A New Year

Before I post a couple of pictures from our New Year’s celebrations, I thought I’d put in a few of pictures taken from the other side of our Zoom gatherings with the fam.

On New Year’s Eve, we stayed up (thanks for Micah for keeping us awake!) until midnight when we all toasted the new year with sparkling cider. We had crepes for dinner, as we often do, and spent the rest of the evening playing games and reading books. Mike had set a goal for us to finish all of The Chronicles of Narnia books during 2020/covid, so we had a few chapters to finish in order to check that one off our “list”. I finished the puzzle Ethan had made for us for Christmas. It was VERY hard! And I set some reading challenges for myself for the year.

On New Year’s Day, we had a virtual murder mystery activity with the fam. LOTS of fun! It is something that has been on my bucket list, so that was extra fun for me! Still can’t believe Uncle Jason was the murderer or that all three guys in my fam guessed it correctly!

Thankful for 2020 and all the ways we’ve grown through it and excited for the new year!

Wrapping up December

I listened to a lovely book recently that talked about the belief when World War I began that it would “be done by Christmas” and realized that I had held that belief about Covid, too. World War I wasn’t done by that first Christmas, or by the next one. And Covid isn’t done either. So, our Christmas this year looked very different than it has every other year. As I was reflecting on the sadness I felt to be far from my family for the first time in 8 years over Christmas (we didn’t travel when Micah was first born), a dear friend of mine pointed out the blessing I have in my family. I had told her that I was accustomed to being so rejuvenated over the holidays because of all of my time with them and I wasn’t experiencing it this year. I am still feeling fatigued and in need of rejuvenation. God has blessed me a lot through them – what a gift that I didn’t even fully realize I had! It’s good to take stock and count those blessings, even the ones that seem so obvious. I always knew I had fun over the holidays, but I didn’t realize how much that time prepared me for the next months of life, too.

Anyway, enough musings. We really did have a lovely Christmas season! So many beautiful memories were made! I’ll start with some fun, non-Advent/Christmas-related pictures:

The first is a little snapshot that I took for my bro – he and I used to snag the very best cookies (similar to these, although green) when our family got our box of cookies from family friends each year. I decided to make them with the leftover cornflakes from the sweet potato casserole. Great plan! We also attempted to see the “Christmas Star” of Jupiter and Saturn – awesome experience! Thanks, Grandma Cleve, for reminding me about this!! Much of our day is filled with listening to books and… the ‘and’ is followed by LEGO, coins, marble run, drawing, etc. Micah chose to do some painting one day. We played a few games another night.

Some Advent activities leading up to Christmas day included a “choose your favorite and re-do it” event which was a great hit. The boys chose to have another sleepover and watch a Christmas movie. We also had our Christmas Recital – thank you to all of our audience members who made it SO much fun! Mike started us off with a little portion of a Coldplay song which brought much merriment to all. And on Christmas Eve we zoomed with Grandma Cleve and then had our annual Shepherds meal where we eat by the fire and pretend to be shepherds on the night the angels came with the Good News of Jesus.

We had a very relaxing, but enjoyable Christmas Day. Each boy opened a present and then I set to work on a breakfast “feast”. Then we opened some more presents, including one that Mike included a scavenger hunt around the house in order to find for the boys (great fun!). We ate a late lunch of ham, tasty sides, and sparkling cider. We zoomed with Grandpa Russ and Uncle David and did a little recital for them. And then we played some more games and read books and just enjoyed the peace of the season. =)

The following morning we opened presents with my fam in Wisconsin over Zoom. We were thrilled that after each person did a full quarantine for 2 weeks, they could all be together for a couple weeks at my folks’ house. It brought tears to my eyes just to see those sweet cousins hugging each other again after 9 long months! (they get together regularly, but have always been distanced and outside, so this was BIG!) Ornaments made me cry. Ethan had a zoom session with Grandpa to get tips on his new photo-editing software. Lots of fun.

That afternoon we drove up to Longmont for some birding and we saw our first Great Horned Owl. It was pretty incredible! It happened to be very busy there that day, but the views are spectacular.

Other highlights included presents from cadet leaders at church for the boys (how thoughtful!!), a special recital with Reggie, playing our new game from the Hengevelds (thrice!), and Micah teaching an art class for his cousins (and then being taught one from them, too!). There were more zooms thrown in there, too, but I apparently didn’t take any pictures of them. :/

Next up…ringing in a New Year! =D

Advent activities for the past couple weeks included breakfast by the fire, making Christmas cookies, ice cream sundaes (on a Sunday, of course ;)), a family sleepover, making Christmas cards, watching a virtual performance of The Nutcracker, going for a winter hike, a drive to see Christmas lights, a family wrestling match (Ethan won), and a white winter breakfast for the first day of winter:

Other activities in December (fun in the snow, pics from various walks, virtual church with our very own Advent “wreath” (thanks, Auntie Mel!!), time by the fire, timeline lessons with Auntie Sal and Grandpa and Grandma (look closely and you’ll see I’m sporting a mustache), piano-playing, watching Ivan and Abe in their virtual choir performance for their church, playing with LEGO, our Hope sign (another thanks to Auntie Mel), and watching “The Grinch” over Zoom with the family:

We hope your December is filled with much cheer and good memories! It may not look the way it looks most years, but there is still lots of joy to be found.

The start of the holiday season!

As is our tradition, Grandpa Russ came out to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. He actually needed to be out here in order to pursue some help regarding his health, but we were thrilled that the timing worked out that we could host him over the holiday and help him get some health insights. This was honestly one of the moments in 2020 that felt the most normal, even though it was filled with hospital visits and whatnot. Hosting, getting hugs and being close to a person outside of our little crew of four has not happened since March, so this was a treat for all of us! We always love having him, but it was especially meaningful for all of us this year.

We didn’t take a lot of pictures together, so I’m sad to show very little from our time together. Here are a couple I snagged from hanging out around the house:

Thanksgiving Eve brought exciting news from the Bertilsons – they are having a girl! She is due in April and we’re all excited!

Thanksgiving day was filled with lots of food and things written down for which we give thanks. It was an absolutely lovely day together. We filled that poster with loads of blessings!

The day after Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year – decoration day! It’s the first day I allow myself to listen to Christmas music and it’s the day we get all of our decorations up! We have Christmas lights outside for the first time ever – it felt like the year we needed to do a little spoiling. =)

My mom made all the grandkids Christmas pillowcases! It was a very special gift and everyone was thrilled with them! They opened them on our weekly zoom after a day filled with clues to try to help us guess the gift.

These pics come from during the time period that Grandpa Russ was with us, but generally happened on days he was at the hospital. We got in some schooling (there’s a very big difference between the way Ethan does math and Micah does it), some walks, some artwork, time with Daddio, a CC Christmas celebration, time at the piano, virtual church with our advent candles, etc.

On our last night with Grandpa Russ here our Advent activity was to have a red and green meal together – lasagna! We loved celebrating with him!!

We were so thankful for this time with Grandpa Russ and look forward to our next visit in February!

Before the Holidays…

School continues to go well this year. Sometimes they work from on top of the bean bag, sometimes at the table, sometimes in Micah’s office. Micah is especially enjoying the challenge of Essentials, which he is doing for the first time this year.

We finished 12 weeks of CC and only had to do part of one of those weeks virtually. We were thrilled! It’s been such a fun year in our backyard. This year they made life-size posters of their bodies, which turned out pretty cool.