This past week has brought some new changes to our world. Ethan purchased a used camera (we chipped in a little bit, too, but mostly this was his endeavor) and is now going out most mornings to take pictures of birds. He has been emailing with Grandpa and even did a FaceTime to gather more information about photography. Perhaps this will be a class for this upcoming school year. =D

We thought it was only right to help Micah with a big purchase, too. He opted to get a standing desk because he’s really into all things related to having an office and being fit. He’s pretty jazzed about this whole thing.

We started doing our one-on-ones again this past week and Ethan opted to go to Bluff Lake with me to do some birding. Meanwhile, Mike and Micah stuck closer to home, but also did some birding. I can’t tell you how much this solo time breathes life back into our daily living.

Micah has been taking more and more of an interest in cooking and putting food together for people. He’s been working on his restaurant “A Side of Fruit” (coined as such because he always serves a piece of fruit on the side of everything), but he also cooked dinner for us (sloppy Jos) and had us all order salads from him another day. We also were pumped to have the first two tomatoes of the season!

Here’s a little mama milestone – I made hollandaise sauce for the first time ever and we all LOVED it! =)

Other happenings this week included Micah getting his own email address in order to edit his pictures (and send emails to family members). He’s been loving this and is even more motivated to learn to read more fluidly so that he can read all of your emails on his own!

We’ve also started doing solo audiobooks this week. Both boys really enjoy listening to books and usually we do this all together. Micah finished the “The Green Ember” already and started “The Last Archer”. Ethan is about an hour away from finishing “Monster in the Hollows”. It’s amazing how quiet the house can get.

We’ve done a few LEGO masters. Micah and I competed against each other in a challenge to build “a scene from Star Wars”. Ethan was the judge and ultimately voted for Micah’s, I think, but said mine (when Anakin fell into the lava pit while fighting Obi Wan) was pretty awesome. And then we did a challenge to make a robot. Ethan and I made a pretty classic robot, with a programmer controlling it in the background. Mike and Micah made a big robot who creates minifigs.

Other updates include a functioning sliding glass door with blinds and a canopy for shade; outdoor army battles on the front porch; Mike started going for walks with 30 lbs on his back because he’s a crazy, wonderful man; lots of piano playing; and bike rides to the pond:

One of my favorite things that has come out of the opportunities COVID19 has provided our family with is having Mikey home consistently. He now reads to us (mostly from the iPad as that is his preferred means) almost every night and it’s amazing. We’ve finished at least two books with him during this season – The Forest and The Magician’s Nephew. I think we’ll continue reading all of The Chronicles of Narnia together as it’s been a really sweet experience for 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.

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.

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.

Lots of outside time (I’ll update another day regarding the backyard project when I have more “after” pictures to post) is happening around here.  Ethan is our outdoor maintenance guy; he even changes the wire on the weed eater on his own now.

We’ve got a couple new games for this season of life, too:

We also finished up the school year in early May.  Micah will continue working on reading and math this summer and Ethan will continue to read each day and do some other school-related things throughout the summer. We celebrated with French Toast on their final day and took some end of the year pictures, too.

Both boys had paying jobs for part of May, too.  Ethan typed up documents for Reggie for a class he will be teaching later this year.  He was very responsible and motivated.  He completed the tasks a day early and Reggie said he handled everything very maturely.  Micah had a scanning job for Mikey – scanning documents.  He did a great job, too!

We celebrated Mother’s Day in May, too.  My guys spoiled me with lots of loving notes and doing all of my favorite things – we went for a long, frisbee-free walk, we played Kubb in the park, and we ate good food.  Mikey made Dutch Babies for breakfast and ordered sushi for dinner.

Final pictures worth mentioning…the boys and I got our homemade masks from my Mom (THANKS, Mom!!).  Mike has been reading us all a book at night and sometimes Micah uses his book light to see in order to do paint by sticker or to draw.  I picked some weeds from our backyard to decorate the house because they are pretty weeds!  My aunties threw a fabulous virtual wedding shower for my cousin.  And Mel and Joel stopped by with Pentecost decorations (they were way prettier before the rain got to them) and treats since we couldn’t attend the annual Pentecost party at their home. =D

Next up…a boy we all love turns 11!

Life Lately

We’ve been working diligently to finish our school year, even though we plan to continue some work throughout the summer.  It’s been such a great school year for us for many reasons, but mostly because the boys have been working hard and keeping *mostly* good attitudes.  I’ve learned a lot over the years and I’m sure that helps, too.  I’m finally understanding the benefit of giving long breaks and not being a slave to the work if the temperaments aren’t lending themselves to it.  We do much better after our hearts are in the right place. =)

Our home has been filled with music.  Micah is enjoying playing the bongos along with Ethan’s piano practice, but he also just started using an app called “Piano Maestro” which has motivated him (and me) to play the piano!  Now we have three people trying to get time on the piano!  Ethan is also working on the computer to notate his own song, a version of Heart and Soul.  Ethan has a virtual piano recital next Friday.  We will send a link to you to watch and vote for his pieces.  It will be called, “Some Good Piano.” (Yes, that intentionally looks like Some Good News on YouTube).

The boys are very into birds and now like to go for walks and bike rides in order to make more pictures of them.  They also are starting to use a photo editing program to fix up some of their pictures.  And, Wingspan continues to be a favorite pastime for Ethan and me.

Ethan needed to wear crazy hair for one of his piano lessons, but didn’t want me to show anyone.  Ever since, Micah has been wearing his hair in a ponytail on the top of his head randomly throughout the day.  I’m sure you’ve spotted a few pictures already with his new hairstyle. =)

The boys have also continued keeping up with their buddies via FaceTime chats.

And we’ve been taking daily walks.  Often this means that Mike and Ethan are throwing the frisbee and Micah is riding his scooter, but every now and then we all just walk and talk!  Those are my favorites. =)

Mike ordered something fun for us – a slack block.  We use it to improve our balance.  It’s a lot harder than it looks!

Other updates include finishing a puzzle, reading a book with Daddio most nights, ordering (and mostly enjoying) Indian food take out, doing coins, and Daddy fixing Ethan’s bike!

And finally, we’ve had a couple more LEGO Master competitions.

1. Mom and Dad conceded to the boys on the first one because theirs was WAY cooler than ours.  Mom and Dad built a frog on a lily pad, while the boys built a parrot in a tree and had a shining sun floating in the background.

2. We had to build bigger versions of mini-figs.  Mom and Dad built the ice queen; Ethan and Micah built a soldier, complete with a rifle shooting a bullet, a canon and a tree.  Technically, Mom and Dad may have come away with a win on this one, but the votes were more sporadic.