The school year thus far…

We’ve been having a very hot-and-cold school year thus far.  Some days are loads of fun and we are feeling on top of the world.  Other days we battle with effort and attitude in every moment of the day!  The smiles you see in these pictures are the result of a whole lotta prayer and perseverance on some days and on other days they are just shining through the whole day!

Thought I would highlight some CC stuff we’ve been doing.  Ethan started Essentials this year and it’s been going really well.  It’s definitely challenging, but he’s been reading his papers in front of the class, working on diagramming sentences, learning to speed up his math skills and is loving playing “board slam”.  Micah sits in during Essentials and he’s been picking up on little things here and there, too, which is super fun!

Micah has been going to his CC Foundations class regularly now and he loves it!  And I am really enjoying the class I am tutoring this year, too.  Here are some pictures from this past week.  We were doing abstract art!

Here are some pictures from around the house.  Ethan started keeping a reading journal.  We have one as a family, too, for our bigger read aloud books.  And I started one in August as well.  We just finished “The Bronze Bow” – we all loved it.  We also watched an author interview online, but it didn’t thrill the boys.  We’ll give it a go another time. =)

Sometimes we play school…during our homeschooling day.  It makes me laugh.

We also had the opportunity to play at Top Golf for free with a bunch of other homeschoolers in the area – many of them our friends!  This happens every month, so we’ll be taking advantage of the opportunity again!!

If you know our family well, you may know that our highs are high and our lows feel pretty low.  There’s not a whole lotta big trials, but the little day-to-day difficulties take their toll on our moods.  So, our emotions seem to run pretty deep around here.  There are not a lot of just plain good days. 😉  Our school year follows suit.  One moment we are LOVING homeschooling with all of our hearts, but the next we are wishing the boys went to school.  I was going a little insane – trying the same things over and over and expecting different results.  Then, finally, we implemented some new techniques.  One day we spent time making a poster to keep nearby highlighting the benefits of homeschooling.  I also made to-do lists that I can fill out and they can check off as we go.  I really think the Lord gave me a little rhyme to keep nearby for my own attitude check – “quick to sit, not to quit” – it reminds me to sit with or lean into the annoyances and frustrations and to not be so quick to quit and look for a way out.  And, lastly, I made an attitude/effort chart.  We’ve seen a lot of improvement in all of us. =)

6th Annual Trip

For our 6th annual trip with the Maurer family, we spent the weekend in Kansas City.  We are nearing (if we haven’t already reached it) the point when we will need to do some repeat locations, but this year was a new spot for us again.  We all enjoy spending time together and it’s been such a special treat to watch our children grow up together.

We usually spend a fair amount of time at the hotel just talking and playing.  We also all like parks and legos, so we fit in both of those activities this year.  A hike is often on all of our lists to do, but it was way too hot to spend much time outside that weekend.  We spent Friday night grabbing dinner out and playing at the hotel, Saturday out and about and Sunday back at the hotel before going our separate ways.

Here are some shots from around the hotel, including a few selfies the kids took (as requested) from their explorations around the hotel on their own.  Favorite memories include watching various plays of Piggie and Gerald books, watching all the kids try to catch the football with their elbows, sending messages/emojis/pictures with Ellie (mostly Mike and Ellie/Adam), and how sweet those girls are to my boys who want to show them their paint-by-sticker books and Legos.  Lots and lots of laughter!

Mute the video if you don’t want to hear my crazy loud laugh:

Pics from our dinners out:

Pics from the park, Legoland and the Sea Life Aquarium:

All too soon it was time to say goodbye.  The kids hugged too quickly, so we missed any cute pics of that…but I snapped a couple of Mikey saying goodbye to some of his favorite girls!  We parents left exhausted, having stayed up until midnight or WAY later both evenings we had together.  We sure enjoyed spending time with this crew again!

Quick throwback of our group from just last summer and a link to all the previous years:

 

Home, Sweet Home

We had a fantastic road trip, but we were all definitely glad to be home again.  I especially loved updating our various charts and changing our calendars.  Simple pleasures.  It doesn’t take much over here. =)

We listened to 8 audiobooks on the trip.  I’ve included a list here with some thoughts since I know some of you like that. =)

  1. Penderwicks (LOVE this book! It’s sweet and probably more geared towards girls, but it’s lots of fun)
  2. Stuart Little
  3. Alvin Ho Book 1 (the audiobooks are extra funny)
  4. Alvin Ho Book 2
  5. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place (Book 2: The Hidden Gallery) (LOVE this series, but it’s best to do the audiobook…I think the boys would like it even more in a few years, but they are really laughing hard throughout it and the mystery is lots of fun)
  6. The Horse and His Boy (CS Lewis – can’t go wrong!  It’s a good stand alone book)
  7. The Secret School
  8. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

We also added our miles from the bike ride through Yosemite:

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We really got into doing paint-by-stickers, something I had heard about at CC and also in the Read-Aloud Revival podcast, on our trip.  The boys LOVE doing them, especially when I read to them or they are listening to a book.  I am buying as many of these books as possible.  I would say that Micah started these with SO much frustration that he almost gave up, but now he can’t get enough of them.  So maybe start them at age 6 or 7…

We’ve caught up with some of our buddies – I don’t always get pictures, but I did snap a couple during some of the more recent ones.

Aunt Ashley and I started date night swaps, finally!  I had the pleasure of watching Caleb at their place  and she watched the boys here another night.  This is such a gift to all of us!!

And we were able to go to another concert for cousin, Matthew.  It rained at this one, so I didn’t end up taking any pics while we were there…but I did get this one of us walking  to it.  It was lots of fun to hear his band playing at a beautiful park.

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Other Updates

Wanted to share some pictures of life before we went on our California road trip.

The boys have been plugging away at reading books and completing their various charts.  Ethan finished all 30 (I think) books to get entered into a local bookstore’s raffle for a $50 gift certificate.  They told us he was the first person to enter into the drawing, so that was pretty exciting.  We’ll find out about that at the end of August, but in the meantime, it was a nice challenge and forced us to read outside of usual categories. =)

The boys are often found looking through Lego directions for the next Lego set they might like to buy.  They also spend a whole lotta time chatting about Legos and playing with them.

We celebrated Father’s Day with lunch at our friends’ house along with another family from church.  It was lots of fun.  No pictures, sorry.  And then that evening, Mikey went to a Dispatch concert with his bestie. =)

The boys and I went on a super fun hike with some friends from church.  It was a gorgeous hike and, after climbing a bunch of stairs, offered spectacular views!

Weather around here is crazy.  One day boys are eating popsicles on the back porch, the next day we’re experiencing a massive hail storm.  We saved the hail to show Daddio when he got back from his trip, but I’m pretty sure we still have it.

And, lastly, after we cleaned the house and got all packed up for the road trip, the boys were enjoying doing some of the art things I got for the trip.  Micah is using coloring crayons for a “stained glass” picture and Ethan is doing a “paint by sticker” page (which I highly recommend for those of you who do a lot of read-aloud in your families…but I would say they are better for kids 6+).

Grandpa & Grandma Here

We were thrilled to have my parents out for a visit for our first week of summer.  We timed it well in that they were able to keep us company while Daddio traveled, were able to see (and help at) Ethan’s field day, were able to watch his (and cousin Matthew’s) final piano recital of the year, and were around to celebrate Pentecost with us at Auntie Mel’s first (annual?!) Pentecost party.  Needless to say, we had a lovely week together.  There are lots of pictures to capture our time together, so I’ll let them do the talking.

We were pretty excited to host them.  Each boy wanted to make a welcome sign.  None of us quite understand why Micah’s sign says “only downstairs”, but at least there were lots of hearts on it. =)

This post will just feature time spent at and around our house.  Ethan played a lot of piano, sometimes with Grandma.  Micah learned how to ride his bike without training wheels with Grandpa.  We all played lots of games together in various pairs/groups.

We also had picnics on my new-to-us picnic table, watched whatever horse race was happening that weekend, watched Micah’s magic show and listened to Grandma read a couple of chapter books to us  (the last picture just shows them coloring in their summer reading charts).

As usual, my parents did all kinds of helpful projects around the house – things they assure me they enjoy doing when they visit.  We did a lot of gardening and backyard clean up.  My dad made me a beautiful table box.  My mom made us all new pillow covers.  And there were lots of other little projects here and there, too, like hanging our patio lights and reinforcing the stair guardrail.  I’m no doubt forgetting lots of things, but these projects are SO appreciated!!

And here are some of my Dad’s pictures from in and around the house over the week.  I always like to keep his pics separate from mine since they are so much better and deserve a little cred. =D

In the next posts, I’ll highlight some of our out-of-the-house-activities. =)

My Retreat

This past weekend my dear friend, Amy, and I went on our third retreat to the mountains.  We laughed a lot, prayed a lot, and hiked even more!  In total, we probably hiked a good 6+ hours throughout the weekend.  We hiked for at least 4 hours on Saturday before it was even time to eat lunch!  =)  It’s refreshing to spend time with a dear friend in a beautiful place doing some of the things I most enjoy – hiking, reading, journaling and painting!

This year, we spent our retreat at Glen Eyrie.  You’ve heard me mention this place before – Amy and I went to a tea there in January and I went to our church women’s retreat there before that!  It’s a beautiful spot and you’re almost sure to see big horn sheep, deer and wild turkeys.  From there, we even hiked into the Garden of the Gods park, but we found that being around people after hiking for hours without seeing anyone was really not for us. =)

Here are some pictures from our lovely retreat:

Meanwhile at home, Ethan gave piano lessons and the guys did a whole lotta wrestling.  I also hear they played another game of Risk Legacy and now we have mutants with which to contend.  E said, “I can’t wait to play this with Uncle Ger – he’s going to be so surprised at all of the changes in the game!”

HUGE thanks to Mikey for being so gracious.  He was supportive and encouraging of this which helped me to have a guilt-free vacation away to refresh!!

Life Lately

We go through phases around here with toys/games/activities.  Last week the boys were really into making homemade board games and playing the ones we had made a few years ago.  It was pretty fun!  And some games made a lot more sense than others…

Playing with cars is another cyclical thing around here.  They can go months without even touching them and then they will start playing with them every day.  We’re in a car stage right now.  The boys are doing lots of races and building various tracks.

Here are some shots from the last couple of weeks of homeschooling.  In honor of the olympics/par core they were doing with their cousins, we made an obstacle course and answered memory work questions from CC after they completed a run.  We’ve been reading a bunch of good books lately – we finished “Johnny Tremain” and then watched the movie (book > movie) and the “Orphan of Ellis Island”.  E and I are reading “The Princess and the Goblin” currently.  Micah continues to read Bob books and loves watching his preschool prep videos (especially if E watches with him).

The boys spent a couple of Saturdays with cousins (and aunt and uncle) recently.  We sure love living by these guys!  Auntie sent me some pictures of the boys playing and helping out:

Reggie joined us at church a couple weeks ago.  It was such a treat to have him there with us.  He married us in that church almost 12 years ago, so we grabbed a picture of the three of us again!  He’s a big blessing to us.

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The boys are still enjoying playing Risk with their Daddio.  Lots of new things have been happening in this game, so for those of you who played back at Christmas…just you wait! =)

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And we’ve been enjoying watching the Olympics most nights.  Sometimes they watch in costume.

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