Playing Catch Up

The Advent season is upon us and I have yet to post anything from most of November. So, this will be a bit of a hodgepodge post, but it will serve to catch us up to Advent and Christmas pictures.

My dad snapped a couple of pictures of the boys and me before they left back in early November (Mike was on a work trip).

We’ve been using our new deck table and chairs as much as the weather has allowed. And our neighborhood lights have been put up, so I took Micah on a night walk to go see the big tree. We’ve also enjoyed a few Packer picnics. Note the new handmade Packer napkins and the Christmas decorations (that one is from after Thanksgiving).

Micah-man got vaccinated and was given a cute polar bear we fondly named Vax.

Thanksgiving was a blast! We were fortunate to be able to travel to see Mike’s side of the family in Arizona. It was short, but oh-so-sweet. It was lovely to get to stay at Mike’s brother’s home. We enjoyed a great Thanksgiving meal out by the pool, but even better company! We also managed to sneak in an afternoon visit at a park with Mike’s sis (and her party of five), his mom and his grandma. How nice to have the chance to see all of his family in one visit!

We’ve enjoyed doing CC outdoors each week of the semester except the last two. The weather prohibited outdoor learning only once this semester, but my class opted to meet indoors for our final meeting so that we could use the table to finish Blue Book assessments. What an awesome experience that was! I am SO impressed with their knowledge. You can see pictures of them drawing the Western Hemisphere and Europe, some from memory, others using resources. That day the younger class joined us for an outdoor Christmas party as they had finished week 12 the week before. Can you tell how much Ethan loves it when I snap pics of him? =D We are now officially on break until January 3! Phew!

Krav Maga continues to be a favorite weekly activity. Both boys graduated to orange belt this month. See Ethan breaking his board here and Micah breaking his here.

Spending time playing outside with our friends is one of our favorite pastimes:

And we had our first snow in Denver!

Mike & Micah’s One-on-One Trip

Not long after we returned home, it was time for each of us to head in different directions.  Ethan went on his 10-year-old-trip-with-grandpa-and-grandma to Philadelphia.  I traveled to Atlanta to help my sister at her trade show and got to see family and friends there, too.  Meanwhile, Mike and Micah had their one-on-one trip for the year.

They had one day at home before heading out:

They first flew down to Phoenix so that Micah could spend a day with Grandma Cleve.  Since Ethan and I were gone for such a long time, Mike wanted to make sure Micah had some extra fun, even though a one-on-one trip with him is typically only a long weekend.  Micah had developed an awful rash prior to the trip, but it sadly grew worse over time.  Apparently, though, he was not one to complain about it even though it looked pretty miserable.  He loved his special day with Grandma Cleve, particularly going mini-golfing in the dark!

The following morning, the guys grabbed breakfast with Grandma Cleve and Great Granny A and then were off on their adventure to San Diego.

Day 1 – traveling to San Diego and enjoying the hotel, cool car, and the beach:

Day 2 – Sea World

These two had a wonderful time together.  It was remarkable to me to see how much growth Micah experienced when comparing this trip to the one he took last year with Mike.  Such a difference a year can make!

Grandpa and Grandma here (part 2)

I flew to Phoenix on Friday morning and came back home again on Sunday with Mikey.  I’ll include a few pictures we took from our time there at the end of this one, but I’ll keep the focus on the fun the boys had with Grandpa and Grandma in town.  And they really did have a whole lotta fun together!

The boys taught them a new game and played a whole tournament of it:

They also worked on Halloween costumes for CC.  I had ordered some things for the book characters they were going to dress up as, but the box didn’t arrive until I was already gone.  So I tasked my parents with making sure everything fit and making the necessary additions – like a red feather for Reepicheep’s ear.  Thank you!!  Parts of Micah’s costume (King Peter) came in handy for playing “Queen” with Grandma.  I understand this may have been my mom’s favorite game to play – she got to order people around and get served by the knights/servants. =D

Ethan and Grandpa spent some time making a bird feeder (more pictures to come in the next post).

38 Bird feeder, 6911

And they also went down to the park a couple times to rake the leaves and jump in them, sometimes while catching the football.

Meanwhile, in Phoenix…we were eating lots of good food, playing pickle ball, and hiking.  Mike spent a whole lotta time playing PIG and I enjoyed reading my book.  We were SO glad to get to spend much of Sunday with Grandma Cleve, with quick little visits with both grandparents, as well!

Next up…a couple final days all together in Denver.

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!).

Phoenix Pt 2: the wedding

Ashley and Zach’s wedding was beautiful!  The bride was stunning!  Our boys made it down the aisle…holding hands and smiling…like little champs.  Pictures can’t fully show the beauty of the day…but they come close.  Here are a few of my favorites.  I am sure I’ll be posting plenty more in the future as the professional pics are bound to be much better than ours. =)

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The picture of the cupcake surprise is just for YOU, Ace! =D  sooo good!

Phoenix Pt 1

On New Years Day, we flew out to Phoenix.  Unfortunately, we missed our flight by about five minutes (the plane was still there, but they gave our seats away to people on stand by), so we spent 12 hours traveling.  We kept in pretty good spirits and…I don’t mean to brag here, but this is a pretty big deal…our boys were incredible!! =)  We had SUCH a lovely time seeing Mike’s side of the family and celebrating our little sister’s wedding day (pics to come in “Pt 2”).

Some traveling pictures:

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We spent the rest of our vacation soaking up some much needed time with our family and getting prepared for the big day!  We saw grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles – wonderful time!!  We were all so thankful that we got some pictures of the boys with their…get this…great, GREAT grandma!  How crazy is that?!  Ethan had a special date out with Grandma Cleve to go see all of the beautiful Christmas lights – definitely one of his highlights from the trip.  I went to the spa with the ladies to get a pedicure – SO fun!  And we got to watch the Packers game…sniff, sniff…with some fellow die-hard fans!!

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I was really happy to be able to attend Ashley’s bachelorette party, too.  I took a few pictures of the group… I learned something about myself…as it turns out, I am really, really bad a laser tag.  I love it.  But I’m horrible.  I’m also worse than I thought I was at bowling.  Sigh.  All in all, though, it was a great night!

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Our 2013 Christmas Letter

2013 has been a BIG year for us…a season of change.  Our latest big adventure began at the end of January when we moved to Georgia.  Mike bid IBM adieu in December and started the new year working for a great company called, “BIAS Corporation”.  Our connection to the company was through some friends of ours, who Mike first met when he was traveling to Bermuda for work a couple of years ago.  So for the first time in our 7 years of marriage, Mike began commuting to an office every day.  This was quite a transition for him after 6.5 years as a traveling consultant. Also, for the first time in our marriage, I became a full-time, stay-at-home Mom…an intimidating role for me.  We bought a new house in Georgia and began renting our condo in Colorado…a blessing the Lord orchestrated beautifully and for which we are so thankful.  We’ve been adjusting to a new climate, new friends, new church, and new roles with the Lord’s grace and have been really enjoying our adventure!!

2013 in Pictures


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Our first family picture in Georgia, the day we moved: IMG_5175

Our new home:



I drove down to Florida with my dad to visit my parents and grandparents for a week with the boys.  Here’s Ethan reading a book with his great grandpa:IMG_8927

And E playing, “Memory” with great grandma:  IMG_8922

Micah with my mom:


Ethan making a new game with my Dad: IMG_8943

Playing in the sand:



Mike’s Mom, AKA Grandma Cleve, visited for a week in February:IMG_9116

My cousin, Anne, stopped by on her way down to Florida to see our grandparents:



My brother, Gerrit, and his sweet pregnant wife, Lauren, came out for a visit over Easter:


My Uncle Brad and Aunt Sally stopped by on their way down to Florida and had a nice breakfast with us.  Ethan specifically wore his Packers shirt for Uncle Brad:

Brad, Ethan

Then my parents stopped in for a couple of days on their way back to Wisconsin from Florida (we clearly moved to a good location as a halfway point between WI and FL!!).



We had our first real play date with our now dear friends. HUGE blessing.IMG_0379

My sister, Jennie, and her husband, Jason, came for a visit!DSC_0023 DSC_0179


Ethan turned 4 on June 1st:  IMG_0900

E got a scooter for his birthday and I got my new pixie haircut:IMG_0931

E also got golf clubs for his birthday and went golfing with his daddy: IMG_1194

Mike’s Dad, Grandpa Russ, came for a visit:  IMG_6387

E caught his first fish:



We celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary: IMG_6582

Ashley (Mike’s sister) and her fiancee, Zach, came for a visit: IMG_1511 IMG_1520 IMG_1505

My Mom flew in for a brief trip:


Mike and I went to an Atlanta Braves game with some friends from church and had incredible seats:


My sister, Jennie, extended her work trip by a couple of days to spend some time with us:


Mike celebrated his 30th birthday!!


My best friend, Cassia, and I (along with our families) met in Louisville for a long weekend together:

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We went to Missouri for my grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary celebration on houseboats.  We reunited with our Denver cousins: IMG_6998 IMG_2218

4 generations of Christ-followers right here!! IMG_2241

My sweet friend, Meagen, came out for a visit!IMG_2321

Ethan went to his Open House at preschool: IMG_2385


We took a family trip over Labor Day weekend:  IMG_7308

While we were there, my sweet Grandma went to be with Jesus.  She was an incredible woman and we were blessed to have so many joyful years with her!Jess and Grandma-2-s

I had the opportunity to go back to Michigan for her funeral.  Here are my four uncles…matching.  Classic. =)


And my cousins and grandpa, smiling, because we know where she is and who is with her:


I finally got to meet my sweet nephew, Ivan, who was born on August 5th:


E also had his first day of preschool.  No tears! Ethan


We went to a pumpkin patch with our friends: IMG_2832

Our dear friends from Colorado, Brandon and Kelsey, traveled out so that we could meet their sweet little girl, Piper (and spend time with them, of course): IMG_3112 IMG_3121 IMG_3162

I had the opportunity to travel to Phoenix for my (okay, technically, Mike’s) little sister’s bridal shower:

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Mike and his dad went to California to see his Grandma.  They had a very sweet time with her and she passed away only a couple days after they left.IMG_7768 IMG_7992