Wrapping up December

I listened to a lovely book recently that talked about the belief when World War I began that it would “be done by Christmas” and realized that I had held that belief about Covid, too. World War I wasn’t done by that first Christmas, or by the next one. And Covid isn’t done either. So, our Christmas this year looked very different than it has every other year. As I was reflecting on the sadness I felt to be far from my family for the first time in 8 years over Christmas (we didn’t travel when Micah was first born), a dear friend of mine pointed out the blessing I have in my family. I had told her that I was accustomed to being so rejuvenated over the holidays because of all of my time with them and I wasn’t experiencing it this year. I am still feeling fatigued and in need of rejuvenation. God has blessed me a lot through them – what a gift that I didn’t even fully realize I had! It’s good to take stock and count those blessings, even the ones that seem so obvious. I always knew I had fun over the holidays, but I didn’t realize how much that time prepared me for the next months of life, too.

Anyway, enough musings. We really did have a lovely Christmas season! So many beautiful memories were made! I’ll start with some fun, non-Advent/Christmas-related pictures:

The first is a little snapshot that I took for my bro – he and I used to snag the very best cookies (similar to these, although green) when our family got our box of cookies from family friends each year. I decided to make them with the leftover cornflakes from the sweet potato casserole. Great plan! We also attempted to see the “Christmas Star” of Jupiter and Saturn – awesome experience! Thanks, Grandma Cleve, for reminding me about this!! Much of our day is filled with listening to books and… the ‘and’ is followed by LEGO, coins, marble run, drawing, etc. Micah chose to do some painting one day. We played a few games another night.

Some Advent activities leading up to Christmas day included a “choose your favorite and re-do it” event which was a great hit. The boys chose to have another sleepover and watch a Christmas movie. We also had our Christmas Recital – thank you to all of our audience members who made it SO much fun! Mike started us off with a little portion of a Coldplay song which brought much merriment to all. And on Christmas Eve we zoomed with Grandma Cleve and then had our annual Shepherds meal where we eat by the fire and pretend to be shepherds on the night the angels came with the Good News of Jesus.

We had a very relaxing, but enjoyable Christmas Day. Each boy opened a present and then I set to work on a breakfast “feast”. Then we opened some more presents, including one that Mike included a scavenger hunt around the house in order to find for the boys (great fun!). We ate a late lunch of ham, tasty sides, and sparkling cider. We zoomed with Grandpa Russ and Uncle David and did a little recital for them. And then we played some more games and read books and just enjoyed the peace of the season. =)

The following morning we opened presents with my fam in Wisconsin over Zoom. We were thrilled that after each person did a full quarantine for 2 weeks, they could all be together for a couple weeks at my folks’ house. It brought tears to my eyes just to see those sweet cousins hugging each other again after 9 long months! (they get together regularly, but have always been distanced and outside, so this was BIG!) Ornaments made me cry. Ethan had a zoom session with Grandpa to get tips on his new photo-editing software. Lots of fun.

That afternoon we drove up to Longmont for some birding and we saw our first Great Horned Owl. It was pretty incredible! It happened to be very busy there that day, but the views are spectacular.

Other highlights included presents from cadet leaders at church for the boys (how thoughtful!!), a special recital with Reggie, playing our new game from the Hengevelds (thrice!), and Micah teaching an art class for his cousins (and then being taught one from them, too!). There were more zooms thrown in there, too, but I apparently didn’t take any pictures of them. :/

Next up…ringing in a New Year! =D

Advent activities for the past couple weeks included breakfast by the fire, making Christmas cookies, ice cream sundaes (on a Sunday, of course ;)), a family sleepover, making Christmas cards, watching a virtual performance of The Nutcracker, going for a winter hike, a drive to see Christmas lights, a family wrestling match (Ethan won), and a white winter breakfast for the first day of winter:

Other activities in December (fun in the snow, pics from various walks, virtual church with our very own Advent “wreath” (thanks, Auntie Mel!!), time by the fire, timeline lessons with Auntie Sal and Grandpa and Grandma (look closely and you’ll see I’m sporting a mustache), piano-playing, watching Ivan and Abe in their virtual choir performance for their church, playing with LEGO, our Hope sign (another thanks to Auntie Mel), and watching “The Grinch” over Zoom with the family:

We hope your December is filled with much cheer and good memories! It may not look the way it looks most years, but there is still lots of joy to be found.

Before the Holidays…

School continues to go well this year. Sometimes they work from on top of the bean bag, sometimes at the table, sometimes in Micah’s office. Micah is especially enjoying the challenge of Essentials, which he is doing for the first time this year.

We finished 12 weeks of CC and only had to do part of one of those weeks virtually. We were thrilled! It’s been such a fun year in our backyard. This year they made life-size posters of their bodies, which turned out pretty cool.

The boys got a job taking care of our neighbors’ cats for a week in November. They went over twice a day to feed the cats, take care of the litter boxes and to play with them. They were incredibly responsible and earned some serious spending money from the gig. (Don’t worry, the spelling of “business” is now mastered.)

A couple of quick little snapshots of virtual life – a birthday celebration for my grandpa (who turned 94!!!), church, and working with grandpa to make Ethan’s photo book.

Other highlights include playing games and drinking hot cocoa, sharing recipes with my bro-in-law, sending color by numbers with cousins, piano-duet playing, and mama’s solo walks (including a lovely picture the boys captured when checking in via FaceTime while I walked)

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?!):