Grandpa and Grandma here (part 1)

My parents have been coming out to Colorado in the fall every year since before I went to college.  In fact, it was probably those trips in high school that gave me a taste for Denver and prompted me to move out here for college.  Anyway, this year was no different except that they scheduled their trip to coincide with a trip Mike and I took for his work so that they could watch the boys.  AND, my grandpa made the trek as well!  We are SO grateful for time with our family!

We hit the ground running the moment they arrived.  My mom whisked off with Micah and I to his drum lesson, while Ethan and my dad and grandpa stayed back at the house.

IMG_4551

The boys’ kiwi crates arrived that night so there was much creating to be done that evening and the next morning.  Doing those projects also often makes Micah interested in other science experiments so he told a Bible story and shared how the Midianites (aka the pepper) ran away from the Israelites (aka the soap) in the story about Gideon.

One of my silly favorite parts of having my parents in town is listening to my Mom read the boys stories.  They love it, too!  We were on a big “George and Martha” kick that week – those are some of my favorite children’s stories of all time.

The next morning we snuck in some school work, puzzles, concerts and a tour to Celestial Seasonings (followed by a dessert my Dad brought home and baked with Ethan).

Next up – I join Mike in Phoenix and my parents take over watching the boys.

**Photo cred for all of the sharp pictures in this and future posts goes to my Dad.  Thanks for always capturing the fun!!**

Every Day Life

When we returned home from Breckenridge and our fun family trip, the heat wasn’t working in our house.  It had gotten pretty cold by then, so what better to do than make s’mores in the oven?! =)  Thankfully, we had the heat fixed before too long.

That week we went on a field trip with our dear friends to pick veggies at Miller Farm.  It was a chilly day, but we sure had a fun time!

The boys (mostly Micah) have started sending letters and pictures with our sweet cousins in Wisconsin.  Ethan is also writing letters with a friend from CC.  So much fun!

IMG_4461

Micah finished his favorite writing workbook.  He has requested that I buy it all over again because he thought it was so much fun.

IMG_4462

Ethan is our primary lawn-caretaker.  We had a massive amount of mushrooms in the front yard recently, so he took care of them (along with his Daddio!).

IMG_4505

Here are some pictures of our community day at CC.  Ethan’s doing a great job in the afternoon essentials program – the one I was so nervous about earlier. =)  We also took a nature walk one week and Ethan brought us a class pet.  Lastly, I was so pleased to see the high schoolers playing with all of the younger classes during the lunch break recently!  So much fun for everyone.

I was down for the count with a cold recently while Mike was out of town.  Mamas don’t really get days off.  But the boys did an awesome job doing school while I laid low on the nook.

Ethan recently decided to participate in a research study.  It’s a study of the brains of young people with autism and those who don’t have it.  E was pretty nervous about getting the MRI done and almost quit a couple times, but he persevered and then was really pleased he had done it.  I was so proud of him!  He earned himself $20 and got a picture of his brain scan.

Weekends are cherished times around here.  We love biking and playing tennis and just spending time as a family.

And, last update for now, is from when the boys and I babysat Caleb recently.  We sure love spending time with that sweetie and he’s starting to play alongside them.

Homeschool

Our first two months of homeschool was anything but pretty.  It’s starting to feel like we are finding our groove now.  Our main focus each day is attitude and effort and just saying those two words has become a good reminder to all of us.  Anyway, feeling thankful and wanted to post some pictures from the last couple weeks:

Here’s what the table looks like before we get going for the day.  I hope and pray that it feels inviting to the boys!  And a close up of some of the systems we put into place that have really helped!

Here are some shots I took at home:

And some shots out at the parks nearby:

Pictures can be deceiving, yes?  It looks like we were having joy-filled days out doing school at the park…in truth, we had meltdowns on two out of those three days and I may or may not have said I didn’t want to go to the park again for a long time. =/

Here are some pictures of gym class – PE +, free homeschool hours at Top Golf, and playing tennis.  Pretty fun!

We also got together with a friend from CC to go on a field trip to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  We really enjoyed doing their new exhibit – brain games or something like that.  I was very impressed to see everyone participating and not wanting to cheat AT ALL.  It took a whole lotta perseverance!  After our friends left, we hung around and searched for all of the hidden gnomes throughout the museum.  Lots of fun!

One of the problems was really tough, but we brought it home with us and E and I figured it out!!

IMG_4151

And here are some pictures from CC over the past couple weeks.  Ethan did not want to participate in “chubby bunnies” / review during Essentials. =)

More on every day life happenings to come.

Mesa Verde

We began our school year with a really fun field trip.  My Aunt Melanie is homeschooling her youngest son and is studying Colorado history this year and she asked if we would be interested in going to Mesa Verde with them.  We jumped at the opportunity since we are studying ancient history!  And we were even more thrilled when my Mom agreed to fly out and join us!

The park wasn’t too busy or too hot, so this season was awesome for our trip.  (We also planned it around Mike’s trip to Phoenix where he saw his family and also spent time with his friends for his fantasy football draft.)  We listened to Fablehaven on the drive there and back; it received mixed reviews but we all agreed that it helped to pass the time!  We stayed at the Fair View Lodge within the park and ate all of our meals inside the park, too.  Here are some pics from the trip and at our lodge:

We spent two full days exploring the cliff dwellings, which were beautiful! It’s hard to imagine that they have stood there for over 800 years already!  Here are some pictures of the dwellings and our hikes in and around them:

On the way out, Micah and Matthew completed their Jr Ranger’s program and then we had an incredible breakfast at Absolute Bakery – highly recommend – in Mancos.  The boys each enjoyed a can of Sprite – milestone! – on the drive back to Denver.

We LOVED this opportunity to travel with family and explore our distant backyard.  Thanks to my Auntie for driving us and organizing everything.  And thanks to my Mom for making the trip out to join us!  Let’s do it again!!

Meanwhile, here are a few pictures from Mikey’s trip to Phoenix.  He tells me he had a great time!  It’s a lovely gift that the draft takes place where he can also have some special time with his Mom (and grandparents, too!).

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.

 

Butterfly Pavilion

As promised, here are some pictures from our field trip to the Butterfly Pavilion.  We stopped in there before heading to the fair trade conference to see Jen and J.  Both boys held Rosie, the tarantula.  Micah had done so once before, but this was Ethan’s first time. We learned a new fact – no one has ever died because of a tarantula, but there have been 3 known deaths from hamsters.  =D

Micah took most of the pictures (or requested them) this day.  He likes to find beautiful things to capture which makes me smile.

Micah had a beautiful butterfly land on his head!  So fun!

And, lastly, we’re pointing to the fair trade conference from where we were at the Butterfly Pavilion:

IMG_1522

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….

IMG_0299

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. =/