First Stop: Minnesota

We drove to Minneapolis the week before Christmas and spent a few days there.  The boys are fantastic travelers, thankfully.  They keep themselves busy with coloring, looking at books, and listening to audiobooks.  And, of course, having tic tacs or gum all day long. =)

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Mike worked while we were there, of course, so the boys and I kept ourselves occupied throughout the day.  One day we spent exploring the “tubes”.  We made it all the way to Mike’s office and had some kombucha on tap there and also grabbed some lunch with our guy.

Most of the rest of the time we hung around the hotel and played a lot of billiards. =)  We also got in some “work outs”, drank hot chocolate, did some school and played some games.  In retrospect, I would have scheduled another outing (like a children’s museum or something!), but the boys had seemed so content to hang at the hotel so we did that this time around.  We also always had dinner with Mikey when he was done at the office.

The main reason we went to Minneapolis was to attend the family Christmas party.  It was pretty fun and a really unique location!  Ethan played at least 3 games of mini-golf on a cool course designed by various artists.  Micah and I played a whole lot of arcade games from the 60s, like bowling and foos ball.

We had a great time in Minneapolis, but by Friday afternoon we were headed to Wisconsin for some family time!

Advent Activities 15-18

Warning…our advent activities went downhill at this point.  We left on our trip on the 18th, so much of my life revolved around packing and laundry and making sure we ate the last of our food, etc.

Day 15: Snowmen pancakes and going to cousins’ house for banket-making.  Aunt Mel and I were the only ones actually participating in the banket-making, but it was an exciting event for us to get to spend some time over there!  And E and Matthew worked on their recital piece for a bit, too.

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Day 16: Ethan’s Christmas piano recital!  It was held at a nursing home, which I loved!  Mom and Dad went out for our annual CC Christmas party that evening…and Ike came to babysit.

Here are some Christmas pictures of the boys after the recital:

And we got a picture of the two of us at the CC party! Yay!

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Day 17: I have no idea…I had high hopes of doing really great things this Sunday, but as far as I can tell, Micah was sick in the morning so Mike and Ethan went to church and I stayed home with him.  =/  SO thankful that sicknesses often only last a couple hours around our house!

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Day 18: Start our trip to the Midwest.  We drove to Omaha this evening… future posts will tell about the rest of our traveling adventures.  No more Advent Activities at this point. =/

Advent Activities 11-14

Day 11: Christmas craft & Christmas cookies.  We put two together on this day because I had hopes of doing a special advent activity with Aunt Ashley the following day.  Unfortunately, their family was sick so we had to postpone.  So, my day 12 activity was kind of made up on the fly. =)  Thanks, Grandma Cleve, for the train ornaments!

Oh, also, I forgot this trick…if the boys refuse to smile or can’t handle not smiling with huge eyes…tell them to look at each other. So much cuter!

Day 12: drink hot chocolate and read “A Christmas Carol”.  We read a children’s version of the story to prep for day 14….

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Day 13: This was supposed to be banket-making with Auntie Mel, but there was sickness in their house, too.  So, sadly, this was postponed, also.  It ended up being a really rough and exhausting day for me.  I had pretty much cancelled Advent Activities and reached my very own milestone – calling my mom in tears over parenting. =/  BUT, the Lord gave me a wonderful idea that night…to pour grace upon grace on them so that they would have a tangible example of God’s grace and love towards us.  I sent them to bed early because oh.my.word. the day was too long!  But before they fell asleep, I got them out of bed for a late-night drive to see Christmas lights.  The message was loud and clear: you don’t deserve this, but grace wins!  It was a great lesson for me, too…I had to ask myself, how do I respond to His grace and goodness in my life?  Do I obey willingly and thank Him?  Or do I do my own thing and forget to be still and rest in His goodness?

Day 14: Watch “A Christmas Carol” downtown!  We had excellent seats for this fairly scary performance and saw lots of our CC friends there.  Afterwards we got to chat with some of the actors/stage crew people about their roles.  It was really neat!  Also…smiling is hard for us right now. =/

 

Advent Activities 5-10

Day 5: No picture proof, but we went through toys and clothes to make some donations.  This would probably be more meaningful if it wasn’t already a kind of basic part of our rhythm.  But, it’s still a good practice, so we did it anyway. =)

Day 6: Secret acts of kindness day in honor of St. Nicholas.  Can’t tell you about them, they are secrets!  This is the only secret we allow in our home. =)

Day 7: Go to a different library and pick out Christmas books!  Micah was not interested in this activity, so E and I did it by ourselves.  But Micah joined in the drinking of egg nog and reading a TON of Christmas books.

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Day 8: go out for dinner.  We did this up in Breckenridge, but I didn’t snap any pictures.  We had Italian food and “enjoyed” the freezing weather being in the mountains brings.

Day 9: family skiing day!  I stayed in my boots, snapped pictures, handed out snacks, did bathroom runs, and helped boys with the lift or standing back up after falling (and, let’s be honest, a whole lot of morale boosting and comforting when things were hard and frustrating).  Some of our church friends joined us for part of the day – they’ve got boys the same age as ours (and same skill level) and that added to the fun!  Milestone alert: Micah did a full run down the mountain!

Day 10: watch home videos from 2016 (this is one of my favorite advent activities!) and go see cousin Matthew in the “Madagascar” play.  Loads of fun!!  Matthew did a wonderful job!

Life

Can you tell I’m over coming up with the titles for each blog post?  I just don’t have anything catchy to call every day life anymore (not sure I ever did…).

E and I have been playing a lot of Dominoes since GC went back home.  We’re really enjoying it.  In fact, today while Micah had a super fun play date over, E and I played a full game of Dominoes.  He won. =)

I measured the boys this week for our health insurance stuff. =)  They are growing up so fast!  E is usually closer to 70 pounds, but he hasn’t crossed that threshold, yet.

Homeschool Updates:

It wouldn’t be a blog post about life if I didn’t give a little schooling update.  Some days are super hard and I question a whole lot about what we are doing, but those days are, thankfully, few and far between.  I did have one such day on Monday when we had to have a lot of chats about doing hard things, what it looks like to actually learn new material that challenges your brain, and how attitude matters so much more to me than getting answers right or problems done.  I am happy to say that the talks sunk in because the rest of the week the boys would ask me every afternoon, “Mom, how was my attitude today?” “Mom, do you think I had a good attitude today?”  And that explains the big smiles they are giving me when I snuck some pictures. =)  And sometimes I get to reward them for having a great attitude!

Ethan started doing difficult division problems with remainders.  Micah finished his first writing notebook and most of his math notebook.  E loved reading the classic start of “Anne of Green Gables” and thought it was very similar to the actual book which we had listened to through audiobooks.  We have also since finished “Anne of Avonlea” and started watching the movie…which really features more stories from the next few books, so we ordered those through the library so we can listen to them!  I can tell that Micah is picking up a lot from these books because when he hears a phrase we heard in the book being said on the movie, he perks up and says he knew that part!

Here’s a short little video of the boys outlining the US while listening to a fun states and capitals CD we got from Auntie!  E usually outlines right along with the music, but apparently I didn’t catch that in this video. =)

Classical Conversations Updates:

We just finished week 12 of CC which means we are on break until the new year.  We will be doing all of our normal homeschooling, still, but we won’t have CC to attend for over a month.  Our final day at CC (besides the party in a couple weeks) was a good one.  We put our bodies together after learning about the different parts while coloring them over the past 6 weeks.  Micah joined my class for that part and when his class went downstairs to put their bodies together, so I got to see his presentation this week and help him with putting the body together.

Ethan presented on Robert E. Lee after reading a book about him that morning.  Micah presented on his birthday gift from Grandma Cleve.

We hung their bodies up on the office closet doors and are working on writing science sentences around it…such as “what are some parts of the excretory system?” which E and I decided should be placed near…well, you know. =)

Other Updates:

I painted the easel that Auntie gave us this week and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out!

We played at the park and went for a walk together this week.

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Micah was briefly sick.  And I love when he sleeps on me in the middle of the day.

The boys did some raking.

E played football with his buddies after PE+.  Micah played tag with his.

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A shot of their bunk beds during a brief window when their room looked clean:

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Big milestone news for Micah – he lost his first tooth tonight!

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…in between visits…

Here are some pics and videos from our homeschool week last week.  We use the easel from Auntie Mel every single day.  Micah is always practicing the alphabet or drawing pictures based on the books we are reading (one of the pictures features Micah’s version of “Anne of Avonlea”, the audiobook we are currently finishing).  I use it to write some writing assignments for the boys and to explain math to Ethan, among other things.

Micah is now playing Piano Maestro on the iPad, too.  Ethan has been such a patient teacher to Micah and Micah has really been enjoying playing.  In fact, he was the ‘star student’ on Monday.  I guess I gave him a little more time on the iPad than Ethan. 😉

Other updates include that Ethan can now complete this:

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And Micah has his very first loose tooth / adult tooth growing:

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And the office is on its way to being organized:

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Next up: Grandma Cleve is back!

Grandma Cleve’s Visit, Part 1

Grandma Cleve came for another visit last week – splitting her time at Ashley and Zach’s and our house!  We had her for a day and a half at the beginning of her trip and then she finished her time at our house, too.

On Saturday, we went to the Butterfly Pavilion.  We had never been before and she spoiled us with a membership so we’ll be going there a few more times before the year is done. =D  Micah was our brave guy who held Rosie, the tarantula!  It was lots of fun to see all of the butterflies, to dig for worms and to look at their little aquarium.  It’s a really neat place and we’re excited to go back again!  Grandma Cleve almost became a part of the exhibit there when a gorgeous butterfly landed on her leg and stayed with her for the next 10+ minutes! =)

That afternoon we went to Ikea to start a super big project…switch the boys’s room and the school room.  We got the boys bunk beds and Grandma Cleve and Mike worked on that for much of the rest of Saturday.  Thankful that GC is so helpful with assembling Ikea furniture.  She’s helped us with quite a few projects like this one over the years.  Such an exciting time!  Although, I would be lying if I said I never shed any tears over this.  How did the boys get so big?!

After church on Sunday, we had a relaxing afternoon at our house and then headed over to Ashley and Zach’s to celebrate Caleb’s first birthday!  SO much fun!

Can’t believe he’s already one!  It feels like just yesterday that we were celebrating our own little boys’ first birthdays… The days are long, but the years are SHORT.

Grandma Cleve stayed with Caleb and his parents until Wednesday afternoon when she came back to stay with us until Saturday night.  I’ll do a separate post for that and for the things we did in the meantime. =)