Fall is here!

I’ll post some pictures from the final weeks in September and the first week or so of October in this post.

Our backyard community for CC continues to go well. The days usually start off fairly chilly, but we end feeling plenty warm by the end of the day. We’ve been meeting on Tuesdays at 8 am, but I suspect we will push it back to 9 am as the weather turns. =) The first day of fall our tutor brought in pumpkins for everyone and we did our review work by striking various poses while holding the pumpkins. Presentations have varied from talking about our homemade library or pictures we’ve drawn, to paragraphs about Scott Joplin and best places to take pictures. We are very thankful for this community!

Here are some pics from school, including Ethan’s virtual piano lessons, reading and playing in the treehouse, tracing the states while learning the capitals, Micah finishing another level in his reading program, and a LEGO rendering of our latest history sentence about the Louisiana Purchase and others about the signing of the Declaration of Independence:

We’ve gone on walks to the Cherry Creek Reservoir a couple of times in the last few weeks. One of the times we saw a Golden Eagle, which was incredibly exciting for our crew! Ethan brings his camera and occasionally even captures pictures of the fam!

We’re in full fall celebration mode around here. No heat or AC on for over a month – a ridiculous game I like to play during this season. It means bundling up in the mornings when it’s in the low 60s or high 50s in the house, but then enjoying the warmer afternoons. We’ve also been enjoying pumpkin and fall-themed foods and scents. Our friends even brought by some decorations they had found on a walk. And I’m including a picture of my favorite view from the park up the street.

Other fun happenings include two back-to-back Packer picnics (I found Packers jerseys for each boy on thredup – can you imagine my excitement?!):

And some pictures from around the house, including LEGO builds, coin trading via Zoom and amongst brothers, Micah’s dentist appt, Ethan’s darling pic of Micah biking, boys enjoying grandma reading Farmer Boy to us over Zoom (while building LEGO), the arrival of our new books, and shots of the boys enjoying their early Christmas present from Uncle David (thank you!!):

It’s a beautiful season and we are making the most of it!

First Week of School

Ethan: 5th grade; 11 years old; 5′ and 89.2 lbs. He’s starting his 6th year of homeschooling through CC. This is his final year in Foundations and Essentials.

Micah: 3rd grade; 8 years old; 4’4.5″ and 64.8 lbs. He is starting his 5th year of homeschooling through CC. He’s got 3 more years in Foundations/Essentials after this one.

We started the 2020-2021 school year on Monday of this week. We had two other like-minded families join us in our backyard for our community day. Our plan is to meet outside every week to do CC together. I’ll try to snap a picture this week before anyone arrives so you can see the layout.

Our first day was an answer to prayer. And, as is often the case, the Lord went above and beyond in providing such lovely blessing – grass was laid on Friday, so we didn’t have mud and dirt everywhere; we had ample shade; every detail went smoothly and we all were relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company! SO thankful to have something practical for which to use all this beautiful new space! But first, a couple of prep pictures from the weekend before:

Ethan took first day of school photos for everyone in our group (I snapped one of Ethan) and he may even do some work on a yearbook for everyone throughout the year. Our boys each gave a presentation introducing themselves and the things by which they are interested. Micah even included a little description of what our backyard looked like at the beginning of the summer. Micah is participating in Essentials loosely and diagrammed his first sentence – he was super pumped about it!

The rest of the week was equally successful. I came up with a schedule that feels good to all of us for now. We’ll see if it continues to be a good fit, but we liked how it felt for this week! Here are some pictures::

Some highlights included our new weekly assignment of teaching the timeline to Grandpa and Grandma and Auntie Sal over Zoom; lessons taught one-on-one by Dad with each boy (Micah wanted to learn more about how to have a good conversation and Ethan wanted to learn more about stocks and mutual funds); art class online. (We did not get a dog – that’s the dog of our friend who is doing all of the backyard projects!)

We also went to Cherry Creek Reservoir for some paddle boarding to celebrate a great start to the school year. We intended to go on Monday night, but we were pretty wiped and hot after a full day outside, so we went on Tuesday instead. I did some paddle boarding and then spent the rest of the evening working on finishing my book for my virtual CC book club: Walden! Good setting for that book. =)

Finally, at the end of the week, two exciting packages were delivered: the long-promised ping pong table and a rower. We are loving having an outdoor ping pong table and have already used it for some schooling and just some regular ol’ fun! And the rower is lots of fun, too. Feeling very spoiled in life right now. Very spoiled and very thankful.

More of June

We are spending much of our time playing LEGO (as proved by my last post), listening to books, going for walks (mostly for the boys to take pictures or for me to get some solo time, depending on the day and circumstances) or bike rides (the boys have been doing loops on their own now) and playing games. While we listen to books, however, we often play solitaire or color in Querkles (and Micah has been making some of his own). Ethan is getting pretty good at fast scrabble. We prefer to play that way than the traditional way as it keeps us moving and thinking differently (read: we don’t get bored when we play this way).

We also play a lot of piano – even doing silly things for Ethan’s piano practice like playing with a roll of toilet paper on his head or blindfolded.

Mallory continues to visit, although we learned that her eggs had been eaten by a fox last week.

On Saturdays the family walks over to the track nearby to do our sprint workout. We all love this new tradition!

The boys also come up with other unique ways to spend their time, like building parachutes to go out the window or making crafts.

And the three guys made homemade arugula pesto the other night. (I am not a fan of pesto, so I wasn’t involved in this one). They were very proud of how it turned out.

Also, Micah let me cut his hair and we all love it so much. (Actually, I can’t tell if Micah loves it as much as the rest of us…but I think he likes it)

LEGO Masters

As you already know, we are big fans of having LEGO competitions as a family. We’ve continued to do these throughout this summer, varying the teams and the themes.

This was an individual competition with the boys and Mom, building a place you’d like to visit. Micah did England and France depicted in his bakery with a constable; Ethan did Greece and I did Cinque Terre, Italy (also depicted in our puzzle). Dad voted for Ethan’s build. He was not impressed with mine. =(

This was also an individual competition with the boys and Mom, building a scene from a book. Micah did Robo-Sauce, Ethan did Wings of Fire and I did The Secret Garden. I believe Micah won this one.

Next we did a National Park build, Ethan against Mom. Micah was the judge and he liked Ethan’s build of Fort Sumter, more than my build of Arches National Park. Dad also agreed. No one really appreciated my river and waterfall, since we aren’t sure they are actual present in the park. Oops.

Micah and I competed in a restaurant build. Micah made a pretty sweet pizza shop, but my smoothie stand on the beach won.

Micah likes being the judge, so he had Ethan and I do another build against each other: a scene from a movie. We tied, I think, because everyone was very impressed with our ideas. I built Up and Ethan built The Great Escape.

Can you tell that this is one of our favorite pastimes?

Next, Micah and I were assigned to build a room in a house. Micah chose to do a kitchen, while I built the boys’ bedroom (complete with coin labs). Micah won this build.

Lastly, the boys competed against the parents in a task to build a fun family memory. We had lots of votes during one of our weekly Zoom chats and the boys took the victory. The parents were highly criticized for primarily using pieces that were already put together in our depiction of Yosemite. Meanwhile, the boys created everything from scratch to show the fun we had in Florida looking for birds. Look closely and you’ll find Grandpa and the boys taking pictures with cameras while Mom is on the stairs taking pictures with her phone. =)

I imagine this will not be the end of our LEGO masters builds. Stay tuned for more. =D

LEGO Masters

We really enjoyed watching our first tv show as a family over this time: LEGO Masters.  The boys got all kinds of inspiration from the builds and wanted to do their own version of LEGO Masters at home.  Thus, competition between parents and kids began.

Build #1: Fairytale story (parents did turtle and hare; boys did 3 billy goats gruff)

The boys won this one.  I don’t think any of our judges (we send text messages to people to judge our creations, without telling them who did which one) voted for the parents on this one, but I may be forgetting one kind judge having pity on us.

Build #2: Restaurants (parents built Castle Bonita; boys built Sushi River)

The parents came away with a win on this one, although the voting was very close.

Build #3: A point in history (parents built the Alamo; boys built the building of Stonehenge)

The parents won again and are feeling really confident going forward.

Build #4: Mini-fig battle (teams were switched for this one – Ethan and Mom worked on a battle scene of sand guy against the ice queen; Micah and Dad worked on programmer lady and her droids against banana guy)

It looks like this build is ending in a tie. =)

They have also spent a lot of time building new and creative builds, including a few bridges that we tested with weights.  I believe their best bridge could hold 23 pounds.  It’s been so much fun to watch them!

And, for the record, we were VERY unhappy about how LEGO Masters ended with the wrong team winning.  Micah was somewhat happy, but we think he just wanted to go against the grain of the family votes.  =)

Micah and Mom Weekend

Micah and I had the opportunity to spend a whole weekend together and let me tell you, he had some plans for us!  We decided to make a list of the things we’d like to do one the weekend while the other guys were camping with a church group.  We crossed everything off our list by the end of the weekend!

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There is one draw back to making a list with my guy.  He didn’t want to do anything unless it was written on the list, so we really had to tread carefully all weekend to be sure we were only doing things listed.  And, after something was off the list, but we still had time to spare, we were in a bit of a predicament.

Here are some pictures from our weekend around the house:

And here are a few from our 4 mile bike ride.   The bike ride was quite exciting and I know some of you have already heard about it.  Let’s suffice it to say that he had a few falls (always jumping right back up again) and one of them ended poorly with a very, very flat tire.

Loved spending time with this guy for our weekend solo!  We were both glad to have the other guys back again, but I sure enjoy Micah’s company!

Other Happenings

The boys did a great workout with Daddio.  They don’t do this all that often, but it’s really sweet to see them all working out together.

Micah really loved his kiwico box this past month – a solar system!  He painted while we listened to The Secret Garden.  Great Granny A gave us the Focus on the Family audiobook of that story and it was a super fun way to listen to it.

We are all getting in on the piano-playing around here.  I have been loving to play a couple times each week.  E plays anytime he walks past the piano.  And Micah does a little playing here and there, too.  E is also teaching Mike a bit of piano, so that’s fun!  I caught E teaching Micah the other day and it made me smile.

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Here are some homeschooling shots from around the house.  The first is what the table looks like just before I call them up from their lego-playing to begin our school day.  It makes me smile and I wanted to post it here to remind me what this season in life looked like for Jess in later years. =)  The second is our daily board…with some additions from the boys.  Ethan added his snack and to “right” to Hana.  (Guess what word will be on his spelling test tomorrow?!) Micah changed his name to Doggie and added “winey” which means…he wanted to whine during his day.

Sometimes the board gets nice messages on it, like this one from Micah:

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Ethan still makes the best “people’s eyebrow”, but my little niece is going to give him a run for his money.  I can’t wait until I can show you her version!

Micah got his very first library card and he was beaming!  He’s not into being in pictures or videos these days so he usually tries to hide his face.  His first books?  A book about Canada, a book about castles and a Star Wars book.

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Speaking of that guy, he still loves to build with magnatiles and makes a pretty awesome castle.

And speaking of the library, the boys discovered the Lego Star Wars shows and have been watching an episode or two every few days…with the massive beanbag chair on top of them like so:

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And, lastly, we had the opportunity to watch Micah’s friend in his play “The Aristocats”.  We had a lot of fun and were so glad to get to encourage him!  I promise we had fun!

Next up…Spartan Races!

Field Trips

You know we are nearing the end of the school year when you see lots of field trips popping up!  We actually completed our state requirements a couple weeks ago already, but I have a few things we want to finish before the end of our school year next week.  So these field trips have just been chances to get together with other families or to see/do things that seemed like fun. =)

We went with a bunch of CC families to see the Dead Sea Scrolls a couple weeks ago.  I think I got the most out of this one, but I took a very casual approach to this day – allowing them to explore the things that most interested them and not forcing too much reading.  It’s a cool exhibit, for sure, but it’s a lot of reading and that’s not very attention-grabbing for our boys right now. 😉

Over the weekend, Daddio joined us at Living History.  We had done this with my parents at the beginning of the year, too, but this time the boys got to build their own muskets.  They were pretty thrilled about doing that.

The next week, we celebrated reaching our reading goals for the month with cheese-in-the-crust pizza at the library.  We love stopping at pizza hut before heading over for a library visit and just eating outside.  And I told the boys about how I remember when cheese-in-the-crust commercials started and how they always showed the kids eating from the crust first.  So we took some pictures to recreate that. =D

We also went to the Celestial Seasonings tour in Boulder with some CC friends.  Sadly, they were in the middle of inventory, so we didn’t get to see the machines working on the tour, but it was still really interesting!  The boys mostly enjoyed seeing friends and drinking lots of tea.

 

A Week with Colds

When we got back from our weekend away, we battled colds while Mike traveled.  Micah got the worst of it, but even his cold only lasted about a week.  He’s still coughing now, but so much improved.  We still plunged away at school, but we took it easy.  Listening to “The Hobbit” motivated Ethan to begin a new book.  He really loves a good story and starts writing every few months.  It’s fun to see how much his stories have evolved over the last year.  He was a very helpful big brother during the worst days – he played concerts for us and snuggled Micah.  He also just spent a lot of time reading or writing to keep things extra easy for me.  I was super thankful!!

Meanwhile I started writing a book, too, with ideas and pictures from Micah!

We celebrated Pi Day with a pie from the grocery store. =)

Both boys were in my class at CC this week since Micah was still under the weather and coughing a bunch.  He gave a presentation on two of his Lego creations and E told us about JRR Tolkien.

There was a lot of Lego building…and I also got the boys haircuts!!

We ended the week babysitting cousin Caleb, the younger.  He loves listening to music, so he was having a grand ol’ time dancing to our CC songs and other music.  He wasn’t so sure about playing knights, but we gave it a go. =)  And he asked his auntie if she would start homeschooling him along with the boys. 😉