Two weekends ago we had the opportunity to host Aunt Ashley for a night. She was here for a friend’s baby shower (I think it was her first trip back here since they moved away over 3 years ago) without kids, so the visit was brief. There was enough time to have a couple of yummy meals together and for Mikey to give her a little help. And we decided that E will be taller than her next time they see each other. =P

That weekend the weather was pretty beautiful, so we did our family workout outside at the park and spent a good amount of time playing ping pong outside.

And on Sunday night Ethan had middle school youth group. They did some work getting garden beds ready for a local church and then played a ping pong tournament. At the end of the kids’ tournament, E got to play against our pastor for an added bonus.

Micah has been working more this year with geography and maps. He was feeling hopeful that Grandpa and Grandma could stop by Colorado on their drive home from Florida to Wisconsin… Hmm…

Other happenings include trying to convince Daddio that we should have a pond in the backyard; me sitting in the car while E went birding at the reservoir by our house; schooling on the ball; a pretty tulip in my new-ish vase; and lots of archery in the backyard.

And, lastly, we’ve got another purple belt in the house! Micah participated in a 2-hour test to earn his belt last weekend. He was pretty pooped but very proud. It was a lot of work and passing this seems to have given him a little more motivation to keep going!

Pics taken by Coach Mike:

And a comparison that brings me so much laughter and joy:

Weekend in the Mountains

We opted to use Christmas money (mostly from my Grandpa – THANK YOU!!) for an experience this year: we rented a Tesla and drove to Aspen for the weekend. As budding environmentalists, the boys have been wanting to check out a Tesla for a long time now. This was a perfect opportunity. I’m not sure whether I could ever handle something so fancy, but it sure was fun for the weekend!

These were their faces when Mike and I used the Tesla “fart” feature to make it sound like farts were coming from the various parts of the car. (who on earth comes up with this stuff for a car??)

Mike and I hadn’t been to Aspen since our 1-year dating anniversary back in 2003. We took some pics at the same gazebo we had visited back then and attempted to see Maroon Bells, but would have needed to take a snowmobile tour at this time of year (oops).

Then (2003):

And now (2022):

We did a little walking around on some trails (including this cool bridge), checked out the free art museum, ate outside in the fresh (freezing) air, and spent some time in the hot springs in Glenwood Springs.

Unfortunately there were a number of accidents on I-70 due to the poor weather/driving conditions so we had to stay one extra night in the mountains since I-70 was shut down. We are not the most flexible people, so this took some getting used to, but we were thankful for the ability to stay safely in Silverthorne before attempting the final hour and a half of driving to get home. Sadly it meant missing much of our CC day, but I did get the chance to sit in on Micah’s Essentials class since I had to reschedule teaching Challenge A.

Grandpa and Grandma in Colorado

We were thrilled to host my parents for almost two weeks at the end of October/beginning of November. We had a great mix of just living normal life and doing some projects around the house.

Each morning Ethan and my Dad went out birding. Micah joined for one morning, but he decided it was more enjoyable (and warm) playing piano or reading with Grandma at the house. Also, while my parents were here, this memory popped up on my phone from 9 years ago when I remember thinking, “wow, my Dad as Grandpa is different than my Dad as Dad.” What on earth is that little pipsqueak doing holding a big expensive camera?! =D

My folks always ask about what kinds of things we might like them to do for the house, so we knocked out a few of those projects! Yay! The two most exciting things done were our laundry room and new address numbers for outside. They did other things, too, but these were big undertakings and I was so thankful to have them completed. The boys, especially Ethan, loved working on the laundry room. We decided this was a different kind of homeschooling. =)

We each did some sewing projects with my Mom. Ethan and Micah both made camera bean bags (not sure how else to describe them) and Micah made two decorative pillow covers. Turns out, Micah LOVES to sew and is looking for new projects. =) My Mom sewed us some Packer napkins and I finally finished my rice heating pad.

We enjoyed having Mel and Joel over for lunch over the weekend. We had our inaugural meal on our new deck table with them.

Much music was made throughout the week. My mom has recently begun learning to play the cello (one of the many things I admire about my folks is their belief that they are never too old to try something new), so she had a couple of Zoom lessons while here and showed the boys how to play a bit. She and Ethan worked on a little piano-cello duet. And Micah played a lot of piano duets with Grandma.

Other highlights that don’t fit as neatly into a photo gallery include baking together, Grandpa and Micah biking, visiting the Audubon Center all together, Krav Maga, reading books, playing games, editing pictures and doing *some* schooling, playing football in the park, having a picnic with some members of our Zoom book club (they also happen to be dear friends from CC), attending cousin Matthew’s awesome play, and having a Packer picnic.

Our time together was delightful. The boys both said afterwards, “I wish they lived with us or at least by us.” What a gift!

Our 7th year…

of homeschooling is underway. It’s probably the smoothest transition we’ve had from summer to school to date! (except maybe in those first years when everything we did was fun and no one had anything to complain about. =P) We seem to enjoy the structure and we are all rising to new challenges this year.

E and I started Challenge a week before Micah began Foundations/Essentials. But we all have at least a week under our belts now. Our community opted to meet outdoors again this year, but it’s expanded in size and is now meeting outside of our usual church (as opposed to in our backyard). I can’t tell you how much fun it is to do this outside! What a gift!

Our community is also doing monthly field trips this year. August brought us to Bluff Lake Nature Center and a little outdoor ice cream treat at the end! Here are a bunch of the guys checking out birds together.

Here are some pictures I snapped throughout the past couple of weeks around the house:

E is learning how to play our song version of Proverbs 25 on the ukulele. He picked it up very quickly and also already has all of that Proverb memorized (I still have 12 weeks to memorize it, so I’ll catch up…). Mike plans to teach the boys subjects of their choice on Wednesday afternoons for a bit. I suspect they will be learning about finances, stocks, etc. from him. Also, we switched Math for both boys (E switched to Saxon already last year) and it’s been SO much better for us.

Here’s a look at Ethan’s first day of CC back in 2015. In the middle picture Micah was only old enough to go to nursery. When he started CC, he started midyear and I can’t seem to find his official first day picture. (Sorry, buddy. It’s got to be out there somewhere!) But I did find a picture of him giving his presentation to Ethan’s class when he used to get too nervous to stay in his own classroom for the whole day. =D

We are thankful for the opportunity to do this and can hardly believe this is our 7th official year homeschooling with CC. Time is flying by!

Utah’s National Parks

The idea to visit each of Utah’s National Parks with my parents and Grandpa was born a few years ago now. At the time, the drive to Utah would have been treacherous with the potential of a lot of snow. In fact, one of the roads may have been closed for the season or something. The details are fuzzy. At any rate, this trip has been a long time coming and I was exceptionally thrilled to get to do this with my Grandpa, who I used to travel with as a kid. The idea that my 94-year-old Grandpa could make a trip like this with our kids was just too good to be true! We all had a delightful time together.

Little caveat to this trip – I can’t remember which day goes with which picture anymore. Yikes! So, take my journal entries with a grain of salt. The main idea is this: we had an amazing time every day. =D

Here’s a cute little shot of Ethan and his Great-Grandpa shooting the breeze at a rest stop on the way:

We started with Arches National Park. Visiting the parks in the late afternoon is definitely the way to see the most with the fewest other visitors nearby. Plus, the weather is much cooler and more enjoyable in the evening hours!

Here’s a fun comparison from the last time our family was in Arches:

The following day Mike and my Dad went for an early morning hike to see Delicate Arch. Later that morning, we were unable to get back into Arches, so we headed over to Canyonlands.