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:

 

Summer Updates

I’m going to lump a bunch of summer pictures/stories into this post in an effort to catch up to present day updates quickly.

The boys each ended up getting much-needed (in my opinion, as Micah likes to remind me often) hair cuts.  Ethan went first and then after a day of seeing how great he looked, Micah was ready to cut his, too. =)

The day Micah got his haircut was a pretty big day for him.  He also had his front tooth pulled out and sealants put on two other teeth (that part was the least comfortable for him).  I had it in my head that he was going to be unconscious for all of this, which scared him plenty, but then it turned out that he just had the laughing gas and was perfectly wide awake and aware the whole time.  He was incredibly brave and held my hand the whole time (except apparently when I gave my phone to Ethan to take a picture), with little tears running down his cheeks for part of it.

We love spending time at our park.  The sprinklers are loads of fun to run through, the hills are fun to scooter, and it’s fascinating to see how much the big storms transform the whole park.

We’ve had some fun playdates – most don’t have pictures.

We’ve been reading lots of books and finishing lots of paint-by-stickers.

We attended the annual CC Practicum.  Micah went to one day of his Geo Draw class, but then opted to pay me back for the other day of classes, rather than attending any more. Sigh.  Last year, you may recall, he didn’t attend any days…so I guess that’s progress. 😉  Thankfully, he sits quietly for hours and hours while I attend the trainings so I really can’t complain.  Ethan participated in his first Latin camp with the older class and seemed to have lots of fun!  We saw him for lunch, but he sat with friends and played sports with them the whole break!  It was fun to watch him running around with the guys.

We built a Lego display bookshelf for the boys’ room:

Ethan had a summer piano lesson and Micah and I enjoyed exploring in a creek nearby:

And the boys “built” a table outside for snacks and “poison-making”.

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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CA Roadtrip, Pt 3: Yosemite

After Sequoia and Kings Canyon, we headed to Fresno as a staging time before we camped for 3 nights in Yosemite.  The boys enjoyed playing Legos and going shopping for some of the last minute purchases we needed to make.

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Then on Wednesday morning we headed to Yosemite.  It’s absolutely breath-taking.  It was much busier than Sequoia, but the crowds didn’t overwhelm us until we saw what the weekends were like, so by Saturday morning, we were ready to head out.  =)   The tunnel view – the first view of the valley – was stunning.

Highlights here included:

Camping and having s’mores every night,

hiking to Sentinel Dome (seriously, we highly recommend this!  It’s the second highest spot in the valley and the views are spectacular and it’s not too busy),

ice cream at Glacier Point,

biking through the valley (would highly recommend this, too, but wished we had our own bikes),

various little hikes to see beautiful spots in Yosemite,

and rafting down the river (also, have some grace, this was after 3 nights of camping and no showers…. :P).

Yosemite was lovely.  We will definitely return some day!!

California ROAD Trip

I LOVE road trips.  I just do.  So when we learned about the Cleveland reunion happening in southern California, it’s not surprising that I suggested we drive to it.  But, of course, to drive to California is no small feat.  We decided to expand that trip into a longer vacation to see Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe.  As usual, Mike did an excellent job charting out our trip.  (Honestly, if he didn’t love his job so much I’d encourage him to be a travel guide of some sort – building awesome trips for people!  He’s got serious talent!)

One of the things I love most about road trips is listening to audiobooks with the boys.  It’s an added bonus when Mike listens, too.  Thankfully, this is something the boys love, too.  In fact, every time we hopped in the car the request was made, “can we start our book now?” even throughout the trip when we would just have a 5 minute drive somewhere, they always asked. =)  I’ll include the list of books we finished when I get to the end of the trip posts – stay tuned.

Mike worked for part of the trip, mostly on the longer driving days, which worked out well because then I drive and we listen to audiobooks while he uses noise-cancelling headphones and works away…and occasionally takes a little nap.  I gave Ethan my phone to snap a couple of pictures on the road, but mostly he used his own camera to take pictures of the changing landscape.

We often make a stop at Subway along the way.  This always makes me think of my Grandpa.  We did a lot of traveling with my grandparents growing up and I was always on the lookout for Subway because it was my favorite restaurant as a kid. =)  He would joke that if there was a Subway on our route, I would surely spot it for us!

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We stayed the night in Las Vegas (that was my first…and maybe last??…time there – way too hot and way too *insert big eyes here*! I did see a Barry Manilow billboard which made me laugh right out thinking about Jennie’s a-mazing impressions of him) before finishing the drive to the LA area for the reunion.  We stopped at one of our favorite places for breakfast/lunch on the drive and then we were ready for some family time!

Next up: Cleveland family reunion!

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+).

Random Happenings

You know this family is all about the book reading by now, right?  This summer we are doing a few reading challenges.  Each boy is working on reading/listening to about 30 books for their at-home challenge.  For this one, they are coloring the posters I made for them.  Ethan is also working through a challenge given by a local bookstore.  Originally he was just going to do 5 books for that to fill out this bingo sheet, but he decided to try for every book to *hopefully* win a $50 gift card to the store.  This one is causing him to read some different books than he would normally pick out.  Also, both boys are doing a reading challenge put on by our library.  It’s basically reading at least 8 books and doing a few activities (i.e. making a creation, playing a new game).

Side note: I also included a mini picture of my goodreads goal for the year.  I had set it for 40 books (knowing that a lot would be kids novels), but I reached the goal in June.  So, I’ve made my new goal 75 by the end of the year! =)  This should make my parents feel really good since they have been hoping I would like to read one day… 😉

Mike and I are hoping that if we start doing lots of ridiculous dab moves, the boys will find it super weird and stop doing it.  It’s not working…

We had the opportunity to meet my friend’s new baby, Zion.  He’s absolutely darling and Micah LOVES to hold him.  Fun side note – my parents got to meet him a good week before we did because Gina stayed in their condo in Florida during the adoption process…waiting to be allowed back in Colorado. =)

I stained my table box and I love it.  Thanks again, Dad!

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Ethan got his staples removed on Sunday.  He was nervous, but it didn’t end up hurting too badly!

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And Micah circled all of our ages…and that’s whenI realized Mike is turning 35 this year!!

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Last, but not least, we have baby bunnies running around the neighborhood and I want one for my pet.  One got a little confused when we were outside watching it and it actually ran across my foot.  I restrained myself from grabbing it and taking it inside with us.

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