Happy 11th Birthday!

This is almost impossible for me to believe – Ethan turned 11 at the start of this month!  We teased him a lot about turning 10 instead, since 11 just feels too old.  Micah even went so far as to write “Happy 10th Birthday” all over his gifts for Ethan.

I always try to sneak in a final picture with my boys before they turn the next year older, so this is my final picture with my 10 year old.

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One of our family birthday traditions is to let the birthday person choose all of the meals for the day. Ethan chose pancakes and bacon for breakfast, grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch, and Greek turkey burgers, homemade applesauce and sweet potato fries for dinner. He also had a delicious ice cream cake.

We also try to do something special with our birthday guy. This year had a lot of limitations, obviously, but it didn’t really phase him.  In typical Ethan-fashion, he wrote out a list of things he wanted to do for the day. He was happy to play frisbee golf in the park with the family, put together an 11-themed work out, and go for a nature walk to take pictures together at night (we had given him the tripod – the one thing he requested multiple times throughout the year – as our big gift to him).

He received lots of cards, emails, FaceTime chats, gifts, and videos (see the videos below from some of his cousins) throughout the week. Thanks for making him feel so special!

This guy is something special.  He is kind and smart.  He is disciplined and motivated. And he loves the Lord and people. We are super proud of this 5’0″ young man. He’s a treat to parent and always has been!

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Updates from May

Ethan had his first virtual piano recital.  We were asked to make videos and post them on our YouTube channel and then E’s piano teacher put together a playlist of everyone’s pieces, along with a scavenger hunt and chance to vote for the pieces we liked best in each category.  Here are the links for E’s pieces:

I wanted to post a video from my nephews – they were dancing all around while listening to Ethan play piano.  It was darling.  I can’t figure out how to post it, so ask Lauren if you want to see. =D

We’ve also done a lot of playing piano through the Piano Maestro app as a family.  We are competing against one another – the boys are in the lead by a whole lot so far!  It’s been lots of fun to challenge ourselves in this way and fun for the boys to have such a big lead.

We’ve gone for lots of walks, both as a family, individually and in pairs.  I don’t think I’ve missed a day since early May (whenever my hives finally left for good) and Mike walked for over 10 miles one day. The boys go for walks to take pictures of flowers and birds. E and I even went for a walk in the rain one evening.

We’ve also started doing some track workouts as a family.  Our first work out at the track was a sprint work out – 20 seconds of sprinting followed by 2 minutes of rest for 6 rounds. We are trying to do this every week (2 down so far!). On Memorial Day we did a modified Murph work out.  Micah started out running one lap and then doing hand stands and squats and then ran another lap (and then he did 2 more for fun!) to finish his workout.  Meanwhile, Ethan and I both ran 3 laps and then did 70 push ups and 100 squats before running another 3 laps.  Daddio did the same, except with 4 laps and maybe 100 push ups (I can’t remember for sure).  It’s a fun new challenge for us and something we can do all together.  We hadn’t hit a track since back in our Georgia days!

Another thing we do to keep busy is play frisbee golf in the park by our house.  We do this a couple times every week.

Mallory, our mallard, keeps us busy, too.  She visits every day and is fed by Micah at least twice each day.  She likes to fly up to our roof to say hello and also peeks in at us in the playroom, too.  She even flew around the house and watched me do laundry one week. And we found her in the park during one of our frisbee golf rounds – she didn’t shy away from Micah, so we knew it was her.

Lots of outside time (I’ll update another day regarding the backyard project when I have more “after” pictures to post) is happening around here.  Ethan is our outdoor maintenance guy; he even changes the wire on the weed eater on his own now.

We’ve got a couple new games for this season of life, too:

We also finished up the school year in early May.  Micah will continue working on reading and math this summer and Ethan will continue to read each day and do some other school-related things throughout the summer. We celebrated with French Toast on their final day and took some end of the year pictures, too.

Both boys had paying jobs for part of May, too.  Ethan typed up documents for Reggie for a class he will be teaching later this year.  He was very responsible and motivated.  He completed the tasks a day early and Reggie said he handled everything very maturely.  Micah had a scanning job for Mikey – scanning documents.  He did a great job, too!

We celebrated Mother’s Day in May, too.  My guys spoiled me with lots of loving notes and doing all of my favorite things – we went for a long, frisbee-free walk, we played Kubb in the park, and we ate good food.  Mikey made Dutch Babies for breakfast and ordered sushi for dinner.

Final pictures worth mentioning…the boys and I got our homemade masks from my Mom (THANKS, Mom!!).  Mike has been reading us all a book at night and sometimes Micah uses his book light to see in order to do paint by sticker or to draw.  I picked some weeds from our backyard to decorate the house because they are pretty weeds!  My aunties threw a fabulous virtual wedding shower for my cousin.  And Mel and Joel stopped by with Pentecost decorations (they were way prettier before the rain got to them) and treats since we couldn’t attend the annual Pentecost party at their home. =D

Next up…a boy we all love turns 11!

Life Lately

We’ve been working diligently to finish our school year, even though we plan to continue some work throughout the summer.  It’s been such a great school year for us for many reasons, but mostly because the boys have been working hard and keeping *mostly* good attitudes.  I’ve learned a lot over the years and I’m sure that helps, too.  I’m finally understanding the benefit of giving long breaks and not being a slave to the work if the temperaments aren’t lending themselves to it.  We do much better after our hearts are in the right place. =)

Our home has been filled with music.  Micah is enjoying playing the bongos along with Ethan’s piano practice, but he also just started using an app called “Piano Maestro” which has motivated him (and me) to play the piano!  Now we have three people trying to get time on the piano!  Ethan is also working on the computer to notate his own song, a version of Heart and Soul.  Ethan has a virtual piano recital next Friday.  We will send a link to you to watch and vote for his pieces.  It will be called, “Some Good Piano.” (Yes, that intentionally looks like Some Good News on YouTube).

The boys are very into birds and now like to go for walks and bike rides in order to make more pictures of them.  They also are starting to use a photo editing program to fix up some of their pictures.  And, Wingspan continues to be a favorite pastime for Ethan and me.

Ethan needed to wear crazy hair for one of his piano lessons, but didn’t want me to show anyone.  Ever since, Micah has been wearing his hair in a ponytail on the top of his head randomly throughout the day.  I’m sure you’ve spotted a few pictures already with his new hairstyle. =)

The boys have also continued keeping up with their buddies via FaceTime chats.

And we’ve been taking daily walks.  Often this means that Mike and Ethan are throwing the frisbee and Micah is riding his scooter, but every now and then we all just walk and talk!  Those are my favorites. =)

Mike ordered something fun for us – a slack block.  We use it to improve our balance.  It’s a lot harder than it looks!

Other updates include finishing a puzzle, reading a book with Daddio most nights, ordering (and mostly enjoying) Indian food take out, doing coins, and Daddy fixing Ethan’s bike!

And finally, we’ve had a couple more LEGO Master competitions.

1. Mom and Dad conceded to the boys on the first one because theirs was WAY cooler than ours.  Mom and Dad built a frog on a lily pad, while the boys built a parrot in a tree and had a shining sun floating in the background.

2. We had to build bigger versions of mini-figs.  Mom and Dad built the ice queen; Ethan and Micah built a soldier, complete with a rifle shooting a bullet, a canon and a tree.  Technically, Mom and Dad may have come away with a win on this one, but the votes were more sporadic.

Easter 2020

We certainly won’t soon forget Easter 2020.  We enjoyed a church service at home (decorated by Micah, complete with a LEGO band), participated in the Lord’s Supper (complete with Aunt Mel’s homemade sourdough) with Reggie via FaceTime, had a tasty breakfast and lunch, watched Andrea Bocelli’s live concert (with no audience), had lots of competitive egg hunts and spent a lot of time together.

The following day was our final CC day.  It’s been an interesting first year as the Director, but our community is such a strong, close-knit group that it was lots of fun for me, despite all of the challenges.  I was spoiled with all kinds of lovely thank you gifts and notes of appreciation.  It was a very humbling experience for me.

I thought I’d include pictures of them looking over their yearbooks and participating in our zoom class.  I’m also including their final presentations – really short, silly ones to conclude an awesome year!

January and the first part of February

We’ve had such fun weather over the past two months.  We’ve had big snow storms and also temps in the 60s.  We’ve tried to make the most of both!

Schooling has been going really well this year, for the most part.  There are always days that are hard, but overall we’ve found a nice groove and have really enjoyed learning together.  Micah has been working hard on solidifying his reading skills with a new program – “All About Reading” – and it has saved us!  We also went on a field trip with some friends called “Inside the Orchestra.”  Ethan has been enjoying typing his paragraphs about various dog breeds.  This is something he’s super interested in right now and, thus, every presentation at CC has become him reading a research paragraph he wrote about these various dog breeds.  It’s pretty cool to see him finding interests and making up his own projects to work on.

Other happenings include: Drinking hot cocoa or tea when the weather was cold.  Micah had an AWFUL 24-hour bug.  Ethan was a major trooper in taking care of him and dealing with an exhausted mama.  We enjoyed the Super Bowl and any time Daddio has been in town.  The boys latch on to him as soon as he’s home and spend as much time right next to him as possible. =D. Ethan now sells his candy to Mike, rather than eating it.  He’s motivated by being healthy and earning some money.  Micah finished speech when his teacher moved back to Minnesota.  We didn’t technically finish all that we had set out to do, but I am taking over from here since we only had one sound to work on anymore.

Home again, Home again!

We flew back home on New Year’s Eve.

We had some friends stay in our home while we were gone and were blessed with sweet notes and lots of treats.  Micah stayed up with Mike and I to ring in the New Year.  Ethan stayed up for a while, but was ready to turn in by 10:30 (he was still living on WI time, so he almost made it!).

Getting back home meant getting back into our rhythms.  We started praying for specific people at dinner and then talking about a question (both the name of a person and a question to ask is on these popsicle sticks).  Ethan got back to his piano as soon as he woke up.  We took down Christmas decorations, started reading some books together, played our new game, and spent some time outside.

We also got back into the swing of things for school and CC.

Mike and his co-worker/buddy took the boys to Casa Bonita for their first time.  The food was not impressive, as you might guess, but they had a good time watching the entertainment.

And we’ve had two Packer picnics.  One ended with a victory; the other with defeat.  The boys watched both games all the way through, which is something new for them. What a fun season!

Christmas Week in Wisconsin

After our long weekend in Michigan (Monday), we headed back to Wisconsin for a quieter week with my parents. (By Friday, the whole family spent the remainder of our time together – that will be in a separate post)

On Monday night, we all decorated cookies.

We celebrated Christmas Eve with another Shepherd’s Meal outside by the fire.

On Christmas morning, Ethan played the prelude at church with Grandma and then played the postlude solo.  Then we had a yummy lunch with Brad and Sal.  The Misner crew surprised us with an earlier arrival that day, so we were excited to spend the day with them, too!  We decorated even more cookies with Aunt Sal.  These ones were very tasty.  =)

Other activities from that week included playing games, playing with Uncle Ger’s game pieces, and practicing piano.

^ Uncle David sent some awesome Legos to my parents house for Christmas, which also kept the boys very busy all week! ^

Advent Activities

We enjoyed another fun and reflective Advent season.  This year we read “Ishtar’s Odyssey” which is a fictionalized story of what the magi may have experienced on their quest to find the newborn king.

Some of our favorite activities/activities that I took pictures of included:

  • Drinking hot cocoa while reading the Christmas story from the Bible
  • Family sleepover and Christmas movie
  • Christmas art class
  • Christmas lights drive
  • Picnic by the tree
  • Red and green meal
  • Darkest night meal by candlelight
  • White winter breakfast
  • Put up snowflakes
  • Sing in nursing home
  • Ice cream sundaes on Sunday
  • Decorate Christmas cookies
  • Shepherds Meal

For unto YOU a child is born!

Celebrating Micah

Micah turned 8 in early December and loved every minute of all that attention. =D We celebrated early with a Skype call with Grandma Cleve to open his present and then just kept right on celebrating.  We had waffles in the morning for breakfast, opened presents (he’s a total ham and appreciated all of the cards, gifts, and videos he received throughout the day), had a friend over for cake and playing and then finished the night with dinner out at the Melting Pot.  He was pretty jazzed all.day.long.