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.

Some updates from the first half of September.

Pictures from homeschooling – a visual representation of the differences between E and M being asked to write the same science question and answer; our math books were backordered (we finally got Ethan’s, but Micah’s is still not here) so I’ve been doing random workbooks for Math; Ethan is editing a Bible verse, then drawing a picture for our Essentials vocabulary game, and then working on a report for piano; Micah has started using the iPad for fun math games while waiting for his math book to arrive; and Micah watches art classes on YouTube with me while Daddio teaches Ethan something solo (E does typing when Micah has his lesson with Dad).

Pictures from our CC community day in the backyard – Ethan did a presentation on cold showers; Micah talked about the Rush Revere book we finished (thanks, Grandpa Russ!); I taught Fine Arts (drawing upside down); and Ethan made a grumpy face at me when he missed his shot from the review game:

Pictures from fun at home – Mike mowing the lawn in a mask because of all the smoke in the air; Micah looking a picture while listening to Grandma reading; the boys taking ice baths; playing ping pong on Sunday afternoons after church (photo credit goes to Ethan for that darling one of Micah); boys enjoying some special treats from friends and family who had heard we were under the weather; birding in the chilly mornings; working on books for our in-home library; and finally the two pictures of Mike and I are from the book reading event at our library (I read my book, “Alvin the Brave” in a British accent, much to the amusement of the fam):

This past weekend we went for a hike in Golden and then spent some time in the creek downtown. It was lovely!

I walk each morning and occasionally take pictures of the beautiful sites. =)

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. =)