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. =)

Other Happenings

The boys did a great workout with Daddio.  They don’t do this all that often, but it’s really sweet to see them all working out together.

Micah really loved his kiwico box this past month – a solar system!  He painted while we listened to The Secret Garden.  Great Granny A gave us the Focus on the Family audiobook of that story and it was a super fun way to listen to it.

We are all getting in on the piano-playing around here.  I have been loving to play a couple times each week.  E plays anytime he walks past the piano.  And Micah does a little playing here and there, too.  E is also teaching Mike a bit of piano, so that’s fun!  I caught E teaching Micah the other day and it made me smile.

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Here are some homeschooling shots from around the house.  The first is what the table looks like just before I call them up from their lego-playing to begin our school day.  It makes me smile and I wanted to post it here to remind me what this season in life looked like for Jess in later years. =)  The second is our daily board…with some additions from the boys.  Ethan added his snack and to “right” to Hana.  (Guess what word will be on his spelling test tomorrow?!) Micah changed his name to Doggie and added “winey” which means…he wanted to whine during his day.

Sometimes the board gets nice messages on it, like this one from Micah:

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Ethan still makes the best “people’s eyebrow”, but my little niece is going to give him a run for his money.  I can’t wait until I can show you her version!

Micah got his very first library card and he was beaming!  He’s not into being in pictures or videos these days so he usually tries to hide his face.  His first books?  A book about Canada, a book about castles and a Star Wars book.

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Speaking of that guy, he still loves to build with magnatiles and makes a pretty awesome castle.

And speaking of the library, the boys discovered the Lego Star Wars shows and have been watching an episode or two every few days…with the massive beanbag chair on top of them like so:

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And, lastly, we had the opportunity to watch Micah’s friend in his play “The Aristocats”.  We had a lot of fun and were so glad to get to encourage him!  I promise we had fun!

Next up…Spartan Races!

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.