpa to get tips on his new photo-editing software. Lots of fun.
That afternoon we drove up to Longmont for some birding and we saw our first Great Horned Owl. It was pretty incredible! It happened to be very busy there that day, but the views are spectacular.
Other highlights included presents from cadet leaders at church for the boys (how thoughtful!!), a special recital with Reggie, playing our new game from the Hengevelds (thrice!), and Micah teaching an art class for his cousins (and then being taught one from them, too!). There were more zooms thrown in there, too, but I apparently didn’t take any pictures of them. :/
Advent activities for the past couple weeks included breakfast by the fire, making Christmas cookies, ice cream sundaes (on a Sunday, of course ;)), a family sleepover, making Christmas cards, watching a virtual performance of The Nutcracker, going for a winter hike, a drive to see Christmas lights, a family wrestling match (Ethan won), and a white winter breakfast for the first day of winter:
Other activities in December (fun in the snow, pics from various walks, virtual church with our very own Advent “wreath” (thanks, Auntie Mel!!), time by the fire, timeline lessons with Auntie Sal and Grandpa and Grandma (look closely and you’ll see I’m sporting a mustache), piano-playing, watching Ivan and Abe in their virtual choir performance for their church, playing with LEGO, our Hope sign (another thanks to Auntie Mel), and watching “The Grinch” over Zoom with the family:
We hope your December is filled with much cheer and good memories! It may not look the way it looks most years, but there is still lots of joy to be found.
The boys and I were feeling pretty sad after Daddio and Grandpa Russ left. Mike stayed in Missouri for another five days to help get things settled there, so we spent some time solo again for the first time in a very long time! That first day we wanted to do something a little special – so we went birding at Cherry Creek Reservoir. Couldn’t have asked for a more lovely way to spend some hours to lighten our heavy hearts.
Advent activities while Dad was out included making homemade egg nog (yum!!), secret acts of kindness day (no pictures of that, obviously!), breakfast for dinner, picking up trash around our park with friends (followed by a snowball fight), and a Christmas art class.
And here are some other pics from throughout that week (virtual church, workouts during memory work review, Ethan reading in a tree, Grandma reading to us, snow on one of my walks, and my favorite cozy spot after a long day of parenting solo):
On Micah’s Birthday Eve, we took our usual mama and me picture and he shared some of his special homemade cookies. Our friend didn’t realize he was turning 9, so we used the ‘8’ cookies on his final day of being 8. =) Aren’t they beautiful?