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.

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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!!**

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!!

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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.

Drum Lessons

Micah has officially started drum lessons from a guy at our church who leads worship.  He’s primarily playing the djembe right now and is already supposed to be thinking about whether he might like to play for church!  He has high hopes that some day we will buy him his own drum set.  We’ve said we’ll think about it and consider it after we see how much he enjoys playing and practicing, just like we did with Ethan and the piano.

I get to sit in during his lessons each week.  It’s pretty fun to watch him playing and I think he has a pretty good feel for rhythm.

Here’s a video of the song they are working on currently:

The school year thus far…

We’ve been having a very hot-and-cold school year thus far.  Some days are loads of fun and we are feeling on top of the world.  Other days we battle with effort and attitude in every moment of the day!  The smiles you see in these pictures are the result of a whole lotta prayer and perseverance on some days and on other days they are just shining through the whole day!

Thought I would highlight some CC stuff we’ve been doing.  Ethan started Essentials this year and it’s been going really well.  It’s definitely challenging, but he’s been reading his papers in front of the class, working on diagramming sentences, learning to speed up his math skills and is loving playing “board slam”.  Micah sits in during Essentials and he’s been picking up on little things here and there, too, which is super fun!

Micah has been going to his CC Foundations class regularly now and he loves it!  And I am really enjoying the class I am tutoring this year, too.  Here are some pictures from this past week.  We were doing abstract art!

Here are some pictures from around the house.  Ethan started keeping a reading journal.  We have one as a family, too, for our bigger read aloud books.  And I started one in August as well.  We just finished “The Bronze Bow” – we all loved it.  We also watched an author interview online, but it didn’t thrill the boys.  We’ll give it a go another time. =)

Sometimes we play school…during our homeschooling day.  It makes me laugh.

We also had the opportunity to play at Top Golf for free with a bunch of other homeschoolers in the area – many of them our friends!  This happens every month, so we’ll be taking advantage of the opportunity again!!

If you know our family well, you may know that our highs are high and our lows feel pretty low.  There’s not a whole lotta big trials, but the little day-to-day difficulties take their toll on our moods.  So, our emotions seem to run pretty deep around here.  There are not a lot of just plain good days. 😉  Our school year follows suit.  One moment we are LOVING homeschooling with all of our hearts, but the next we are wishing the boys went to school.  I was going a little insane – trying the same things over and over and expecting different results.  Then, finally, we implemented some new techniques.  One day we spent time making a poster to keep nearby highlighting the benefits of homeschooling.  I also made to-do lists that I can fill out and they can check off as we go.  I really think the Lord gave me a little rhyme to keep nearby for my own attitude check – “quick to sit, not to quit” – it reminds me to sit with or lean into the annoyances and frustrations and to not be so quick to quit and look for a way out.  And, lastly, I made an attitude/effort chart.  We’ve seen a lot of improvement in all of us. =)

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!).

First Two Weeks of School

The first two weeks of school were a bit of a whirlwind, as these pics might attest.  Our first day of school was actually on Monday, August 20th (not the 22nd like I accidentally wrote on our super rushed “first day of school” pics).  And I didn’t weigh the boys until today and still haven’t measured them for their height.  Our first day was also our first of Classical Conversations community day and we had a lot to pack in order to get out the door (thus the picture of our list).

Micah sat in my class for the first week of CC and has chosen to stay with us during Essentials (the afternoon program focused on English grammar, math facts, and writing).  Ethan gave his presentation on our big summer trip – he just highlighted Yosemite for this one.  Micah, since he wasn’t in his class, gave a presentation to our family about his shark tooth and getting it removed at the dentist this summer.  He may use that presentation again when he’s in his real class.

My mom was here for a field trip visit – she arrived in the middle of CC and spent some time with her sister until we were ready.  I’ll include more pictures from her visit and our field trip in another post.  But here are a couple fun ones from around the house (before and after the Mesa Verde field trip):

Mesa Verde occupied most of our first week of school.  This week, however, we had a more typical school week.  Micah went to his CC class and had SO much fun.  His tutor said that he was “GREAT!” in class.  He now calls CC days the “fun day” of the week and plans to attend his class every week.  Ethan, meanwhile, has been an all-star in our class.  I’ve been really impressed with his quiet leadership and kindness.  He’s been participating well, taking chances in Essentials even when he feels way out of his comfort zone, and being a very good example to others around him.  What a treat!  Speaking of treats, we treated the boys to ice cream after such a wonderful second day at CC!  And then I even had the energy to *finally* get them their rewards for all of the books they read over the summer.

And here are some shots I took from around the house during our homeschool days.  Ethan is doing 4th grade math this year and Micah is starting his first Singapore Math book with 1st grade work.  I’ve discovered that he really likes to be artistic during math, so he will never just circle when he could color. =)  Just today Micah asked if we could do harder math…which was such an encouragement to me because he’s not always one to want to be challenged.  I assured him that this book would get more tricky in the coming weeks and that he should just enjoy the easy lessons while he has them.  We also are taking advantage of borrowing “Code Names” from my Mom and playing variations of it with vocab and sight words.

Lastly, here are the current weights of the guys:

Last week of school

Our final week of Kindergarten and 2nd grade was May 7-11.  It ended up being rather anticlimactic because I was originally planning for the 18th to be our final day, but then I realized we could hustle and get done with a few things before my parents even arrived and just relax when they got here…so we went with that!

We finished strong with some time outside, completing math books, and getting our reading posters ready for the summer.  I drew them for the boys and then had them outline them with black marker.  We went a little smaller this year so that we could actually finish the posters by the time school starts again next fall!

And we went out for lunch with Daddio to celebrate our last day of school:

I’ll do another post with final pictures / comparison to the start of the year. =)