Grandpa, Grandma and GGpa’s Trip

My parents drove out here with my Grandpa last week. Then we all drove out to Utah to experience four of the “big five” National Parks there. We bookended (is that a true verb? Hmm…) that trip with time at our home (Grandpa at Auntie Mel’s). This post will highlight the time in Colorado.

As you can imagine, not seeing them in person since COVID began (we were in Florida visiting them when things went south very quickly) made for a very sweet reunion. Highlights included catching up and hanging out at the house, a lot of Ethan and Grandpa birding trips (including one with me and one with Micah), lots of yard work in our backyard (yay for bird houses, planting grasses and flowers, and hanging lights!), and piano duets.

Hanging at the house:

Birding:

Yardwork:

Piano Duets (including one that I played with Ethan at his outdoor recital – I was way more nervous than he was and totally messed up more than once! Eek!):

Here’s a link for a Grandma and Micah duet. He’s starting piano lessons tomorrow! (although he will tell you that he’d rather just do lessons with Grandma over Zoom)

Coming up next will be highlights from our time in Utah!

You’ll see more evidence of the crazy Colorado weather in this post. We’ve had warm enough temps to hang out in shorts and we’ve had more snow storms again. =)

Here are some schooling outside pics:

Spending time as a family outside (including our darling pet Mallards). The boys were working on plans for bird boxes to make when my parents get here and Ethan was doing research for his bird jeopardy game he was creating for us in that picture of us outside and him on the computer.

We’ve had birding excursions with various parties. I have gone out with just Ethan a couple of times and we’ve done some full family trips, too. We really enjoyed going to the Denver Audubon Nature Center for some hiking and photography. (Fun benefit of having two boys taking pictures – we get more pictures of just the two of us. Micah took the one below.)

More updates from around the house include Mallory watching the boys play LEGO and going on the roof to get our attention for more food; finishing up the timeline with Grandpa, Grandma and Auntie Sal; and watching a bird course from Great Courses. Micah has finished level 3 of his reading program and is working on the fourth and final level now! We are finishing up the school year officially on May 7, but may do some learning throughout the summer, too, as usual.

We’ve spent the last two weeks watching Jeopardy as a family after dinner because Aaron Rodgers was hosting it. Turns out we all really enjoyed doing it! And we’ve since made some jeopardy boards of our own. Ethan did one on birds and I did one with CC memory work.

We celebrated Masters Sunday for Mikey with egg salad sandwiches, cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches and pimento cheese sandwiches. We all agreed that the pimento cheese in Denver is super lame. But we had a great time!

Our home is filled with music much of the time. Micah has decided to take 5 lessons over the summer to decide whether he might like to continue in the fall. Ethan and I are working on a fun duet for an upcoming recital. And Micah and E just came up with a little duet this morning! Here’s a link to a short video of it.

The boys went to the orthodontist (at our regular dentist office! yay!) and E will be getting invisaline (braces-ish) soon. Micah will get it when all of his adult teeth are in. Both will need to wear the invisaline for a year and then should be all set. We’ve reached that fun stage in reading when Micah just reads for enjoyment!! He read most of this chapter book at the orthodontist and then spent an evening reading an entire chapter book to me a few nights later by the fire! I started reading a book about the teenage brain by that same fire. Is it really possible that E is almost a teenager?!

We participated in our first town hall meeting on Zoom with our Senator. It was lots of fun. Ethan was invited to it since he has sent in a few emails to our Senator for various environmental causes he cares about. We got ice cream and made it a very exciting evening!

A final update is that we have a new member of the family – Eleanor Grace was born last week and is adored by her whole family!

Happy 11th Birthday!

This is almost impossible for me to believe – Ethan turned 11 at the start of this month!  We teased him a lot about turning 10 instead, since 11 just feels too old.  Micah even went so far as to write “Happy 10th Birthday” all over his gifts for Ethan.

I always try to sneak in a final picture with my boys before they turn the next year older, so this is my final picture with my 10 year old.

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One of our family birthday traditions is to let the birthday person choose all of the meals for the day. Ethan chose pancakes and bacon for breakfast, grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch, and Greek turkey burgers, homemade applesauce and sweet potato fries for dinner. He also had a delicious ice cream cake.

We also try to do something special with our birthday guy. This year had a lot of limitations, obviously, but it didn’t really phase him.  In typical Ethan-fashion, he wrote out a list of things he wanted to do for the day. He was happy to play frisbee golf in the park with the family, put together an 11-themed work out, and go for a nature walk to take pictures together at night (we had given him the tripod – the one thing he requested multiple times throughout the year – as our big gift to him).

He received lots of cards, emails, FaceTime chats, gifts, and videos (see the videos below from some of his cousins) throughout the week. Thanks for making him feel so special!

This guy is something special.  He is kind and smart.  He is disciplined and motivated. And he loves the Lord and people. We are super proud of this 5’0″ young man. He’s a treat to parent and always has been!

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Updates from May

Ethan had his first virtual piano recital.  We were asked to make videos and post them on our YouTube channel and then E’s piano teacher put together a playlist of everyone’s pieces, along with a scavenger hunt and chance to vote for the pieces we liked best in each category.  Here are the links for E’s pieces:

I wanted to post a video from my nephews – they were dancing all around while listening to Ethan play piano.  It was darling.  I can’t figure out how to post it, so ask Lauren if you want to see. =D

We’ve also done a lot of playing piano through the Piano Maestro app as a family.  We are competing against one another – the boys are in the lead by a whole lot so far!  It’s been lots of fun to challenge ourselves in this way and fun for the boys to have such a big lead.

We’ve gone for lots of walks, both as a family, individually and in pairs.  I don’t think I’ve missed a day since early May (whenever my hives finally left for good) and Mike walked for over 10 miles one day. The boys go for walks to take pictures of flowers and birds. E and I even went for a walk in the rain one evening.

We’ve also started doing some track workouts as a family.  Our first work out at the track was a sprint work out – 20 seconds of sprinting followed by 2 minutes of rest for 6 rounds. We are trying to do this every week (2 down so far!). On Memorial Day we did a modified Murph work out.  Micah started out running one lap and then doing hand stands and squats and then ran another lap (and then he did 2 more for fun!) to finish his workout.  Meanwhile, Ethan and I both ran 3 laps and then did 70 push ups and 100 squats before running another 3 laps.  Daddio did the same, except with 4 laps and maybe 100 push ups (I can’t remember for sure).  It’s a fun new challenge for us and something we can do all together.  We hadn’t hit a track since back in our Georgia days!

Another thing we do to keep busy is play frisbee golf in the park by our house.  We do this a couple times every week.

Mallory, our mallard, keeps us busy, too.  She visits every day and is fed by Micah at least twice each day.  She likes to fly up to our roof to say hello and also peeks in at us in the playroom, too.  She even flew around the house and watched me do laundry one week. And we found her in the park during one of our frisbee golf rounds – she didn’t shy away from Micah, so we knew it was her.

Lots of outside time (I’ll update another day regarding the backyard project when I have more “after” pictures to post) is happening around here.  Ethan is our outdoor maintenance guy; he even changes the wire on the weed eater on his own now.

We’ve got a couple new games for this season of life, too:

We also finished up the school year in early May.  Micah will continue working on reading and math this summer and Ethan will continue to read each day and do some other school-related things throughout the summer. We celebrated with French Toast on their final day and took some end of the year pictures, too.

Both boys had paying jobs for part of May, too.  Ethan typed up documents for Reggie for a class he will be teaching later this year.  He was very responsible and motivated.  He completed the tasks a day early and Reggie said he handled everything very maturely.  Micah had a scanning job for Mikey – scanning documents.  He did a great job, too!

We celebrated Mother’s Day in May, too.  My guys spoiled me with lots of loving notes and doing all of my favorite things – we went for a long, frisbee-free walk, we played Kubb in the park, and we ate good food.  Mikey made Dutch Babies for breakfast and ordered sushi for dinner.

Final pictures worth mentioning…the boys and I got our homemade masks from my Mom (THANKS, Mom!!).  Mike has been reading us all a book at night and sometimes Micah uses his book light to see in order to do paint by sticker or to draw.  I picked some weeds from our backyard to decorate the house because they are pretty weeds!  My aunties threw a fabulous virtual wedding shower for my cousin.  And Mel and Joel stopped by with Pentecost decorations (they were way prettier before the rain got to them) and treats since we couldn’t attend the annual Pentecost party at their home. =D

Next up…a boy we all love turns 11!

Our Pets

We are all pretty enamored with our new “pet” mallards.  Mallory and Fred have been frequenting our front and back yards for over a week and a half now.  The boys have been faithfully feeding them corn and seeds, even managing to lead them all the way to the backyard when we started noticing poop all over our porch and sidewalk.  If they hear the window open, they look up expectantly and have even eaten out of Micah’s hand directly.

Easter 2020

We certainly won’t soon forget Easter 2020.  We enjoyed a church service at home (decorated by Micah, complete with a LEGO band), participated in the Lord’s Supper (complete with Aunt Mel’s homemade sourdough) with Reggie via FaceTime, had a tasty breakfast and lunch, watched Andrea Bocelli’s live concert (with no audience), had lots of competitive egg hunts and spent a lot of time together.

The following day was our final CC day.  It’s been an interesting first year as the Director, but our community is such a strong, close-knit group that it was lots of fun for me, despite all of the challenges.  I was spoiled with all kinds of lovely thank you gifts and notes of appreciation.  It was a very humbling experience for me.

I thought I’d include pictures of them looking over their yearbooks and participating in our zoom class.  I’m also including their final presentations – really short, silly ones to conclude an awesome year!

Further Catching Up

Ethan’s been loving playing soccer this season.  He’s found his favorite position – stopper!  He absolutely loves playing defense and has even managed to score a few goals from back there because he’s got quite the kick!  And Micah is a fun fan. =)

Micah started playing flag football through the rec centers here.  He’s loved it and definitely improved over the few weeks that the season ran.  I was out of town for his first game, but Mike took lots of pictures and videos.  They watched some game footage to help teach him about the game before his second night of games.  And then his final games were cancelled due to weather, so we’ll see if he gets to make those up later.  He prefers to play center, but he did get a couple running plays called for him and snagged at least one flag!  Woot!

Ethan worked SO hard on his Memory Master challenge this year and was able to get the official title.  This meant he had to memorize every fact for all 24 weeks of 7 subjects.  He had to recall this information 3 different times.  We opted to do one with Auntie Mel (SO thankful to live by these guys again!!).  Then he was quizzed by a tutor at CC and then by the director.  It was a pretty arduous process, but he loved it and was super excited by the challenge!

Micah began going to Speech therapy and is making great strides there already.  He seems to enjoy it okay and is pretty determined to do his homework!

And Ethan played the prelude in church again – In Christ Alone.  Another fun bonus to going to the same church as family, Aunt Mel took a video! =)

He also had his final piano recital of the year – he played two pieces (In the Hall of the Mountain King and something about pirates).

And Micah is wrapping up drum lessons for the year.  Here’s one of the latest pictures I took when one of his friends from church wanted to sit in and listen.

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Music

Ethan participated in Federation for the first time.  This is a piano competition of sorts with judges giving feedback on your performance.  We weren’t really sure what to expect, but his teacher encouraged us to give it a try.  I think Ethan ended up liking it a lot – it was fun to have something specific for which to practice.  His teacher sent a video from his practice right before Federation.

We snapped a few pictures before he played his two songs (Circle Dance and Cool Cats) in front of three judges and about six other kids and their families.  He did a great job!  We were especially proud of him for stopping when he was playing the one song and asking to start over because he had made a mistake and you could tell it was affecting the rest of the song.  He is not always one to speak up and advocate for himself and he did so very well in this setting.

He ended up getting a Superior rating, so that made him especially proud of his accomplishment.  We focused on doing the perseverance and courage he showed in doing something that made him so nervous.  We went out for ice cream and walked through a fun bookstore downtown.  Afterwards we met Reggie for dinner downtown – always a treat!

Meanwhile, Micah is still taking weekly drum lessons.  He’s enjoying himself and has already surpassed his mama’s ability to keep a beat. =)

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February Stories & Pics

The boys and I spent Valentine’s Day together (Mikey was traveling), doing fun and tasty experiments, making homemade beer bread (had to grab something at the store, first) and listening to a good book.  Ethan saved his Valentine’s candy from Grandma Cleve’s visit to eat on the actual day.  His self-control is very impressive to me!!

That evening some of the fam sent pictures back and forth to show how we were celebrating. =) Look at my cutie nephews and niece!  The boys liked seeing pictures of the others, so we sent our own, too.