Part 1: Michigan

We spent the majority of June on the road visiting various midwest favorites: Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Missouri.  We started by driving to Michigan for my cousins’ wedding.

We’ve found our rhythm for road trips: I drive and listen to audiobooks with the boys (finished Penderwicks in Spring and Hatchet on this portion), while Mike works (and apparently sometimes naps when his schedule allows).  He does all the directions, getting gas, and deciding on food.  It works well!

We arrived in Michigan before the rest of the family, so we enjoyed a quiet evening with my grandpa which was definitely a highlight for me.  I’m not sure I’ve ever had hours of chatting with only him like that.  Such a gift.  This was Ethan’s last night as a 9 year old, so I took some pictures of our evening.  The boys are still working towards their goal of reading aloud for ten minutes for 275 days of the year (I think that’s the goal…I should have written it down somewhere!!).

The following day we celebrated Ethan’s birthday a bit and went to the wedding.  I have a few favorite memories from that day: Eddie dancing with Ger at dinner, Abe and Ivan crushing the dance floor with their moves, and Ivan calling Aunt Dawn a princess when he saw her waiting to greet us, Salina giving kisses to Micah, all the boys teasing Uncle Brad, etc. etc. It was a fun day!

The following day we went to church and then had a picnic in the park.

After the fun, we drove to Wisconsin for the next part of our trip.  Michigan was short, but very sweet!

Micah Turns 7!

We really enjoyed celebrating Micah’s 7th birthday.  He is probably the most generous (and the most stubborn) kid I’ve ever known.  But because of his generosity, he’s pretty fun to spoil!  He was ecstatic to get to go out for dinner at The Melting Pot – something we did a couple nights before his actual birthday because of scheduling.

This was the final picture of our 6 year old!

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We had cousin Matthew over for his actual birthday, which also happened to be a school day.  We opened presents throughout the day and had waffles for dinner.  He also invited a couple friends (all brothers) over to play at the park during the afternoon.  He wanted purple decorations (for royalty) and seven 7s around the house.

He had the joy of spreading his birthday cheer a little longer, too, with gifts and cards coming in after his special day.  He LOVED it!

He was spoiled by and oh-so-grateful to SO many of you.  Thanks for loving on this little spitfire of a guy.  He prays very specifically (especially for people who are sad, mad or homeless) and has an uncanny read on others’ emotions.  He’s going to be a great leader someday and he is certainly not going to be following the crowd since he’s not a people-pleaser. 😉 We love him something fierce and are eager to see how the Lord uses him in his life.

Family Updates

Great Granny A suffered a stroke the week of Thanksgiving and has been in our prayers. We were able to talk to her on Skype on Thanksgiving day – technology is such a gift!  We are feeling thankful that she is alive and healing!

Thanksgiving Day was my Grandpa’s birthday.  I appreciated getting pictures of him enjoying his special day with the family in Michigan:

The following day our newest member of the family was born in Wisconsin: Edwin (Eddie) Richard!  He’s darling and I can hardly wait to meet him.  It was really fun to get to see pictures from everyone meeting him for the first time – so I thought I’d share some of my favorite shots!

That sweet little girl making everyone laugh finally needs a proper intro on the site, too.  That’s our niece, Salina Jean, and she is just a bundle of joy!  Thought I’d post my three current favs of her and also a few pictures from when we met her back at 6 weeks old now that I can show off that darling face!

Micah is anxious to hold his baby cousin, Eddie, at Christmas and the newest baby boy, Joshua (Ashley’s due on Christmas day!), when he comes, too!  He recently told me that our house is too boring and we either need a pet or a baby. *insert big eye smiley face here *

Side note: this may be one of my all-time favorite pictures:

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It reminded me of these pictures from Florida back in 2012 when Ethan was about 2.5 years old.

Thankful for the gift of family, near and far!

Ethan turns 9!

They say the days are long, but the years are short.  That’s exactly how this season of my life has been.  Feels like Ethan was born only days ago, but the lego Micah put on his ice cream cake says he’s 9!  Because he left on his birthday for his first cadet campout, we celebrated a bit the day before and a bit the morning of his special day.  He requested Greek-style turkey burgers for dinner, ham and cheese buns for lunch, and pancakes for breakfast.  He also wanted an ice cream cake.

He loved all of his awesome birthday gifts, videos, and cards.  He was pretty thrilled by everything, as you can see:

Micah gets VERY excited to give gifts to people.  He was the one asking if it was time for Ethan to open a present every other day.  E preferred to wait until his birthday, but Micah could hardly contain his excitement about giving his gifts: lego sets (one that had previously been a share set, and now he wanted to give it to just Ethan; one that we bought at the store for him); pictures and gum.

We’re super proud of the young man Ethan is becoming.  He’s kind, smart and super hard-working.  We appreciate the leader he is around the house and what a good big brother he is.  And I especially love to play games with him!  Love this guy so much!  =D

Micah turns 6!

We had the opportunity to celebrate Micah’s 6th birthday this weekend.  We try to cater our celebrations to each kid’s personality and wishes.  Micah is our little home body.  His greatest wish was to spend time with the family at our home.  So we decorated the house to make it extra special for him and spent the day eating his favorite foods and playing the things he most enjoys: legos!

Breakfast before church – cinnamon rolls!

We spread out the opening of presents throughout the day and in the days to follow.  He was pretty jazzed about all of the gifts and money he received and is always quick to say, “thank you!” and talk about how much he always wanted something like that.  A couple different people at church surprised us with their thoughtful generosity to him – one giving him money and another a lego set.  We are so thankful that each of us is seen and acknowledged at our church – this community is a beautiful thing.

Gotta take a second to brag on our eldest…he purchased Micah a birthday present *with his own money* without even a second thought.  He had hoped to buy something for himself, too, but didn’t have enough money so he quickly put back the thing he wanted to buy for himself and decided to spend his money on Micah instead!

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Micah also got a few Skype calls and some videos, too!  Each one made him feel so special.  He’s my guy who will get tears in his eyes when he realizes someone else was thinking of him from far away.  It’s pretty sweet.  Thank you, everyone, for making him feel so special!

That evening we celebrated with homemade waffles and whipped cream.  Earlier we enjoyed chipotle (at home) and cupcakes.

Quick facts about Micah:

He weighs 43.6 lbs.  He has lost 2 teeth.  He prefers time at home and Ethan is by far his very best friend.  Micah loves creating things and drawing pictures.  He chews gum all.the.time but is also willing to share every piece of it with others, even if he spent his own money on it.  His generosity knows no bounds.  I find him lending or giving away his toys on a regular basis and gives bites of his special treats to those around him without hesitation.  We’re so thankful to have a guy like him to love and raise in our home!

Grandma Cleve’s Visit, Part 2

We spent the afternoon/evening on Wednesday with Ashley and Caleb.  We got our usual picture of GC and the grandkids.  It’s such a fun tradition!  We’ve got at least 3 now. =)

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On Thursday, GC joined us at Classical Conversations.  It was such a treat for us to have her with us!  She sat in on both of the classes for a bit.  Unfortunately with all the moving around between classrooms, she didn’t end up seeing either presentation.  I believe Micah presented on the first line of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the tin whistle and Ethan did a presentation on various coins / money.

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We spent the afternoon playing Dominos, among other things.  Thanks for bringing this new game out to us and teaching us!

Grandma Cleve joined us at PE+ on Friday.  The boys played football afterwards again.  Ethan began learning division with remainders – a difficult task!  And that evening I had the pleasure of going to see Jen Hatmaker and Nichole Nordeman at their Moxie Matters tour.  It was absolutely lovely!  She’s such a treat to hear speak and she had so many important insights to make.  I was so thankful for the opportunity.

Saturday was our final day with GC.  We spent it opening an early birthday present for Micah (yay!) and driving through the mountains.  We had lunch in Boulder and walked through a cool bookstore there.  We stopped in Nederland to show GC where Mike proposed and took a quick sand-in-the-mouth-from-the-crazy-wind picture and then headed back in the car for more exploring.  We also took her to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal where we saw a lot of deer and some buffalo far in the distance.  It got too dark, too quickly for pictures, but it was nice to show her (and Mike) the arsenal since they had never been.

Thanks for making the trip again, Grandma Cleve!  We sure enjoyed having you!!

Grandma Cleve’s Visit, Part 1

Grandma Cleve came for another visit last week – splitting her time at Ashley and Zach’s and our house!  We had her for a day and a half at the beginning of her trip and then she finished her time at our house, too.

On Saturday, we went to the Butterfly Pavilion.  We had never been before and she spoiled us with a membership so we’ll be going there a few more times before the year is done. =D  Micah was our brave guy who held Rosie, the tarantula!  It was lots of fun to see all of the butterflies, to dig for worms and to look at their little aquarium.  It’s a really neat place and we’re excited to go back again!  Grandma Cleve almost became a part of the exhibit there when a gorgeous butterfly landed on her leg and stayed with her for the next 10+ minutes! =)

That afternoon we went to Ikea to start a super big project…switch the boys’s room and the school room.  We got the boys bunk beds and Grandma Cleve and Mike worked on that for much of the rest of Saturday.  Thankful that GC is so helpful with assembling Ikea furniture.  She’s helped us with quite a few projects like this one over the years.  Such an exciting time!  Although, I would be lying if I said I never shed any tears over this.  How did the boys get so big?!

After church on Sunday, we had a relaxing afternoon at our house and then headed over to Ashley and Zach’s to celebrate Caleb’s first birthday!  SO much fun!

Can’t believe he’s already one!  It feels like just yesterday that we were celebrating our own little boys’ first birthdays… The days are long, but the years are SHORT.

Grandma Cleve stayed with Caleb and his parents until Wednesday afternoon when she came back to stay with us until Saturday night.  I’ll do a separate post for that and for the things we did in the meantime. =)