Fall is here!

I’ll post some pictures from the final weeks in September and the first week or so of October in this post.

Our backyard community for CC continues to go well. The days usually start off fairly chilly, but we end feeling plenty warm by the end of the day. We’ve been meeting on Tuesdays at 8 am, but I suspect we will push it back to 9 am as the weather turns. =) The first day of fall our tutor brought in pumpkins for everyone and we did our review work by striking various poses while holding the pumpkins. Presentations have varied from talking about our homemade library or pictures we’ve drawn, to paragraphs about Scott Joplin and best places to take pictures. We are very thankful for this community!

Here are some pics from school, including Ethan’s virtual piano lessons, reading and playing in the treehouse, tracing the states while learning the capitals, Micah finishing another level in his reading program, and a LEGO rendering of our latest history sentence about the Louisiana Purchase and others about the signing of the Declaration of Independence:

We’ve gone on walks to the Cherry Creek Reservoir a couple of times in the last few weeks. One of the times we saw a Golden Eagle, which was incredibly exciting for our crew! Ethan brings his camera and occasionally even captures pictures of the fam!

We’re in full fall celebration mode around here. No heat or AC on for over a month – a ridiculous game I like to play during this season. It means bundling up in the mornings when it’s in the low 60s or high 50s in the house, but then enjoying the warmer afternoons. We’ve also been enjoying pumpkin and fall-themed foods and scents. Our friends even brought by some decorations they had found on a walk. And I’m including a picture of my favorite view from the park up the street.

Other fun happenings include two back-to-back Packer picnics (I found Packers jerseys for each boy on thredup – can you imagine my excitement?!):

And some pictures from around the house, including LEGO builds, coin trading via Zoom and amongst brothers, Micah’s dentist appt, Ethan’s darling pic of Micah biking, boys enjoying grandma reading Farmer Boy to us over Zoom (while building LEGO), the arrival of our new books, and shots of the boys enjoying their early Christmas present from Uncle David (thank you!!):

It’s a beautiful season and we are making the most of it!

Week 2

I’ll start with some pics from our second week of CC outside. Micah’s presentation was on his scooter and scooter tricks. Ethan’s was on various places he enjoys going birding. And then in Essentials, Micah and I read his first paper this week, which was a big milestone.

Here are some pics from around the house doing school, including writing outside in the beautiful weather, teaching the Timeline to Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Sal, working on their Essentials papers, LEGO history sentence of signing the Mayflower Compact:

The boys did some birding in the park nearby and then spent some time snuggled up while editing their pictures. Later during the week we drove up to Loveland to check out a birding hotspot there that our dear friends told us about. It was awesome!

Other pictures from the week include lots of piano playing (the boys are potentially working on a Christmas duet), using the rower outside, a day full of ping pong, and Mike mowing the backyard with a mask on due to the smoke and ashes in the air from the wildfires,

Finally the boys were seriously spoiled this week by various gifts sent their way. Each gift was sent out of the blue and we were blown away by the thoughtfulness and generosity. My favorite story from these gifts was when Ethan was able to make an educated guess about who was featured in his new Star Wars shirt – Emiliano Zapata! He said later, “well, I was trying to think of who I know who is important to Mexican history and that’s the only name I could remember.” Anyway, thank you to all our thoughtful friends and family who like to send gifts to spoil us!

Oh, and here’s the first day of picture of the boys together from the week before:

First Week of School

Ethan: 5th grade; 11 years old; 5′ and 89.2 lbs. He’s starting his 6th year of homeschooling through CC. This is his final year in Foundations and Essentials.

Micah: 3rd grade; 8 years old; 4’4.5″ and 64.8 lbs. He is starting his 5th year of homeschooling through CC. He’s got 3 more years in Foundations/Essentials after this one.

We started the 2020-2021 school year on Monday of this week. We had two other like-minded families join us in our backyard for our community day. Our plan is to meet outside every week to do CC together. I’ll try to snap a picture this week before anyone arrives so you can see the layout.

Our first day was an answer to prayer. And, as is often the case, the Lord went above and beyond in providing such lovely blessing – grass was laid on Friday, so we didn’t have mud and dirt everywhere; we had ample shade; every detail went smoothly and we all were relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company! SO thankful to have something practical for which to use all this beautiful new space! But first, a couple of prep pictures from the weekend before:

Ethan took first day of school photos for everyone in our group (I snapped one of Ethan) and he may even do some work on a yearbook for everyone throughout the year. Our boys each gave a presentation introducing themselves and the things by which they are interested. Micah even included a little description of what our backyard looked like at the beginning of the summer. Micah is participating in Essentials loosely and diagrammed his first sentence – he was super pumped about it!

The rest of the week was equally successful. I came up with a schedule that feels good to all of us for now. We’ll see if it continues to be a good fit, but we liked how it felt for this week! Here are some pictures::

Some highlights included our new weekly assignment of teaching the timeline to Grandpa and Grandma and Auntie Sal over Zoom; lessons taught one-on-one by Dad with each boy (Micah wanted to learn more about how to have a good conversation and Ethan wanted to learn more about stocks and mutual funds); art class online. (We did not get a dog – that’s the dog of our friend who is doing all of the backyard projects!)

We also went to Cherry Creek Reservoir for some paddle boarding to celebrate a great start to the school year. We intended to go on Monday night, but we were pretty wiped and hot after a full day outside, so we went on Tuesday instead. I did some paddle boarding and then spent the rest of the evening working on finishing my book for my virtual CC book club: Walden! Good setting for that book. =)

Finally, at the end of the week, two exciting packages were delivered: the long-promised ping pong table and a rower. We are loving having an outdoor ping pong table and have already used it for some schooling and just some regular ol’ fun! And the rower is lots of fun, too. Feeling very spoiled in life right now. Very spoiled and very thankful.

This past week has brought some new changes to our world. Ethan purchased a used camera (we chipped in a little bit, too, but mostly this was his endeavor) and is now going out most mornings to take pictures of birds. He has been emailing with Grandpa and even did a FaceTime to gather more information about photography. Perhaps this will be a class for this upcoming school year. =D

We thought it was only right to help Micah with a big purchase, too. He opted to get a standing desk because he’s really into all things related to having an office and being fit. He’s pretty jazzed about this whole thing.

We started doing our one-on-ones again this past week and Ethan opted to go to Bluff Lake with me to do some birding. Meanwhile, Mike and Micah stuck closer to home, but also did some birding. I can’t tell you how much this solo time breathes life back into our daily living.

Micah has been taking more and more of an interest in cooking and putting food together for people. He’s been working on his restaurant “A Side of Fruit” (coined as such because he always serves a piece of fruit on the side of everything), but he also cooked dinner for us (sloppy Jos) and had us all order salads from him another day. We also were pumped to have the first two tomatoes of the season!

Here’s a little mama milestone – I made hollandaise sauce for the first time ever and we all LOVED it! =)

Other happenings this week included Micah getting his own email address in order to edit his pictures (and send emails to family members). He’s been loving this and is even more motivated to learn to read more fluidly so that he can read all of your emails on his own!

We’ve also started doing solo audiobooks this week. Both boys really enjoy listening to books and usually we do this all together. Micah finished the “The Green Ember” already and started “The Last Archer”. Ethan is about an hour away from finishing “Monster in the Hollows”. It’s amazing how quiet the house can get.

We’ve done a few LEGO masters. Micah and I competed against each other in a challenge to build “a scene from Star Wars”. Ethan was the judge and ultimately voted for Micah’s, I think, but said mine (when Anakin fell into the lava pit while fighting Obi Wan) was pretty awesome. And then we did a challenge to make a robot. Ethan and I made a pretty classic robot, with a programmer controlling it in the background. Mike and Micah made a big robot who creates minifigs.

Other updates include a functioning sliding glass door with blinds and a canopy for shade; outdoor army battles on the front porch; Mike started going for walks with 30 lbs on his back because he’s a crazy, wonderful man; lots of piano playing; and bike rides to the pond:

One of my favorite things that has come out of the opportunities COVID19 has provided our family with is having Mikey home consistently. He now reads to us (mostly from the iPad as that is his preferred means) almost every night and it’s amazing. We’ve finished at least two books with him during this season – The Forest and The Magician’s Nephew. I think we’ll continue reading all of The Chronicles of Narnia together as it’s been a really sweet experience for us.

The week in review

We are getting more use out of our new deck. Often Mike takes work calls from out there. Sometimes the boys sit out there to read. And Mike and I spend many nights chatting once the boys are down for bed. (Yes, the healing in our family has been SO great that I can be outside now while they fall asleep – so thankful!) One evening this week I let the boys stay up late to watch for bats – they were thrilled, but it did take a long time before they showed up. Thankfully we had a good audiobook going while we waited. =)

We also started going to the Reservoir by our house for some stand up paddle boarding. We went one evening when it was a little choppy and then we went on a weekend morning before it got too busy and the water was very calm. We are hoping this becomes a regular part of our weekly routines, just like our Saturday morning sprint workouts have become.

Our first night out: