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.

We had quite a bit of snow this month.  One day, Micah said, “I think you’re going to say, ‘no’, but do you wanna have tea and watch the snow fall with me on the porch?”  Obviously that was a moment I wasn’t going to let pass me by!

And here are some other school pictures throughout the month.  A couple of exciting updates: Micah is now going to kids club (rather than sitting by E and I in Essentials) and attended his first night of cadets.

Mike surprised us by stopping home for an hour in between two flights.  Micah spent the time reading out loud to him while he packed his bag. =)

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The boys have been doing some ninja training at the park:

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Here are some various pictures from around the house lately:

Mike is big on getting the boys outside in the cold to build up strength.  There’s a fancy word for this, but alas, I’ve forgotten it!  Cold thermo-something.  Anyway, here are some crazy sightings of boys in the cold!

Music fills the air often.  E is teaching Micah little bits and pieces and also working hard on getting ready for Federation in March.

We went on a family date to a movie theater that serves dinner during the movie for a super special treat.  It was pretty exciting.  We were all especially thrilled because this was another big step for Micah.  He usually avoids theaters at all costs, but he was all in for this one (as long as he had his earplugs!).

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I’ve requested some help from the boys with meal planning…because maybe I’ve gotten tired of hearing complaints from nameless somebodies in the home.  I really needed to have Mike go through the cookbooks, too, but that will come another day!  =)  We’ve tried a few of their ideas and it definitely helps to have their buy-in.

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And finally, a quick picture from Ethan’s Essentials class at CC.  They were working on answers for English grammar and vocab.

The week bookended by GC

Just wanted to fill in the gaps from my previous post.  While Grandma Cleve was with the Bertilson family, we had a busy week at home.  Mike was in Minnesota, enjoying a balmy -48 degrees or something.  It was pretty crazy.  I saw a meme that indicated it was colder in Minneapolis than Antarctica that day!  Meanwhile, we enjoyed a snow day on Monday.  And my cousin, Meredith, came over to play in the snow.  It was a HUGE treat to all of us!

Check out how awesome she is:

Tuesday was a rough day.  But no one wants to hear the woes of homeschool life.  Micah did have the chance to take Bailey on a walk in the snow that afternoon – he’s getting ready for his potential job this summer of walking neighborhood dogs.

On Wednesday we had our usual day, except that cousin Matthew invited Ethan over after piano lessons.  So Micah and I had the afternoon to ourselves until we picked him up before drum lessons.  It was pretty fun.  I snapped this picture of my red bush tea because I bought it on Amazon to drink while I listen to the audiobooks of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency…and then I found out that one of my favorite “celebrity-ish” people did the same thing!!  (Sarah McKenzie from the Read Aloud Revival podcast, if you must know =D) Great minds…

On Thursday and Friday evenings we were able to celebrate the boys’ reading out loud accomplishments for January.  They both read 25+ days out loud for 10 minutes!  Their self-selected rewards were a movie night with special snacks (Micah) and game night with special snacks (Ethan).  Lots of fun!  I guess we only took a picture of the movie night – we watched Prince Caspian.

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Solo-parenting in January

Both Mike and I did some solo-parenting already this month.  As I already mentioned, I traveled to Atlanta to help my sister with the trade show there.  I left on Wednesday afternoon and was back on Sunday early evening.  Micah and I made some overnight oats ahead of time so that their breakfasts would be easy!  I also assigned the boys various homeschool assignments and they spent both days finishing their lists.  One day I even got a text from Mike saying that the boys finished their assignments before their snack at 10 am!  They spent much of the rest of that day building legos while listening to an audiobook.  They also had a snowstorm and a lot of food delivered to the house! LOL.  I was glad to see that the boys had all gone sledding in the snow.

Here are a few fun pictures from my time in Atlanta!

We spent Sunday evening with Ashley and Zach so that we could *finally* meet Baby Joshua.  And then soaked up some Daddio time before his trip.

The following evening, Mike traveled to Minnesota.  The boys and I had a busy week!  We started the week with CC.  Then, Ethan got his eyes and teeth checked.  I got my eyes checked and my hair cut.  Both boys had lessons in piano and drums.  We had cadets and kids club and CBS.  And we had lots of school and fun in the meantime (especially drawing pictures).

While Mikey was out of town, we hosted cousin, Meredith from Michigan.  The boys were literally jumping up and down at the prospect of having her over and have been asking every day since if she could come back. =)

The Great Midwestern Tour: Pt 5 Missouri

The boys and I drove to Missouri on New Year’s day.  We met Mike at his dad’s house as he had flown to Minnesota for a wedding on New Year’s Eve.  Again, our travels were smooth and we enjoyed some audiobooks (Matilda and the second book in the Wilderking Series that we loved so much).  We loved spending time with Grandpa Russ (and his two dogs) for a few days before heading home.  Some highlights included shooting BB guns for the first time, taking the dogs on recons with Grandpa Russ and playing lots of games.  The boys also started their January challenge of reading out loud every day for 10 minutes – it’s been a huge success and lots of fun!

We loved our annual tour of the Midwest.  It was wonderful to spend time with our family and friends.  What a gift to vacation/mostly-vacation for 20 days over the holidays!  Hopefully it’s not something we take for granted!!  Thanks for celebrating with us, all you Midwesterners. =)