The rest of September

When we got back from our trip to Minnesota for the company picnic, my aunt Sal, Uncle Brad, and Creed were in town! We had them over for a Packer picnic and Creed even got to come inside for a bit. They visited CC for a bit the next day, we had dinner with Aunt Mel, Uncle Joel and their kiddos on Tuesday, and on Wednesday we met up at the Reservoir for some time on the SUP and to see their campsite and camper. We made sure to snap a picture of my new life vest for Grandpa since I purchased it with birthday money from him. We loved having them out for a visit!

The rest of September and early October can be combined into these pictures. The first few feature pictures from school-related things (CC day with some friends; school at the library; homeschool band jam session; and school outside). Ethan was working on making some costumes out of clothes they were given. Then we’ve got some pictures of things the boys do together (piano duets and cooking scrumptious meals!). Lots of walks were taken – some by myself, one with Reggie. And Micah enjoyed the fruits (literally) of his labor. He grew this watermelon from a seed.

And Mike took the boys to their first Colorado Rapids game. Sounds like they had a great time!

Other Updates

The weekend before our first day back in community at CC we went to Long Scraggy for our first overnight. We really enjoy spending time there for church activities, but had never stayed the night with church before. It was sparsely attended this year, but we sure had a good time! I took an amazing nap in the hammock – totally a highlight for me. We also did some hiking and enjoyed our annual worship service in the mountains.

Other photos from the last several weeks: 1) the boys and I enjoyed dinner at friends’ house before they moved away, 2) cleaning up the house next to church, 3) piano lessons started again!, 4) we all participated in our friends’ annual 5k run -this one was taken because folks were commenting on how much taller E is than me these days, 5) our first Packer picnic of the season (woohoo!!) and 6) on Labor Day, we went for a decent hike and then played disc golf. It was pretty hot for these activities, but we enjoyed spending time together.

And, lastly, we just got back from a trip to Minneapolis for Mike’s company picnic. It’s been a long time since we were there and it was nice to get back and to see how much the company has grown! Their office space is SO cool – it used to be the trading floor for grain. It’s simply gorgeous. The boys enjoyed getting to hear their Dad give a brief talk on leadership – mostly he was introducing their principles and introducing other people to talk about them. He did a great job!

And Micah was sweet to go do a little re-do of a picture we snapped while exploring in the tunnels back in 2018 (I think).

First Weeks of School

We’ve already gotten a few weeks under our belt for this school year and it’s been a great start!

Ethan is now 14; he weighs just over 120 lbs and is 5’8″. He is definitely still growing and looks well past my height. He’s in Challenge I this year (which is the equivalent of a Freshman in high school). I’m his director again this year, along with four other really kind, smart students. These are his first day of school pictures – breakfast, outside our home, and at CC.

Micah is 11 years old. He weighs in at a little over 80 lbs and is 4’11”. He is in his final year of Foundations and Essentials and is THRILLED to have some friends his age in there. It’s looking like he will move up to Challenge A next year with a class of at least 4! This is an answer to prayer for us, as back in early August it was looking like he would be solo. These are Micah’s first day of school pictures – breakfast, outside our home, and at CC.

And here are other pictures from our first weeks of school. Micah is using a paper planner for the first time this year and he is loving it! Both boys felt the need to clean their room for a better start. Ethan at CC helping with Latin. My first day of CC pic for the yearbook. Boys reading for fun while eating popcorn (something I want to do regularly this year). Micah leading a science experiment and showing his bro and dad. Ethan and a friend at a jam session at our church.

Canada through Ethan’s Lens

This post is all pictures taken with Ethan’s camera. Clearly there are a few that I took in his stead below. =)

Pictures taken by me with his camera:

And, speaking of E, he was recently sent an email from Audubon:

We’d like to inform you that your photo, selected for the final review of the Female Bird gallery in the 2023 Audubon Photography Awards, did make it to the final round.

You can see the selected images here

We wish you the best of luck in your bird photography and hope you’ll consider entering our contest again in 2024.

Pretty fun! =)

Alberta, Canada!

We spent a week traveling within Alberta, Canada (just north of us here) and saw some of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever seen. The trip was lovely, other than some sickness that I so generously (frustratingly) shared during it. It consisted of three main parts: Jasper, Banff, and Canmore.

We flew into Calgary, where we stayed for a night. The stampede was going on while we were there, so we walked to the grounds and enjoyed seeing lots of cowboys and girls on the streets.

We took our time making the 4-hour drive up to Jasper. This meant making a few stops along the way. It’s supposed to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world and I think it would have been, but there was a lot of haze from the nearby forest fires. Thankfully we got to enjoy the views more on our drive back through to Banff and Canmore.

We had a very relaxing stay in Jasper. We loved our accommodations here and enjoyed walking the grounds, going around the lake, and the guys all played on the water a bit, too. We also took an amazing boat tour to Spirit Islands and I can say that this was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life. It was stunning.

On our way back down to Banff, we stopped at another gorgeous lake. This was Mike’s 40th birthday so he lovingly accommodated my desire to have him in a special birthday year shirt all day. Banff was lovely, but much busier than Jasper (we expected this). We enjoyed staying right downtown and walking everywhere. We went to see Lake Louise (bucket list item for me!) and also enjoyed a nice hike and a couple quicker walks.

The last place we stayed was Canmore. This city was gorgeous – seeing mountains over the buildings was unreal. We had our best meal of the trip, thanks to a recommendation from our friends from church. We did a hike with my dad up to the most beautiful turquoise lake there.

I’ll do another post (or two) with pictures from my Dad and also from Ethan, but I won’t say more about the trip. Suffice it to say, this was a great trip!

Celebrating Ethan

This kid. He’s 5’7″ and 14 years old. He’ll be in high school next year (we call that Challenge I in our homeschool lingo). He loves playing the piano, the ukulele, the drums and the guitar (he’s currently borrowing one, but will soon have his very own). He loves disc golf and chess. He enjoys Krav Maga with his friends and brother. He’s getting into bouldering at the gym. And he LOVES photographing birds.

Here are the final pictures of E as a 13 year old. We both attempted to appear taller than each other (he’s got me by 1/4 inch right now) and then we just smiled nicely.

We celebrated with his favorite foods (pancakes, ham and cheese buns, turkey burgers, ice cream cake) and activities. I took E and Micah birding (and we got lots of mosquito bites – as you can see it’s happening while I took the pictures). We played Wingspan – one of his favorite games. He was hoping for a ping pong tournament, but the weather didn’t cooperate this weekend.

He enjoyed all of your videos, phone calls, text messages, and video calls. Thanks for helping us celebrate this kind young man. =)

Wrapping up the School Year

It’s early May and, no, we aren’t entirely in summer mode, but there is a distinct difference in the flow of our days now. With our last days in CC community behind us, we have a much lighter load. This week, we finished our annual testing (this year, for the first time, we did them online and loved it!) and we are now just focusing on math and reading. (Micah will also work on spelling, hopefully.)

The culminating event in the F/E school year is the Faces and Places project. Micah researched and wrote a five paragraph essay on Erik the Red. Then he turned it into a first-person presentation and read it in front of the community in costume. (His buddy made him the epic red beard.) He did such an excellent job! Mike participated in the afternoon (Essentials) portion of the day again this year, while I directed Challenge B with Ethan. This was a big help!

Ethan’s culminating event for Challenge B was participating in Mock Trial. All semester they work to come up with questions and to see the trial from all sides, learning to anticipate what someone else might say or ask to make you look guilty/untrustworthy. It’s a fantastic experience, but can be very overwhelming. They worked really hard as a group and did such a good job competing in front of a Federal Judge in his courtroom downtown.

Here are some pictures of various practice sessions and working together.

I took Ethan birding the morning of Mock Trial to try to keep his mind distracted. Then when we arrived at the courthouse I wasn’t allowed to speak with my class until the whole ordeal was done. A friend of mine snapped some pictures of the faces I was making during the trial. Hilarious.

E said it was actually fun when it was all over. Preparation paid off. Phew. =) He came home and just played on the piano for a while to decompress. It’s fun to see the influence music has over daily life around here. We went out for dinner that night as a family to celebrate.

We hosted week 14 at our home and I made lunch for my class to celebrate. And then we had a fun blue book celebration back at Hope for the final week. Micah woke up and made us breakfast before we left for the day. Ethan is dressed up like his short story character, Bruce, in that bottom picture. That was the other fun part of this semester – we all worked on writing a short story!

Last day at CC for the year pictures:

April Updates

This entry will be for all things not related to the end of the school year. (I’ll hopefully post about the school year soon.)

1.My goal for April was to play the ukulele for ten minutes every day. I didn’t even come close to reaching that goal, but E and I had a lot of fun together. He was a very good teacher and I really enjoyed learning. 2. Two Safe Family friends cheered as Micah went for a run. 3. Crazy temperature shifts in Colorado. I don’t know why it still always surprises me, as this is a common occurrence, but it does. 4. Cookie card appreciations for being a Sunday school teacher this year. What a fun idea! 5-7. We celebrated Passover again. 8. I made Easter egg nests for a church potluck. Ridiculous. But tasty. 9-10. Micah goes for runs regularly and I continue to try to get out for walks. 11. Cousin Matthew was AMAZING in his recent role in Anastasia. We loved watching him. I may have shed a few tears. This was his last play in high school. 12-13. Mike and Micah headed out for a mountain biking adventure at CCSP and E and I went birding. 14. It’s official. Ethan is actually slightly taller than me now. We have been measuring for the past couple of months since we’ve been so close. This picture doesn’t make him look taller than me because I am wearing a deceiving high ponytail, but we are standing in front of the place we officially measured ourselves. 15. Both boys have now been able to play in church. E was on the drum set this past Sunday (April 30) and Micah and I hung out at church while he practiced.

Spring Break, Part 1

Our crew headed down to Florida to visit family over our Spring Break. This worked out nicely as Mike needed to head to Uruguay for work and could fly from Miami after spending a day there with us and my folks. They met us in Miami, spent the night there, and then drove back with the boys and me while Mike continued onward to Uruguay. We made the most of our whirlwind stay in Miami and had a lot of fun.

We stayed at a hotel walking distance from the beach. We ate at a ceviche spot just up the street and later enjoyed pie in the outside courtyard there for pi day. Here Mike and Micah played some chess and Grandpa and E played a few games of corn hole. Prior to dessert and games, Mike and Micah swam in the pool on top of the building, while Grandpa and E went birding by the beach.

The following morning we woke in time for the sunrise at the beach. It was pretty cloudy, so it wasn’t as beautiful as we were anticipating, but it was still fun! We ate breakfast at the hotel before heading out to Bill Baggs State Park, a delicious Cuban restaurant, Little Havana, Domino park (where E played chess with a guy a little older than himself outside of the park since you have to be at least 55 to play inside), and then Wynwood. Next Mike headed to the airport and we drove to Naples for the rest of the week.