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!

Shelter in Place

After the boys and I arrived back home from Florida, our state issued a shelter in place order.  We already knew that CC community day would be going virtual and everything else was cancelled (or made virtual) soon thereafter, too.  I spent most of the past month battling a mysterious illness that left me with a headache and a low fever most days, followed by two weeks of hives.  I am happy to report that I seem to be back to good health now, but that sickness certainly colored much of our first month of quarantined life as I was in bed early most nights and also took lots of naps throughout the day, too.

When we first got home, we had some snow.  Micah was outside playing with army guys in the snow.  Later, we had warm weather and the boys were busy digging a trench in the backyard or going for walks/scooter rides around our park.  The weather sure does keep us on our toes!

Virtual CC, church services, birthday party, playdates, and family zoom/FaceTime calls:

The boys have been finishing this school year incredibly well.  They are motivated and really seem to enjoy learning together.  It’s been a blessing to have such responsible boys, especially while I was so under the weather.

Ethan has been doing editing, typing, and various writing projects.  He read his Faces and Places essay (on Judy, the POW WWII dog) and completed the Memory Master challenge for his second year.

Micah is working hard on math and reading, but prefers listening to good books and drawing.  He has completed the first level in his reading program and plans to continue working throughout the summer on the next levels.

Ethan’s been playing a lot of piano and is doing lessons via zoom.  He’s tracking his practice through an app his piano teacher wanted him to use and it’s motivating him to beat out the other students taking lessons from her by practicing more.  That’s been fun to see.  She’s also had him doing various piano-related bingo activities, like playing on his knees or playing with his eyes shut.

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Other happenings include giving Micah a haircut, playing various games, and teaching Micah how to play solitaire with physical cards.

And lots and lots of time with our Daddio!

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Early March

Well, I borrowed Mike’s noise-cancelling headphones and my life was changed.  Mike snapped this picture of me, drinking tea, reading a book on being an introverted mom while blocking out all extra noise. =D

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Mikey has had a pretty significant travel schedule.  The boys are always ecstatic when he gets home and have loads of stories to tell him.  Most evenings end on the nook with books, talking, or looking things up together.  He always makes us smile.

We’ve had gorgeous weather here and have started doing some of our schooling outside. It breathes new life into our days!  The boys also do quite a bit of schooling at my PT office while I try to figure out the connection between my weak abs and my knee pain.

The boys and I went on a long bike ride – our first for the season.  We met our new friends in the state park by our house and rode all the way around the reservoir.  Sadly, both my bike and Ethan’s had flat tires when we were about 2 miles from home.  Thankfully, a kind gentleman came to our aid so that we didn’t have to walk the whole way home!  Don’t worry, I now purchased a tire pump to take with us on our adventures.

Next up: Florida!

The rest of February

Our family slept at church again for the awesome ministry our church does called, “Family Promise,” which houses homeless families for a week.  We are thrilled that we get to volunteer as a family in this way.  And the boys love sleep overs at church and eating breakfast there in the morning.

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This guy got reading glasses!

We celebrated Valentine’s Day.  Micah wanted each person to take a turn in the circle of love while we gave gifts to them.  It was very sweet.  He had saved a magnet he made for me in cadets for over a month in order to give it to me that day.  I cried.

Grandma Cleve came out that weekend for a visit!!  She snapped that top picture of our family while we read together one of the nights.  She got to experience a bit of snow again and played snow baseball with Ethan in it!  We also hosted her aunt (who lives nearby) for lunch on Sunday, which was special.  We were glad to get this time with her!

We continue to enjoy listening to books and doing puzzles.  I am still in PT trying to figure out my knee pains.  Sometimes the boys come along and do school work.  Weather is still crazy – some days we are outside in t-shirts, other days it snows.  Sometimes the boys ride scooters in the snow because…why not?  Ethan loves editing sentences and diagramming them.  And when Daddio is home, we embrace every moment with him!

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.