Advent activities for the past couple weeks included breakfast by the fire, making Christmas cookies, ice cream sundaes (on a Sunday, of course ;)), a family sleepover, making Christmas cards, watching a virtual performance of The Nutcracker, going for a winter hike, a drive to see Christmas lights, a family wrestling match (Ethan won), and a white winter breakfast for the first day of winter:

Other activities in December (fun in the snow, pics from various walks, virtual church with our very own Advent “wreath” (thanks, Auntie Mel!!), time by the fire, timeline lessons with Auntie Sal and Grandpa and Grandma (look closely and you’ll see I’m sporting a mustache), piano-playing, watching Ivan and Abe in their virtual choir performance for their church, playing with LEGO, our Hope sign (another thanks to Auntie Mel), and watching “The Grinch” over Zoom with the family:

We hope your December is filled with much cheer and good memories! It may not look the way it looks most years, but there is still lots of joy to be found.

Advent Activities, etc.

The boys and I were feeling pretty sad after Daddio and Grandpa Russ left. Mike stayed in Missouri for another five days to help get things settled there, so we spent some time solo again for the first time in a very long time! That first day we wanted to do something a little special – so we went birding at Cherry Creek Reservoir. Couldn’t have asked for a more lovely way to spend some hours to lighten our heavy hearts.

Advent activities while Dad was out included making homemade egg nog (yum!!), secret acts of kindness day (no pictures of that, obviously!), breakfast for dinner, picking up trash around our park with friends (followed by a snowball fight), and a Christmas art class.

And here are some other pics from throughout that week (virtual church, workouts during memory work review, Ethan reading in a tree, Grandma reading to us, snow on one of my walks, and my favorite cozy spot after a long day of parenting solo):

The start of the holiday season!

As is our tradition, Grandpa Russ came out to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. He actually needed to be out here in order to pursue some help regarding his health, but we were thrilled that the timing worked out that we could host him over the holiday and help him get some health insights. This was honestly one of the moments in 2020 that felt the most normal, even though it was filled with hospital visits and whatnot. Hosting, getting hugs and being close to a person outside of our little crew of four has not happened since March, so this was a treat for all of us! We always love having him, but it was especially meaningful for all of us this year.

We didn’t take a lot of pictures together, so I’m sad to show very little from our time together. Here are a couple I snagged from hanging out around the house:

Thanksgiving Eve brought exciting news from the Bertilsons – they are having a girl! She is due in April and we’re all excited!

Thanksgiving day was filled with lots of food and things written down for which we give thanks. It was an absolutely lovely day together. We filled that poster with loads of blessings!

The day after Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year – decoration day! It’s the first day I allow myself to listen to Christmas music and it’s the day we get all of our decorations up! We have Christmas lights outside for the first time ever – it felt like the year we needed to do a little spoiling. =)

My mom made all the grandkids Christmas pillowcases! It was a very special gift and everyone was thrilled with them! They opened them on our weekly zoom after a day filled with clues to try to help us guess the gift.

These pics come from during the time period that Grandpa Russ was with us, but generally happened on days he was at the hospital. We got in some schooling (there’s a very big difference between the way Ethan does math and Micah does it), some walks, some artwork, time with Daddio, a CC Christmas celebration, time at the piano, virtual church with our advent candles, etc.

On our last night with Grandpa Russ here our Advent activity was to have a red and green meal together – lasagna! We loved celebrating with him!!

We were so thankful for this time with Grandpa Russ and look forward to our next visit in February!

Sickness and Snow

The weekend/week of Labor Day brought about sickness and snow, both unexpected but relatively short-lived. Ethan was very tired, had a sore throat and a slight fever all weekend. By Monday, Micah had a fever and sore throat. I share our little story here only because I believe in giving glory and praise where it is due. As you’ve probably gathered from our lack of trips, visitors, or play dates, we’ve been living very close to home and keeping our own exposure and our potential spreading to a minimum. Obviously this sickness threw us for a bit of a loop. It didn’t ruffle us much until Micah’s fever spiked to 102.7 before bed on Monday night. We opted to have him sleep in bed by me and have Mike downstairs in the guest bedroom. I woke a little after 10 (don’t judge – I went to sleep with Micah at 8! =D) with Micah crying in pain and burning up. Here’s where I made my mistake – I jumped out of bed to check his temperature (something I can’t do with how quickly my blood pressure drops when I do so) and found that it had gotten up to 104.3. Knowing only that this was too high, I started praying and taking off blankets and trying to cool him down. Then I ran downstairs to get Mike and ran back upstairs to be with Micah. At this point, my body had had enough excitement and I could feel a faint coming on. Thankfully Mike caught me before I hit my head, but I did, indeed, pass out fully. By the time I came back to and was done with the initial throwing up, Mike was able to check Micah’s temperature again and found it had dropped back down to 101 something. Praise the Lord! I couldn’t have messed up that first reading as we’ve got a forehead thermometer, so I can only assume the Lord healed Micah swiftly!

Micah and I kept mumbling back and forth to each other that we were both fine and Mikey took watchful care over both of us. Sadly, after I faint I am basically useless for the next two days and have to stay lying down in bed. Our sweet boys took great care of me, getting me drinks of water, taking pictures of our first snow, and calling to check in on whether I needed anything.

Micah hates this story and was pretty traumatized again by my fainting, but we are trying to tell the story from the perspective of the Lord’s great care for us.

We ended up getting the boys tested for Covid-19 (even though we knew it was a long-shot) in an effort to protect anyone with whom we might come into contact over the next week or two. They handled the test bravely and we were grateful to find that it was NOT Covid. Originally we had wondered whether having it would give us more freedom or flexibility, but we’ve since thought about the potential long-term effects on their lungs and heart from having had it, and are thankful that we don’t have those with which to contend.

Anyway, we are grateful for health and strength (boys and I are back to full strength). We are grateful that the Lord is consistently with us. We are grateful that we are still able to walk in love for our neighbors by hanging close to home. This is a difficult season. We’re trying to choose thankfulness and kindness every day.

Also, snow in September. What fun! We had a massive temp swing from 91 to 26 in one day!

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!

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.

We also got back into the swing of things for school and CC.

Mike and his co-worker/buddy took the boys to Casa Bonita for their first time.  The food was not impressive, as you might guess, but they had a good time watching the entertainment.

And we’ve had two Packer picnics.  One ended with a victory; the other with defeat.  The boys watched both games all the way through, which is something new for them. What a fun season!

December

Here are some more things that happened throughout December, besides the big trip to see family in the midwest.

Mikey and I went to a Hanson Wintery Mix concert and it was awesome! =D

The boys and I worked at our church’s Global Bazaar selling Jennie’s products again.  Hard to imagine that 8 years ago I was helping Jennie set up while having contractions with Micah!  Time flies.  The boys were big helps!