First Stop: Minnesota

We drove to Minneapolis the week before Christmas and spent a few days there.  The boys are fantastic travelers, thankfully.  They keep themselves busy with coloring, looking at books, and listening to audiobooks.  And, of course, having tic tacs or gum all day long. =)

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Mike worked while we were there, of course, so the boys and I kept ourselves occupied throughout the day.  One day we spent exploring the “tubes”.  We made it all the way to Mike’s office and had some kombucha on tap there and also grabbed some lunch with our guy.

Most of the rest of the time we hung around the hotel and played a lot of billiards. =)  We also got in some “work outs”, drank hot chocolate, did some school and played some games.  In retrospect, I would have scheduled another outing (like a children’s museum or something!), but the boys had seemed so content to hang at the hotel so we did that this time around.  We also always had dinner with Mikey when he was done at the office.

The main reason we went to Minneapolis was to attend the family Christmas party.  It was pretty fun and a really unique location!  Ethan played at least 3 games of mini-golf on a cool course designed by various artists.  Micah and I played a whole lot of arcade games from the 60s, like bowling and foos ball.

We had a great time in Minneapolis, but by Friday afternoon we were headed to Wisconsin for some family time!

Advent Activities 11-14

Day 11: Christmas craft & Christmas cookies.  We put two together on this day because I had hopes of doing a special advent activity with Aunt Ashley the following day.  Unfortunately, their family was sick so we had to postpone.  So, my day 12 activity was kind of made up on the fly. =)  Thanks, Grandma Cleve, for the train ornaments!

Oh, also, I forgot this trick…if the boys refuse to smile or can’t handle not smiling with huge eyes…tell them to look at each other. So much cuter!

Day 12: drink hot chocolate and read “A Christmas Carol”.  We read a children’s version of the story to prep for day 14….

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Day 13: This was supposed to be banket-making with Auntie Mel, but there was sickness in their house, too.  So, sadly, this was postponed, also.  It ended up being a really rough and exhausting day for me.  I had pretty much cancelled Advent Activities and reached my very own milestone – calling my mom in tears over parenting. =/  BUT, the Lord gave me a wonderful idea that night…to pour grace upon grace on them so that they would have a tangible example of God’s grace and love towards us.  I sent them to bed early because oh.my.word. the day was too long!  But before they fell asleep, I got them out of bed for a late-night drive to see Christmas lights.  The message was loud and clear: you don’t deserve this, but grace wins!  It was a great lesson for me, too…I had to ask myself, how do I respond to His grace and goodness in my life?  Do I obey willingly and thank Him?  Or do I do my own thing and forget to be still and rest in His goodness?

Day 14: Watch “A Christmas Carol” downtown!  We had excellent seats for this fairly scary performance and saw lots of our CC friends there.  Afterwards we got to chat with some of the actors/stage crew people about their roles.  It was really neat!  Also…smiling is hard for us right now. =/

 

Advent Activities 5-10

Day 5: No picture proof, but we went through toys and clothes to make some donations.  This would probably be more meaningful if it wasn’t already a kind of basic part of our rhythm.  But, it’s still a good practice, so we did it anyway. =)

Day 6: Secret acts of kindness day in honor of St. Nicholas.  Can’t tell you about them, they are secrets!  This is the only secret we allow in our home. =)

Day 7: Go to a different library and pick out Christmas books!  Micah was not interested in this activity, so E and I did it by ourselves.  But Micah joined in the drinking of egg nog and reading a TON of Christmas books.

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Day 8: go out for dinner.  We did this up in Breckenridge, but I didn’t snap any pictures.  We had Italian food and “enjoyed” the freezing weather being in the mountains brings.

Day 9: family skiing day!  I stayed in my boots, snapped pictures, handed out snacks, did bathroom runs, and helped boys with the lift or standing back up after falling (and, let’s be honest, a whole lot of morale boosting and comforting when things were hard and frustrating).  Some of our church friends joined us for part of the day – they’ve got boys the same age as ours (and same skill level) and that added to the fun!  Milestone alert: Micah did a full run down the mountain!

Day 10: watch home videos from 2016 (this is one of my favorite advent activities!) and go see cousin Matthew in the “Madagascar” play.  Loads of fun!!  Matthew did a wonderful job!

Life

Can you tell I’m over coming up with the titles for each blog post?  I just don’t have anything catchy to call every day life anymore (not sure I ever did…).

E and I have been playing a lot of Dominoes since GC went back home.  We’re really enjoying it.  In fact, today while Micah had a super fun play date over, E and I played a full game of Dominoes.  He won. =)

I measured the boys this week for our health insurance stuff. =)  They are growing up so fast!  E is usually closer to 70 pounds, but he hasn’t crossed that threshold, yet.

Homeschool Updates:

It wouldn’t be a blog post about life if I didn’t give a little schooling update.  Some days are super hard and I question a whole lot about what we are doing, but those days are, thankfully, few and far between.  I did have one such day on Monday when we had to have a lot of chats about doing hard things, what it looks like to actually learn new material that challenges your brain, and how attitude matters so much more to me than getting answers right or problems done.  I am happy to say that the talks sunk in because the rest of the week the boys would ask me every afternoon, “Mom, how was my attitude today?” “Mom, do you think I had a good attitude today?”  And that explains the big smiles they are giving me when I snuck some pictures. =)  And sometimes I get to reward them for having a great attitude!

Ethan started doing difficult division problems with remainders.  Micah finished his first writing notebook and most of his math notebook.  E loved reading the classic start of “Anne of Green Gables” and thought it was very similar to the actual book which we had listened to through audiobooks.  We have also since finished “Anne of Avonlea” and started watching the movie…which really features more stories from the next few books, so we ordered those through the library so we can listen to them!  I can tell that Micah is picking up a lot from these books because when he hears a phrase we heard in the book being said on the movie, he perks up and says he knew that part!

Here’s a short little video of the boys outlining the US while listening to a fun states and capitals CD we got from Auntie!  E usually outlines right along with the music, but apparently I didn’t catch that in this video. =)

Classical Conversations Updates:

We just finished week 12 of CC which means we are on break until the new year.  We will be doing all of our normal homeschooling, still, but we won’t have CC to attend for over a month.  Our final day at CC (besides the party in a couple weeks) was a good one.  We put our bodies together after learning about the different parts while coloring them over the past 6 weeks.  Micah joined my class for that part and when his class went downstairs to put their bodies together, so I got to see his presentation this week and help him with putting the body together.

Ethan presented on Robert E. Lee after reading a book about him that morning.  Micah presented on his birthday gift from Grandma Cleve.

We hung their bodies up on the office closet doors and are working on writing science sentences around it…such as “what are some parts of the excretory system?” which E and I decided should be placed near…well, you know. =)

Other Updates:

I painted the easel that Auntie gave us this week and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out!

We played at the park and went for a walk together this week.

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Micah was briefly sick.  And I love when he sleeps on me in the middle of the day.

The boys did some raking.

E played football with his buddies after PE+.  Micah played tag with his.

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A shot of their bunk beds during a brief window when their room looked clean:

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Big milestone news for Micah – he lost his first tooth tonight!

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Our Life

I’ve got some fun updates to make this week, but I’ll start with the basic life as we live it type post.

We made it to week 9 in Classical Conversations, Cycle 3.  Micah again participated in his own class last week!  I got a few hugs throughout the morning, but he participated well and had a great time!  He did a presentation on his hand-me-down camera and a couple of the girls in the class proclaimed that they are putting it on their Christmas list now. =)  Ethan did his presentation on a Lego creation he made.  We’re learning about the human body and will be putting some muscles, bones, organs and other parts of the body on our traced bodies at the end of the 12 weeks.  So, I snapped a picture of Ethan getting traced.  You’ll see the finished product in a few weeks.

We stopped in at Joann Fabrics for *one thing* I wanted for my Halloween costume…and we left with enough fleece to make two massive Christmas blankets for the boys!  Oops.  I had a coupon and there was a buy-one-get-one deal going on…and they picked such darling fabrics…that will match our Christmas pillows my mom made for us!  Anyway, we’ll be working on those in the coming weeks.  Micah, in particular, loved this store.

We enjoyed celebrating pumpkin day…it was a good excuse for a special pumpkin treat.

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I went to my very first book club.  It was a lot of fun!  I had missed the first one because Mike was out of town, but this time I just decided to ask Ike to come watch the boys so I could still attend.  We were discussing “The Scarlet Letter”, a book the boys will have to read when they get into the Challenge program (that’s high school in CC language).  I tried to take good notes while reading it and discussing it so that I will be more prepared for those daunting years!  How awesome is my cousin, Ike??  He came dressed as Chewie to surprise my two excited Chewies.

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Micah continues to love building with MagnaTiles and setting up battles.

Both guys are doing great in school.  E is learning more about multiplication and solving problems like 46×3.  He really enjoys Math.  Micah is still working on addition and is showing some improvements in his reading, too.  He enjoys writing quite a bit and often asks to do extra sheets for that.  Today he even made his own extra worksheets.  I am not in the stage of correcting his writing, so I think he finds it to be a small risk with great reward. =)

Daddio is home for a good stretch now, so we are soaking up time with him!  The guys worked in the yard…and on our roof (eek!!!) this weekend.  Good to have him back!

And we’ve been really enjoying our church.  I am the helper in Micah’s Sunday School class and I’m super impressed with their intentionality in teaching the Bible to these kids.  We’re building a really firm foundation and that’s so great to see.

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Still to come…Ethan’s first piano recital and the Halloween party.

Life Lately

Time for me to catch you up on our life lately.

Micah is working on learning how to read, a task that is more fun this year than last year…but is still a long way coming.  He is getting pretty good with recognizing his sight words and enjoys listening to books a lot more these days.  He’s also working on addition problems.  He loves to cook and asks occasionally if he can do some cooking for school, so I try to add that into our curriculum here and there.  Ethan is loving multiplication and division.  He learned how last year, but he’s getting more practice this year and he keeps telling me he thinks it’s fun.  He’s also studying 1 and 2 Timothy with me in CBS.  Both boys enjoy their weekly CBS classes now.  Both boys are also learning all of the states and capitals and a lot of American history.  They LOVE listening to their CC history songs and do so on their CD player every.single.day.

Here are some videos of some recent memory work:

Last weekend we were joined by Ashley and Caleb on a family hike to Lair o’ the Bear.  It’s a neat spot and we’d love to hike there more in the future!

Mike and Ethan had a birthday part to attend, so Micah and I had a date at Chipotle.  His highlight was that he accidentally put some lemonade in his cup (it is shared with the water spout) and they didn’t make us pay for it!  He got to enjoy watered down lemonade and it was the best and he’d like to have lemonade from Chipotle for his birthday now.  And milk.  What!?

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Ethan is loving piano, as you know.  He’s got quite a few songs in his repertoire now.  His latest fav is “Ode to Joy” and he is going to be playing it in his first recital next weekend.  While Ethan (and Matthew) are at piano practice, Micah and I go to a super nice library in the area.  Micah loves the little door.

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CC update – Ethan’s presentation was on how to make a “snub-nose paper airplane” and Micah gave his third presentation on his Millennium Falcon.  He went to his own class again this week, thanks to our awesome community who willingly moved his room to the same floor as my class!  He apparently asked them to keep the door open and then he felt perfectly comfortable.  He stopped in to get a quick hug twice and then joined my class for review at the end.  A wonderful improvement to say the least!!  He loved learning the tin whistle in his class and likes to bashfully show it off when skyping with people. =)

The boys officially have onesies now…a desire they have had ever since seeing Matthew in his Eeyore onesie.  So, they will both be wookiees this year for Halloween.

We may need to do some work on spelling/sounding words out… =)

We also had a visit from Ms. Samantha and Mr. Steven this weekend and had such a nice time with them!  Samantha and I went to high school together and she was easily one of my closest friends at the time.  She’s kind, funny, and intentional.  Naturally, she’s got my loyalty and I was thrilled to get to see her and her sweet hubby.  The boys LOVED having them in town.  We went hiking first and then they came over for chili and fun for the rest of the evening.  Samantha and Micah and I made bacon-wrapped dates with goat cheese and almonds…and they were incredible.  Thanks, Jen Hatmaker, for the recipe in your book! =D  Steven and Ethan played a 2+ hour game of chess.  Steven eventually came out victorious, but he was very complimentary of Ethan’s game, saying he hasn’t had such a worthy opponent in decades.  We also had a pretty intense dart wars battle after which a few of us had some lasting marks!  After the boys went to sleep, I enjoyed a few more hours of chatting and laughing with these guys.  Such a gift!

Recent Happenings

Here are some more pictures from school these days.  You’ll notice that the boys are still loving to paint and we spent most of our time indoors (we had a very cool, rainy week so we didn’t get to head to the park at all).  One of the pictures features our homemade “Memory Master” game which we use to review our memory work for CC.  Another picture shows what happens to Ivory soap after you microwave it for 1 minute – it’s a fun, short “experiment”!  Also, Ethan is growing his hair out – he prefers it long and a little “puffy”. =D

Piano continues to go well.  One week Eeyore was playing piano at Ethan’s practice (for those who can’t tell, that’s our cousin who has practice with him every week).  Micah and I discovered a new library a couple weeks ago during Ethan’s piano practice.

I had the opportunity for a retreat with ladies from our church a couple weekends ago.  It was at Glen Eyrie near Colorado Springs – a beautiful setting!!  This was a nice chance for me to get to know some of the ladies at our new-ish church.  I did a few hikes in the area, enjoyed listening to our speaker, did some yoga and worshipped with these ladies.  And, sort of a milestone alert: Aunt Mel and I won 1st place on the not-so-competitive corn hole tournament. =D It was a great restful retreat before our crazy schedule for the next couple of months!

We had a scary accident happen at our house the following week.  Ethan hit Micah in the face with a baseball bat.  Thankfully, besides a fat lip and a little cut, no other injuries were sustained!

Micah presented on the whole incident at CC that week.  Ethan talked about Roman gods – a subject he had learned about from a book he read that week.

 

Next up – Grandpa and Grandma come for a visit, while Mike heads to India!