The Great Midwestern Tour: Pt 3 Michigan

The next stop on our tour was Michigan, where we met up with the extended family (even from as far away as New Zealand!).  This was our first year staying at cabins on Lake Michigan and I think we all loved it!  It was wonderful to see everyone and spend time hiking, eating, playing games and opening gifts together.  Lots of fun memories were made, as usual.

My Dad took some lovely family portraits:

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Hiking the sand dunes by Lake Michigan:

General Michigan merriment:

Photo cred for all of the nicest shots goes to my Dad, as usual. =)

Next up: Wisconsin

Giving Gifts

We did our family gift exchange a night or two before heading out on our Midwestern tour.  And, honestly, the giving was so much better than the receiving for our crew this year.  It was lovely to see the generosity of the boys – they both made and bought gifts for everyone in the family with mostly their own money.  I had always heard about others doing this and that the kids enjoyed watching people open their gifts, but this was the first year it felt really, really true for our own family.  They enjoyed opening their gifts, but I think they were more excited about watching each person open the gift they had purchased and picked.

Ethan bought me a necklace and charm (from my sister’s company), a Colorado shirt for Mike (from the Global Bazaar) and a heart for Micah (from my sister’s company).

Micah got me soap (from the Global Bazaar), a couple used books and coupons for Mike, and various crafts/pictures for Ethan.

We got the boys each a game, a yo-yo, and some art supplies.  Later, we gave them each a book and book pajamas (more on that in another post).

That evening we also had some time to Skype with Grandma Cleve and Great Granny A.  The boys gave them a little show, too! =)

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Micah Turns 7!

We really enjoyed celebrating Micah’s 7th birthday.  He is probably the most generous (and the most stubborn) kid I’ve ever known.  But because of his generosity, he’s pretty fun to spoil!  He was ecstatic to get to go out for dinner at The Melting Pot – something we did a couple nights before his actual birthday because of scheduling.

This was the final picture of our 6 year old!

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We had cousin Matthew over for his actual birthday, which also happened to be a school day.  We opened presents throughout the day and had waffles for dinner.  He also invited a couple friends (all brothers) over to play at the park during the afternoon.  He wanted purple decorations (for royalty) and seven 7s around the house.

He had the joy of spreading his birthday cheer a little longer, too, with gifts and cards coming in after his special day.  He LOVED it!

He was spoiled by and oh-so-grateful to SO many of you.  Thanks for loving on this little spitfire of a guy.  He prays very specifically (especially for people who are sad, mad or homeless) and has an uncanny read on others’ emotions.  He’s going to be a great leader someday and he is certainly not going to be following the crowd since he’s not a people-pleaser. 😉 We love him something fierce and are eager to see how the Lord uses him in his life.

Life Lately

These pictures don’t really fit into a category but were taken over the past month.  They give a glimpse into every day life around here.

Some of us were really hoping that a Packer picnic would help revitalize the Packer’s season this year.  One of us just likes to be contrary…

Micah wanted to try split pea soup in honor of one of his favorite book series, George and Martha.  He asked to take a picture for Grandma since she read some many of those stories to him the last time she was here.

Sometimes when we FaceTime with Daddio while he’s away, things get a little bit silly…

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Thanksgiving

Grandpa Russ drove out to spend Thanksgiving with us again this year.  We love this tradition and enjoy having him with us so much.  The boys especially enjoy spending time outside with him, looking at and sorting through coins, and eating ice cream!  We went out for breakfast at the Original Pancake House one of the mornings he was here, too!  Here are some pictures from our time with him around our house:

Before he even arrived, we started our lists of things we for which we give thanks.  Micah’s first item was drum lessons.  Ethan’s was piano lessons.  They also did an acrostic and came up with another nice list.  Ethan worked on his first and then Micah joined in later…and when Micah got to “G” he shouted GOD!  Next thing I see, Ethan’s crossing off whatever he had written in the “G” and wrote God, too.  Ha!  Very cute to see him copying his younger brother for once. =)

We spent Thanksgiving day at Ashley and Zach’s place.  It was fun to spend the day all together.  We split the food up between the two of us and had a pretty fantastic feast, although some were heard “grumbling” about having ham instead of turkey this year.  Lots of sibling banter ensued.  The boys helped me with various parts of our half of the meal: cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole and green bean casseroles.

That evening, E and I went for a walk around the park in the dark.  We got to talk to my Grandpa for his birthday and I snapped a few pictures of the lights.  I’ve been walking with this guy to see Christmas lights since he was 6 months old. =)

They came over to our place on Saturday for lasagna and more time together.  Our boys put on a very silly play for everyone.  It was lots of fun being together again before Grandpa Russ headed home the following morning.

Thanks for coming out, Grandpa Russ!  We sure loved having you!

Random November Updates

Two quick pictures of family to begin the month – 1) we sent our beloved Packers helmet onward and got a picture of Abe enjoying it! and 2) we celebrated Caleb’s 2nd birthday!

Mike was in India for work for a good chunk of November.  He had a great trip and really enjoyed being there.  We were so thankful that, while he came back feeling exhausted, he did not get sick!  He and one of the founders of phData had a layover in Paris for a day while waiting for their Visas to come through, so they enjoyed walking the city a bit!  Also, Mike bowled really well at their team-building activity and everyone was pretty proud of him for getting on the leader board for the month. =)

Meanwhile, at home…I did get sick for a couple days while he was gone.  The boys handled things incredibly well.  We had a little church service at home and even had Chipotle delivered to the house for the boys.  Ha!  Ethan still was able to go to see cousin Matthew’s play that day, but Micah wanted to stay home to make sure I’d be okay.

Thankfully whatever that sickness was didn’t last long!  We had a play date, went out for dinner with Reggie, and I did some painting.  We also re-instituted rest time for weeks when Mike is out of town and that really saved my sanity.  I just need little breaks so that I can be patient and joyful and not irritable and annoyed.  The boys have been rocking these rest times with paint by stickers, listening to story of the world, doing sudoku, etc..

Other updates for the month include both boys still enjoying their instruments:

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Sometimes the boys want to “play school” and I always find it very humorous.  Micah loves to be the teacher and Ethan absolutely LOVES spelling tests and asks for lots of words.

Hanson’s new CD came out and it’s great.  😉 And we continue to enjoy family night at church – Ethan does Cadets and I teach the kids club for the younger kiddos.  Micah has opted to stay in there with me and is my little helper.  And the guys love doing battles.

When Daddio comes back home from a trip, we often put pictures from our weeks up on the TV and tell stories to each other.

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One-on-One Weekend

Mike had high hopes of taking Micah away to San Fransisco for his one-on-one weekend, but he ended up needing to fly to Minnesota the day before their trip and Micah ended up feeling more comfortable staying in the state.  SO, after hours of flight delays, Mike arrived home after ten pm and the trip was postponed until the following morning.  Mike took Micah south about an hour to Great Wolf Lodge for the remainder of the weekend.  We were pretty sure this would be just the thing for Micah.  Sadly, Micah ended up not feeling well for much of their time and even threw up a few times.  Regardless, Micah would tell you that he had a great time!

Here are some pictures from their special time together on the first day:

The following day Micah was feeling much better, but he was still not quite up to his usual cheerful self.

Needless to say, they are going to need a re-do on this whole trip sometime when schedules allow again. =)

Meanwhile…back at home…We had pretty cold all weekend, but I tried to be excited about all of the outdoor activities Ethan had in mind.  Ethan and I biked to the tennis courts two days in a row to play some tennis.  We played football for a long time, too!  We also kept ourselves busy playing lots of games, playing the piano and looking for birds!

We were definitely glad to be together as a family after all of that.  Micah requested that only people dressed as wolves/animals play with play dough.  =)  Quick side note – the play dough was a prize from Sunday School, which I am incredibly happy to report, Micah was SO sad to miss while on his weekend away.  Previously, he didn’t even want to go to Sunday School and now he was feeling really bummed to miss even one week of it! Such an answer to prayer.

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