The week in review

We are getting more use out of our new deck. Often Mike takes work calls from out there. Sometimes the boys sit out there to read. And Mike and I spend many nights chatting once the boys are down for bed. (Yes, the healing in our family has been SO great that I can be outside now while they fall asleep – so thankful!) One evening this week I let the boys stay up late to watch for bats – they were thrilled, but it did take a long time before they showed up. Thankfully we had a good audiobook going while we waited. =)

We also started going to the Reservoir by our house for some stand up paddle boarding. We went one evening when it was a little choppy and then we went on a weekend morning before it got too busy and the water was very calm. We are hoping this becomes a regular part of our weekly routines, just like our Saturday morning sprint workouts have become.

Our first night out:

Morning 2:

Other happenings include a lot of piano playing and walks. The family shot is a picture Ethan took with his tripod and timer a few weeks ago – he emailed it to me this week. And the boys do not like Mike’s reading/computer glasses, but I think they’re cute. And I especially love when both of those guys wear them at the same time!

Early July

Mikey and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary on the first of this month. When we took a selfie at the top of the mountain we climbed as a family that day, it reminded us both of the selfie we took on one of our 14ers that we used on our wedding day for people to sign. We’ve been climbing mountains and having other fun adventures together for 18 years already!

We hiked Chief Mountain – a 3 mile hike with spectacular views about 45 minutes from our house I think. It was absolutely fabulous – enough work that felt good, but not exhausting. =)

That night, we had sushi take out as a family. Later, Mikey and I enjoyed Cherry Wine from Door County, WI (which I bought at Mars Cheese Castle last June when we stayed in Wisconsin for the month) on our deck.

We celebrated the 4th with a challenging, but fun 1776 workout. This meant that we worked together to complete various movements that totaled up to 1776. It was a lot of fun. Micah led us in the hand stands, as that is his speciality and the rest of us can barely do a donkey kick. =D Later we had our annual 4th of July dessert of fruit and homemade whipped cream. And we took two nights to watch Hamilton together. What an incredible show! Ethan had already seen it LIVE, but he liked seeing it again and said he picked up on more of the story the second time around. We also enjoyed “butterscotch on the rocks”, which we learned about from a fun book series (Royal Rabbits of London). We used stevia droppers with butterscotch flavor and Ethan used chocolate, since he doesn’t like butterscotch.

We also all finally have working bikes, so we’ve done some family bike rides, including a ride around Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Other snapshots of life in early July include a lot of piano-playing, drawing, eating at Micah’s home restaurant, and listening to Daddio read to us.

Rounding out June

Our neighbor brought over her old pool for Mallory and she went in it a couple times. We had hoped she’d want to swim around more, but she usually just went in for the corn and came back out again. Sadly, it’s now been a couple weeks since we’ve seen her. We’re missing our little pet. =(

I haven’t shared any pictures of the backyard on here, yet, because I was hoping to make a dramatic unveiling of all of the progress. That will come in a later post, when it’s all finished. The work has been slow and steady and we officially have a deck with railings now. We’ve had a couple meals out there. Mike starts most mornings from there and Micah read his first book solo out there. We are going to love this new space!

We’ve been keeping busy with much of the same activities – walks, books, biking, hiking, playing piano and checking out birds. Micah also learned how to do Sudoku, so that’s been fun! And they play hangman together occasionally, too.

Other happenings include the boys’ attempt at starting a weeding lawn care business. We haven’t had any calls, yet, but they enjoyed making their flyer and delivering them to the houses in our neighborhood. Ethan and I took down the storm doors in the front while we still had the dumpster available. Micah wanted to take a pic of him enjoying the coconut water Auntie Mel brought over for us. Both boys played a little piano for Grandma Cleve over FaceTime. And Mike snapped this shot of Micah as a soldier. Micah also learned about graphs and made a creative one to capture his mini-fig collection.

On Fathers’ Day we headed to the mountains for a drive and a little birding walk. We grabbed some shakes to go along the way.

And one of the recent sprint workouts we took a snapshot before and after it.

More of June

We are spending much of our time playing LEGO (as proved by my last post), listening to books, going for walks (mostly for the boys to take pictures or for me to get some solo time, depending on the day and circumstances) or bike rides (the boys have been doing loops on their own now) and playing games. While we listen to books, however, we often play solitaire or color in Querkles (and Micah has been making some of his own). Ethan is getting pretty good at fast scrabble. We prefer to play that way than the traditional way as it keeps us moving and thinking differently (read: we don’t get bored when we play this way).

We also play a lot of piano – even doing silly things for Ethan’s piano practice like playing with a roll of toilet paper on his head or blindfolded.

Mallory continues to visit, although we learned that her eggs had been eaten by a fox last week.

On Saturdays the family walks over to the track nearby to do our sprint workout. We all love this new tradition!

The boys also come up with other unique ways to spend their time, like building parachutes to go out the window or making crafts.

And the three guys made homemade arugula pesto the other night. (I am not a fan of pesto, so I wasn’t involved in this one). They were very proud of how it turned out.

Also, Micah let me cut his hair and we all love it so much. (Actually, I can’t tell if Micah loves it as much as the rest of us…but I think he likes it)

LEGO Masters

As you already know, we are big fans of having LEGO competitions as a family. We’ve continued to do these throughout this summer, varying the teams and the themes.

This was an individual competition with the boys and Mom, building a place you’d like to visit. Micah did England and France depicted in his bakery with a constable; Ethan did Greece and I did Cinque Terre, Italy (also depicted in our puzzle). Dad voted for Ethan’s build. He was not impressed with mine. =(

This was also an individual competition with the boys and Mom, building a scene from a book. Micah did Robo-Sauce, Ethan did Wings of Fire and I did The Secret Garden. I believe Micah won this one.

Next we did a National Park build, Ethan against Mom. Micah was the judge and he liked Ethan’s build of Fort Sumter, more than my build of Arches National Park. Dad also agreed. No one really appreciated my river and waterfall, since we aren’t sure they are actual present in the park. Oops.

Micah and I competed in a restaurant build. Micah made a pretty sweet pizza shop, but my smoothie stand on the beach won.

Micah likes being the judge, so he had Ethan and I do another build against each other: a scene from a movie. We tied, I think, because everyone was very impressed with our ideas. I built Up and Ethan built The Great Escape.

Can you tell that this is one of our favorite pastimes?

Next, Micah and I were assigned to build a room in a house. Micah chose to do a kitchen, while I built the boys’ bedroom (complete with coin labs). Micah won this build.

Lastly, the boys competed against the parents in a task to build a fun family memory. We had lots of votes during one of our weekly Zoom chats and the boys took the victory. The parents were highly criticized for primarily using pieces that were already put together in our depiction of Yosemite. Meanwhile, the boys created everything from scratch to show the fun we had in Florida looking for birds. Look closely and you’ll find Grandpa and the boys taking pictures with cameras while Mom is on the stairs taking pictures with her phone. =)

I imagine this will not be the end of our LEGO masters builds. Stay tuned for more. =D

Birding and more…

The new tripod and bird books have brought new life to our regular walks.  We spent the first morning after his birthday at the marsh area in the park by our house.  Ethan just did some bird watching and picture-taking; Micah did that as well as his Math.  Ethan has now joined me on my daily walks to the pond a couple times, too – always with his tripod and camera and asks me to record each bird we see on my phone so that he can update his bird book when we get back.

All four of us drove in the car for the first time in 2.5 months. We drove out to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to do some more picture-taking and bird-watching. Mike spotted a Bald Eagle (and also some very exotic airplanes) and a coyote for us! Obviously the Bald Eagle was pretty exciting, but the coyote turned out to be pretty fun, too. He was hunting and dug up a snake (rather than a prairie dog) and was quite surprised. We also got to hear him howling to his friends somewhere in the distance.

Playing the piano, reading books and listening to books (including Farmer Boy which is being read by Grandma over FaceTime) are also fun ways we spend our days.

Happy 11th Birthday!

This is almost impossible for me to believe – Ethan turned 11 at the start of this month!  We teased him a lot about turning 10 instead, since 11 just feels too old.  Micah even went so far as to write “Happy 10th Birthday” all over his gifts for Ethan.

I always try to sneak in a final picture with my boys before they turn the next year older, so this is my final picture with my 10 year old.

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One of our family birthday traditions is to let the birthday person choose all of the meals for the day. Ethan chose pancakes and bacon for breakfast, grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch, and Greek turkey burgers, homemade applesauce and sweet potato fries for dinner. He also had a delicious ice cream cake.

We also try to do something special with our birthday guy. This year had a lot of limitations, obviously, but it didn’t really phase him.  In typical Ethan-fashion, he wrote out a list of things he wanted to do for the day. He was happy to play frisbee golf in the park with the family, put together an 11-themed work out, and go for a nature walk to take pictures together at night (we had given him the tripod – the one thing he requested multiple times throughout the year – as our big gift to him).

He received lots of cards, emails, FaceTime chats, gifts, and videos (see the videos below from some of his cousins) throughout the week. Thanks for making him feel so special!

This guy is something special.  He is kind and smart.  He is disciplined and motivated. And he loves the Lord and people. We are super proud of this 5’0″ young man. He’s a treat to parent and always has been!

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Updates from May

Ethan had his first virtual piano recital.  We were asked to make videos and post them on our YouTube channel and then E’s piano teacher put together a playlist of everyone’s pieces, along with a scavenger hunt and chance to vote for the pieces we liked best in each category.  Here are the links for E’s pieces:

I wanted to post a video from my nephews – they were dancing all around while listening to Ethan play piano.  It was darling.  I can’t figure out how to post it, so ask Lauren if you want to see. =D

We’ve also done a lot of playing piano through the Piano Maestro app as a family.  We are competing against one another – the boys are in the lead by a whole lot so far!  It’s been lots of fun to challenge ourselves in this way and fun for the boys to have such a big lead.

We’ve gone for lots of walks, both as a family, individually and in pairs.  I don’t think I’ve missed a day since early May (whenever my hives finally left for good) and Mike walked for over 10 miles one day. The boys go for walks to take pictures of flowers and birds. E and I even went for a walk in the rain one evening.

We’ve also started doing some track workouts as a family.  Our first work out at the track was a sprint work out – 20 seconds of sprinting followed by 2 minutes of rest for 6 rounds. We are trying to do this every week (2 down so far!). On Memorial Day we did a modified Murph work out.  Micah started out running one lap and then doing hand stands and squats and then ran another lap (and then he did 2 more for fun!) to finish his workout.  Meanwhile, Ethan and I both ran 3 laps and then did 70 push ups and 100 squats before running another 3 laps.  Daddio did the same, except with 4 laps and maybe 100 push ups (I can’t remember for sure).  It’s a fun new challenge for us and something we can do all together.  We hadn’t hit a track since back in our Georgia days!

Another thing we do to keep busy is play frisbee golf in the park by our house.  We do this a couple times every week.

Mallory, our mallard, keeps us busy, too.  She visits every day and is fed by Micah at least twice each day.  She likes to fly up to our roof to say hello and also peeks in at us in the playroom, too.  She even flew around the house and watched me do laundry one week. And we found her in the park during one of our frisbee golf rounds – she didn’t shy away from Micah, so we knew it was her.