Other notable events of the past couple of weeks include haircuts for Ethan (his first in well over a year!) and Mike!

We’ve gone on quite a few birding excursions, including one on “Global Big Day” and another just today with some friends to see owls:

Grandma Cleve and Great Granny A flew out for a wedding and we were happy to spend a couple evenings outside with them! It, of course, wasn’t a typical trip with them but we were excited to *finally* see them again! Something is definitely better than nothing!

We celebrated Mother’s Day – sweet time back at our church for worship with my littlest guy, followed by sushi for lunch and Italian for dinner the following night. The boys also did a little coin trading while I napped. =D

Other highlights: Ethan and I enjoyed a native plant gardening class online. Mike was back in Missouri visiting his dad for a week and we enjoyed Skyping with them. And we did another variety show with the family over a Sunday afternoon zoom call. Ethan and I played our duet (we’ll be playing in an outdoor recital on Saturday, too!). Uncle Ger played “His Cheeseburger” on the ukulele. Ger and Grandma did a duet with the cello and uke and Grandma and Grandpa did a trombone/piano duet. Others showed LEGO creations. And I’m probably missing some other fun parts. So much fun!

And now we’re in summer mode. This means we are still doing some schooling, but are a lot more laid back. We’ve done some cleaning and organizing (including taking down a wall poster of the US), some math games, and the boys have their own version of slack where they write notes back and forth and make plans for how to use the playroom. =D

Resurrection Weekend!

We had a lovely Resurrection weekend and hope you did, too. I spent the Lenten season reading, “Falling Into Goodness”. We are still worshipping virtually at this point and Ethan and I sent in videos for our Good Friday service. It was a very moving service, as usual. We ended the night with ice cream, a tradition we’ve done with our church family since we started going a few years ago. We missed the sweet time with friends (and family) at DQ, but enjoyed having a sweet treat together.

Mallory was very curious to worship with us on Resurrection Sunday, much to our delight! We had Reggie and his dear friend/mentor over for lunch in the backyard – so lovely! The boys got Easter baskets from an unknown friend. I was awestruck by how MANY people could have snuck over with treats for the boys. We have no idea who it was because we have too many wonderful people in our lives. Very humbling.

And we took some family pics! I was taking a pic of the boys and Mike wanted to know why he wasn’t included in the pic, so I told him he could only be in it if he was wearing teal. LOL. So he put on teal.

Sometimes the out-takes are more fun:

April Fool’s Day

I’m not sure whether we’ve ever done much to celebrate April Fool’s Day, but we had a blast this year! I can’t lie, so most of my tricks on the boys were discovered quite quickly, but the cleverness of each of them made us all laugh. (I didn’t come up with any of these ideas on my own – I had randomly found a website months ago with all of these ideas!)

For breakfast I served the boys “ostrich eggs”, which tasted a lot like vanilla yogurt, peaches and chia seeds.

For first snack I gave the boys “juice” to drink, which was jiggly like jello.

We had “sushi” for lunch:

And for second snack we had “carrots” – which taste great served on crackers (and on hot dogs as it turns out – we tried that with dinner!):

The boys were waiting for something to happen over dinner, but I didn’t have any great ideas left. But that was fun, too, as they tried everything very tentatively. =D

Life Lately

We reached some Covid-related milestones recently, as I’m sure have many of you. We’ve officially spent a full year without any in-person time with Grandma Cleve or my parents. This past Friday marked the year anniversary of when I flew home from Florida with the boys. Mike also has now gone over 365 days without getting on a plane for the first time in…18 years!! We snapped a picture of Mike to remember that day. =D And I reached a full year of reading for at least 10 minutes a day! (this is a big deal for me; I’m well-aware that many of you have such beautiful reading lives that this is nothing…but it’s a habit I’ve been working to build and have enjoyed every minute of it!)

We also celebrated some holidays – Pi day (with chicken potpie and chocolate pie) and St. Patty’s Day (with corned beef and cabbage):

Just days before a big winter storm, we had a gorgeous backyard community day with CC. We’re busy painting like the great artists right now and that’s been extra fun. Below you’ll see Micah’s version of a Picasso painting. Ethan was pretty bummed to have to cut up his beautiful bird to make it appear more like a Picasso piece.

I took Ethan out for a quick birding adventure after dropping off some food to folks from church before the snow arrived.

And then the storm hit us! We got almost 2 feet of snow! Lots of fun!

Other happenings as of late include celebrating Salina’s birthday via Zoom and her subsequent thank you note (SO funny!), writing on our gratitude frames, working on March madness brackets, enjoying the sunshine, and another tiny snowstorm:

And lastly some pictures of school today (Ethan is making the CC yearbook for us this year, with help from yours truly):

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: