We were back in Wisconsin for Christmas Eve. That night we pretended to be shepherds on the night that the angels came to tell them about the birth of Jesus. We had a bonfire, roasted hotdogs/brats and ate meats, cheeses and figs. Then we made s’mores! =). It was so much fun to imagine what that night might have been like.
The rest of that week was quite relaxing. At first it was just the Cleve Crew and my parents, but by the following weekend, my siblings and their families were back in town. We enjoyed “Narnia” at their church, ate lots of yummy food, and played lots of games.
Mike and I snuck away for our annual date with Cass and Adam, but we didn’t get a picture that evening. The following day we got everyone together at the botanical gardens (that might not be the right name…) in Milwaukee. Between the two of us, we snagged way too many cute pictures of Ethan and Hana together. Their friendship is especially sweet! It was great to be with them again!
I’m going to have to split this post into two. There are just too many cute pictures. Next up – my siblings and their families are back in town!
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:
Hiking the sand dunes by Lake Michigan:
General Michigan merriment:
Photo cred for all of the nicest shots goes to my Dad, as usual. =)
The boys and I spent a couple days in Wisconsin before heading to the next destination of Michigan for the extended family gathering. We enjoyed lots of time with family – baking, building block creations, teaching drawing lessons, building creations out of wood, bird-watching, reading books, playing piano…and probably plenty of other things that we didn’t capture in pictures. =)
Also, Micah really enjoyed feeding Salina her bottle and did so at most opportunities. They have a special connection. After we left, Jennie told me that Salina was looking at her book with family pictures in it and she saw Micah’s picture and kissed it!
Among the very top of our highlights was meeting Eddie for the first time!
We drove to Minnesota in two days, stopping over night in Nebraska. You know it’s not a road trip without mentioning our audiobooks! We enjoyed listening to “The Last Battle” all together on that drive and also finished a Magic Tree House book. We started a fantastic series called, “The Wilderking Series” – in fact, it was probably my favorite read of the year!
The boys and I spent only a couple days there before continuing on to Wisconsin and then to Michigan on our own. Mike stayed in Minnesota for work until Friday when he met us in Michigan. We spent our time exploring the “tubes”, coloring at Mike’s office, playing games and working out at the hotel.
Not long ago, Ethan and Mike went on their first weekend trip away for some special bonding. (Micah has been invited to go on a trip with his Daddio in November and thus far seems super excited for it, too!) They opted for San Diego and spent Friday-Sunday together. From all the stories, it sounds like it was an excellent trip! Highlights included touring the USS Midway, playing on the beach, seeing seals, riding around in a convertible, and playing a piano in public. They also apparently had “the best burgers ever” while there. I love all of the pictures Mike captured over the weekend!!
Time at the beach (they built sand castles and spent a lot of time catching clams):
Other trip pics:
Playing the piano:
I’m so thankful that Mike takes the opportunity to have special time with the boys and to spoil them a bit. This will not soon be forgotten!!
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!).
For our 6th annual trip with the Maurer family, we spent the weekend in Kansas City. We are nearing (if we haven’t already reached it) the point when we will need to do some repeat locations, but this year was a new spot for us again. We all enjoy spending time together and it’s been such a special treat to watch our children grow up together.
We usually spend a fair amount of time at the hotel just talking and playing. We also all like parks and legos, so we fit in both of those activities this year. A hike is often on all of our lists to do, but it was way too hot to spend much time outside that weekend. We spent Friday night grabbing dinner out and playing at the hotel, Saturday out and about and Sunday back at the hotel before going our separate ways.
Here are some shots from around the hotel, including a few selfies the kids took (as requested) from their explorations around the hotel on their own. Favorite memories include watching various plays of Piggie and Gerald books, watching all the kids try to catch the football with their elbows, sending messages/emojis/pictures with Ellie (mostly Mike and Ellie/Adam), and how sweet those girls are to my boys who want to show them their paint-by-sticker books and Legos. Lots and lots of laughter!
Mute the video if you don’t want to hear my crazy loud laugh:
Pics from our dinners out:
Pics from the park, Legoland and the Sea Life Aquarium:
All too soon it was time to say goodbye. The kids hugged too quickly, so we missed any cute pics of that…but I snapped a couple of Mikey saying goodbye to some of his favorite girls! We parents left exhausted, having stayed up until midnight or WAY later both evenings we had together. We sure enjoyed spending time with this crew again!
Quick throwback of our group from just last summer and a link to all the previous years: