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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Life at Home

This guy officially finished his Vex robotic thing:

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And both boys reached their reading goals for January!  This meant personal pan pizzas for everyone!  I failed to fill out the forms this year…so we didn’t get to use the awesome free bookit program.  I’ll figure this homeschooling thing out one of these days. =)

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Below are some pics from our homeschooling life.  As you can see, it involves a lot of reading.  Sometimes the boys just sit and listen, but other times they color, do puzzles or paint.  One day I even had them draw comics to the story I was reading.  Micah started using a new handwriting book and seems to enjoy it.  Ethan has started tracking his Magic Tree House books on the website again.  He’s read all of the books and enjoys re-reading them in the mornings before he’s allowed to start playing.  I warned him that he’ll need to start reading more challenging books soon, but for now I love that he enjoys a good story! =)

The boys have a lot of fun using their headphones.  Sometimes they listen to their CC memory work music; sometimes they are listening to picture books being read to them.  I love to see them enjoying the headphones!

As promised, here’s a video of Ethan singing part of our Latin song for memorizing John 1.  We also are learning it in English.  It’s a super fun song, so that helps!

We ended up watching the Super Bowl at home this year.  We made sure to eat some fun snacks and had a really nice afternoon/evening.  It helped that the team we *all* wanted desperately to win won!  Oh my word, these two were cracking me up! =)

Also, throwback to 5 years ago…I took this picture of the boys and put the caption, “The boys just found out the Packers aren’t in the Super Bowl”. =)

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Speaking of long ago…we took out a game I made for the boys years ago for the first time in a long time again tonight.  We enjoyed playing the game of “Action” together. It involves things like push ups and squats and running up and down stairs.  =)

Life Lately, Homeschool Edition

We had the opportunity to attend a “Symphony through the Ages” intended for kids last week.  It started with Pachelbel’s Canon from the Baroque period and moved all the way through the modern era with Star Wars.  I learned something new – when Beethoven was composing, people listening would be eating, talking, singing along, etc.  The symphony wasn’t always a quiet and respectful event!  Interesting. =)  We even got to pretend we were watching his 5th Symphony during those days and talk while it was playing.  Such a strange experience!

We went with other friends of our from CC/church and had a school-related playdate during the day with them that day, too.  It was lots of fun to have 4 kids working on school together at various levels over different subjects.  They did really well together!

Here’s a little glimpse into our CC community day:

And a little glimpse into our daily life at home:

Micah has been making some serious progress with reading these days.  My friend, Amy, recommended the Preschool Prep Company videos and has lent them to us and they have helped build Micah’s confidence so very much.  He set a goal to read 15 books (mostly the Bob books you see here) this month.  He’s at 14 right now, so if he reads one more…he will be getting the Pizza Hut pizza he wants!

Ethan finished the first semester math book and officially started his second semester book today.  He was very excited about this and has been making some serious improvements in sticking with problems (especially word problems) that are hard!  He’s also doing a great job learning John 1 in Latin and in English (we’re all working on it, but Ethan’s got it done a little more confidently than the rest of us).  Hopefully we’ll have a video someday soon. =)

Life Lately

We’ve gotten back into our normal rhythm of life since our extended Christmas vacation.  We started homeschooling, CC, PE+, CBS, Cadets/Kids’ Club, and whatever else our weeks are made up of these days.  We’ve also had lots of time at home – a calming effect on all of us. =)

Ethan has spent some time working on his VEX thing from Grandpa and Grandma.  He discovered a missing piece, which delayed him, but the company promptly sent him a new one!  He’s still working on finishing the completed product, but it’s pretty cool right now!  He hopes to do a presentation at CC on it one of these days.

We’ve played a lot of games recently, too.  It’s pretty sunny in our home during certain hours of the afternoon.  E needed sunglasses!  Mike was being silly and refusing to turn his train so was playing from the kitchen. =)

It snowed quite a bit two weekends ago.  Ethan wanted to shovel as soon as he woke up, so we let him!  He’s a hard worker and really enjoys doing things like this for us!  We needed to do a little more shoveling after it snowed for a few more hours, so E and I did a bit and then headed to our big hill for some sledding.

I took the boys to the library for a cooking class last week.  We had a really nice time together.  We’ll be doing some more library activities this next month!

We did a little reorganizing of the playroom, again. =)

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My dear friend told me about Tinker Crates before Christmas, so we decided to give them a shot.  Essentially they have science and art projects in little boxes for kids based on their ages and the boxes come every month.  We’ve opened one for Christmas (a month late because I didn’t realize both of the boys’ crates were in the same big box) and one for January and have been really pleased with them.  The boys have thanked us every day for them since they opened them.  We’ll see if it continues to be a fun thing for them, but I definitely like that it teaches them things that I wouldn’t have come up with on my own!!  And you better believe this kind of thing gets to count towards homeschooling. =)  So far, we’ve gotten arcade games (i.e. making a catapult and a claw), a nightlight, and a my body kit (including a fun glow in the dark “X-ray”).  Pretty fun!

We also finally filled our first jar with beads!  This has been a fun and effective way to encourage habits like putting away dishes and school work, responding when you’ve been spoken to, doing your work with a positive attitude and going to bed well.  The boys were pretty jazzed when the jar was totally full!  This time we decided to get massive cones of ice-cream! Whoa.

Homeschool edition to follow… =)

Home again!

One of the things I most enjoy about being home again after such a long, fun vacation is just getting into our routine.  Routine and rhythm do my soul good and I love getting back into it again.  Part of our rhythm is me making oatmeal (or some other breakfast) in the morning.  Another part is updating our calendar (it was so fun to see all the days not crossed off and to start a fresh new month).  The boys enjoy routine, too.  Part of their rhythm is playing piano and doing art projects – they were eager to get back into it!  Micah also enjoys making snacks for everybody and Ethan enjoys writing his own music.  Another thing we so enjoy is getting back to our church.  This particular Sunday we were talking about “Ebenezers” – you may remember my post about this recently – and Micah wanted to put up a stone representing how much he’s grown in his courage, thanks to the Lord. =)

The biggest part of our routine and daily rhythm is, of course, homeschool.  We eased our way back into this, since it’s a hard transition for the boys.  I think they enjoyed getting back into it, too!  We also started something new – essentially we have a goal to fill up the jar with the bow on it by doing good things such as putting away dishes or books, going to bed without a fuss, responding when they have been spoken to, finishing an assignment without complaining, etc., etc..  They can also lose beads for negative behavior or attitudes.  Anyway, it’s been a fun system and the boys seem very motivated by it!  It’s a whole lotta work to be consistent with it, but it’s been an easy and calm way to keep us all on track. =)

Part of our homeschool rhythm is going to Classical Conversations.  The boys were mostly excited to get back.  We are doing a new unit in Fine Arts – studying great artists!  I love this unit because it means creative and beautiful artwork!  Both boys did presentations on our recent travels and their highlights.

Being home again also means the boys are back to playing legos, dressing up with Daddio for battle, and going for bike rides with Mom.

It also means I am back to trying new recipes.  We got the new Nom Nom cookbook and I made my first ever egg drop soup.  Everyone loved it! Yay for a new recipe!

We also took down Christmas decorations and put up some new every day “art”:

It’s good to be back in our home and doing the things that make us settle into being at home again!

Fifth Stop: Wisconsin

After Michigan and our brief stop in Illinois, we settled down in Wisconsin again.  Here we celebrated Christmas with opening presents, ate lots of good food, played games and read books and rung in the New Year.  (We also spent time with Cass and Adam and their family, but I’ll do a separate post on that!)

Opening presents:

Working on Grandpa’s new shirt:

Playing games, putting together presents, reading books, etc:

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Lunch at Gerrit and Lauren’s home:

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New Year’s Eve (the boys made it until 11 and then fell asleep watching home videos):

Obviously, we had a fantastic time in Wisconsin with our family!  Thanks for hosting, Mom and Dad, even without a working kitchen!  =)